The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Rating: 5/5 stars
Published: September 18, 2012
Pages: 409 (hardcover)
Series: First in a series of four books
Summary from Goodreads: Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.
His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
I can now say, that I understand all the Maggie Stiefvater hype. This is the first book I’ve read by her, but now I kind of just want to go and binge read all of her books. I don’t even know where to begin with The Raven Boys because it was just so good. I loved every second of it, and am very much in need of The Dream Thieves now.
“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve, Blue. Either you’re his true love…or you killed him.”
Okay, this is a hard book to sum up, but I’m going to do the best I can: all her life, Blue Sargent has been told that if she kisses her true love, he will die. She has no clue why or how or who it even is, but every psychic she’s ever been to has told her the exact same thing. Then one night on St. Mark’s Eve she is with her psychic aunt as spirits of dead people come past, someone’s spirit walks up to her and says a single word “Gansey”. Blue is determined to figure out who this Gansey is, eventually leading her to meet Gansey and his circle of friends, Adam Parrish, Ronan Lynch, and Noah. Gansey has been searching for a medieval king named Glendower and attempting to locate the ley lines with help from his three friends. Blue finds herself drawn to these “Raven Boys” that she is vowed to stay away from all her life, and even begins to help them in their search.
Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’d been told that she would kill her true love.
First, we have Blue Sargent, the daughter of a psychic who lives with her mother and other psychic women. All her life she has been told she is going to kill her true love by kissing him. Blue also helps to strengthen the psychic powers of her mother and the other women in the house by sitting in the room as they do readings. Blue is snarky and strong, but at the same time kind of weird and eclectic as a result of growing up with psychics, but in a good way! She’s not your normal YA female protagonist, and I really enjoyed reading from her POV.
Then there’s Richard “Dick” Gansey III who prefers to go by only his surname. When he was around ten (maybe younger) he was told that Glendower will save him. Ever since, Gansey has been on the hunt for this medieval king Glendower who is now supposedly buried in Virginia near their town of Henrietta. Gansey comes from a rich family and attends Aglionby academy, an all boys boarding school. I really liked Gansey, and he was very much a two-dimensional character with lots of different sides to him. He could be stoic and poised, but also had a much deeper side to him that he didn’t like to show people and was always there for his friends.
Adam Parrish is a scholarship student at Aglionby and comes from a very poor family. His father is abusive, but he refuses to move in with Gansey, Ronan, and Noah because he always wanted to be able to move out on his own without help from anyone. Adam is very hardworking and driven, as he’s determined to stay in Aglionby and keep his grades up while working multiple jobs to pay for the rest of his tuition. He has a lot of pride, and likes to be independent and do things on his own. Adam isn’t the most talkative or social of the group, and is a bit more quiet.
Gansey had once told Adam that he was afraid most people didn’t know how to handle Ronan. What he meant by this was that he was worried that one day someone would fall on Ronan and cut themselves.
Ronan Lynch is the stubborn friend of Gansey and Adam. He can be rude and cold, but like Gansey, definitely has a much softer side to him that you can see at times. His father had died a few years previously, and he was the one to find his body, making him a much colder person than he was before. Ronan is very guarded, and tries to hide the softer side of him. I really like Ronan and I’m excited to see where his character goes.
Lastly, is Noah, the very shy and quiet one of the group. He doesn’t talk much, and he’s just kind of there. Right away, I could tell there just wasn’t something right about his quietness. Noah doesn’t show up as much as the other characters mainly because he likes to stay in the background and out of people’s way. I’m excited to learn more about him as well.
“Sorry that I’m late,” said the boy in front, with the square shoulders. The scent of mint rolled in with him, just as it had in the churchyard. “Will it be a problem?”
Blue knew that voice.
She reached for the railing of the stairs to keep her balance as President Cellphone stepped into the hallway.
Oh no. Not him. All this time she’d been wondering how Gansey might die and it turned out she was going to strangle him.”
Maggie Stiefvater does a really good job with character development in my opinion. All the characters were very well developed and two-dimensions, all with different sides and flaws to them. I really liked all the main characters in this book, and I think in part it’s because Stiefvater just does such a good job at developing them and making them feel real.
There also isn’t much romance in this book, like at all. Blue knows she is going to kill her true love, so she vows to herself never to fall in love or really get involved in any romantic relationship. None of the boys were in any other relationships either, so I really liked that aspect of the book. In so many books romance is the main point and pushes everything else aside, but that totally wasn’t the case here.
The plot was really interesting and intriguing, unlike anything I’ve read before. I mean, it starts out with psychics, which I’ve never head a book that has psychics in them, or at least as a main plot point. They also weren’t the phony psychics that you get today, but they were real, which I though was really interesting. Also, I’ve never read anything about ley lines before, so that was another very interesting plot aspect. These ley lines are real, and also help the psychics to “see” better, kind of like Blue. I also thought the whole “killing your true love by a kiss” thing was interesting as well, and I’m excited to see where that plot point goes in the next books.
So, The Raven Boys is a fantasy and has bits of magic, but not like what you normally think of magic. Like ley line time stopping trees speaking to you kind of weird magic. And psychics (have I mentioned how much I actually liked that part of this book?). Like I said, this book is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. I don’t know about you, but I for sure have never read a book with any of these things as major plot points.
The Raven Boys is mostly set in the town of Henrietta, Virginia which is kind of small, but not really. Henrietta is near one of the ley lines, hence why the psychics live there along with why Gansey chose a school there. It is also set in other places in Virginia, like on the ley lines for example (which was soooo cool. I should also start using that word less, whoops) or in the forests.
I loved the writing style. Like, I totally get all the Maggie Stiefvater hype after only reading one book. Right from the opening sentence, it pulled me in. This is the type of book I could have finished in one sitting, if it weren’t for all the business for me since I started it. Stiefvater creates really rich descriptions that paint a picture in your head. When I say she adds a lot of detail, I don’t mean the super descriptive writing that has too much information. This one had just enough with a great cast of characters, spectacular character development, and a really unique plot that sucked me in.
Overall, I absolutely loved The Raven Boys (if you couldn’t already tell). I need the sequel ASAP, but sadly, I don’t have it 🙁 I’m really excited to see where this series and the characters go in the rest of the series. I totally recommend this book to anyone if you haven’t already read it.