Review: The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. Scholastic. 2012. Reviewed from arc from publisher. Official website.

The Plot: Blue Sargent, sixteen, is part of a family of psychics in Henrietta, Virginia. Since she can remember, the same prediction has been made about her: she would kill her true love. With a kiss. Blue keeps people at arms length, to make sure that prediction doesn’t come true or is at least delayed.

Richard “Dick” Campbell Gansey III attends Aglionby Academy, an exclusive boys school in Henrietta Virginia. He’s on a quest to discover Owen Glendower, a Welsh king who led armies against the English and disappeared in the early fifteenth century. He’s pulled his friends into his search: Ronan, Adam, Noah.

Blue stays away boys like Gansey, rich, spoiled, Raven boys. When their paths cross, she knows she should stay away from them. Gansey, rich and driven. Adam, the scholarship student with a chip on his shoulder. Ronan, lost and angry following the death of his father. Noah, quiet, watching, observing. Blue knows she should stay away —  but she cannot help it. The adventure of finding Glendower, of discovering the magic in the world, the laughter and trust of friendship, and, maybe, love.

Oh, those Raven boys.

The Good: This book is better than a hot fudge sundae. With whipped cream. No, really.

Blue knows the supernatural is real. She’s in a family of psychics, remember? She’s not one; her gift is to make the talent of those around her stronger. Gansey hopes the supernatural is real. Yes, he’s good at finding things, and yes, he’s spent years and trust fund money on the search for Glendower. It’s not the burial place he wants. Gansey is convinced that Glendower is only sleeping and can be woken. Gansey’s belief is so strong that he’s persuaded Ronan and Adam and Noah to join him on his quest. Part of the fun of The Raven Boys is how Blue and Gansey and the others meet up. How they form a team. No, more than a team, a friendship.

Oh, and if you’re thinking if Blue’s family is psychic why don’t they just look into the future and see everything —  that’s not quite how it works. As Blue explains at one point, it’s “a realization that even if you had discovered the future, it really didn’t change how you lived in the present. They were truth, but they weren’t all of the truth.” Perhaps that is the reason why, despite the prediction that Blue will kill her true love, she doesn’t keep the boys at arms length. She even finds herself falling for one of them. So easy to think, before it happens, oh, she’ll stay away from boys and so keep herself and her true love safe. So different when the boy you want is real, rather than a hypothetical.

While raving about this book on Twitter, someone asked if there was a cliffhanger ending. No, not really. The Raven Boys is the first in a four part series; and this part is about a necessary step that needs to be taken in the search for Glendower. There are twists and turns, and surprising things happen, and there are hints that there are more layers to the supernatural than is shown. There are the secrets and references — for example, I’m convinced that Stiefvater refers to a geis, just not by name. Which, if true, shows that for all the reader thinks they know by the end of The Raven Boys, there is so much more to learn.

I loved this book; and yes, it’s a Favorite Book Read in 2012. Unfortunately for you, and frustrating for me, some of the things I want to gush over are, well, spoilerish. (My definition of spoiler — things I wouldn’t want to know before reading.) So, alas, this book review is short except to say — Blue, Gansey, Noah, Ronan, and Adam are all wonderful characters. No, not characters, people, they are that real. The myth and magic and supernatural woven into the real world is just the type of fantasy I adore, and I can’t wait to see how much more is shown in the next books. There are turns and twists and reveals that made me reread this book right away, because I wanted to stay in this world but also because I wanted a better appreciation of how The Raven Boys was put together. What was told when? What was shared when?

How’s that for a lovefest with few details? Like I said: a hot fudge sundae of a book.


13 thoughts on “Review: The Raven Boys

  1. I wasn’t quite completely taken with this book. But I don’t think I can really say why without giving anything away. Some things I loved. But the romance? Well, let’s just say I was rooting for someone else. I don’t feel it yet. Looking forward to the next installment, though, very much.


  2. Jen, Joella, Jess — Looking forward to your feedback!

    Sondy, I expected Blue to get together with X, and instead it was Y, which I enjoyed because it seemed like she was doing something outside of what seems to be fated. Now, whether she will get together with X? Or whether the future means something different than the prediction seems? I’ll be interested in seeing how that plays out!


  3. Yes, I’ll be interested in what plays out. I liked what was going on with Y, and it seemed like all the predictions about X were implying something I wasn’t feeling. In a lot of ways, I need to reserve judgment until the story continues. But I’m not warming to it yet. And those predictions are making me rebel.

    Just loved the development with Z though! A twist I didn’t see coming that was perfect!


  4. Sondy, I had a similar reaction at first, and I think I was reacting to the fact that it’s the first of a series instead of a stand alone like Scorpio Races, which I loved. Re-reading helped me enjoy the questions more, and wonder about all the little hints that are given and all the directions they could go. I agree that it will be really interesting to see where the romances go, not just with Blue, but also the intense friendship between X, Y and Z.


  5. Cecilia, the strong friendships — I am looking forward to what happens next, especially because Stiefvater doesn’t go for the expected but she always does what is right for the story.


  6. So, I loved this! I can’t wait to see what happens with X and Y and the whole fate/fortune thing – I expect Stiefvater to turn it on its head somehow and can’t wait to see what she does with it. Sondy, I loved the Z twist, too! Caught me totally off guard and made me flip back to when he was introduced, at which point I said ‘duh’ and kind of wanted to start the whole thing over.


  7. The romance reads as wide open to me, which is fine at this point in the series. And I admit I did catch the twist with Z, but that was because I thought there was something fishy with him early on and caught several of the hints (which I thought were very cleverly done–enough to reward careful reading without being all beat you over the head with it).


  8. Reading this now and not loving it quite as much as I loved The Scorpio Races, but I’m willing to stick with it just to see what happens with Blue, X, Y, and Z. Hope it turns into a ice cream sundae. I don’t mind spoilers… in fact, I’ve read the last page already just because.


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