Monday, 21 August 2017

Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys by Maggie StiefvaterThe Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (Bought) - Even if Blue hadn't been told her true love would die if she kissed him, she would stay away from boys. Especially the ones from the local private school. Known as Raven Boys, they only mean trouble.

But this is the year that everything will change for Blue.

This is the year that she will be drawn into the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys. And the year Blue will discover that magic does exist.

This is the year she will fall in love.
From Goodreads.

Although The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater is raved about, it took me a very long time to pick up the first book, The Raven Boys. For a long while, as far as I was concerned, I wasn't going to read it at all. Why? Several years back, I read Shiver, the first book in Stiefvater's The Wolves of Mercy Falls series, and I didn't like it. My memories of the story itself have mostly faded, but I remember how I felt reading it, and I was bored. I didn't want to go through it again, so I've stayed clear from Stiefvater's books ever since. However, Cait of Paper Fury - whose taste is books is very similar to time - is always raving about Maggie Stiefvater, and The Raven Cycle in particular. So I thought maybe, but not any time soon. But then a few weeks back, I asked for recommendations on Twitter that have a similar feel to them that Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Mo├»ra Fowley-Doyle, and The Raven Boys is one of the books that was recommended. So I decided to give in and give it a read, fully expecting to hate it. But in actual fact, I really enjoyed it!

There is so much more that goes on in this book than the description above says. Yes, Blue is destined to kill her true love if she kisses him, but that's not the main crux of the story. Blue is the daughter of a psychic, lives with several psychics, and although she has no psychic ability herself, her presence amplifies psychic energy. So while accompanying her aunt on St. Mark's Eve at the ruin's of a church, to help her aunt see the spirits of those who will die this year, and make a note of their names. For the first time ever, Blue sees a ghost herself. That of a young boy, who tells her his name is Gansey. For her to see him, it means he's either her true love, or she is going to kill him. Blue decides to try and find this Gansey in order to try and warn him of his death, or to try and prevent it.

The Raven Boys are Gansey, Ronan, Adam and Noah. Gansey is leading them in the search for Owen Glendower, a Welsh king from folklore, who is told not to be dead, but only sleeping, and whoever wakes him will be granted a favour. Gansey has made it his mission to find Glendower, and that's why he's in Henrietta; Henrietta is built over a ley line, and Gansey believes, Glendower is buried somewhere along this particular ley line. He's done all sorts of research all over the world for years now, and it's brought him to Henrietta. How does Blue get involved?

To be honest, this book is pretty slow to get going. Tot he point I was sure I was going to end up putting it down, because nothing was happening. The story is told from the perspectives of Blue, Adam and Gansey for the most part, but it took so long for the Raven boys to actually meet Blue, and then for anything to actually happen. But once things did start moving, I was hooked. I loved how The Raven Boys took inspiration from real life folklore and the unexplained. It was so intriguing, and it made the story even more credible. At first Blue's only interest is in Gansey - how to tell him, how to warn him, struggling to understand how she could possibly fall in love with this guy, when lovely sweet Adam is more her type (though she's never had a type before) - but she soon gets all caught up in their search for Glendower. And who can blame her. It's so fascinating! And they make discoveries that you can't simply ignore. Psychic abilities is one thing, something she's grown up with and is pretty common place for her, but magic? Actual, real life magic? That's something else, and not something she's able to walk away from.

The characters are all brilliant. Gansey, who is always so enthused and excited, but also has a deeper level to him, and a front he puts on of confidence and charm around those he doesn't know. There's Ronan, who is moody and angry, who seems always to be on the edge of losing it, but yet has this much softer, caring side we see through his caring for Chainsaw, a baby raven he comes across that needs looking after. There's Adam who is smart and caring and sweet, but so stubborn; he is poor and has a terrible, abusive home life, but despite his friends all being rich and being quite able and happy to help get him out, he wants to do things on his own terms, not wanting "charity", but to work his way out of his situation. He feels like he's not on an equal footing with the other boys, and makes stupid decisions in an effort to get to that equal footing. And then there's Noah - quiet, shy Noah. Is that guy not just adorable? God, I just want to give that wee guy a hug. And Blue herself, she is spunky, strong and smart. She's a little quirky, but also sensible - which she hates - and actually helps the Raven Boys, not just with her amplifying abilities, but with her own knowledge and the things she thinks of herself.

I really, really enjoyed this book. I am so pleasantly surprised! There is a twist with two sides, one side of which I worked out from the beginning, because it is written on the page, and I thought "I bet that's not a joke, but actually true!" and was right, but the other side to that twist I just did not see coming at all. Completely threw me for the loop. And it was so disturbing! And so sinister! And that ending! I have so many questions, and people I don't trust, people I feel have their own agenda, and a revelation that just boggles the mind! I am completely captivated by this story, and I am so looking forward to reading where the story will go next in the sequel, The Dream Thieves.

Add to Goodreads

Published: 19th September 2012
Publisher: Scholastic
Maggie Stiefvater's Website

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