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Friday, November 23, 2012

Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

SERIES: The Raven Cycle, Book #1
AUTHOR: Maggie Stiefvater 
PUBLISHER: Scholastic Press 
PUBLICATION DATE: September 18, 2012
FORMAT: Hardcover, 408 pages
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy
ISBN: 9780545424929
“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is 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 has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, 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 never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

MY REVIEW:  

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own. 

Blue Sargent is your average, ordinary 16 year-old teenager, except that she has a unique extra-sensory ability. She can “make things louder” or amplify another person’s psychic talent. For her mother and her psychic clan, this ability can come in handy when they are doing psychic readings. Blue and Maura live in Henrietta, Virginia with Maura’s best friends, Calla and Persephone, as well as Blue’s cousin, Orla. They are all psychics. Maura’s half-sister, Neeve (a renowned television psychic), also recently came to stay with them.

Blue was told from a young age that kissing her true love would result in his death. Is this her mother’s way of keeping her daughter chaste, or is it a real warning to be heeded?

Richard “Dick” Campbell Gansey III is a “Raven Boy,” so named by the crest of the raven on his school uniform. He attends the esteemed Aglionby Academy, and his family is extremely wealthy. He keeps a leather-bound journal filled with drawings and notes about finding “ley lines,” which are invisible lines that intersect and create areas of powerful psychic energy. Gansey is obsessed with finding Glendower, a legendary king who is rumoured to bestow one wish to the first person who finds him. He is the ringleader of his group of friends that include Ronan and Declan Lynch, brothers from another wealthy family, and Adam Parrish who comes from a poor family with an abusive father. His family could never afford the tuition fees, but Adam is able to attend on a partial scholarship while paying the rest of the fees himself from his employment earnings. The last boy in the group is Noah, who is quiet and has a “smudgy” face.

On St. Mark’s Eve, Blue and her Aunt Neeve go to Corpse Road which is a place where the psychic energy is very strong. It is an annual event which Blue normally does with her mother so that they can meet all the spirits that are fated to die within the coming year. Blue cannot communicate with the spirits directly or even see them, but her special gift allows the psychic who is with her to be able to do so. In past years, Maura would call out the names of the spirits to Blue to write down so that they could remember them if any of these people came to Maura’s house for a reading so that she could forewarn them of their impending death. Blue is awestruck when a teenage boy heads directly for her. Not only can she see him, but she can also talk to him. Neeve tells her that there are only two reasons why a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve: Either she is his true love, or she killed him.

Blue meets Gansey and his gang when they come to dine at the restaurant where she works. Blue and Gansey seem to get off on the wrong foot, and Blue does not care much at all for his superior attitude. Gansey accidentally leaves his journal behind, and Blue takes it home for safe-keeping with the intention of returning it to him. Gansey contacts Maura for a reading and, when the Raven Boys come, the psychics get very strong vibes from the boys. Maura is not willing to help Gansey and his friends find Glendower, but Blue feels compelled to do so. Will she regret her decision?

I really like Blue’s character. She is stubborn and doesn’t put on airs for anyone, not even Gansey and his rich friends. She is unimpressed with Gansey’s wealth, and she is not afraid to say so. Gansey is an unusual fellow. What could he possibly hope that Glendower could grant him that he doesn’t already have? He actually owns a warehouse, where he lives with Ronan and Noah. Despite his wealth, he drives an old Camaro – his pride and joy – that is always breaking down on him. If it wasn’t for Adam, who taught Gansey how to do minor repairs, I am sure the car would not be running! You would think that Gansey is a spoiled, rich kid but he really isn’t. He is very polite and tries not to rub people the wrong way, although Blue sometimes misinterprets his intentions. Gansey looks out for his friends and takes care of them, especially Ronan who is a bit of a loose cannon. Ronan’s father was killed, and he knows something about his death that he is not sharing. The secret gnaws at him. Adam has a huge chip on his shoulder because he is the “odd man out” so to speak because he comes from a blue-collar family. He is a model student and is determined to succeed. He hates it when Gansey wants to help him out, and he wants so much to be on par with his friend. He views himself as Gansey’s “pet project” and feels pitied by Gansey. I honestly don’t think that Gansey feels this way at all.

For me, the story was really slow going for about the first third of the book. However, Stiefvater drew me into the story with her character development. The more that I learned about the characters, the more I liked them and cared about them. I found the plot to be unique and interesting although slightly confusing at times, but I wish that the beginning of the book would have moved along a bit faster.

This is the first book in a planned four-book series. The next in the series is expected to be released in Fall 2013. Despite the slow start, Stiefvater still managed to hook me, and I’m planning to read the next one!

 MY RATING:
 
3 stars!! It was good, and I enjoyed it. Thanks to Scholastic Canada for the opportunity to review this book!

This book qualifies as: 

4 comments:

  1. I agree that Maggie did a great job in showing us these fascinating characters. I really liked this. Can't wait for book 2. Thanks for the review.

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  2. Great plot with numerous twists. The paranormal and adventure at it's best. Can't wait for the next book in the series.

    Maycee Greene (Tony Lama Boots)

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    Replies
    1. The wait won't be much longer now! Thanks for stopping by!

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