The Raven Boys

“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.

2 thoughts on “The Raven Boys

  1. Marilyn Carpenter says:

    What a zesty dialogue about Raven Boys. I am revisiting the book, because of all your varied viewpoints.

  2. Pritchard & Wilson says:

    Melissa’s Take:
    Michael Chabon wrote somewhere (I am paraphrasing) that genre doesn’t matter. Any book that is good is good no matter how it is categorized. I try to live by his admonishment but it doesn’t really work for me. I am a realistic/historical fiction gal, and although I do try to read out of my comfort zone it rarely works. The Raven Boys is a fantasy young adult novel that has made me realize that Chabon is full of beans.
    It is well written. The characters are nicely developed. The plot is intriguing and requires lots of focus on the reader’s part to keep up. In my opinion the dialogue can sound like it is orphaned from Harry Potter, with words like, “brilliant” and “geezer” running around on the wrong continent. The story takes place, in part, at a tony prep school in Virginia and perhaps this out of place slang is supposed to distinguish the haves from the have-nots. To my ear it sounds phony and is just annoying. It is equally obnoxious that Ms. Stiefvater never can refer to the protagonist Blue’s home as “home,” but all spells out its address-300 Fox Way.
    The plot is too complex to summarize easily. There are about 10 plots and subplots going at one time and numerous important and could be important characters inhabiting this crowded text. What I can safely share is that the world in this novel is unique as are its characters, but unique without being quirky or shallow or stereotypical. The people you meet in The Ravens Boys are as complex and likeable/unlikable as any real people. The story has a nice balance of gender, class, and worldviews. There is nothing preachy in the writing and the reader must transact in earnest to create a poem a la Rosenblatt.
    Still, it is a set up for a long series. The ending isn’t present. It feels like the bookstore ripped you off and only sold you half of the physical story for the full price. It is a beginning only, not even a middle. After 408 pages I felt like I had just finished a prologue. And maybe the preface is intriguing. It is a lot of work to slog through with little pay off.
    It is a text that may have international appeal as it didn’t feel quite American. I was surprised to learn that the author really is from the States. There was something strange and unsettling about the reading act for me. I felt as if I had traveled to somewhere where I did not want to be and I just wanted to go home to my comfy genres. For those of you who don’t have the time to read all 408 pages, I feel a movie coming real soon to a theater near you.
    Gail’s Take:
    When I read Melissa’s review, I had a good laugh and knew once again, we were on to a good exchange. And I say, “Rah!” to Chabon and his genre-crossing, bias-bending! I loved The Raven Boys, and as I have professed on many occasions, this is my favorite genre.
    In some of the reviews I’ve read about Stiefvater’s latest series, pacing and characterization have been issues—not for me. I found myself instantly captivated by this quirky group of teenagers; in part, they were a lot like my gang—except we didn’t have a ghost in our group and we were not 1%ers, but we were a motley crew with our unique baggage—just like this group of five.
    I agree with Melissa about the need to pay attention to the plot. I was a few chapters into it when I realized the bread crumbs Stiefvater was dropping along the way. I actually stopped reading and went back to the beginning picking up the crumbs. For example, each chapter is designated with the number embedded within crossed lines, like a rounded triangle—that symbol plays out throughout the book. In Chapter 1, Blue’s mother draws the pattern on the steamed glass shower door; later in the same chapter, Blue’s aunt, Neeve, draws the same pattern in the dirt; and in Chapter 2, Gansey draws the shape on his shoe’s dusty toe. Clearly this is a shout-out to pay attention. Another crumb comes from Gansey’s philosophy, “Some secrets only gave themselves up to those who’d proven themselves worthy;” so the questions becomes, is Gansey worthy? Lots more crumbs follow. My favorite has to do with Noah. In Chapter 4, Declan introduces his friend, Ashley, to the group; on shaking Noah’s hand, she exclaims, “Oh! Your hand is cold.” To which Noah replies, “I’ve been dead for seven years…. That’s as warm as they get.” I loved these breadcrumbs and after backtracking, found that it was like a treasure hunt finding each one and thinking about what it might portend.
    The character development might be considered hit and miss, but I would argue mostly hit. Back to Noah—when Ashley meets him, we get a vivid description of his looks, “There was something out of place about his clothing, his mostly combed-back fair hair. His unkempt uniform…” We find out he kept a meticulous room “with a piece of mysterious equipment.” And later on, “he looked pale and insubstantial… and “he looked less like Noah than the suggestion of Noah.” We find out he doesn’t have a sense of humor, but often says things that are funny. He’s serious. He doesn’t eat pizza. And when they think about it, none of the others have a single class with him. Even though all the clues are there for the gang, it takes them quite a while to realize Noah is a ghost: “’He’s dead,’ Gansey said. His arms were tight over his chest. ‘You’re really dead, aren’t you?’ Noah’s voice was plaintive, ‘I told you.” There is clearly more to each character than is actually revealed in this first of four novels, particularly in regard to Ronan—but overall, I’m satisfied with what I learn about each.
    I think everyone would agree the plot is complex: There is Blue and the prediction that to kiss her true love will kill him; there is Gansey’s quest to find the ley lines which he hopes will lead him to the tomb of the sleeping King Owain Glyndŵr and the granting of a favor to whomever wakes him; there is Noah and his unsolved murder; there is Adam and his abusive home environment; and there is Ronan, different since his father’s death. Each character has a plot line that segues into the others’; complex, indeed, and a very good read!

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