Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Review: The Raven Boys
Blue Sargent never could see what her clairvoyant mother did when they made their yearly visit to the churchyard where the ones that will soon be dead reside. This year that changes as Blue not only sees, but speaks with a spirit who goes by the name of Gansey. Blue discovers that Gansey is one of the rich kids that go to the local private school, the emblem of which is a raven. She knows that means he can only be trouble but every time that she encounters this soon-to-be dead boy she feels drawn to him, to what he has; friends, money, even good looks. Blue has been warned her entire life that if she ever kissed her true love they would die, but despite that advice when she discovers Gansey and his friends are on a quest, one that could change all of their lives forever she finds it impossible to stay away. Can Blue overcome her fate or will the raven boys prove to be just as dangerous as she initially feared?
Right before I read The Raven Boys I read the hilarious (and somewhat disjointed…alright, very disjointed but hilarious) review by two of my favorite bloggers Nikki from Fiction Freak & Eileen from Singing and Reading in the Rain which you can read here. I don’t think their review necessarily influenced how I feel about The Raven Boys, but it did pique my interest in it even more so that I could, somewhat, compare how I would feel about it to how they did (hopefully they don’t mind terribly that I’m writing about them o.o). In case you don’t want to (or are too lazy to) check out their review which I do recommend you do I will say that they had mixed feelings (I believe ended up somewhere between a 2.85-2.9/5) and mostly just enjoyed the world building. Anyway, onto my thoughts. >.>
I actually enjoyed The Raven Boys quite a bit. What I will say though is that I don’t mind a slower buildup in order to get to the action. I really enjoy Stephen King’s work and he is probably one of, if not the best example of a writer who takes a long time to get to the more uptempo parts of the book. If you have read Black House you know what I mean. So while The Raven Boys definitely takes a while before the explosion of action does occur I was enjoying the intricate characters that were being built up in the mean time.
Speaking of the characters, there were a lot of them. However, as with the comparison in plot buildup, Stephen King is known for having a large amount of characters in many of his books, most specifically Under the Dome which I enjoyed. So when it comes to a large amount of characters I have no issue with keeping track of them all. The Raven Boys built up these characters very well, none of them seemed to be lacking depth or purpose so it was clear that their involvement was not a detriment, but rather something to look on positively. I connected with Blue, she clearly just wants to fit in with her family and to feel normal despite the clearly unusual type of normalcy that she is surrounded by. Gansey was another character that I thought was very well done. He has a thirst for being part of something more, not to put himself on a pedestal but just for the sake of being part of something that is greater than what he has previously encountered in his life.
Going back to the plot, it really takes off later in the book and it will make your head spin! As for the part (admittedly the majority) of the book which is slower I felt that there was good reason for it to be at that pace. Simply, it is because that part of this book is actually quite realistic. These are kids with the lives of students, sure there are many things that are not “normal” when it comes to what they do or encounter along the way, but in most ways they have to continue to lead their normal lives while trying to complete this quest that they are on. If the plot was sped up too much during the beginning and middle parts of the book then the characters wouldn’t be as developed and you wouldn’t have as good of a feel for the world that they live in, something where The Raven Boys excels.
As for that world building it was excellent. You could truly picture the areas that they were going to and living in. The scenery was vivid and the descriptions of some of the places that the group went to on their quest definitely made me want to jump into the book and explore myself. I won’t spoil anything but some of the scenes where magic is present and combined with the world around them were superb. The details you glean during the slower parts of the book more than make up for the speed at which the plot develops.
I will agree with Nikki and Eileen that the romance in The Raven Boys was a bit on the bizarre side. This is mostly because the main romance is with people, or at least a pairing that you wouldn’t envision after reading the summary. It does throw you a bit off but I don’t think that it detracts necessarily, it is just a twist from what you expect. I have a feeling that in the next book that particular romantic situation will end up resolving itself, there doesn’t seem to be any way for it not to lead to the expected result. I know I’m speaking in code but you need to read it for yourself! ^.^
Overall I enjoyed The Raven Boys, even if the romance was a bit odd. The flurry of action leading to a somewhat confusing ending was also a little hard to take and the combination of those two things kept The Raven Boys from being a five star book for me. I would suggest that fans of books that do run a bit long with some buildup definitely read this book, but if you are looking for fast paced action throughout it may not be for you. Thank you as always for reading, I hope you enjoyed my review and leave a comment if you did! Oh, and if you have time you really should check out Nikki and Eileen’s hilarious joint review (links above), I guarantee you’ll enjoy it! 🙂