Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Fiction
Book Jacket Synopsis: “Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them – until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her. His name is Gansey, and he’s 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 is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher 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 doesn’t believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem. But 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 auther 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.”
Review: My first and only experience with Stiefvater’s writing came in the form of an Advanced Reader’s copy of Shiver when I was seventeen. While I enjoyed Shiver, it also largely became a “beach book” in my mind and, for that reason, I didn’t actively seek out any additional Stiefvater books until recently. Just a few days ago, a coworker of mine recommended that I try reading the Raven Cycle series. She said that if I liked fantasy, adventure, and Welsh mythology, it would be a good book for me. After finishing The Raven Boys (book one in a four-book series), I am definitely happy that I took her recommendation. There were a lot of really good things about this book. Firstly, I think Stiefvater did an excellent job of creating a mismatched group of boys who inexplicably fit together. Her writing never felt gendered, which I see as a huge credit to her skill as an author because it is not always easy for writing to feel authentic and accurate when female authors work with male protagonists (and vice versa).
“They filled the hallway to overflowing, somehow, the three of them, loud and male and so comfortable with one another that they allowed no one else to be comfortable with them.”
Another thing I really liked about The Raven Boys is that, despite indications from the book jacket synopsis, it is not overtly romantic. The boys and Blue are all too focused on Gansey’s obsessive quest for the lost Welsh king, Owen Glendower, to be fixated on romance. Romance was such a little aspect of The Raven Boys plot that I didn’t even feel like it should have a Romance genre classification. I expect this will likely change in future Raven Cycle installments, but this first book in the series is much more accurately described as a fantasy/adventure book. I also appreciated that none of the characters questioned the undeniable magic in their lives. So many fantasy novels spend a lengthy amount of time focused on the protagonist grappling with the idea that magic exists in the world. It’s often a very prolonged and tiresome period of reckoning. For that reason, it was refreshing to find a group of characters perfectly at-ease with a magical and mythical world. I refrained from giving The Raven Boys a higher rating because, in spite of the many pros, the book as a whole didn’t draw me in until the very end. Now that I am somewhat invested in the characters and plot, I expect the second book will receive a higher rating.