The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
I think my expectations for this book were too high. I have loved all of Maggie’s other stories and after reading The Scorpio Races earlier this year and loving it beyond all reason I was expecting to enjoy The Raven Boys just as much. You guess you can see why I was a little bit bummed out when this novel started off slow and took a while for me to get into.
The Raven Boys is told from 4 different perspectives and this at first confused me. I like alternating perspectives alright but I definitely prefer first person. I like that instant connection you feel with the narrator, and the immediacy that is created by that style of narration. That may be why I was not instantly drawn into The Raven Boys. Never fear though, after the first few chapters you hardly notice the shifting narration and Maggie’s beautiful prose pulls you right in to the story.
By far my favorite thing about The Raven Boys was that the friend dynamic was so fleshed out that I felt like I was a part of the group right along with the characters. Blue, Gansey, Ronan, and Adam are all completely distinct individuals with back stories and independent lives, they are the kind of characters that become so real that you can imagine how they would act in real life situations, and leave you remembering them long after you have finished the book. For example while reading this book I kept thinking of the song Tea Partay which is a 2006 Smirnoff East Coast rich money parody song and I kept wondering what Ronan and Gansey would think of it. The video is below if you are interested in checking the song out, beware it is funny.
Now, back to the characters. Blue is the daughter of a Psychic in town and she was born with the power to amplify the powers of those around her. Blue has never seen anything supernatural until the night of St. Mark’s Eve when she sees a ghost Gansey in the ancient churchyard. It is said that if you see the ghost they are either your true love, or you killed them, either way Blue is drawn to Gansey and ends up being friends with the entire group and joining in Gansey’s quest.
Ronan is one of Gansey’s old friends, and is described as the most Aglionby of all the boys. Ronan lost his Father under some mysterious circumstances and now has to answer to his older brother Declan in order to have any kind of money. Ronan is hot-headed, comes off as a jerk to everyone, but it is obvious he is covering for something and all this lashing out isn’t the real Ronan. I started to realize Ronan had a heart at about the time he finds a baby bird and begins caring for it. I’m actually excited to learn more about Ronan and his family in the next novel.
Adam is on a partial scholarship to attend Aglionby and someone ends up meeting Gansey. Gansey in a lot of ways forces Adam to be his friend, without ever forcing him to do anything. It was great to see the struggle Adam goes through being a “have not” in a school and friend group full of “haves”. Adam has to work, deal with an abusive father, and still try to balance life with Gansey who represents everything Adam wants. Honestly, he is a great character and Maggie wrote him so well that I was both sympathetic to his situation and understanding when he pissed me off.
That brings us to Gansey…Oh Gansey…I could not love this character any more then I do. The chapters written from his perspective were by far my favorite. Gansey has always been rich, he comes from a family of rich Virginians and money doesn’t mean the same thing to him, it is just kind of there. He doesn’t particularly care about school instead he is truly passionate about ley lines and finding an ancient Welsh King said to be buried along the ley line in Henrietta. The entire reason he choose Aglionby was to hunt for this King. At first I didn’t understand his obsession with the search but as the story progressed I wanted him to find the King as much as he did. Gansey is so genuine and thoughtful and just everything! I liked the dichotomy of the two different Gansey’s the one he has to put on as a front for the world and the true Gansey that he keeps hidden. I can’t think of a more well written character then Gansey, and I already know this little summing up of him does not do justice to the man that Maggie has created.
The highlight of this book is definitely the characters, the storyline about ley lines and the supernatural was kind of a back story for all the character development that takes place. In fact, the end felt kind of rushed, like Maggie really wanted all of us to know the characters and what their goals are but then realized that she needed to wrap up the story and just slapped together an ending.
Overall, I enjoyed The Raven Boys it was a good novel but it was obviously the start of a series. It felt like it ended just when the storyline was really starting to get good. I will definitely be eagerly awaiting the sequel though if for nothing else then the fact that I adore Gansey and can’t wait to see what happens to him next!