Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Published by: Scholastic Press
Released: September 18, 2012
Series: The Raven Cycle
The Hook: This one was all about the title and cover for me.
You can judge a book by its cover, especially when those books catch your eye. Like this one did. There’s something about ravens that always makes me pause. I’m not sure what it is exactly. The symbolism maybe? The way things seem ominous when I think about ravens? I don’t know, but when I was browsing the stacks (book shelves for those who aren’t up to date on library lingo 😉 j/k) for something to read, I found myself thinking “The Raven Boys. Now that’s a catchy title. Why Raven Boys?” So I grabbed the book and the art work on the cover was beautiful (though beautiful isn’t quite the word I was reaching for. I can’t really describe the feeling I had so, beautiful it is). I was already 80% convinced that I’d read this book and since I’m such a fan of fantasy, magic, and/or paranormal things, I was stoked to see that this book had all of them.
It’s hard to review a single book in the series once you’ve read the entire series. You have to separate events per book and remember which ones occur in which book.
But this series I just have to. They each have a uniqueness to them on its own and when you get to book four it just works
So, in The Raven Boys you have Blue Sargent. Born to a mother with psychic abilities, she’s the only one in 300 Fox Way who doesn’t have some kind of psychic ability. Or an ability that she can use at will. In her neighborhood, there’s a private, all-boys boarding school known as Aglionby. Since Blue isn’t of that world, she’s sworn off all association with Aglionby boys except she has stumbled into the middle of a tight knit group of friends, all of whom are going to Aglionby, whose fates are intertwined by a quest to find the tomb of an ancient king. And if that doesn’t complicate things enough, it turns out her fate is just as much tangled up with them as they are with each other especially when she finds out one of those boys caused her one and only psychic experience ever. So begins new friendships.
Of all the paranormal/fantasy stories, I find this one unique in the sense that it revolves around a quest to find an ancient king. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there is a story or two that has this, but none that I’ve read and nothing that takes place in the backdrop of Virginia. I think this is what interested me the most. What ancient king has ever lived in America? And what is it about this king that has the Raven Boys so excited over? Add to that, since it’s an ancient king, magic, folklore, and a lot of history and you’ve got me hooked. Another element of this story I love is the group of psychics and the roles they play in this quest that involves Blue and her boys. We see this quest from all angles as well. We have the point-of-view from the psychics, the point-of-view of the less fortunate in life, the point-of-view of the withdrawn from life, and the one who has it all but doesn’t. This quest has different meanings for each of our characters and it was fun to read.
Oddly, I really like Gansey. And Ronan. And Adam. And Blue. I absolutely love this whole cast of characters. Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah make up Blue and her boys. And I love each and every one of them–Noah the absolute best, ;). I point this out because this is new to me. It is rare that I find myself liking the entire main cast of characters. Blue brings to the table her perspective of the world growing up around the paranormal and supernatural. Gansey brings in his innocence and a sense of naivety that only someone who has everything can bring. He’s not stuck up about it, but because he always had what he wants, he’s not aware of what others don’t have. Ronan. What can I say about Ronan. He’s . . . Ronan. I know that’s not helpful, but he’s one of the most complex characters I’ve met. He’s the bad boy of the group and well, I love they dynamic he brings to the group. Then you have Adam. Adam. The enigma of the Raven Boys. Living in a trailer park with neglectful parents, working almost non-stop to pay for his tuition to Aglionby on his own. The enigma. And Noah. Noah is, well. Another one I can’t quite explain. He’s almost shy, but he’s the most in tune with the gang. Their synergy is felt through out the story and I love how it builds from there.
Together, this cast of characters kept me entertain from start to finish. A group of friends with the same goal interpreting their purpose in the friendship in their own way. It’s fun to read. And who doesn’t love a quest? A quest! Gansey hooked all of them on his hunt for this ancient king. The most privileged of the group striving to make his life mean something. That makes for a great story.
The introduction to this story starts with Blue and her world, the unusual and paranormal side of things. Her perspective then blends into the Raven Boys and before you realize it, she’s embedded into their gang and their quest. Seeing it start with Blue and end with a paranormal experience, or several, just works. And I’m sorry if that sounds too spoilery, but you had to have expected paranormal experiences, right? The story is listed under fantasy.
What makes this story even better is the way its told. The narrative takes on the omniscient point-of-view. This was new to me. It took me a while to find my footing with all the jumping back and forth, but it works. And I love that it lets me see the same events from different perspectives in real time. There’s no starting a new chapter from a different angle. It’s laid out for me to experience. I love it! I’ve read that this is a hard point-of-view to write for, but Stiefvater does an excellent job with it. The Raven Boys kept me turning the page, wanting more, more, more.
The Raven Boys had me hooked for the entire series. The way Stiefvater tells this tale and sets in the backdrop of America is incredible to me. When you hear quests to find ancient kings, America is not the first thing on my mind. The way she writes her characters are awesome. They feed off each other and the dynamics among the gang is so much fun to watch. If you’re looking for adventure and some magic, this is a good read. I borrowed this from the library, but know I’m adding it to my library as soon as I can afford it. I know it’s a story I can read over and over again or at the very least browse its pages time and time again.