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YA, Fantasy/Paranormal Romance, 408 pages, Scholastic Press
- Series: first in the Raven Cycle
- Pub date: September 18th 2012
- Disclosure: Received a review copy from the publisher at BEA. Thank you!
Judged by its cover: Stark, gorgeous, and perfect for the story, this cover is everything I'd like to see YA covers be.
“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.
Credit where it's due: Maggie Stiefvater is a YA fantasy master. We've seen her mature from the excellent Lament and Ballad, to the heartwrenching Wolves of Mercy Falls series (Shiver, Linger, and Forever), to the best of the lot so far, The Scorpio Races (which was literally so good I couldn't review it). She's one of the few YA authors I've read absolutely everything by, and so when I went to BEA this June and saw the last advance reader's copy of The Raven Boys sitting on Scholastic's table, I snapped it up and walked around in a daze the rest of that day on the floor.
If I'm honest, though, I have to say that at first I was disappointed by this novel. Stiefvater's writing takes a distinctly different turn from her previous work here, in a third person style that's dreamy, dark, and coy. Our five heroes--Blue, Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah--all could have walked off the page, they're so distinct and real. But something about The Raven Boys and its lushly creepy southern setting just didn't quite click with me the first time around, and I couldn't possibly see how Stiefvater could drag another three books out of this world.
But as time's worn on, this novel has haunted me just as much as any of her stories yet. I won't spoil them, but with every heartbreaking twist I found myself wrapped just a little more around the author's finger, until I was so entangled in this book I found myself thinking about it at odd hours of the night when I should have been sleeping.
I still have a few complaints--for one, I have a bad feeling that the tension surrounding Blue's first (deadly) kiss will continue for the rest of the series, which is a pity considering that that twist was one of the weaker parts of the book for me--but once again, the big picture of The Raven Boys is more than enough to win me over.
Stiefvater's done it again: written a winning, gorgeous fantasy novel that you can't help but fall in love with. Highly recommended.
...and the Short:
Gorgeous and lush, with characters so real they might as well step off the page and shake your hand, The Raven Boys is a winning novel that cements Maggie Stiefvater's place even further in the category of YA greats.
The Final Word: Loved it.