Maggie Stiefvater: THE RAVEN BOYS

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
The Raven Cycle #1
Scholastic 2012
454 pages
5/5 stars

My tumblr dash has been full of the Raven Cycle for a long, long time. People have kept telling me to read it. I have protested because I read Stiefvater’s Shiver, the first book in her Wolves of Mercy Falls series, and found some medical inaccuracies in it that so infuriated me that I never continued the series. However, friends persisted and insisted that this book is so much better, and so I finally gave in and got it from the library.

People, listen to your friends when they insist. They are not wrong.

Where do I even start. This might be a very short review due to the fact that I don’t know how much I can say about this book without spoilers so soon after reading it.

Blue Sargent’s family are all psychics, and it has been predicted that if she kisses the love of her life, he will die. Well, I thought, fine, interesting enough, but will this be a romance thing? I’m not huge on YA romance.

No, it’s not romance. Against all odds, Blue befriends a peculiar group of young men from the near-by posh boys’ school. This is where the title comes from: the emblem of the school is a raven – this will have implications later on. They are such a mismatched gang of friends that it’s a miracle they are friends, as Gansey, one of the POV characters and one of Blue’s raven boys reflects. The rest of the boys are quiet and retiring Noah, Adam whose parents are NOT rich, and Ronan, “the sulky one”. Gansey acts as the character around whom everything ties: it is his obsession with an ancient Welsh king that draws binds the bunch together, it is he who is in control, it is he who worries about the others and sorts things out.

There is so much going on this book. Stiefvater teases the reader by having the boys make off-handed remarks to each others’ past and current conditions, to things that to don’t feel right but no one can figure out why – and then things start to go genuinely weird and the more the reader finds out about the boys, the more complicated things keep getting. If I was a less self-conscious person, I would have exclaimed out loud at a plot twist on the commuter train; as it is, I nearly did so anyway, because I did not expect it. I thought I’d figured it out before the characters, but turns out I had not, and oh, what pleasure there is in that! The Raven Boys is full of such shockers, and the annoying thing is, they don’t all get solved, because this is a series and there are three further books.

I must commend Stiefvater on having so very many reins to negotiate and, at least in this book, keeping them in had so deftly. And every time I started to feel like I couldn’t bother reading more, she would tug on one of the reins and I would be confronted with something that made it simply impossible to stop reading before the next lull. While I don’t quite rave about this series based on the first book, I do really want to read the rest of the series and see how all the things tie together.

The Raven Boys is fairly light reading, but that doesn’t mean it’s not complicated and full of darkness and threat. Without a doubt, this is some of the best YA I have read this year, perhaps apart from Gail Carriger’s Prudence ­– but this is a close second, without a doubt.

*reserves Dream Thieves from the library*

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