Title: The Raven Boys (2012)
Series: The Raven Cycle – Book 1
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Extent: 464 pages
Release Date: September 19, 2012
Even if Blue hadn’t been told her true love would die if she kissed him, she would stay away from boys. Especially the ones from the local private school. Known as Raven Boys, they only mean trouble.
But this is the year that everything will change for Blue.
This is the year that she will be drawn into the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys. And the year Blue will discover that magic does exist.
This is the year she will fall in love.
This is actually my second read of The Raven Boys, the first being all the way back in 2012, right in the middle of my three-year reading slump. I loved it then, but I wasn’t much in the mood to read anything so I quickly forgot about it. It took me a while to want to pick it back up, but I am so, so glad I did.
The Raven Boys is about Blue, a teenage girl who comes from a family of psychics, and the ‘Raven boys’, four boys from a prestigious local school. With a blurb that’s so focused on love, there’s actually not that much romance in this particular book, though I assume that’ll come in the next few books. Instead, it’s more about their developing (reluctant, at first) friendship and the strange things happening in their town.
“Aglionby Academy was the number one reason Blue had developed her two rules: One, stay away from boys because they were trouble. And two, stay away from Aglionby boys, because they were bastards.”
I really loved how the characters are developed in this one. You know the old writing adage of “show, don’t tell”? Too much showing can sometimes slow down the plot, whereas too much telling makes the characters simple caricatures, but I think The Raven Boys has a great balance of the two. The characters are complex, realistic, flawed and really, really unique — I’ve never really encountered others like them.
I was also surprised by how insightful, funny, and sometimes insightful and funny this book is. I wasn’t expecting to discover an honest view on the gap between the rich and the poor, but I did. I wasn’t expecting to chuckle out loud because of the way things were written, but I did. I wasn’t expecting the characters to have great banter, but they did.
“I like you better this way.” For some reason, admitting this made her face go hot right away; she was very glad that he still had his face pressed into his pillow and the other boys were still in Noah’s room.
“Crushed and broken,” Gansey said. “Just the way women like ’em.”
Yet Where Stiefvater excels the most, personally, is world-building. I saw it in The Scorpio Races (whose story I actually didn’t like) and I saw it again in this book. Henrietta, Virginia, is a sleepy, grey town full of creepy happenings, where the impossible becomes possible, where the paranormal is the normal. The imagery is so vivid sometimes that there were some scenes during reading that actually sent a chill down my spine.
The plot is a bit slow, yes, and there is a lot of getting to know the characters and the setting, but I enjoyed every second of The Raven Boys. As a book it was ultimately original and definitely adds something to YA fiction as a whole — a must-read if you love the genre and find yourself wanting something fresh.