Friday, September 14, 2012

Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

“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.

So I took the wimp way out and just used the summary from the publisher, but here's my nitpick about it: the summary focuses on the romance aspect of the book which is somewhat important but is definitely not the majority of it. At least for this book. The real focus should be on the fact that Blue, Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah, are four messed up individuals who find something in each other that connects them. They all find a balance in having the group together, and if any of the dynamics are thrown off they all fall apart.

The real drama comes from the relationships and the fact that Gansey has enlisted/emotionally hijacked them all into a fantastical quest. They are looking for King Arthur's body. Yep. King Arthur from the Round Table. It seems that Gansey has made it his seventeen year old life's mission to find it. What he doesn't know is the fact that some other boys have also looked for it from Aglionby and one of them ended up dead.
There are some big themes and plot twists in this, and I kind of wasn't expecting it to come together like it did. In a positive way. I was surprised that Maggie Stiefvater was able to get all of these big ideas to work almost cohesively. I had a few issues with the villains, I thought some of them were a bit clunky and not well developed. Otherwise pretty freaking good. The characters are all very unique and have distinct voices, which is maybe why she had five different narrators. Which I found quite jarring. I wish it would've been written from no more than two perspectives. Not that it wasn't interesting to see the plot unravel from different eyes, but that I felt like I was just getting into the rhythm of a character and then we'd jump to someone else. On the flip side of it, I don't think I would've emotionally connected to the characters as much as I did if she hadn't done four of the narrations, so I guess it's a trade off.

There's still some mysteries to unravel, and I'm already eagerly anticipating the sequel. It was an interesting and intense setup to a series.

Raven Boys comes out Sept. 18.

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