Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

I’m reviewing an ARC, but the book just came out this week (so go, get it!). I absolutely loved Stiefvater’s werewolf books! I know the books have gotten a lot of mixed reviews, but I just fell in love with Stiefvater’s writing style and character development. Her characters (while capable of rather remarkable things) are always just so authentic; they read like actual people you might know. And I love soaking up her words like a sponge, reading her books nice and slow and letting everything sink in.
However, the one book everyone seemed to love but me was The Scorpio Races. I just didn’t get it. Why did everyone love this one, and not love the beautiful werewolf books? Seriously, I am still baffled by its reception. Any way, I had no idea what to expect with this one. Would it be more like her first series or more like the book I don’t get? I wasn’t sure I was even going to read it because the premise for it didn’t really grab me. It sounded so much like other things I have read, and I wasn’t sure if I could let any other books ruin my love for this author (who definitely knows her craft).
I am so glad that I gave this a try! I loved it! She has wowed me with her characters (no big surprise there), she has wowed me with her writing style again, and she’s finally wowed me with her story too! I’ve learned that this hasn’t been a good year for publishers trying to get across what their books are about. The description made this book sound like it would be another Sam/Grace type romance, but the romance was not a big part of this story at all. I mean, it was there, but it was mostly just hinted at with visions of the future and possible what-ifs to come later in the series.
Stiefvater goes back and forth among characters again. There’s Blue (I think I liked the name, Puck better), Gansey, Adam, and Whelk who all get some chapters to themselves, though mostly it centers around Blue, a girl who has grown up relatively normal amongst a family of psychics. Blue has grown up believing in the supernatural, well, because she lives in the supernatural. She knows her family (and the many women living in her house) can all do things that normal people cannot explain. And she also knows that she helps them do it. All Blue needs to do is sit in at a reading and she makes the readings go a lot more smoothly (or as her mother calls it, “louder.”)
She has also grown up in a house of women who have routinely told her never to fall in love. It has been predicted early on that whoever Blue kisses (and falls in love with) will die. On St. Mark’s Eve (April 24th), everything changes. Blue goes to the cemetery every year with her mother so her mother can see all the people who will die this coming year. She sees the ghosts of those who will soon pass away. And Blue helps her see them. This year though, Blue sees one ghost too.
She speaks to him and learns that his name is Gansey. There are only two reasons for why Blue would see this ghost (and none of the others, who apparently all walk through her and do something to her energy, making her go to sleep for a long time); either he is the boy she will fall in love with or she will end up killing him. Gansey also believes in the supernatural, or at least he really wants to believe in it.
Gansey is on this ultimate quest to look for Glendower, a medieval legend who is rumored to have never died, but instead to have been asleep for centuries. He’s supposed to grant one favor to the person who is able to find him. And the only reason Gansey is a Raven boy (named for his school) is because he has tracked down everything he has learned about Glendower to this location of the world.
Gansey has a crew of Raven boys who all work on this quest together. And while not a lot is said about what favor each boy wants, it’s fun guessing what it is each would ask for from the mysterious Glendower. Stiefvater magically connects everything! She connects the boys’ quest with Blue and her ability to magnify other people’s powers. She connects the energy of psychics to the energy of the earth. There’s family mystery, vague predictions, and so many different stories woven together. One story revolves around the teacher Whelk, who has his own experiences going after Glendower that are just so creepy.
There’s human sacrifices, mysterious fathers, and a lot of research and investigating! Believe it or not, Blue doesn’t fall for Gansey right away (even though I did!); she falls for his best friend: Adam, another Raven boy. She connects with him right away and he gets her involved with the adventures. Adam and Blue live on the same side of (the rather Foot Loose kind of divided) town. They both see money in a way that none of the other Raven boys do. But it soon becomes clear that even though Blue and Adam hold hands sometimes and like to work side by side while investigating magical forests, that Blue and Gansey are meant to be.
Adam’s story is powerful too though. He comes from an abusive family and he has such an interesting friendship with Gansey. And while I’m not really talking about the other boys, they were fantastic too. All of them were such interesting, unique characters. I loved the other story from the past about the two other boys looking for Glendower. I loved the mystery and obsession of Glendower himself. I loved the slight supernatural moments. I loved all the stuff about energy. I loved everything written about power and money and how everyone views it so differently. Blue’s family was so much fun to read about too!
But the best moments, hands down, were the ones were Blue and the boys were exploring and learning about Glendower together. Some of the scenes were pure magic. The prophecies, the predictions, the trees that speak Latin(!), the ghosts, the politics, and all the characters just pushed this story along so beautifully! I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know things the whole time. There was one big twist that I did not guess at all! I literally went back in my reading to make sure that Maggie wasn’t pulling my leg.
I cannot wait for the second book in this series, though as with the Shiver books, it’s hard not having a feeling for how it will all eventually have to go down, and you can’t help but hope for some other outcome. This was well written, the characters were fantastic, the story was intriguing, and there were so many smaller elements that all wove into everything so perfectly and made this book just stand out for me. I give it a 10/10.

1 comment: