Goodreads: The Raven Boys
Series: The Raven Cycle #1
“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.
Before picking up The Raven Boys (which someone gifted me), the only thing I’d read by Maggie Stiefvater was Shiver around its release, and I was not impressed. I’ve been studiously avoiding Stiefvater’s other books all these years under the assumption they were also, well, flat and not very good, so I am happy to report that The Raven Boys blew away all my negative expectations and left me with a story that was engaging and took me by surprise at several turns. It also kept me up at night because I’d had no idea that it dealt with ghosts and the occult, and people seemed constantly in danger of dying or being possessed or otherwise meeting a creepy end.
I sat on drafting this review for several days after I finished the book because, even though I enjoyed it, it’s hard to pinpoint my exact thoughts on the story. Ultimately, I think that’s a plus. A friend saw me reading the book, skimmed the back cover, and determined it sounded like a “typical” YA book — which is when it struck me that it’s really not. There aren’t a lot of tropes I associate with YA, or the kind of structure or narrative voice I often associate with YA books. The story is just kind of doing its own thing, which I appreciate.
When I’ve seen other people review this series, I always got the impression people were just talking about hot boys, but I think the standout characteristic is actually the sense of mystery about the whole story. It starts with a mystery, why Blue can see a spirit on the corpse road when she never has before, and then just keeps entangling more and more mysteries around that. Not all of them are solved at the end of the book, which honestly seemed a bit abrupt, but I know that’s to make readers buy the sequel.
The boys themselves, then, I can take or leave. Maybe it gets better in the following books, but I actually thought their relationships with each other could have been better defined in this book. They all seem like vaguely interesting people, but I often wasn’t that invested in them as characters (I was more interested in the plot), and I think that might be different if I felt more strongly about their friendship. Things between them often seem hinted at but…I really feel “meh” about them as a whole.
My greatest issue is that I think The Raven Boys is objectively good, original and well-written. I didn’t really connect with it on any level though, so I’m really on the fence about whether I’ll read the rest of the series.