Everyone, byeee Readers who take their YA fix with a side of the supernatural. Also, if you don’t mind coming into this knowing that this is setting you up for something bigger (hopefully), give it a try.
“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.” (via Goodreads)
There were so many turn offs for me going into this, but I was determined to stick to it. The synopsis alone is enough to make me throw it across the room. Oh, come on, you tell me who actually picked up the book and got hella excited that we were going to be subjected to another “arrogant, rich boy meets down-to-earth weird girl and falls in love” story. Not only that, but the first line…
“Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’d been told that she would kill her true love.”
I was going to put this book down the exact minute I read that. I legitimately almost lost both of my eyes from the force of the eyeroll I’d given. First lines can make or break a book, and they’re typically telling of what’s to come. However, I refused to believe that the hype would lead me astray again (I have way too much trust in the online book community, obvi). So, I pushed forward, and I’m so glad I gave this book a chance because Steifvater’s way of writing is oh so beautiful to me. It also didn’t hurt that she was dropping subtle hints from the beginning that had me flipping back just to have it confirmed.
Ten points, Stiefvater!
Let’s start with the good. What did I like? What didn’t I like? First, I was really digging the present world as the background for something so… magical. I’ve been reading so many stories set in the dystopian future or in a historical-like era. It was a breath of fresh air to be in an atmosphere I’m actually familiar with.
The prose was great! Seriously. I ate up every word Steifvater wrote. It was perfect for this kind of fantasy-type story. There were so many passages that gave way to the underlying magic that’s going on, and I loved every minute of it.
“Sleep deprivation made his life an imaginary thing, his days a ribbon floating aimless in water.”
The characters! Most of them were so developed. They came with their own history– one that shaped their motivations and day-to-day interactions. The complexity of Ronan Lynch (and his weird ass relationship with Gansey, though) alone is enough to bring infinite praise to this book from me. God, I fell in love with that hostile devil (even though I’m pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to). I want to know way more about him than anyone else. I also fell in love with Adam and Noah. To be honest, if Blue and Gansey didn’t show up for the rest of the series, I would not mind at all.
What really endeared me to this bunch of privileged misfits was that they were flawed in a pretty realistic way. Take Gansey, for example. He’s the rich kid who thinks he needs a purpose “bigger than himself.” We’ve seen it all before. However, rather than just having him be your stereotypical anti-rich boy, Stiefvater lets him own up to his title. At the base of his character, Gansey is exactly what you expect him to be as a rich, Algionby boy. He still throws money at situations to fix them. In fact, the only reason he’s able to obsess over finding his “king” is because he’s loaded. He’s also totally oblivious to how different his higher education is from everyone else and doesn’t yet know how to not offend his friends with his natural condescending tone. It’s refreshing to not be asked to look past his faults.
Another thing I loved was that once you got past the weird ass pacing, everything led up to the “big shebang.” It didn’t feel forced or over the top once this book’s secret was revealed. Stiefvater is a great storyteller, and I’m only sad that I’m just now discovering her.
Now, onto the bad. What I didn’t like… It was SO. DAMN. SLOW. in the beginning. Guys, no, you don’t understand. I didn’t feel like much of anything was going on. I thought it was because I don’t care much for Blue, but that can’t just be it. Stiefvater is setting up a series (which I totally get)… but in that same vein, you can always make the book longer so that I get something out of it.
There were a bunch of random plot points being thrown at us (who is Blue’s dad, again? who is this random ass half-sister? how is everyone so knowledgeable about the ley lines?) that you just knew we weren’t going to get the explanation to… But I was still surprised when the end of the book came, and I have fifty questions. ANSWER ME, WOMAN! Some of this is most likely due to The Raven Boys being numero uno in a much larger series, but it still bugged me. Just the little things. I swear to God, if they aren’t addressed in the later books, I am going to rage all over this blog.
Last but not least, I hated that this book for all of its goodness still managed to fall into the dreaded YA love story trap. First, there’s the slight nod to the love triangle coming our way (greeeeat. because I love those). Not only that but, at its core, this is a story about the weird girl falling for an arrogant, rich boy. I am going to SCREAM.
Let’s Conclude This
I know I had a lot of things I disliked about this book, but it all comes down to one thing for my rating: did I enjoy it? And, you know what? I did. I stayed up way past my bedtime because Maggie had me so painfully entangled in the story she was weaving. Were there some things I would rather go without? Duh. But I feel that way about pretty much every book I’ve ever read. Moral of the story… There was much conflict on this rating, but
I have to give it a 4-Creature Rating if only for my utter happiness. After much consideration (and hilarious banter with myself), I’ve decided to give this a 3.5 Creature Rating instead.
tldr; AKA the non-rambling thoughts on The Raven Boys
What I will always gush over:
- beautiful prose
- interesting story
- blessedly present world
- well-written characters
What I want to keep as far away from me as possible:
- slow ass pacing
- plot holes
- the same, rehashed YA love story