The Raven Boys
(The Raven Cycle #1)
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.
Maggie Stiefvater has managed to accomplish an impressive feat, creating and exploring a multitude of complex characters without the novel growing tiresome. She wrote about each character’s past, insecurities, faults and Achilles’ heel all the while creating interesting group dynamics and interaction that subtly hinted at what lay underneath their pretty faces. All too often I read books with several points of view or with an omniscient point of view that reveals little about the characters as individual people, luckily Maggie Stiefvater has craftily bypassed that pitfall. I found most of the characters highly endearing.
There was something hauntingly rich about this story, the Welsh folklore, the magic, the murder, the mystery and the idea of soul mates made this novel captivating. The plot was intricate and engaging, layered with magic and woven with supernatural elements. The book was riddled with enigmas, and a mystery that unfolded slowly and unexpectedly. I was entertained and impressed with the author’s writing, delicate foreshadowing and a liberal use of the rule “show don’t tell” allows the reader to pick up on clues with only a little nudging from the author.
Nevertheless, having such complex characters with well developed individual personalities coupled with an elaborate plot line proved at times overwhelming. I was at times submerged in new information, or felt that that there was too little headway on plot and an abundance of new discoveries about the characters. I felt that had some of the more inessential details been cut the book would have read more smoothly overall.