Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Raven Boys

The 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.
-Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads

Oh, how I loved this book. There's the Practical Magic-esque house full of eccentric female female psychics (Blue, her mother, Maura, outspoken cousin Calla, and odd, dreamy Persephone), a heroine who stands out from the crowd, a well-developed cast of believable and non-stock characters, mystery, spirits, folklore, RAVENS! 

This could easily have been an angsty, sloggy tale of woe and star-crossed lovers. Instead, it's a story of a group of friends coming together to unravel a centuries old mystery. Some characters take longer to get to know than others (Noah is a bit hard to pin down until about halfway through), and some I was surprised by liking, like Ronan. A pretty rich boy with rage issues? Yeah, no thanks. I've never been one to swoon over the Logans and Tylers of the teen scene.

....Oh, wait, he rescued a baby raven? And... is Irish? And likes Celtic folk music? And stands up for his friends when it counts? 

Damn it.

The action kicks well into gear towards the end of the book, and there were some solid surprises and welcome twists along the way. Despite the summary, there wasn't much romance in this one, which is fine with me. I think too many YA authors give the mushy/swoony/broody stuff too much time in the spotlight, when they could really spend more time developing plot, fleshing out characters and world-building. Besides, there's a good reason for it- would you be feeling especially romantic if there was a prophecy looming over your head?

 I do wish that a few more questions had been answered, but there is at least one sequel planned, so I won't quibble about that too much. Book 2, The Dream Thieves, is slated for a September 2013 release. Hurray!


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