Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Raven Boys Review
Book talk: On St. Mark's Eve the spirits of those who will die in the next year march along Corpse Road. Of course Blue had never been able to see them. Her gift is to increase the psychic abilities of others without being able to experience them herself. Which is why she was once again by the old church on St. Mark's Eve helping someone else record the names of unfortunate souls she could not see. That is, until she saw him. That night everything changed. There are only two reasons why a non-seer like her would see a spirt on St. Mark's Eve: she's either his true love...or his killer.
Rocks my socks: I love the characters in this novel from Blue: the sensible one in a house full of psychics to the group of Raven Boys: so called because of their private school's mascot. The four Raven Boys have a special bond and it's this group chemistry that kept me reading more than anything else. There's Gansey, the leader of the pack; Ronan, who knots his ties "with a method best described as contempt;" Adam, who is described as "a sepia photograph;" and Noah, who looks "like his body had been laundered too many times." Gansey is obsessed with finding the body of a lost Welsh king that he believes is hidden on a magical ley line. He pursues this quest through meticulous and passionate research that warmed the heart of this librarian. The boys clearly care about each other, but they're so different that they seem to be constantly on the verge of breaking apart. So many stories focus on romantic relationships to the exclusion of all else that it's refreshing to read a story with such an interesting group dynamic at its heart. Along the way Stiefvater managed to throw me a curveball and I'm so rarely surprised by well-written plot developments that I take great pleasure from the times that I am.
Rocks in my socks: While I enjoyed the novel and the way it ended, I don't feel like it lived up to the promise of the beginning. Three things are repeatedly mentioned at the start: that Blue's fated to kill the one she loves, that Gansey is supposed to die within the year, and that Gansey is obsessed with a Welsh king. Yet after the beginning these story lines fade. The romance is barely present, Gansey's impending doom is never revealed to him and rarely mentioned, and only the quest for the king remains. I'm not really disappointed because the book became more about the group dynamic I enjoyed so much, but I still feel like the story didn't match the set-up. This is the first book in the series though, so it's possible those elements will pick up more in the next books. I also didn't love the way all the teachers were depicted as resenting their rich pupils, although I'm more than a bit biased on the subject. Still, this sloppy characterization smacks of cliche. Hopefully the next book will include at least one teacher that actually likes teaching.
Every book its reader: More than anything else this book reminded me of The Likeness by Tana French, but that's an adult novel so not necessarily helpful for recommending it to students. I'm sure the supernatural aspects of the story will be a big selling point for many. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of supernatural fiction--I'm more of a straight-up fantasy girl, but I loved this novel anyway because of the group dynamic. So people who may not usually go for supernatural fiction but love character-driven novels and boarding school stories shouldn't let the psychics deter them.
Maggie Stiefvater has her own website with a page for the book.
There's an animated trailer for the book over at Maggie Stiefvater's YouTube page
Source: School Library
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater: buy it or check it out today!