After having read Maggie Stiefvater’s ‘Wolves of Mercy Falls’ trilogy Shiver, Linger, & Forever (click for book review), when my friend Andrew offered me an advanced reader copy of The Raven Boys, I was happy. I enjoyed her previous writing and found myself entertained by her story. I can’t say Stiefvater is “The Next JK Rowling” or some equally inflated claim, but the enjoyment level is high, her writing is constantly evolving, and the ideas are unique.
“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.”
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.
From the dust jacket. Published by Scholastic Canada
Like many of the young adult books out today, they are planning a series, but fortunately Stiefvater has some experience with series already. In The Raven Boys, there is closure to the adventure at hand but the grand quest is just getting started.
SPOILER ALERT — Warning!
One of the major conflicts—Blue’s ‘prophecy’ that she will cause her true love to die—isn’t resolved, but it actually worked. It’s kind of like in Harry Potter when the solve the crisis that school year, but the overall issue of Voldemort isn’t resolved.
As for the characters, I really liked Blue—she was strong-willed, smart, but also characteristic of a typical 16-year-old around boys. Gansey was … Gansey. I know that isn’t much of a description, but he worked. You get his personal conflict, but we don’t quite empathize with him. He feels uncomfortable coming from money and having it really easy, especially with a best friend like Adam who has to work really hard for it all.
But yet, as Adam repeatedly points out, Gansey takes the money for granted and doesn’t think twice about spending (like renting a helicopter when his sister is a pilot). Adam gets pretty worked up about it and calls Gansey ‘insensitive’. Personally, I think Adam is projecting his anger—Gansey is just trying to help and it should not be up to him to censor himself because it makes Adam uncomfortable. But at the same time, I understand where Adam is coming from; he wants to be his own man, stand on his own two feet, and not take hand-outs. I think there is a confusion between the two boys about ‘hand-outs’ versus ‘helping a friend’. Overall, I think the way Stiefvater has the characters deal with money and the differing financial situations in a very honest way.
I personally don’t understand why Blue liked Adam, but it works for the book. It makes you curious how Gansey is going to die if Blue can see his spirit. But the attraction between Blue and Adam isn’t fully developed. The only thing they mention was that he wasn’t like the other Raven Boys because he didn’t come from money. Although, I appreciate the book wasn’t some long drawn-out love triangle. In fact, because Blue even refuses to kiss a boy, we pretty much nipped that one in the bud.
The other two characters I haven’t mentioned yet, Ronan and Noah, were good secondary characters. Ronan has his own issues, but it will be curious to see where his unique talent with languages leads him in future book(s). With Noah, I saw the twist coming but I still liked it. I hope he’ll be around in the next book(s). I’m also curious to find out why Blue was able to see Gansey’s spirit in the graveyard.
Overall, I liked the adventure they had, it certainly whet my appetite and I enjoyed the setting, characters, and concept. I look forward to reading the next book in the series as all five young characters struck a chord with me.