ARC Review: The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater

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.
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[Surprisingly, this is my first experience with a Maggie Stiefvater novel (the rest of her books have been in my TBR pile for WAY too long). Perhaps also surprising is that, while I hadn’t yet read any of her books, I’ve been reading her blog for quite a while. So,when I first saw artwork — artwork involving tarot cards — for the trailer she was making for The Raven Boys, my interest was piqued. And when I got to read the first two chapters online for free, I was thoroughly and completely hooked.
I pined for this book. I entered every possible giveaway for an ARC. I devoured every new tidbit of anything related to The Raven Boys. And then one sweet, glorious Monday afternoon, my sister informed me that she had gotten an ARC of The Raven Boys in the mail. Very quickly, it was in my eager hands.]

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Probably the first thought I had about this book (after OMGOMGOMG) was that the writing felt so deliciously deliberate. The pace throughout was steady and relaxed. While I always wanted to know what happened next, I never felt a sense of urgency, which was kind of refreshing. It’s like the book keep assuring me that things would happen, and I’d be there for them, but I didn’t need to rush. The best thing, though? Many times while reading, I’d come across a sentence with words so perfectly placed that I just about squealed right out of my seat! Each time was like finding a treasure and it made me appreciate the writing so much.

I have to to tell you that my favorite parts of the book were the scenes that involved Blue and her psychic family. Learning about each psychic and her abilities, quirks, and personality was so much fun. When the scenes began to shift toward the raven boys, I wasn’t as interested. Why read about normal characters when I can read about mystical characters? Although, I must say, that once the story picked up with Gansey’s quest for leylines, I was much more interested in the scenes involving the boys.

One of the coolest things about this book, in my opinion, is that its magic seemed so much closer to home than most other YA novels containing a supernatural element. Perhaps because it’s tied to things like tarot cards and legendary leylines. Things that already exist (more or less) in our world. Stiefvater did a great job of taking these concepts and building on them, bringing them to life in such unexpected and interesting ways.

Something I really appreciated was the way that all of the characters were tied to one another. I loved getting to see the various facets of each character when they were interacting with one another, and when they were alone with themselves. Though I have to admit that I preferred the female characters, each of the raven boys grew on me as the story progressed.

Honestly, I think one of the weakest parts of the story was the raven boys themselves. Gansey is the main male character, and while I enjoyed following him on his quest, at the end I still didn’t really feel like I knew him at all. Each raven boy had his own story weaved in throughout the book, but my favorite was Ronan. Yes, the troublemaker and jerkiest punk of them all. Maybe his story was told best? Or maybe, like Blue, I felt drawn to him because he seems so difficult to impress.

Perhaps the bottom line is that I got to know each character a little, but right now we’re still acquaintances. Maybe we can’t be friends until the next book?

Overall, I really enjoyed the story, and the roller coaster ride that Blue and her boys went through. I’m looking forward to book two, and hope that it has just as much of the magic as did book one. Most likely I’m going to re-read The Raven Boys before book two comes out, just so I can go on the adventure all over again.

[NOTE: I read this book as an ARC, borrowed from my sister, who gets many, many amazing things in her mailbox.]

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4stars

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

More of The Raven Boys: goodreads | amazon | official website

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8 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater

  1. Yay for loving The Raven Boys. Interestingly enough I thought one of the strongest things about the book were the friendships between the boys. Well more specifically the friendship between Adam and Gansey. I adored Adam for the most part lol and I’ve gotta say that I had a soft spot for Ronan. I think I have a thing for boys-in-despair-and- are jerks for the most part. I think my soft spot for Ronan stems from him being good at Latin. I studied Latin for three years in High School, so yeah feeling the Latin love here.

    I have to ask though were you confused by the ending? Because I was. I couldn’t quite figure out what happened even though I went back to re-read some of the last few lines. I can’t wait for the second book either!

    Wonderful Review :).

    • I agree about Ronan. He was definitely my favorite of all of them, especially when his little buddy came into the story. :) And I do agree that probably the strongest relationship within the story was the one between Gansey and Adam. I think I just… Gansey is still so much of a mystery and I have a hard time sympathizing with / relating to him, so it still is a bit of a struggle for me.

      As for the ending… I dunno. It wasn’t too confusing for me, but it’s also been a few months since I read it so I don’t remember it all that clearly. I’m definitely ready for the second book, though!

      Thanks for commenting; I’m glad you liked my review! :)

      • I wonder if the death in Ronan’s family has something to do with Glendower. Do you have any thoughts about that?

        Gansey is definitely a puzzle of a character. I think I warmed to him somewhat at the end, but I hope there’s more of a deepness to him other than the reasons he gives about his quest. Sorry I don’t know how to post spoilers on wordpress! I’m not sure if it’s like good reads where you can add the html tag. So do feel free t delete this comment if you think there are too many spoilers in it.

        I wonder if we’re going to meet new female characters in the sequel of if it’s just going to be Blue and her household. It’s going to be interesting for sure!

        Have a Happy New Year!

        • Oh man, I didn’t even think about that! But you’re probably right to suspect something about the death in Ronan’s family having something to do with *something*. That part of the story was played up a lot, so it must have some significance.

          Ah, I wouldn’t worry about spoilers. Looks like it’s just you and me discussing here anyway. :)

          I’m curious if there will be new female characters, too. It seems like a likely possibility, but I wonder how much that would change the dynamic of their little group, you know? If there are additional girls brought in, I suspect they won’t be as much of a focus, but who knows.

        • I wonder if we’re going to get to meet Ronan’s other brother in the second book. I mean we know what Declan’s like and it’ll be interesting to see what the middle one is like in comparison to both Ronan and Declan.

          If new female leads were added I think it would change the dynamic of the little group, but it depends on how important they would become for the story. I’m a bit heartbroken about Adam and Blue’s relationship not going anywhere :(. It was really sweet and sincere and then I couldn’t quite understand Adam’s ending in the book.

        • I think there’s still hope for Adam and Blue. Even though it *looks* like the whole *romance* is supposed to be between Blue and Gansey. I do like that it’s not set in stone though. I hope that the whole prophecy about Blue is revisited frequently throughout the series. I kinda felt like it was mentioned in the beginning and then forgotten about.

  2. I’d really like to see where Blue and Adam’s relationship ends up in the second book, but I felt towards the end of the book she was drawn more to Gansey. It’ll be interesting to see who the new antagonists are. But sometimes I do wonder if there are really going to be concrete antagonists in this book or is it just going to be about finding the lost king. Happy New Year by the way!

    • Yes, I am curious to see how those relationships develop as well. And I have been wondering about the antagonists in the new book, too. To be honest, I was kind of surprised to discover that there WAS an antagonist in this book, because so much of the story doesn’t seem to really need him. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how things progress in book 2!

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