THE RAVEN BOYS
(Raven Cycle #1)
Paranormal Young Adult
Available September 18th
Received at BEA
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
“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.
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.
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.
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.
The Raven Boys, like most of Ms. Stiefvater’s stories, starts slowly and progresses at a leisurely pace, giving us plenty of time to wrap the folds of her world around us like a comforting blanket, content to bask in the temporary cocoon of her glorious imagination as we trust in her to lead us where she wants us to go. Though we have the utmost faith in Ms. Stiefvater’s ability to take us on an unforgettable journey, we also quickly learn that reading her stories, The Raven Boys in particular, is like navigating that journey with the help of a map but no compass—we’re given general directions, nudges, and hints, but so much is left up to us to try and decipher, and we must tread carefully and methodically to ensure we don’t let any clue as to our whereabouts go unnoticed.
One of the most consistent highlights of Ms. Stiefvater’s books is her ability to craft absolutely stunning characters, young men and women full of depth, darkness and hope who hold us riveted to their story until we reach the last page. Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah are all beautifully fascinating, broken boys with jagged edges who inexplicably find the complement to their sharpness in one another, and look to Gansey to be the glue that binds them together. Ms. Stiefvater gives us three stunning portraits (Noah remains the most indistinct of the four) of these young men known as raven boys, the brush strokes that lovingly caress their features bold and deeply grooved—whorls of completely unique character fingerprints—with shadows lingering in the spaces between the highlights just waiting for us to pay them closer inspection.
Gansey is the typical Aglionby boy, born with a silver spoon in his mouth and trust fund just waiting to exempt him from the daily grind those like close friend Adam face, but he doesn’t embrace his wealthy upbringing, instead fighting against the assumptions those around him make based on his lot in life even as that silver spoon slides further down his throat to choke him the more he struggles to pluck it free. All three boys have their own intriguing brand of pride that proves to be both a source of strength as well as their most prominent weakness: Ronan, who possesses a defiant sort of pride that dares the world to mess with him more than it already has; Adam, who clings to a stubborn pride as a crutch to keep him standing on his own two feet when his life at home beats him down; and Gansey, who can’t escape the pride instilled in him seemingly upon birth, gifting him with a noble countenance even as he wants nothing more than to be who his friends need him to be.
There are a few flaws to the story as a whole, most notably an ending that’s a touch confusing, complete with a head-scratchingly enigmatic parting line that leaves our minds spinning as to what it might mean moving forward. Though the synopsis suggests much of the story is based on the prophecy stating Gansey is either Blue’s true love or someone she kills, that aspect of the story is surprisingly subtle, taking a back seat to an epic search involving ley lines, magic, and the promise of a mystical favor. The strength of the individual characters make it easy to be forgiving of those drawbacks however, our desire to know more about each and every one of them eclipsing our need for clarity in the final chapter, leaving us with a deep and abiding love for five individuals as well as the ardent hope that Ms. Stiefvater will be more forthcoming with information regarding Blue and Gansey’s prophetic connection in the next book.