Thursday, 21 February 2013

book review: the raven boys by maggie stiefvater

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Paranormal YA
Rating: 8/10
“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.

I've been meaning to read this for a while. I read (and loved) The Scorpio Races about this time last year and having heard good things about this I bought it for my sister the last time I sent her a care package largely so that I could steal it off her! With all the commotion around the reveal of the second book's title and cover the other week I figured that I should finally sit down and read it. I'm so glad I did but I WAS NOT EXPECTING ALL THESE FEELINGS ABOUT PRETTY RICH BOYS!

Sure, I couldn't explain what actually happens at the end and it's a little disorientating being thrown into a story with so many characters but I'm completely willing to forgive all that because I am so in love with the way that Maggie Stiefvater constructs characters! I am in awe of how carefully nuanced all the characters are. Being the main characters Blue and Gansey are the most fleshed out but I felt totally secure from really early on that all of the main characters were going to be developed and have stories beyond Gansey's quest and they did, every one of them broke my heart a little. It's a brave choice to have the love interest not be the primary POV character but it works here because the romance is not the dominant story thread (it starts as a plot-device and becomes another layer of character development) and as Adam sees himself as an outsider it's fitting that we primarily see Adam through Blue and Gansey.

It's safe to say that I have an insane amount of Gansey feelings! It's no secret by now that I love studious guys and boys who love history are always going to have a place in my heart so once we saw that side of him I was already a little soft! He's entitled, blunt and single-minded but he loves his friends so much and is guided by such a pure sense of purpose that I just LOVE HIM! All of the relationships are great but Adam & Gansey had me in tears more than once. I really loved how the class difference was addressed as a real issue and point of conflict in their friendship. YA often features wealthy protagonists (I understand the appeal, money allows for more extravagent adventures!) but completely ignores the problems of class and wealth. Here the money is convenient plot-wise (fancy apartments! helicopters! bribery!) but also informs the character dynamics and is a huge point of conflict for the boys. Watching their relationship start to collapse under the weight of Adam's insecurities and need for control was painful in the best way.

I thought that Blue/Adam was perfectly nice but I have absolutely no doubt that the romantic situation is only going to get more complicated and painful for everyone involved in the subsequent books and fangirls are going to cry and I CAN'T WAIT! There's a part of me that wants to cling to Blue/Adam simply for the sake of Adam's happiness and well-being but it's really hard not to project my extreme Gansey feelings onto Blue! I'm a little obsessed with how aware of Gansey she is and how she's slowly learning to see and understand him for who he actually is rather than the image he presents to the world. Plus, who can resist prose like this:
Gansey looked up at them and she saw in his face that he loved this place. His bald expression held something new: not the raw delight of finding the ley line or the sly pleasure of teasing Blue. She recognized the strange happiness that came from loving something without knowing why you did, that strange happiness that was sometimes so big that it felt like sadness. It was the way she felt when she looked at the stars.

September 17 can't come around fast enough!

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