Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Review: The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle, #1)

The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle, #1)Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publication date: September 18th 2012
Publisher: Scholastic UK

The Raven Boys is not a book you can just breeze through and immediately forget. Once again Maggie Stiefvater wrote a story that refuses to be categorized, or even properly described. For me, discovering it and its characters was a slow process. It was like scratching off a lottery ticket when you have no coin to scratch with, so you use your fingernails, and it’s messy and infuriating right up until the point you uncover it all and realize you’ve actually won. That’s what The Raven Boys really are – bits and pieces that reveal themselves painstakingly and gradually, but that combine into a whole unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

Blue Sargent comes from a family of seers. She lives with her mother and other women like her, but, although she amplifies other people’s talents, she is not a seer herself. When, on St. Mark’s Eve, she sees the spirit of a soon-to-be-dead boy dressed in Aglionby private school uniform, it can only mean one of two things: either he’s her true love, or she’ll be the one to kill him.
Richard Gansey is an Aglionby boy through and through – exceedingly rich, radiating self-assurance and power, a bit eccentric and completely obsessed with discovering ley lines and finding the resting place of a medieval Welsh noble, Glendower. He is also the boy whose spirit Blue saw on St. Mark’s Eve, which, according to everything her family believes, means his days are numbered.
As always, there was an all-American war hero look to him, coded in his tousled brown hair, his summer-narrowed hazel eyes, the straight nose that ancient Anglo-Saxons had graciously passed on to him. Everything about him suggested valor and power and a firm handshake.
Gansey proved to be the most elusive of Maggie’s characters. Somehow, as hard as I tried, I couldn’t quite see him clearly. The more I attempted to grow attached to him, the more ghost-like he seemed to me. I do believe this was Stiefvater’s intention, though, and it made the story that much sharper and the stakes that much higher. She managed to create that feeling of not being able to hold on to someone – fitting considering the axe above Gansey’s head.

Here’s something I want to make very clear: The Raven Boys is not a romance. Forget about the ‘if you kiss your true love, he will die’ line. I’m sure it will become important at some point in the series, but this book is strangely and refreshingly romance-free. Instead, it is full of ghosts and murderers, Latin-speaking trees, ancient rituals and baby ravens. It is the furthest thing from what I expected.

Admittedly, it took a while for me to warm up to it, but just as my patience was starting to wear thin, the fireworks begun and everything fell in its place. I believe Stiefvater paced The Raven Boys with the whole series in mind, which is perfectly fine by me because I trust her to make it all worthwhile, but I fear that some might find the first half far too slow.

As unique and breathtaking as this story was, something was missing from it, something I can only describe as Maggie’s spirit. She has a signature, that subtle thing that makes her books instantly recognizable and that makes her my favorite author in the world. That signature, the unique emotion present in all her books, is far less clear in The Raven Boys.

Those who used to complain about Maggie’s writing, calling it flowery and purplish, will have no such problems with The Raven Boys. I, on the other hand, feel that I’ve lost something I can’t quite name, and I can only hope it’ll return in the next book.


  1. I'm super excited for this! Ever since i read Shiver i fell in love with Maggie's writing. Great review! :)

    By the way, have you seen the trailer for this? It's really good. You should check it out.

  2. Awesome review, this book has been on my radar and since I prefer my romance served as a side dish, I am perfectly willing to wait a book or two for it. I cannot wait to meet the ghosts and murders.

  3. Beautiful review, Maja! You're not the only person to mention the lack of romance and actually makes me want to read this even more, I mean I enjoy a bit of romance in YA but I get sick of it being the focus.

    It's interesting that this was missing something for you, maybe it's because Maggie wrote for the series and not the book, perhaps that meant sacrificing something in this novel? Anyway, I can't wait to read this, I love the sounds of the plot and characters.

    1. Oh and I liked He's Just Not That Into You, too! Particularly because I had a friend who really needed that message to be hammered into her head! :p

  4. Nooo! Whyy? I like Maggie's flowery and purplish writing! :'( I am still really excited for this one though, so I'm glad to see you enjoyed it so much Maja, but I hope her writing style will return in the next book too. I think that's honestly the only reason I love her so much - her writing! Anyway, wonderful review! :D

    Ivy Book Bindings

  5. Hmmm Hmmm Hmmmmmmm. Yep. This is definitely the one of hers I am going to try. Everything you said here makes me want to read it. No romance? Completely different? Not her usual writing style? I AM IN. I already have it on hold at my library. :)

    Fantastic review too, Maja. I love your opening paragraph. That analogy to the lottery ticket is just perfect.

  6. Beautifully written. I am excited to read this at some point. I hope it will be soon! I'm glad this book is romance free, even if the romance appears later in the series. Your comparison to a lottery ticket was fab!!


  7. I'll definitely take the 4.5 stars from you, Maja! Thanks to your review, I know not to rely on the romance part. Really curious how the other parts fit to the series though.

    p.s. LOVE the new layout!

  8. Wow! Awesome review!! You gave it a completely unbiased 4.5!!! I love how you looked at the big picture and saw where the book's merits are; that the book is part of a series. I've been seeing mixed reviews but yours said it soooo clearly!!

  9. Ooh it's really interesting to hear that something was missing for you, as I know Maggie's books are usually 5-star reads for you. Maybe whatever it was is what made this book work for me? I'm not usually blown away by her books, but this one has really stuck with me since I've read it. The more I think about it, the more attached I get. So far, I can't think of any other book whose sequel I want more. This is a brilliant review, Maja! I'm glad you enjoyed it in the end despite the slow start. Let's hope the next book is just as great. :)

  10. "latin-speaking trees" Whoohoo!!!! I love everything in this sentence and your review!!! Terrific review Maja!!!!!! Can't wait to dive into this romance-free book!!! Hopefully Maggie's lyrical language will be back in the next book.

  11. I have never read a Stiefvater book but I think I really should, maybe I'll start with this one when it's released? I love how you described this book at the start of your review and I'm actually kind of pleased to hear it's not a romance - I sometimes like reading books that lay off love. And I'm eager to experience the amazing-ness of her writing myself!

    Fab review, Maja <3

  12. Oooh. This sounds so amazing. I love books you have to struggle with in the beginning and then bam, it all clicks and it's so worth it!! I'm yet to read a book by Stiefvater but I've been wanting to. Werewolves aren't my thing, so I think I'd prefer starting with this series rather than her previous one!

  13. I know how much you adore Stiefvater's books so I'm sorry you found that there was something missing from this book, hopefully it'll be there in the next book of this series. I'm glad though that you still enjoyed this book, I haven't had much luck with Stiefvater's books but the review for this one have still been great! Another gorgeous review hun!

  14. Ah ha so it wasn't just me...I so missed her normal beautiful writing and it didn't help that I was listening to Forever on audiobook which I just finished yesterday. All the beautiful stunning descriptions that were so present in the Mercy Falls series were strangely absent in this one. I, too, had a hard time getting into this one but it ended with a bang. She does take her time and make your care about the characters and I am certain it will be something special, but I hope, like you, her spirit returns.

  15. I think this one might be better for me than the rest of the Shiver series. I only read the first one and it was just okay for me (blasphemy, I know) so perhaps a more straightforward non-romance Stiefvater is the one for me. I am glad to hear the pacing has the whole series in mind because I've recently been sick of books that plow through mindless action over and over until the book just ends. Gross.

  16. Great review Maja. I'm really looking forward to this one. I'm a bit anxious about the lack of romance because I'm a big romance junkie :) As you say, it seems the romance may come along later in the series.

  17. Hello! I just came across your blog and think it's cute! :) I love the background. It's intense, but not crazy-shoot-my-eyes-out... hehe :))

    Btw, good review! I just started writing reviews myself. I figured that since I follow so many book blogs, I may as well write some reviews myself! I'm pretty much obsessed with books. :)

  18. I am scared to read this. Im still going to but your review troubles me! I love her subtle romances and flowery language...I'll be sad if both those things are was a good review tho. Thanks!

  19. Stiefvater does take her time to weave this story. It was a little slow to come together but once it did I thought it was brilliant. I do agree with you, I think some will find this too slow and won't have the patience to wait it out. I lent this book out to friends and 2 of them had to send it on without finishing (which made me really sad, because I enjoyed it so). Wonderful review Maja. I'm so happy to see you enjoyed this one too. :)


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