Monday, January 19, 2015

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) 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.

My Thoughts:
A friend said this book was slow-burn. And she was right. I wasn't immediately drawn to this story. Nothing pulled me in. I didn't feel the need to obsessively read until it was finished. Even now that I've finished it I just kind of have this calm feeling toward it.

I was interested in Blue and her family. Blue lives with a bunch of psychic women who have all told her that if she kisses her true love he will die. So Blue separates herself from everyone and resolves to not kiss anyone. It's kind of a lonely lifestyle but she plays the part of the quirky misunderstood loner pretty well, if not a little cliched. Then she sees the spirit of her true love and meets him in real life and becomes involved in his life and the life of his friends. I liked her well enough. I understood her. She feels drawn to these boys even though she believes she will be their downfall. I just--I don't know. It's pretty clear to me that if I'd found out who the boy was that I would kill with a kiss, I would avoid him. At all costs. Maybe go find a few random boys that have no chance of being my true love to release some not-kissing-anyone-for-sixteen-years frustration. But that's just me.

Adam made perfect sense to me. I really liked him. I felt bad for him but proud of his independence and intelligence. I want him to have a happy ending but I don't think that's going to happen for him. He will be the tragedy of this series, I'm betting, because he's lovable but there's nowhere for his character to go for a happy ending. He has tragedy written all over him. It's so sad.

Ronan was our resident bad boy/crazy-violent troubled kid. But he was layered. There was depth. In fact, all the characters had depth. I loved that. No one was flat or one-sided. Ronan, though, could have been completely one way but he went in all different directions that all stayed true to his character. I guess I'm a sucker for a bad boy but I really liked him. I want him to figure himself out and be happier.

Even Noah made sense (although I'll be completely honest and say that I didn't see Noah's storyline playing out the way it did, even with that HUGE hint in the beginning. Hidden in plain sight. Well done, Stiefvater). I loved the way he was portrayed: Always in the shadows, there one moment, gone the next. And the fact that everyone liked him was just so nice.

I didn't understand Gansey at all until he told his back-story. Which was a long ways into the book. I would have been much more interested in Gansey had his story been told earlier. As it was, I didn't understand his obsession with ley lines or supernatural stuff and why he had to find the answers to everything until his story came out. I guess what the author was trying to do was let us get to know Gansey as Blue did? We found out things about him almost the way that Blue did. Almost. There was a lot of switching perspectives in this book so we really are in different characters heads throughout the whole thing. Normally I don't mind the switching perspectives. I didn't mind it in this book until we got to the end and the perspectives jumped a few times within the same chapter. Then I got confused.

Another problem I had with all of this was that all these people were obsessed with ley lines. I didn't even know what these things were until this book. Never heard of them. And now all of these people are drawn to this particular area and are ready to do terrible things to find the ley lines and whatever else? How do these people know about them? The psychic ladies, I understand, but they weren't really interested in the ley lines other than corpse road. I don't know. This part of the plot just didn't sit well with me.

So, if I had to summarize my thoughts on this book, I guess I liked the way Stiefvater wrote characters. They were all individuals who did things in line with their individual characters. They made sense and they were layered. I wasn't completely taken with the writing style, the confusing changing of perspectives and the way the story bloomed slowly, like a flower in real-time. It was lovely, yes. And I'm still thinking about the book and all that happened. But it took me longer than it should have to read this whole book. I wasn't drawn-in. I didn't feel compelled to read it. But it was a pleasant experience and I'll probably read the next one.

Sexual Content: Mild
Language: Moderate
Violence: Moderate
Drugs/Alcohol: Moderate

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