Oh my God I love this series so much!!! This is the perfect first book in one of the most emotional series ever.
First reviewed: November 2014
Initial Rating: 5/5 stars
Reread Rating: 5/5 stars
First review here.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.
His name is Gansey, 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 is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher 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 doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But 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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The Raven Cycle has always been a favorite of mine. I most recently reread The Raven Boys when Blue Lily, Lily Blue came out, but I had already read it twice before I started this blog. So though this is my first reread review for this book, it was actually my fourth time reading it. Needless to say, I’m in love with this book, but I’m trying to put my fangirling into words so that you can understand where I’m coming from.
The first part of this book that ensnared me is the characters. Each character—not just Blue and the Raven Boys, but also Blue’s relatives and other players in the plot—is given complex emotions and a tangible personality. The entire story comes alive, no matter who the narration is focusing on at a specific moment, because of how realistic each character feels.
Blue is my favorite character, of course. She’s spunky and brave and I love her for it, but I also connected with her frustrations about her future and her present. She has a wonderful home life, but she is also inherently set apart from her family because she isn’t psychic. Getting swept up in Gansey’s quest gives Blue a chance to find magic herself; watching her character transform as her world opens up before her is gorgeous and touching.
Gansey’s character is a force of nature. He’s the kind of character who you instantly know has a million layers and nuances, and you just want to read about him until you’ve discovered and understood all of them.
Adam, Ronan, and Noah complete Gansey’s Raven Boys, each adding their own complexities to the group’s dynamic. I’ll admit that I find Adam’s character frustrating in this book (I’ve shipped Bluesey since page one), but I can’t deny that the way his character deals with pride and poverty is fascinatingly real.
Not only does each character come alive, but the friendships that they form are nuanced and realistic. Within the Raven Boys—especially once Blue joins them—their are smaller, tighter bonds between some of the characters. Some characters understand each other better than others, some characters don’t really know what to do with each other. Instead of creating one big happy family from page one, Maggie Stiefvater chose to put natural roadblocks in the way of this goal, intensifying the already emotionally charged atmosphere of the book.
The second part of this series that I fell in love with is the writing. Maggie Stiefvater is a freaking poet. The writing of this series is magical and fascinating. Somehow, she always finds a new (but impossibly perfect) way to describe her characters and her world. I know some people have found the writing to be over-done and frustrating, but especially having read the story so many times already, I was really able to get caught up in the beauty of the prose this time around.
Finally, there is the actual plot of The Raven Boys. On the surface, the plot is simple: Blue gets caught up in Gansey’s quest to find an ancient Welsh king, so that they can wake him up and be granted a magical favor. But the beauty of this series is that the plot is so much more complex than that, and where you expect the story to go on page one is not where the story ends up by the end.
I love the way that Maggie Stiefvater weaves fantasy and contemporary worlds together. Normally, I am frustrated by cross-genre stories, finding it impossible to balance real and fantasy elements in a story. Of course, this book proves me wrong, and if you are a fan of subtle but intricate fantasy worlds, you should absolutely read this book.
I would recommend this book to anyone who admires subtlety in storytelling. This isn’t a fast-paced book that will grab you and never let you go. You’ll get caught up in characters instead, and gorgeous turns of phrase, and hours later, you’ll realize you’ve been entranced by the story all day. The Raven Boys is clearly the foundation of a series that will (and does) go to even more amazing places.