I practically read this one at random. I discovered it in a YouTube video when a booktuber announced that it was the Random Readalong book of the month. This was back in September. Since I caught the announcement just in time, I decided to get the book and readalong.
I’m going along with the Goodreads summary this time because it says enough without giving away much.
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.
First, a warning: minor spoilers.
When I realized that this novel is set in Virginia, I immediately wondered at the coincidence (though I don’t believe in coincidences) that I read two supernatural novels set in odd, secluded Virginia towns. Is something weird going on in Virginia? If so, I need to move.
I enjoyed this story from beginning to end. It starts out slow and takes its time building to its climax. During the slow beginning, Steifvater acclimates you to the characters, their troubles and motivations, as well as the setting, which has an eerie atmosphere about it. Once that’s done, the story takes off. Some readers might get frustrated with this slow start, as a few readers in the Goodreads readalong group did, but it pays off.
Once the story picks up, it’s hard to put the book down. I was curious about the boys, Blue’s abilities, and her weird aunt Neeve. Like all the characters, Gansey’s search for the old king, Glendower, pulled me along as the teenagers searched for ley lines about their Virginia town. Though Blue’s fortune that she’s destined to kill her true love is supposed to appeal and lure the reader, I didn’t find it very tempting since it alluded to fairytales, which I wasn’t in the mood for at the time, and because it seemed to be a setup for a love triangle, which I’m tired of. It’s hard to tell whether or not this story will result in a love triangle but my interest in its other components are strong enough that I’m willing to continue with the series despite its love triangle potential.
Speaking of fairytales, I wonder if this story is influenced by fairytales or by myths. That Blue is fated to kill her true love harkens back to curses in fairytales and makes me wonder if this Glendower king is some sort of fey creature than a god. However, I have an inkling that Blue’s dad is a god. And I think her dad is Apollo. Why do I think this? I can’t recall exactly. But I highlighted his name “Artemus” — the Greek goddess Artemis’s twin brother is Apollo — and marked the passage where Blue’s mom discusses her whirlwind romance with him so I guess that made me think of Rick Riordan’s books and that’s why I think he may be a god. Who knows, but I look forward to finding out.
But then again, ravens don’t figure prominently in Greek/Roman mythology so maybe I’m off. The atmosphere of the setting and the references back to England makes me think that if the story is based on some mythology, it would be Celtic. But who knows. I have so many assumptions about this series, I just need to start reading the next book and stop thinking so much. I could look this all up but I think the less I know the better. I prefer to speculate at this point. Usually, I would try to spoil myself but I’m avoiding that. I enjoyed the story enough that I want to be surprised.
Let me talk about the characters instead. I didn’t much care for the main characters. The ones I was curious about were the minor characters like Ronan and his bird, the ethereal Persephone, and odd Neeve. These three have as much mystery about them as the main characters but since the story hardly focused on them, I became more curious about who they are and what they’re up to when not included in a particular section. They all also seem otherworldly in some way.
As for the main characters, I guess Blue is okay. I like her name and that’s about it. Gansey’s need/crave/want to learn more about ley lines and find Glendower reminded me of Gatsby’s yearning to attain his dream. Every time I thought of Gansey, the image of Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby reaching out to the green light popped in my head. I wonder what happens after Gansey attains his goal. Although Adam isn’t really a main character, we read from his perspective as well. I didn’t much care for him either but I wondered if something inside him broke, other than his hearing loss, when he left home. His increased drive to find Glendower was a little unsettling to me and made me think that he would do whatever it takes to get a wish off Glendower. Is he going to become evil now?
I got a little annoyed with Adam and Blue closer to the end because they always berate Gansey for his pomposity and for carelessly throwing his money around. I agree with them but after a while, it became annoying. They are Gansey’s friends, they know Gansey means well, why continue to complain? If you don’t want his help, just say No and move on.
Okay, so this is not a well-written review but don’t let it put you off the book. The Raven Boys is a good story and I recommend it, though I’m not a fan of the rushed ending that didn’t reveal what I was teased into wanting to know.
Some readers have fallen in love with the characters so there’s that to look forward to. I enjoyed the setting and how descriptive Stiefvater can be at times so look out for that. By the book’s end, I wanted to do two things: get the next book in the series and visit a fortuneteller. I’m just fascinated by those things.
Anyways, all I’m trying to say in all this rambling is: Good book. Go read it.
The Dream Thieves (book 2) —>
Other thoughts on the book:
- The raven boys — Maggie Stiefvater (bookinwonderland.com)
- The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (bookdwarfblog.wordpress.com)