September 24, 2012

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

It was hard to guess, when the initial information on The Raven Boys was released, which Maggie Stiefvater it would be. I discovered Maggie's writing through her first book--Lament--and I have never looked back. I've enjoyed her urban fantasy, her fantasy, her paranormal romance, whatever you want to call it, in spades. I am  honestly up for whatever she chooses to write. However, her style does vary from book to book, series to series. And I was very intrigued to find out what we would be getting here, especially as I was somewhere in the vicinity of absolutely floored by The Scorpio Races. Perfect books always have that effect on me. Particularly ones that come five books in when you think you know an author. The early word was sparse, but inviting. And, as always, she had a great title and  a lovely cover. So it was with grabby hands that I picked up a copy at BEA and took it home with me in my carry-on bag.

Blue is the lone normal in a family of female psychics. Though she desperately tries to cover up her embarrassing staidness with tufty hair and charmingly obtuse clothing choices, she's really quite sensible at heart. And so it's been a long sixteen years living under the weight of her own personal fortune of doom. Her mother (and countless psychics after her) have each read her cards and seen the same fate. If she ever kisses her true love, he will die. No questions asked. And so Blue, being the sensible girl that she is, decides she will never kiss anyone. Just to be safe. Certainly not a raven boy--one of the outrageously wealthy, outrageously privileged boys who attend the local private school of Aglionby. Then one night her world shifts when she who has never shown the slightest smidgen of  ability sees something she's never seen before. Unfortunately, the vision seems to confirm her terrible fortune. And when the boy she sees shows up at her mother's the next day asking for his fortune, Blue is even more determined to have nothing to do with this boy, this Gansey, or any of his raven boy friends. But Gansey himself is more than he seems. And it is his quest, his tireless search that will encompass them all.

I've heard several readers comment that The Raven Boys starts out slow, but I don't think that is actually the case. For me, it started out incredibly well, then meandered into a deceptively slower period of development, before cinching its choke hold on my emotions and barreling at a breakneck pace toward its wild conclusion. The moment I reached the point of no return, it became embarrassingly clear to me how much was actually going on behind the scenes, if you will, during that developmental period. And I as the reader was blissfully unaware of it, until the aforementioned moment, when I realized just how crucially fond of these characters I was and how much it was going to hurt me this ending that was not an ending, these choices that Blue and her beautiful raven boys were going to make. Honestly, I'm still aching over them. Because Gansey, Adam, Ronan, Noah . . . they're the real thing. Like Dally from The Outsiders, Adam was so real he scared me. And, like Dally, I loved him all out of proportion. Somehow, Maggie Stiefvater managed to make the nice guy the razor-edged one in this book. To unassuming eyes, Ronan would appear to have that market cornered. And he does. And I love Ronan with seven kinds of crazy stupid love. After all, as Adam so perceptively notes,
Gansey had once told Adam that he was afraid most people didn't know how to handle Ronan. What he meant by this was that he was worried that one day someone would fall on Ronan and cut themselves.

Even now, I have difficulty telling you how much I love that passage. But it is Adam that has the jagged edges that worry me (and that ultimately endear him to me forever). And that is all I will say about Adam. Too recent wounds . . . you understand. But how do I feel about Gansey, you ask? The nominal leader and reason for the seriously-hazardous-to-your-health escapades that take place within these pages? Well, I'll tell you. Or rather Maggie's beautiful writing will:
Sometimes, Gansey felt like his life was made up of a dozen hours that he could never forget.
That's right. Gansey understands loss. He understands regret and loneliness and grief and, most importantly of all for the purposes of this novel, he understands friendship and how to look after the people you love, the ones who've been entrusted to you. What I'm saying is that it is clear why the others follow him. I understand their devotion. I would not fault them for it for an instant. But he wasn't the main character. Not really. In fact, I'm not sure that there actually is one. And I love that about this book. I enjoyed that it alternated point of view chapters, because I was invested in the lot of them. And because they were bound up in such a way as to make them essential to my happiness, and inextricably so. Read this book. Read it because it involves ancient magic, dirty Latin, and sleeping kings. Read it because it deals in questionable professors, violently orange Camaros, and honorable rapscallions. I don't care why you read it. Just as long as you do.

Buy: Amazon B&N | The Book Depository

Linkage
Alexa Loves Books - "As always, I admire the seamlessness of story and character in her writing."
Bookishly Yours - "The boys . . . oh how I loved all the boys."
Literary Exploration - "I was able to immerse myself so fully into the story that I began to believe it was real."

30 comments:

  1. Oh man! I can't wait to dig into this one. I bought a copy, because the author is coming to an independent bookstore in my area soon. I'll get a chance to have her sign it! I'm in the middle of another book and am trying to finish that one before I get to this one. You make me want to dive into it immediately! Maggie Stiefvater just gets better and better.

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    1. Ooh, a signed copy. Excellent.

      She really doesn't break her stride, does she?

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  2. Angie, I trust your taste. For real. And I am SO GLAD to see that you liked this one! I too was absolutely floored by The Scorpio Races, and it makes me that much more excited to pick up this latest...

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    1. Yeah, THE SCORPIO RACES is something apart from other books. I mean, WOW.

      This is different and very much its own book. But it is no less exciting and the characters no less endearing for it.

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  3. Huzzah!! I'm so glad you reviewed this one! I've been really curious but not at all sure "which Maggie" to expect, so this review suited me perfectly. Thanks! I'm so, so in love with The Scorpio Races (I'm pretty sure it's a part of my soul), and I'm going to a bookstore signing this weekend to have her sign my copy. Now I know to pick up this one as well!

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    1. I'm so glad the review suited, Faith.

      I understand your attachment to THE SCORPIO RACES completely. It is one of the books of my life for sure.

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  4. I loved, loved, loved this book so much. (I had to hold back my review because two of the other ladies who blog with me wanted to review it too--so we're doing a joint thing.) This book was just so unique--waiting for the next one is going to kill me. I feel like Maggie's writing is just getting more and more mature with each book, so the next book in this series can only get better.

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    1. Ahh! I'm eagerly looking forward to your review now, Sarah.

      And the wait. THE WAIT. It is not to be borne.

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  5. This book has gotten such good reviews that it is slowly itching it's way to the top of my TBR list.

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    1. It's worth it, IMO, Dina.

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  6. Just finished this book this weekend too and I second all you say... as always! I fell in love with EVERY SINGLE ONE of them! Oh boy oh boy. BUT... the ending... man... there was so much more left to tell!! And now we wait.... I did really love it though. Very cool story. And yet so different from The Scorpio Races.

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    1. Did you really? The boys, Suey. Those boys! I'm so worried for each of them. What is going to happen to them? I'm not okay.

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  7. Angie, your reviews floor me. Just the way you express your love for books, and the way you pull out the absolute perfect descriptions and quotes, from the Dally comparison to the way you speak of the characters. Obviously I need to read past the couple chapters i got through at the bookstore :)

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    1. Aw, I'm glad the Dally comparison resonated with someone else. He really was the first other character I thought of when I met and go to know Adam.

      Definitely read on! ;)

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  8. Anonymous7:52 PM

    Well, I guess this will be the next book I buy. Great review! KarenS

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    1. Hehe. I really hope you enjoy it, Karen. Like I said, deceptively slow things going on . . .

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  9. Yay, I'm so glad you like it! I have to admit I was turned off by this at first, but now I'm excited!

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    1. It is so fun being sucked in by a book you really hoped you would be. She always surprises me. What a lovely quality in an author.

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  10. I'm not sure i can adequately articulate just how much i love your reviews except to say that i love them as much as i love maggies writing; which as we both know, is an awful awful lot. You make me *feel* everything along with you and manage to convey so much with so little. and you have managed to put into words just how much character development and investment is something that is hard earned, but ultimately can give a book something you never expected to find. Such a fitting review for an extraordinary book. (also!! I will read Scorpio races, I pinky promise – truth be told I don’t quite know what’s stopping me)

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    1. Well, there's very little to say except this comment makes my day.

      I'm holding you to our pinky promise, btw. Go read!

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  11. Oh, Angie, I adore this review. I too was curious about which Maggie Stiefvater we would be seeing in The Raven Boys, but I am so excited to see this is what it will bring.

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    1. *hugs* How does she manage to be a known quantity and a maverick at the same time? Her books fill me with the feelings. Every time.

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  12. It's because of you that I picked up The Scorpio Races (my first venture into Maggie's writing) last year. And it broke my heart it was so unbelievably beautiful. And now I'm reading The Raven Boys, and I was *so* excited to see your review for it. I'm loving the book and I loved your review. You really manage to convey so much about a book in your reviews, your feelings and the writing, and more often than not you have me running off to amazon or the bookshop to go and pick up whatever you've recommended as soon as I've read your review! So I just wanted to say thank you for that, and I love your reviews!

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    1. Oh, Rosy. That makes me incredibly happy to hear. I've been wanting to reread it for awhile now and reading THE RAVEN BOYS just made that longing stronger. May have to just give in and do it. Because . . . so beautiful.

      Thanks again for the wonderful compliment, Rosy.

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  13. I am so utterly dying to read this one. And your review of course just clinches it. Cannot wait for all the good things contained within this one.

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    1. Think you'll be pleased, Michelle. I think a lot of people were worried about what she would come up with after THE SCORPIO RACES. But, as always, she goes in a different direction entirely and there's nothing to worry about after all.

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  14. I have only read her Mercy fall series and absolutely loved her writing. Even the small quotes here, I absolutely love! I need to read this one and The Scorpio Races, hopefully soon!

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    1. She really has a gift with words. There's no denying it. If you loved the Mercy Falls books, then you will go wild for THE SCORPIO RACES and this one. Let me know when you do!

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  15. Angie, you are magic.

    With your reviews.

    Seriously, I hate that I cannot drop all of my outstanding obligations and read THE RAVEN BOYS right now because all you've described and the quotes you've included have induced a desperation in me.

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    1. Pesky obligations. You're so good, April. Lately, I feel incredibly flighty when it comes to deciding which book to go home with.

      But I'll tell you this, when the time comes--you're gonna be happy to took it home. :)

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