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.
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