Book Review–The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

Hey guys! Today I have a book review for you. It’s from the Goodreads FirstReads program. Many thanks to Scholastic for giving me the chance to read and review this.

Picture Source: http://maggiestiefvater.com/the-raven-boys/the-raven-boys/
Picture Source: http://maggiestiefvater.com/the-raven-boys/the-raven-boys/

The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

Published September 18th 2012 by Scholastic Press

“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.”

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, and he’s 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.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

The inside of my copy (Maggie's sig!)
The inside of my copy (Maggie’s sig!)

I was very excited when I discovered I had won this book and even more so when it showed up at my home and I saw the inside cover (see above picture). I really liked Stiefvater’s Shiver (and I am not really a fan of anything involving werewolves so that’s kind of a big deal), so I had high hopes for this one. However, this was a hard review to write and it took me a few weeks to get through the book. I think the easiest way for me to express my thoughts on this one is to discuss what I liked and what I didn’t. This review MAY contain SPOILERS. Read at your own risk.

First off, the parts I LIKED:

The cover. Isn’t is beautiful? I know, I know, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but I totally do. I’m a graphic artist so I kind of can’t help it. It’s gorgeous. Okay, moving on…

The beginning drew me in quickly; it was intriguing and I liked the characters right away. I especially liked the setting. Blue’s home is something I’ve never seen before–a household made up of practicing psychics. Blue is also interesting (though her name kept throwing me off during the entire book) because while she doesn’t have any psychic powers, her being around psychics can intensify their powers. While Blue seemed pretty interesting from the start, she wasn’t a memorable character, and sadly was dull for a good majority of the book. She was lacking in the personality and emotional department for me. However, I did like the relationship between her and Adam because it was cute. I also liked all the scenes involving her mother; it was unusual and at times, amusing. It’s probably a good thing that the book wasn’t just from Blue’s POV, or I wouldn’t have liked the book very much.

Now, onto the Raven boys themselves.

Adam ended up being my favorite Raven boy. He was adorable but damaged and seem to have the most personality out of all of the boys. The way his parents treated him and his desire to be more sometimes made me ache for him. His relationships with his parents, friends, and Blue are intriguing and often complicated. He’s not your typical Raven boy. Adam is the kind of character that Blue should have been–interesting, easy to relate to, brimming with personality, and makes you feel when good or bad things happen to him.

Noah was my next favorite of the boys. I ended up feeling pretty bad for him. There’s a twist to his character that didn’t completely knock me off guard but was enough to startle me. It’s neat but also made me sad for him. I liked how he liked and cared for Blue right away, which should have been a big clue concerning the twist now that I think about it. Overall Noah, when he was present, was an easy character to like.

Gansey comes into third place compared with the other boys. I actually couldn’t stand his name, but it did have a good explanation to why he used the name. Still, I wish it was something other than Gansey. Maybe it’s just me, but the name just annoyed me every time I came into contact with it. Character-wise, Gansey was complicated and reminded me of a maze. While I didn’t care for him too much, he did have his moments. I didn’t much care for him at all in the beginning, but he started to grow on me throughout the rest of the book. I especially liked the strong friendship between him, Ronan, and Adam.

Ronan is my least liked Raven boy. I just didn’t care much for his bad boy behavior. I like bad boys under the right conditions (ahem, Damon from The Vampire Diaries), and while Ronan had plenty to be angry about, it just didn’t grip me like the personalities of other bad boy characters have. There were moments when I really warmed up to him, though–scenes where he cared for Chainsaw (and I thought she was adorable and a nice addition to the book) and defended Adam from his father. So I don’t hate him or anything, but he’s the Raven boy I ended up liking the least out of the four.

A few scenes that I really liked included the wasp scene in Gansey’s room (very well written and vivid), the imagery of the abandoned Mustang, the mind-altering place that Blue and the others discover. I also enjoyed the hectic feeling I got every time Blue was at her house with the many psychics. It’s the same feeling I get when I read about the Weasly’s house in the Harry Potter books.

And just like in the Shiver books, Maggie has beautiful writing that sticks with you. There were also a good number of quotes that I found hilarious and would repeat out loud for others to hear. I think what the author is best at besides her beautiful writing is how vividly she is able to paint the imagery. There were times were it truly felt like I was right there with the rest of the characters.

I also like how the villain wasn’t completely obvious, yet also not a big shock (there were clues that I should have picked up on).

 

Now, for what I DISLIKED:

I’ve already kind of mentioned the lack of character depth in Blue’s character, which is a shame because she should be more interesting. Or maybe I was expecting too much, but I couldn’t warm up to her and she just came off as one of the flattest characters in the book.

The plot. It kind of seemed like it was all over the place. I often found myself so confused while reading that I had to go back and re-read what I’d just read. Some scenes also seemed to drag and go on for so long that I lost interest (and thus why it took me a few weeks to get this book finished). I also didn’t understand why Gansey and the other Raven Boys (and even Blue and Whelk) were so obsessed with the ley lines and Glendower. If it it was explained in the book, I obviously missed it. Maybe during one of the slow parts that my mind just kind of trundled through? I know the book leans toward fantasy, but there needs to be a logical reason for why the ley lines and Glendower is so important since the book also has realistic aspects.

Speaking of realistic, there was another thing that bothered me–the characters and how they spoke. There were many times where I forgot that these teenagers were supposed to be just that–teenagers. I understand that the boys go to private school, but I’ve met private school kids before and I’ve never heard them talk as formally as some of the characters seemed to do in the book. There were certain phrases and words that I just couldn’t picture many teenagers using. I also wish that more school scenes had been included because Aglionby seemed like a pretty neat setting but I felt we barely got to visit it.

I really didn’t care or hate the villain even though he caused the death of a character I like. Which is kind of a problem because I think that even though it’s good to understand the villain, you should also hate his guts. But the villain just made me feel…nothing. Sure, I was annoyed with him for killing a character that I liked, but that was it. Villains can certainly invoke sympathy from readers, but I guess I just feel that we should also hate them for their crimes, and although the villain was cold, I never got enough of a feeling from him.

While I do appreciate that the loose ends in the story were tied up at the ending, I also wasn’t really happy with the way the book ended. I know it’s part of a series, but still. It was just okay. I liked the funeral scene a lot (birthday schnapps, anyone?) but the overall ending seemed bland. It didn’t make me eager to read the next book, which is what the first book in a series should do (take Shiver or Michael Grant’s Gone series, for example).

Overall, I liked the book, but it didn’t blow me away, which was what I was expecting after reading Shiver and most of Linger (I’m still reading this one). I rated it 3 stars on Goodreads. Will I read the next one? For the sake of the characters (mostly Adam and Noah), yes. I’m hoping it will get better. I really do hope that I like Blue better in the next book.
Recommended for fans of Maggie Stiefvater and/or fantasy. Rated 3 Stars (Enjoyed).

You can find The Raven Boys at:

GoodReads, Amazon, and the author’s website.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher (Scholastic Press) for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.
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2 thoughts on “Book Review–The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

  1. I adored this book. It also got me based on the cover art (Every time–I should start a collection just for the amazing cover art I fall for) but I thought the story was well done also. Plot was a little shaky, but still good. I definitely preferred the paper version to the audio–I am not a fan of the narrator, as he isn’t conveying it how I imagined it when I was reading it.

    You’re so lucky! A signed copy!

  2. Aw, it sucks when you get a narrator who either doesn’t do a good job reading or isn’t how you imagined it would be. I usually prefer paper versions unless the reader just does an awesome job (Such as Shiver, The Fault of Our Stars, and The Help).

    I was very surprised. I had no idea it was going to be signed at all.

    It will be interesting to see where the plot heads to in the next book.

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