Book Reviews, Fantasy, Young Adult

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

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Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Series: The Raven Cycle #1

Genre: Young Adult > Fantasy

Version: Audiobook (Listening Length: 11h 8m)

Narrator: Will Patton

Source: Hoopla

Publisher: Scholastic Audio

AmazonGoodreads • Book Website

Book Synopsis:

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.

My Thoughts:

After reading the synopsis, I wasn’t sure The Raven Boys was going to be my cup of tea, but I decided to give it a go anyways.  Actually, the deciding factor in my reading this book was that the narrator of the audiobook was Will Patton.  If you have read some of my reviews before you may remember that Will Patton happens to be one of my favorite narrators.  Sold!  I went into this book with low expectations, however I am happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised.  Between the variety of lovable characters and eerie storyline, I was entertained from start to finish!

I think what I enjoyed the most about The Raven Boys was the motely group of characters…

Gansey, the ringleader, was a very multifaceted character.  He is intelligent, charming, and intense.  The best way to describe Gansey would be that he is an old soul.   Once his mind is set on something, he will stop at nothing to achieve his goals.  I really admired his tenacity.  Gansey is often naïve to the fact that not everyone comes from a privileged family background.  He doesn’t understand that his constant generosity can be misconstrued as charity or pity.  He would give the shirt off his back for any of his friends, so he sees nothing wrong in “sharing the wealth”.  When around people, Gansey tends to put up a front, but around his friends he can let his guard down and be himself.

Next we have the trusty sidekick, Adam.  Adam is at the opposite end of the financial spectrum.  Not only does Adam struggle financially, but he also comes from a harsh home life.  Where I can understand his need to be independent and not rely on the charity of others,  I couldn’t understand Adam’s misdirected aggression that he directs towards Gansey.  It was almost a love-hate relationship.  Adam has a lot of pride, and will not accept any type of handout, especially not from his best friend.  It all boils down to the fact that Adam is jealous of Gansey and everything that he is and has.  I really struggled with Adam’s character.  I found myself conflicted with my feelings towards him.  On one hand I sympathize with his situation, however on the other I question the motivations behind some of his actions in the book.

Now on to Ronan.  Ronan was my favorite character.  I loved the sarcasm.  I loved the snarky comments.  He even swears like a sailor… what’s not to love?  Above all, I loved that he had a hard exterior, but deep down he is a good guy.   Even though Ronan is a little rough around the edges, he is fiercely loyal to his friends.  He proves that he has his friend’s backs, even if that means putting himself in danger. Out of all the raven boys, we know the least about Ronan, so we have only just scratched the surface of his character.  I can’t wait to learn more about him.

Blue, our heroin, is a spunky girl from an unconventional family.  Being “normal” in a house full of psychics is no picnic for Blue.  Because of this unorthodox upbringing, Blue is almost the polar opposite of what you would expect.  She is very sensible and often the voice of reason.  When Gansey and his crew bust into her life, Blue’s world is shaken up and she is taken for a wild ride. I must admit, I wanted a little more from Blue.  For some reason, she always seemed as if she was in the background.  I am not sure if this is simply because she is overshadowed by all the other characters with dominant personalities, or what exactly.  I just wanted Blue to come out of her shell a little more.

This story also included some very entertaining secondary characters, specifically Maura, Calla, and Persephone.  These characters together were pure comedic relief.  You know those family members that are loud, over the top, and often the most drunk at family events?  The ones that keep you laughing and entertained all night?  Maura, Calla, and Persephone are THOSE types.

While I think the antagonist was fitting and believable, I would have liked a little more development in his character.  I think it would have been beneficial to see more of his point of view and what motivated him.  It was all too abrupt for my liking… almost like he was stuck into the story instead of part of it.

The plot was very original, I had not read anything quite like it.  I must admit that I don’t think the book synopsis does this book justice and is even misleading.  While the fact that Blue will play a role in the death of her true love is mentioned, it really isn’t central to the plot, at least not in this book.  In a nutshell, The Raven Boys is about Gansey’s quest to find the body of the Welch king, Glendower, which he believes is located on a ley line.  Legend has it, whoever finds Glendower’s body and awakens him, will be awarded a favor.  Gansey has vested interest in finding Glendower, so he recruits his friend’s help in his quest.  There are also a few mysteries developing on the side of the main storyline: Who is Blue’s father and where is he now?  What is Neeve up to?  What is going to happen to Gansey?  Does Blue fall in love with and kiss Gansey?  In what way will she play a part in Gansey’s death?  I really enjoy books that have multiple layers to the plot.  Sure, this book had some overdone tropes: rich privileged boy meets poor girl, girl is independent and doesn’t want boy’s charity, forbidden love, a hint of a looming love triangle, etc etc.  HOWEVER because of all the original content, the overdone tropes didn’t particularly bother me.

This book definitely kept me guessing until the very end.  There were a few big plot twists that I was blind sided by.  I love when authors keep me on my toes.  The tone of this book is on the darker side with some gothic undertones, so this isn’t a “light beach read” by any means.  As far as pacing is concerned, I would consider the pacing of this book to be on the slower side.  I would also like to point out that this book is the first book in a SERIES, so if you are not a fan of books that leave a lot of things unresolved, then this probably isn’t for you.  I can’t wait to find out what happens next for Blue and the raven boys.

I had never read anything by Stiefvater before, but I really enjoyed her writing style. I thought her writing was beautiful and that it flowed very nicely.  I would dare say that it was eloquent at times.  I also liked that you could see a little bit of the author in this book.  What do I mean by that?  Well for example there was lots of description and mention of Gansey’s Camaro, fondly referred to as “The Pig” included in The Raven Boys.  It was almost if the car was a character in and of itself.  You could really tell that the author has a passion for classic cars.  I love when authors include some of their interests into their work, it feels as if we get to see little snapshots of who they are in real life.

I really don’t need to tell you how much I enjoyed the audiobook version of The Raven Boys. As you know, Will Patton is one of my favorite narrators.  With the eerie storyline and supernatural elements, Patton’s voice suited the tone of this book perfectly!

Noteworthy Quotes:

“My words are unerring tools of
destruction, and I’ve come unequipped with the ability to disarm them.”

“She wasn’t interested in telling other people’s futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.”

“Fate,” Blue replied, glowering at her mother, “is a very weighty word to throw around before breakfast.”

My Rating:

Star ratings (3)

About the Author:

1330292New York Times bestselling author of The Shiver Trilogy, The Raven Cycle, and The Scorpio Races. Artist. Driver of things with wheels. Avid reader.

All of Maggie Stiefvater’s life decisions have been based around her inability to be gainfully employed. Talking to yourself, staring into space, and coming to work in your pajamas are frowned upon when you’re a waitress, calligraphy instructor, or technical editor (all of which she’s tried), but are highly prized traits in novelists and artists. She’s made her living as one or the other since she was 22. She now lives an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with her charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, two neurotic dogs, and a 1973 Camaro named Loki.

WebsiteBlogTwitter • FacebookThe Raven Boys Website

38 thoughts on “Book Review: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater”

  1. Awesome review! I’m so glad you enjoyed this one 🙂 I’m sort of reading this book at the moment. I say sort of because I started it a few weeks ago and read the first two chapters, then kind of forgot to go back to it. Your review has made me really want to pick it up again!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I love it when books are a pleasant surprise like that! 🙂 I haven’t actually seen any negative reviews myself, I’ve only seen the hypey ones, so I was kind of nervous it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. I really hope I enjoy it as much as you did 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. EPIC review!!! We share the same mixed emotions over Adam, I often sympathized with him only to later find myself shaking my head at his jealousy & aggression. I also wanted more from Blue however after finishing this trilogy (one of my top faves), I realized that this story is more about the boys and the amazing supporting cast. I LOVE this series ability to remain unpredictable. I thoroughly enjoyed Maggie Stievfaters writing in this series & hope she gives us more😃 happy reading 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Blue’s Mom (Maura) sees the “spirits” of people who will soon die… But only one night of the year. Blue is not psychic like the rest of the female members of her family, hence why she doesn’t typically see the “soon-to-be dead folk”… But for some reason (this one time) she see the spirit of Gansey, which is one of the mysteries. Why can she see his spirit? It is a tad confusing. The synopsis isn’t a good representation of the book at all in my opinion… I demand a re-do 😜

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Some books TOTALLY need a synopsis re-do, especially ones that make the book doing more interesting than it is! I think my confusion stems from the fact that I don’t usually think of souls and bodies as separated unless the person IS dead.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Right?! Those are the worst! You get all psyched (see what I did there?) up to read them then it crushes your dreams! I have read a few books with the synopsis doesn’t do a book justice and I think this is one of them.

        I had never really read a book that included psychics… I think it was almost like a night that foreshadows the death of people in the future? I never stopped to question this lol I don’t read much fantasy… Is this not normal for a psychic? Haha

        Liked by 1 person

      3. No, usually the psychic has a premonition or a vision as opposed to SEEING the future dead. And then, of course, plot line occur to prevent that person’s death, which typically causes their death, and that, Alanis Morisette, is irony.

        Liked by 1 person

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