This Review contains spoilers.
“One, stay away from boys because they were trouble. And two, stay away from Aglionby boys, because they were bastards.”
Series: The Raven Cycle
Published: 2012, by Scholastic.
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Contains: Strong Language, Violence, Abuse, Mentions of Mental Health, Death
‘The Raven Boys’ tells the story of Blue Sargent, the daughter of a psychic, who has always been told that if she kisses her true love, they’ll die. After seeing a spirit of a boy known as Gansey in a churchyard, she assumes his death might be by her hand, which leads her to The Raven Boys; four students at Aglionby Academy searching for answers of their own.
I first stumbled across this book after seeing a little pride flag stuck out of it at my nearest Waterstones – an adorable way of indicating to customers which YA had LGBT content. Although, there was no representation in this instalment of the series, I’ve seen enough spoilers to be content enough to continue. Plus, it’s pretty hard not to notice for yourself whilst reading.
Maggie Stiefvater’s writing is gorgeous. I adore her descriptions and there were numerous occasions that I was left in awe of her narrative, desperate to learn her secret so I could write as talented in the slightest. Although, there were some occasions where I had to remind myself that the protagonists were in fact school kids, their dialogue was occasionally much older than their years, yet I’m sure that’s the point – especially in Gansey’s case.
The plot itself was easy to comprehend and flow through, with the assistance of her descriptive writing. I’ve always had a huge interest in tarot cards and readings, and I was so happy to read of Blue’s family and their living. The added witchcraft breaks between The Raven Boy’s story was widely welcomed and appreciated. I loved Blue’s family, their dialogue and inspiration beautiful to read. Although, the narrative itself was slow, their inputs made it worthwhile to reach around 3/4 of the way through the book when everything happened all at once. It’s understandable, however, considering this is the opening to a four part series, yet I do feel on occasion the action could have been spaced out.
The characters themselves made the story for me. Blue wasn’t the typical YA female protagonist. She had personality, humour and common sense. Although, I did feel like her relationship with Adam was near enough insta-love, there was still so much more to her than the fact she was romantically involved with someone. Her family and history was so interesting to me, that I didn’t mind the fact that her plot revolves around romance; her as a character is enough. Adam and Ronan are definitely some of my favourites, their personalities polar opposites yet they seem to care about each other massively. Although, I wish there had been more of an opportunity to see their relationship more, other than the fight between Adam’s Father and Ronan there was barely anything other than a few comedic lines;
“Ronan said, ‘I’m always straight.’
Adam replied, ‘That’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told.'”
Noah’s character is possibly by far my favourite, however. I adored his progression throughout the books, from someone who gets mentioned as just another Raven Boy, ‘the smudgy one’, to one of the key plot points in the story. His history broke my heart, and although, I expected his death long before it was confirmed, the reveal was still a hard hit for me. Also, the moment where he was writing on the car was by far the most emotional in the story, leaving room for Ronan’s softer side to shine through also. Genius.
The one character I couldn’t bring myself to like as much of the others, and I’m unsure if it’s an unpopular opinion, is Gansey. His personality and mannerisms were some of which that I couldn’t bring myself to like, regardless of how he’s one of the main characters. I hated his dependency on the other boys, and the way he’d be portrayed as someone who expected those to follow his every word (even though they did; I’m still not sure why). I’m sure his behaviour will be explained more in the following books, yet as of now; I can’t bring myself to like him.
Overall, I loved this book, the characters being some of the most interesting I’ve read in a while, and I can’t wait to continue the series.