The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: September 18th, 2012
Pages: 408
Song I Played While Reading: Faith by Calvin Harris
Rating: 4 stars

"There's only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark's Eve. 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. 

(I apologize for how long this review is, holy crap.)

I've heard so many great things about this series. I mean, SO. MANY. My tumblr is absolutely filled with Raven Boys and I've always felt left out of the loop. I liked the Shiver series, at least the first two books. I never got around to reading the third one. But I remember reading this summary way back when it first came out and it didn't sound very interesting to me. So I forgot about it, until I made my book tumblr. And then it was like I wanted to smack my self in the head for not giving it a chance and picking it up, because it sounded amazing. I've heard so, so, SO many things about these Raven Boys that I was a little in awe when I read Gansey's first chapter. It felt like I was reading about celebrities, and I could not stop smiling.
Now, before we get onto the topic of those beautifully broken boys, we're going to talk about Steifvater's writing. Stop the fucking press. This is one of those times where the saying, "I can't even." adequately describes my feelings. I LITERALLY CANT EVEN. She could be writing about dog poop and I would have felt like I had just read my version of the Bible. I don't even know what it is about her writing that fills me with so much awe. And its funny because a lot of people who've read this have mentioned that it takes them a while to get used to her writing style, that for the first 50 pages they were a little turned off. And I'm over here like gasping and tweaking out because those first 50 pages we're like the entire world opening up under my hands. The words lived and breathed; they were their own person. It was absolutely incredible, and Stiefvater is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. Watch out Maas and Johansen! (Just kidding, YOU'RE ALL BAE TO ME.)
Okay, now we can talk about the boys :)
Gansey, Gansey, Gansey. He's the All-America boy; polite, handsome, smart, and an old soul. He's my sweet little cupcake, and I just wanted to squish to my chest. He comes off incredibly condescending sometimes, something he doesn't ever realize and seriously does not mean to do, and I could relate to that. Not the condescending part (I hope), but the doing something and not realizing how it came across part. I've gotten in trouble multiple times because of something I either said, or didn't say. I say things a lot more politely and properly then most of my friends from Chicago do. For instance, I pronounce aunt like ah-nt. Not like the insect, ant. Instead of saying, "I'm sorry," sometimes I say, "I apologize," and my friends all give me weird looks. One them has actually said I sound like I belong to a rich family in Virginia. Clearly Gansey and I are meant to be.
But for all his bravado, the sweet-talking, the polo shirts, the boat shoes, and the overall completeness to him, theres this small side of him that is so self-concious that it pulls me to him. I think even without having read from his POV I would have noticed it. Theres no way someone who's on a mission to do the impossible, wake a mystical king from his centuries long slumber and get granted a favor, who wouldn't have any doubts, any realizations that his life's work so far is based on a possible hallucination he had while almost dying. So its his self-conciosuness, plus the confidence he has in himself, that makes him attractive to me, more so than his looks. Does that make sense?
Now, Ronan, is my beautiful cinnamon roll. I've used this saying a lot recently but I don't care. He's my abused puppy and I SERIOUSLY JUST CANT DEAL. It's actually a little troubling because I seem to like the damaged type, and I know that won't work out in real life, so I need to keep this preference strictly to fictional boys. The snarky, dangerous attitude is just so refreshing. You don't know what to expect from him. On some level, I'm a little jealous; to have the ability to straight up not give a shit about anyone or anything (besides like two people), and to freely speak his mind at all times is almost hard to imagine for myself. The politeness is ingrained in me, and I couldn't be mean unless I was really, REALLY pissed off. So to be able to easily give into that anger is almost admirable. Obviously, he pushes the line between being merely honest and angry to cruel and scary. But even then, he doesn't have anyone or anything he doesn't like in his life. I wish I could easily cut those things out my life, too.
Now, Blue was the perfect narrator for me. She wasn't too much of anything; not overly sarcastic, or quiet, or happy, or grumpy. She walked an easily relatable fine line of being human. But you know how some people, like Celaena Sardothien, are always on their A game and constantly crack jokes or threaten people? Blue wasn't like that. She had some great one-liners, and I loved when she stood up to Ronan, but sometimes she would people watch and thats what I love to do. To just sit there and watch, to break down their facial expressions and body language, to try and gauge what kind of life they live by the clothes they wear or the phone they have, is just so fascinating to me. And Blue did it a lot with the boys, especially Gansey, and I think thats why she finds him so compelling. Hell, thats why she finds them all compelling! They're a complex group of motherfuckers. If I were friends with them I would love to watch them interact with each other and probably would never speak.
Okay, this review is getting waaay long, so I'm gonna try and wrap it up. The only reason why I docked a star was because I found the climax of the story, where they're in the woods with Whelk, to be a little confusing. I'm not sure exactly what happened and it seemed... smaller then Stiefvater made it seem. Specifically, Adams part. If anyone has any theories I would love to hear them! But overall, this was a fantastic start. I loved all the characters and their complexities, the history, the family dynamics, the writing, and the whole prophecy Blue has had surrounding her since she was born. That part sucks the readers in, the need to know if it comes true. There was a surprising undertone of sadness weaved throughout this story, making even the happier moments feel as if they're a memory being fondly thought back on. Does that make sense? As if I'm already mourning someones death.

"Gansey 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."

"Because of course President Cell Phone had brought most of his posse from Nino's, everyone but the smudgy boy. They filled the hallway to overflowing, somehow, the three of them, loud and male and so comfortable with one another that they allowed no one else to be comfortable with them. They were a pack of sleek animals armored with their watches and their Top-Siders and the expensive cut of their uniforms. Even the sharp boy's tattoo, cutting up the knobs of his spine above his collar, was a weapon, somehow slicing at Blue."

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

"When Gansey was polite, it made him powerful. When Adam was polite, he was giving power away."

"Gansey, installed comfortably behind the wheel with expensive sunglasses and Top-Siders, took his time answering. "I don't know. Because it's on the line, but it's not... whatever Cabeswater is. I have to think more about Cabeswater before we go back."
"Because its like we're going into someones house." Blue tried not to look at Gansey's boat shoes; she felt better about him as a person if she pretended he wasn't wearing them.

"Of course, she could still walk away.
She won't, he thought. She has to feel it, too.
He said, "I've always liked the name Jane."
Blue's eyes widened. "Ja- What? Oh! No, no. You can't just go around naming people other things because you don't like their real name."
"I like Blue just fine," Gansey said. He didn't believe she was really offended; her face didn't look like it did at Nino's when they'd first met, and her ears were turning pink. He thought, possibly, he was  getting a little better at not offending her, although he couldn't seem to stop teasing her. "Some of my favorite shirts are blue. However, I also like Jane."
"I'm not answering to that."
"I didn't ask you to."

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