Title: The Raven Boys
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Young Adult / Paranormal / Fantasy
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Started: 28th July 2015
Completed: 10th September 2015
Summary: Blue has spent the majority of her sixteen years being told that if she kisses her true love, he will die. When Blue meets Gansey’s spirit on the corpse road she knows there is only one reason why – either he is her true love or she has killed him. Determined to find out the truth, Blue becomes involved with the Raven Boys, four boys from the local private school (lead by Gansey) who are on a quest to discover Glendower – a lost ancient Welsh King who is buried somewhere along the Virginia ley line. Whoever finds him will be granted a supernatural favour. Never before has Blue felt such magic around her. But is Gansey her true love? She can’t imagine a time she would feel like that, and she is adamant not to be the reason for his death. Where will fate lead them? … – Amazon
Warning: Contains spoilers
The Raven Boys is the first book in Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle series. It is followed by The Dream Thieves, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, and The Raven King. The Raven King is due to be released in April 2016 and it will be the final book in the series.
This was the first book I read by Maggie Stiefvater and she has quickly become one of my favourite authors.
One of the main things that I love about this book is the characters that Maggie Stiefvater has created.
Blue is the main protagonist of the The Raven Boys and she is the only non-psychic person in a family of psychics. She lives with her mother, Maura, Maura’s two best friends, Calla and Persephone, an older cousin Orla, her aunt Jimi. Blue’s father disappeared when she was born. Her family is odd to say the least but it was nice to see a family full of women working together and functioning well(ish) as a family. Blue works as a dog-walker and as a waitress at Nino’s Diner and she goes to a normal school. She hates the Aglionby boys, who she calls the Raven Boys, even after she meets Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah when she is at work. She seems relatively normal if you ignore the fact that she lives with a bunch of psychic women and that if she ever kisses her true love he will die.
The Raven Boys consist of Richard Campbell Gansey III (known merely as Gansey), Ronan Lynch, Adam Parrish, and Noah. I love them all but Noah is my favourite.
Gansey is a rich, handsome, ‘all-american’ boys who is going to die soon. We find out about his impending death at the very beginning of the book. He rules Aglionby, his school, and he is on a quest to find the ancient Welsh king Glendower. Gansey lives at Monmouth Manufacturing which he owns. Ronan also lives there with him.
Ronan is anti-social, confrontational, and dangerous. He lives with Gansey because his father, Niall Lynch, was killed. The book strongly suggests that Ronan’s personality changed dramatically after the trauma of finding his father’s body after he had been murdered. He speaks Latin fluently and it’s the only class that he really tries in at school, preferring to skip the rest of his classes. He also has a pet raven named Chainsaw.
Adam lives with his mother and father in a double-wide trailer, unlike Gansey and Ronan who live together at Monmouth Manufacturing. Gansey continuously attempts to get Adam to move into Monmouth Manufacturing but Adam refuses as he does not want to rely on Gansey and his money. Adam is very smart and is a partial-scholarship student at Aglionby but he must work three jobs to pay for the rest of his tuition.
Noah is described as being “smudgy” because he is more rumpled and tired-looking than the other boys. He’s a ghost and has been dead for 7 years at the time the book takes place. In the book we learn about how Noah died and why he died.
I enjoyed the different levels of magic in the novel.
The idea of the corpse road was very interesting and I like how it links into the later exploration of the ley lines. The tarot card reading was fascinating because the psychics use it as a way to interpret their predictions of the future instead of a way to predict the future. I liked that distinction because the people are magic in The Raven Boys, not the cards.
I also loved the Welsh mythology that Stiefvater includes. I’ve never read a novel that includes Welsh mythology so it was very interesting. Owain Glyndŵr, called Glendower in the novel to make his name easier for non-Welsh speakers, was a Welsh ruler in the early 15th century who Gansey believes to be alive. He also believes that the person who wakes Glendower will be granted a boon. This is the driving force behind Gansey’s actions and therefore the events in the novel.
Stiefvater examines the idea of class divisions in this novel which something that I normally associate with European literature more than American literature (although I have read a fair few American books that look at it too). Two of the characters, Blue and Adam, must work after school and they’re from lower class families than Gansey and Ronan who are well off. The juxtaposition between Adam and Gansey is startling as Gansey attempts to force Adam into his elite world, a world in which Adam feels uncomfortable. Also, Gansey always seems to be making off-hand remarks about money and status but he later realises that these comments offend both Adam and Blue.
Another way in which class is shown is through the schools that the characters attend. Although Adam attends Aglionby, a private school for boys, he is there on a scholarship whereas both Ronan and Gansey can easily afford their tuition. Blue goes to a normal, state school.
I love the cars in The Raven Boys. I’ve always been a big fan of cars and motor sport so I loved all of the car talk. I especially love “The Pig”, Gansey’s orange Camaro, mainly because Gansey refuses to get rid of it no matter how many times it breaks down. I also love how impractical it is when Gansey is trying to find Glendower (Owain Glyndŵr). It’s just a useless car and it’s a bright orange monstrosity.
Maggie Stiefvater has uploaded some photos of the Camaro that inspired The Pig here.
Finally, I want to say that I really enjoyed the author’s writing style. I found that it fitted the plot of the book really well and I love the amount of detail that she uses in her writing. Stiefvater brings the landscape of Cabeswater to life and that’s just an important part of the book.
I love that the plot of the book moves slowly because it gives you chance to dwell on the character and events more than if she had packed all of the plot into one book.
The only thing that I disliked about this book is the love triangle between Gansey, Blue, and Adam. It serves a purpose, I guess, but I just find them very boring and I wish that it hadn’t been included. It was a very odd love triangle though and it’s not the main focus of the book so don’t worry if you don’t like love triangles.
I loved The Raven Boys. Absolutely loved it.
I would recommend this book without any hesitation.