The Raven Boys
I finally gave in to the social media pressure and ordered The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. I have never before read anything of hers, and it was starting to feel like I was truly lacking in that department. I am more an epic fantasy fan than a real world fantasy fan, so it took me some time to realise that I might actually enjoy this sort of story. But I’ve been reading YA a lot more diversely lately and even though I still prefer the first, I thought Maggie Stiefvater’s series might be a nice change of pace.
What immediately drew my attention is that this book is FUNNY. There is an effortless ease to the way Blue’s character is built, and the crazy people inhabiting 300 Fox Way. I know Blue isn’t a fan of living in the overcrowded house, but I would certainly enjoy it for a summer holiday. There is also that same sense of ease when it comes to the magic that is woven throughout the entire novel. Blue has lived with the proof of psychics all her life, and the Raven Boys have been looking for a mythical king. They have seen enough to know that there are no coincidence and that there are wonders to be found.
I consider the ease of Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style her greatest asset. She doesn’t rush through her plot. It takes Blue until chapter 6 to even meet Gansey and Adam, and it isn’t until chapter 15 they really meet and start to become “Blue and her Raven boys”. I usually have difficulty when an author gives us a construction such as Blue killing her true love if she were to kiss him. It is usually followed by insta-love and then a lot of teen angst. This is not that book.
Maggie Stiefvater shows us how perfectly Blue fits into the boys’ group, but she is first and foremost their friend, and a valuable asset to their quest. She is as intrigued by it as them, and gives them a new piece of the puzzle. It is not until much later that love (as a concept bigger than infatuation) becomes possible. And even then you know it can develop in any given direction. We know, of course, that in the end it will be Gansey, but it doesn’t have to be Gansey in the beginning. Or even the middle. It truly is “Blue and her boys”. She is a friend to all of them, and has the potential to love all of them. And she does, as each in their own way loves her.
Just like Blue, each of the boys has their own specific personality, hang-ups, secrets and hopes. They are drawn so lifelike, while you would be very hard pressed to truly find these people in the real world. Considering you could write a spin-off series on each of them shows that, as an author, Maggie Stiefvater is exceptional in bringing her characters to life. I find myself falling in love with the Raven Boys the way Blue loves them: each in their own way. And even when you think someone is an auxillary character who doesn’t join them for half the book (Noah), we find that he ties into the central plot in such a major way.
Of the plot itself, through the ease of Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style, you know it is going to be big. It is fully capable of encompassing the four books this series is long, and you see that right at the beginning in the first book. Although there is a rounded out story, and some loose ends are fully tied, the grand mystery is far from solved. And with each closer step they take, new hurdles arrive. Secrets are revealed to become relevant to the mystery (what IS up with Ronan and Declan? I must find out).
I am thoroughly impressed with The Raven Boys, and I think that as far as real world magic stories go, this might become my favourite. I can see why people who have already read this series won’t let go of the characters they have come to love. Why they would wish to still be reading it for the first time, or want to reread in order to bring these people back. I find myself falling in love with Blue and her boys, too. And Maggie Stiefvater has proven with this first book that she is capable of telling a good story, in a very good way, with twists and surprises that will make you jump up and down from the sheer brilliance of it. I personally cannot wait to read the other books, and I am so glad I decided to read this series.