The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater is quickly becoming my favorite YA author.  She’s yet to write anything that I haven’t devoured on sight.  The Raven Boys is her most recent delectable dish which had me lapping up each word in less than three days (bring on the cheese!). It is a book that is refreshingly unique in its plot and characters, and one that should be on the very top of your “to read” list.
Blue Sargent is as unique as her moniker.  Living in a home filled with psychics and mediums only adds to her unusual aura.  Her clairvoyant mother and three gifted aunts each have unique, supernatural abilities to communicate with the dead.  Blue has never had the “second sight” like her family members, and she assumes these gifts have skipped her altogether – until she sees her very first spirit on St. Mark’s Eve.
Traditionally, St. Mark’s Eve is a time when the spirits of the soon-to-be dead travel corpse road – a path that winds through a crumbling, abandoned churchyard outside of Blue’s hometown.  Blue’s mother usually greets these spirits while Blue records their names.  Within 12 months, the people whose spirits traveled this road on this night will be dead, and townspeople pay a pretty penny to see if their name is on the list of the doomed.  Blue usually sits through this night without much to do, other than to assist her mother and write down the names of the spirits passing by. 
This year’s St. Mark’s eve begins like any other, except for Blue’s aunt is doing the other-worldly greetings.  Blue silently observes her aunt speak to the souls Blue can’t see.  Bored and silently wishing for this night to come to a close, Blue is shocked to see a boy her age stumbling through the churchyard.  He is a spirit, but the fact that Blue can see him scares and awes her.  According to her aunt, “there are 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.”  Determined to find this boy and warn him about his fate, Blue goes on a quest to change his destiny.  What Blue uncovers about this mysterious boy and the supernatural trouble surrounding him kept me up late at night and unable to stop reading.
            Stiefvater’s writing style and seamless plot development are not the only reasons The Raven Boys is such an enjoyable read.  Her ability to create real, dynamic characters is what makes each of her novels so appealing.  Blue Sargent could easily be a friend of mine due to Stiefvater’s effortless dialogue and subtle descriptions embedded within the dialogue and narration.  Gansey and the rest of the Raven Boys are unique and unlike any other characters I’ve ever met in fiction, but seem too real and alive to be trapped in a book.  They remind me of the gang in The Outsiders.  Sodapop, Darry and Ponyboy are characters that have stuck with me for decades, and I have an inkling that Ronan, Adam, Noah and Gansey will be around for awhile, too.  In this excerpt, Gansey is meeting Blue for the first time, and I love the unconventional way in which Stiefvater describes Gansey and his friends.
There was something annoyingly impressive about him, an impression that he was very tall, although he was no taller than most boys.  “My socially inhibited friend Adam thinks you’re cute, but he’s unwilling to make a move. Over there. Not the smudgy one.  Not the sulky one.”
Blue, largely against her will, glanced to the booth he pointed to.  Three boys sat at it: one was smudgy, just as he said, with a rumpled, faded look about his person, like his body had been laundered too many times.  The one who’d hit the light was handsome and his head was shaved; a soldier in a war where the enemy was everyone else.  And the third was – elegant.  It was not the right word for him, but it was close.  He was fine boned and a little fragile looking, with blue eyes pretty enough for a girl.
I’ve never heard of a character described as “smudgy”, but after you read this book, you’ll understand why this adjective is the PERFECT descriptor of Noah.  Stiefvater’s writing is original and makes it impossible for the narration and dialogue to ever become boring.
            This is one of those magical books that readers hunt for and crave – those rare gems that have you flying through the pages and itching to read at stop lights, under the table at dinner, and during any spare moment you can find.  The Raven Boys IS THAT BOOK for me – the likes of which I haven’t read in a very long time.  Eager to find out when the next book will be released (2013ish), I looked at reviews on the site Good Reads.  Apparently, I’m not alone in my love for the Raven Boys.  It’s average rating is a 4.6 out of 5 stars, and rating which I will also give the book.  I only reserve the ½ star, due to my annoyance with Stiefvater for ending this book with so many unanswered questions, and making me wait entirely too long for the sequel!

1 comment:

  1. The review is well written and the book sounds quite interesting. It seems like a good read to me. While the review was a bit cheesy, it has me wanting to purchase the book myself.