Backlist Burndown: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Backlist Burndown

As book bloggers, sometimes we get so caught up reading review titles and new releases that we end up missing out on a lot previously published books. As a result, one of my goals this year is to take more time to catch up with my backlist, especially in my personal reading pile. And it seems I’m not the only one. Backlist Burndown is a new meme started by Lisa of Tenacious Reader. Every last Friday of the month, she’ll be posting a review of a backlist book and is inviting anyone interested to do the same. Of course, you can also review backlist books any day you want, as often you want, but be sure to watch for her post at the end of the month to link up!

This month, I’m reviewing a book that according to Goodreads has been on my to-read list since September 2013. It’s…

raven boysThe Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Series: Book 1 of The Raven Cycle

Publisher: Scholastic (9/18/12)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Mogsy’s Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to get to Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle series considering how I’ve read practically every other novel she’s written. Possibly I burned out on her Wolves of Mercy Falls books and then The Scorpio Races didn’t end up meeting my expectations, so I figured I just wasn’t a big fan of the way she wrote her characters and decided not to follow any more of her future series.

Of course, then I started hearing a lot of great things about The Raven Cycle once the second book and then the third came out, which made me think maybe I should give The Raven Boys a try after all, though clearly I didn’t jump on it right away. Anyway, my mistake. I finally read this book and discovered that it was actually pretty damn awesome.

The novel follows the lives of several teenagers who cannot be any more different. Blue Sargent is the daughter of a clairvoyant, though she isn’t a seer herself. But what she does have is the power to amplifying psychic effects with her presence, which is how she ends up in a churchyard on a freezing St. Mark’s Eve, helping out her mother doing her clairvoyance-y things. This is the night where the soon-to-be dead walk the Corpse Road, and this year, Blue sees her first spirit – a boy who calls himself Gansey. There’s only one reason why she could have seen him, though: either he’s her true love, or she will be the one to kill him.

Thing is, for as long as Blue can remember, she’s also been warned by her mother and all her seer friends that her kiss will cause her true love to die. Soooo…you do the math.

Meanwhile, the very much alive and corporeal version of Richard Gansey III is spending his days pursuing an eccentric hobby in between going to class at the prestigious Aglionby private school for boys. The students there – known as Raven Boys because of their school crest – are mostly the sons of rich and powerful people, their children also destined for great things. Gansey fits the mold, being a scion to a wealthy family. He’s never lacked for anything, but it doesn’t matter because what he wants is so much more than just the material. Together he’s on a mystical quest with three fellow classmates Adam (the smart but poor one), Ronan (the bad boy), and Noah (the quiet and taciturn wallflower) to seek the rumored burial site of a legendary king.

The four boys, despite falling into seemingly conventional stereotypes, are in truth so much more beneath the surface. Against all odds, such disparate personalities manage to work very well together, their friendship held fast by the glue that is Gansey. That camaraderie between the Raven Boys (along with their eventual relationship with Blue) make up the meat of this novel, and it was the element I enjoyed the most. Shocker! Still, that doesn’t mean the characters never got my nerves, because they did; Gansey and his condescension, Adam with his insufferable pride, Ronan and his belligerence (and really? Naming your baby raven Chainsaw? You hokey idiot), and Blue and her bullheadedness all rankled me at one point or another, but none of it was to the extent at which Steifvater has frustrated me in the past. The dynamics here work, plain and simple.

The plot surprised me too, delivering something very different from than I expected, though maybe I should have given the author more credit. After all, the issues I’ve had with Stiefvater’s characters in her other novels notwithstanding, her knack for storytelling is unequaled in the Young Adult genre. The premises behind her books have never been anything less than beautiful, unconventional, and simply marvelous. From the beginning, I was held completely rapt by the story of The Raven Boys, drawn in by the intricate details of each characters’ situation. There was an introductory period where I wasn’t sure what everything had to do with each other, but eventually all the pieces fell into place and the resulting picture was one that knocked me off my feet. The sheer imagination on display here is impressive as hell; I was really charmed by all the little things like the mythological aspect, historical and geographical connections, magical rituals, Tarot readings and the personalities of the other seers that Blue and her mother live with. There’s also a thread of mystery weaving itself in and out of the narrative, and some of the revelations which came to the surface at the end were eye-opening to say the least. I can hardly wait to find out what happens next.

So maybe Maggie Stiefvater’s books and I still have a future together after all. Now off I go to procure the next book to add to my library. Consider me a new fan of The Raven Cycle, I’ve very glad I finally got a chance to read this first book.

b5d53-4-5stars

More on The BiblioSanctum:
Wendy’s Review of The Raven Boys (Book 1) | Wendy’s Review of The Dream Thieves (Book 2) | Wendy’s Review of Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Book 3)

19 Comments on “Backlist Burndown: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater”

  1. I keep hearing amazing things about this book but I’ve only read a book by the author and I really should try more. Glad you had such a great time as well.

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    • She has some amazing ideas. Not sure which book it is you read, but if it’s either Mercy Falls or Scorpio Races, I found this to be much better 🙂

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  2. I’m so happy you enjoyed this one. My favourite of hers is actually The Scorpio Races hee. But I loved this book for it’s unique pacing – it was almost slice of life manga like. Can’t wait to hear what you think on the rest of the series.

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    • Scorpio Races was actually quite unique and it had an excellent setting and premise. I just thought she could have gone even further with it (like come on, marine horses! How cool!) but she decided to stick with a relatively “safe” story.

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  3. I’ve had this on my list for a while too! I’m glad you loved it. I didn’t read the Mercy Falls books past the first one, but I loved her Lament and Ballad. So I do love her writing. Going to make an effort to get to this series eventually!

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    • Lament and Ballad is one I haven’t read by her. And you’re not missing that much from Mercy Falls, iirc my favorite of that series was the first book. The quality of them declined as her characters grew more insufferable.

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  4. Poor Blue, talk about the worst luck ever!

    I remember seeing these books around (gorgeous covers) but never looked into what they were about. I don’t think is a book for me, but I do like the dynamic of a small group of high school boys. It’s not in many stories I read, but that must testosterone together usually makes for a couple good scenes.

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    • The camaraderie between a group of school boy friends characters usually makes for some great reading (Stephen King’s stories feature a lot of them, for example). Great opportunity to explore a wide variety of personalities and how they interact with each other.

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  5. I think I also burned out on the Mercy Falls books so just kind of gave these a pass – I did like Lament and I think I also read Ballad. This sounds good though and a great review – will you continue with the series? I do like the author’s writing style and she does have some very clever ideas – the wolves books had a different slant on them that was really interesting.
    Lynn 😀

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    • I think I will continue. I certainly want to! I just don’t know where I’ll find the time, but I’ll work it out 😀 The fourth book will be the last too, so at least I know I won’t keep falling further behind.

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    • I listened to the audio as well – it wasn’t bad, but I think the narrator could have been better. He sounded way too old for a book like this, and I found him hard to understand sometimes.

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  6. Pingback: Mogsy’s Bookshelf Roundup: New Books & What I’ve Been Reading… | The BiblioSanctum

  7. Exciting! I have the audio of this waiting patiently on my phone for me to listen to at some point, but I haven’t felt quite completely compelled to read it yet, it keeps getting moved down one by some other audio that catches my interest >.> But I’m now more encouraged and know what mood I need to be in to enjoy it, yey!

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  8. Pingback: YA Audiobook Weekend: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater | The BiblioSanctum

  9. Pingback: YA Audiobook Weekend: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater | The BiblioSanctum

  10. Pingback: YA Audiobook Weekend: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater | The BiblioSanctum

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