YA Audiobook Weekend: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural, Fantasy
Series: The Raven Cycle #1
Publisher: ROC (September 18, 2012)
Tiara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Narrator: Will Patton | Length: 11 hrs and 8 mins | Audiobook Publisher: Scholastic Audio (September 18, 2012) | Whispersync Ready: Yes
After much hemming and hawing and promises of getting around to it, I am the last one here at the BiblioSanctum to finally get started on this series. Its availability on Kindle Unlimited was the final push that I needed to try the series.
Each year, Blue Sargent spends St. Mark’s Eve at a ruined church helping her clairvoyant mother record the names of people who will die in the next twelve months. Blue is unable to see the ghosts herself, but she amplifies the powers of people who have psychic abilities. This year, however, is different for two reasons. It’s the first year that Blue has spent St. Mark’s Eve with someone other than her mother, and it is the first year that she has seen a spirit of one of the soon-to-be dead. The spirit’s name is Gansey, and he’s a student at a local pre-Ivy League boys school, Aglionby. To Blue, boys are trouble enough, but Aglionby boys are bastards. But Blue finds herself drawn into the world of Gansey and his friends–Adam, Noah, and Ronan. Compounding to her problems, Blue is also burdened by a warning from every psychic in her life. She’ll kill her true love with a first kiss, and as she was told the night she saw Gansey’s spirit:
|“There are only two reasons a nonseer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love… or you killed him.”|
This is my first outing with a Maggie Stiefvater book, and after reading some synopses on her other books, I think this was my best introduction to her writing. Stiefvater excels in many areas with this book. The story takes a little time to jumpstart itself. However, it is never dull, and it certainly lays the groundwork for a thoughtful story. Her handling of the supernatural elements are done in a way that could make them almost believable if placed in a real world setting while retaining that magical allure. She’s taken typical genre tropes, such as the “rich boy meets poor girl” and the “tormented bad boy,”and weaved into these familiar stories a complexity and nuance that both young adults and adults can appreciate. While I would’ve enjoyed just a little more depth of character for some of her characters, she does a fair job of presenting characters that you care about, characters that have their flaws and strengths. You love them. You cheer them. You get angry with them. One thing that kind of irked with me with the story, as far as character is concerned, is that the main antagonist felt so weak in the grand scheme of the story. This person had weak motivations, weak intentions, and no substance. I dislike antagonists that I can only feel apathetic toward at best. Antagonists should pull emotions from me I didn’t even know I had. Finally, as a history nerd and supernatural buff, the coupling of history and the supernatural kept my interest. This was almost Arthurian in a way without being about King Arthur.
As for the narration, I have a bit of mixed feelings about Will Patton’s narration. I feel his voice is both perfect and imperfect for this book. I enjoyed the almost hushed tone he used for the overall book However, parts of the book are narrated so brilliantly and other parts of the book, his narration felt jarring, a clash of tone and words. Funny thing is I can’t say whether there were more brilliant parts or more clashing parts, but it doesn’t turn me off to the narration. This is probably just another case of a narrator that I need to spend much more time with before I decide if I truly like them or not. One high praise I have for him is that I enjoyed his Southern accents, which I can be really finicky about as a Southerner myself. In fact, I enjoyed most of the voices he did for the characters in this book.
This book was quite a pleasant surprise, I didn’t expect to get as involved with as I did, especially since I wasn’t drawn to this book. However, the books I don’t feel any particular way about are usually the ones that manage to really capture my interest and imagination. Stiefvater has created something amazing with this story, and that ending certainly prods readers to seek out the next book.