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Friday, June 13, 2014

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Book Review: The Raven Boys

It's always been pretty easy for someone to convince me to read a book that is popular in the young adult fandom. The more fangirls (and fanboys) there are, the better. For months, a few of my friends have been begging me to read this book. I resisted only because I knew that once I started, I would not be able to read anything else until I had read the entire series, or what was out already. Recently, I knew I was ready to dive in. The Tumblr presence of this book was enough to assure me that I was not making a mistake, and my fangirl sisters did NOT let me down. 

For the summary, this is a tough book to...summarize. It's about Blue, who is the only non-psychic in a family of psychic women. It's about Gansey and Adam and Ronan and Noah, who are all searching for the long-dead Welsh king, Glendower. It's about Blue and Adam, and Blue and Gansey, and Ronan and his brother and his father. The prologue says that Blue has always been told that she will kill her true love—no details in how this person will die or what part she will play. This chilling reality guides Blue, but she is no damsel who focuses on prophecies. She's logical and approaches that prediction with a cool head. It's a book about myths and legends and adventures, but it's also, more intimately, about finding yourself—Gansey is aware and guilty of his privilege, Adam is on the outside looking in, disgusted by the wealth that surrounds him, Ronan must come to terms with his father's mysterious past and death. Blue stumbles into this group at the height of their search for Glendower, and it feels almost like a storyline out of Buffy. The characters are seeking this higher power, each for different reasons, but they are deeply rooted in reality.

What is so impressive about this novel is the extensive character development that we see for the cast of supporting characters in the novel. Although there were a couple of pacing problems in the novel, in my opinion, Maggie Stiefvater understands the importance for background and depth in each of her many characters. The triumphs they face are unconventional, to say the least. Somehow, in a story filled with supernatural elements and forces darker than we know, the issues and conflicts that we face everyday in the real world still break through and help to ground this story in reality.

It plays like a film, in the best way possible. The scenes are described in such great detail that I can almost hear the soundtrack—which is fitting, because it's one of those books where the tumblr fandom often makes mix tapes for each of the characters. There isn't a Big Bad in this book—the antagonist comes in late and barely makes a splash in the climax of the story—instead, it seems as though the characters are battling less concrete problems. Time, self-assurance, and security that comes from parents and friends all play a large part in splintering the five troops apart.

I fell in love with the Raven Boys, in all their mystery and charm, and I am absolutely going to be diving into the sequel ASAP. It is obvious that Stiefvater wrote this story with a sequel, or multiple continuations, in mind. Sometimes that can irk me, but with this story I was pleased to be able to continue reading and know that there was much more to follow.

Title: The Raven Boys

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Recommendation: Yes

Best Reader Audience: Young Male and Female Readers

Final Rating: Four out of Five Bunny Bums