Book Reviews

Review: “The Raven Boys,” Maggie Stiefvater

April 21, 2016
Review: “The Raven Boys,” Maggie StiefvaterThe Raven Boysby Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #1
Published by Scholastic on July, 2013
Genres: Mythology, Psychics, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 409
Book Depository | Bookworld | Booktopia

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them--until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can't entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn't believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.

With the release of The Raven King at the end of this month, I knew it was high time to get around to reading The Raven Cycle series. With Maggie Stiefvater being one of my all-time favourite authors, I really had no explanation as to why it had taken me so long to pick up her latest set of books. Needless to say, after finishing The Raven Boys in practically one night, I’m starting to realise how stupid I was to put it off for so long.

 “She wasn’t interested in telling other people’s futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.”

The wonderful thing about this series is that I have absolutely no idea where it’s headed. You know when you start a new series and you can immediately pick up the story arc and predict what’s going to happen? Yeah, no such problem with this one. Rather than being a simple ‘group of kids in search of magical being/object’ there is so much more to The Raven Boys. Everyone has their own motivations for tracking down the tomb of Glendower and everyone has different experiences along the way. I also happen to know zero things about Welsh mythology, so everything inside The Raven Boys is shiny and new.

“He strode over to the ruined church. This, Blue had discovered, was how Gansey got places – striding. Walking was for ordinary people.”

The characters are so precious and genuine. I was immediately drawn to Gansey – ‘President Cell Phone’ – and his soft, squishy heart of gold. His love for aquamarine polo shirts, boat shoes and Welsh mythology captured my heart. He was a ‘rich boy’, embracing the life he’d been handed (and all its perks) but he never used his powers for nefarious reasons.

Adam, Ronan and Noah make up the rest of the ‘Raven Boys’ and they are as equally intriguing as Gansey, with just a little less page time. Despite this, they all manage to have their own motivations, desires and quirks which keep them from fading into the background of the book. Though I’ve only read one book in this series so far, the characters are so easily distinguished from one another and play off each other so well. The dynamic between the Raven Boys is beyond amazing and I can’t wait to experience their journeys together.

Blue is our leading lady. Coming from a house packed full of psychics, she adds a new ‘something’ to the life of the Raven Boys and their search for Glendower. Blue is quirky, eccentric and brave – but I am yet to really fall in love with her yet. At this stage, my love for the Boys outweighs my love for Blue, but who knows how long that will last. Maggie Stiefvater always manages to write great female leads, so I can’t wait to see how Blue develops as the series progresses.

“In the end, he was nobody to Adam, he was nobody to Ronan. Adam spit his words back at him and Ronan squandered however many second chances he gave him. Gansey was just a guy with a lot of stuff and a hole inside him that chewed away more of his heart every year.”

What struck me most about The Raven Boys was how gripping the twists and turns were. As I said earlier, I had NO IDEA what to expect going into this book because it’s not really that easy to sum up what it’s all about. While I might have felt initially that the book was a little confusing (there are multiple storylines and characters all working together) I soon realised it was because everything was working together on an incredible scope. It wasn’t long until the little twists and discoveries made by the Boys and Blue had me ripping through the pages like a madwoman.

This book was damned near perfect. At times I was SO SURE I was going to give this one a full, five-star rating… something was stopping me, however (maybe it was the ‘meh’ beginning?) and as I turned the final pages, I knew I would have to instead settle for almost perfect. The ending is what really stopped me from giving The Raven Boys a higher rating. It just felt so abrupt and I have no idea of what happened when it came to the sacrifice and the implications there. I had also thought it might end with more of a ‘punch’, but instead it felt like the end of a chapter.

“The way Gansey saw it was this: if you had a special knack for finding things, it meant you owed the world to look.”

Can I also take a minute to express my OVERFLOWING JOY that although this book features high-school aged students, the ‘school’ aspect does not clog the book up with unnecessary school antics and boring classroom/locker scenes? Almost all of the events within The Raven Boys take place out of school hours and I weep with happiness. School is a big part of their life, but we’re not held hostage inside the classroom until fun stuff happens.

I can’t even describe to you how eager I am to discover more of this series. Having remained completely unspoiled for all this time, I feel like I’m about to set off on an incredible journey. With only one book read I feel a special sort of connection with the characters and a fierce fondness for them. I’m already looking back on aspects of the book with nostalgia and I’ve only just closed it.

About Maggie Stiefvater

All of Maggie Stiefvater's life decisions have been based around her inability to be gainfully employed. Talking to yourself, staring into space, and coming to work in your pajamas are frowned upon when you're a waitress, calligraphy instructor, or technical editor (all of which she's tried), but are highly prized traits in novelists and artists. She's made her living as one or the other since she was 22. She now lives an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with her charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, two neurotic dogs, and a 1973 Camaro named Loki.


  • Reply Aentee April 25, 2016 at 11:02 am

    I think the standout from this series for me is definitely the narrative voice and the character development. I agree with you that I felt more attached to the boys rather than Blue after Book 1, mainly because she feels more like an observer at that stage. Now that TRK is out I will need to plunge back into the series. Excellent review <3

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