The Raven Boys is a young adult novel and the first book in the Raven Cycle written by Maggie Stiefvater. It’s about Blue Sargent, a young girl who does not have any psychic abilities despite coming from a family of psychics. It’s foretold that she will kiss her true love and he will die. When Blue joins her aunt to seek out the spirits of would be diseased during a yearly ritual, she is surprised that she could see the spirit of a Raven boy, students from a local prestigious academy. There are only two possible ways this could have had happen – she caused his death or he was her true love. For Blue, that was one and the same. Soon the Raven boy and his close friends enter Blue’s live as they hunt down the supernatural and seek out the grave of Glendower, the last Welsh Prince of Wales.
This is the first Maggie Stiefvater book I’ve ever read, despite having heard of her for sometime as She has a huge fan base among book bloggers and booktube. She’s also a few other books including the Wolves of Mercy Falls and the Scorpio Races, though I think the Raven Cycle might be her magnum opus, thus far. Oh, and if you’re wondering how to pronounce her last name, she made a song about it here. It’s steve-otter, in case you’re wondering.
One of the best things about the Raven Boys was the great characters. From the main character Blue Sargent to each of the titular Raven Boys – Gansey, Adam, Ronan and Noah, they were all well fleshed out and have interesting backstories. For example, one of the boys is from a poor family, working three jobs to pay the tuition to study at Aglionby Academy, the aforementioned prestigious academy. Another’s father was murdered and he has a strained relationship with his brother. Every one of them has something different about them and there are still many stones left unturned at the end of the book. Even the supporting cast like Blue’s family of psychics or Barrington Whelk were interesting to read about.
There were many twists and turn in the story that kept it interesting, most of them were predictable but one or two caught me off guard. One thing I loved about it was that a lot of the twists were blatantly foreshadowed but I always assumed it was a one off sentence or a joke from a character and wasn’t really paying much attention to them.
The entire book was on the slower end of the spectrum. It took a while to get things going and for a long time I felt like nothing was happening at all. The end of the book picked up the pace again but then it ended suddenly. I was left confused and underwhelmed. Maybe it was because I was expecting each of the four books to focus on a different Raven boy and thought that Gansey’s story would have ended in this one, though arguably this might have been Noah’s story.
I never really connected well with Ronan. His anger and lashing outs didn’t really made any sense to me. His brother seems to be trying his best to make amends or avoid him at times and he still somehow made everything worst. And skipping school despite Gansey’s attempts to stop his expulsion was just maddening at times. Although he does seemed to be a lot of people’s favorite character. (Side note: I’ve since read the Dream Thieves, and I’m totally on board the Ronan train.)
As far as first books goes, the Raven Boys did really well in introducing me to the world of Henrietta, Virginia and Cabeswater. The psychics didn’t feel out of place. It also gives me an idea of what to expect from the rest of the series and sets up some questions which are unanswered at the end of the book. The only thing I would have loved is for it to have a more visible main villain to follow, but as it stands, I can see it being a different villain for each book.
Oh and to anyone who watches Hana Yori Dango or Boys over Flowers or Meteor Garden or whatever version of that story, does the Raven Boys remind you of it? A main character from a middle class family getting tangled up with a group of four boys from a prestigious academy? One of the boy is a volatile hot head, one of them is a quiet shadow, one of them is a kind and mature?
A very exciting start to a series, characters are the strongest points of the novel which does well in covering up the flaws in its story. Looking forward to reading more.