Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Raven Boys - YA Review

Stiefvater, Maggie. The Raven Boys. New York: Scholastic Press, 2012. Print.

3 Word Booktalk* -- Magical Boy Trouble

Annotation: All the psychics in Blue's family tell her the same thing, if Blue kisses her true love, he will die. A buzz kill if ever there was one. 

Review: Out on a magical errand on St. Mark's Eve, Blue and her aunt are monitoring the Corpse Road to note the appearance of spirits that night, those of which who will die within the next year. Here Blue meets Gansey for the first time, and she is haunted by the knowledge of his future demise. Next she meets him in person, quite by accident, but doesn't tell him what she knows.

Well, Maggie is just getting better and better! As she has done before, (Shiver, Linger and Forever) she introduces us to a rather mediocre protagonist, Blue, in the first book of this series, The Raven Boys. Blue seems to be the voice of reason at the epicenter of all the more interesting characters that bloom, blossom and explode around her - Gansey, Ronan, Adam, Noah, and Blue's mother and more interesting aunts and cousins. Blue herself lacks magic, but her mother and all the aunts and cousins, living together in their "house of psychics," possess the gift in one way or another. Blue's only magical talent is she is like a "WiFi hotspot" for everyone else's power. This includes increasing the power coursing through an ancient and magical ley line (Blue's mother, aunts and cousins know it as the "Corpse Road") that the Raven Boys are certain runs through the quaint town of Henrietta, VA, the finding of which has them all in quite a twist. Especially Gansey, who had dedicated his not-yet-even-an-adult-yet life to finding it. A old-money rich boy, he believes it will lead him to an ancient king, Glendower, who, once found, will re-animate and somehow grant the finder one monumental magical wish, one that goes way beyond the desire of money for Gansey. For Adam, having Gansey's kind of money would be wish enough.

Can't imagine why they are all in such a twist.

Oh, and Blue still has that secret she's keeping, and she's torn between the attentions of Adam, and the orbital pull of Gansey, who's spirit she encountered walking that corpse road on St. Mark's Eve, which means that he is going to be dead within a year. Does that means he is the "one" and she kisses him, sealing his fate? 

Will Blue find her first love among the Raven Boys, and yet avoid her first kiss? Will Gansey and his friends find the ley line and the ancient king, Glendower? 

The characters are so deep, nuanced and resonant, it feels like you are getting to know real people in The Raven Boys, and then you start caring about them, and next worrying over their fates. 

(Sidebar: Adam so keenly reminded me of E from Entourage I began to see E in my head whenever Adam was in a scene.)

This is classic Maggie. She starts off with her protagonist, introducing her to all these other characters, and as the protagonist gets to know them, so does Maggie, and then, so do we. It is as if she hands them the pen, and they wink and run off with it and with us, and we fall in love. The fact that she can do it with not just one, but many supporting characters, is a singular talent of Ms. Stiefvater's alone.

By the time The Raven Boys ends, you are dying to know what is going to become of each of them  - Gansey, Blue, Adam and Ronan. Especially Ronan. We are given hints when Ronan is found by Gansey in a church at night, in quite a state, cupping a baby raven to his chest, as if he'd just given birth to it.

Genre: paranormal / ghosts / fantasy / urban fantasy / supernatural / romance / mystery / contemporary / coming-of-age / YA lit

*(This great idea comes from a this great librarian below, discovered on the YALSA listserv.)

The 3 Word Booktalk
Karen Jensen MLS
Teen Librarian Toolbox
Youth Services Librarian, Betty Warmack Branch Library
Reviewer for VOYA magazine since 2001

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