The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I had seen Steifvater’s wolfs of Mercy Falls series but it didn’t really strike a chord with me enough to pick it up from the library. The blurb for The Raven Boys on the other hand did and now I will be getting the wolfs series and probably everything else she’s written. This came close to a five star book for me. I’ll be honest, the one thing that kills YA books for me more often than not is the romance (yes yes the teenaged ones are supposed to be romantic ones or something). This does have a hint of that but that’s it, a hint. There is a romantic ideal as one of the driving forces but it doesn’t get in the way of the story telling.
Blue is the daughter of a Virginia psychic and Maura, her mother is the real deal. Also in the house held are friends/relatives also all psychics except for Blue. Her talent lies in amplifying psychic abilities. Blue knows one thing for sure. Every real psychic has told her one thing time and again, she will kiss her true love and he will die. Granted, even Blue says she doesn’t know if that means immediately (the idea that most of the psychics have given her) or eighty years from now surrounded by their great grand kids. Either way, boys are off her list and Aglionby (the prep school for the uber rich) boys are way off the list. Raven Boys (for the school logo) are way more trouble than they’re worth.
Her mother’s half sister, Neeve, is in town. She’s a much more celebrity type psychic and is in town looking for something. She takes Blue out to the corpse road on St Mark’s Day when the psychics can see those who will die within a year (news to me, St Mark’s Day is a day of fallen lovers or something). Blue can’t see ghosts but she sees one this time, a young Raven Boy who tells her that his name is Gansey and that is all there is (or something to that effect) is what he tells her. Neeve is quite sure this boy is the one meant for Blue.
Naturally, soon Blue crosses paths with Gansey. Much of the story is also told from Gansey’s (and a few others’s) pov. Gansey is looking for Owain Glyn Dwr (anglicized to Owen Glendower a distinction Gansey does make). The book does detail Glyn Dwr’s life and disappearance (and accurately as far as I know and I’ve done quite a bit of research on Glyn Dwr some of it in Wales this summer actually). Glyn Dwr really did disappear. There are hints the Welsh have been in America long before Columbus (even more odd, the University I teach at is a Welsh Preservation center so we’ve been research that too).
Anyhow, Gansey must find Glendower and he believes the ley lines in Virginia (yes, there are some) will lead him there. He had a few friends helping him, the reclusive Noah, the scholarship poor boy, Adam who is being abused at home and Ronan, who is no longer himself having lost his father and turned into one giant angry dick. Blue gets caught up with them as they race to find Glendower before something darker beats them to it.
Stiefvater has a wonderful way of describing things. All the characters come alive, even if you don’t particularly like them (looking at you Ronan). There is enough authenticity to the story to make the paranormal parts plausible. I like that these teens are smart and yet still occasionally do unsmart things.
If there was one thing I didn’t like, it was how Gansey was treated occasionally by Adam and Blue. They both overreact to things he says (Gansey is very much pained by this. He tries not to let his words get him in trouble). He’s polite with a big vocabulary and Adam and Blue see this as him being a condescending jerk. Occasionally yes he is but not as often as Adam and Blue act like it. I can see it more in Adam being the poor kid at a rich school. He thinks Gansey pities him but still, it seems a bit over the top but that is about my one quibble (and my worry since I have a big vocabulary and use it so now I’m wondering does everyone around me think I’m a condescending jerk). Part of the storyline (the major theme) does wrap up and opens the way to the next book. I’ll be looking forward to it.
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