Published: September 2012
Every now and again, I come across a book that makes me want to be a better writer. When language paints not just a story, but vivid, moving images in your mind.
Once I started this book, I couldn’t help but be inexplicably drawn into Blue and Gansey’s world. Into a world where magic might be a possibility, where money isn’t always power, and where the future is enormously heavy, even if you think you know what’s coming…
“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”
It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is 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 has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, 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 never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
This book has had a lot of exposure in the online book community recently. I’ve seen it popping up time and time again, and while I slowly fell in love with the cover art and the sheer beauty of these books, I knew nothing about the storyline. The post that pushed me over the edge was on Instagram by Andrew (@BritBookBoy) – his photos are simply stunning – but he had highly recommended this series and his taste in books is not only amazing, but very similar to my own. So, I went out and bought the first three books.
This book had me gripped from the start. The characters, the intrigue, the mystery. I just needed to know what would happen, after the first page. Without even knowing anything about the main protagonist, or even antagonists, I needed to know. How psychic were these women? What was the significance of what they saw? Who was the boy? How would he die? And so it had sucked me in.
More than just the story though, the mystery unfolding page-by-page, I was thirsty for more information about the characters; about these crazy, weird, complicated, magical characters.
Gansey is entirely captivating. I fell in love with him almost immediately. Even though he’s rich a-hole who goes to a posh, pre-ivy league private school and almost seems programmed to be the kind of character I would usually dislike greatly. With his crazy long name with numbers (Richard Campbell Gansey III) and inability to perceive life outside of his bubble sometimes, his unwavering desire to complete his task is absorbing. You can’t help but root for him to succeed. No to mention, he speaks very proper english, and his use of language is nothing short of thrilling. But more than that, he’s so very charming. And as, unconsciously, uncaring as he may be sometimes (a ‘dick’, if you may, but don’t call him that); you kind of can’t help but want to be a part of his posse. And a part of his never-ending search.
“My words are unerring tools of destruction, and I’ve come unequipped with the ability to disarm them.”
Ronan is like a lost boy – since his father died, he’s almost not sure who he is anymore, and that makes for lots of teenage angst. He’s almost always angry, he’s easily tipped over the edge and he’s hard to get along with if you’re most people; and yet, you just want to know more. Because if you’ve ready this book through to it’s understatedly wonderful conclusion – you know there is so much more.
“Gansey had once told Adam that he was afraid most people didn’t know how to handle Ronan. What he meant by this was that he was worried that one day someone would fall on Ronan and cut themselves.”
Adam is almost the opposite of Gansey; broken and battered, Adam is the only one of the Raven Boys who can’t rely on money from his family to get him by in life. He has to work for his place at Aglionby. He has to lie and try and hide the bruises on his face. He has to sneak, and keep a low profile, and disguise his roots. Adam is mysterious, but he isn’t at the same time, and yet, you can’t help but feel a connection with Adam, and feel like he’s the normal one, the one who understands the real world, and not just the fantasy, a little more than the other boys.
“When Gansey was polite, it made him powerful. When Adam was polite, he was giving power away.”
Noah. Noah. Finding out about Noah is what kept me turning pages well into the night. Finding out about Noah is what got me through hard work days waiting to get home and pick up my book again. Finding out about Noah makes this book addictive. And no more will be said on this – so go and read this book NOW and find out about Noah.
“Noah appeared beside Blue. He looked joyful and adoring, like a Labrador retriever.”
Blue is a little strange. But that’s probably because her mother is a psychic – no, for real – and she lives with several other psychics; women who can actually, quite specifically, see things. Even if Blue can’t. Blue, who exaggerates the energy around her, drives the story forward, and holds the power of the most thrilling, and possibly important, piece of information that we are given at the very beginning of the book – in less than twelve months, Gansey will die. Aside from not really liking her name, (like Gansey, I prefer Jane) Blue herself is likeable enough, even though I didn’t really relate to her as much as I related to Gansey and Adam.
“She wasn’t interested in telling other people’s futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.”
Then, of course, there’s the writing. I’ve read Maggie Steifvater books before, but it was the stories that stayed with me then, not necessarily the writing. The Raven Boys however, will stay with me for both. The language, the sentences and the images that are provoked – as an English major and someone who has not only studied language and it’s use in literature, but just as someone who just loves language – this book was magical.
You don’t need to love the fantasy genre to love this book. The character development is amazing, the story is a lovely, overarching masterpiece of language, with each character having their own arch intertwined within it. I recommend this series to anyone who loves getting lost in a book, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.
From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.
If you need to be enticed further, here is a fanmade vid to whet your appetite:
Seriously – we NEED Netflix to take this up – I would watch the crap out of this show.
Images: here, here, here,