The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), Book Review

Author:Maggie Stiefvater
 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…


8093221486_58da76fdb6_z.jpg“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.

 


Processed with VSCOcam with a9 presetThis 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.”

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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.

                                                     raven-hiraven-hiraven-hiraven-hiraven-hi


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,

Playlist for the Dead, Book Review

Published: 2015 by HarperTeen

 

As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it’s only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.

I’m going to admit something a little strange – I purchased this book based solely on the names of the main characters: Sam and Hayden. For those of you that know me, that may make sense, even though it isn’t all that significant. But for anyone else, a little clarification:

My name is Sam, and my first serious relationship was with a guy called Hayden. It’s a long way in the past now, and has no real significant bearing on my life, but it was funny, so I bought the book.

Looking past my reason for buying it, I did read the blurb and the premise of the story was promising, simply and clear. The story itself though is emotional and complicated, and that’s a good thing. The story centres around the suicide of Hayden, Sam’s best friend. Sam finds Hayden the morning after a party, withnote to sam PFTDno note, but instead, a USB stick, with a scrap of paper…

Each chapter is set to the melancholy tune of one of the songs from Hayden’s playlist, with tracks like Blink 182’s Adam’s Song and Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. (You can find a playlist of all the songs oer on 8tracks, made by sydneyteresa). The songs are fitting, dreary, sad, hopeless, and the consequential chapters flow around each song, exploring Sam’s emotions and his struggle to figure out why. The novel is well written, but still very easy to read, without being over-the-top or obnoxious at all. The language is that a teenager would probably use in daily life, and that just makes the book all the more relatable. Reading the book, I fully believed I was in the mind of a 15-year-old boy. It was refreshingly simple.

The themes explored though, are contrastingly not. Suicide, primarily, but also Sam’s guilt for what he feels is his part of the blame, guilt for seemingly moving on, first love and the feelings associated with attraction to the opposite sex, depression and also the frustration he feels at wanting the others he believes are at fault to pay for their crimes.

playlist of the dead

Told from Sam’s perspective, we experience the journey through his eyes, and we see the characters as he wants to see them – the bullies as bullies without their own problems, and Astrid as a gorgeous, amazing person, and not the sneaky deviant that she actually is. As Sam learns that these people aren’t what they may have always seemed to him, he begins to realise that maybe Hayden wasn’t all he seemed either, and he begins, slowly, to somewhat understand why Hayden might have committed suicide. He also begins to unravel the stories that tie them all together regarding Hayden’s decision.

Having had a fight the night before at a party, which they wouldn’t normally have gone to, Sam blames himself for the whole thing. But the more people he opens up to, and finds out about, the more he startsimageto figure out what actually happened, and that there was more to it than just what he had experienced. Falkoff writes this in such a way, bit by bit, that you can’t help but want to keep reading just to find out what happened. It was this clever way of spreading out how Sam found out each piece of the story that kept me reading, and why mention that the story is more complicated than just Sam dealing with his grief over the death of his friend.

The book is a little similar to Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why, though not quite as isolated and intense (I preferred Thirteen Reasons Why), however it is a nice easy read and keeps you hooked long enough to finished it.

4outof5

 

Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge: A book published this year
 
 Images from: here, here, here, here