The core group of book bloggers I look to for recommendations were all raving about this series and after I was able to read an excerpt from Blue Lily, Lily Blue, during its blog tour, I was sold. I had not read any of Maggie Stiefvater's other novels, in fact this was the first time I was hearing about her. I adore young adult paranormal stories, but find so few with the substance I am looking for. Paranormal YA is also commonly Romance, which I am not overly fond of. This series seemed to be something that would fill all of my wants from this genre.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: September 18th, 2012
Genre:Young Adult, Fantasy
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. (Goodreads)
My Bookish Thoughts:
When Amanda tweeted about her idea of trading a book for a guest review, I went straight to her possibilities list and was thrilled to see The Raven Boys title there, and in hard cover! I was over the moon when I found out it was still available and that she was sending it off to me. As with so many books I personally desire to read, I had not started The Raven Cycle series because of my teetering pile of review books. Now that The Raven Boys was considered a review book, I was free to indulge myself!
After I announced that I was about to start reading this novel, most of my blogging buddies instructed me to push through the first third of the book because the story was slow to start. Some even said I was going to need to wade through the ENTIRE novel because books two and three were too fabulous to miss. When I started reading, what I found was, I adored the whole book; every page, sentence, and wonderful word. Upon finishing, I questioned most of the warning givers, and I surmised the common factor for their feelings was the inclusion of "science-y" information. There was a lot of talk about the physics of ley lines and energies, and also some geographical studies in the beginning of the story, but I like this type of background information and it didn't bore or bog me down one bit.
The Raven Boys is a story that fills every nook and cranny of the book with fine detail. It was brimming with environmental nuances, such as angles of light, the rhythmic sounds of insect movement, odors, and temperature changes. All of the book's inhabitants were fully and divinely fleshed out, even the secondary characters. I have a pet peeve about having to go back in a story searching pages to remind myself who a person was. I didn't have to do this once with Maggie's writing. The setting descriptors used were wonderful. You can tell she has a deep love of trees! And words; the vocabulary used in this novel is delicious. I love coming across words I am either not familiar with, or only slightly aware of their meaning. Maggie did not disappoint in that department.
Two things that can and will irk me about YA, especially if it is set in contemporary times, are too many descriptions of fashion and make-up, and a lot of grunt, groan, and grope romance scenes. The author did not lean on these for content at all. For me, this book had it all. The plot was solid. The forward movement of the story was well-paced, with some intake of breath twists. It poked my emotional buttons, made me want to look up more information about the ideas presented, and gave me a gutsy new female protagonist to love.
I was told to push through this first novel in the series because The Dream Thieves and Blue Lily, Lily Blue are better. Well, I thought The Raven Boys was stellar, so I am expecting the next two books are going to pummel my heart and explode my brain! It is now the paranormal YA novel I compare all others to for ratings. It certainly had me wanting to go through my Goodreads shelf and knock a few previously read books down a star. Because I was late to the Raven Cycle party I won't be reviewing this book on my own blog until I have read the last book, The Raven King, which comes out in September 2015. At that time, I will be reviewing the series as a whole.
I gave this book 5 stars.
About the Reviewer:
La La (whose given name is actually Linda), is semi-retired from the music business, has a 22 year-old son majoring in biochemistry, believes in ghosts, is learning Japanese, and loves a couple of martinis on Friday nights. You can find her raving, ranting, and reviewing on the blog La La in the Library.