Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Review: The Raven Boys

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The Raven Boys
Maggie Stiefvater
Series: Raven Cycle #1
Publication date: September 18th 2012
by Scholastic Press


“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.

*A copy was provided by Scholastic Canada for review purposes*
The synopsis for The Raven Boys is what first attracted me to this novel. A girl from a clairvoyant family who sees her first “soon-to-be-dead” ghost, the ghost of a boy who is currently a high school student, the ghost of a boy who she can’t fall in love with. Because she’s pretty sure what kills him is their first kiss. I know! This sounds exactly like a book for me. I was highly intrigued by this premise and especially excited by all the wonderful reviews it has gotten thus far, but I soon came to realize that the plot had very little to do with what this synopsis describes, and more to do with a hunt for an ancient king who will grant a favor to the one who wakes him. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we are looking… for a genie.

Sure, I can certainly get with this unexpected plot and I still kept my hopes up that it would wow me. Involving energy ley lines also definitely brings about very bizarre and somewhat perplexing turns in the book that I found especially fascinating. Mostly, it’s the way the story is told that kept me from becoming enamored like so many others. As in Maggie’s The Scorpio Races, I think the writing style in The Raven Boys will be a hit or miss. After quite enjoying her easily readable Shiver series, I was not expecting the complexity in which this one is delivered. It’s a novel that has a lot of drawn out descriptions and frequent back-stories. I can see readers who enjoy this type of telling would love it, I’ve often loved books of this nature myself–when I’m expecting it–but in this case, I found it disrupted the flow of the story. When we stopped a conversation, or worse, an exciting scene, to get an abundance of details on the surroundings or past events, my mind would start to wander off and I would have a hard time getting back into it. Let’s just say it took me a while to finish this one.

The Raven Boys is filled with intriguing characters. We have a lot of very distinguished, very unique personalities. However, with such an abundance of characters it can take a while to situate yourself inside their lives. It took me a good part of the first half of this book (well over 100 pages) until I was confident I knew who was who, what relationships they had with each others, and how they fit in the story. Also, with so many people to keep track of, I can’t say I was especially in tuned with any of them; I never quite got to identify with them emotionally. Nonetheless, I did enjoy the closeness they all seem to share with one another. Every character has their own quirks, their own bizarre traits that make them genuine. I may not have felt a deep character connection, but I certainly did enjoy the personalities I got to meet.

This book is clearly very unique and filled with twists that I found highly interesting. I was hoping for some more answers in the end; we don’t make very much progress in terms of the plot, nor the romance. So, yes, I was a little bit disappointed that I didn’t share the enthusiasm of so many of my fellow readers on this one, but I wouldn’t say I didn’t like it, either. The writing style is what put me off the most and since it doesn’t seem to be a problem for many others, it seems to be one of those books you have to try for yourself.

3 Hot Espressos
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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41 Responses to “Review: The Raven Boys”

  1. TG

    This is the first mixed review I’ve read of this. I usually love Stiefvater’s writing, so I think I will like this, digressions and all. Stories with huge back stories can be engrossing, but as you said, it’s helpful to know in advance that that’s what you’re getting.

  2. Christina

    *makes skeptical face*

    Man, I have a copy of this to try, and now I’m seriously concerned. I’ve not been much of a Stiefvater fan and the past and it sounds like it might be more of the same. Also that writing style does not sound awesome. I like detail, but in its place, not in the middle of something interesting!

    Well, The Scorpio Races will be my last hope then to understand why people like her stuff so much.

  3. Chel

    Awww I’m quite disappointed that the story has less to do with the synopsis. The synopsis was what made this interesting to me – besides that this was authored by Maggie. I’m not sure what I think about the abundance of characters. From experience, I rarely end up liking books with so many characters.

  4. Megan K.

    I wasn’t really a fan of the writing style either, but that was mainly because Maggie had written it in such a way that I couldn’t really connect with the characters. I do agree that the story was quite complex, and the characters intriguing!

    Glad that you enjoyed this overall, Giselle! 🙂

  5. Cassy Wrage

    Sorry to hear that this book wasn’t what you expected – I hate when that happens. I don’t know if I want to read this one now, but maybe I’ll give it a try – great review!

  6. Amy

    I keep seeing really great reviews for this one, and I have been wondering whether I wanted to read it or not. I haven’t read any of her work so I don’t really know what to expect. This sounds like the type of book I would enjoy, but if it doesn’t really seen to go anywhere I might be better putting this one off. Thanks for the fab review chicky!!

  7. Book Sp(l)ot

    I will agree that this book didn’t have as many answers as I might have liked. (And some that it did have, you had to wait for.) I just enjoyed it so much (regardless of that), that I didn’t actually care.

    Great review!

  8. Kristilyn (Reading In Winter)

    I’ve read lots of mixed reviews about this novel. I really don’t like it when a novel spends the WHOLE time doing nothing … or not much. I get series books, but please — make a book stand on its own, full of excitement and some kind of resolution.

    Great review, Giselle! I think I’ll have to try out The Scorpio Races first. 🙂

  9. Smash Attack!

    Ugh. Not happy to hear about the wonky writing and that it disrupted the flow for you. I will be reading this in Nov for book club and I really hope it delivers…something!

  10. Danny

    I truly loved this book and although I also expected something else from the synopsis I feel in love with the story and the characters! I loved the hunt for the ancient king and I loved the writing! But. I can see why it might not be a style everyone loves!

  11. Candace

    I have been a little scared to read this. It sounds amazing and I keep seeing rave reviews, but so many loved The Scorpion Races and I couldn’t even finish it. I loved Shiver, didn’t love Linger and haven’t read Forever. I ADORED her faery series. So I have no idea what I will think. But I think I’m prepared for a slower and more complicated plot so maybe I will love it… I’m kind of happy to see some one not raving about it, it helps the pressure a bit. 😉

  12. Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed

    Maybe it’s the cover but I’m not really interested in this book. I haven’t read any of her other books either. I’ll have to check out a couple of other reviews to make up my mind. My favorite reviews are the 3 star ones because you get the good and the not so good.

  13. kimbacaffeinate

    I have read similar comments regarding plot development and the romance. I love the concept, I mean Ghosts! How delightful. I am going to keep this on my back-burner wish list. Great review cupcake!

  14. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    Blah this is one that I will be staying away from. I hate having an info dump right in the middle of a scene, I get bored just like you said. I haven’t read any of Maggie’s books but I do see a lot of raving about them. I don’t think they are for me unfortunately. Great review!

  15. Sam

    It’s a shame you didn’t fall head over heels for this book, but I agree that it’s not something for everyone. I really enjoyed the style of the story myself, which is maybe also why I connected with the characters far better. It’s interesting to hear your thoughts! Great review, Giselle. 🙂

  16. warriorofdream

    hmm… didn’t read it so it’s hard for me to face your review, but I really enjoy Stiefvater’s simply writing.. so it seems maybe this book is different, definitly need to check this one by myself

  17. Mel - Thedailyprophecy.

    I’m definitely going to try this one. I haven’t read most of her books, but they sound great. The intriguing characters and the unexpected twists are something I quite like. It’s a shame it wasn’t THAT good, but I’m glad you did like it 🙂

  18. Eileen

    Yay I’m glad you like this one! There have been a ton of hype so I’m sorry you didn’t like it as much as a lot of people have but I’m still glad you liked it overall 🙂 I’m not the biggest fan of Maggie’s Wolves of Mercy Falls series, but this one sounds really great because of the intriguing characters who are all really unique even though they might not be really relatable. Awesome review Giselle!

  19. Alexa

    I can completely understand where you’re coming from with this review! I’ve always said, when talking about Maggie’s writing, that it’s definitely a hit or miss with the reader. Personally, I absolutely adore her writing style – and obviously, I ate up The Raven Boys!

  20. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Ooh, only three ‘spressos? Sad the plot didn’t live up to the totally rockin’ synopsis but I can deal. I’ve got one more book to read before this one and then I can join you in enjoying the intriguing characters. Because I do love a good intriguing character!

  21. Shooting Stars Mag

    I’m quite curious…been hearing very different things about this. I do like that it’s very much about characters, but I can definitely see how confusing it would be to understand who is who. I guess you’re right, I’ll have to check it out for myself. I am curious about how the actual plot differs from the synopsis though.

  22. Kristin @ My ParaHangover

    I don’t know where I was looking but I’ve been seeing a ton of lukewarm reviews for this one! So your review is exactly what I expected. I think sometimes people get caught up in the author and forget about the story when they review… maybe?? I know everyone was really excited for this new series from Stiefvater.

    Perfect review, yet again!!!

  23. Nick

    I’m actually really glad I read your review for The Raven Boys. To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of her Shiver series, so I wasn’t exactly excited for this, but the raving reviews kinda gave me hope. It does sound like a truly intriguing story though. Sorry this didn’t work for you entirely, Giselle. I probably would be confused with the many characters too!
    Thanks for the honest review, Giselle! 🙂

  24. Sarah (saz101)

    Aw, I’ve been hearing such mixed and lukewarm thigns about Raven Boys, and I had such high hopes! I’m sorry you didn’t crazy-love it, but seriously, Giselle, AMAZING review ♥

  25. Ashley @ Book Labyrinth

    Ooh, interesting… I’m glad to see a so-so review for this one. Even though I LOVED it, I always hate when a book is so hyped with no somewhat negative reviews at all… it makes it hard for people who haven’t read it yet to get a grasp on what it’s really like. Too bad you couldn’t fully get into it, though. I found the whole search fascinating, and I absolutely fell in love with the group of characters.

  26. Silverlight

    I’ve been reading this one for awhile now, and I can totally see your POV, for me it’s been a uphill battle trying to claw thru this book. I’m having a hard time finishing it, as it really does not do well, to hold my attention.

    Thanks for the honest review!

  27. Elodie

    I still don’t know if I’ll read this one because the reviews are very mixed .. I was a bit disappointed in Maggie’s last book too so I think I’m going to wait a bit before picking up a copy of The Raven Boys :). Thanks for the honest review Giselle 🙂