Saturday, October 27, 2012

Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvatar

Hot dang, you guys! This was one heck of a book. It was a literary fantasy with some of the best use of tension and slow reveal that I have ever encountered.

We begin the story knowing that magic is real. At least that psychic ability is real, so there is no question as to whether or not things are happening. They are happening. We can trust that.

I really enjoyed the slow build up. We know that one of the main characters really wants to find the "ley line" a sort of magical line where a king who can grant a wish is supposedly buried. We don't know what drives him. We don't know why his friends are so driven along with him, but slowly and delightfully and ever so creepily we find out.

Characters were really strong. Blue, our girl who will kill her true love with a kiss (though luckily this doesn't occur in this first book), was strong, unique, and essentially the catalyst for this entire book. Blue has several interesting things about her. One is that she doesn't know who her father is (a mystery of the ley line?). Two, although she has no psychic ability of her own she makes "magic" for lack of a better term, stronger. Three, um, well, her true love will die if she kisses him.

There is a lot of playing around with the imagery and meanings of ravens too. There is an elite private boarding school and the students are known as "Raven Boys." Ravens are symbols of magic, one of the boys manages to adopt an actual raven. It really leads you to wonder why the school has the raven as its mascot. Is there a deeper meaning?  How does it all tie in?

There was also a lot of "class" issues in this book. Adam, a poor kid scholarship student who wants badly to make it on his own on his own terms. Gansey, an incredibly wealthy kid who also wants to make it on his own terms (although for very different reasons). At times the friction between those two characters and their class issues detracted from the story (I mean, give me a break Adam - Gansey is right all help is not charity). Adam's choices later in the novel gave me some pause (mostly with the teacher - but I assume these will be dealt with in the next book).

There is also Ronan, who has psychopathic tendencies and whom I really wanted to know more about. He was so interesting. I mean at the very end when he says where he got the raven I think I screamed! And poor Noah. Poor smudgy Noah.

The magic in this book was equal parts neat and totally creepy. I don't know how much they can trust it. They don't know how much they can trust it. The trees can talk! But they talk latin! I mean it is just such an imaginative book.

In comparison to some of the other titles we're reading, I would say that it holds up in comparison. The language was lovely and the author had some really neat turns of phrase that were beautiful and made this more than "just" a fantasy. The characters and plotting were extremely well done and as I said earlier, the tension in this book was top notch. You can feel it building from the first page.

Obviously the author has quite a bit planned, but I do wonder if this could have been concluded at the end of this title. That might be the only thing giving me any pause. Would this have been a stronger book had it been a standalone? Maybe. I'm not sure you can hold that against this because of that though, as it was it was still a really strong book. I can't wait until the sequel.

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Book Source = Borrowed Copy

1 comment:

joanna said...

Sounds so good! It's not available at my library yet but hopefully it will come in soon. I could use a good fantasy.