Books, English Reviews, Reviews

Review | Maggie Stiefvater – The Raven Boys

Maybe I should make a nice big cup of tea.
Or maybe I should take a walk.
Or draw something.
Or wait a while.
Maybe, just maybe, then I would know what to write about this godforsaken book.

Fun fact: This review totally happened because I was pestered into reading this book and I knew I could not not write a review. Shoutout to C at Between The Pages for bullying my roommate into reading this, which in turn bullied me into a 1-chapter-a-day reading club (and subsequently binged the whole series within a matter of days. Thanks, B!)

I don’t like writing reviews for “big” authors. There’s smaller talents out there who maybe need the attention and exposure more, so I usually try to stick to not all that known gems. Some books make me need to talk about them though, much like Lisa Lutz’ The Passenger, and this is definitely one of them.
(Additionally, this review comes about five years late, considering The Raven Boys was published in 2012, and everybody aboard the hype train has moved on to different train stations – but eh, that’s just in line with my highly questionable work ethics, I suppose.)

I wanted to adore this book so bad. I did – and deep down I do. Should you read this book? Yes. Will you be happy afterwards? That I cannot guarantee.

Here’s what I loved: The book.
Here’s what I hated: The false advertising.

“Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, 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 is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher 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 doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.”

This, Ladies & Gents, is The Raven Boys‘ blurb. I was so looking forward to teenage angst and everybody holding each other and whispering “Noooo” and “Yeeees” and all that shit, but let’s be real – the blurb does not represent the contents of the book, but instead teases the entire series. Man, was I bummed out that basically nothing of the blurb was relevant except as a preset to the story of The Raven Boys. The protagonist Blue keeps this whole death-by-kiss thing in the back of her head and there might be a little relevance here and there, but it’s still merely a subplot to the story. This shit right here is why I am unhappy. Not because the book was bad, noooo, god no, but because I wanted to read a different book, the one from the blurb, than I actually read.

Okay, enough complaining.
What did I love? Except for last paragraph’s escapade: Absolutely everything.
I don’t think I’ve ever cared about characters as much as I cared about Stiefvater’s. As previously established, I’m a character freak; characters are my make-or-break point in any book. I’ll take a shitty story over one-dimensional characters any day.
This book was so well formed out in any and every character aspects, that I even loved side characters such as Persephone. I got angry and sad and happy and that’s good.

Generally speaking, it took me a while to get hooked on Stiefvater’s literary jello, but the second half of the book just straight up flew by. I could ramble about Stiefvater’s writing style, but we all know she’s quite the name already – rightly so. I enjoyed the little quirks of her writing, the love for details (I really want to live in Blue’s house, y’know?), the pacing. I loved it. Yep. Go read it.

As a personal pet peeve: I dislike series beginnings, that can barely stand as their own book. As a beginning, The Raven Boys is great, but if you are not planning to read more of the series, the ending is going to leave you very unsatisfied.

As for me: I’m probably going to keep reading the series, once I got over my slight grudge against Stiefvater for tricking me into reading the book in the first place. Or once I actually have time to read the rest. One of those days, probably.

Even if you aren’t into YA or fantasy or romantic shit, you should probably give The Raven Boys a go. The book is beautifully written, more than entertaining, incredibly witty, smart and throughly enjoyable. Four out of four anatomically correct hearts for Stiefvater!

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