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  • Writer's pictureAshley Mongrain

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) | Review


Rating - ⭐⭐⭐⭐


"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."


 

The Raven Boys is the first novel in The Raven Cycle, a YA fantasy series by Maggie Stiefvater.


This book is something you would find on a list of quintessential YA fantasy reads. It is something that I know younger me would have loved had I read it when it was released, which is probably why I have avoided reading it for so long. It is such a well-loved book that I didn't want to end up disappointed. Surprisingly though, I did actually end up enjoying this.


Let's get into some details.


 

WRITING

 

I only have one comment to make in this initial section; what on earth is with the characters' names? I get fantasy names, I like fantasy names, but this is a book rooted in reality despite its fantastical elements. So having names like Blue and Gansey through me out of the book for some reason.



 

PLOT

 

Going into this I didn't know it was about, shockingly enough, other than the fact that it was about a girl and a group of guys. All I was hoping from this, at this point, was for the story not to include a love triangle. Once I started reading I did remember the concept and, honestly, it is a pretty interesting one as far as fantasy romances go. The idea that she is most likely destined to kill her lover should she kiss them is compelling, albeit daunting considering how the plot could move forward due to that.


Moving on though as I will get more into that in the next section, it took a while for there to be any context as to what the Raven Boys were doing. Again, I didn't read the synopsis so I had no idea what was going on, but that is on the book, not me. In my mind, a well-written book should be able to tell the reader exactly what they need to know in order to follow along with no initial context. This doesn't do that, so I cruised along for a bit wondering what on earth was their motivation. The book also pulled reveals that came out of nowhere, good ones albeit, but still out of left field.


But despite that, the book kept a good pace that kept my attention...up until the end that is. The story did end up dropping a bit off at the end, as I found the ending to be too rushed having sped through the climax and its aftereffects. Sure, you could maybe play that off by saying this is the first book in a series so more context and explanations could come in the next book. I don't want to wait for that possibility though, I want the story to be fully fleshed out from beginning to end with no needed plot missing.



 

CHARACTERS

 

Continuing the comment I made in the previous section that I said I would get back to, I liked how that shaped Blue as a character (for the most part). Unlike her family who are all seers, she is the only one who does not have any abilities. The only time she is able to see the dead is if it was her true love or someone she killed. Again it makes for an interesting premise and character arc, but I did say I liked it for the most part. The part I didn't like is that because of this the book ended up playing into the overused, and annoying, trope of the main character being boring and plain yet somehow everyone still falls over her. It wasn't as bad in this book but it was still there especially considering the subtle love triangle.


Speaking of love triangles, let's move on to the characters. I didn't expect this to be a multi-pov book, which does make sense, but I could have done without a few of the perspectives (namely Whelk). I also could have done with more focus on the characters who fell a bit more into the background like Noah and Ronan. By no means am I saying they didn't get covered enough considering that they are part of the Raven Boys and therefore are main characters, but I hope we dive even more into their characters in the future. In general, I do look forward to seeing how the characters develop throughout the series.



 

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

 

Overall, this was a surprisingly solid book. I was expecting not to like this as I thought it would be something I would have liked in high school but not now. It still worked for me though, and I will be continuing the series.


I leave you with my favourite line from the book - "You were looking for a god but forgot there would be devils."





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