Friday, August 10, 2012

Early Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
The Raven Cycle #1
Reviewed by Maggie and Noelle August 10, 2012
Published by Scholastic Press September 18, 2012
(YAA received an ARC of this book from the publishers)
Goodreads • Preorder on Amazon

Blue Sargent is the only non-psychic in a family full of mediums so when she unexpectedly sees a spirit on a routine dead walk on St. Mark's Eve, she's told it means one of two things: the boy is either her true love or she will be the one who kills him. Thanks to a unanimous psychic warning that if she kisses her true love he'll die, it could very well be both.  Either way, he'll be dead within the year.

Unbeknownst to her, Gansey and his Raven Boys are already on a crash course of fate with Blue, her family and his quest to uncover a sleeping secret that has the power to change everything.  But as Blue's aunt says, when you go looking for a god, don't be surprised to find a devil too and the quest promises to take Blue and the Raven Boys places they never expected.

Noelle: As you can see The Raven Boys has an intriguing premise and (raven) boy does it deliver. (Not even sorry!) The end of the prologue and first few chapters should come equipped with the Law and Order chime-of-suspense sound effect. Stiefvater sure hits the ground running.

Maggie: Definitely. This book had me at "kill your first love."

Noelle: I loved Blue and her family right off the bat.  The Sargent house is charmingly packed with psychic abilities, family dysfunction, louder than life personalities and just enough mysteries in the family history to be deliciously intriguing.  It wasn't long before another family dynamic, Gansey's Raven Boys, began stealing my heart too.

Maggie: The Sargent house gave me a Practical Magic/Pushing Daisies feel with charmingly kooky characters who happen to have some powers. I loved the boys right away. Gansey, the leader, who acted as instigator as much as mama hen to Ronan, Adam, and Noah. Ronan, angry, damaged, loyal... of course, I loved him. Adam, the perfect student with the neatly pressed uniform, except for the fraying seam at his shoulder noticeable only to him. Noah, the quiet one who they'd be more worried about if they weren't all caught up in Gansey's quest.

Noelle: At first I was like, so many rich boys in Raven sweaters! But soon it became clear that each boy had a distinct personality and something that made them especially interesting in their own right.  Each had cracks in their shiny veneers, some just more well hidden than others.

Maggie: This is my second Stiefvater book and I absolutely love the way she writes. She's atmospheric and descriptive, yet there's something timeless about her writing. We know this story takes place in present day with references to cell phones and BMWs, but I feel it could've just as easily taken place in an earlier time, or in England instead of Virginia. This is your first Stiefvater book, and I know for some, her writing just doesn't work for them. What did you think?

Noelle: It was my first Stiefvater and I was really surprised!  Besides the qualities of her writing you mentioned, I really appreciated how she kept me engaged the entire novel.  It was exciting to read.  There were a couple developments that took me totally by surprise and that doesn't happen that often.  I loved being swept into the mystery.

Maggie: Nerd confession: I love when I learn things from a book. This story with its ley lines, ancient kings, and Latin had me googling like crazy. Like with Scorpio Races, Stiefvater takes existing folklore and makes it her own. Plus, she even makes dead languages compelling (although this may have more to do with Ronan speaking said dead language). Latin, who knew!

Noelle: Stiefvater's writing was so compelling that it took me awhile to realize I was halfway through and not much had actually happened in the way of forward plot movement.  I got the sneaking feeling the series was conserving it's energy, if you will.  That's when it hit me: Ah, First Book of a Trilogy frustrations and unanswered questions! How I love/hate you!  While the plot definitely picked up the pace during the second half of the book (not coincidentally when all the players in the plot were finally interacting), it became clear that many of the tantalizing possibilities introduced in The Raven Boys wouldn't come to fruition until later installments.

Maggie: That ending. It totally gave me Lord of the Rings rage. (I'll never forget sitting through 3 hours of hobbit feet and elf ears, only to have the movie end with, "And we're off! To be continued." RAGE.) This is why I hate starting series before they're done because I want to read the next book immediately. However, I do love a good cliffhanger. (See: Exiles, Froi) A bad cliffhanger makes me want to find a cliff to throw the book off of (yes, I revenge cliffhang), but a good one just makes you that more excited for the sequel. This one made me more excited for the sequel.

Noelle: Oh totally.  The writing remained compelling straight through and while incomplete, the ending was still more than satisfying.  I can't wait to read what comes next! Rating: 4/5 stars.

Maggie: Maggie Stiefvater, you got some 'splainin to do! That was my initial reaction upon finishing Raven Boys followed immediately by, Actually, Maggie, just write. Rating: 4/5 stars.


  1. Wow, what an amazing joint review! I love the way this is structured and your points really make me want to pick up this book ASAP! I've heard wonderful things about it so far although I have yet to read a Stiefvater novel, but I'm excited for its release. Plus, I'm glad you enjoyed the characters and writing - that's always an important aspect for me. Brilliant review! :D

    Ivy Book Bindings

    1. Thanks Keertana! It's definitely fun getting to review the same book at the same time for once. :) --N

  2. Oooooh colour me intrigued, ladies.
    I need to read this book (since Maggie practically FORCED me to read Scorpio Races and how much I enjoyed it), plus the cover is absolutely brilliant.

    And omg Maggie, I love Practical Magic so much. One day can we three meet up for midnight margharitas? YES.

    Fantastic review, as always my dear.

    ps. Noelle, have you read Scorpio Races yet? I'm surprised Mags hasn't sat on you until you have. It is so good.

    pps. Maggie, is this better than SR or on a par? ON A PAR? ;)

    1. Hey Jo! Nope, I haven't read Scorpio Races yet but now I'm definitely going to find time to give it shot! --N

  3. I'm really looking forward to this one! So glad you both liked it. I wasn't blown away by The Scorpio Races (surprisingly, I preferred Shiver), but I did like her take on the capall uisce mythology (which I hadn't been familiar with), so I'm looking forward to seeing what she does in this one! Just wanted to say that I love the joint interview style of this review! So informative and easy to read. :)

    1. Thanks! This was my first Stiefvater so I'm not sure which of her previous works The Raven Boys is most similar to, you'll have to let us know after you read it. I think you'll really like the mythology in this one too. --N

  4. Between you two and Maja, I'm convinced that this could be the Maggie S. book that brings me back after Shiver. I am going to give this one a try! My library just posted the audiobook so I'm going that route. Hopefully it has a good narrator. :) Great conversational review ladies!

    1. Thanks Catie! I was never tempted to read Shiver but I think I'll definitely read The Scorpio Races now. I wasn't sure what to expect but I really had fun.

      I kept saying "Gansey" in a British butler voice so I'm eager to know which way the narrator goes with it haha. -N

    2. I just got it today! I'll let you know...

      Gaahhhhhnsey. Or is it Gaaayunnnsey? ;)

    3. Not that I trotted out my British Butler voice in my cubicle just now or anything but Gaaahhhhhnsey. Haha! Hope you like it! --N

  5. I loved this joint review, girls, and I'm happy to hear that you both enjoyed this book. I've read all of Maggie's books so far and I'm glad that this lives up to the hype!

    I want to get to know these sweater-wearing boys and Blue, she sounds cool!

    1. Thanks Mandee! I think you'll really like this one, especially if you're already a Maggie fan. I loved Blue! She's so competent and sensible. She's awesome! --N



    I was able to read The Scorpio Races thanks to a lovely blogger friend of mine, and I agree with your review - and that Maggie S has some splainin to do! It's a solid start to the series and I'm definitely looking forward to more!


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