Review: The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1) – Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven BoysSynopsis from Goodreads.
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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I’m feeling pretty shoddy I have this thing I do where, basically, I get in bed and watch comedy panel shows. Sometimes it’s QI (XL if I’m feeling proper sad) , sometimes it’s Have I Got News For You…. Occasionally Mock the Week, depending on who’s on it.

A few weeks ago I was watching 8 Out of 10 Cats. I’m not sure which episode it was because I think it’s one of the older ones but, long story short, one of the questions was something along the lines of “73% of women would rather go out with a bad guy than a good one- True or false?”

Jon Richardson said that the reason why women love bad guys so much, apart from the whole “Oh, I can change him” thing, is because they can get away with a lot. They can be twats for days on end and all they have to do is buy flowers or chocolates or YA books one day and you’ll say “Oh, isn’t he wonderful?”

But if a nice guy, bearing in mind he’s nice all the time, is a bit cranky one day or forgets to bring you flowers or chocolates or YA books then you’ll be like “I cannot believe he did this!” as you fashion some garters made from his guts.
Now, of course, I know that Real Life women aren’t that ridiculous and, of course, the fact turned out to be false. Women in Britain would rather date a good guy who brings her YA books.

Or… um… something like that.

But, and this might just be me, this doesn’t seem to apply to YA paranormal heroines and their bad boys. Because they certainly love them, don’t they?

One of the things that makes me angry about YA books (sorry, I promise I will talk about The Raven Boys some point soon) is that the bad guy seems to always win. And this is because the “nice” guy has, for some reason, become synonymous with boring. Why is that? Why?! Why does “not a twat” have to mean he’s dull as dishwater? Why are they mutually exclusive?

Enter Maggie S.

Oh how I could kiss your mind.

Finally, finally, finally… a book where the love interest (you have no idea how tempted I was to put ‘s’ on the end of that then… but shhh) is a decent guy who isn’t boring. They’ve got their issues, they’ve got their flaws but what I loved the most was that this was never used an excuse for him to be a horrible guy to the heroine.

Because, guess what? He wasn’t a horrible guy!
Bliss.

Anyway, I just wanted to get that off my chest. You have no idea how much I’ve been wanting to read a book where I actually get why the two characters like each other and don’t fall in love inexplicably with zinging things flying between them every time they look at each other.
Needless to say, I adored this book. I was a bit nervous when I read the synopsis because… “if you kiss your true love, he will die”… ehhh.

Then I remembered that Practical Magic (Midnight Margaritas!) is my go to film and I was fine. And when I actually got into the story, my doubts were obliterated.

I wasn’t really prepared for how much I was caught up with these boys and how invested I became in their thoughts, feelings and fear. I know this book alludes to them, but I wasn’t expecting the raven boys to really be the main part of this story. I thought it was going to be Blue and her reaction to them that was going to be the driving force of the novel but I have to admit, when Gansey, Ronan, Noah and Adam were on the page I completely forgot she even existed.
Which isn’t to say that I didn’t like her or that she was badly written, quite the opposite actually, but the connection and the relationships between these four boys was perfectly executed that Blue existed in my periphery (I’m hoping the second book will delve a bit more into Blue’s family life).
I loved how Maggie S really dug her nails into the boys’ bond, prying them apart so nothing was hidden. And I liked how they didn’t fit into the clichés. Sure Gansey was the hero but he’s not always heroic and he certainly isn’t perfect. And yep, I guess you could say that Ronan was the “bad boy” but you’ll probably be waiting for a long time if you think you could change him. And Adam is probably the sensitive one but… you get the gist.

I have absolutely no idea how Maggie S managed to write them in such a vibrant way, a way that was so realistic that I wouldn’t be surprised if I got on the train tomorrow morning and a group of boys, one with his mobile in his hand with high-tops on (I don’t even know what they are, I had to Google them), I wouldn’t be surprised. I think I’ve got a lot to learn from her when it comes to writing not only boys but friendships.

Also, I loved the actual story. I think psychics are my favourite of the paranormal genre… sure, I didn’t know this before I picked up this book, but Maggie S has definitely convinced me. I’m a possibly-not-so secret fan of ghosts and to read all about scrying and candles and energy and ley lines and all that sort of thing was absolutely fantastic and such a change from what I’d normally read.

There’s questions unanswered and secrets still shimmering under the surface but I absolutely cannot wait to find out what happens next. I have a feeling this is a series I will be following like a ley line… or a boy with a faded Coca-Cola t-shirt.

I wonder if Gansey and the Gang know that King Arthur and his knights supposedly sleep under Alderley Edge? I think I could forget about my slight fear of flying to navigate a helicopter around the skies above Cheshire… well, as long as Adam’s there to hold my hand.

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29 thoughts on “Review: The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1) – Maggie Stiefvater

  1. Oh my gosh Jo I always watch 8 out of 10 Cats, Have I got news for you and QI when I’m feeling down. Carla and Trin were tearing at me the other day for not picking this book up! Now I’m even more convinced that I will be reading this book very soon! :)

    • Ha, thanks Jasprit! Comedy shows are so perfect to just put on and forget about everything, aren’t they? I’m so glad I’m not alone.

      And YES you need to read this really soon. It’s so so good. Let me know what you think of it!

  2. I wasn’t quite as enamoured with this one as you were, but I *did* love how Stiefvater developed and characterized The Boys. I love me some female friendship in YA, but I haven’t seen male friendship done so well in a long time. And I never noticed how the boys had a hint of stereotyping to them, but Maggie S. turns them on their head (ie. Ronan being the Bad Boy but isn’t the Love Interest.)

    • Thanks Michelle! I’m sorry you didn’t like this one as much as I did! Was there a particular reason why? Actually, I’ll just go and read your review!

      But yeah, I think if it weren’t for the characterisations of The Boys, this book would have really flopped and just become a cliched paranormal angst-romp.Thank goodness it didn’t!

      • Ah, I sounded a little more negative than I meant to. I still liked this book, but I didn’t *love* it. My main issue was with the pacing — I found it to be kind of a slog at times. Other than that, I liked it quite a bit. (:

  3. So, so glad you loved this! I really am sick of the bad guy being the one authors want readers to like. What’s wrong with a good guy? I LOVE good guys and always will. Boo to violent, crazy, controlling guys being the love interest. Hey, authors! STOP IT!

    Lovely review, Jo. I can’t wait for book #2

    • Thanks Mandee! I know what you mean re: good guys. So often they’re type-cast as boring and dull and bllaaarrrgh just because they don’t have a secret Past (capital letters) and because they’re sweet to the heroine. It’s like their only role is to make the bad guy look worse.

      No. Just because a guy is decent doesn’t mean he has to be simpering and clingy.
      Stop it, indeed. ;)

  4. Hah! It looks like Practical Magic is a go-to film for a lot of us! (For me it was the hair ~ I wanted to be a witch so that I could have that magnificent hair! I was so disappointed when I learned it was extensions.)

    As for Raven Boys, wow! thanks for your review. I’ve been having the American version of the “Why does “not a twat” have to mean he’s dull as dishwater?” conversation with my husband a lot recently…I even took a mini hiatus from paranormal ya because my blood pressure just couldn’t take anymore! Raven Boys was one of the books that was tempting me, so I’m glad to know it will be a good book to wade back in with.

    • Oh god, yes. I would probably sell my left arm for Sandra Bullock’s hair in that film. So gorgeous. And I refuse to believe it’s extensions. ;)

      Ha, I’m glad I’m not the only person who gets angry with this. I’m not really a fan of paranormal YA to be honest but this book is so different to anything I’ve read in this genre so I definitely think it could be the one.

      I hope you enjoy it, please let me know!

      • See I wanted Nicole Kidmans hair in that movie. And also. I wanted that house! It was gorgeous! Apparently they built it all from scratch and tried to sell if afterwards but no one wanted it!!! (Fools!)

      • I would have been happy with EITHER of their hair. :) And I can’t believe that no one wanted that house ~ unless it was just insanely expensive?

  5. Yo, Miss Jo! ;) So, as always, really enjoy your rambling reviews. hehe They are less ecclectic and thus, are a nice break from stiff sounding blogs. I keep thinking about this book, but I dunno…I don’t usually pick up YA, unless it REALLY calls out to me. But I keep hearing this one is good so…. I might just have to cave in and take a peak at it. ;)

    How have you been btw?

  6. OK I actually really want to read this now. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when we get excited for a guy that’s actually not awful, isn’t it?
    This sounds great, though. And yay for Practical Magic, I haven’t watched that in years. Time for a revisit I think.

    • I know what you mean, Belle. I ALWAYS think that when I read a book where the hero is decent and I’m like “why is this not the norm?”

      I hope you get to read this soon, I’d love to hear what you think. And, I’m thinking a Marry, Snog, Avoid for the Raven Boys. I’m already coming up with my answers already ;)

  7. I don’t know what 8 out of 10 cats is, but it sounds like something I’d like? Basically anything with “cats” in the title… ;)

    You know, I had absolutely no intention of reading this.. but I’m reading such fantastic things that I think I may have to reconsider. Non-awful boys? Excellent..

    Brilliant review, lady, you always make me laugh!

    • Ha, 8 out of 10 cats is a comedy show in the UK about opinion polls. Unfortunately no cats…

      Thanks Rey, I wonder whether you’d like this one? I know your stance on paranormal and how it makes you a bit frowny. :)

  8. I loved Blue’s mom and her friends! And while Adam was awesome, I think I found Gansey a bit more fascinating or even the fourth member of their group. This book was perhaps the only Stiefvater book that I liked so much. Usually, though I like her writing, her characters don’t gel with me but this time everything was just…awesome. Lovely review, Jo!

    • I really enjoyed Scorpio Races because it was so different to anything I’ve ever read before, but I think I liked this one more.

      And yes, I liked Gansey but I am a bit nervous about what his role is going to become as the series goes on. I’m a bit wary of him.

      I’ve never read her Shiver series but I don’t think it’s my kind of book.

  9. YES! OMG I am such a sucker for the nice guys…and the fact that they so rarely win in YA always has me pretty put out. I think some of my disappointment in The Raven Boys is actually looking forward to the point where I feel like that nice guy is going to get his heart crushed and become not such a nice guy, and that just upsets me. I love Adam oh so much, and I love the dynamics between all of the boys in general. Your tangents make me happy. :)

    • I know what you mean.. I have a few worries about how this series is going to pan out, especially with the love interest scenario. Adam better not get his heart crushed for I love him so and I will be SO angry.

      Hopefully Ms S won’t let us down and wander down that road.

      Thanks Heidi, I’m glad you like my tangents. ;)

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