Thursday, September 20, 2012

Review: The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle, book 1)
By Maggie Stiefvater
Published 2012 by Scholastic Press

Being the daughter of a psychic has been mostly pleasant for Blue Sargent - except for that pesky bit about knowing that if she kisses her true love, he'll die. When Blue finally sees a boy she knows will die this year (she doesn't share the psychic ability), she's pretty sure he must be important. And when that boy shows up at her mother's house, Blue feels like she has to do something to help. Little does she know that the boy, Gansey, is on an impossible quest and he will become more important than she could have imagined.

I've had mostly good experiences with Stiefvater's novels before and this one started getting buzz a while back. The first two chapters were available on Entertainment Weekly's website a few months ago, so I happily read them. Needless to say, those two chapters had me instantly hooked and impatiently awaiting the book. I received a digital review copy from the publisher but, despite my best efforts, didn't finish the book pre-publication. However, I finished the book as fast as I could. Because - dare I say it? - this is Stiefvater's best novel. I am about halfway through The Scorpio Races and I haven't read Ballad yet, but I think it's safe to say that she really outdoes herself here. I've said before that her greatest strength is building an interesting world full of fascinating characters and she has definitely done that here. There seem to be more characters that share the focus in Raven Boys, but they are all beautifully executed. I wanted to know more about every single one of them. And Blue - oh, she is a delight. And the Raven Boys themselves - so many possibilities! On top of the wonderful characters and the interesting world they live in, Stiefvater has come up with one of the most innovative plots I can recall - a search for an ancient Welsh king, believed to be buried on a ley line (an energy line of sorts) and waiting to be woken. Legend has it that he will grant the favor of the person to awake him. I mean - it's all sorts of crazy, but it's also believable at the same time. I think Stiefvater is absolutely amazing at blending the magical and the real - there is so much magic in her books, but, especially in this one, it's portrayed in a way that makes me want to believe it could be true. Whenever I wasn't actively reading the book, I wanted to be. I was completely immersed in the novel because, once again, Stiefvater has created the perfect blend of action, mystery, romance, magic, and realism. I devoured the book every opportunity I got. This is one of the most imaginative and well-crafted novels I've read and easily one of my favorite books of the year. I cannot wait to see where the series goes from here and I am definitely a Stiefvater fangirl now. I think this book will definitely be making some appearances on award lists come January.

Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy provided via NetGalley.

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