Thursday, July 17, 2014

Weekly Book Review: The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Released: September 18, 2012
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy


Blue Sargent, the daughter of the town psychic in Henrietta, Virginia, has been told for as long as she can remember that if she ever kisses her true love, he will die. But she is too practical to believe in things like true love. Her policy is to stay away from the rich boys at the prestigious Aglionby Academy. The boys there – known as Raven Boys – can only mean trouble.

[From Maggie Stiefvater's official website.]


As you can see in the summary above, The Raven Boys professes to be about a teenage girl named Blue and the prediction that's been strangling her dating life since it was made. In reality, the book centers on a group of four boys from Ravenclaw—I mean, Aglionby Academy—on a quest to find and revive a lost Welsh noble.

The rich man's Ravenclaw.

Don't get me wrong. The reality of the novel is engaging. Each of the boys has his own set of goals, a backstory colored in varying shades of mysterious, and a slew of problems both mental and emotional. The group as a whole is a little cliché, consisting as it does of the Good Boy, the Bad Boy, the Quiet Boy, and the Angsty Boy, but they are compelling. Their quest is a little odd, as the book takes place in the fictional American town of Henrietta, Virginia and not, as might be expected given its ties to Welsh mythology, the United Kingdom, but it pulls its weight as the source from which the rest of The Raven Boys' plot emerges. Stiefvater crafts a fascinating and quite original hidden world throughout the book, enough to ignite my curiosity and ensure that I will likely read the second book in the series, despite a few misgivings.

One of these misgivings is, unfortunately, our so-called heroine, Blue Sargent. Born from the same shapeless mold as many female YA protagonists, Blue possesses no particularly interesting character quirks or emotional hang-ups. Despite her eccentric family of psychics and her super special psychic amplification power, Blue is reduced to the popular YA trope of the everygirl readers can easily project themselves onto. Her relative lack of personality isn't a huge problem, as the majority of the book is told from the perspective of other characters, but the trend she represents bothers me quite a bit.

Blue wasn't enough to stop me from tearing through the book. The Raven Boys was easy to pick up and hard to put down. Stiefvater's prose is quite good, and the plot is doled out at a quick but comfortable pace.

The novel ends on a shoddy sequel hook that is more likely to enrage than pique. Tonally dissonant and completely out of the blue (ha ha ha), a single sentence almost ruined what was otherwise a satisfying conclusion.

Fans of YA romance might be disappointed that the promised kiss-of-death plot plays second fiddle, but if you're willing to forget the synopsis, you'll find a fun modern-day quest narrative riddled with original mythological concepts.

You should also read:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

No comments:

Post a Comment