Monday, March 27, 2017

THE RAVEN BOYS // Bottled Virginia Magic

Five Stars—ajklsdflk (when words fail to describe how wonderful a book is)

When I picked up THE RAVEN BOYS, I did it more because several trusted friends had recommended it, and less because I was actually interested. Had I realized it was going to offer me a similar sort of moody realism to IMAGINARY GIRLS, I would have been much more excited. In the end, the biggest reason I decided to try THE RAVEN BOYS was because I was on an audiobook kick and there weren’t many options available at the library. Also, I had listened to THE SCORPIO RACES and enjoyed it, so I was grudgingly willing to read more by Maggie Stiefvater. (It’s weird how loving one book doesn’t necessarily translate to a desperate need to read more by the same author. Possibly I’m afraid of being disappointed by the rest of their work.) 

The Audiobook. 

Despite my minor obsession with them last year, I’m finding I'm not a huge fan of audiobooks. So often the narrator feels wrong for the story, and it taints my enjoyment. But Will Patton does a phenomenal, phenomenal job, I tell you. His voice is bottled Virginia magic. I prefer listening to it over reading the story with my eyes, as I did the second time through. 

The Characters. 

All of Stiefvater’s characters, however large or small of a role they play, don’t feel like portraits of humans, as so many characters do; they feel like actual humans. On that note, I’m convinced it would be worthwhile to base a writing program off Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle (and THE SCORPIO RACES). *takes notes* 

Blue // Blue is sensible but eccentric. While she is her own person, she is not the wild, reckless, wish-fulfillment type of character that has become prevelent in YA. She is sad and deep wihout being melodramatic. 

Gansey // Stiefvater is both cruel and brilliant to inform us, before we even officially meet him, that Gansey is going to die. I say brilliant, because I get the sense that Stiefvater's no push over, that she’s going to do what she’s been telling us she's going to do all along. I say cruel, because she then proceeds to write a character I can’t bear to lose. Gansey is studious, driven, thoughtful, kind, and yes, a bit arrogant and stupid about money and status, but he’s Gansey. I read about him and I hear his ghost saying “That’s all there is,” and my eyes get a little leaky. He doesn’t feel fictional; he feels real, like someone who ended a long time ago and needs to be remembered. 

Ronan // He is violent, predictable, and understandable. I simultaneously fear him and want him for a friend. His anger drives him, his pet raven humanizes him, and his secrets lend him depth. There’s so much to Ronan, so much I feel about him, and I can’t find a way to put any of it into words, because it’s more an indescribable swirl of color than a line of text. I can’t properly express how glad I am that he is getting his own trilogy. 

Noah // Noah is soft and sad and shadowy, and he breaks my heart. I want to keep him safe in my pocket wherever I go; I want to be his best friend. I can’t go into much detail about him without entering spoiler territory, but suffice it to say that, of all the character storylines in THE RAVEN BOYS, Noah’s is my favorite. 

Adam // I relate to Adam, and I pity him. I get a little angry, too, because he makes all his pain and anger worse by driving his friends away at crucial moments. I wish he would be willing to take help, wish he wouldn’t villify Gansey for offering it. That said, I understand why he feels the need to pull himself up by his bootstraps, though I worry that if he doesn’t learn to manage his desperate need for dignity, he could end up more like his father than is good for anyone. 

Henrietta // Although Henrietta is a town, it’s a character too. It fills the book, every corner, every nook and cranny of it. I love the sense of place. I love that I, too, live in Virginia. I love walking my landlord’s dog and pretending I’m in Henrietta, that I can hear the hum of the ley line, that when I round the corner, I could stumble across Blue and the Raven boys. 

The Atmosphere. 

The atmosphere in this story is so strong, I can taste it, smell it, touch it. I want it to replace my atoms. It’s like drinking straight nostalgia from a favorite mug. 

In Conclusion. 

I have read this book twice, and I already want to reread it. Rest assured, I will shove it in your face like I shoved IMAGINARY GIRLS in your face, and you will not hear the end of it until you cave and read it. Now I’m off to finish rereading BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE so I can maybe finally work up the courage to read THE RAVEN KING and see what happens. 

What about you, my little coffee beans? Have you read THE RAVEN BOYS? Have you read anything else by Maggie Stiefvater?


  1. Glad you enjoyed this so much. Me too. The characters are so complex that they really feel real. I've read most of Maggie's books and met her at a book signing quite awhile ago. It was SO awesome.

  2. I really have to finish reading this book - sadly I picked it up as I hit a huge reading slump and I got stuck at 100 pages and haven't returned to it yet. Me thinks now may be the time!

  3. Noah is my soft precious and I want to protect him /so much/. He's my favorite too <3

    Adam's a close second though. Like you, I get where he's coming from, but I WISH HE WOULD STOP. He's only going to hurt himself.

    Gansey's a wonderful boy. I really hope there's a way to save him in the end, but like you, I do think Stiefvater's more likely to do what she says she will.


  4. *moans* This series destroyed my life, it's so beautiful. I don't have much else to say other than that. 100% perfection.

  5. Yes, the characters are all so real and I love, love how Steifvater writes about places. The words she uses. Everything. She should teach a writing course. I would take it.