PRODUCER: Scholastic Audio
NARRATOR: Will Patton
LENGTH: TRB -416 pages; TDT – 416 pages
SOURCE: purchased: audio & hard copy
SUMMARY: (The Raven Boys via amazon.com) Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.
His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.SUMMARY: (The Dream Thieves via amazon.com) Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after….
POST PREVIEW: There are so many things to say and discuss regarding Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle that I am splitting this post into a series of four posts. This first post will be a basic review and the subsequent posts will hopefully engender some discussion about the two currently released books in The Raven Cycle (TRC). As usual, I and my friend K have SO MANY THOUGHTS about this series. It is reminiscent of CODE NAME VERITY and how we reacted to that book. After this initial review post, there will be three more posts: one concerning the characters in general, a second dealing with The Raven Boys, and a third covering The Dream Thieves. I plan to space them out enough to give people time to read the books and/or gather their thoughts about the series. In addition, I plan to do a GIVEAWAY of the first two books in the series after the final post for those who have participated by commenting on all four posts!
REVIEW: I have become more familiar with the term “magical realism” over the past few years and Stiefvater does it flawlessly in TRC books. When one begins reading and meets Blue and her family, it would be easy to assume that this will just be another awkward-girl-in-small-town-meets-mysterious-boy-she-can’t-have story. Even the addition of Blue’s family’s psychic abilities doesn’t seem that odd until Blue meets and speaks with Gansey’s ghost. Then it’s off to the races as the story becomes more and more braided with mysterious magical elements. Stiefvater does this so elegantly that readers will take it as natural the way the mythology surrounding Gansey and Glendower meshes with the lives of Blue and the boys at Aglionby. The clues she provides along the way to hint at Ronan’s and Noah’s importance seem obvious upon reflection but during a first reading they appear to be quirks of the boys’ personalities.
As I give my analysis, realize that there is so much WOW to this book that much of what I say may be vague. To speak in specifics would be to SPOIL, and we can’t have that. The characters are very well developed but not obviously so. As one reads, it feels as if the characters are becoming friends in a natural way. (My next post will deal with the characters in detail.) After the disastrous first meeting at Pino’s, Blue (and the reader) is smitten with the Raven Boys in spite of herself. Blue’s curiosity is natural given the fact that she met Gansey on the ley line on St. Mark’s Day. It’s only a few verbal sparring matchings before they are working together to find Glendower and the truth surrounding Blue’s predicted fate. Each character has a quality that a reader can relate to and this keeps readers invested in the outcome of these new and complex friendships.
The plot is smooth in both books and there are no leaps or holes or loops to confuse the reader; however, that doesn’t mean that readers won’t be flipping back through pages or back to the first book to clarify certain situations. Stiefvater has concocted a multi-layered story between both books and it takes attention to piece it all together and keep up with the characters. Initially, Gansey’s search for Glendower is the umbrella over everything in TRB but it’s not overpowering. Readers learn of the quest as Gansey explains it to Blue and the science and mythology behind ley lines is intriguing rather than off-putting. I found myself researching ley lines on the internet to become more familiar. Once the mystery of the ley line and Noah’s connection to it is revealed, things settle down. As TRB gives way to TDT, the search for Glendower stalls a bit and Ronan’s story takes over. Ronan’s story is more visceral and one wants to conquer Ronan’s nightmares as much as he does. As he comes closer to unravelling the mysteries of his father and home, readers become acquainted with the real Ronan rather than the tough shell he shows to the world.
Henrietta, Virginia is the perfect setting. It’s southern enough to have heat and etiquette and social mores but Northern enough to maintain a solid connection with the affluent, monied set near Washington, D.C. Part of the Aglionby Boys’ charm is their attempt to downplay (Gansey), deny (Ronan), or desire (Adam) the social standing that comes with being a prep school boy. There are rolling mountains, lakes, and forests to house the magical elements while keeping the run-down, small town aspect of Henrietta ever-present in the foreground.
Overall, Stiefvater has crafted a layered universe within a complex read that is well-written and engaging. The finale to this series is sure to be a roller coaster with a smash ending. I can’t wait.