Remember that commenting on all four posts about The Raven Cycle earns you the change to win copies of the first two Raven Cycle Books! Post #1 was about the series in general. Post #2 was about the characters. Keep up with this and the final post to enter to win the books!
artwork courtesy of deviantart.com
PUBLISHER: Scholastic Press
LENGTH: 416 pages; 11 hours 8 minutes
PRODUCER: Scholastic Audio
NARRATOR: Will Patton
SUMMARY: 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.
REVIEW: I read Stiefvater’s Mercy Falls books and was expecting something similar when I picked up The Raven Boys. The only element of Shiver and its series-mates that’s fantastical is the existence of the shape-shifters. From the first sentence of the Prologue of TRB, it is clear that magic and mysticism waft through Henrietta and around it’s inhabitants like perfume. Characters and readers get whiffs of Glendower’s magic that are sometimes pleasant and sometimes noxious but it is always difficult to pinpoint the source. The genius of Stiefvater’s writing is that even skeptics will accept what’s happening with the boys and Blue. The idea that magic exists and that we can influence it as much as it influences us is one of the great childhood dreams. When I was younger, I so wanted magic to be real and to interact with it. Books like Stiefvater’s let readers live that fantasy in the pages of their story for a little while.
The plot, in which Gansey and his friends (while on a search for the legendary King Glendower) awaken old magic and uncover and solve a decades old murder, works because readers are learning the intricacies of the Glendower legend and the mythology behind it right along with Blue. Basing Gansey’s obsession on Glendower, a real historical figure, lends credence to Gansey’s search. Gansey’s search then parallels the other characters’ searches: Blue for purpose, Adam for status, and Ronan for identity. Although, truly, they could all be searching for all of those things. Crafting four disparate characters who are all struggling to belong (as is most of Stiefvater’s readership) lends believability to the characters themselves and their friendships. It also provides a way for all readers to be included in the story because they will inevitably identify with one of the characters enough to become invested in the outcome of the search that each character is on.
In the end, Stiefvater surprises readers with a resolution, not to Blue’s conundrum about Gansey, but to an entirely different mystery readers don’t even know is there at the beginning of the story. Meanwhile, she builds in character complexities to explore in the next book, all while leaving the reader still wondering if Blue will really be the death of Gansey or if there’s a way out of that too. Superb writing and characterization blended with the perfect proportions of intensity and humor make this one a don’t miss read.