First of all, sorry for the Stiefvater overload. I’m doing an author study, so just bear with me. Second of all, much like how the Steward of Gondor wished his son Boromir had been spared and Faramir had died instead, I wish that The Scorpio Races had been made into a series and The Raven Boys had been killed after one book. Like Denethor, it isn’t that I decidedly dislike this second option; it’s just that I like the first one SO MUCH more and if I had to choose, I’d sacrifice The Raven Boys.
Alas, The Raven Boys is the first book in The Raven Cycle Series, a series of 4 (at least so far) books dealing with teens, feelings, and the paranormal. Please see the obligatory Goodreads excerpt below for a quick (synopsis):
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is 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 has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
Now, let’s go right ahead and discuss the most obvious crime, the cover art. WHY must publishers do this to the covers of YA books? Like I said in my previous post, the absurd blurbs already chase away potential readers enough, but then they go and slap these artsy fartsy wispy mushy designs on the covers and pretty much ensure that adult readers will assume this is not the book for them. Rude. Enough with the covers, YA publishers. Just be cool.
Excuse me! There is a group of spoilers in the paragraph below but, fear not, the spoilers will be flanked with ***** symbols so you can just skip them if you think you’ll be reading The Raven Boys. Read on, friends.
In terms of the book, though, it was… whatever. Although I do not subscribe to the notion of psychics, spirits, and energy, I’m certainly not above suspending disbelief in order to get into a book, so the first half of the book passed with relative ease and enjoyment. However, things took a very paranormal turn and I’m afraid I just couldn’t follow. It seemed like the first half was relatable and understandable for real readers in the real world; some people are rich, some aren’t; some kids have crummy parents, some don’t; some people believe in psychic phenomena, some don’t. Then, bing bang boom, things become paranormal at a level at which my disbelief cannot be suspended. It became ridiculous. *****The trees started talking, in Latin. One of the major characters was revealed to be a ghost. Someone’s skin was removed from their body because they said “jump out of my skin” in a place of “high energy.” The teacher was a murderous rogue. A psychic disappeared because mirrors were moved in her bedroom miles away.***** Honestly, I mean ridiculous in the most literal sense. It was deserving of mockery. It seemed like Stiefvater was trying too hard, or hadn’t really planned her plot twists well and that translated into a story that was just too absurd to be taken seriously or pursued past completing this first novel.
Overall, this one is not one that I would recommend. Like I said, it wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t good. I’ll have it in my classroom library because it does address a few important topics that my students might be facing (young romance, parental troubles, wealth vs. poverty, domestic abuse, etc.) and if this novel can help them navigate those issues, I’m more than happy to provide it. Otherwise, maybe don’t waste your time.