Where we lay our scene... (with the help of Goodreads, of course)
“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”
It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive. 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. For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
O brave new world that has such people in't!
What can I say about these characters other than that I loved them? Blue was great, but the Raven Boys themselves were my favourite part of the book. In fact, I couldn't stop thinking about them days after I finished reading. The dynamic between Gansey/Adam/Ronan (and sometimes Noah) was fantastic, and I found myself invested in each of them. Volatile yet surprising and hilarious Ronan; proud yet loyal and kind Adam; single-minded and privileged yet gracious Gansey... They were all fascinating in their own way and fleshed out so, so well. Did we expect anything less from Maggie Stiefvater? I'm big on unique detail that goes a long way where it relates to characters. Here's a great example with Adam's dad:
"Robert Parrish was a big thing, colorless as August, grown from the dust that surrounded the trailers. His eyes were dark and small and Gansey could see nothing of Adam in them." (p. 136)
And then there's her description of Helen, Gansey's sister:
"The pink[-nailed finger] was the only fanciful thing about her. Helen was beautiful in the way a supercomputer was beautiful: sleek with elegant but utilitarian styling, full of top-notch technological know-how, far too expensive for most people to possess." (p. 200)This is so much better than reading: He was big, mean, and backward. Or she was a classy chick who was out of most people's league. These details take on a life of their own and create a whole story about that person using minimal words.
I could a tale unfold...
Each of these characters had interesting stories, all of which were woven together and told through their search for Glendower, a nobleman of Welsh legend. From the serious/sad (a case of family violence) to the creepy (I can't specify what without spoilers), this story unfolds not quickly but naturally. We were given time to get to know Blue and the Raven Boys and to understand their personal reasons for wanting to find Glendower. And, of course, Maggie Stiefvater is the master at providing an atmosphere-rich backdrop for all of this to take place--Gansey's warehouse apartment, Blue's house full of wacky women, the dreamlike quality of the woods (the tree!!). But while this story dealt with the supernatural, with legend, and even with issues of class disparity, it was not without its funny parts. Observe, if you will:
"If you keep saying things like 'man-child,' we're done...Hey, man. Don't let it get you down. Once your balls drop, that beard'll come in great. Like a [bleeping] rug. You eat soup, it'll filter out the potatoes. Terrier style. Do you have hair on your legs? I've never noticed." (p. 160) Thank you, Ronan.
'"This," Gansey replied, "is precisely why I didn't want to have a baby with you."' (p. 219) Re: Ronan's new pet.
"That reminds me. You need to get that belt looked at on the Ford. I see a breakdown in your future. Next to that sketchy furniture store. A very ugly man with a cell phone will stop and be overly helpful." (p. 137)
'"There is a 1973 Camaro in front of the house! It matches my nails!" The last time Blue had seen Orla's nails, they'd been a complicated paisley pattern. She wasn't exactly sure what a 1973 Camaro looked like, but she was sure that if it was paisley, it must be impressive." (p. 138)
"Listen to you, sounding all badass. I bet you're just listening to a CD called 'The Sounds of Crime' while you cruise for chicks outside the Old Navy in your Camaro." (p. 129)I'm fairly certain I laughed out loud or snorted during each of these scenes. And there were more, I assure you. But then there was the Things-That-Make-You-Go-Quoi? moment when Gansey sounded like a turn of the century old British dude using phrases like "top shelf" and "brilliant" (p. 256). The latter only really works well if you answer to Ron Weasley.
Was not this love indeed?
The swoon factor here was not overly high, but that's okay. In many ways, this was more like a bromance (can I say that?) and surprisingly, I loved that about it. I'm like a moth to a flame with books that have a good romance, but in this case I was okay with the brief and mild swoony bits. BUT that's mainly because there is the promise of more of the swoonage to come. And I have to say, I'm seriously looking forward to more Gansey. You saw it here first: Team Gansey. Just sayin'...
Verdict: Such stuff as dreams are made on.
Such a great read and I'm eagerly awaiting the next book in THE RAVEN CYCLE series. And more Ronan and Gansey.
How about you? Have you read The Raven Boys? What did you think of it? Who's your favourite Raven Boy?