Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Every so often I want to post a review from both mine and a teen's point of view.  This review of The Raven Boys will be the first Teen Perspective review.  I will post my review first, then a teen's review underneath that.  Emily, who is a voracious reader and talented writer, volunteered to be my first victim.  And her review is so much better than mine.  She is just one of the many reasons I love my job.

My review of The Raven Boys:

First, a disclaimer: I am a Maggie Stiefvater fan.  I already knew, before I had this book in my hands, that I wanted to write a review for it.  And since I only blog about books I love, I started reading this book knowing I would love it.  So maybe I am biased.  But any of you who have read a book that you were sure you were going to love, only to discover that you did not, in fact, love that book, will know that going into a book with high expectations can often lead to bitter disappointment.  If I read a book I had no expectations for and love it, it is a wonderful find, a treasure.  If I dislike that book, there is nothing lost.  But to go into a book knowing that you’re going to love it and finding out that it wasn’t anything like you wanted and in fact you actually hated it a little bit can leave you off-kilter, like maybe everything you thought you knew was a lie.  The disappointment is palpable.  Raven Boys is the opposite of that.  This book is wonderful in the way that only good books can be.

It’s going to be hard to give a concise summary of The Raven Boys because it is about so many things.  It’s about Blue, who has been told her entire life that she will kill her true love if she kisses him.  It’s about the raven boys (boys who attend Aglionby school) Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah.  It’s about magic and friendship.  It has fast cars and psychics and characters who live and breathe enough to seem to be able to pass through the pages and into my living room.  (Like Persephone, who is probably my favorite secondary character.  The secondary characters is this story are amazing.)  The story is told in third person point of view, but I had to often remind myself of that, since while reading it I was very much in the characters’ heads.

One thing that I think is great about this book is the relationships.  Stiefvater does an incredible job of fleshing these characters out until we know their strengths and weakness, their tics and mannerisms, as if we had actually known them for years.  Then she weaves the relationships together and we get to know the characters even better through their interactions with one another – through what they say, and even what they don’t say.

Stiefvater is very good at world-building.  I am in love with the outdoors, particularly dense woods, and it felt as if I were walking in them as I read through this book.  But the world building was very organic in that you don’t really notice it.  The world-building is not the story, and it does not get tedious.  You just notice the story and the way the characters inhabit that world, and it is only when you look up from the pages that you realize you aren’t actually there.

I really like the fact that even though this is the first in a trilogy, it doesn’t feel like that.  Others may disagree with me, but I didn’t feel like this was an extended prologue.  Even if there wasn’t another story in the works (and of course I can’t wait to read the next book), I wouldn’t feel cheated.  I feel there was a story that was completed in these pages.  The characters’ stories aren’t finished, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of them in the next books, but I didn’t feel like I had been set up and let down. 

Maggie Stiefvater must have been sitting on a ley line when she wrote this book, because it is magical.

Emily's Review:

I feel like it has to be said that this is the first “official” review that I’ve ever written. Normally, my method of reviewing consists of clutching the book to my chest and babbling about my emotional state, which is more often than not, completely wrecked. That was how I felt after reading The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, but I’m going to attempt to write out some coherent thoughts because honestly, this book deserves them.

I went into this book with high expectations because I’ve read all of Stiefvater’s other works, and they were the epitome of actual perfection. So, I started The Raven Boys expecting nothing short of pure genius. And of course, it was delivered.

The book opens immediately with the life conflict of Blue Sargent, who, as the daughter of a psychic, has been told that if she kisses her true love, he’ll die. Not the obvious teenage dream, right? So, she lives her life cautiously, avoiding boys and dating and kisses altogether. That is, until she meets three raven boys, the town’s nickname for the boys who attend Aglionby Academy, known for being attended by the rich and the elite, and she is sucked into their journey through Welsh myth.   

Gansey is the leader of the small group of raven boys, beautifully broken and hungry for the discovery of Glendower, the Welsh King thought to be asleep somewhere in Henrietta, Virginia, the charming and magical town where this book is set. The quest for Glendower has not only consumed his life, but also the lives of his best friends, Adam, Ronan, and Noah, who are equally a broken as Gansey himself.

It’s probably insanely corny to describe The Raven Boys as magical and enchanting, but there aren’t really any other words for it. But the magic of the book isn’t just in the promise of a sleeping king or the taunting danger of true love; it’s in the characters and how you’re able to love and hate, exalt and pity them throughout the entire story, which I personally want to crawl inside and spend the rest of my life. It’s easy to forget that the book is told in third-person because each chapter brings you so deep into the thoughts and emotions of each character that it’s like you’re inside of their fictional brains.

As always, Stiefvater is able to write the supernatural without it being obnoxious and a stretch to impress. It’s almost believable, this possibility of magic somewhere hidden in Virginia.

I also want to thank the heavens that Stiefvater can write teenage boy-girl relationships and budding romances without it being WOW WE’VE ONLY KNOWN EACH OTHER FOR TWENTY MINUTES BUT LOVE LOVE LOVE CAN’T YOU TELL WE’RE IN TOTAL LOVE? BECAUSE WE ARE, WE LOVE EACH OTHER FOREVER, etc etc. Like, I got through this entire book without getting nauseated once. Hallelujah.

So, really, everyone needs to read The Raven Boys. Seriously. Everyone. Your friends, your mom, your mailman, the cashier at Wal-Mart. Everyone needs to experience the perfection. The fate of humanity depends on it. 


  1. What a great idea to have both an adult's review and a teen's review of the same book! I loved your review, of course, but I was especially impressed by Emily's, since her disclaimer says she's never done a review before. She should definitely keep doing them! Her writing was hilarious and insightful. The bit about "WOW WE’VE ONLY KNOWN EACH OTHER FOR TWENTY MINUTES BUT LOVE LOVE LOVE CAN’T YOU TELL WE’RE IN TOTAL LOVE? BECAUSE WE ARE, WE LOVE EACH OTHER FOREVER, etc etc." cracked me up.

    Happy reading to both of you!

  2. Emily is a natural writer with an incredible voice. She is forever cracking me up. :) And happy reading to you, too!