Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Recently, with the exponential rise of popularity, I have decided to be more open minded towards the YA fiction genre.  With some of the most popular series in the blogging community; ignoring such a massive, growing industry in literature would be naïve of me.  Over the last few months I have amassed and consumed more of the genre than I did when I was in the target demographic.

Also, a side effect of the blogging hobby, I have become more interested and involved in my Twitter account.  Following, book bloggers, sellers, authors, editors and publishers, I have gained much more introspect of the industry.  One such author that stood out for me on Twitter is Maggie Stiefvater.  Entertaining, clever, and honest, she keeps an active blog that I am glad to follow.  Ultimately leading to me picking up one of her most popular books.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater is an urban fantasy set in a modern timeline.  The first book of the four novel series, The Raven Cycle, was originally published in 2012.  Being rewarded from many publications and much fan acclaim, The Raven Cycle series is currently one of the most popular runs in YA fiction.

Set in the small town of Henrietta, the story follows the lives of a few local teens.  Blue Sargent, the youngest in a family of psychics and the only one in a house full of ‘seers’ without any powers.  And a group of boys from the local private school, Aglionby, known as Raven Boys.  Blue is cursed with a prophecy that her first kiss will lead to the death of her love, and a recent vision of a dead local teenager.  Gansey, the prolific raven boy, who is obsessed with discovering a hidden treasure and the supernatural powers it will take to find it.  Through the story the teenagers lives begin to interact, through their search a dark history begins to unravel and their chance friendship begins to look more like destiny.  Friends and families lives begin to be effected, and not everyone is who they say they are, and a long passed murder, puts all of their lives at risk.

One thing I will say is; Maggie Stiefvater is a poetic, beautiful writer.  She brings an elegant, mystery to each and every sentence and reading her prose is a privilege that I enjoyed the entire way through.  Some authors have a magical way of putting words together that expand the imagination yet come across clear and concise.  This book has that and it creates a beautiful picture.

Unfortunately, the plot lacked some luster.  The story moves slowly, feeling like the majority of this book is an introduction.  As much as I loved the writing style, much of the scenes, wordings, and descriptions were unnecessary; adding to a frustration of wanting the book to pick up pace, but never does.  The ending as effective as it was, felt anti-climactic, and by the end I was questioning if I had missed something major.  The novel started exciting as I enjoyed what I was reading, but failed to pick up steam, and left me disappointed.

I had a difficult time connecting with the characters.  Blue is a wonderful, little lady, but I question her choices and wish she was much more pro-active.  As for the Raven Boys, while they all shared a depth and complexity, they tended to feel a little too generic.  It seemed the obvious choice to make the likable, underprivileged, hard working student have troubles at home.  Admittedly, Gansey was a unique character, and I enjoyed his internal struggle, yet the story seemed to drive on without him, despite him being the most competent of the novels players.

In all, I was hoping for much more out of this popular book, with so much talent behind it.  So far my little YA experiment is a back and forth, winner/loser game.  I will give Raven Boys 2/5, and will not be continuing the series.  I do want to give the author another go, like I said, the writing is powerful, the genre and context just fell short.  I would recommend this for you if YA urban fantasy is up your alley, I think, if this is a genre you would normally love than Maggie Stiefvater’s work would stand out.

Thanks booknerds, they can’t all be winners.


8 Comments Add yours

  1. Great review! Nice do see some varying pespective on this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nancy says:

    I listened to this book narrated by Will Patton, and liked it more than I thought I would, although I don’t know if I could commit to the whole series.


  3. I started Maggie Stiefvater’s The Wolves of Mercy Falls series quite a few years ago when it first came out and I gave up about a quarter of the way in. Whilst it had a really eerie and interesting opening, instalove happened and just completely ruined it. However, I’ve heard great things about the Raven Boys and have been interested in trying it, so it’s good to hear a new perspective on it. Also, it’s great to see you embracing YA! I’m a firm believer that a good book is a good book, no matter the genre or age range. Great review!


  4. Jamie Wu says:

    I share your thoughts on the prose and the plot but for me, I really liked the characters and it was the best part for me by far. The other books are the same way (so far, I’ve yet to get to the last book). The plot is slow moving and plays second fiddle to character moments and growth, so if you didn’t like the characters it’s not worth continuing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Green Onion says:

      It was that major devide between privledged and poor that bothered me. Specifically with Adam, I felt it was too on-the-nose. Gansey is a great character though. I can see the appreciation for each character, it just didnt call to me personally.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. TeacherofYA says:

    I enjoyed The Wolves of Mercy series…but I don’t think many share my opinion. I love Maggie’s writing style and have been wanting to read The Raven Boys, but something has kept me away. You’re not the only one to say these things about this series. So for now, I’m going to continue to stay away, and maybe try them when the time is right.
    Excellent and honest review! Thank you for that!


  6. Zezee says:

    Though I enjoyed the book, I agree with the critiques you made. I agree that the boys are generic and, actually, as the series progressed, I started to care more for psychics at Blue’s house rather than the main characters.

    Liked by 1 person

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