Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvator

I didn't start this book with the highest of expectations. I didn't have low expectations, exactly, hadn't heard anything bad about the book...I just couldn't really remember how it had wound up on my to-be-read list in the first place. It happens; I put a dozen books on my list a week and can't get to them all right away. But I have to say, I'm so freaking happy I finally got around to this one.

I read a lot of YA books. Obviously. And I like almost all the ones I read because my current reading philosophy says life's too short to waste on books I don't enjoy reading. But I still had a shock reading this because the characters really got to me in a way that doesn't happen often. I'm a fast reader, which is why I need to get back into blogging, so I can give myself a chance to reflect on what I've read. If left to my own devices, I'll blow through books like a tasty package of crack-Oreos and be left wanting more more more. Nothing sticks. Except to my...hips. (This metaphor just died. Can you imagine walking around with stacks of books attached to your hips? This is why I need writing practice.) ANYWAY, I swear I had a point, and it's that, much as I enjoy most of the books I read, it's rare for me to fall absolutely head over heels in love with the characters. I hadn't even realized how rare it was until it happened to me with The Raven Boys. Because I love these characters. Every one of them is flawed in real, consequence-having ways. And they make lots of bad choices. They behave badly. But we root for them anyway. They're the real deal. Stick-to-your-ribs characters.

Let's break this down a little with as much plot summary as I can bear to give: There are psychics. Lady psychics. Awesome lady psychics, living their own lives and being their own complicated human beings and not just brushed aside as "the grownups." There's Blue, the lone un-psychic who just happens to have grown up under the prophecy that when she kisses her true love, he'll die. (Blue kindly requests more information, but the cosmos aren't budging. Pesky unhelpful cosmos.)

And then there are the Raven boys, attending the nearby school for capital-R Rich Boys. Gansey's the leader, charming as hell except when he's being unintentionally insulting. He's all obsessed over finding the possibly-mythological sleeping king Glendower. (He has his reasons.) Oh, and he might be dead in a year, but Blue couldn't get any more info on that, either. There's his roommate Ronan, who's all corners and acid and surprises. And Noah, the other roommate. It wouldn't do to forget Noah. And Adam, the poor one putting himself through school, heartbreakingly determined to make his own way.

And there's magic. Lots and lots of magic, the kind that gives you chills through its pure weirdness. The other book that springs to mind that gave me a similar feeling is Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which I mean as the highest compliment.

I loved the book. I loved seeing how class played into the boys' friendships, especially Gansey and Adam. I loved the examination of privilege. I loved the raven named Chainsaw. I love that these characters are still so strong in my mind a week after I read the book. I love that I loved it's follow up book, The Dream Thieves, just as much. About the only thing I don't love is that now I have to wait for the next installment. But for once, I'm not worried that I'll forget to keep an eye out for it. I can't wait to see what happens next.  

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