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Christina Reads YA

"A children's story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children's story. The good ones last." --C.S. Lewis

The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys - You can find more of my reviews (plus discussions and giveaways) at Christina Reads YA.[edit] - I'm listening to the audiobook now as I clean my room (and earlier, on my commute to work). The narrator is fucking awesome. He's got this gravelly voice that's well suited for the atmospheric writing. He also does the Henrietta accent SO WELL, and makes an effort to distinguish each character's voice as dictated by their personalities. SO GOOD. I already loved this book, and his reading is making me love it even more![Actual Review]Ten likes/dislikes:1. (+) Blue, the protagonist - Eccentric, brave, hard-working, stubborn, willing to accept the paranormal due to her psychic family but unwilling to tolerate when someone treats her wrong (i.e. her first meeting with Gansey). One of the things I like most about Blue is that she's not psychic like the rest of her family, yet she doesn't become sullen or resentful for it. She stays devoted and her own person. I also liked it when she would step up to a challenge even before the boys would.2. (+) The World-Building - Several aspects of world-building come into play here - the Aglionby school, Henrietta and its quirks, the limits of Blue's psychic family's powers, the amount of paranormal in the world, Gansey's quest for Glendower, a sleeping Welsh noble who escaped the English and will grant a favor to whoever awakens him. Before I had the chance to read The Raven Boys, I had read the starred Publisher's Weekly review of it, which mentioned something about how Maggie Stiefvater didn't take the time to explain why her characters were the way they were, how she played it as they were normal, and how that allowed them to shine. I couldn't agree more - suspension of disbelief in full working mode here. The story didn't ask what you thought of the search for Glendower, or if you believed in something like that ever being possible; it just took you along. Stiefvater does world-building well - she tells you the essentials, like the hunt for Glendower, and the things the boys already know but shows you the rest, and this especially comes into play when the boys discover something new, and you feel like you're discovering it along with them.3. (+) The Romance - Two romantic interests here -- there were moments when I asked whether or not there was a love triangle, and whether Maggie would put that in as a plot twist to the prophecy about Blue's love life. That's part of the suspense. Though there's not all that much romance, especially considering Stiefvater's previous books, what's there is nice and slow-building, and is clearly laying the foundation for the next novels when maybe something more--for either couple--will happen.4. (+) The Characters - What really takes the cake in this novel are these characters. Even though they're really strange -- a teenager with enough money to go on a quest for magical glory, etc. -- you still want to believe in them. I hate making these generalized statements, but each of the characters is dynamic and well developed (esp. Adam, Gansey, and Blue since you see things from their POVs), and each has his/her own wants/needs and backgrounds that influence the former...Blue's quirky family, Ronan's secrets and familial history, Adam's desires, and Gansey's fear...5. (+) Class/Privilege - You want diversity in YA? Sometimes, it's not just racial and cultural diversity that YA lacks but also class diversity, and Maggie Stiefvater at least addresses that. Class is often one of those things that people don't talk about, but it affects us so much, and YA authors don't usually own to the fact that maybe teenagers won't always find their way around, because they don't have the money for the bus, etc. etc. (how many books have you read that acknowledge that? Class becomes a non-issue.) Stiefvater does it in several ways - Blue and Adam vs. Ronan and Gansey; Blue vs. the raven boys etc. etc. -- and with different things, like accents and clothes. I don't particularly like Gansey's attitude towards money, but the book addresses that issue too, and it was great to see how Stiefvater shaped her characters based on these perspectives.6. (+) First Book in a Series - Sometimes the first book in a series can just set up the rest of the series and not feel like it had its own plot. Sometimes it's its own book in a series of stand-alones. The Raven Boys functions on its own--definitely has a plot, and with more unpredictable plot twists than I would've expected of a Stiefvater book--and has an obvious, larger series plot. I can't wait to read more about the raven boys' quest for glory.7. (+) Open Ending - Honestly, I don't usually like open endings that are very reminiscent of cliffhangers. However, at the end of this novel, there was such a sense of fulfillment and completeness and longing ('cause I was already like I WANT MORE) that the ending felt more like the punch line to a joke than something cheap to bring the readers back for more. Brilliantly done.8. (+) The Writing - Maggie Stiefvater, oh, Maggie Stiefvater. The writing isn't as experimental and prose-like as that in [b:Shiver|6068551|Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1)|Maggie Stiefvater|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1328839272s/6068551.jpg|6244926], but it's as atmospheric as that in [b:The Scorpio Races|10626594|The Scorpio Races|Maggie Stiefvater|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1330964654s/10626594.jpg|15535056], though it's now alternating third person instead of first. Few authors can create as sinister a mood as Maggie Stiefvater can.9. (+) Pacing - I thought that Stiefvater's previous books suffered a bit in terms of pacing, but I always had the sense that things were moving in The Raven Boys - from the first meeting between Blue and Gansey, when Blue would begin hanging out with the raven boys, etc. etc.10. (+) The Cover - I love that it's so simple but that it also has a way of capturing the atmosphere of the novel. And of course the raven and the ley line triangle are important.I loved [b:The Scorpio Races|10626594|The Scorpio Races|Maggie Stiefvater|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1330964654s/10626594.jpg|15535056], but Maggie Stiefvater outdoes herself with The Raven Boys. With plenty of atmosphere and action, and characters you'll adore, The Raven Boys is a book you don't want to miss. One of my favorite books of 2012, and I hope you mark September 18 on your calendars.