Kim Aippersbach's Reviews > The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
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Jan 13, 2013

really liked it
bookshelves: reviewed

When I reviewed The Scorpio Races (on my blog), I said it "grabbed me with its sharp teeth and carried me out to drown into a stormy sea." The Raven Boys wasn't as immediate or violent in its effect on me, but in the end I think it was just as powerful. It was more like being led hesitantly into a forest--following a raven that stares at you and hops from branch to branch and looks back to see if you're coming. And by the time you realize that you're completely lost it doesn't matter, because there's so much to discover in the forest and you never want to go home.

It's a complex, multi-layered, multi-narrator plot that doesn't do anything you expect it to. Leave all preconceived notions at the door. And be warned: it is the first book of a series. By the end you'll know what questions need to be asked but you won't have any answers! (I think, like a lot of people, I was really thrown for a loop with the ending, because the narrative feels like it's shaping up to a conclusion; it feels like everyone is gathering in the important place and now All Will Be Revealed. But it isn't! So be prepared.)

The Scorpio Races was all about the place; The Raven Boys is all about the characters. Wow. Deep, fascinating, quirky, wounded, unpredictable, annoying, vulnerable, break-your-heart characters. Every one of them. I loved them, I wanted to throttle them, I couldn't wait to see how their relationships would develop. There's so much more I want to know about them!

I've mentioned questions and revelations: I have to give kudos to Stiefvater for the deft way she plays out the multiple mysteries of the plot. I get easily annoyed when I don't know what's going on, but somehow in The Raven Boys she always gave me just enough information to keep me enthralled (I use that word with intent). It helps that each of the characters is keeping things from the others, but with the different POVs we readers always know more than any one character. And she foreshadows things beautifully.

She does everything beautifully. The language is precise and--not lyrical, exactly--dense, maybe. Worth reading slowly. (I wish I knew people with Virginia accents so I could hear in my head the way people in the book speak.)

I think it might not be the book for everybody--certainly not for people who like predictable, action-packed romance--but it's masterfully done. (I may give it that last star when I reread it--it's a 4.5 for me now.)
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