The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Cycle #1) / My rating: ★★★★★
One sentence summary: A teenage girl from a psychic family and a group of boys from an elite boarding school begin a quest to find a dead Welsh king.
At night, Henrietta felt like magic, and at night, magic felt like it might be a terrible thing.
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Paranormal
Plot: WILD. This is the first book in the Raven Cycle series, and I never quite knew where the story was going, but I just knew I wanted – needed – to keep going forward. My one sentence summary varies from the ~marketed~ summary on the back of the actual book, which sells the reader to a story about a girl whose physic family has foretold that if she kisses her true love, he will die. That is indeed part of the story, but there’s so much more to get lost in it feels almost minuscule in comparison to everything else happening with magic, Welsh lore, and life in a small southern town. Every scene of the book felt crucial, even when you weren’t quite sure where Stiefvater was leading you (which is about 95% of the time). She is the queen of peaking your interest by giving you information before supplying the context for it, which keeps you turning the page for one more chapter. The pacing is perfect. Everything is unique and vividly imaginative. Also, these books are hilarious.
Characters: Where do I begin?? Her characters are wonderfully developed from the get-go, and it takes no time at all to find your heart tugging for them. There’s no such thing as a flat character in The Raven Boys. You’ve got Blue Sargent, the girl who’s destined to kill her love with a kiss and the only non-psychic in a family full of them. Richard Campbell Gansey III, the richest of the rich Aglionby Academy boys, who wears boat shoes, is uncommonly good at finding things, and is obsessed with a dead Welsh king. Adam Parrish, the boy who embodies a sepia photograph, who is very smart and very pretty and very bruised, who works three jobs and goes to Aglionby on a scholarship. Ronan Lynch, all vicious anger and loud swears and big tattoos, who goes to church every Sunday and has a pet raven he brings wherever he goes. And Noah, the one who comes and goes and deserved so much better.
Writing: Sometimes, when people read a book, they say it’s like reading a movie. Except, this book is really like reading a movie. Stiefvater moves flawlessly through scenes, using fades and cuts like a film editor would, in a way you can hear the transition in her writing, where the music stops and the next scene begins. The breath between dialogue, the stiff crack of thick notebook pages unsticking, the sound of bare feet through wet grass in the middle of the night. You can feel her writing, a gust of wind and a door slamming, the subtle change in temperature, the electricity in the atmosphere, the humidity pressing against the back of your neck in Virginian heat. Every setting is as magical as the story she is telling. I love, love, love Stiefvater’s writing.
Was I satisfied? Yes! And no- only because I needed to read the second book because I wasn’t ready to be finished with this story!