THE RAVEN BOYS (The Raven Cycle #1)
Storyteller : MAGGIE Genius STEIFVATER
Book Birthday : September 18, 2012
Fairy Godmother : Scholastic Press
Pages : Hardcover, 409pgs
Source : Purchased hardcover
READioactivity on a scale of 5 - FIVE
This is perhaps my favorite series of all times. Beating the likes of Daughter of Blood and Starlight, Divergent series and The Lunar Chronicles.
This book makes me suspect that Maggie Stiefvater (last name pronounced as steve-otter. First name as.. oh well) is not entirely human. That she has some magical blood in her which enables her to impart sinister but wonderful magical qualities to her books. I am at the stage of contemplation - whether to author stalk till I find out the truth. Or just stay obsessed with reading every word she writes. I suspect I will go for option C ie. both.
The Raven Boys has all the makings of a classic. It is a modern day fairytale. It is SO good that it should be required reading. This review is tooled to illuminate why you should read this book and why I love it more than any other series.
Let's first talk about why I loved it : It's got everything I look for in a book.
The Raven Boys is like coffee. The characters are like the fine brazilian coffee beans, ground slowly and excruciatingly by the magical and mundane circumstances of the lives they live. The story brews slowly emanating a scent of the promises to come. One sip and your heart and soul are ready to kick into action and to declare their love for the coffee-maker : Maggie Stiefvater.
The setting of the novel is in small town Henrietta which is BIG on supernatural. The atmospheric writing is so strong that you don't think that you are transported to that place - you think that's where you've been all along. How could you have been anyplace else other than Henrietta? With your Raven Boys.
The characterizations of the eponymous Raven Boys is very efficient. If the author's plan was to make you fall in love with one, then tease you with another, till you turn your loyalties and your heart to him .. then the plan is very successful and characterization efficient.
Adam. Gansey. Ronan. Noah. Four boys studying in a school for the privileged... On the hunt for a long dead king... a hunt, if fruitful, would make dreams pale in front of its reality.
Guide to relating with The Raven Boys
Have you ever worked hard for something. Harder than you could. And then still more? Have you ever wanted to make a change in your life real bad? Ever stretched your hand as far as it could go so that the tips of your fingers brush the dream but have to return back empty? That is Adam for you.
But you must have had your share of privilege and inheritance. That privilege could be anything - maybe you are born rich or beautiful or ridiculously talent or you never have had to study as hard as the rest of us to fly through higher calculus. You must have wanted to grow out of the prejudiced bubble that comes with those privileges, to prove how having an easy life has not made you a bad person. You must have wanted to prove your existence is worth something more than just that. And you must have wanted to have a worthy goal - a goal so huge that no amount of silver spoons piled in a heap could buy it. Meet Richard Gansey !!! .. I mean III. But the exclamation marks also describe him just fine.
Or maybe you have had a tough time emotionally. You have woken in cold sweat every night, fleeing sleep that's infested with nightmares. You are so strong on the outside : Tall, physically imposing, tatooed - yet the emotional landscape inside you is fracturing. You must have fought inner battles. Must have healed scars just based on your stubborn will. But what's the cost of healing the scars? Anger. So. much. anger. That it leaves footprints where you go. It just tags along. Like with Ronan.
Have you ever been invisible? Do you know how that feels? How you would do pretty much anything to have a friend. How being invisible can inflict not-so-invisible damages - the lack of confidence to speak out loud or to just be yourself. Ask Noah.
But these boys are not complete yet. Not without ..
Blue, the only girl in the group. The girl with a self imposed outsider tag. You relate instantly to her because haven't you maybe once felt like an outsider looking in? Trying to belong and yet maintain your identity? The clash of that contradiction is what Stiefvater masters. Blue is sensible. She has been told that she would be responsible for the death of her true love... if she kisses him. But she is sensible, yes? This sort of hanky panky shouldn't matter? The struggles of a girl determined to be sorted in a world where magic is distorting everything is fascinating reading.
In terms of characters, Blue's mother Maura is the perfect balance between a mother and a friend - something seen rarely in YA lit. If there is a lack somewhere, I find it in the eccentric aunts that constitute Blue's family.
I cannot tell you anything about it. This is what adds shine to the story. It's the element that will make you revisit the wonder you felt at the world when you were a child. Only this time the world is in a book. Suffice to say it is about a treasure hunt + thrilling race against time. Where the competition is happily willing to kill.
*Fans herself* It is slow and sweeping and builds and builds and builds till you just cannot take it anymore. Your brain is scrambled - which Raven boy to love more?
As if weaving an effing brilliant story was not enough for Stiefvater, she went ahead and wrote prose that is so SO perfect that I ran out of highlighter ink. Twice. The prose is what will make you read this book again and again. Even when you know all the twists and turns. The writing skill delicately extracts the naked truth every chance it gets. And all you can do is stare and think yes, that's how it happens. Yes, I know how that feels. Yes, yes, yes.
Special mention : Humor
I did not expect to laugh much while reading. This is an emotional punch-happy book! It makes me think and feel. But hello there, sense of humor! Did not expect to see you! The Raven Boys is unexpectedly funny. In unexpected scenes. The humour takes you by surprise, popping out of a bush when you were serenely taking a walk in the wilds of this book. It is absolutely delightful, intelligent and subtle.
I have waxed eloquence(?) about it for quite a while now, haven't I? It's not enough. It doesn't do justice to this book. It has me under its spell. Perhaps when not writing, Maggie Stiefvater is concocting dark magic potions. Love potion, me thinks. She then sprinkles it on the pages of the book - guaranteeing that every reader would fall in love. Yes! Thats it! It all makes sense now! Don't believe me? Read the book and find out for yourself! ;)