On Reading

"When you read a book, you don't just read, you journey. This is why at first, one is always regretful upon nearing the last page, thinking that it all ends there. But it is when we look into our minds after reading that we find the new world we discovered and with dawning realization see the truth of the matter:
...that the journey never ends."

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

When I first saw The Raven Boys in the bookstore, I immediately wanted to get my hands on it. I saw The Raven Boys before I even read Shiver, and the synopsis on the dust jacket had me wondering and desperate to read the book. When I finally did, I swear it was like Stiefvater knew what I thought about Shiver and rectified all those things I pointed out on The Dark Side. 

The Raven Boys is the story of Blue Sargent, who’s always been told that she would be responsible for the death of her true love. Belonging to a family of psychics, Blue is a bit different, and could only amplify the powers of others. That’s how she comes to the lives of four Aglionby boys, who are in search for a lost Welsh king. Together they embark on a quest that puts their lives in danger, because it turns out, they’re not the only ones looking.


One of the things I liked about Shiver was the blue text of the book. And now, Stiefvater seems to know this fascination of mine on all things blue, because lo and behold, the main character’s name is Blue! And Blue is an interesting character, not only because of her abilities, but because she’s headstrong and brave. Her mother tells her never to see the Aglionby boys again, she sneaks out and embarks on a quest with them. Helps them, too. I think that really endeared Blue to me, because it’s realistic. She’s a teenager, surrounded by a family who wants to keep her in the dark about things. It’s only natural that she goes out of her way to prove herself to everyone, including to herself. It’s natural that she wants to feel useful, too. On the subject of characters, I have to say that the best part of this book was Gansey. I LOVED Gansey. Granted, he hurts people sometimes with his nonchalance about money and its value, but everyone knows it’s unintentional, and that he doesn’t mean it. He knows this too, so he always strives to choose his words carefully, and although that doesn’t work out all the time, hey, give the guy a break, because at least, he tries. I love that he’s someone who genuinely cares for those around him, especially the other 3 boys. His concern for his friends and how he looks out for them is just amazing in a character. And before I end this rant about Gansey, I have to say that I love his dedication and passion. When he sets out to do something, he’ll really go out of his way to see it done. He has no qualms about sharing, and he’s set on giving back to the world that gave him what he has now. Stiefvater also does better in this book with the third-person perspective. Plot-wise, if Shiver was simple for me, now The Raven Boys, is definitely complex and deep. It has a wider range of topics, the story goes beyond the characters although it centers on them, and every main character is given equal attention and layers. The surprises in this book, really, were just plain mindboggling and mystifying.


My main issue about The Raven Boys, like many others, would probably be the complexity of the first chapters. The moment you read it, you’re just immediately plunged into this world of descriptions. You aren’t given the chance to take it all in first, to adjust and enter their world gradually, it’s an immediate plunge. Given that this is a fantasy book, that there were a lot of characters, that the plot was complex, and that it was told from the third-person’s point of view, it’s easy to see why a lot of people would see it as boring and draggy. I’ll admit that the first few chapters were a struggle for me too, but it was easily corrected when I started getting into the story along the middle chapters. There were a lot of unanswered questions, a lot of unresolved conflicts, but I’d like to think that it’s Stiefvater’s way of keeping the series suspenseful and thrilling. 

I think The Raven Boys, for a first book in a series, is in its entirety, a stepping stone. There’s so much that was being built up throughout the book, and instead of getting answers to questions there are now only more questions, and the promise of so much more to come is overwhelming. This leads me to expect much from the second book, and I just hope it delivers.

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