ARC Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Posted September 12th, 2012 in book review / 22 comments

The Raven Boys

Book #1 of the Raven Cycle Series

by Maggie Stiefvater

Publisher: Scholastic Press (Sept 18, 2012)
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Format: Paperback (409 pages)
Source: Won in Goodreads Giveaway
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
Rating: ½☆☆☆ (1.5 stars)

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

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At a Glance

At first, I gave up on this book page 50. But then bookish friends kept telling me to give it a little more time to grow on me. I was hopeful since The Raven Boys actually has a great overall rating on Goodreads, but alas, after reading the whole book, I have found that The Raven Boys was NOT for me.

The Good
I found the love triangle between Blue, Gansey, and Adam to be pretty cute. They all intrigued me for different reasons and I enjoyed reading about their interactions.

This is the most innocent YA book I have ever read. The most we get is hand holding, so I would say this is a great book for a younger crowd. However, the book is more complex and interwoven in a way that might be a little confusing to the youngins (Heck yeah, I just used the word youngins, that’s how I roll). It also covered some dark topics but Maggie handled them nicely.

I did enjoy when the Raven Boys and Blue went on their little adventures. I never knew what to expect. And there is something that will shock you about one of the boys. I did not see that coming.

The Bad
Where do I start? I am soooo not a fan of Maggie’s writing style. The writing is confusing and way too complex. I don’t want to have to work to understand what I am reading. It took me 100 pages to get the gist of who was who and what was what.

The book drags for the longest time. It took me forever to get into it then it starts to drag again. I will admit, I finally started skimming a couple pages in some chapters.

Dialogue was constantly interrupted by paragraphs and paragraphs of useless information and backstory. By the time we get back to the dialogue, I ‘ve forgotten what the conversation was even about.

Then we get to read about unimportant actions the characters do. As a reader, all we need to know is that Blue walked out the door not that she stood up, walking the 20 feet to the door, put her hand on the knob, turned the knob, swung the door inward… This is probably an exaggeration but you get my point. That is such needless description and action.

Maggie breaks a huge “rule” in writing. She interrupts the action with more mind-numbing description and backstory. How am I suppose to be scared and feel the suspense when the author stops the momentum to give me a history lesson?

Though the writing style is what made me dislike the book the most, the plot was also somewhat boring. The characters were intriguing but the story itself made me want to put the book down or skim. Most of the time, I kept forgetting what these kids were even doing or what they were looking for.

Then, by the end, a huge part of the plot wasn’t even resolved. Look at the beginning of this post for the summary from the book. You would consider it to be addressing the main plot, right? Nope. The whole book is about the kids finding the burial site of a medieval noble, Glendower, who will grant the person who awakens him a favor. But by the end, we get nothing about Blue and Gansey and their doomed fate. And we only get a small conclusion when it comes to finding this Glendower guy.

The Snuggly
This is a lily-white book when it comes to romance. The only controversial part of The Raven Boys is the physical abuse we witness.

I will not be reading the rest of this series. The writing style and story were not my cup of tea. However, take into account that a huge number of people are loving Maggie’s new book. So buying The Raven Boys will have to be a personal judgement call on your part. If you have read a Stiefvater book before and loved it, then maybe this book will interest you more than it did me. But when it comes to my opinion, this is NOT recommended.

“If you don’t tell me not to see them, I don’t have to disobey you,” Blue suggested.

“This is what you get, Maura, for using your DNA to make a baby,” Calla said.

Maura sighed. “Blue, I know you’re not an idiot. It’s just, sometimes smart people do dumb things.”

Calla growled, “Don’t be one of them.”

“Persephone?” asked Maura.

In her small voice, Persephone said, “I have nothing to add.” After a moment of consideration, she added, however, “If you are going to punch someone, don’t put your thumb inside your fist. It would be a shame to break it.”

“Okay,” Blue said hurriedly. “I’m out.”

book review

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22 Responses to “ARC Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater”

  1. Ashley

    I totally feel you, girl. At least I think I do, since I only made it to page 30. I’m glad I decided not to continue with it! I think the lack of epic romance would have really annoyed me. I want romance in EVERYTHING these days. Give me kissing, making out, groping, lalala.

    So far I’ve been really hit or miss with Maggie Stiefvater. Mostly miss, after The Raven Boys. I enjoyed Shiver, hated The Scorpio Races, and now obviously couldn’t get through The Raven Boys.

    It really sucks that neither of us got into this book. I feel like everyone else in the world loves the pants off of it. Why are we the odd ones out?? We have to stick together, Jen. The crowd of Raven Boy lovers might try to kill us in our sleep.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      I totally feel you. I am okay without romance but groping is always appriciated. hehe.

      I have the second book of the The Wolves of Mercy Falls series (won it) by Maggie. Should I even buy Shiver so I can start from the beginning? I am so scared.

      I’, nervous that I am going to put a bad review of The Raven Boys on Goodreads. I think there may be a lynching or something. We do have to stick together because book fans can be crazy. You know how I know this? Cuz I am freakin’ crazy too. Book fever spreads fast.

    • Ashley

      Well.. I actually haven’t read the second or third books in the series LOL. Maybe that’s an indication of how good it is? It’s okay, it’s enjoyable, but it’s not so amazing that I had to immediately run out and buy the next books.

      It’s been a few months since I read Shiver but if I recall, it did have some insta-love, which is kind of a turn off. Then it’s basically just about werewolves. I thought it was kind of a cute, short read though. It might be worth reading if you don’t have a load of amazing books in your TBR pile. 😛

      Don’t worry. If people start throwing rocks at you on Goodreads, I’ll totally back you up.. after I go buy a pet rottweiler to back *me* up.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      Yeah, I think I have too many amazing books I still need to read so Shiver probably wont make it on my list then.

      I’ll bring a pitbull as back backup to the backup. 😉

  2. Sarah Elizabeth

    I think Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style is a love/hate kind of thing. I loved shiver when i read it but that was 3 years ago. I need to read it again to see if i still like it.
    I think it’s totally acceptable to give up on a book after 50 pages if you don’t like it. I often push myself to read more and end up disliking the book even more!

  3. Elisa

    I just read that someone gave it 5 stars…so good to temper that! I did enjoy Scorpio Races (though it took time for me to get into it) but wasn’t a huge fan of Shiver. I will probably read this one eventually…I love the book’s premise and want to check it out! Good luck over on goodreads, I hope you don’t need the pitbull 🙂

  4. Lizzy

    I actually loved the Raven Boys (like LOVED) but I’m not a fan of romances. It is DEFINITELY not for romance lovers. I would put it more on the lines of Harry Potter than anything else, since there is no romance in that series until several books in. As far as the writing style, it is definitely more descriptive and relies less on the dialogue to tell the story than most YA novels. A lot of novels I’ve read lately, I can tell you exactly what happens in the book without reading anything outside of dialogue – not this book.

    But I wanted to say, great review. I was waiting for someone NOT to like this, because I really think that sometimes the best reviews to read before buying are the one star ones.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      So very true. She does not rely on teh dialogue to tell this book.

      I didn’t mind the no romance, but there was nothing else to really like either.

      LOL, Happy I could ablige. I too like to read the good and bad reviews of a book before I buy it.

  5. D

    I’m sorry this just wasn’t for you. I just breezed through your review, didn’t want to read any spoilers, but from what I saw I guess it’s going to turn out the same for me. Now I’m kinda relutant to give it a shot… I guess I’ll leave it for now.

  6. Melissa (My words and pages)

    Oh wow, so sorry to hear you didn’t like this one. I’ve not picked up any of her books yet. But, not every author or book is for everyone. We all know, so sounds like you found one for you that doesn’t work. Sorry to hear, but here’s to an awesome next book in the stack. 🙂

  7. kimbacaffeinate

    Wow, this was on my wish list, I haven’t read any of her previous work. I love world-building and description but not sure I want it in the middles of action where it interferes with the pace. Great review and I am sorry this didn’t work for you..but kudos for giving it a go.

  8. Sarah (saz101)

    “Where do I start? I am soooo not a fan of Maggie’s writing style.”

    :O :O :O

    NOW I am in intrigued. Admittedly, I’ve only read Shiver and Linger, but I LOVED both, and thought Maggie’s writing was beautiful and poetic. SO intrgued to read this to see what irked you about the writing alone. One thing I’ll always give Maggie is that I think she’s an amazing writer… I want to see what she’s done different here. Have you read any of her other books?

    And UGH. YES. I’m spoiled on romance–I want it in everything these days, so it’s a little… meh. Hmm. Really fascinating hearing a different opinion on this one! ♥

    • Jennifer Bielman

      I won the second book is the Wolves of Mercy Falls but have yet to read it. I was going to buy Shiver but now I am scared. Let me know if the writing style is the same when you read Raven Boys. If she does better in shiver, I would buy it.

  9. Dagmar Jacisinova

    Hmm. I have to agree with Sarah. I read all books by Maggie Stiefvater and liked them and then Scorpio Races came out and I LOVED that book to the point that I read it 3 times. ( yeah, I know..) I think her writing was incredibly beautiful and romance very understated but somehow powerfull. I think I want to give Raven Boys chance even though I generally agree with all your reviews.. let see, just 2 more days.

    • Jennifer Bielman

      Then I don’t see how you could not love this one then. This might just be the style that works for you which is great. I wish I could have enjoyed her book as much as you seem to enjoy her books.

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