The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
After hating Shiver, I decided to pick this up and give Stiefvater another chance. And wow, I can hardly believe this is the same author.
The Raven Boys has a really great, unique premise, and the author just hits the ground and rolls with it. Blue is the daughter of a psychic who knows that kissing her true love will kill him. Gansey is a rich prep school student whose singular goal is to find the ley line--a sort of fissure of energy between our world and the land of the dead--and awaken a dead king.
The world that Stiefvater creates really comes alive on the page. In Blue's world, you've got her crazy, psychic mother and aunts who do tarot card readings for a living and casually talk to the dead (or rather, soon to be dead). Gansey also has an interesting world. Not only has he been spending years researching the ley line and other supernatural mumbo jumbo, but there's a lot about the dynamics of wealth, and how it influences his personality and relationships. In such a supernatural story, that element kept Gansey grounded in reality.
I'm really torn about characterization, though. Stiefvater has a unique style of description and a good handle on multiple perspectives. Definitely simile-happy, but they were usually spot on. I liked how the characters were constantly commenting on each other because that gave me both a new perspective on the other character and on the narrator making the comments. It got old when so much was told about the characters. The characterization was strong enough to stand on its own, so it was a shame to weigh it down with so much literal character analysis.
Which brings me to my biggest issue with the book, and the reason I'm giving it 3 and not 4 stars: the good ol' telling instead of showing. We're told that Blue is a badass. We're told that Gansey is cocky. We're told that Noah doesn't stand up for himself. Add on to that, (view spoiler)[Noah's whole plot pops into the story out of nowhere and suddenly all these characters he's barely interacted with are risking everything for him. And Ronan? Why was he even there? There's that whole cliffhanger that implies he's going to be important in the sequel, but frankly, I don't care enough about him to wait for that. (hide spoiler)] Too much of the book was "important" not because it genuinely caught my interest, but because the author was metaphorically jumping up and down going "Look! Look how COOL my plot point is!"
I do plan to read the sequel, but I won't be biting my nails awaiting it.
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