Honest and lively YA book reviews
I think it's about time I gave up on Maggie Stiefvater. I gave up on my best friend when she trashed my house (amongst other things she put a hole in my hardwood flooring and ripped a light switch off the wall. She trashed it good and proper) was constantly drunk and eventually, upon moving out stole a lot of my kitchen accessories including several pans (which are expensive to replace!) I'm giving up on Maggie Stiefvater because I cannot risk being bored to my death - I have mouths to feed, I don't have time to die!
I should have know this would happen! I should have known after Shiver that it would never work out between Ms Stiefvater and I. But I decided to give her another chance. Everyone seems to love The Raven Boys and to be fair, the premise does sound intriguing:
Blue was born into a family of psychics and has lived all her 16 years with the burden of a prophecy stating that her kiss will kill her true love. On St Mark's Eve, Blue takes part in a tradition, as she does every year, whereby she joins her family to watch the spirits of those who are fated to die in the next 12 months make their way up the corpse road. A twist of fate has her meet Gansey and his Raven Boys, a group of students from the local private boys school who are obsessed with discovering the ley lines said to lie within the town, in the hope that they will lead them to their true destination - the whereabouts of the long lost, and as legend tells, still alive Glendower, a powerful Welsh king said to grant a favour to whoever wakes him from his undead sleep.
Sounds like a pretty cool mystery, huh? Yeah, I thought so too. Until I actually started to read the thing. And then I realised how eternally boring it is. It's so slow. I was reading page 280 and I thought to myself what has actually happened? What has actually physically happened?! And I came to the conclusion that in fact, next to nothing had occurred. There was a helluva lot of side tracking with details and back stories and description of surroundings and very little real plot points. I am aware that this is part one of a four part part series, and sadly The Raven Boys felt very much like a set up for the following four instalments. I think it's a damn cheek when this happens. In my opinion every book in every series should be good enough quality to stand alone. Books are expensive and my local library is very poorly stocked, so it really gets my goat to spend good, hard earned money on books to find out that, what I have in fact spent all that cash and time on, is simply an introduction, a way to entice me to spend more money because now I have to shell out to discover what the actual story is truly about.
Aargh! Bugs the hell outta me!
Because ..... despite my misgivings about The Raven Boys I have this weirdly intense need to know what happens next. Yeah, the ending was a cryptic crock of shit, but the characterisation was fantastic and I've grown rather attached to Blue and the gang. I like Blue very much. She's sassy, quick and independent. She doesn't stand for Ronan's bullying (he behaves like a real jerk for most of the book, though to be fair there's a psychology behind it) and she doesn't meddle and interfere in the boy's business, she's got her own shit going on. I found it a bit puzzling that she didn't have more school stuff to see to though. There was no mention of any school friends, or studying or exams. Maybe exams don't matter when you have a life destined as a psychics assistant .....
Blue's whole family is psychic except her. Her power lies in manipulation of energy, strengthening the "seeing" powers of her fortune telling mother and aunts just by standing next to them. We never learn who Blue's father is, though this is set up as if to be revealed later in the series (urgh) and we can only assume that he was not magically inclined, otherwise Blue would have inherited the gift. Blue was nicely developed in that she wasn't sour about her lack of abilities. She worked on her smarts instead, and had amazing knowledge of her town and all things psychic. Her ambition and desire for more in life than small town living was great. This is a fab message to send to the teenage audience this is aimed at, much better than the usual vomit-inducing crap whereby all these YA characters strive for nothing more than being arm-candy for the hot, yet abusive guy they've seen twice at school. Yuck. No, The Raven Boys was so much better developed than the usual YA offering we see trotted out time and again, with the same worn, tired characters going through the same worn, tired motions. AND THERE WAS NO LOVE TRIANGLE! I cheered! It was okay for Blue to be friends with boys! I cheered again! Sure, Blue was sweet on Adam, but she also hung out with Gansey without his liquid eyes, or his rippling muscles ever being mentioned. It was great, and this originality? I super enjoyed.
The boys were great characters too. They were all unique, with clearly individual voices and stories. I figured out the thing with Noah pretty early on, but it was still neat. I loved Adam. His abusive situation was heartbreaking, and the conclusion to it was pretty brutal, but he never lost his pride or his integrity. I got kinda pissed off when it came down to the part Adam played in the final fight though. I don't wanna give it away, but what the hell was that all about?! There was no consequence to his actions! All I can think of is all will be revealed during the rest of the series, and you know how I feel about that ..... makes my jaw hurt.
Gansey was truly an awesome male lead though. He actually had depth, he wasn't trying to hurt anyone for his own gain and was capable of emotion. His relationships with his best friends was so brilliantly portrayed. Reading about true friendship between male characters is so rare in YA and it took me a while to get used to their dialog and stop waiting for the whole thing to implode. And implode is didn't ..... It was just really genuine and heartfelt. I found some of Gansey's parading around all over the world a little tiresome to hear about. He's only 16. Is it really realistic to believe he has colleagues in London, he can call up and make a financial deal with his headmaster and he has the freedom to swan around, bunking off school whenever the mood takes him? No. I can't get totally on board the Gansey Train. However, he was just the definition of cool, he was super caring and loyal and he was capable of being friends with a girl without resulting to stalking her or attempting to put his hands up her top, so it's all good.
As much as I loved the characters, they just weren't enough to carry the whole novel though and the plot fell very flat for me. The pacing was appalling, the history of the Welsh King, Glendower while not overly featured, was still mind numbingly dull when it was mentioned, and literally nothing came to a satisfactory conclusion. I should have known this would happen after the debacle that was Shiver though .....
I'll probably take a peek at the rest of the series but I'm not expecting much. I'm just going to check that Blue is alright and then back out slowly. I just don't have the time to sit staring at Maggie Stiefvater's writing, bored to tears any longer.
See y'all after!