The Raven Boys: Why We Are Smitten With Maggie Stiefvater’s Psychics And Boarding School Treasure Hunters

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The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
This is an embarrassing admission to make as someone who writes about books professionally (well, that’s the excuse I make for these stacks around me anyway): My love for Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys is so great that I can’t even write a review of it. And when I begin to think of fantasy casting options, my mind goes absolutely blank, because no actors can possibly live up to the characters I’ve made in my mind. I’m not alone in my love — New Line just announced last week that Akiva Goldsman would produce the movie for them. Instead of a standard review here, I’m just going to list a handful of the things that have me seriously crushing on this book:

  • The wholly original story about four private school boys searching for the body of the Welsh King Glendower, who legend has it will grant one wish to whoever finds him, and about a girl named Blue who’s the only non-psychic of the family and who knows that one day she’ll cause her true love to die. She also knows to stay away from boys who go to the Aglionby School, nicknamed “raven boys” for the emblems on their V-neck sweaters.
  • The very realistic relationship between the boys — rich, Glendower-obsessed Gansey; surly, troubled Ronan; driven, scholarship student Adam; and mysteriously quiet Noah.
  • Blue’s endearingly unconventional household of psychic women: mom Maura, famous aunt Neeve, boy-crazy cousin Orla, in-her-own-world Persephone and sharp-tongued Calla. Blue loves them, but she also dreams of escaping and having a “normal” life doing something like “scouring Costa Rica to find out more about the scale-crested pygmy tyrant.”

  • Those of you who’ve read Stiefvater’s Shiver trilogy or The Scorpio Races know how brilliant she is at writing teens’ first impressions of each other. When Blue first encounters the boys in the restaurant where she works, Gansey is “the multitasking cell phone Aglionby boy, looking tidy and presidential.” Adam is “smudgy … with a rumpled faded look about his person. Ronan is “handsome and his head was shaved; a solfier in a war where the enemy was everyone else.” And Adam, on whose behalf Gansey tries to get Blue’s number, is “fine-boned and a little fragile-looking, with blue eyes pretty enough for a girl. … Blue used one millisecond of her time to imagine what that might be like, throwing herself at a booth of raven boys and wading through awkward, vaguely sexist conversation. Despite the comeliness of the boy in the booth, it was not a pleasant millisecond.”
  • And yet, they are thrown together. First, because Gansey turns out to be the boy Blue sees on St. Mark’s Eve, when she went with Neeve to see the spirits of people who will die that year. And then because it turns out she can help in their search for Glendower.
  • There’s a huge potential for a Blue-Gansey-Adam love triangle, and we’re pretty sure one will happen later in the four-book series, but in this novel, the emphasis is on friendship and adventure, which somehow makes our fear for Gansey’s eventual demise even greater.
  • The fact that Ronan adopts a raven chick he names Chainsaw, and who may or may not have manifested from his head.
  • Creepy Latin teacher Barrington Whelk, who once had a lot more in common with the Raven Boys than they suspect.
  • Everything in this book feels so grounded and real, by the time actual magic comes into the story, it is absolutely believable.
  • Everything.

And by the way, if you don’t believe me and want a sample of the book before buying it, you can read one online here. Also, here is the trailer Maggie made herself for the book, complete with the song she composed for it.

[Photo: Scholastic]

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