YA Book Club :: THE RAVEN BOYS


{YA Book Club is the brainchild of writer/blogger Tracey Neithercott.
For guidelines and additional info, click the image above.}

October’s YA Book Club selection is: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stievfater

The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle, #1)

From GoodreadsIt 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.

I’ll start by saying that I liked The Raven Boys more than Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver trilogy, but quite not as much last year’s The Scorpio Races.

The Raven Boys is a strong novel, one with beautiful prose, a dark, atmospheric setting, and unique, complicated relationships. The mystery element intrigued me, and the unique world of Tarot cards, ley lines, and ages-old magic kept me turning pages. The only thing The Raven Boys didn’t have was Sean Kendrick.

(If you don’t know who Sean Kendrick is, please stop reading this blog post, pick up the nearest copy of The Scorpio Races, and open it immediately.)

You know how in life we’re indifferent about most people, we like some people a whole lot, and we  come to love a special few? Well, for me, books are similar. Many are pleasant yet unremarkable. Then there are a few I make lasting connections with. Books I adore despite possible flaws. Books I know inside out and still can’t get enough of. The Scorpio Races is one of those books. I love it deeply, and I still think about it even a year after reading. It’s difficult not to measure books of similar moods and genres to Scorpio. It was especially difficult not to measure The Raven Boys against it, considering The Raven Boys is the first book Maggie Stiefvater has published since Scorpio‘s release.

So, when I compare The Raven Boys to The Scorpio Races, The Scorpio Races comes out on top. Truth. But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy every page of The Raven Boys. It’s a brilliant story.

Even though they’re not Sean Kendrick, the boys of Aglionby are fascinating (Ronan is my favorite — Chainsaw FTW!), and their relationships are incredibly complex. I found the dynamic between Gansey and Adam captivating. Blue is mesmerizing too, the kind of girl teenagers can look up to, I think. The product of an unconventional upbringing, Blue is  strong and determined, yet thoughtful. In fact, I’ve come to believe that the creation of compelling and clever female protagonists is one of Maggie Stiefvater’s greatest strengths.

The Raven Boys: A definite recommend if you haven’t read it yet. I’m very much looking forward to its follow-up, thanks in particular to the (incredibly chilling!) admission from Ronan regarding Chainsaw on the last page…

Tell Me: Have you read The Raven Boys? How do you think it measures up to Maggie Stiefvater’s other novels?

(And don’t forget to drop by Tracey’s blog to see what other YA Book Club participants thought of The Raven Boys!)

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33 responses to “YA Book Club :: THE RAVEN BOYS

  1. I totally agree about Maggie Stiefvater creating clever female characters – there’s never any helpless damsels in distress in her books and I appreciate that. And I liked Ronan, too!

    • Yes! I think Blue could have taken a turn toward the “damsel” what with all the challenges she was facing, but I think she sensed how messed up all the boys were in their own ways (not to mention the oddness of her upbringing), so she was cool with stepping up and being a legitimate part of the group. I’m really looking forward to seeing how she changes as the series goes on, especially her relationships with Adam and Gansey.

  2. Thanks so much for this thoughtful review, Katy. I haven’t read Raven Boys yet, but I do have Scorpio Races downloaded to my Nook and have been intending to read it for SO long. After hearing your comments, I think I must now! I became a fan of Maggie Stiefvater’s from the SHIVER trilogy and fell in love with her prose. Like Jennifer, I think your comment about her female characters is spot on, and what a wonderful writing attribute to have! I hope you had a great weekend 🙂

    • Oh, I hope you read SCORPIO soon, Tem! It’s set in November (this is significant!), so maybe next month? It’s such a gorgeous books. ❤ THE RAVEN BOYS is fantastic too, so I definitely recommend them both.

  3. I didn’t finish it in time. 😦 I’m so bummed because I love participating in the YA book club! I will have to start reading earlier next time!

    • I’ve dropped the ball on Book Club before too, Zanne, which made me really sad because I love participating too! You should still post your opinion on THE RAVEN BOYS when you finish reading. I’d love to read your thoughts!

  4. Well as you know, I still have yet to finish THE SCORPIO RACES. I’ll be pulling that one off the shelf again in November (fitting, no?). I loved so much about THE RAVEN BOYS, but mostly it boils down to the boys themselves. I thought the dynamic between all of them was fascinating, and I loved that I really felt like I knew these boys when I turned that last page. The mysteries that were introduced in this one only guarantees that I’m going to be at the bookstore on launch day of Book 2 waiting to get my hands on it! 🙂

    • The dynamic between the boys was one of my favorite parts too, Jaime. They were all so tragically damaged, the whole story could have taken a turn toward the melodramatic. BUT, I thought it was handled beautifully, and the way the boys interact and support each other unconditionally was a joy to read. And yes… I’m already dying for the next book!

  5. I had the same thoughts regarding RAVEN BOYS vs. SCORPIO RACES, but then I wondered if the reason I liked the latter better was because it was a stand-alone and all lose ends were tied and that ending was perfect. Then again, I think the atmosphere of that book was stronger than this one. That said, I loved this book. And, yeah, Ronan was great. I just felt for him, especially with the bird. Man, anytime he had the bird in a scene I wanted to tackle hug him.

    • Good point about SCORPIO being stand-alone. I did enjoy the immense sense of closure I felt knowing what happened to Sean and Puck in the end. I wonder if my opinion will change once RAVEN is all wrapped up (three more books down the road!)? Regardless, I thought THE RAVEN BOYS was excellent, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what will happen to the characters next.

  6. I think I had the opposite situation: while I think THE SCORPIO RACES was a really good and well-written book, I never connected with it. I adored THE RAVEN BOYS, though. Who knows why! The strong female characters that Maggie writes are some of my favorites.

    • Isn’t it funny how we connect sodeeply with some books, and some not so much? Reading is so subjective, and that’s why I love book-clubbing. It’s so fun to see how everyone’s opinions differ. I’m glad you loved THE RAVEN BOYS… I’m very much looking forward to seeing what happens next with Blue and the boys.

  7. I loved TBR, but just like you, I didn’t love it quite as much as SCORPIO. I’ve got my review going up with a few others books later this week. But man, Maggie really excels at setting and atmosphere, though. In this regard, I thought it was on par with SCORPIO. Stunning.

  8. I agree that Blue was mesmerizing. She was free-spirited without seeming flighty and she didn’t allow the prediction about her “true love” to dictate her actions, which I think said a lot about her character. I enjoyed her perspective on each of the boys and also what she added to their group. Like you mentioned, the dynamic between Gansey and Adam was captivating. I admired both Adam’s desire to make his own way and Gansey’s willingness to help a friend, even if it caused friction between them.

    When i picked up THE SCORPIO RACES I think I was in the wrong mood for it. Definitely going to have to give it another shot because I keep hearing amazing things about it.

    • You’ll have to let me know if you end up giving SCORPIO another shot. It took me a bit of time to really get into it, but when I did… Holy hell. I fell head-over-heels for that book.

      I’m so with you on the Adam-Gansey dynamic. Even though they were both so stubborn, they both had wonderful intentions, which made them so easy to root for. I’ll be interested to see how their friendship changes as Blue becomes more of an… issue.

  9. I also think I preferred THE SCORPIO RACES (not just because of Sean…honest). I think that one was more action-packed, whereas THE RAVEN BOYS is slower, with a more intricate plot. Still, I definitely loved THE RAVEN BOYS and I can’t wait to see what happens next 🙂

    • Ditto, Rebecca! You’re right about SCORPIO being more action-packed, and I also loved it for Sean and Puck’s special relationships with their horses. I don’t know… Something about that book just got to me, and even now it’s hard to put into words why it affected me so deeply.

  10. SEAN KENDRICK!

    One thing I’ve read before (and this was backed up by the instructor of an online class I took on TV writing) is that if you really admire a particular author, it can help to write out or type out some of their writing–you think more deeply about their choices that way. I think I may try to do that next month with THE SCORPIO RACES–I’ve been wanting to re-read it really since I finished it but I’ve been putting it off for November (because, ya know.) I’m definitely going to read it again, but I’m also going to at least type out some of my favorite passages, just to see if I notice anything from a new perspective. I loved THE RAVEN BOYS, but THE SCORPIO RACES remains my favorite read of the year.

    • THE SCORPIO RACES was definitely one of my favorites from 2011. I ADORE that book. And I love your advice about writing out passages of a favorite author’s work. Sometimes it’s challenging to pinpoint what it is I love about a particular writer’s prose, and I imagine writing their words out to dissect would be super beneficial. Thanks for the tip, Jess!

  11. So I couldn’t read this post because I just started the book and don’t want to know ANYTHING about it except what I already knew. But I’ll come back when I finish. Also, I plan to start taking part in this book club. 🙂

    • You should DEFINITELY join in on Book Club next time, Liz… It’s tons of fun to see how others react to the same read, and it’s especially fun that we focus on YA books. 🙂 I hope you enjoy THE RAVEN BOYS… I’m looking forward to hearing what you think!

  12. I did love The Raven Boys–and as much as I enjoyed The Scorpio Races, I liked The Raven Boys better. For me, it came down to the POV. I am not generally a fan of alternating first person perspectives, and the third was put to good use in The Raven Boys. I haven’t read the Shiver series, because werewolves are not generally my thing.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts–and I might just have to join in on the YA book club next time around!

    • Good point about the POV… I generally prefer first-person and while I think THE RAVEN BOYS was written beautifully (and fittingly) in third, perhaps that’s why I didn’t connect *quite* as much with its characters. I was so IN Sean and Puck’s heads for the duration of SCORPIO, it was easy to feel as if I knew them and as if I was a part of their story, rather than a bystander looking in. Regardless, I think Maggie Stiefvater rocks pretty much everything she writes, and I know I can trust her to tell an amazing story, no matter what the format or subject matter. (Incidentally, while the SHIVER trilogy IS about werewolves, I liked it though they’re not usually my thing either. You might give it a go sometime. :))

  13. I think it’s tough to compare this to Scorpio Races because Scorpio Races is a complete story in one book, and this story still has so much more to it, you know? We still have so much to learn about these characters!

    But, oh yeah, Sean has a very special place in my heart.

    • Great point, Jess, and I’m reserve my final word on comparing until I’ve read up to the end of THE RAVEN BOYS series. Still, SCORPIO made me feel ALL THE FEELINGS, and then some. It’s rare for me to find such a deep connection with a book (especially one with subject matter as bizarre as SCORPIO–blood thirsty horses?!)

  14. Haha the only thing missing was Sean Kenderick – agreed! Although I do have a lot of love for Adam 🙂
    It was a great book, I’m looking forward to the next one.

    • Me too! And I liked Adam as well. In fact, I genuinely like ALL of the Raven Boys. But, Ronan found a special place in my heart. There’s just something about the tortured bad boy with a sweet side lurking somewhere…

  15. So obviously I need to read THE SCORPIO RACES, which, like my confusion about Downton Abbey, I thought was The ScorpioN Races for the longest time. But for my first Maggie Steifvater ever, I thought it was wonderful. I’m posting even though I missed the YA Book Club deadline. 🙂

  16. I’m like you that The Scorpio Races is my all time favorite book of Striefvater’s, the construct of the story woven with the myth is amazing, but I also enjoyed The Raven Boys immensely. I think that I will end up liking this latest series better than her Shiver trilogy, but all of her works are quite magical.

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