The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys - Maggie Stiefvater This book is a hard one for me to grade. I both loved and hated it in the extreme with very little middle ground. Ultimately, since it kept me turning pages like crazy, I give it a neutral 3 stars.

My main issue with the story was the pacing. The first third of the book absolutely dragged. Blue Sargent, the main female protagonist, didn't even meet the "raven boys" until the book was this far along. Around the mid point, when Blue joined Gansey and Adam and Ronan on their quest for the magical ley lines, things began to pick up. And the ending, which involved a genuine mystery, was very well done. Most upsetting, however, is that the story never did touch upon the premise that is used to sell it - that it is fortold that Blue will kiss and kill her one true love. We got hints of what may happen, but nothing of substance leaving me feeling a bit like a victim of bait and switch.

Another issue I had was the psychic women that make up Blue's family. Much of what happens in the scenes involving Blue's mother, aunts and other family friends seemed flighty and disjointed. These women take the concept of eccentric to a whole new level, and it didn't ring true to to me. It wasn't the magical element that I had problems with, more the tangential style of dialogue and the fact that so often these women spoke to each other via body language that meant nothing to the reader. Too, the entire subplot involving Neeve dragged the story to a screeching halt.

Speaking of Neeve, I had a lot of problem with the names. Stiefvater was very creative with her names, but some of them didn't lend to easy reading. How, exactly, does a reader mentally pronounce "Gansey," "Aglionby", or "Neeve?"

My last quibble is that much of this story was downright confusing. While a few of the meandering threads tied up at the end, the whole search for the Welsh King Glendower felt very McGuffinish. I was never wholly convinced why this would drive the characters as they did. The ending was not so much of a cliffhanger as it was just a break in the story, which is not a nice thing to do to readers. I don't need all the answers, but I do need to feel like the time I've just spent has been somewhat concluded.

All of these things aside, I did enjoy the main characters who were very fleshed out and three-dimensional (except for Noah). Once the story kicked into gear, it read very quickly and kept me interested. I knew going in that this story was the first part of a series, so I wasn't too upset by the very abrupt ending. And the twist involving Noah was a surprise. I do want to know what happens, so I guess that means I'll be reading the next installment.