29 May 2014

Reading Adventures with Nora Oliver: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

About Nora Oliver
Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.  G.K. Chesterton

Hi and Hello! Name's Nora Oliver. Born in the great Year of the Pig! I was sorted into Ravenclaw, and have the personality of an Earthbender.  It takes vast amounts of energy to be boring.  "What's the point of language if you don't say what you mean?"
Let me start this review by stating, for the record, that I am a cynic. As cynicism goes, I am usually most cynical about the books I read. In my experience, many books and authors have the same layout to every story in their repertoire: Boring exposition, minimal character development that leads to flat and unimpressive characters, a conflict with a logical solution that the main character will instead jump through hoops to overcome, and finally a hastily written climax that skids into the next "most anticipated" book of the series.

Thankfully, Amelia has opened my eyes to a series that does not follow this slippery slope. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater has captured my attention having only read the first book. The Raven Boys, the first book in the series, has left a cynic like me excited for the next book in the series.

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It 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. (Thanks Goodreads)
The key points of things I adored while reading this book can be separated into two main categories (relatively short categories considering this is just a review of the first book of the series and my first Stiefvater novel, but stick with me. More adventures to come) I very much adored Stiefvater’s writing style and character development.

Writing style is definitely a talent Stiefvater possesses. In a story that flits between character perspectives so quickly, for many authors keeping the smooth flow of a story can be hard. Stiefvater makes The Raven Boys exciting by not just focusing on one character, but the all of her characters.

As a new Stiefvater fan, I can tell you her characters are scarily realistic. From Blue the stubbornly lovable girl of the group, to Ronan the mysterious brute of the group, it is very easy to fall in love with these characters and be eager to see them develop as the story progresses. The realism of the characters keeps the story from morphing into one of those overly dramatic adventure stories where every movement is a dramatic flourish and an unreal portrayal of human behavior. Really now, when was the last time you “glided through the crowd effortlessly, as though you were walking on air.” No. We’re normal people, we walk.

Being so new to The Raven Cycle and Maggie Stiefvater’s work, I won’t go on and on about every tiny detail I loved. Short and sweet: The Raven Boys is definitely a great book to start a series. Great idea, hook that lures and captivates the reader. Let’s see what this series has to offer. Full speed ahead to Book 2: The Dream Thieves.

More adventures to come,