For as much as I enjoy young adult literature, there hasn’t been a novel in the genre lately that’s caused me giddy excitement. Like, hop on Tumblr excitement. Until The Raven Boys.
The Raven Cycle is one of those series that you hear about, almost viral. It starts with one person gushing over it and before you know it, anywhere you turn, there’s the book community talking about it. Like any good YA series, I didn’t notice the fuss until the final book was due to be published. As usual—oops.
The Raven Boys & The Dream Thieves are the first two books in Maggie Stiefvater’s series of a not-psychic girl—Blue—born to a psychic line of women and the unlikely friends she finds in preppy Aglionby school boys as they hunt for a legendary king. Oh, did I mention that Blue has been warned that she’ll cause her true love to die? And she’s seen who it is? Not a spoiler; it’s on the jacket.
The Raven Boys chronicles Blue’s first clairvoyant experience and her befriending of the “Raven Boys”—Gansey, Ronan, Adam, & Noah. As a gaggle of rich, private school boys, they’re not exactly Blue’s usual crowd, yet she finds herself drawn to Gansey and the others. Supernatural fate would have them team up to awaken the mystical ley line in their small town to find a legendary lost king. Sans spoilers, it goes without saying that things don’t quite go as planned (hence a book two, three, and four in the series) and The Dream Thieves picks up on their adventure, as Ronan discovers he can take objects out of dreams an into the real world…
It’s truly enough to know the overall arc of the series without my ruining what each book (at least so far) delves into. Both arcs—Blue’s grappling with knowing she’ll kill her true love, and the friends’ search for the legendary Glendower—are suspenseful on their own. The magic of the world that’s awakened by the ley line is supernatural in a way that isn’t reliant on the gritty werewolf/vampire storylines of most YA novels. It’s actually magical. The writing is fresh and humorous, despite Blue’s cloud of doom hanging overhead. And, thankfully, Stiefvater doesn’t jam humor down your throat in the way that a lot of YA authors try to force wit and sarcasm on readers; it’s much more natural and used sparingly.
What really shines, though, are the characters. Each member of the group shares the spotlight (and even moments with Blue’s mother and aunts are delightfully anticipated!) and brings a personality of their own. The Raven Boys are much more than entitled and “dreamy” schoolboys, and Blue has enough nuance to not peg her as another Strong Female Character of a female-led YA novel. Their friendship feels like the real star.
With two books that fit the “can’t put it down” bill, I’m itching to get my hands on the third book, Blue Lily, Lily Blue. Though, I’m also struggling with that feeling where I don’t want the series to end…