Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

If you kiss your true love, he will die.  This is what Blue Sargant, daughter of the town psychic has been told all her life.  Blue is used to living with predictions, but things change when she meets Gansey, a privileged boy who attends the prestigious Aglionby Academy for Boys.  Gansey and his friends (known as the Raven boys, because of the Raven crest on their school uniforms) are on a quest find Glendower, a sleeping Welsh king.  Legend holds that whoever finds him will be granted a wish.  

Although Blue doesn’t have the same psychic powers as her mother, she does have the ability to amplify the messages that come through for her family.  It’s for this reason that she annually accompanied her mother to an old churchyard on St. Mark’s Eve. where the soon-to-be-dead spirits would walk past.  Blue never sees the spirits herself – until this year, when a boy steps up to her and speaks.  He tells her his name is Gansey.  

What does this mean?  When will Gansey die, and will it be Blue that causes his death?  Is he her true love?  Why is she so drawn to Gansey and his friends?  Blue has never really believed in true love and the repeated warning from her mother.  But now she isn’t so sure.

I can imagine this story being handled really poorly by a not-so-great writer.  Thankfully, Maggie Stiefvater has done a great job in presenting well-drawn characters, in this intriguing mystery. I love this story because the characters are all so different, and yet so vital.  Gansey is determined, has dignity, and really takes care of his friends.  Noah doesn’t say much, seems vulnerable and mostly observes.  Adam is the scholarship student who resents the wealth around him and doesn’t like handouts.  Ronan is the 'bad boy,' very cynical and angry.  And then there’s Blue, the quiet girl who lives with her psychic family – all women.  I think my favourite scenes were the ones that involved all these women and their predictions.  I loved the complexity of their personalities and the occasional conflicts between them.  They were strong, funny women, who I wanted to learn more about.

The other part of the story that kept me hooked, was the question of whether or not Gansey and Blue were destined to be together.  Was he really her true love?  Or was it one of the other boys?  Would she kiss him and therefore cause his death?  Why did she see him on the churchyard path on St. Mark’s Eve?  What was the importance of what he said to her on that road?  These were some of the questions that kept me intrigued.  

Magic is something that should be treated with respect and integrity, and I feel this author did just that.  I loved being suspended in this world of unexpected friendships, love and impending doom!

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