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 but she is drawn to Gansey in a way she can’t entirely explain. 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 am so glad I checked out what my Goodreads friends thought of this book before picking it up. Among their four and five star reviews I found the line, “it is really slow to start”. And it is. Very. slow. to. start.
The Raven Boys is character driven and Stiefvater takes her time setting them up. The plot doesn’t kick into gear until page 100 or so, and even then it rarely does more than amble along.
What saves and makes the book is the characterization. Each of the boys has a full back story that is only starting to unspool. Characters have amazing insights about each other that are probably too deep and perceptive for high schoolers but they’re so wonderful you don’t care. Relationships change and grow, and the multiple points of view let us see how peoples’ perceptions about each other shape their attitudes. It’s extremely well done.
Do know going in that you’re signing up for a four book series. While The Raven Boys ends after a significant event it only covers part of a much larger plot. If I read this book when it first came out I’d be frustrated, but luckily the series is now finished so I can move on to the next one.
An easy recommendation for anyone into character driven urban fantasy… just bring some coffee and an open mind to those first one hundred pages.