All of us love Maggie Stiefvater. Well, all of us loved The Scorpio Races, especially me and Katie. And Christine has extolled the Mercy Falls series, Shiver, Linger, and Forever, as well. One week from today, The Raven Boys, the first installment of Maggie Stiefvater’s new series, The Raven Cycle, will finally be released into the wild. Caitlin and I both were fortunate enough to receive ARCs and, well, we both had things to say.
Caitlin: So, I loved this book to pieces. And I need a Gansey of my very own.
Kate: I think that’s what Maggie Stiefvater does best – boys we want to cuddle and love forever. That’s how I felt about Sean in The Scorpio Races. And that seems to be how everyone feels about Sam in her Shiver series, which I haven’t read.
Caitlin: And this book was just full of boys. Broken boys who need me to love them. Except for one them, who I didn’t really like.
Kate: There were a lot of boys in this book. And that’s something that sort of surprised me, because the only girls Blue interacts with are her mother and aunts.
Caitlin: True. And there were no hints that there were going to be more female characters in the series. Just Blue and her boys. I’m not sure how I feel about that. But I did enjoy her crazy aunts and the overfull house she lived in.
Kate: At first I had some issues with that as well because something I’m always missing from YA books is seeing two girls enjoying a non-catty relationship. BUT! I think that it worked for Blue because it’s pretty clear she’s terrified of relationships in general if the person isn’t part of her family.
Caitlin: Yes. And I liked the contrast of Blue’s house, which is all women, to Gansey’s…uh…home and school which is all men. And how Blue’s house was all about magic and believing the unbelievable while Gansey and the boys were all about hard facts and proof.
Kate: Well, I think the school is about hard facts. But I think what makes it interseting is that none of the boys necessarily are all that into hard facts. Especially Gansey. He is a researcher and a historian, true, but he can’t be searching for what he’s searching for and doing what he’s doing without that element of the spectacular or supernatural bleeding into him. That’s why I’m so glad he and Blue found each other. There’s going to be a magic balance to them, whether they are simply good friends and teammates or something else. (Please, something else. Pleasepleaseplease)
Caitlin: I was just going to type that. What did you think about how Maggie took these old Welsh legends and stuck them in Virginia?
Kate: I very much enjoyed the Virginia setting. Southern gothic tales are the only thing as awesome as Anglicized gothic tales. I thought it was a really neat fusion of the two. The mythology in general made this book really special for me. It was an interesting viewpoint and it also, obviously, gave the characters a Quest. I love Quests in books.
Caitlin: I liked how it drew everyone in. How we were introduced to all these separate characters who were, slowly, shown to be after similar things and how they were all drawn to the same spot for the finale. It felt classic and all new at the same time. like rediscovering something I’d read as a child but with a newness to it. And I loved every single time Gansey acted like a pompous ass and didn’t understand that he was acting like a pompous ass.
Kate: I loved that Gansey pretty much was a pompous ass. I love that he recognizes he has this privilege and refuses to apologize for it but at the same time wants to do something with this gift he’s been given. Really, though, all the boys had very strong identities. Blue, too, but it was more important that the boys all be different. Too often there are a bunch of boys in a book and they all feel the same.
Caitlin: These were definitely all different. I loved that they each had struggles and secrets and independent lives from the plot. They felt like real people. And I loved that the meanest, hardest, cruelest of them had a cute baby pet that he was devoted to.
Kate: I liked all three boys. I liked Adam, who was so torn into a million pieces that he broke my heart.
Caitlin: I hated Adam. I just couldn’t stand him at all.
Kate: Fascinating! I thought for sure it would be Ronan you couldn’t stand. Tell me more!
Caitlin: Well, I will admit that some if it might because he presented himself as a real threat to my Gansey/Blue OTP. But also, he was so incredibly indecisive. And I cannot stand that. While a part of me understood why he stayed in his home, most of me does not.
Kate: Aw, Caitlin! That’s kind of mean. He is indecisive because he was never allowed to decide things! Look at how he met Blue! It was because Gansey decided for him that it should happen. And as to his home life, I can see how it’s frustrating watching a person put themselves in danger. Gansey certainly felt that way. But a situation like that is never that easy. Especially when you’re afraid of what someone is capable of.
Caitlin: Or he could’ve gotten out of his seat and met her first. Taken charge in his life. I felt a minuscule amount of pity for him, but not enough to like him.
Kate: I think he was not as strong a character as Gansey, or Ronan for that matter, so comparisons are inevitable and Adam will suffer by them. But I also think that maybe if he weren’t friends with Gansey he would be more decisive. It’s easy when you have bigger fish to fry to let someone else manage the day to day. So he MIGHT have gotten up out of his seat but Gansey was already doing it. Gansey, who is pretty much a know-it-all, which is both endearing and annoying at the same time.
Caitlin: I think Adam and I are just completely different people. I would’ve had no problem taking up Gansey on his offer to get out of my craptastic home life. I would not have felt at all the way Adam did. And I think the way he felt was an insult to Gansey and everyone who wanted to help Adam.
Kate: I think that’s easy to say when you grow up with a family that loves you. And I HATE the argument that you can’t understand someone because you aren’t in their omg exact situation. But I also think this book did a really good job of explaining why Adam felt how he felt and did what he did and the way he saw the consequences of accepting Gansey’s charity.
Caitlin: True, I can’t say for sure how I would feel. But personal safety, to me, outweighs pride. Also, his bit at the end made no sense to me. But I cannot explain that without spoilers.
Kate: I do agree that what happened with Adam at the end was a bit confusing the first time, if only because so much had already happened so quickly that my brain was sprinting to keep up
Caitlin: I mean…okay, I’m going to try to address my concerns without spoiling anything.
Kate: I really don’t think that’s possible. It’s almost impossible to talk about anything in this book outside of the characters and the fact that there IS a plot without spoiling things.
Caitlin: But Adam made his big declaration…and then nothing happened.
Kate: I think the second book is going to be the ramifications of this book’s end, you know?
Caitlin: Yes. Ohohoh!!! I loved Ronan’s last line! I loved how it was so clear he was thinking, “well, everything’s going swell…let’s throw a wrench in this!”
Kate: His last line totally fits with his character I just liked Ronan. A surprising amount, really, considering he was, to someone who didn’t know him, a pill. I think that the best thing about this book is how much we get to know these characters. You have a first impression that’s only, like, a quarter of that person’s story. And then Maggie Stiefvater goes about fleshing it out through the rest of the book with things like dialogue and actions and thoughts. Such a novel concept!
Caitlin: I need book two. I need to know more about Ronan and his secrets
Kate: I need to know ALL of the secrets.
Caitlin: Well yes, that too.