Wednesday, November 21, 2012
The Raven Boys
Psychics, ley lines, long-forgotten kings, murder, betrayal, trust, and friendship all come tumbling together in The Raven Boys. The first time that Blue saw Gansey, he was dead. Probably because she killed him with a kiss, her birth curse. But that was only a foreshadow of what was to come. In reality, when he first meets Gansey, she is struck by his pompous air as an Aglionby boy, or Raven Boy, due to the school's insignia. She actually becomes far more interested in his friend, Adam, the quiet, brooding, smart boy with a terrible home life and dream for more. Then, Gansey, Adam, and their troubled friend Ronan come to Blue's home for a psychic reading by her mother and a warning is issued: Blue is not to associate with these boys. But her energy makes everything stronger, and she ends up discovering that she is linked to the boys regardless of her mother's wishes. She begins to help them look for Glendower, a long lost king, and what they find along the way sets off a series of events that bring about an even greater adventure.
The strongest part of this book is the characterization. All of the characters, even minor ones like Persephone and Cala, are very interesting and flawed. The boys are especially intriguing with the brotherly relationship that they have created around Gansey and the search. Gansey is the glue to this group, but you can tell that Adam and Ronan sometimes resent his leadership. Adam most definitely so as he does not want to become indebted to Gansey and Ronan because I'm not sure if he really wants to be alive. Noah is always in the shadows. He's smudgy and sullen, and loves Blue, but for quite unusual reasons, which are quite heartbreaking.
The women of 300 Fox Way are charming. It does seem like the kind of house that is delightfully filled with tchotchkes and incense. Blue's Aunt Neeve is interesting and it is not clear what her intentions are at the house, and she is so often gone, it is easy to forget about her, while the others are doing readings and working. The relationship that Blue has with all of these women is pretty well drawn and any action that takes place in 300 Fox Way is certain to be filled with predictions and bets and mystery.
Now it is time to pose some questions.
1. Is The Raven Boys geared toward male or female readers? Geared toward female readers, but I think there is a male readership too. The boys lives are so complicated and they command so much of the action that I think this could be a hand sell. It's a questing book, and that certainly appeals to some young men.
2. Is there an expiration date? I would say no. Mostly because of how complicated the relationships and characters are written. This isn't a petty teen drama. There are real issues under the surface, dark secrets lying in wait, and a quest taking place that could change the world. Fans of YA fiction, of Arthurian legend, or complex characters, could read this at virtually any age and be satisfied.
3. Will the sequel slump? This is a trilogy, which according to my completely unscientific theory of trilogies, the second book is always the weakest. That could still hold true for The Raven Boys, but given the last sentence, I honestly think that the next book has the potential to delve even deeper into the boys lives and abilities. I doubt that they are all in Henrietta by accident, so there might be some aspects of fate going on, and it will also be interesting to see how Adam's choice plays out.
Also, I completely agree with Joella at Cinjoella. That last sentence is just crazy. After you've absorbed everything that has just happened and taken a breathe and are ready to go back to your normal, quiet life, the book throws one more comment over its shoulder as it leaves you (metaphorically, you know) and you are just thrown. I had to read it twice, maybe three times before I got it. It's not earth shattering, but it's so odd and ill-timed that you just say, excuse me, what?
So on that note, I leave you for this week. Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and if you need reading suggestions, or Christmas gift suggestions, just dig through the archives for ideas, or email me at misstiffreads at gmail dot com. I'd love to help someone with their holiday shopping, but I refuse to go to Walmart at 11 pm on Thanksgiving night again. Things got real that night.
By the way, I just grew a pet hippopotamus in my backyard using a Chia Pet kit and car batteries to shock it to life.
--That's on par with the kind of comment that was made at the end of The Raven Boys. See how random and out of place it is? And how it just leads to strange and unusual questions? Also, no Chia Pets were harmed in the writing of this post.