Sunday, 20 October 2013

Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle, #1)The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I bought this book because it was in Amazon’s Daily Deal for 99p and I liked the birdie on the cover. I went in blind, no clue what The Raven Boys was about or what sort of writer I was dealing with. I like to call this literary Russian roulette. I could win or lose, revere it or despise it, become filled with book glory or die of a thousand papercuts to the brain. I loaded my Kindle, pulled the trigger and was pleased to find my brains did not splatter up my living room wall.

The book had a wonderful, slow build up. Which is a good thing. Yes, I said GOOD THING. I know people sometimes complain when a plot isn't instantly filled with smoochy, smoochy “Oh dear I'm helplessly in love with two boys, and I feel so angst-ridden because I'm a teenager and must therefore do stupid angst-ridden things the author thinks a teenager must do”. Notice at this point I have used a very important word: plot. This book actually has one. Truly. I'm not joking. Psychics, ley lines, a dead Welsh king and a complex friendship web. No smoochy smoochy, despite the novel’s tag line. Plotty plotty instead. An actual story. This book is the first part of a series, and from this first volume, I'm expecting something big. The scene has been set.

The Raven Boys themselves are an intriguing bunch, each with their own complicated background, motivation and mystery. Each character is light and dark, flawless and flawed. Each one needs a hug and a firm slap. In other words, they are perfectly human and perfectly believable.

Now, this is the middle bit of the review where I put in my shark dentures and take a bite. Early in the book I found some of the phrasing and word choices to be a little odd. It made me question if I’d read the offending lines properly, if I was a Brit having a dialect issue or if the line just needed the editor to pay more attention. Head-scratching and dandruff occurred. I also thought the very end was rushed. For such a beautifully and carefully constructed build-up, it was strange. More dandruff.

Right, shark teeth out, a little piece of the author’s soul swallowed and back to why I've given this book five stars: It was original. It wasn't dark and depressing. It made my heart beat faster. It made me simultaneously dread and yearn for the next book.

Because I loved every character, because I cried for one of them, and because I know I’ll cry again.

I will only give top marks to a book that leaves a dent. It has to make me smile when I talk about it. It has to make me picture what happened before, what happened between the lines and what will happen next. It has to make me recommend it to random people in Tesco. This book did all of that and left a raven shaped indentation on my heart.

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