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A 4,5 stars YA with wonderful characters and an absorbing mystery
am 27. März 2013
Synopsis [by Goodreads.com]
“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”
It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
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. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. 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. [...]
When reading the Goodreads-blurb, one has to assume that this is a kind of tragic YA romance, but it is definitely not. Well, there are a lot of differnt kinds of tragedy in this story and with just a few sentences to describe Blue's premonitions about Gansey, Maggie Stiefvater makes you really feel "love" - but a love possibly yet to come in a sequel.
For the first half of the book, Blue and the Raven boys nearly even talk to each other, each of them living their own stories at first, they only gradually come together as one strand. And this is why I did not rate the book five stars: I understand the necessity of telling each of their stories, of "laying the ground" for what is to come when they finally become a group [you could say a "joint force"], but it made me impatient. I found myself wanting the "true stroy" to start whenever I turned a page and was disappointed when it didn't. Or as Ronan, one of the boys, says at one point: "It has started." - and this is when Blue and the boys finally happen to meet in earnest.
And boy when it did start, I was so absorbed, I could not lay it down, until I had finished the last of the 454 pages. I'm still perplexed at how Maggie Steifvater brought the different strands so neatly together that I at same time felt like "Yeah of course, how else could it be!" and "Wow, wait, WHAT?!?". That's how wonderful she developed the story and the characters.
If you have read one of Ms. Stiefvaters books already, you know that she creates wonderful characters and she did that again. Each of those boys, the strange "family" of psychic women Blue and her mother live with - they are so wonderfully drawn, so full of live and so believable. Each of the boys has a different sort of tragedy that he has to still suffer from and my heart broke for each of them. Blue lives with a deadly prophecy and the weight of her knowledge of Gansey's predicted death. And if that were not enough, there is a mystery about her father that is touched, but not solved by the end of this book. And Blue is not a lighthearted character, but although she obviously feels the weight of all that on her shoulders, she is just as well not gloomy at all. More... pracitical. And in a good way.
But the mystery, or you could say the mysteries, are like characters of their own, they have a presence like that - a few, not all of them are solved at the end, but there is a lot to go on in the next installment[s]. There were times when it felt like reading a thriller, at other times like reading a gothic horror novel. And I enjoyed it very much. When Blue joins Gansey and the other boys, they are on a kind of quest: finding the dead welsh king Glendower, who is said to rest along one of the ley lines and [just like the legendary Arthur] could be woken up and would grant a favour to whomever freed him.
The quest as such is interesting enough, especially since Ms. Stiefvater wrote the magic system so believable that I instantly thought: "Well, why not, it could work that way". But even more interesting was to gradually get to know why Gansey and the other boys were trying to find the dead king.
The book was not what I expected and although I wish the first half would have done more for me, I really really liked it. Maggie Stiefvater has a way of telling stories, of creating believable characters and just slightly alternate worlds and of just writing wonderful sentences that stay in my head long after having read them. And all this I found again in "The Raven Boys". The next installment is on pre-order.