The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
I had never read any of Maggie Stiefvater's novels prior to reading The Raven Boys. In fact, I only picked this book up because it was listed first on Forever Young Adult's list of the best YA books of 2012. I read FYA's review of The Raven Boys and decided the book seemed appealing. It's funny, because it's almost impossible to give a decent summary of The Raven Boys without major spoilers. AND YET! I was intrigued enough to shell out actual money to Amazon to get a Kindle copy. Now I will attempt to have the same effect on you, because yes, this book is worth actual money. I hope I do a decent job, because this book is f'ing AWESOME and you need to read it YESTERDAY. As with my review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I'm going to illustrate this post with fan art, because I think it's awesome
Okay. The Raven Boys. This is a story of Blue, an offbeat (But not annoyingly so. Think Claudia Kishi.) teenage girl who lives in a house full of psychics in small-town Virginia. Blue's mother and her mother's fellow psychic friends give readings out of their house, and while Blue herself isn't psychic, she does have the ability to intensify the readings of other psychics when she's nearby. Oh, and there's the whole issue that Blue has been told, her whole life, by numerous psychics, that if she kisses her true love he will die. You know, just the usual pains of growing up, ain't no thang. Blue isn't so sure she believes in true loves and all that jazz, so she's not like, freaking out about kissing boys. Not like there are any boys hanging around trying to mack on her.
Oh, but there ARE boys. Blue's small hometown isn't much, but it does have a prestigious boys boarding school called Aglionby within its borders. The boys who attend all have ravens on their school uniforms, so Blue has dubbed them "The Raven Boys." (Blue is resolutely ANTI-Raven Boy.) (Obviously she will fall in love with at least one of them. I mean, I have read A book before.)
Back to psychic stuff, Blue always joins her mother on an annual pilgrimage to an abandoned, rubble pile of a church on St. Mark's Eve. It's on this night that her mother, with Blue's psychic-not-psychic assistance, can see all the people who will die in the coming year. Why would she do this? Well, because then she can advertise that she's not just a psychic that can tell you things like, "Your grandmother is watching and she proud of you" or some other canned response. She can tell you when you, or someone you love, is going to DIE. This year, however, it's BLUE who sees a dead guy. She speaks to a boy about her age named Gansey, and she can tell my his sweater that he's a Raven Boy.
Here's where things get spoilery and hard to explain. So I'll just say that Gansey is on an epic quest, and Blue gets involved, and she ends up becoming besties with Gansey and his gang. The four boys and Blue embark on a shared adventure that involves, among other things, ancient dead guys that grant wishes, Latin, baby ravens, daddy issues, ghosts, unrequited love, psychic visions, and MURDER.
If you're not a huge fan of fantasy books don't let my description deter you. In fact, I'd be hard pressed to describe this as a fantasy novel, although it definitely has those elements. The fantastic is woven in so neatly with the realistic in The Raven Boys that when something extraordinary happens you just kind of roll with it instead of being like, "WHUUUUT? GHOSTS??" And when you get to the end you'll be so desperate for more. Literally, I read the last sentence and yelled out loud, "WHAT IN THE ACTUAL HELL?!" But you and I are in luck, because just like every other YA series The Raven Boys is the first book in a trilogy collectively titled The Raven Cycle. The second book in the series, The Dream Thieves, comes out September 17th.
BONUS! Here's a trailer for The Raven Boys drawn by Maggie Stiefvater herself (she's a former illustrator)! Even with awkward voice acting, it still made me want to read the book again. Plus I learned that his name is pronounced GANN-zee, and not GAIN-zee like I was saying it in my head. To be completely fair, I started saying it correctly then switched after a while because I assumed I was wrong. Whoops. I will probably not adjust my mispronunciation, but you can say it the right way if you want. Maybe I don't want to know about AGG-Lee-On-Bee.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater: $10