The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys - I'm still trying to get through a large pile of things to review, so I'll try to keep this as concise as I can. (Also, luckily, I don't have much to complain about.)I have been a fan of Maggie Stiefvater for years now. I read the Books of Faerie, The Wolves of Mercy Falls, and The Scorpio Races. All of these books/series were enjoyable, but I always felt they were missing something. I've always thought Maggie's writing was beautiful and that her books were always very atmospheric. However, there always felt like there was something lacking in characterization and pacing in particular.I feel like she finally just got it with The Raven Boys. This is the Maggie Stiefvater book I've been waiting for! ... It just made me really happy.So anyway, the story:Blue Sargent has grown up in a household of psychic women, who have always told her that she will cause her true love to die. Once a year, she and her mother go to a churchyard to communicate with the soon-to-be-dead. Blue doesn't have the same clairvoyance her mother has, yet she sees the spirit of a boy named Gansey. The bad news:“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve. ... Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”Uh-oh.Blue soon finds out that Gansey is a student at the nearby private school, Aglionby Academy. He's one of the "Raven Boys" as Blue has dubbed Aglionby's students. “Aglionby Academy was the number one reason Blue had developed her two rules: One, stay away from boys because they were trouble. And two, stay away from Aglionby boys, because they were bastards.”Yet, despite her usual "rules" and the possibility that she could cause Gansey's death, Blue is drawn to Gansey and his group of close friends––Adam, Ronan, and Noah. The Raven Boys are on a mysterious quest, and soon Blue finds herself wrapped up in it. My thoughts:As usual, Stiefvater creates a rich atmosphere in her story, full of mystery and intrigue. Her writing is gorgeous and creates clear mental images.Also, I was ecstatic that she wrote this book in the third person. Before this, a majority of her books were written in multiple first-person perspectives. And even though I love her writing, this always drove me a bit crazy. She could have gone her usual route with this book and given Blue and all of the Raven Boys their own perspectives, and that could have been a major disaster––but THANK THE LORD she went with third person, and it worked really well. I hope she sticks to it in the future.The characters in this book were some of her best, as well. While Blue wasn't the best protagonist ever, at least she was likable enough. The Raven Boys, though ...I mean, not only were they all so fangirl-worthy, but they were all really well-developed characters. There was a lot of thought put into their backgrounds, their lives, their personalities. The bond between them all felt really genuine and it was believable and moving. I'm a sucker for bromance, so yeah. I've seen a lot of reviewers say that they had trouble keeping track of which boy was which, but ... I don't know, I didn't have trouble with it. I thought they were all very distinct from each other. The plot was unique and intriguing as well. I mean, psychics and ghosts and stuff ... Awesome. I liked that there was a balance between the supernatural and all the characters trying to lead their normal lives. It can be hard to balance fantasy and real-life elements but Maggie handles it very well. I also thought the sense of pacing was much better than in her other books. And there were a lot of plot twists that I didn't expect.Like, Noah being a ghost? Man, I didn't see that one coming. A lot of other people I've talked to said they saw it coming a mile away, but I guess I'm just stupid because I didn't guess at all ... Haha.So anyway, I was very impressed. As for the romance aspect, I liked that it didn't go in the direction I expected, and also that it wasn't too overbearing. I would have liked to see it develop more, but I'm sure that will happen more in the rest of the series. Anyway, I immensely enjoyed this book and it was definitely my favorite Maggie Stiefvater book so far. Can't wait for the sequels!