One of my disappointments when starting this blog when I did was that I couldn’t (feasibly) review all the books I read before I started it.
Except when I reread.
The Raven Cycle, especially The Raven Boys, is a favorite of mine. Written by Maggie Stiefvater (pronounced Steve Otter), the first three books of The Raven Cycle have felt like this odd bit of perfection that wasn’t really perfect because nothing’s perfect; you just can’t figure out how you’d improve things. The last book in the series comes out later this month, so I wanted to refresh my memory (and I really just wanted to read them again).
The Raven Boys kicks of the series with the non-psychic heroine born to a psychic family. She befriends the titular Raven Boys, Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah.
It’s a little bit difficult to discuss rereading this book without stepping on future plot points, so I’ll give a brief and then dig a little deeper into the book.
The book follows a group of individuals who each feel like an outsider, except when they’re in this group. It’s a fantastic character-driven book. The book follows four third-person limited perspectives, so you not only get to see what a character thinks but what other characters think of them.
This is a neat little trick that Stiefvater pulls off. Without this, you’re in a difficult position to fully hate any of your point-of-view characters. Even non-POV characters get humanized a bit by this because when you get multiple perspectives of the same character, you get different aspects of their personality, making them just a little more human for it.
You’re following five non-magical characters as they dive into a world of the supernatural.
What makes Stiefvater’s books good in general is that she doesn’t talk down to her readers. You’re reading YA fiction, but she doesn’t pull punches. The vocabulary isn’t dumbed down. She makes the most of the little moments and doesn’t rely on grand gestures. She can make a scene of holding hands hold more weight than the protagonist in another series saving the day for the love of his life.
In short, she’s a good writer and she does well with her characters.
Ok, if you don’t want spoilers, stop reading now.
I like rereading books. You catch details you never saw before. It’s like a meal. The first time you have it, you know it’s good. The second time, you start to realize why it’s good. And for great meals, it can take several times to really fully understand what you’re dealing with. Books are no different.
This is the first time I’ve reread a Stiefvater book, so I haven’t gotten to notice the nested details before. On the first read, comments are just comments. They’re presented in a way that makes you think they have weight but also in a way that you sort of forget what it was when you finally reach the reason it was important, sort of like Noah.
Noah’s one-liners in this book become a lot more funny/sad on the second perusal. These were the best details. It’s also interesting to start seeing Ronan again from a revisited first perspective. When you get further in the series, you get to know Ronan as a POV character, so he’s easier to like in those books. Knowing the later books though, he’s easier to understand in The Raven Boys. He’s still an asshole, but you know why he’s an asshole.
The other main characters – Blue, Gansey, and Adam – are also great, and they get their coverage in the following books too, but because they’re the POV characters in book 1, you don’t miss their details quite as easily. You already know them and know they’re important, whereas Noah and Ronan are presented as fringe characters who really aren’t. It’s an interesting take.
I’m about to start the second book, so this could be an interesting couple of weeks as I try to sprint through the next two to meet the release date of the last book.