I think this actually might be my first successful participation in Tracey Neithercott's YA Book Club! I vote on the books (usually) and read them (mostly) but then I completely forget to post when the end of the month rolls around!
Anyway, this month's book, The Raven Boys, is one I've already reviewed, and I'll repost my review at the bottom of this post. BUT I am bringing something new to the table.
I was reading an article today about the propmaster on Dexter (a show I do not watch and which, after reading about some of the things this guy has had to create, I am pretty sure I will not be watching any time soon). He noted that one of the ingredients in his recipe for blood (!!!) is peppermint--because the blood has a syrup base, which I guess is sweet, and might attract bees--and bees hate peppermint. I immediately thought of Gansey chewing his mint leaves and wondered if that was the reason for his habit. (I wonder if it applies to all mint? Or is it specified which kind of mint leaves he's chewing?) Anyway, that kind of blew my mind. Plus: helpful information!
Anyway, here's my review.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Well, I'm gonna go ahead and make it official: Maggie Stiefvater is my favorite author. This book took me a whole week to read because it was so rich with detail and life and I didn't want it to end. Reading a book by Maggie Stiefvater is like watching The Wire--you may start out a little disoriented because the world you're dropped into has so clearly been existing without you forever, but you slowly get acclimated and sucked in and by the end it feels like you've always lived there. Every sentence is its own tiny beautiful thing, which makes the experience of reading very different from a book like The Hunger Games where every sentence is sleek and trim and pushes the story ahead faster and faster. I don't think either is better than the other, but I think it's hard to do either very, very well. Maggie Stiefvater does her thing very, very well.
But what is it about? Blue, daughter of a psychic (properly, the child in a family of psychics, although not a traditional nuclear family) doesn't have power she can use herself, but she does amplify the energy around her. She's also the subject of a persistent psychic reading: if she kisses her true love, he will die. Gansey, wealthy private school student, is hunting for a Welsh king rumored to be in a magical sleep; whoever wakes him will receive a favor. The rest of the Raven Boys--so called because of the Raven crest on their school sweaters--have formed a family of their own, largely because of Gansey's inimitable something that holds them together. Adam is doing his best to get by on his own terms in the world he aspires to earn a place in. Noah is quiet, shy, and seems uncomfortable in his own skin. And Ronan is desperate and angry after his father's sudden and mysterious death. When Blue becomes entangled with the Raven Boys, all of their lives suddenly become amplified in ways they never expected.
This is the first book in a planned series, so while there's a ton of mystery, excitement, suspense, and world-building, there aren't a ton of answers. There's also not a ton of romance, although some groundwork is laid. Since Blue really can't kiss anyone without being worried about killing them, things move pretty slowly. I think, though, that if you go into this book expecting a well-told, well-crafted story, with characters you won't soon forget, you'll enjoy this one and look forward to the rest. I probably wouldn't recommend it to a struggling or reluctant reader, but for my students who are on the cusp of being ready for adult literary fiction, this would be a really good read (Hey former students reading my reviews: I mean you guys. READ THIS.)
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