3.5 stars. I’ve heard so many good things about this series of young adult books by Maggie Stiefvater over the past few years so I’ve been really eager to read it, but I didn’t let myself until now because the last book is coming out soon. I tend to forget the details of books quickly and that makes for a poor reading experience when each book is a year or two apart. Anyway, I finally borrowed the first book from the library as an audiobook and it was a delicious 11 hour treat. Will Patton did an excellent job narrating the many accents and genders. It couldn’t have been an easy gig, but he was fantastic.
The main character, Blue Sargent, lives with a bunch of psychics including her mother. She herself is not psychic, she is only able to strengthen the powers of others. So when she accompanies her aunt on a yearly trip to the churchyard where they meet the spirits of those who will die in the coming year, it’s a shock when she finally sees one of the spirits, a boy wearing the uniform of the private high school in town. Her aunt tells her that the only way a non-psychic could see a spirit is if he is her true love or if he will be killed by her. Or both. Blue knows she should stay away from this boy, but she ends up getting pulled into his group of friends. Together, the five of them work to solve a centuries-old mystery and have some strange and magical adventures along the way.
As a first book, this was a pretty great start to the series. The characters were really well written. I was a little skeptical at first about the Smurfette trope of one girl in a group of guys, but her all-female family of psychics went a long way to mollify my fears. They were strongly written and their relationships to Blue were complex and interesting. I really did like her groups of guys too. They’re all struggling with different things and their relationship to Blue made sense. I was also pleased by the setting of The Raven Boys. It takes place in a small town in Virginia and the story drips with southern sensibility. The setting is so alive that it feels like another character. The plot was so-so for me which is why it’s getting 3.5 stars instead of 4 or 4.5. Being the first book, that’s to be expected to some extent, there was a lot of scene-setting going on in the first third of the novel. I did like that she wrapped up parts of the plot while leaving the overarching story unfinished. It made for a satisfying ending and I’m excited to read the next book.