Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Narrator: Will Patton
Series: 1st book in The Raven Cycle
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible
A quest. Four very different boys and one very unique girl. And secrets heaped upon secrets, just waiting to be dug up. Literally. If there are any lingering doubts out there that Maggie Stiefvater is a genius, this book should curb any skepticism. (I, for one, never doubted it for a second.)
The Raven Boys finds Blue Sargent in a churchyard late at night on St. Mark's Eve when she first "meets" Gansey, the boy that she will inevitably kill, if her mother and her psychic friends are to be believed. Blue's not one to tempt fate, but who wouldn't be curious about a prediction like that? When the boy shows up elsewhere in her life, neither of them think it's a coincidence.
I love the way the narrative is split in this novel. It's not the standard first person POV we usually see from this author. Instead, it's divided between Blue and several of the Raven Boys and told using the third person omniscient perspective, which unloads veritable buckets of knowledge on the reader without which we'd otherwise be clueless. Blue's perspective is fun but she's very much the staple type of protagonist in a Stiefvater novel: quirky with a quick wit and even sharper tongue. Gansey's point-of-view was probably my favorite to read because he was self-deprecating, but not in a dreary, depressed way. He simply accepted himself for who he was, even if he didn't see himself as others did. Gansey is the reason for this quest, the reason they are all brought together in the first place. Adam's perception of things was slightly jaded because of his background, but I tried not to hold it against him. We don't really get to read from Ronan or Noah's perspectives, but we still find out enough about them to know that they both have skeletons in their closets, or at the very least, they know more than they've divulged to the group. I didn't particularly like reading from Whelk's point-of-view, but his story is just as vital to the quest as those of the Raven Boys.
So, if I'm correct, that's four different perspectives. How did the narrator of the audio tackle that? Beautifully. I'll be honest, I was wary in the beginning. I hate when a male narrator attempts to make his voice effeminate to portray a female character. But Will Patton simpy softens his voice a notch, and in doing so, he was able to voice the dialogue of several female characters without grating on my nerves, even weird old Persephone. His portrayal of the Raven Boys was fantastic, as well, even Adam's Virginian accent and the way Gansey properly enunciated things the way you'd expect him to. All around, great narration.
It's funny how Blue is supposed to keep away from the Raven Boys and then they ultimately become her boys. I loved this group dynamic, the bond they all seemed to share without even really intending to. It seems that just as easily as the boys fell in together, they just as easily accept Blue's now permanent residency as one of the gang. It's intriguing to see where their exploits take them and how much they're willing to risk to find what they're looking for on this adventure of their own making.
I've adored Stiefvater's lyrical prose since I first delved into Shiver what feels like forever ago, and it's only gotten better over time. Her wry sense of humor shines through in The Raven Boys -- even more than it did in The Scorpio Races (though some might argue that point with me...I still thought it had its moments) -- and I found myself laughing out loud many times while listening to this incredible audiobook. I can't wait to read more of this most mysterious mystery and see what the future holds for the Raven Boys and their girl Blue...especially after those jaw-dropping last lines.
"He was still wearing those idiotic Top-Siders she'd noticed at the reading, this time paired with cargo shorts and a yellow polo shirt that made it look as if he were prepared for any sort of emergency, so long as that emergency involved him falling onto a yacht. In his hand he held a container of organic apple juice."
"We have to be back in three hours," Ronan said. "I just fed Chainsaw but she'll need it again."
"This," Gansey replied, "is precisely why I didn't want to have a baby with you."
"You are in trouble. I told you to stay away from him and you didn't," Maura said. "I just haven't decided what to do about it yet. My feelings are hurt. I've consulted with several people who tell me that I'm within my rights to feel hurt. Do teenagers still get grounded? Did that only happen in the eighties?"
Dude, I just watched that trailer again, and even now, it gives me chills. This woman is so freaking talented, it's unreal.