Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Book Reviews

The Raven Boys

by Maggie Stiefvater

Library Copy

(****)

cover, young adult, series, fantasy books

Blue Sargent, the daughter of the town psychic in Henrietta, Virginia, has been told for as long as she can remember that if she ever kisses her true love, he will die. But she is too practical to believe in things like true love. Her policy is to stay away from the rich boys at the prestigious Aglionby Academy. The boys there — known as Raven Boys — can only mean trouble.

—Synopsis courtesy of the author’s website.

The Raven Boys, like every other Maggie Stiefvater novel, was highly anticipated by librarians, readers, and booksellers alike. I knew next to nothing about it, but requested it at my library nonetheless. I hadn’t liked her last book, The Scorpio Races, very much even though the premise was wonderful. With The Raven Boys I enjoyed it far better, as the pace wasn’t muddled and the plot lines were much clearer.

As with all of Maggie Stiefvater’s writings, again with this one I felt “something” was missing from the prose. I have yet to pin down exactly what that “something” is, but I had noticed that it was missing when I read the Shiver series, and again with the Scorpio Races. The closest that I could possibly say that “something” would be is a fullness of character, and character settings. Like there are only four or five characters in the entire world throughout each book, and no other life exists outside of this little world inside the book. Where in their world there are no grocers or bankers, or families or other friends in school, or secondary characters that might add a fuller sense of place.

The one book of hers that I noticed had a bit more fullness than the others was Linger, and mainly that had to do with Cole St. Clair’s storyline adding to the Grace and Sam storyline.

The premise of The Raven Boys was unique, and not something you usually see in today’s Young Adult Fiction market. With that being said, I cannot wait for my copy of The Dream Thieves, the second book in the Raven Cycle.

Advertisements

Review: “Troubadour” by Mary Hoffman

Book Reviews, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

 

 Troubadour

This is a story of persecution and poetry, love and war set in thirteenth century southern France. A troubadour, Bertran, witnesses the brutal murder of the Pope’s legate, and risks his life to warn others of the war that he knows is certain to follow this act. The lands of the peaceable Cathars – deemed heretics – are now forfeit and under threat from crusaders who have been given authority by the Pope to take the Cathar domains by force. But the Pope is trying to track Bertran down and so is somebody else: Elinor, a young noblewoman, in love with Bertran but facing a loveless arranged marriage, flees her family and becomes a minstrel herself. Soon both Bertran and Elinor find themselves enveloped in a rising tide of bloodshed that threatens the very fabric of their society.

Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.com

 

Troubadour was a richly told story told in third person, jam packed with little-known facts of France from this time period when the tumultuous Crusades were still in full swing. Although the deluge of minute details wouldn’t engage a teen reader unless they particularly love this author or this genre, I felt thoroughly educated while reading this historical novel.

Elinor was a relatable character and displayed a great deal of attributes common in a modern feminist. She refused to marry the suitor her family had chosen for her and ran away disguised as a young boy in order to gain her freedom.

I felt there was a lot of buildup in the ‘relationship’ of Elinor and Bertran the Troubadour, and sadly this ‘tale of love’ fell short in that department. There was no budding love between them as the dust jacket promised, only the gift of a red brooch to Elinor was the only indication of their romance. The age difference between Bertran and Elinor was a contributing factor to this dilemma, and I felt sorely disappointed when Elinor chose to marry someone she had only known for a few chapters near the end, when she pined over Bertran for ninety percent of the novel. Elinor’s husband could have been a better developed character and come earlier into the story for her choice to make more sense.

The sudden switching in viewpoints mid-chapter without much indication that the narrator had changed was a bit confusing at times, causing me to backtrack to find out who exactly was speaking.

But despite the novel’s shortcomings in the character and relationship development it was rich in plot and historical details. I will give Mary Hoffman a lot of credit for doing her research so carefully and painstakingly. It takes quite a dedicated author to but that much detail into a novel! It was enjoyable and I will probably read Mary Hoffman’s other works.

Vampire Deluge: Surviving the YA section

Uncategorized

I recently came across this vlog from a friend of mine and it is an honest (if swearing-laced) view of the YA section at her local bookstore. She comments on the literal deluge of vampire books in the teen market.

Note: This video contains slight cursing.

Do you think the YA market should move on to a new topic of interest? Is everyone through with the Twilight-copycats yet?

Enter to Win Advance Review Copies of “Linger” by Maggie Stiefvater!

Uncategorized

Linger Cover LargeIn Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other.  Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack.  And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love — the light and the dark, the warm and the cold — in a way you will never forget.

Comes out in stores everywhere July 20th. Pre-order here.

Enter to win an advanced review copies of LINGER, Sisters Red, The Dead-Tossed Waves, and The Replacement on Maggie’s blog.

Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Uncategorized

Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

 
 
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Review
“Shiver” is the story of Grace, a girl who is entranced by the wolves appearing at the edge of her backyard and has been fascinated by the yellow-eyed wolf that saved her life when she was attacked by that same pack years earlier. She discovers that these are no ordinary wolves, and were once humans themselves, lost in the cold months as lupine beasts in the woods of Mercy Falls, Minnesota.
A classmate of Grace’s disappears and is assumed to have been killed by the wolf pack, although no body was ever found. Through the hunt for these beasts by the townspeople, Grace meets Sam Roth, and she suddenly realizes that he’s the same wolf that she’d watched on the edge of her yard for the past six years, his yellow eyes bright and feral. He struggles against the “shiver”—the state he goes into before changing back into a wolf if his body turns cold.
“Shiver” is classified as a paranormal-romance, a genre that largely did not exist ten years ago. Although this kind of YA fiction book is a bit overused in the wake of the Twilight Phenomenon, the cover drew me in and I gave it a try.

Werewolves and their perspective have been used in Stephenie Meyer’s series before, but Maggie Stiefvater gave the werewolf a different twist, so I felt that I wasn’t reading the Twilight Saga all over again.

At times, the characters draw the reader in with their first-person narratives in alternating chapters. I felt the cold that Sam feels upon his skin and his desire to stay human for Grace. I sensed Grace’s urgency for spending time with Sam before it’s too late, and her need to find him a cure. Throughout several sequences however, the author’s voice was too present, and the characters were held at arm’s length, marionettes instead of “real” teenagers.

The characters had moments when they were a bit idyllic and used “teen speak” more often than necessary, in turn jolting the reader from the storyline to focus on the cheesy descriptions or metaphors.

The storyline at its base is a love story, and though it has honest flaws in its execution, I was entranced by the struggle for Sam to stay human. I rooted for him to triumph over the obstacles that he faced, and hoped he would have his happily ever after in the end. Grace’s character could have been stronger, but love drove her forward and heightened the pace of the novel.

The cleverness of the temperatures at the beginning of each chapter were a great addition to this new work by Maggie Stiefvater, and the next book in the series “Linger” will surely be on my to-read list.

Maggie Stiefvater is a Young Adult fiction author residing in rural Virginia. Her other published works include “BALLAD” and “LAMENT“.
 
 
 
For more information on Ms. Stiefvater, please visit her blog
 
 
 
 
and website