The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Okay, so I tried this book once, about two years ago, and I couldn't get beyond page 20 or so at all. Maybe I was caught up in other things that demanded my attention more, maybe I wasn't connecting with the material. It got to the point where, while writing the first draft of Red Rain, I praised Shiver enough to turn it into an excellent in-universe movie, while having my protagonist Alex Snow utterly unable to read The Raven Boys.
For whatever reason, I couldn't read it before, but now, after a couple of years, I'm doing what I did for Heroes of Olympus - taking another stab at it. And just like with Heroes (as well as Beautiful Creatures and Crown of Midnight), a second read has helped me connect much better with The Raven Boys. Looking back, I now realize that my major issue (aside from the third-person POV - I prefer first-person for getting into characters' heads both when reading and writing) was the Boys themselves - mostly because of the limited look I got into their characters, I just saw them as spoiled rich dudes with little to no redeeming value at the time. Naturally, reading further has allowed me to finally make distinctions between them, and understand them better. They're pretty nicely flawed - for example, Gansey having a bit of a devil-may-care attitude regarding his potentially lethal bee and wasp allergies (I'm not allergic myself, but because of my crippling fear of bees and wasps, I can sort of relate on some level), and Adam being the one non-rich dude, which gives him something of a chip on his shoulder. As for storytelling, it's still, as I remember from my abbreviated first time, slow and sluggish at first. That, of course, is before the twists happen - and holy crap, Stiefvater throws them at the reader like this:
To my surprise, I've found a book that might pair very well with Red Rain because of its private-school setting and paranormal elements and considerable boyish attitude. I think I might have written Red Rain as a sort of anti-Raven Boys, especially by giving the book a tone sliding between more lighthearted and more blackly comic, but hey, sometimes opposites attract. For sure, I'll be using The Raven Boys as a comp title in future query letters, and I've now got The Dream Thieves on order at the library.
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