Fun with Dick and Jane

The Raven Boys  - Maggie Stiefvater
The problem with being weird was that everyone else is normal


Coming off reading two books from the Unwind series in close succession then picking this up blind without reading the blurb, the first book in a series by an author I've never read anything from? I think I broke my brain transmission from the downshift. 

I am a very…. anxious reader. If I can't get hooked in the first 25% of the book, more often than not, I start judging the rest of it under a less flattering light. The Raven Boys was a slow and tedious crawl, building up a mystery that's mildly interesting, involving a premise with Urban and Fantasy aspects that blends uncomfortably together, being limited by fuzzy logic.

And yet I couldn't bring myself to quit it. I think its the characters' fault. The paranormal aspects fell this side of flat for me but it serves to make the dynamic between the characters (who on their own are massively interesting) intriguing and ripe with amazing possibilities that kept me from giving up on their story right up to the point where the pieces start to come together. 
Blue Sargent lives in the magical world of seances and clairvoyants, but she's not necessarily one of them. She does not have the sight. What she has is the convenient ability to amplify their energies whenever she's around them and a consistent warning from the future that if she kisses her true love, he will die. Every year she goes on a church watch with her mother on St. Mark's Eve, to communicate with spirits of those who will die in the next twelve months. Spirits she never gets to see because of her handicap… until that night when she sees a boy from Aglionby, the local school exclusively for the wealthy of Henrietta.

"Will you tell me your name?"
"Gansey," he said.
"Is that all?" she whispered.
Gansey closed his eyes. "That's all there is."


The kicker is, that there are only two reasons why a non-seer would see a spirit and that either she's his true love or she killed him. 

Those two premises (i.e. Blue's future and the St. Mark's Eve oddity) is just a mess of contradictions and logic in my brain as it is. I think I missed the part that says "True Love" is something that is automatically mutual but really who cares when few more pages in we discover who this Gansey is. The Living Gansey is in fact Richard Gansey III a wealthy eccentric student from Aglionby who, instead of dressing himself in leather and being the hero Henrietta deserves, opts to look for a dead Welsh king, Glendower with his crew: Ronan the rich Irish hothead, Noah the rich "smudgy" loner and Adam the proud scholar from the trailer park. 

It took a while before these two story lines somehow merged and the means made me a little nervous because it alludes to a messy love triangle between Adam, the poor kid who wants to be Gansey; Gansey who envies Adam; and Blue who is attracted to Adam but keeps on seeing Gansey in premonitions of her future. But something about Stiefvater's writing reassures me in the way she will handle this. She writes this side of tedious but she still makes me pay attention.

His bald expression held something new: not the raw delight of finding the ley line or the sly pleasure of teasing Blue. She recognized the strange happiness that came from loving something without knowing why you did, that strange happiness that was sometimes so big that it felt like sadness. It was the way she felt when she looked at the stars.


Of course that may just be my infinite love of everything Gansey, who's the center of everyone's universe, KNOWS he's the center of everyone's universe and has to live everyday with the burden of that knowledge, his name and pedigree and much much more. 1% problems yes, but I can't keep myself from loving his quirks and idiosyncrasies, his banter and chemistry with Blue and Ronan inspite of his posh exterior. It's easier to root for Adam because of his humble background and his predicament but I never was the easy kind of girl (har-har) and more often than not, his pride just rubbed me the wrong way. 

I do love the relationship between the boys. The testosterone was there but not in-your-face, which may be a deterrent for some. There are fistbumping, last name calling, a healthy dose of humor but no slut-shaming. Ronan, I was surprised, is not a stereotype. None of them are. For a book about four attractive male teenagers, it was quite easy on the manwhoring, which I always welcome. I would have loved to know a bit more on how their friendship started because I'm really more interested in their dynamic rather than the whole Glendower shenanigans. 

I am a bit lukewarm toward Blue, she's neither offensive nor that terribly interesting which is fine as the story isn't really about her. I do love the sitcomy feel of four grown psychics living in the "bright blue house at 300 Fox Way". I'm a fan of the possible crazy Maura, Persephone, Calla and Orla can get themselves in to given the chance.

Despite the interesting turns this story took I am reluctant to recommend this openly to everyone who cares to listen because it doesn't quite have the punch of a crowd pleaser. The characters are quirky and quirks only work for a particular audience. The mythology can get dragging and feels small in terms of gravity. So far. I'm not sure if I'm a fan of the series yet but I am having the insane urge to get the next book immediately, massive headache be damned.

TOP TEN REASONS WHY I LOVE GANSEY 

1. He's rich, drives a clunky bright orange Camaro named Pig and lives in an abandoned factory with good, sensible reasons.

2. He chews mint leaves.

3. He has a miniaturized replica of the town of Henrietta in his room.

4. He uses words like 'quiddity' 'repugnant' in casual conversation and prefers using the word 'vomiting' to 'puking'.

5. She grabbed the closest piece of paper from Gansey's desk; it looked like a bit of calculus or something. He'd already doodled a cat attacking a man on it. so she figured it was safe to use. 

6. He's more attractive wearing glasses.

7. He cares for his friends in an almost paternalistic way that borders on offensive but still makes me want to be his friend.

8. He has a helicopter. And paranormaliminy gadgets. He could be Batman really. 

9. He calls Blue Jane.

10. They were always walking away from him. But he never seemed able to walk away from them. 

Is anybody even Team Adam?