Monday, June 3, 2013

Audiobook Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Release date: September 18, 2012
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Scholastic Audio Books
Length: 11 hours
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble. >br />
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
I've never been one to listen to a lot of audiobooks. In fact, I think I can count on one hand the books I've listened to completely. But, with my internship being on the opposite side of New Orleans from where I'm living, I'm finding myself in the car for about an hour and a half every day. That is precious time, and I realized how productive I could be if I listened to audiobooks! (Plus my library has the thing online where you can download them, so they're free!) Anyways...

I love me some Maggie Stiefvater writing. That is a given when I come to one of her books. She's only disappointed me once (Forever, anyone?) and that didn't have to do with the writing itself. It's lyrical and there's an almost magical feeling to it. Maggie knows how to write a story. Hands down, her writing style is one of my favorite that I've ever read.

At first, listening to the audiobook, I was not a fan of the narrator's voice. I don't know what it was, but he quickly won me over. Previously, I had begun listening to the audiobook of Silver Linings Playbook but stopped because I couldn't stand how the narrator did the women's voices. Here, though, the narrator brings his timbre up just a little bit, but really differentiates characters by the style in which he speaks, not the tone. This was infinitely preferable, and by the third chapter or so, I loved his narration--apart from his pronunciation of "human" without the h.

Aside from the audiobook itself--which, by the way, includes the music Maggie wrote for the book, which is beautiful--I quickly became obsessed with the story. I needed to find the ley lines and Owen Glendower just as badly as Gansey and company. I loved how everything tied together, how each character clearly had their own motive towards all they did. I also just loved the wide cast of characters! From Persephone to Ronan to Noah to Callah (I'm guessing at that spelling, since I've not seen the name in print), there's such a fun and intriguing mix of personalities.

Sometimes there are characters you just attach to. I am not guilty of this very often (It's the same with people, actually.) but I absolutely and wholeheartedly fell in love with Gansey almost instantly. He was easily the highlight of the book for me and I waited for him to show up when he wasn't around. I loved him for his deeply hidden vulnerability that only appeared when he thought no one was looking. I loved him for his attachment to those who needed a friend, someone to guide them and let them know someone cares for them. I loved that he needed those friends as much as they needed him. There's something to be said for someone who is given everything they could need and want but who still has that deeply rooted drive to do something worthwhile.

The absolute most compelling part of this novel lies within the characters relationships with one another. The romance aspect--normally what I focus on--really takes a backseat to the dynamics and intricacies of relationships in a family and in a friendship. Gansey's relationships with Ronan, Adam, and Noah are so complex and so integral to their characters that one can't separate them from that friendship. I like the idea of Gansey's choosing his friends and the odd choices he made, since there's that saying, "You can't choose your family but you can choose your friends." The repercussions of Ronan's interactions with his brother and Adam's situation with his parents are both interesting to look at in contrast to Blue's home life, to see both the good and the bad sides of family.

If you can't tell, I adored The Raven Boys. I've loved a few books already this year, but I don't think I've loved any as much as this one. This is one of those occasions where you need a distinction higher than five stars, but you don't have one. Suffice it to say, The Raven Boys will most likely be one of my favorite, if not my favorite book of the year and will probably remain a favorite for a long time to come.

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