Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publication Date: 9/18/12
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Blurb(GR): Blue has spent the majority of her sixteen years being told that if she kisses her true love, he will die. When Blue meets Gansey’s spirit on the corpse road she knows there is only one reason why – either he is her true love or she has killed him.
Determined to find out the truth, Blue becomes involved with the Raven Boys, four boys from the local private school (led by Gansey) who are on a quest to discover Glendower – a lost ancient Welsh King who is buried somewhere along the Virginia ley line. Whoever finds him will be granted a supernatural favour.
Never before has Blue felt such magic around her. But is Gansey her true love? She can’t imagine a time she would feel like that, and she is adamant not to be the reason for his death. Where will fate lead them?
When I first started this book many months ago, it fell right into not one, but TWO of my worst book dealbreakers. To quote myself from six months ago (because we all know how much I love to do that):
“Forbidden Love + YA
= No. I just can’t handle it anymore. I can’t handle whatever crazy-ass excuse (different classes, different species, he’s a murderer, he’s a sociopath, he’s a stalker but he’s oh so HOT anyway…) will be used to keep the love interests apart. And even MORE than that, I definitely can’t handle the stupid justifications that will be used to actually bring them together. You know what? If there’s a hot guy who might murder you someday…maybe you just shouldn’t, okay? Can we all just agree on that?”
“The problems of rich white people in boarding school/prep school
Substitute “hot guy” for “that kooky girl who feels isolated because she’s so unique and special and who makes her own clothes out of recycled materials” in the last sentence of “Forbidden Love + YA” and you have my basic reaction to the beginning of this book. Strike two: I have a really, really hard time drumming up sympathy for entitled rich kids and I probably always will. Oh, so you get to go to a fancy school and you have enough money to live on for the rest of your life without ever having to work…but you might have to wear a tie someday? I FEEL SO SORRY FOR YOU. Strike three: all of these characters feel less like real people and more like stock characters from a romance novel to me. Our heroes are:
- The straight-laced, ridiculously wealthy, overly mature one who just needs to loosen up (a la every hero ever written by Sophie Kinsella).
- The dangerous/violent (possibly insane) one who just needs a gentle hand (Jericho Barrons, et al).
- The traumatized one who’s had to fight for everything and just needs to learn how to trust (Jamie Fraser and basically all of my favorite romance novel heroes).
And of course, the stable of available guys wouldn’t be complete without the romance novel heroine, who as I stated before is just hopelessly, terribly unique and special. Needless to say, I didn’t get very far in this book on my first attempt.
But then I joined a book club...and although I admit that I have stubbornly refused to read a couple of the selections, I do try to be good in general. So I ended up giving this one another try. And you know what? I’m kinda glad I did. Kinda. There’s no doubt in my mind now that Maggie Stiefvater can write. This book is beautifully detailed and atmospheric and I’ll be damned if I didn’t start caring for these boys by the end. I mean, that right there speaks volumes about this woman’s writing talent. Seriously, when she can get me to care about a guy who (at age 17) owns his own warehouse apartment filled with ancient tomes (plus like one issue of the sports illustrated swimsuit edition – just to give him a little bit of teenage legitimacy) and spends endless hours researching obscure Welsh monarchy, when he’s not helicopter-parenting his best friends with the dedication of the completely codependent, or “rebelling” by driving around town in his gorgeously restored “vintage” car or his sister’s helicopter…yeah. That takes some talent.
So I did really get into this book for about a hundred pages towards the middle. But then…I got to the “end”. I put that in sarcasm quotes because I scoff at the idea that the back of this book can be called an ending. Instead, this book commits one of the most annoying book crimes to arise out of the “every YA book must now be a trilogy” age that we live in: the non-ending. Only, I think in this case it’s much worse because I genuinely believed that I was going to get some closure. It all starts out so ominously with Blue’s vision and the PROPHECY about her deadly kiss and then there are all of these little hints along the way and I was just gearing up for some sort of huge climactic scene. But no. Instead we are left with about twenty questions and no answers in sight. And I personally was left with the unsettling feeling that I knew exactly where this whole series was going.
I mean, I think anyone who’s read a fair number of these forbidden love stories can make a prediction at the end of this book. And I’m just not sure that I can take another six to eight hundred pages of Blue and Gansey angsting about kissing or not kissing, of Adam becoming more and more sullen and jealous and possibly evil, of Gansey trying desperately to mess with some mystical thing that actually allowed him to escape death. (Why, Gansey? When you are given a second lease on life I say just take it and don’t ask questions.) But that’s just me. I know that this series has a ton of fans and I will be relying on all of you to let me know if my predictions of angst come true. If not, I hold out the right to come crawling back to this series and beg forgiveness later on when all the books are released and I can have closure.