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Reading Between Classes

A unique perspective on YA Literature from a junior high teacher. 

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The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle)

The Raven Boys - Maggie Stiefvater This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between ClassesCover Impressions: The cover image for The Raven Boys is really stunning. The beautiful blues, blacks and red work wonderfully with the eggshell background. Closer inspection of the raven reveals swirling brushstrokes that add depth and texture. The Gist: On a cold spring night, Blue stands in an abandoned church yard waiting for the parade of death to begin, not that she has ever seen anything. Blue is not a psychic, she serves more as a battery, enhancing the powers of those who already display abilities. But, on this night, everything changes. The face of a boy emerges from the darkness and gives her one name: Gansey.A member of the ultra elite Aglionby school, Gansey's balances the demands of his schooling with his passion for ley-lines and the search for a long lost king. When he crosses paths with Blue he and his friends, Adam, Ronan and Noah, finally start to see magic in the everyday and are sent on an adventure that will test their friendships and their dedication to the search. Review: The Raven Boys surprised me. I was not a fan of Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver series and I entered into this world with a little reluctance. Things did not start particularly strongly. I was not instantly enamored of any of the characters and I found the world building a little slow and difficult to follow. However, once the characters began to interact and made huge leaps in the progress of their search, I was completely drawn in.As I mentioned, I was not a huge fan of any of the characters. I found Gansey and Ronan rather difficult to like (both for very different reasons) and, while I liked Adam, I found his "I'm poor but I insist on fighting on my own for everything and not accepting a lick of help from the people who clearly care about me" attitude more annoying than endearing. I did enjoy Noah - though I would have liked to see him feature more and Blue was cute but I think her quirkiness could have been played up a little more. These initial impressions, however, may change as the series continues and more of the characterization is revealed.The true strength in this novel, lies in the world building and the plot advancement that occurs in the second half. Once the characters truly embarked upon their quest and started to uncover new mysteries I was thrust into the story and entangled with the magic of this new world. The woods becomes a whole other character, beautiful and enchanting one moment, tricky and fickle the next. For the first time in quite a long time, I found myself completely surprised by a particular plot twist and from that moment on, I was hooked.While there is nothing particularly racy about the plot of The Raven Boys, it does involve a smattering of swear words and an abusive situation that would make me recommend it for my older and more mature students.I will be anxiously awaiting the next installment in this series. Write fast, please, Mrs. Stiefvater. Teaching/Parental Notes:Age: 16 and upGender: BothSex: NoneViolence: Fist fighting, Gunplay, Physical Abuse, Murder by blunt forced traumaInappropriate Language: Bitch, Fuck, Shit, Bastard, Jesus, ShitSubstance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking