The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater
Malin sent me a copy (along with some other goodies) months and months ago, but it sat on my bookcase for ages before I finally gave it a try. Why? That cover. It just looks so... Twilight-wannabe, you know? I could tell just by looking it was another paranormal romance, and I never seemed to be in the right mood for another paranormal romance. Even the back blurb goes on about this is the year Blue falls in love, yadda yadda eyeroll.
Except, here's the thing: The Raven Boys is not a romance. There are no declarations of love, no unrequited pining, no angst-laden glances or tortured miasmas of desire. (And I guess it goes without saying from that tagline that there's no kissing. Ha!) In fact, I don't mind telling you that Blue does NOT fall in love. Is that a spoiler? GOOD. Because I want you to read this book for what it is, not for what some publisher's marketing department decided was "really hot right now."
See, The Raven Boys is not a romance. It's so much better than that.
The friendship among the 4 boys is beautifully written without feeling sappy, and I like that the story follows the guys on their own as often as it does Blue. Their two worlds intersect more and more as the book goes on, but you still get private moments with everyone, which makes it feel more like an ensemble cast.
The pace really picks up about midway through, as the guys stumble across an unsolved murder and a bloodthirsty rival, while Blue faces dark occult mysteries from within her own family.
This brings me to my only other complaint, but it's a doozie: The Raven Boys abruptly ends about 2/3 of the way through a great story. It was so sudden, in fact, that I went looking for ripped out pages in my copy. Then I tried to figure out how on earth the author decided it was ok to just END right when the story was getting so good! Very little was resolved, all the major questions driving the plot went unanswered, and there wasn't even a hint that an ending was coming. It just suddenly ran out of pages. Plus the very last line was such a painful non-sequitur that I had to go looking on the internet for answers, where I found - of course! - that this is only the first in a series.
Would you excuse me for a quick moment?
[picking up pillow]
[screaming into pillow]
I would almost be Ok with the abrupt ending, but it turns out the next book focuses on a different main character - my least favorite, in fact - and switches plot lines all together. From Booklist:
"This time, their quest for the legendary sleeping Welsh King takes a backseat to a spate of secrets, dreams, and nightmares..."
So we STILL won't get any answers, AND it focuses on my least favorite character... and his nightmares.
To be fair, The Dream Thieves has overwhelmingly positive reviews, but I'm just petulant enough to avoid reading it anyway. I just want a story, authors. One. Complete. Story. Why must you be so terrified we won't buy your next book that you have to extort us out of proper endings? If we like your work, we'll buy more of it, I promise!
Ok, rant over. Sorry.
So in conclusion: The Raven Boys is an absolutely fantastic 2/3 of a story that is in no way a romance. If you're ok with that, then you should totally read it. ;)
And to help out the rest of us, how about recommending your favorite stand-alone YA fantasy/sci-fi book(s) in the comments? No cliff-hangers or unresolved endings allowed! And.... GO.
* Check out the rest of my reviews (and my top recommendations) at my book review page!