Almost a year ago (July 18th, 2018, to be exact) I finished reading The Raven Boys in a single day. I read the copy I used to check out of the library, before my mom bought me my own books (the American hardcover, as opposed to the British paperbacks I now own). Then I decided to write down my reaction in a journal I keep for feelings about books and media I consume, to commemorate the moment and get some things off my chest. I wanted to transfer it here because I think I need a little break before I delve into Dream Thieves, and there’s nothing like a good old pre-written ranting to throw up here while I take the week off.
I also think it’s an interesting contrast, since these are my thoughts after reading it in one day, and you’ve only read my thoughts after they’ve been marinating for seven months. It’s a very different way of reading, I can tell you that much. But here it is, everyone:
A younger Emily’s reread of The Raven Boys
So this is probably going to be a part of a longer series in which I talk about all 4 Raven Cycle books individually and then altogether, because I find when I am in a creative spell I simply cannot resist them. So there’s that.
But of the first book in particular, there’s something to be said about a series I read bit by bit as it came out. I fell in love with the Raven Boys first, and I waited for the others to see what would happen next. A special spot in my heart is reserved for this book, and so I am biased.
I do maintain that this book isn’t prose, it’s just poetry without the line breaks. Everything is described in a way that doesn’t actually describe it at all, which strikes me as the ultimate trust of the reader. Steifvater knows when she describes Ronan’s tattoo as a hook, a knife, a fleur-de-lis, that we will understand Ronan is dangerous, damages, and wondrous. We love that Blue is sensible, in her crochet leggings.
This is the kind of book that ensnares me. It is, to steal Persephone’s words, more raven than the others. And I love it to death, I really do. This is a desert island book. Stiefvater is a desert island artist. I would take her work anywhere, and I’m not even being dramatic. I’m being sensible.
SOME OF THE BEST TURNS OF PHRASE:
- Girlfriend held her hand to her chest in an unconscious reaction to masculine nakedness. In this case, the naked party was not a person, but a thing: Gansey’s bed, nothing but two mattresses on a bare metal frame, sitting baldly in the middle of the room, barely made. It was somehow intimate in its complete lack of privacy. (42)
- “Get used to some turbulence, you little bastard.” “You can’t name it that.” “Her name’s Chainsaw,” replied Ronan. (95)
- A bruise spread over his cheekbone, red and swelling as a galaxy (130)
- The tiny bunch of flowers made sense. They matched Adam’s frayed sweater. (181)
- Adam’s mouth made the soundless shape of a laugh (213)
- She recognized the strange happiness that came from loving something without knowing why you did, that strange happiness that was sometimes so big it felt like sadness (223)
- There was something musical about Ronan when he swore, a careful and loving precision to the way he fit the words together. A black-painted poetry (238)
- “They were just such small hurts, you know?” (270)
- “I want you to know,” Noah said, pressing the carved bone against his Adam’s apple, hard, as if it would squeeze the words from him. “I was… more… when I was alive.” (305)
- It was a catastrophe of light. He was aware in a single, exploded moment of how many colors combined to make white. (339)
- The roar of the engine starting was probably what had woken Gansey in the first place, the moonlight merely a memory of the last time he’d been woken. (374)
Current Emily’s reaction
So there’s that. Obviously I was trying a bit too hard to be poetic, but there were also plenty of things I didn’t pick up on. I didn’t mention the funny moments, or the complicated and sometimes frustrating magic, or the way that Stiefvater sets up little moments between each character pairing that feel like a screen test of romantic potential. I didn’t notice how obvious it was that Blue wanted to choose Adam but she couldn’t get over Gansey and his sexy, sexy journal. I wasn’t nearly as appreciative of Calla as I should have been. And, because I was reading so very fast, I didn’t feel the slow drag of every Whelk POV chapter pulling me down.
There are upsides and downsides to every way of reading. But, frankly, I’m just really glad I got to do it both ways. I’m glad this book holds up no matter how many times I’ve read it. And yet, I’m really excited to put Raven Boys back on my shelf and pick up Dream Thieves. I can’t wait for you to really meet Ronan. It’s long overdue.