Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review: The Raven Boys

Synopsis: “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.

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.

My Review: For whatever reason with Maggie Stiefvater books I have a hard time getting into them.  It's just those first few initial chapters fail to really suck me in.  But this time I stuck with it and pushed on, and I am so glad I did because the book just kept getting better and better.

The story is definitely not your normal paranormal plot line.  It is definitely centered around an older form of magic.  Though Blue and her household of psychic women were definitely a more familiar breed.  And well all the women in that house were just entertaining as hell.  Blue was an interesting MC.  She is definitely one of those people who purposefully strive to be different and out there as opposed to naturally just expressing themselves. And yet while she was always trying to make a statement through her style, she never once seemed fake.

Interestingly enough it was the Raven boys who were the main reason I loved this book so much.  It's rare that having 5 main characters and 3 narrators ever truly enhances the book, but I have to say that Maggie juggled it all very well.  Each boy had their own complicated background and motivation and yet they all worked cohesively together.

Adam is incredibly hard working.  He works odd end jobs so he can pay for his tuition at Aglionby, all the while hiding it from his parents.  His father is abusive and his mother just sits idly by, and he can't just leave.  Adam doesn't want charity from anyone, including Gansey.  I really enjoyed his character.  He's that sweet normal boy who is so often overlooked and so I was rooting for him the entire book.  The only thing that drove me nuts was his inability to accept help.

I absolutely adored Ronan.  Sure he was a bullheaded Irish whelp who was constantly fighting and biting the head off of anyone who tried to talk to him besides Gansey, but there is just so much to his character.  Ever since his father died he's been a different person, and not really for the better.  He's abrasive with people, doesn't give two cents about school, and fights with his older brother almost constantly.  And yet despite all these serious faults, I loved him.  There was just something completely mysterious about him.  Everything from his intricate tattoo to his easy acceptance of the magical realm and his uncanny knowledge of Latin.  And him taking care of a baby raven just endeared him to me forever.  But what truly made me love him was what he did for Adam.  Everyone know's about Adam's situation, and yet Ronan, the seemingly most uncaring of them all, is the one who took action to protect him.

There really isn't much to say about Noah besides the fact that I just want to hug him and that I NEVER saw that plot twist coming.  I feel like I was sidelined by it, quite frankly.

And of course there is Gansey.  I rather enjoyed Gansey and his old manner of speaking and his obsession with ley lines and finding a sleeping king.  He was an old soul in a younger body, and it just made his character more interesting.  The fact that Gansey just so happens to be the only soul that Blue saw on St. Mark's Eve just makes the story all the more interesting.  And of course we don't find out why Blue was able to see his soul.  We only know that for sure he will die in the next year.

Which just makes the wait for the second book all the more dire! I already miss my raven boys :( There is just so much more that needs to happen! The first book was only a taste and I need more to satiate my hunger for this story.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Review: Enshadowed

Synopsis: Varen Nethers is trapped in a perilous dream world -- a treacherous and desolate realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life. Isobel Lanley, plagued by strange visions and haunted by the nightmares of Varen's creation, is the only one who can save him.

Isobel knows that her only hope lies within a Baltimore cemetery. There, in the early morning hours of Edgar Allan Poe's birthday, a mysterious stranger known as the "Poe Toaster" will make his annual homage at the legendary poet's grave.

Only the Poe Toaster holds the key to the way between worlds. But even greater dangers lie ahead for Isobel. An ancient evil, draped in veils of white, is watching, challenging her for Varen's affections. When Isobel finally finds Varen, he is no longer the quiet and brooding boy who once captivated her, but a dark force, powerful and malevolent.

My Review: Ever since I finished Nevermore I have been chomping at the bit for this book.  It was such a long wait just because I loved the first one so much.  And now that I've read it, I'm having much the same reaction to the end of the first one, except now I'm just pissed.  I thought the first book had a cliffhanger ending? Hah! Wrong.  The ending for Enshadowed is ten times worse.

Enshadowed picks up where Neverwhere left off.  Varen is stuck in the dream world and Isobel is back in the real world thanks to the lying Reynolds, whom Isobel thought was her ally.  But no one seems to care that Varen is gone besides Isobel.  Her parents want her to be who she was before, but she is no longer that person.  She goes through life in a plastic version of her former self, trying to act like everything is okay, when everything is anything but.  Isobel keeps seeing snatches of Varen, but is it real or just her imagination?  Supposedly the dream world's tie with reality was severed, but old foes keep coming through the divide.  Her only hope is to corner Reynolds the famed "Poe Toaster" on Poe's birthday in Baltimore.  He is the only person who can cross between the worlds, and consequently her only chance of rescuing Varen.

Throughout this whole book I just felt terrible for Isobel.  She is just being eaten up inside by guilt at having left Varen.  Her parents don't understand her, her old friends think she's a freak, and even her new friend temporarily abandons her when she realized just how dangerous of a quest Isobel is on.  Because good old Bess is way more than a scary specter, she is the demoness Lilith and she has Varen in her thrall.

While this essentially was a filler novel, it didn't read like one.  I devoured this book so fast, and even though not terribly much happened, Kelly made getting from point A to point B very intriguing.  There wasn't a dull moment in the book.  Everything that happened just drove to make this creepy Poe filled world all the more terrifying.  The only thing I have a complaint on is that Isobel literally spent the whole entire novel trying to get back into the dream world.  And she was in the dream world for maybe 30 pages? If that? And Varen was only in about 5 of them.  Like real face to face Varen time (including the epilogue).  That kind of just irked me, but I can't even complain because the novel was so well paced it didn't even detract away from the story.

I have to say though that those last few pages, I was freaking the hell out.  I about threw the book I was that  agitated by how it ended.  I was in a state of utter disbelief.  I knew things weren't going to be peachy keen because no way could Varen be rescued that easily, but dear lord I never saw that coming.  And the epilogue! I literally felt my heart crack in two.  The pure utter despair.  Just curse you Kelly Creagh.  My heart is in tiny little pieces because of that damn two page epilogue.

To say waiting for the third book is going to be pure torture is the biggest understatement of the year.  :/ But I still love it.  Apparently I'm just a glutton for punishment, because I know the third one is going to be just as equally brilliant and just as heart wrenching as the first two.