The Raven Boys  - Maggie Stiefvater
(4.5, really)

Okay, so stories that deal with "true love," boys that go to private schools with their own fancy sweaters and such, and love triangles usually don't interest me, but I had to read this because of Adam Doyle's breathtaking cover art. Well, that and because I adored Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races, but it's impossible to resist Adam Doyle. Impossible. If anyone claims to never have judged a book by its cover, they're lying.

In any case, I ended up falling in love with this dang novel. And it's dang love story and its dang boys in their dang fancy sweaters and such.

The book begins with a nice and creepy scene outside a church on St. Mark's Eve, in which the protag, Blue, sees a spirit who calls himself Gansey. Because Blue's not a psychic like the rest of her family, seeing this spirit means only two things: he's either her true love, or he's someone she's going to kill. Or probably both.

Now, the love story unfolds with the classic, "oh god, he's a rich private school boy with money out his ears we will never be friends" Pride and Prejudice kind of affair, but the book's plot chooses not to revolve around their little love story (even with a +1, making this a dreaded love triangle but one that actually doesn't seem forced or convoluted). There's a LOT going on in this book.

For starters, every character has a fully-developed backstory, and their actions actually reflect their past experiences. I can't even explain how rare that simple concept seems to be nowadays, especially in YA fiction. Every action and choice is thought out and carefully expressed. Each of the four Aglionby boys are so different from each other yet avoid being shoved into a cliché. And they each have something to add to the story, to richen it, to develop it further. I also have to give props to Maggie for the relationships between these guys, because even their relationships with each other are unique and believable. It all just works, and I'm left here stunned wondering how she did it. How she managed to come so close to all these stereotypes, but somehow avoid them and create something wonderful.

Also, I just couldn't put this book down. There was an immediacy to the writing (and oohh, the writing. Such beautiful, beautiful writing. I want to kiss those words. Mmm.) that just drew me into the story and wouldn't let me stop, even for a bathroom break.

That's not to say everything was perfect, though. I did feel like sometimes there was too much going on at one time, or that things were happening with no explanation (like the ending, and maybe it was me, but I floundered for a while before I realized what the ending line really meant. Kind of seemed a bit gimmicky at that point; "get ready for the sequel, folks!"). Plus, I wanted a bit more closure. The climax happened, and then suddenly there was an ending. I wasn't sure where exactly the characters were at. What really happened? Plus, the whole story seemed to set up this "fall in love or kill him" idea, and that wasn't resolved. I get that the idea would probably span the entire cycle, but it didn't seem to be introduced that way, and it felt like being cheated.

Anyways, loved the plot, the atmosphere, the characters, the WRITING, and all the details in between. I can't wait to get my hand on the second installment.