The past few days have been filled with the most gray, unfriendly weather I’ve ever seen — just days and days of drizzling, fog, and rain. (It probably doesn’t help that I drive a Vespa instead of a car, so every trip to work begins with my stuffing my laptop into a garbage bag and draping myself in multiple raincoats just to make the 10 minute commute.) I think days like this require two things: comfort food, and comfort reading. For me, fantasy literature fills the book void perfectly. And it doesn’t hurt that the ever-present fog outside looks all gray and spooky: perfect for reading about magic.
So I was excited to pick up Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Boys this Saturday. I’d heard a good NPR interview with the author, and the concept — prep school boys who trace magical energy lines across countries and continents, and a teenaged medium who crosses their path — seemed like a smart-enough twist on the typical. I was looking forward to an afternoon of pure escapism.
The popcorn was good. The book? Not so much.
Instead, I was disappointed and frustrated. I never bought into the too-hip-to-be-believed dialogue (One teen boy shortens the name of World History class to “World Hist” … instead of “History,” like any normal person, teenager or not, would do.), the character names and back stories for the boarding school boys were confusing and silly, and every plot twist was over explained and over written. Stiefvater wrote the heroine, Blue, and her psychic aunts, a bit better, but they unfortunately took a backseat to the spoiled boarding school brats.
This is pretty classic Genre Fiction, meaning that if you just love any and all Fantasy books, you may love Raven Boys, too. But if you’re just looking for a great read, or a quick way to spread a little magic on a dreary day, grab something else (like the forever-magical Inkheart).