RTW # 173: Best Book o’ March

I’m trying to get back on board with YA Highway’s Road Trip Wednesday’s. Considering the fact that I had spring break this month, and a decent reading list, I actually have an answer to this week’s prompt!

This Week’s Topic: What was the best book you read in March?

This month I had several fantastic reads. I hope to get the chance to write up something about them, because it was a great month for reading. Runner-ups include

Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver

Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman

Citizen of the Galaxy, by Robert Heinlein

I also have Prodigy, by Marie Lu on my TBR list, and I am halfway through I am the messenger, by Marcus Zusak. Both were books that I didn’t get a chance to read over spring break, and despite my astronomical school load, I can’t bear to send them back to the library without finishing them. In the war between reading books and getting schoolwork done, I think sleep is the losing party.

But what was the best one of March? That honor belongs to the incomparable Maggie Stiefvater, and her first book in the Raven Cycle, “The Raven Boys”

Goodreads description

This. Read it. Now.

This book surprised me, more than anything. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it–in fact, the only reason I picked it up was because The Scorpio Races was one of my favorite reads all last year.

I tend to not do well with complicated mythology/books that have to be explained to me. I dislike characters when they have to explain things in unrealistic ways because that’s how the author gets his/her exposition across to the reader. It kills a book to have a paragraphical explanation inserted into an otherwise-decent character because things have to be explained regardless of the appropriateness of the thing coming from the aforementioned character. Confused yet?

Because I was not. Maggie’s characters are far beyond “otherwise-decent.” She was able to get into the heads of four different characters, allowing the central mythology to be realistically explained from the various perspectives. I loved how we got a first-person viewpoint of the “corpse road” from Blue, and then gradual explanations of the “ley lines” from Gansey and Adam, resulting in the  meshing of the different perspectives as you realized they were describing/interacting with the same thing.

The Characters:

I loved Maggie’s characters. Particularly as regards the four main boys and Blue, they were fifty shades of real. I loved how she was able to show how complicated Gansey was, and yet how he still came across as the quintessential rich boy from Blue’s perspective. It was a little surprising to have so much of Gansey explained from Adam’s perspective, but it worked because Gansey was still consistent as a character. I always had a hard time when an author would tell me about a character and then show them acting completely differently in other scenes. In this case, the tell-and-show is consistent; every action lined up perfectly with every description.

The only person this didn’t work with was Barrington Whelk. The tell-about-him sections gave the impression of a well-rounded character, and the writing from his viewpoint was suitably despairing, but I didn’t feel as much remorse for him at the end as I think I should have. He was set up as a three-dimensional character, but it sort of fell flat at the end. He wasn’t quite as engaging or dynamic as the main characters, or even any of the residents of 300 Fox Way–Maura, Persephone, Calla, and Neeve were all less-described characters who held their own as soon as they walked onto the page.

The Rest:

The town of Henrietta felt old and new at the same time, perfectly fitting the central mythology. Before I read the book I saw some complaints about the pacing; personally, I loved getting to know the characters so much that I never felt like it was dragging at any point. A lot is left open for the remaining books, but there is definite closure. There’s also the perfect, absolutely loaded last line that knocks you upside the head and reminds you that this is not over yet.

Summary:

In case I haven’t gushed enough: the best part of this book is the five main characters. They are real, and no description I give can fully convey how true they are. Initially set up as line-item teens–the bad boy, the lurking shadow, the resentful sidekick, President Cell-Phone, and the odd girl out…each of them are far more than they seem. (Breakfast club, anyone?) The relationship between the boys is exactly the sort of closeness and complexity and dysfunctionality that it should be, and Blue is a perfect stand-your-ground character; she isn’t swallowed up by the pre-existing dynamics of the Raven Boys group.

So, go read it.

What’s your favorite book of March? If you’ve already read The Raven Boys, what did you think?

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15 comments on “RTW # 173: Best Book o’ March

  1. Colin says:

    I have yet to read any of Maggie Stiefvater’s books–but I plan to. Her work gets such good reviews, I ought to have some first-hand experience with her novels. I’ll probably read THE SCORPIO RACES first. If I like it, this one might be the next.

    • Rae says:

      I haven’t read her Shiver trilogy, mostly because I got fed up with the werewolf/paranormal stories. The Raven Boys’ premise was just different enough to get me interested, and I’m a solid Stiefvater fan now. I would love to hear your thoughts if/when you read The Scorpio Races. Truly one of my favorite books of last year; a fantastic setting, a perfect blend of both real-world and fantasy elements, and characters that are true-life versions of funny and flawed.

  2. Christine M. says:

    I’ve heard good raves about THE RAVEN BOYS. I’ll have to check it out. I read and liked BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver and have her book Delirium sitting on my stack of ‘to read next’ books.

    • Rae says:

      I’ve heard so much about Delirium, but I wanted to read some of Oliver’s other work, first. Before I Fall was excellent; I’m definitely interested now!

  3. Loved this although not as much as The Scorpio Races. Still, I’ll definitely be reading The Dream Thieves 🙂

    • Rae says:

      Isn’t The Dream Thieves a great title? So promising! It seems like she packed in a lot of mythology already (with so much still unresolved), but I’m still excited to see how this new element plays into all of it. And yes, I have to agree; The Scorpio Races is still my favorite!

  4. Rachael says:

    I have to be completely honest, I wasn’t really a fan of SCORPIO RACES (for various reasons) but I really want to read THE RAVEN BOYS. I keep hearing great things about it and it sounds amazing.

    • Rae says:

      Aw, I’m sorry you weren’t a fan! But The Raven Boys is a great, unique read…the premise is so different that what I usually go for, but it definitely lived up to the hype!

  5. I almost picked up a copy of ‘The Raven Boys’ today, but I just finished ‘Shatter Me’ and I was having a YA romance overload. I need a break before any more relationship drama. Steiefvater is an *awesome* writer, and I loved the ‘Scorpio Races’ as well. I’ll get to this one eventually, especially because you made it sound really good!

    • Rae says:

      I thought it was going to be more romantic than it was. The romance was a minor, slow-burn sort of subplot that was more of a peripheral result of the main story, rather than a driving force.
      I haven’t read Shatter Me, but I keep seeing it mentioned. And then I saw the cover redesigns… ❤

  6. I have nearly bought The Raven Boys so many times. i will have to accept my fate and read it – doesn’t sound like I’ll regret it!!

  7. kendraleighton says:

    I think I’m the odd one out in that I loved this more than ‘The Scorpio Races’! Adored Adam, and the twist with Noah was brilliant.

    • Rae says:

      I have to admit, Noah was amazing. I went back and reread all his scenes after that twist, and it was so rewarding to realize how perfectly they fit with everything.

  8. […] saw this question and knew it was an opportunity to gush about my latest reading love. While I’ve already written about my unexpectedly enjoyable read of The Raven Boys, this latest set of reads has me singing its […]

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