books and cleverness

I read books of all sorts, but mostly kids' lit and young adult literature and speculative fiction for all ages—usually from a feminist perspective. 

 

I've adopted a personalized version of the CHOICE reviews approach to recommendations/star ratings:

***** = Essential, a.k.a. truly love, absolute must-read, buy it now
**** = Highly Recommended, a.k.a. this is a really good book; I would buy it as a gift
*** = Recommended, a.k.a. pretty good; worth reading
** = Optional, a.k.a. meh
* = Not Recommended; a.k.a. this is not a good book

The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys -

If I had read this at the age that this book is actually written for, I'm not sure I wouldn't love it to pieces. There are a number of aspects I'm sure teenage me would be swooning over. These days, I tend to read YA fiction with female protagonists through a what-is-this-doing-for-young-women lens, and there's one major element that colors the whole novel just enough that keeps it from being something I'd recommend to other readers.

 

First, some things I do like: the mother/daughter relationship, the inclusion of both female relationships (Blue's family) and male relationships (the raven boys and their families), themes of class disparity and family dysfunction, the fact that although most of the main characters are recognizable "types," they also seem genuine (aren't we all, I guess), Blue's inclusion as a full participating member of the boys' group, and the Greek tragedy-esque element of inescapable destiny.

 

But.

 

Blue's entire raison d'être in this novel is driven by the prophecy that she will kill her true love. It's the opening line. It's the raison d'être for the whole book, it seems. Every action Blue takes or doesn't take in her relationships with the raven boys is shaped by her expectation that THIS COULD BE THE ONE, so a) better rein in that latent potential and keep pure, and b) she can't relate to them, think about them, or connect to them on any other personal level. You guys, I'm so. tired of this. Why can't women have bigger, more adventurous destinies? I want more for the young women that young women read about.