***Note: this review assumes that you've read the book.***
I really enjoyed The Raven Boys. Stiefvater's Shiver felt undistinguished to me, and I haven't read the acclaimed Scorpio Races yet, so it was a fun surprise for me that she could write so well. I loved the language--the way it oozed "southern." I thought that the large cast of characters was well fleshed out--I cared about them all. I liked the amount of magic versus reality. I love characters who have a passion (Gansey's obsession with the sleeping Welsh king, Ronan's obsession with his baby raven, Blue's eccentric family with a talent for the psychic). I looked forward to finding out what Ronan's secret about his dad was, and I liked the titillating opening of wondering whether Blue would kill Gansey with a kiss (both plot points turn out to be threads left loose for the sequel).
I wasn't so fond of the way Blue alternates between having feelings for Adam and wondering whether she has feelings for Gansey. In fact, Adam was the character I felt the least connected to--even though Blue feels the opposite!--and I'm not sure why. His woundedness about being a poor "townie" scholarship student at an expensive boarding school and his fierce determination not to be owned by Gansey felt forced, somehow, like a trope.
The confrontation in the woods was somewhat anticlimactic, maybe because we knew for so long that Whelk had killed Noah, and that he was going to foul up the kids' search for the ley line (or at least it was obvious to me), so I sort of felt like "Let's get there already." While I appreciate a languid pace in books, this one had the feeling of a lot of world-building for not much pay-off, perhaps because it's setting up the series. It does end on a sweet note (with some cool gravedigging) for Noah, which rounded out the end of the book and made it feel more of a complete story, emotionally, than it might have with some of the loose threads still hanging.
But the language was beautiful, the characters were appealing, and the fantasy blend of Welsh folklore and psychic magic was a nice change from the bulk of what's out there now. Good job, Maggie.