I went into this not expecting much, and almost gave up about ten pages in. Not from a genuine dislike, or even a permanent "did not finish" sort of rating--I just thought this was going to be a fluffy little paranormal/urban romance or something and I wasn't really in the mood.
I was very, very wrong, and I feel very, very foolish.
This was honestly phenomenal. It had a mythological element to it that I absolutely was not expecting but that I adored. I love hidden history and ancient myth and the feel of Arthurian legend, and this had it in spades, with a mystery and a bit of thriller mixed in as well.
The Raven Boys themselves were fascinating. They were difficult and three-dimensional and just very well-written. I liked each and every one of them, and if occasionally I wanted to beat Ronan over the head, I was in excellent company with that desire.
Adam and Gansey really shined. I loved watching them attempt to interact with each other when they came from such different places, and I felt for both of their hang-ups that caused problems with their friendship. Gansey probably stole my heart a bit more simply because his character was just more similar to mine in many ways--he wants the best for his friends, but he can't quite figure out what that is or what he needs to do with that, and also he has an unlikely quest of his own to pursue and he wants to make sure he has time to manage it and to handle all of the research necessary to follow every possible clue in the hopes of discovering what has been hidden.
I felt a lot for Adam, who had an unfortunate situation and enough pride to turn a bad situation into one that was almost worse. Watching him handle the fallout of the entire quest was interesting, and I can't wait to see where he will end up going from here. I'm a little worried about how dark his future is going to be, admittedly.
There was magic, but it was the sort of uncontrolled magic that makes it harder for the characters instead of easier. Blue's family was the major source of it--women that can see the future, with all of the pitfalls of that particular gift. Blue herself was easy enough to root for and to understand. She wanted to fit in, but not too much--a very teenage mindset. The part that made it interesting was really that she wasn't sure where she wanted to fit in, but the primary place was in a family full of what society would label outcasts. She fortunately did not suffer from YA heroine syndrome, so she also felt like a real and three-dimensional character. I liked her quite a bit.
I can't wait to see where things are going to go from here. There was a mystery cleared up by the end of this novel, but not the entirety of the long-term quest, and something new and intriguing was introduced in the very last line that I can't wait to see a follow-up on. It didn't feel like an incomplete story, but it did feel like something that I really want to read more about as soon as possible, so I can't wait to see what happens next.