Valley of the Raven is a modern maybe-fantasy story straddling the line between middle-grade and YA fiction, following the adventures of a group of school kids who discover a terrible danger to the beautiful forests around their town - and the town itself. The story involves a long-ago love, a legacy of protection, and a bit of magic.
So when this story is focused on the kids or on the bad guys and their respective adventures and choices, it's a pretty compelling and interesting book. The kids mostly have an easy, natural flow to their conversations (although there are times you might find yourself asking "They're how old again?") and they all have fairly distinct personalities. The prose itself is great, the pacing solid and the overall story, largely entertaining. If it were just that, this would be a fairly enjoyable adventure.
Unfortunately, that's only half the story. The other half is, for lack of a better word, preaching. There are entire chapters dedicated to the atrocities and complications of the relationship between the US government and the various native tribes that predated the USA. Which could be really interesting and compelling, but it's generally done in the form of a teacher teaching a class. Sure, a classroom can be an interesting place to learn and grow. But *reading* about a classroom, and then about the kids reacting to the class... no. It's just too much. Yes, the things the kids are reacting to ARE bad, and it's good they're thinking about it, but it's so heavy-handed that it feels unnatural.
There are a few other issues as well. The kids are a little too adept for one - Sure, kids can and should be the stars and the ones pushing the action in a story like this, but the whole sting operation at the end stretched my belief a little too far. The main six or so kids, I could keep track of, but at a certain point, the cast balloons and is hard to keep track of.
But at its heart, this is a solidly written adventure story with some clever and interesting protagonists. If you have a larger suspension of disbelief and a greater tolerance for info dumps than I have, you'll probably enjoy this. I'm afraid it just wasn't for me.