The Raven Boys Reread: 1.16

Summary:

This chapter is a nice break from the fraught conversations that took place when the Gangsey and the women of Fox Way were all in the same house. It also gives us gratuitous imagery of Gansey and Ronan in their pajamas (which is to say, their underwear). Thanks for that, Stiefvater. In exchange, I’ll try to talk about this chapter as a work of literature and not a teenage fantasy.

Everyone is asleep in Monmouth Maufacturing. Except, nobody is asleep, because Chainsaw is eating and it sounds goddamn disgusting. At first we don’t know it’s Chainsaw, and Gansey’s speculations as to what it could be are hilarious and also gross.

It sounded a little like one of his roommates was being killed by a possum, or possibly the final moments of a fatal cat fight. He wasn’t certain of the specifics, but he was sure death was involved.

Way to be dramatic, Gansey. It’s literally just a bird.

The sanctity of Ronan’s room is violated once again, and there he is in his boxers, feeding a baby bird. Gansey, and by extension me, spent some time admiring his tattoo before starting the argument about how Chainsaw is probably not an indoor bird and needs to shut up. Except that Gansey keeps calling her “Bird” and this is greatly upsetting to Ronan. The argument they have is hilarious, mostly because of Gansey’s polite bewilderedness after Ronan threatens Noah with a pair of tweezers.

The moment is also distinctly heartwarming, because although the noise has Noah close to tears, it’s showing a softer side of Ronan that Gansey has clearly been missing. Also, Chainsaw is a baby and Gansey is the kind of person who is good to babies because of his stern moral compass. Eventually the argument is solved, not because Gansey and Ronan reached an agreement but because they took so long that Chainsaw stopped being hungry. The boys seem unsure of what to do with themselves, so they start another argument. This time it’s about Gansey’s facial hair.

Ronan looked over his shoulder at him. He was sporting the five o’clock shadow that he was capable of growing at any time of the day. “Just stop. You look mangy.”

“It’s irrelevant. It’s not growing. I’m doomed to be a man-child.”

“If you keep saying things like ‘man-child,’ we’re done,” Ronan said. “Hey, man. Don’t let it get you down. Once your balls drop, that beard’ll come in great. Like a fucking rug. You eat soup, it’ll filter out the potatoes. Terrier style. Do you have hair on your legs? I’ve never noticed.”

Gansey didn’t dignify any of this with a response.

Hilarious.

Gansey goes back to lie on his bed but he doesn’t fall asleep. He’s feeling some type of way: lonely, dark, yearning. Before he can get too in his feelings, though, a buzzing comes from the window and we learn all in one sentence that Gansey is the type of person who’s allergic to bees and wasps, but for some reason leaves his epi-pen in the glove compartment of his car. He grabs a shoe and goes to the window to confirm that, yeah, it is a wasp, and yeah, he’s screwed.

Two narratives coexisted in his head. One was the real image: the wasp climbing up the wood, oblivious to his presence. The other was a false image, a possibility: the wasp whirring into the air, finding Gansey’s skin, dipping the stinger into him, Gansey’s allergy making it a deadly weapon.

Ronan runs in and steals the shoe from Gansey, killing the wasp before anything bad can happen. He’s careful about picking the wasp up off the floor and putting it into the trash can, but he’s also pissed off, because Noah told him that if Gansey left, Adam was going with him. Of course Ronan’s invited, we think, but then again we don’t have Ronan’s abandonment issues and can think objectively on the subject.

The chapter ends with Ronan trying desperately to get Gansey to guess his secrets. The only common understanding we get is that “it’s starting.” Good. Let’s begin.

Thoughts and Feelings:

The only word I can use to describe this chapter is sweet. It’s just a couple of really sweet boys, being sweet with baby animals and each other (never with themselves, though, that would be too easy).

I like to think of this bit as Gansey and Ronan’s Big Romantic Chapter. Because this is a young adult series and needed to be marketed to teenagers, you have to set up every pairing as possibly romantic. This chapter shows what you would get with Gansey and Ronan: why it would work (Ronan kills wasps and Gansey allows birds in the apartment) and also, the many reasons why it wouldn’t (everything else thing they do or say).

Just think about the fact that Ronan ran into the room, and not only killed the wasp but picked it up off the floor “so that Gansey wouldn’t step on it.” He hit the wasp twice, once on the window (so hard that it almost broke, might I add) and then again on the floor. Think about that for a goddamn second and tell me they don’t love each other.

Especially since, at this point, we’re pretty starved for Ronan POV. There are a lot of instances where Gansey or Blue or Adam describe how very Ronan something is, but the wasp situation is really the first time that we see the depth of emotion Ronan feels. His anger, which is so often described as being dark and bloody and sharp, is directed at something that could hurt Gansey, and suddenly it becomes caring. And sweet. I can’t tell you enough how sweet it is.

Best character moment:

Gansey didn’t know how to describe how it felt, to see death crawling inches from him, to know that in a few seconds, he could have gone from “a promising student” to “beyond saving.” He turned to Ronan, who had painstakingly picked up the wasp by a broken wing, so that Gansey wouldn’t step on it.

Best turn of phrase:

The monochromatic lines of it were stark in the claustrophobic lamplight, more real than anything else in the room. It was a peculiar tattoo, both vicious and lovely, and every time Gansey saw it, he saw something different in the pattern. Tonight, nestled in an inked glen of wicked, beautiful flowers, was a beak where before he’d seen a scythe.

Action: Frankly? Not a lot going on except for some fighting and a whole lotta love. 5/10

Magic: Magic bird magic bugs magic friendship. It’s all around us. 9/10

Comic relief: It’s gonna be funnier when Gansey actually grows a beard to filter the potatoes out of his soup, but for now this will do. 11/10

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