The Raven Cycle Reread: 1.17-1.18

SEVENTEEN

Summary:

Blue wakes up before her alarm, again. I mean, I don’t know if it’s a school day or not, but the phrase “well before dawn” means this girl needs to stop waking up when she shouldn’t be. I guess that would make this whole chapter read “and Blue slept through the night,” but frankly, that would be better for her mental and physical health than what happens next.

When she wakes up the first thing she thinks about is Adam, and then Gansey. She calls Adam elegant again, and she’s upset that he probably won’t call. With Gansey, it’s more the fact that he’s a real boy, not just a half-dead guy outside some old church. It’s kind of cute, though. She thinks about her boys! But what’s getting on her nerves the most is that Maura ordered her around. Not just ordered her around, but forbade her to do something. Blue is not the type of girl to take orders, that’s why we love her.

She’s so angry and prickly that she decides to get up and go see her tree. If nothing else, leaves should calm her down (or something). But she doesn’t get her quiet moment with the beech tree, because Neeve is there doing some sort of ritual. We’re not clear on what it is, and neither is Blue—being a psychic doesn’t mean being a witch, and Blue’s life thus far has been fairly ritual free. But this time, it looks like Neeve’s doing something reeeeally weird.

 Neeve didn’t reply. When Blue looked closer, she saw that Neeve’s eyes were unfocused. It was her eyebrows that really did it for Blue; they had no expression to them somehow. Even more vacuous than Neeve’s eyes were those formless eyebrows, waiting for input, drawn in two straight, neutral lines.

So this ritual is legit, and something funky is going on. To be more specific, she’s talking in a deep scary voice to something dark and slithery while sitting on a pentagram. We find out something is speaking through Neeve when it starts talking to her and asks for her name. Like an idiot, Blue says “Neeve” and not some codename, like “Riptide Rush” (is it weird that the first thing I thought of was a Gatorade flavor? Yeah. Are we gonna talk about it? No!). She just threw her aunt under the bus. I don’t like Neeve, but I don’t want her to get devoured by some scary slithery demon.

The demon asks to see Blue. Blue tells it she’s invisible, which is only funny because it works. The magic in the air feels malicious and oppressive so, once Blue learns that the demon is on the ley line and the whole world starts to go cold, she starts destroying the objects Neeve placed on the pentagram.

There was a minute of complete blackness. There was no sound, as if the tree and the garden around it were not in Henrietta anymore. Despite the silence, Blue did not feel alone, and it was a terrible feeling.

But, after some mind strengthening exercises from Maura, everything goes back to normal and Neeve returns to her body. She asks Blue not to tell her mom and Blue is like, “um, hell no, I will be telling her everything.” Which is the right decision, especially when Neeve blames Blue for the fact that she got possessed.

In her mind, she was just scrying into the static space that’s present in Henrietta, and even though Maura told her to leave it alone it was not her fault and everything was fine. It’s a very Neeve excuse and as such we all see right through it. So, here’s the chapter summary in one sentence: Blue finds Neeve looking at things she shouldn’t be, and a scary monster is there.

Thoughts and Feelings:

This chapter is honestly not fun at all? It just feels like we’re being reminded that Something Isn’t Right, which I don’t think I forgot. The reminder was unnecessary. And, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but so was the whole “Neeve is willing to take things too far, look she’s even sitting on a pentagram” situation. I don’t usually stick up for Neeve because she gives me a bad vibe. But she’s already given me a bad vibe before this chapter. I didn’t need the scary witch visual to recognize that her plans may or may not be nefarious.

I did, thought, like the appreciation of Blue’s special tree. It was nice to see her have a friend. Even if that friend is a large plant. Other than that, this chapter is just filler. It proves that time passes between when Blue first met the Gangsey and when she joins it, which isn’t fun but gives the narrative a nice hefty dose of realism.

Best character moment:

Blue had a satchelful of memories of standing by the massive, smooth trunk in the rain, hearing it hiss and tap and scatter across the canopy without ever reaching the ground. Standing under the beech tree, it felt like she was the beech, like the rain rolled off her leaves and off the bark, smooth as skin against her own.

Best turn of phrase:

Something crawled very slowly up the back of Blue’s neck, on the inside of her skin. It was such a hideously real creep that she was badly tempted to slap it or scratch it.

Action: Any time a pentagram is involved, you think it’s going to be more interesting than just a weird feeling, but this time, it wasn’t. 4/10

Magic: It was scary, but it was there. 8/10

Comic relief: There just wasn’t any. Like, at all. 1/10

EIGHTEEN

Summary:

Barrington Whelk! Y’all know how I feel. I don’t need to say it again. Here we go.

We literally start out with Whelk reaching new heights of grossness: he’s breaking into Gansey’s locker. He’s violating the privacy of a high school junior, and, honestly? This just made me freaked out over the security of my lockers in high school. If a teacher didn’t like me, could they just go snoop through my stuff? It sure feels like it. I don’t remember what I kept in there beyond my lunch and some crumpled up worksheets, but I still wouldn’t appreciate Mr. Jones knowing I had egg salad for lunch. That’s creepy.

But Whelk mostly seems interested in mourning the loss of his dad’s fortune, and, as a result, his right to be a complete douchebag. After a couple of minutes of whining and wishing he had his old car back, Whelk realizes he looks ridiculously suspicious and decides to upgrade from snooping to straight up thievery and just take all of Gansey’s stuff. To covers his tracks, he uses quite possibly the worst excuse I’ve ever read:

In case Gansey decided to come into school two hours early, Whelk left a note in the locker (“Belongings have been removed while we spray for roaches”) and then retreated back to one of the unused staff bathrooms to examine his find.

First of all, roaches? In the same building where Congressmen’s sons go to learn how to bluster their way through a scandal? Outrageous. And second, that would be the kind of thing a kid got warned about in homeroom, so the administration wouldn’t have to find a spare room to hold all that stuff in, not to mention catalogue it to make sure the right stuff got back to the right person. I’m sorry if I’m overanalyzing this note, but if I’m smart enough to poke holes in it this quickly, imagine what Gansey could do. Whelk’s plan is idiotic and I want to make sure everyone knows that.

Except that Whelk does learn things from snooping, things that make him even more dangerous than he previously had been. He now knows that Glendower lies along the ley line, and that Whelk can claim a favor if he finds him. Whelk wants power. He wants to control the line, and Glendower can make that possible. So now we know that Whelk’s motives are still crap, and that he’s even more desperate than he was before.

I’d be more impressed if he’d figured that out himself instead of stealing it from a child, but I guess I shouldn’t have expected more from him. I knew what I was getting myself into the moment I started this chapter.

Thoughts and Feelings:

Here’s the thing: this chapter is only three pages long. I respect that! I understand that we don’t need to spend a lot of time with Whelk, we just need to look at his progression every once in a while to show that, yeah, he’s still and asshole, and yeah, he’s still looking for the same thing everyone else is. And that he murdered his best friend. Somehow that comes up in every Whelk-centric chapter more than once, and I’m like, we get it! Czerny got brutally murdered and Whelk’s the worst. I understand this.

But with a three page long chapter, there are very little thoughts and even fewer feelings that I can have about it. Reading it took less than two minutes. I got the one fact I needed to get out of it, and I’m ready to move on. So, let’s move on.

Best character moment:

What he found was that Richard Gansey III was more obsessed with the ley line than he had ever been. Something about the entire research process seemed… frantic.

What is wrong with this kid? Whelk wondered.

Best turn of phrase:

“Glendower,” Whelk said out loud, trying it out. The word echoed off the bathroom walls, hollow and metallic. He wondered what Gansey—strange, desperate Gansey—was thinking he’d ask for as a favor.

Action: NONE! -1/10

Magic: EVEN MORE NONE! -7/10 

Comic relief: It was none, but then Whelk tried to tell me they were spraying Gansey’s locker for roaches and I lost it. 6/10

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