The Raven Cycle Reread: 1.29

Summary:

I want to start by saying I’m sorry that I took a week off, but I just entered midterm season and I needed a break to focus on other work (that gets graded) rather than this work, which brings me satisfaction and joy but absolutely nothing else. I’ll do my best to stick to the schedule in the future but I think I’d be deluding myself to think that anyone’s sitting on the edge of their seat waiting for these updates, so my best is just going to have to suffice for me and anyone out there reading this.

So, here we are. And by “here” I mean the same chapter in the book, because I sincerely hope you aren’t in the back of a very large van as your coach speeds over a bumpy two-lane highway. It’s not fun and I’d like to take a nap, but Noah is too important to me, so I’ll press on.

So, Gansey and Blue know that Noah is no longer alive. Or, has not been alive for some time. It’s time to tell Adam and Ronan, so he picks up Adam at work (which means this must be an emergency, because Adam’s job is one of those things you don’t get in the way of. When they get to Monmouth, Gansey just starts yelling for Noah.

He backed into the center of the room, turning to look at the corners, the rafters, searching places no one would ever find a roommate. Adam hesitated by the door. He couldn’t figure out how this could be over Noah: Noah, who could go unnoticed for hours, whose room was pristine, whose voice was never raised.

Now I know why Gansey is credited at “the one who finds things” and Adam is “the one who will go to an Ivy League college.” Gansey has the deductive skills of an explorer, and Adam has those of an observer. Ronan has the deductive skills of someone who doesn’t give a shit what they’re deducing, which he makes clear by doing nothing but shrugging and telling Gansey he’s crazy. Well, actually, he says “flipped” but that’s such a non-Ronan thing to say that I refuse to acknowledge its place in the narrative except to call it stupid.

They look in Noah’s room but it’s empty. Empty, in fact, of any signs of life at all. His bed is made perfectly, there’s nothing on the walls or scattered across the floor like there would be in any teenager’s room. Gansey makes the whole situation worse by asking what classes they have with Noah, and everyone’s forced to admit that there aren’t any. Ronan reasserts that he doesn’t care and Adam is still silently doing his best to process everything that’s being thrown at him: Noah doesn’t pay rent, Noah doesn’t eat, none of them can remember when Noah moved in with them or what is last name is.

Gansey then drops the news that he went to the church with Blue (which makes Adam feel blindingly jealous and makes me a little uncomfortable, because as much as I love the idea of love triangles the execution always leaves me feeling angry and hurt) and then spent the afternoon with the police. I don’t know why, but I guess I never imagined the Gangsey going to the police? This seems like one of those novels where everything they’re doing is a big secret and only for the kids to know about, and the police would ruin it. How would they explain their walk in the woods? Was there a fake romantic walk story that we were denied the chance to read about? Stiefvater, how dare you!

But, more important than that, Gansey tells them that they were at the police station because they found a dead body. He asks if they want to know whose it was. Noah, in an entrance that has the most drama and panache, says from the doorway of his previously empty room “mine.”

His skin was pale as parchment and his eyes were shadowed and unspecific, as they always were after dark. There was the ubiquitous smudge on his face, only now, it looked like dirt, or blood, or possibly like a hollow, his bones crushed beneath his skin.

The rest of the chapter is spent finding various ways to say “shocked and offended.” Adam is shocked, and a little confused about how he didn’t notice. Ronan is offended, because Noah didn’t tell him. Noah is both, because he did tell them, over and over, but they just didn’t listen. And can you blame them? He looked real, he acted real, so why would any reasonable teenager assume that their roommate was actually murdered seven years ago?

Gansey is the one to bring up the fact that Noah was killed (very different than just dying, if he’d just died he probably wouldn’t have stuck around). He wants to know if Noah can tell him, so Gansey can put the police on the trail of his killer. Noah doesn’t want to tell them. He draws inward, and Adam wonders if he was this shy when he was alive, or if it’s a side effect of being dead. He never finds out, though, because Noah has disappeared.

Thoughts and Feelings:

For this episode of “I have thoughts and also several feelings,” I’m going to zoom in on a particular passage and tell you why I’m disappointed in it. But, first, an overview of the chapter: it was good and well written and I liked most of it. Now back to the part I didn’t like.

Ronan began to swear, long and filthy and continuous, without stopping for breath.

Gansey’s thumb worried over his bottom lip. He asked Adam, “what’s going on?”

Adam replied, “we’re being haunted.”

I take issue with this passage as the ending to the chapter. Stiefvater has a habit of ending chapters with a line of dialogue that acts as a summation and a cliffhanger all at once, and often she succeeds. I’m thinking of the ends of the Cabeswater chapters, or when Persephone locks the narrative down with a spot-on interpretation. But this one doesn’t look forward, and it doesn’t accurately represent what was going on in the story.

First of all, I understand that Ronan likes to swear. I’m cool with the fact that he does it a lot, and I’m content with Steifvater telling us he’s swearing rather than writing out the language more often than not. However, this idea that Ronan is swearing “without stopping for breath” is giving me pause. I’ve never heard anyone swear like that. I don’t think people do swear like that. From what I’ve experienced, reactive swears are one single word, spoken with feeling:fuck.” I’m okay with calling Ronan’s swears “black painted poetry.” There’s an art to calling someone a dickwad, and I don’t deny that he’s mastered it. But this whole “long and filthy and continuous” thing is what I’m just not buying.

Moving on: why would Gansey ask what’s going on? He’s the one who gathered them in Monmouth to tell them what’s going on. He found the bones, he’s done extensive research on the ley line, and he turns to Adam—who’s smart, but who’s had literally 30 seconds to process this news—and asks him what’s going on? I’m just being nitpicky here, but that’s out of character.

And, lastly, “we’re being haunted” is just a lame last line. It has no sting. It’s not particularly true (sure Noah’s a ghost, but the word haunted comes with a connotation of malice that just isn’t there). It’s not a fun way to end the chapter, it doesn’t do the situation justice, and I know that Steifvater can do better than that.

That’s all. Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.

Best Character Moment:

He stroked Chainsaw’s head with a single finger and she tilted her beak up in response. It was a strange movement in a strange evening, and if it had happened the day before, it would’ve struck Adam that he rarely saw such thoughtless kindness from Ronan.

Best Turn of Phrase:

The world hummed around Adam, suddenly charged with possibilities, not all of them pleasant. He felt like he was sleepwalking. Nothing was the truth until he could put his hands on it.

Action: This chapter was emotionally charged but I’m loathe to call all those feelings action…it was more along the vein of “everyone stands around in disbelief.” 5/10

Magic: All magic used in this chapter went into keeping Noah a corporeal character that we can still spend time with. If that’s not a worthy cause, what is? 11/10

Comic Relief: Literally none. This chapter was so heavy. Even Ronan asking if they were looking for drugs, girls, and guns in Noah’s room wasn’t that funny, given the circumstances. 6/10

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