So. In case you’ve forgotten what went down in the last chapter, I’m going to catch you up to speed: Adam’s in the clearing with Whelk and Neeve with the rest of the Gangsey close behind. Basically, Adam’s in deep shit and everyone else is on their way to help him out.
The first thing Whelk does is make annoyed noises at Adam, because he’s probably tired of the Raven Boys just showing up places. Which doesn’t make any sense, because he stole the coordinates from them. If anything, Adam should be the one who’s pissed about them being in the same place.
Adam’s mad, but not about that. All of the anger is about Noah, even as he takes in the objects Neeve lovingly placed on the corners of the pentagram and the woman herself, tied up in the middle of it. I find it aggressively touching that when confronted with Whelk, all of the Gangsey can only think about Noah, and not any of the 50 other things that make Whelk a detestable man. Especially when Adam’s in immediate danger of the giant knife Whelk is holding.
After he asks Whelk why he had to kill Noah, and not any of the myriad Aglionby students who were actually bad people, Adam remembers that he has his father’s gun in his bag. He takes it out even though he probably shouldn’t, and then we’re stuck with the classic western stand-off: Adam points a gun at Whelk and Whelk holds his giant knife against Neeve’s soft and pretty face.
Adam spends a moment participating in self-loathing (of course Gansey would be able to talk his way out of this one but Adam, no, Adam has to toss the gun in the bushes like an idiot) but Neeve Big Badass Moment comes and saves him from getting her face cut off.
Neeve’s face was quite placid. “You’ll ruin the ritual if you do. Weren’t you listening? I thought you were interested in the process.”
Adam throws the gun, Neeve explains that the sacrifice isn’t the killing but the loss of innocence that killing provides, and then Whelk realizes that he can’t kill Neeve to complete the sacrifice because he’s already killed Noah. What a predicament.
Before Whelk can come up with a workaround, Gansey shows up. He calls Whelk “Mr. Whelk” and has “musty bedhead,” at which point I had to put down the book, first to contemplate how ridiculous it is that Gansey’s still addressing his murderous Latin teacher politely, and then to try and picture how in the world bedhead can look “musty.”
They’re about to get into another western standoff (Gansey has the threat that he called the police and Whelk is ready to call his bluff) when they look down and Neeve is gone. Disappeared, without any noise or preamble. Everyone is standing around, confused, until Whelk takes a flying leap towards the gun in the bushes and everyone explodes into action.
Ronan and Whelk are fistfighting (well, Ronan’s using his fists and Whelk is just hitting him with the gun), Blue is yelling, Gansey is standing there trying not to get shot, and nobody really notices when Adam jumps into the middle of the pentagram.
The next part of the book, I’ll admit, I didn’t understand upon first read. It depends upon the definition of sacrifice that Neeve gave us earlier in the chapter: it’s giving something up that has immense value to the giver. We tend to think of sacrifice in terms of death, because of the stupid conception of dying for someone else as the “ultimate sacrifice”—everyone who read Harry Potter as a child, can you say Lily Evans?—but Steifvater isn’t talking about that.
When it came down to it, Adam had been making sacrifices for a very long time, and he knew what the hardest one was.
On his terms, or not at all.
Adam sacrifices his free will. As he’s doing it, Gansey’s the only one who understands what’s going on, and he’s yelling at Adam to stop, but we all know he’s not going to. And then he thinks, and this is important for later so remember the phrasing, I will be your hand. I will be your eyes.
Then the ground starts to shake.
Thoughts and Feelings:
Here’s the thing about this chapter. There are definitely parts of it that I really like, like Whelk’s grubby schoolboy behavior, and the fact that Neeve goes poof and all hell breaks loose, but I have some complaints too?
Blue and Adam have been one of the strongest pairings in this whole book. And I get it, we kind of got the beginning of the end in Blue’s backyard, but still. In a chapter from Adam’s perspective, we probably should hear more about how Blue’s acting in regards to him. Not to say that I don’t like how prevalent Gansey is in this chapter. I think it’s really important that the two of them are established as brothers and that Adam obviously values his opinion so highly and hates the fact that he does, but come on. There are two other friends that are fighting for Adam’s life in the woods and he doesn’t seem to notice them at all.
I’m cool with Neeve’s disappearance. It’s a little underwhelming but overall fitting for the kind of woman she is. Don’t worry, we do figure out why she disappears, but it doesn’t make anything any more satisfying.
And then, the sacrifice. The first time I read this I thought Adam was dead. I thought he sacrificed his life to wake the line and then the favor they asked of Glendower was going to have to ask for him back. I was very confused when he showed up very not dead immediately after this chapter ended.
And, if you’re still confused, Adam sacrificed his independence. He made himself reliant on something else, and gave up his free will. Which I still don’t totally get, because Adam isn’t independent. He’s giving up something that he’s striving for but doesn’t quite have yet, and honestly for a guy that understands the magic rules so well he should have wondered if that was going to work.
Then again, for a guy that understands the magic rules so well, he probably knows them better than I do. All that is to say that I don’t have a problem with the way the sacrifice shakes out. In fact, I think it’s pretty cool, and I’m excited to talk about its effects on Adam as a part of the group.
I’m going to end it here because I have class tomorrow morning and I have to sleep, but I hope you had a good time witnessing the thwarting of Barrington Whelk. Look forward to it continuing this Sunday!
Best Character Moment:
Adam tossed the gun into the brush. He felt terrible as he did, but he felt better when he wasn’t holding it.
Best Turn of Phrase:
Being Adam Parrish was a complicated thing, a wonder of muscles and organs, synapses and nerves. He was a miracle in moving parts, a study in survival.
Action: Ronan and Whelk had a gun/knife fight in a bunch of bushes. It doesn’t get more action packed than that. 10/10
Magic: This is good magic. This magic made Neeve disappear. We like this magic. 10/10
Comic Relief: I mean, other than the imagery of “musty bedhead,” I couldn’t find anything to laugh about. 4/10