The Raven Cycle Reread: 2.05


Seeing that Ronan and the Gray Man have a good little POV hand-off going on right now, there seems to be no good reason to break it up. When we reenter our plot we’re back in Ronan’s head, just after a dream. We catch him just as he wakes up, just in time for him to describe the dream he just had.

All it was is a drive home, the twists and turns back to Ronan’s house a couple towns over. But it contains this mess of a tragic backstory. In Niall Lynch’s will, he stipulated that while his sons got all the money they could possibly want, they weren’t allowed to set foot inside their home. And since their mother, who went to sleep after their father died and never woke back up, wasn’t going to fight it in court, neither was Declan.

The Lynch brothers were wealthy, princes of Virginia, but they were exiles. All of the money was theirs, but on one condition: the boys were never to set foot on the property again. They were to disturb neither the house nor its contents.

Including their mother.

And this is why Ronan hates his brother.

But the dream gave him an object this time, a strange, wooden box that seems to translate words from one language to another. And while this is a marvelous object, and so is the plane, Ronan reminds us that taking a nightmare out of his head is just as likely as taking a dream. And, well, Ronan’s kind of messed up. If you hadn’t noticed. His nightmares are, if possible, even more messed up. Like, messed up enough to have claws, and teeth, and bloodlust.

Anyways, Ronan goes to get Gansey because they have the most pure and heartbreaking friendship of them all. Exhibit A:

Ronan and Gansey both suffered from insomnia, although they had very different solutions for it… Neither could really help the other find sleep. But sometimes it was better just to know you weren’t the only one awake.

Exhibit B: the long and lovely description we get about how often we see the two of them like this, tired but unable to sleep, standing in front of each other on the floor of an abandoned factory. And then we get Ronan remembering how they cleaned up Monmouth. How they burned trash in the parking lot and searched for Glendower and set up their fridge in the upstairs bathroom (FYI, the bathroom fridge is iconic and I’m undeniably right about that).

And then Gansey makes the moment strange and wonderful by shattering the illusion of familiarity and asking Ronan about his dreams. Now that the secret is somewhat out, Ronan seems relieved. He’s happy to tell Gansey about it. We hear about the first time he took something out of his dreams: a bunch of strange flowers that he grabbed while being chased by a nightmare. And that Ronan dreams in Latin, so he doesn’t have to study to do well in the class.

“Is it your—your thoughts that are in Latin? Or the dialogue? Do other people speak Latin in them? Like, I am I in your dreams?” 

“Oh, yes, baby.” It amused Ronan to say this, a lot. He laughed enough that Chainsaw abandoned her paper shredding to verify that he wasn’t dying. Ronan sometimes dreamt of Adam, too, the latter boy sullen and elegant and fluently disdainful of dream-Ronan’s clumsy attempts to communicate.

(That’s a gay hint pass it on!)

Ronan spends some time trying to explain what it feels like to take something out of a dream. It’s a little bit of a self-call about how hard it is to write something, because Gansey is actively rude about all of Ronan’s attempts to tell him how it feels. It’s knowing if someone’s hand will be sweaty before you shake it, it’s getting bitten in a dream and waking up hurt, it’s nonsensical. It’s also magic, and we’re establishing its clear rules and boundaries, so I don’t care what words are used to describe it. I’m happy.

They end up just spending some time looking at the puzzle box Ronan pulled out of his dream. It’s been decided that it’s like a sentient Rosetta’s stone; whatever you input in one language comes out in others. And, even more weird, they’re old languages, one of them unknown even to Gansey. It would be smart to try and figure out which language it is, but hey, they’re tired. Instead, they go get some orange juice.

Thoughts and Feelings:

The first thing I want to do is apologize for being MIA the past couple of weeks. It was the end of my term and I spent most of my time writing papers and finishing projects and, in one case, creating a geological map of the Catskills. Some things had to go for the sake of my GPA, this blog and my rewatch of Glee among them.

Second, I’d like to get into my thoughts and feelings about this chapter. It’s one of the ones that’s easy to forget about but is so amazing because of its closeness and simplicity. It’s two boys, touched by magic, sitting cross-legged in their apartment and trying to figure something out. It all makes me happy: the magic, the easy relationship between the boys, the indulgent sleepiness of their behavior. The elegant Adam that crops up only in Ronan’s dreams.

And then, there’s this:

Just after waking, after dreaming, his body belonged to no one. He looked at it from above, like a mourner at a funeral. The exterior of this early-morning Ronan didn’t look at all like how he felt on the inside. Anything that didn’t impale itself on the sharp line of this sleeping boy’s cruel mouth would be tangled in the merciless hooks of his tattoo, pulled beneath his skin to drown.

This is it. This is why I feel so conflicted about hearing of how sharp and edgy Ronan is. I mean it is partly because it’s played out, but there’s also moments like this, when we’re in his head for ourselves and realize that it’s a mask. We’ve spent an entire book getting to know a defense mechanism instead of a boy, and now that that’s removed, we can get on with his character development.

The last thing I’m going to say is that I don’t think I like this book’s relationship to alcohol. It’s confusing to me now in a way that it wasn’t when I was in high school. Firstly, Ronan says that when he needs to take something out of his dreams, he gets a beer. For some reason, Gansey is very upset about this.

Here’s what I’m thinking: Ronan would not drink beer. He’s a rich and insolent teenager with unlimited money and disdain for everything including himself. He would be reaching for the hard stuff. Quick, effective, and easier than a beer. Cooler, too, and more fitting. And sure, it might be more plausible for a sixteen-year-old to get his hands on beer, but remember that this particular sixteen-year-old has a full back tattoo. He wasn’t allowed to get that, either, and somehow he managed. I think he can get his hands on a handle of vodka.

And then, Gansey’s reaction to his drinking. I don’t understand the “withering look” he gives to Ronan any time alcohol is mentioned. We know for a fact that Gansey drinks, too, and even if it’s in a seemingly healthier way, I don’t see how he has a leg to stand on? As much as he acts like an old man, he’s not old enough to be making his own decisions either. It just seems, from the point of view of an actual teenager who is in college surrounded by people who have complicated relationships to alcohol, to be a bit contrived. But hey, what would I know, I’ve never been a rich teenager in Virginia.

Best Character Moment:

Gansey gave him another look. It was a look that asked how Ronan, of all people, could be so stupid as to think that Gansey would agree to something so illegal on so little sleep.

Ronan said, “so let’s go get some orange juice.”

Gansey considered. He looked to where his keys sat on the desk beside his mint plant. The clock beside it, a repellently ugly vintage number Gansey had found lying in the bin at the dump, said 3:32.

Gansey said, “OK.”

They went and got some orange juice.

Best Turn of Phrase:

“So what you’re saying is you can’t explain it.”

“I did explain it.”

“No, you used nouns and verbs together in a pleasing but illogical format.”

Action: There was a nightmare, but it was a memory and not the real thing. If we were rating sleepy energy, I’d give it a full score, but alas. That isn’t the category. 6/10

Magic: Rules! Ravens! Magic Rubik’s cubes made out of words! Sleepy magical boys! 11/10

Comic Relief: Chainsaw is a physical version of comedic relief with wings. 9/10

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