The Raven Cycle Reread: 2.08


Hello and welcome to a segment I like to call Emily Posts a Day Late Because She Was Visiting a Small Irish Seaside Town! Apologies from both me and the friends I walked around with, but it was very beautiful and pictures will be included in a life update probably none of you will want to read in the coming weeks, but. A consolation, I guess? Now, back to Virginia.

Finally, finally, we return to Adam Parrish: our boy of the perpetual self-loathing and beautiful bone structure. Not only am I excited to hear about the aftermath of the sacrifice from the character himself, but we finally get to figure out where he’s living! It’s a room in a church called St. Agnes, and I love that for Adam. Long live St. Agnes, Adam’s IKEA mattress, and his cardboard box bedside table set.

He doesn’t spend nearly enough time in his apartment, though, because he’s too busy working three jobs so that during the year he has any small amount of time to do his homework. It sounds like everything with him is pretty fraught, and it gets even more so once he sees Blue waiting for him on the stairs to his apartment.

Blue was pretty in a way that was physically painful to him. He was attracted to her like a heart attack.

My astute summary at this point in the chapter is that Adam is far too stressed and horny, and he needs both a long nap and a girlfriend who can kiss him without accidentally killing him, neither of which he will be getting any time soon.

After an OOTD and some complaints about how Blue is too considerate of Adam’s feelings and it’s annoying, we move into the awkward conversation portion of the chapter. It lasts a reasonable amount of time, in which Blue and Adam dance around each other verbally and are both clearly baffled by the fact that they have no idea what to say or do. Adam does something that, in any normal circumstance, would be perfect: he touches Blue’s face, hugs her, and then moves in for the kiss.

Of course, this is Blue we’re talking about. She freaks out and has some reasonable points: why isn’t her desire to not kiss Adam enough? Why does he need a reason? I can see it from both sides, but more on that later. For now, we have to talk about how Adam gets into the shower as an avoidance tactic and leaves Blue to hang out until he’s done.

This is when Cabeswater reintroduces itself:

From inside the sloped old shower, he caught a half-image of himself in the mirror and startled. For a moment something about his own reflection had seemed wrong. His wide eyes and gaunt face peered back at him, troubled but not unusual.

And just like that, he was thinking of Cabeswater again.

In short, Adam thinks about Cabeswater all the time. It’s because he knows he made a sacrifice but he doesn’t know what the specificities entail, except that sometimes things feel or look strange. He gets images, or things look weird, and then he wonders what’s going on with him. Frankly, I don’t get why everyone is so certain that he’s something “other” (Gansey is literally a walking zombie, if you want to get technical), but okay. I get it. Something weird is happening and I don’t want to be dismissive about it.

But real life rears its head with a vengeance in the form of a lovely lady who works for the church. She tells Blue and Adam that because of a “tax reassessment,” his rent is much lower than it otherwise would be. Curiously, that matches up with the exact amount that Aglionby has raised his tuition. He’s mad at Gansey, even though he has no proof that it was him, and there are all kinds of complicated emotions.

I don’t feel super qualified to talk about Adam’s relationship to/struggles with money because I haven’t experienced this extent of financial insecurity in my life, so I don’t want to make snarky comments about this section of the chapter or express my annoyance at his refusal to accept help. I’m not sure how I would feel in Adam’s situation, and that makes me lucky. Now let’s move on.

Gansey isn’t there for Adam to be mad at so he takes it out on Blue. We’ve all spent a significant amount of time with Blue, so we know how she’d react, and she doesn’t disappoint. The argument is short and furious and ends with Adam kicking his cardboard-box bedside table across the room.

Blue gives a self-righteous speech and goes to sit outside, leaving Adam inside to compare himself to his father.

After a moment, he calmed down enough to see how his anger was a separate thing inside of him, a dingy, surprise gift from his father. He calmed down enough to remember that if he waited long enough, carefully analyzing how it felt, the emotion would lose its inertia. It was the same as physical pain. The more he tried to mentally decide what made pain hurt, the less his brain seemed able to remember the pain at all.

He thinks of anger as an inheritance, and himself as a monster right down to the strands of his DNA. He’s working three jobs and studying and paying for his whole life by himself, and also participating in the hunt for Glendower because he wants that favor. He thinks that he needs an old Welsh king so that he can be fixed.

And then, Cabeswater again. Another image. And the end of the chapter.

Thoughts and Feelings:

I wait so long for chapters about Adam, and then when they come I procrastinate this part so much. Writing about Adam is hard. I don’t know how Stiefvater does it—she manages to write this boy who not only has such a strict personal code and set of rules and goals for himself, but doesn’t understand the emotions behind these rules or what he wants from his future. I find it nearly impossible to talk about without feeling as though I’m trivializing it somehow. I don’t want to make Adam small, not only because he’s such a large character, but because he’s already been made small by so many people, himself included.

And then there’s the way this chapter functions as the beginning of the end for Adam and Blue’s romantic relationship. The scene where Adam caresses her face and goes in for this kiss is, for starters, fantastic. I’ve decided, for the first time, to insert an illustrative meme below.

y.a. kisses

The yearning!!!!!!!!!!!

But also, if Blue just trusted Adam enough to explain to him what’s going on, he wouldn’t be acting like this. Blue has to know how willing Adam is to think it’s because there’s something wrong with him. And this is when we get into a complicated question of consent: it should 100% be enough for Blue to simply say no. But in a committed relationship, there should also be a discussion that follows this statement. Under no circumstances should Adam be coercive, or shame Blue for making this choice. But there needs to be an honest conversation, at least, if both of them want to continue with a relationship.

But she doesn’t trust him enough. Or she’s embarrassed, or shy, or just sixteen and stupid. Whatever reason, this is the definitive beginning of the end for them as a romantic pairing. While I think it’s for the best, I’m always going to mourn it a little here because it ended badly. Because it forces them to be awkward around each other, when they are capable of being such fantastic friends. It’s frustrating, especially when it becomes just another reason for Adam to liken himself to his father.

But at least towards the end of the chapter we get back to the discussion of Cabeswater, and the magic. Yes, please, get everyone in the same place. Yes, please, let that place be a magical forest with talking trees. But that’s for next time.

Best Character Moment:

Want and need were words that got eaten smaller and smaller: freedom, autonomy, a perennial bank balance, a stainless-steel condo in a dustless city, a silky black car, to make out with Blue, eight hours of sleep, a cell phone, to kiss Blue just once, a blister-less heel, bacon for breakfast, to hold Blue’s hand, one hour of sleep, toilet paper, deodorant, a soda, a minute to close his eyes.

What do you want, Adam?

To feel awake when my eyes are open.

Best Turn of Phrase:

That might have been good enough, if he hadn’t known what else was out there. If he hadn’t grown up next to Aglionby Academy. If you never saw the stars, candles were enough.

Action: There was a fight, but it was all words and it made me sad. 4/10

Magic: Besides allowing Adam to catch a couple of images, magic has only done damage!! It is so rude. 4/10

Comic Relief: I’m sticking with a theme here. 4/10

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