The Raven Cycle Reread: 2.03

Summary:

This chapter brings us an immediate answer to the question posed by Declan last time: “Ronan, where the hell are you?” He’s in the Camaro with all of his Best Friends™, and Gansey’s talking on the phone to Mallory. Everyone’s just kind of lounging around, so we get a fair bit of Ronan’s internal monologue. He notices Adam half asleep, Blue getting seeds off her clothes, and Noah being ghosty.

He makes a side comment that Gansey is driving because he always drives, and talking about Glendower because he doesn’t talk about anything else. I found this bit kind of fishy, not because of the car thing—we all have that one Friend Who Drives Everywhere—but because of the conversation topic. I don’t know if I could be friends with a guy who only talks about one thing? There’s got to be some interesting conversation dynamics here, and frankly I’m not seeing them.

Anyways, back to the inside of Ronan’s head. He wants to drive and can’t so he’s being dramatic and pretending to die of heat stroke while looking for something else to do.

Ronan leaned on the cracked black vinyl of the passenger-side door and chewed on the leather bands on his wrist. They tasted like gasoline, a flavor that struck Ronan as both sexy and summery.

This is one of my favorite Ronan lines of all time. First of all, he is willingly ingesting something that tastes like gasoline. Secondly, he likes it. And thirdly, he uses the adjectives “sexy” and “summery” to describe something that’s—well, you’ve probably all smelled gasoline. I don’t know if those adjectives ever came to mind.

This beautiful descriptive imagery is interrupted by Gansey’s stunningly boring conversation about how to look for Glendower under a lake they encountered in their quest to map all of Cabeswater, and whether or not they can use ground-penetrating radar to do it. Mallory’s side of the conversation is not transcribed but is probably equally as boring, so it’s a relief when Gansey hangs up the phone.

Then his mother texts, and we’re stuck in the same boring loop of Adult-Gansey Obligations again. She wants him to come help out on the campaign trail, because she’s rich and bored and running for Congress. I have to say, I’m appreciative that it’s Gansey’s mother running for Congress and not Gansey, Sr., but I suppose I’d be happier if neither of them ran and the Democrat got the seat instead.

Thankfully, all of this chatter is interrupted when another car pulls up next to the Gangsey. Stiefvater, who knows much more about cars than I do, describes it beautifully and gets across the dangerous characteristics without me needing to understand big words like “horsepower” or “transmission.” But, in case you want to know more about the Pig’s current rival, here’s some description by someone who actually knows what they’re talking about:

Kavinsky’s Mitsubishi Evo was a thing of boyish beauty, moon-white with a voracious black mouth of a grille and an immense splattered graphic of a knife on either side of the body.

So, the car looks like gasoline tastes. Sexy and summery.

Kavinsky calls Gansey some bad words and Ronan wants to street race. It’s the same underdevelopment of impulse control that leads me or a cat to think “push” every time we see a glass on the edge of a table. Adam shoots down the idea using his extensive knowledge of cars (Adam, Ronan, and cars is the true romantic coupling we deserve), but Ronan is still trying to convince Gansey. Until, of course, Blue weighs in that Kavinsky’s an asshole and he speeds off into the night.

The last line is Gansey calling Kavinsky trouble, which is very lazy and yet very appreciated forshadowing to Ronan’s relationship with young adult’s classic Hot Dirtbag.

Thoughts and Feelings:

I love being inside Ronan’s head like this. I love it. It’s the first Ronan POV and it starts of with pure wrath. Ronan is pissed, antsy, bored. His narrative and his mind whir so much faster than any of the other characters, and now that we see that he gains like 65 facets per second.

He spends half a page talking about death, and how excited he is to ask St. Peter questions at the pearly gates (it’s deliciously Catholic). He’s constantly moving and shifting. The language used to describe him is so tactile I started to feel itchy and restless myself. It’s not so surprising, after reading this, how Ronan is able to constantly create.

And, then, there’s the pairing you’ve probably seen in popular media if you’ve ever googled the Raven Cycle: Adam and Ronan. To all the people who said that Ronan being gay came out of left field, y’all we’re wrong. Kavinsky rolls up and we get a rundown of every rumor Kavinsky’s ever been involved in. Not to mention a careful description of his “boyishly beautiful” car and Ronan explicitly saying that even though he knows he should hate Kavinsky, he doesn’t. And if you’re not convinced yet, don’t worry. I will be pointing out every instance in this text that the Ronan Is Gay squad painstakingly searched for before it was stated in canon.

The last thing I’m going to say is that the next chapter is from the Gray Man’s POV, and I’m not even mad about it. That’s when you know our villain had a glow up.

Best Character Moment:

Ronan shifted restlessly. The successful demonstration of the plane had left him hyper-alive. He felt like burning something to the ground. He pressed his hand directly over the air-conditioning vent to prevent heat exhaustion. “You’re driving like an old woman.”

Best Turn of Phrase:

He had a refugee’s face, hollow-eyed and innocent.

He wore a lazy smile, and he mouthed something to Gansey that ended with “—unt.”

Action: The lack of street racing was disappointing, but I approve of the gang keeping Ronan out of trouble. 7/10

Magic: Ronan’s POV is the closest non-magic thing to magic I can think of. 9/10

Comic Relief: Sexy. And. Summery. 9/10

The Raven Cycle Reread: 2.02

Summary:

Remember when I told you this book let you in to new sides of Ronan that you’d never seen before? Well, I wasn’t kidding. This chapter opens with an in-depth look at the life and times of Declan Lynch, which greatly informs why our phone-hating, school-ditching, tattooed Ronan is the way he is.

Also, the fun twist is that it’s all through the eyes of a hit man, so. That’s especially fun.

Declan Lynch, the oldest of the Lynch brothers, was never alone. He was never with his brothers, but he was never alone. He was a perpetual-motion machine run by the energy of others: here leaning over a friend’s table at a pizza joint, here drawn into an alcove with a girl’s palm to his mouth, here laughing over the hood of an older man’s Mercedes.

(Why the hell is some girl’s palm on Declan’s mouth? That strikes me as distinctly unsexy. As someone who has been a girl for 19 years, I wouldn’t flirt palm first. But that’s just me.)

This is all to say that the Gray Man (yes, the assassin is called “The Gray Man”) is waiting for Declan to be alone, and it is taking a very long time. He follows Declan around as he navigates Aglionby in the summer, and we get some gratuitous descriptions of a well-manicured prep school that confuse the hell out of me. Am I supposed to feel bad for these rich boys living in dorms over the summer? Is there any way in hell I’d believe that instead of numbers, the rooms are labelled with attributes like “piety” and “effervescence?” Because, okay. I get that this is a rich person school. I also go to a rich person school, and our dorms have numbers like everyone else.

We get some fun internal monologue from the Gray Man, who is infinitely better than Barrington Whelk because he thinks thoughts like this:

The Gray Man checked his watch. The rental car place closed in an hour, and if he despised anything, it was public transportation. This would have to be brief.

The Gray Man busts down the door. To his credit, Declan recovers quickly and starts to fight, but he’s really getting his ass handed to him. Then, of course, the gun comes into play.

Stiefvater makes it very clear that Declan keeps the gun not as insurance for if, but when. He’s just not ready for the Gray Man to throw a motorcycle helmet at him, take the gun, and then pistol-whip him several times across the face. It’s grim.

The Gray Man wants to know where the Greywaren is. He’s willing to shoot Declan in several vital organs to figure it out. After maybe the third time Declan says it, the Gray Man decides to believe it, and then Declan gets a little more homework and finds out who killed his father.

After he pretends to leave, the Gray Man stands in the hallway and watches Declan through a crack in the door he just broke. Declan calls Matthew, first, but he left his phone in his room. Which is the same room as Declan’s! That’s sweet. We stan Matthew. He then calls Ronan. We know this because nobody picks up, and also because Declan says “Ronan, where the hell are you?”

Which, honestly, is what we all want to know.

Thoughts and Feelings:

So. Declan.

Empathizing with Declan is new to me. This chapter makes it so easy, and also so hard. The thins about Declan is that he had the same father as Ronan but nowhere near the same amount of affection. He’s also everything that Aglionby loves a man to be, which isn’t objectively bad. It’s just a little too slimy for most people’s liking.

And yet there’s the image of him lying on the floor, nose broken, shoulder dislocated, calling his little brother before he calls 911. Sleeping with a gun in his dresser drawer because he knows, at some point, somebody is going to try and kill him. So different from Ronan, who would never be content to wait for something to come to him, but just as young. And just as parentless!

The Lynch boys are all kinds of messed up and I just want them to have a few soft moments. Is that too much to ask? (Not for Matthew, who spent this entire chapter chilling on a boat with his friends, but for the other two).

As for the introduction of the Gray Man, I know it’s only been one chapter so far, but as someone who’s read the books many times before I’m going to spoil something really quickly: we like him. He’s fun. He’s the best villain we get in this series.

Best Character Moment:

But the Gray Man had known before he arrived that Niall Lynch had taught his sons to box. The only thing the Gray Man’s father had taught him was how to pronounce trebuchet.

Best Turn of Phrase:

The Gray Man had been called effervescent, once, in an article. He was fairly certain it was because he had very straight teeth. Even teeth seemed to be a prerequisite for effervescence.

Action: There’s a gun! And a fight! It’s insane!!! 15/10

Magic: Unfortunately, Declan is not as magical as his brother. 4/10

Comic Relief: The Gray Man has very hard opinions on things. It’s a real treat to read about them. 8/10

The Raven Cycle Reread: 2.01

Summary:

The first line of this book is a perfect introduction into how the rest of this book is going to go:

Theoretically, Blue Sargent was probably going to kill one of these boys.

Welcome to Dream Thieves, people! Where Blue Sargent owns 3 ½ boys who she loves but exasperate her to no end. There’s also the quick recap about the whole true-love’s-kiss-and-then-he-dies scenario, but we’ve talked about that extensively and you probably already know what’s up.

Right now, we’re standing on a hilltop. It’s windy. Gansey is busy being beautiful on top of the hill in his infamous yellow polo shirt, and Blue is busy thinking about him being turned into a statue outside a library so she can look at him all day long. That’s love, folks.

Except that Blue has just decided it’s not, because he made a stupid feminist joke. And, anyways, she already decided she’s into Adam. Who cares about Gansey’s “nice mouth” and “gloriously tanned legs?” Certainly not Blue Sargent.

They stood in a close circle: Adam Parrish, gaunt and fair; Noah Czerny, smudgy and slouching; and Ronan Lynch, ferocious and dark. On Ronan’s tattooed shoulder perched his pet raven, Chainsaw.

Just in case you forgot who you were dealing with. (I’ve been doing a lot of reading for my classics class, and these adjectives remind me of a lot of the epithets you get in epic poetry—gaunt Adam and smudgy Czerny stood next to the war-painted Ronan).

Blue joins the circle and Adam touches her elbow, which is supposed to be romantic, I think. Ronan is too busy opening up a small model plane to notice. Upon closer examination everyone realizes the battery hatch is empty, and so the plane shouldn’t be able to fly. Adam points that out and Ronan makes fun of him for it. It’s all very teenage boy.

Gansey takes a more scholarly approach—there’s an empty space in the plane, something should probably go in there, right? Ronan sleeping brain answered missiles but he didn’t manage to take those, so Blue suggests grass seeds. Resourcefulness is one of her best qualities. Ronan thinks so, too, which is why he says “good thinking, Maggot.” Blue ignores him and compares the dynamics of their group to the plane’s controllers, which has five buttons. Adam is the button off to the side, apparently. This part isn’t very subtle.

I have three things to say about this section: first, Ronan calling Blue “Maggot” is very important to me. Second, shut up about how Adam isn’t “as close” as the others, Blue. He’s not the only one who was involved in a ritual sacrifice; your dad popped out of the ley line only to pop back in at the moment of your birth. We all deal with shit. And third, they are so very excited about this plane and it’s just a really cute way to start off the story. I kind of can’t get enough of it.

Ronan pitched the plane left and right, looping it around the crest, Chainsaw close behind. When the plane passed back overhead, he hit that fifth button. Seeds cascaded from the open hatch, rolling off their shoulders. Blue clapped and reached out her palm to catch one.  

“You incredible creature,” Gansey said.

See? Cute.

With Ronan’s superpower proved real, they gather up their stuff and resume their walk along the ley line.

Thoughts and Feelings:

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: what a lovely way to start a book! All of our favorite teenagers are back to making fun of each other in the Virginia countryside. After what happened at the end of the last book, with all those fraught conversations and angry looks, it’s nice to see them doing magic that doesn’t result in one of their teachers getting trampled.

I mentioned this briefly in the summary, but I think it’s worth repeating that it’s only chapter one and I’m already tired of everyone singling Adam out. Blue is pushing this idea that because Adam sacrificed his freedom to the ley line, that he’s somehow set apart from the rest of them, and that’s just not true? Out of the four boys Blue is observing, one is dead, one died and then was resurrected, one of them inherited the ability to pull objects out of his dreams. But somehow, Adam’s the only one who took it too far. It doesn’t add up!

I think it’s just because Blue is so aware of Adam, in the same way she’s aware of Gansey. And even with Gansey she’s too busy picking out all the things about him that sets him apart from her, the things she doesn’t like. She’s so used to feeling a special kinship with Adam because of their shared past that she’s not sure what to do about this divergence in future. Which, okay. I get that. But don’t compare him to the fifth button on the remote control. That’s just rude.

Overall, though, this chapter was emotionally and scenically beautiful. I want it painted, so I can hang it above the fireplace I don’t have.

Looking forward, I’m excited for a lot of things. Ronan and Blue’s relationship really takes off from here (Maggot was only the beginning), Blue learns to love more about Gansey than just his “gloriously tanned” legs, and we get more and more and more magic.

Best Character Moment:

And Ronan stood there with his hands on the controller and his gaze on the sky, not smiling, but not frowning, either. His eyes were frighteningly alive, the curve of his mouth savage and pleased. It suddenly didn’t seem at all surprising that he should be able to pull things from his dreams.

In that moment, Blue was a little in love with all of them. Their magic. Their quest. Their awfulness and strangeness. Her raven boys.

Best Turn of Phrase:

They set off on the perfectly straight ley line, Ronan’s gaze still directed up to his plane and to Chainsaw, a white bird and a black bird against the azure ceiling of the world. As they walked, a sudden rush of wind hurled low across the grass, bringing with it the scent of moving water and rocks hidden in shadows, and Blue thrilled again and again with the knowledge that magic was real, magic was real, magic was real.

Action: It’s chapter one, dude. 5/10

Magic: Need I remind you: magic was real, magic was real, magic was real. 100/10

Comic Relief: Gansey making anti-feminist jokes was a little too annoying to rate this any higher than a 7/10

The Raven Cycle Reread: 2.00

Summary:

Hello everyone, and welcome! It’s the first ever Dream Thieves summary and boy am I heckin excited. I want to start by talking about one of the quotes that precedes the prologue, because it’s just too good to ignore. There’s a poem about taking a flower out of your dreams, a quote about how dreams are dangerous, and then this bad boy:

I loathe people who keep dogs. They are cowards who haven’t got the guts to bite people themselves.

-August Strindberg

I live by that quote. I have that quote written down on the first page of my journal. It is objectively amazing and there is no better way to start off this book wherein many people are bitten and we fall in love with the dogs who do it.

Now into the prologue. It functions as a sort of backstory for not only Ronan, but his whole family. This is done through the lens of secrets. First, we have to define what a secret is. They’re split into three types: secrets you keep from other people, secrets you keep from yourselves, and secrets that are so big, you don’t even know you’re keeping them.

This part feels a little bit like Patrick Rothfuss’s twice-used opening sequence where he describes types of silence. If I weren’t so lazy, I’d google which one came first just to see who was inspired by who. Regardless, we get to Ronan when Stiefvater starts to describe all of the secrets Ronan keeps, and why he keeps them.

The first secret is Niall Lynch. He claims that his birth broke the mold (evidence: an earthquake with a 4.1 magnitude). We’re supposed to be skeptical, because there are three Lynch brothers and all of them are like little mirror images of their father. This marks the first of around a thousand aggressively poetic descriptions of Ronan you can expect to see as we get further into the novel.

Each flattered a different side of Niall. Declan had the same way of taking a room and shaking its hand. Matthew’s curls were netted with Niall’s charm and humor. And Ronan was everything that was left: molten eyes and a smile made for war.

Niall then goes on to talk about how Ronan’s birth was also a capital E Event. There were dried up rivers and cows that cried tears of blood and laughing ravens and flowers everywhere. If any of you have siblings, you can imagine what Declan said next. The classic and ever-pervasive “what about me?” Of course, Niall Lynch is not your classic father. He can’t tell Declan about his birth because he didn’t bother to show up.

The first thing I thought of when I read about Niall straight up telling his kid he wasn’t there when he was born was a quote from a John Mulaney special: “One black coffee. Same motherfucker.” Basically, Niall Lynch is the kind of guy who would roll up to a McDonald’s drive through and order one black coffee while his children scream in the backseat. Stone cold. Unflinching. That’s Niall Lynch.

Niall’s face was smeared with blood and blue petals.

“I was just dreaming of the day you were born,” Niall said, “Ronan.”

He wiped the blood on his forehead to show Ronan that there was no wound beneath it. The petals snared in the blood were shaped like tiny stars. Ronan was struck with how sure he was that they had come from his father’s mind.

That is also Niall Lynch. Fun multitudes, right?

Anyways, the first secret is that Ronan’s father was crazy and could also dream things into existence. The second secret, the one Ronan keeps from himself, is that he’s terrified. But, hey, it makes him human, so I’m not complaining.

The last secret, the big one, we get through a dream. Ronan’s asleep, and he’s looking at the Camaro. Gansey doesn’t let him drive it, because he’s smart. But then we watch Ronan pluck the keys from the ignition of this dream-Camaro and hold them in his fist. When he wakes up, they’re still there.

The third secret, it turns out, is a variation on the first. Niall Lynch could dream things into reality. So can his son.

Thoughts and Feelings:

I think the comparison I made to Rothfuss earlier speaks for itself. This prologue oozes magic and poetry and all the fun and good things we can expect from this book that we only got a little taste of in the first.

And I also appreciate the fact that this prologue gives us more backstory on Ronan that we got in the whole first book. Anyways, I’m not thinking or feeling a ton that isn’t my Earth Sciences midterm coming up, so I’m gonna end this quickly in the interest of getting it up on time.

Dream Thieves! Woohoo!!

Best Character Moment:

“When I was born,” Niall Lynch told his middle son, “God broke the mold so hard the ground shook.”

This was already a lie, because if God truly had broken the mold for Niall, He’d made Himself a knockoff twenty years later to craft Ronan and his two brothers, Declan and Matthew.

Best Turn of Phrase:

All of us have secrets in our lives. We’re keepers or kept-from, players or played. Secrets and cockroaches—that’s what will be left at the end of it all.

Action: I mean, it’s the prologue. Nothing happening is kind of the whole point. 5/10

Magic: Magic??? MAGIC??? Arguably too much! 11/10

Comic Relief: I can’t tell if Ronan’s childhood was happy or not, and that’s the opposite of funny. 4/10