The Raven Cycle Reread: 2.16

Summary:

We start off with a broken down Camaro that presents several distinct problems. First, to restart it they’ll need a new battery. There is nowhere near them that sells car batteries. Second, Adam works for the only towing company in town and knows that there are State Inspections, so it’s going to take them hours to come pick them up. Third, this is the precise moment Ronan decides to throw a hissy fit, and Blue decides to call him out for it. Needless to say, there’s some swearing and neither party learns anything.

We’re still in Adam’s point of view, so any time Blue and Gansey interact in their efforts to solve the problem, the rampant jealousy really jumps out.

She and Gansey ducked their heads together to examine the screen and mutter about map options. The image of her dark hair and his dusty hair touching searing something inside Adam, but it was just one more sting in a sea of jellyfish.

After this Adam decides it’s time to keep the self-loathing party going, and when Blue continues to admonish Ronan for throwing rocks instead of communicating his feelings in a healthy way, Adam thinks it’s directed at him. He “simmers in shame and indignation,” this feeling only made worse by the fact that he’s the one who woke up the ley line and now Cabeswater is gone.

I want to make it clear here that I don’t want to trivialize Adam’s emotions re: physical violence. He’s processing his emotions in whatever way he knows how, which is 100% valid and also a process he needs to go through. Someone should give him a hug and it’s infuriating that nobody is doing that, so to take out my anger at the situation I’m doing my best to be lighthearded and snarky. Okay. Rant over. Back to the Gangsey in their car.

Gansey unilaterally decides he’s calling Declan to bring them a new battery, which goes over about as well as you can imagine. Ronan once again takes himself out of the conversation. Everyone else is still talking about what could have happened to Cabeswater. It’s Adam’s idea to ask Noah where he goes when they can’t see him, to answer the question: is Cabeswater gone gone, or just hidden from view?

Noah just blinked at him from the dimness of the back seat, his eyes liquid and far away. He was, Adam noted, nearly disappeared already. He was more the feeling of Noah than actually Noah.  

I find moments like these to be some of the saddest in the series, if only because we don’t know a Noah who isn’t ghostly. It makes me forget, often, that he fades in and out. That he’s so much less now than he was before Whelk got his grimy hands on him. Everyone forgets: the characters, the reader, Noah himself, until moments like this when he can’t participate in the discussion because he’s already gone, and we didn’t even notice him going.

But, like compensation for making us so sad, Steifvater hits us with the best scene. My favorite scene! Because when Declan arrives, well—I’ll just let y’all read for yourselves.

Ronan said, “Move up, move up” to Blue until she scooted the passenger seat far enough for him to clamber behind it into the back seat. He hurriedly sprawled back in the seat, throwing one jean-covered leg over the top of Adam’s and laying his head in a posture of thoughtless abandon. By the time Declan arrived at the driver’s side window, Ronan looked as if he had been asleep for days.

Amazing! Perfect! 11/10!

And, to add to the amazingness and perfection, Declan notices that Ronan’s leg is touching Adam’s. In fact, when that happened, “his expression tightened.” That’s a protective Declan realizing something about his little brother that might make life harder for him, and worrying. Declan has a lot to worry about already, with the assassin on his trail and everything, but it’s not unreasonable for him to be concerned about his brother having feelings for his best friend, given that they go to a southern all-boys school. Just something to think about. Declan doesn’t hate Ronan, he’s just scared. Terrified. Something Adam picks up on right away.

Anyways, back to the story. Declan gives them the battery. Ronan tells Adam why Declan’s face is covered in bruises. Declan sees through Ronan’s sleepy disguise and yells at him to keep his head down. Gansey de-escalates the potential conflict using some annoying version of the bro code that makes Blue feel patronized, but the minute Declan leaves, he apologizes. Everyone is tired, and angry, and Cabeswater is still gone.

It’s not looking up for the Gangsey, but really, when has it ever been?

Thoughts and Feelings:

The very first thing this chapter does is give us a big old plot hole. I’ve been very forgiving thus far about Stiefvater’s preference to end chapters with one-liners that double as cliffhangers. I don’t begrudge her the fact that it makes her books page turners, but if you’re going to do that at least pick up the narrative where you left off. In the last chapter, it ends with them parked outside the field where Cabeswater used to be. Keyword: parked. And then, all of a sudden, the Camaro breaks down and Gansey has to wrestle it to the shoulder of the road.

What road? When did they start driving again? Was it at some point during the several sentences of description about what a car engine sounds like when it dies? It’s sometimes a good choice to just throw the reader into a new scene and forego transition. It keeps the narrative moving, it avoids boring scenes where all characters do is move themselves from one place to the next. And never mind the fact that the decision to give up on Cabeswater, to leave it behind and go somewhere else to figure out what happened, might have been an interesting moment for us to see. You can’t start a chapter with “and then” when it’s not continuous from the previous one!

To make a long complaint short, we’ll refer to my post-it: “PLOT HOLE! u can’t”

I have another complaint, though, but I’m not going to beat this one over the head. I already mentioned Ronan’s temper tantrum, but that paragraph of character description made me angry. Like, an actual feeling of rage coursed through my body. Here’s why:

The thing about Ronan Lynch, Adam has discovered, was that he wouldn’t—or couldn’t—express himself with words. So every emotion had to be spelled out in some other way. A fist, a fire, a bottle. Now Cabeswater was missing and the Pig was hobbled, and he needed to go have a silent shouting fit with his body.

The first sentence is fine. The last one is also fine. In fact, it even borders on acceptable. I like the bit about the “silent shouting fit with his body,” it feels true to character. But what comes in the middle? “A first, a fire, a bottle?” This is Mary Shelley writing, and by that I mean it sounds like a teenager in a horror fiction competition is doing her very best to write about an edgy boy. It might not stick out to anyone else, but I’ve been close reading this writing for going on a year now, and I’m sensitive to poor description. Here is some that does not do Ronan justice and should be pointed out.

In an effort to make this part not all criticism, I’d like to reiterate the point already made above about the image of sleeping Ronan tangling his legs with Adam’s, and Declan’s reactions. Those were good bits of descriptions in this chapter. I liked those bits. They made me happy. I already said why, so I won’t get into it again, and I will also let my poor hands rest from typing by ending this post here. See you soon for chapter 17! I promise.

Best Character Moment:

There was a breath’s silence. This was where Gansey, if he were Ronan, would swear. Where if he were Adam, he’d close his eyes. Where if he were Blue, he’d snap in exasperation.

But Gansey merely rubbed a thumb over his lip and then drew himself up. He was instantly cool and elegant, all true emotions placed in an undisclosed location.

Best Turn of Phrase:

The engine ticked like the twitch of a dying man’s foot. Adam rested his forehead on his knees and curled his arms behind his head.

All at once, Ronan snarled, “This car. This fucking car, man. If this was a Plymouth Voyager, it would have been crushed for war crimes a long time ago.”

Action: Meh. 5/10

Magic: Unless you count the Pig dying at a supremely inopportune moment magic, I’m afraid you’re all out of luck. 4/10

Comic Relief: Blue and Ronan have a fight, but it’s more exasperating than funny. 6/10

The Raven Cycle Reread: 2.15

Summary:

As you may remember from two chapters ago, the Gangsey has finally decided it’s time to go back to Cabeswater. Yes, you heard, me right: after 14 chapters of doing exactly nothing, we’re going back to the forest that drives the plot. Is it overdue? Yes. Am I going to complain any longer? No.

This is an Adam POV chapter, so it wouldn’t be complete without a nice long rumination on how he’s somehow less than his best friends. This time we go back to the seed of his friendship with Gansey, a thinly veiled rumination on class distinction and the luxury that leisure time really is. It also manages to be pleasantly queer in its descriptions of Gansey’s grace and charm, going so far as to throw Ronan a compliment as well.

And he was the boy with the most beautifully interesting car and the most savagely handsome of friends, Ronan Lynch. He was the opposite of Adam in every possible way.

For all of you who think that Adam’s bisexuality isn’t represented in narrative, I beg you to look at the above passage. To go back to the book, actually, and read this whole chapter. Adam loves beauty! He doesn’t care where it comes from!!

The story of their initial meeting is that Adam biked past Gansey on his way to school. The Camaro was broken down, like it always seems to be, and Adam offered to fix it. Gansey played into one of the classic “I said I don’t want to be your bf because I want to be your husband” memes and said no, which made Adam incredibly sad and full of self-loathing, until he was like “I want you to teach me how to fix it myself.”

Long love story short, Gansey put Adam’s bike in the back of his car and drove him to school, asked him what he knew about Welsh kings, and the rest is history.

We rocket back to the present and are told that Gansey hates being still (for a guy that hates stillness it sure did take you a long time to get off your ass and go back to Cabeswater, but I digress). Everyone is in the car and Gansey is talking to the Pig like it’s a person, which I hate, and Ronan is playing terrible music, which I love. Adam is catching images and the magic is ramping up and the mood is excited which I’m trying to mimic with this run-on sentence and then

Cabeswater is gone. Like, was-never-there, everyone-was-on-something-and-dreamed-it gone.

The field went on and on. Scrubby grass gave way to a wash where a stream must have been, and then continued on for more acres of grass. Hundreds of acres of field.

There were no trees.

Chapter over.

Thoughts and Feelings:

Although this chapter is distinctly short, at least they’re doing something, you know? They’re in the car, they’re moving, and now that Cabeswater is gone they’re forced into action! That’s good. I’m excited about that one, even though it comes with the absence of magic.

Something that I want to address, though, in this short little post before I go do some research for my Chaucer essay: the whole “the real Gansey” thing is starting to make me a little bit annoyed. Every person is made up of the layers and layers of artifice we use to make ourselves palatable to other people. (Sorry I sound so pretentious but I have a lot of feelings about this so I’m trying to be precise). It’s not about what’s “really” underneath, because what makes up a person is a combination of what they think, feel, and do. And Gansey is out here doing things and hiding them under the idea that it’s not the Real Him, like his displays of wealth are some mask that we shouldn’t consider. But he’s choosing to put the mask on! It is an inherent part of him!

I just think it’s a really odd message to be sending out in a young adult novel, that if we hide our actions behind the sentiment that it isn’t the “real us,” then it shouldn’t reflect back on us. Our friends should be able to see the mask slipping and know who we really are. And this is just a small mention of that, but I’ve heard it so many times in the first 15 chapters of this book alone that it seems to have struck a nerve. But that’s all I have to say on that, let’s get to the ratings.

Best Character Moment:

Noah played the drums on the back of Ronan’s headrest. Adam, for his part, was not wild, but his did his best not to appear unwild, so as not to ruin it for the others.

Best Turn of Phrase:

They didn’t speak. Why would they speak? Adam slid into class and kept his head down and listened, trying to learn how to clip his accent. Gansey, a furious sun, glowed from the other side of the universe, his gravitational pull too distant to affect Adam.

Action: Some movement. I’m not mad. 8/10

Magic: The magic is that the magic is gone! Trippy, but effective. 6/10

Comic Relief: None. 2/10

The Raven Cycle Reread: 2.14

Summary:

So here’s the thing. Irish universities do this thing where they give all the students “reading week,” which is to catch up on studies and decompress from midterm essays being due, etc. Instead of doing what was recommended, I went traveling for a week to 3 separate countries and, needless to say, was behind on work. Couple that with a general anxiety disorder and the mental block that builds up when I don’t do something for a while, and you can understand why it’s been almost a month since I’ve posted anything.

But I’m back! Forcing myself to do this! Getting back into the swing of things is going to be tough but I’m really going to try to get these going regularly and post some travel/general life updates, since I was enjoying doing those as well. And hey, why not tell you about the books I’m reading? Content™, folks, I’m going to try and create it.

What better way to ease myself back into The Raven Cycle than with a chapter about the women of Fox Way? Here we go.

Emily from a month ago post-it-noted that this is it, this is the kind of chapter that sets this series apart from so many others. All the characters are rich, including the side characters and the parents. Finding parental figures with personalities other than the generic “overbearing” or “free-spirited” is near impossible, and Maura Sargent alone would be a treasure. Having Calla and Persephone makes this book a winning lottery ticket.

So, the plot: the women are bored. They’re going to test the limits of how psychic they are. We love them for it.

On days off, when the mixed drinks emerged, it often became a game. Maura, Calla, and Persephone scavenged the house for magazines, books, cereal boxes, old decks of tarot cards—anything with words or images… Maura called it continuing education. Calla called it turning tricks. Persephone called it that thing we could do if there’s nothing on television?

Calla is drunk (we’re happy for her). Persephone isn’t (Persephone doesn’t need us to be sad for her, because she’s sad for herself). Before we can see about Maura’s mental state, the doorbell rings, and in walks the Gray Man. He doesn’t want a reading, which is refreshing. He says he’s doing research for a novel. Nobody believes him.

The women let him stay because he can recite poetry, and they give him alcohol because he can recite it in the original Old English. The Gray Man is very handsome, so the conversation is very flirty, especially on Maura’s part. They eventually decide that it’s time to impress him, and this is when we realize how good at their jobs these three women really are.

“Would you do the honor, Mr. Gray?” Maura handed him the deck of cards. “You’ll have to ask ‘top or bottom’.”

Mr. Gray gravely accepted the responsibility. He asked Calla, “top or bottom?”

“Three of cups. And top, of course,” Calla said, her smile plum and wicked. “The only place to be.”

Hell yeah.

Calla and Maura trade correct predictions on which card is at the top or the bottom of the deck. Persephone raises the stakes (and becomes queen of the observable world) when she says the king of swords is 16 cards from the top and she’s right. Legend.

She’s also right about the fact that the king of swords is Mr. Gray’s card:

“The king of swords is a very powerful card. He’s strong, but impartial—cold. He is very, very good about making decisions based on facts instead of emotion. No, it’s not a terrible card. But I’m picking up something else off it. Something like…”

“Violence,” Calla finished.

Once they’re done reading him for filth, the Gray Man admits he’s a hit man with little to no prompting. There’s a moment of shock, everyone gets over it, and they all have another drink and a nice conversation. When the Gray Man asks Maura out, she says yes. It’s all very civilized, until he leaves and you find out that Calla stole his wallet.

Thoughts and Feelings:

I love this chapter. I mean, I already talked about it being a gem just due to the amazing side characters that this book gives us, but as a chapter? As a way to humanize the Gray Man and make him a deeper and more complex antagonist who’s not very antagonizing at all? Simply amazing.

I want you all to think back to book one, where we had that absolutely nasty chapter in which Barrington Whelk came into 300 Fox Way without an appointment and demanded a reading. He was a prick. I was uncomfortable. I did not like reading that chapter and I didn’t like talking about it. This chapter is basically a thesis paper on why the Gray Man is infinitely preferable to Barrington Whelk, and it got an A.

I’m a fan of all the flirting that Maura does being connected to violent threats and meaningful glares. Only Maura would flirt with a known hitman. The morality of these women is both fluid and amazing. Also, I’m never particularly afraid for Blue’s life, because I truly do believe that the Gray Man would get himself killed before he ever laid a finger on Blue. I also believe that, after witnessing this interaction, he’s not malicious and wouldn’t hurt Blue unless there was money in it for him. The ethics of that are sketchy, but at least he didn’t kill his roommate because Daddy’s credit cards stopped working, you know?

The last thing I have to say on this topic is that Persephone is a Virginian Luna Lovegood. Go ahead, try and change my mind. You can’t. Because I’m right. That’s all I wanted to say.

Best Character Moment:

He did absolutely nothing to make his words easier to accept. It was impossible to tell if he was asking them to believe him or to humor him or to fear him. He merely laid out this confession and waited.

Finally, Maura said, “might be nice to have someone deadlier than Calla in the room for a change.”

Best Turn of Phrase:

At that moment, the doorbell rang. Maura swore delicately: one well-chosen and highly specific word. Calla swore indelicately: several more words with rather fewer syllables.

Action: Ah, the action present in inaction *chef’s kiss* 7/10

Magic: I don’t even need to explain myself. 12/10

Comic Relief: Drunk Calla and Persephone watching Maura violently flirt with a hit man should be a Netflix Comedy special. 10/10

The Raven Cycle Reread: 2.13

Summary:

This chapter begins with probably one of the most relatable sentences Stiefvater has ever written:

Blue very much liked having the boys over to her house.

Dude! Me too! Have the boys over every chapter!

We get an explanation about why this is that involves how she sees the boys differently when they’re in a space that’s definitively hers, especially since around her family she can’t lay claim to it the way she can around an outsider. It’s hard to be a human battery in a room full of psychics, something we so often forget about Blue.

Only Gansey and Adam are visiting today. Ronan is somewhere else and Noah is elsewhere, so after a quick Gansey OOTD (green shirt, fancy coffee, restless energy) we get right down to business. They’re trying to decide whether or not today is the day they go back to Cabeswater, and there’s two sides: team “there are rules regarding the energy that we don’t understand, so it’s too dangerous and we shouldn’t go”, and team “who cares we’re going anyways.” Can you guess which one comes out on top?

[Maura] would see a rich boy dressed and coiffed like a newscaster—but his eyes were like the dreaming pool in Cabeswater. He hid the insatiable wanting well, but now that she’d seen in once, she couldn’t stop seeing it. But he wouldn’t be able to explain it to Maura.

And he would never really have to explain it to Blue.

There are some fun side plots, like the consumption of Maura’s horrible-tasting psychic tea and, as with every Blue POV, finding Gansey’s vulnerability attractive, but the fact remains that this is a Decision Chapter and the decision has been made. Calla has something to say about it, but Blue and Gansey are teenagers, so there’s no reason for them to listen.

Blue and Gansey both remember Adam at the same time. Gansey takes the opportunity to ask Blue about the murderkiss as promised. Actually, he calls it “that no-kissing curse thing,” which is a mouthful and made me really glad I invented the term murderkiss. It really rolls off the tongue.

They have a small, heated argument during which Blue tries really hard to pretend like she isn’t attracted to Gansey and fails miserably. Instead of facing her failure she runs outside to inform Maura they’ll be going to Cabeswater as soon as Ronan arrives, and to ask about the scrying bowl in the attic. Maura lies, Blue calls her out on it, and then Maura admits to using it to look for Butternut (the colloquial term for Blue’s absent father).

Because they forgot about Adam again, Blue’s surprised when she catches Maura and Call looking at him. My post-it note here said “Adam!!!! Bby boi!!!!!” which I think is most people’s reaction to any mention of Adam Parrish, but certainly not Blue’s.

He sat in the reading room by himself, the diffuse morning light rendering him soft and dusty. He had removed one of the three tarot decks from its bag and lined all of the cards face up in three long rows. Now he leaned on the table and studied the image on each, one at a time, shuffling on his elbows to the next when he was through. He looked nothing like the Adam who’s lost his temper and everything like the Adam she had first met. That was what was frightening, though—there’d been no warning.

The grown-up psychics decide someone needs to talk to him, and Calla announces it won’t be her. There’s a lovely train wreck analogy in which Adam’s described as a derailment, because he’s taking quite a bit of time to come off the tracks, but he’s coming off nonetheless. Because they’re psychic, I assume they knew that Adam could hear them the whole time.

He has a very healthy response to the whole derailment issue: “that would mean I was on the tracks to start with.” Sad and self-aware, that’s our Adam.

And then, probably my favorite part of the whole chapter, which I will copy below as not to mar it with my poor summarizing skills.

Gansey appeared beside Blue in the doorway. He shook his empty bottle at her.

“Fair trade,” he told her in a way that indicated he had selected a fair-trade coffee beverage entirely so that he could tell Blue that he had selected a fair-trade coffee beverage so that she could tell him Well done with your carbon footprint and all that jazz.

Blue said, “Better recycle the bottle.”

Whatever works, Blue. Whatever works.

Thoughts and Feelings:

I love this chapter with a particular fierceness because it looks both backwards and forwards at some of my favorite Blue and Gansey moments (known to fandom as Bluesey, which is a very cute name).

Blue is surprised when Gansey refers to her using her real name because she’s so used to Jane. That’s amazing. That’s adorable. I’m going to shut up about it before y’all get annoyed with me. Then, we get the first appearance of Blue and Gansey’s romantic yogurt consumption. I know, I know. You’re asking: how the hell can yogurt consumption be romantic?

Well, when it’s yogurt with fruit on the bottom and one person likes the yogurt and one person likes the fruit and they share the experience of consuming a delicious and nutritious snack, how can you not pass out at the pure and unadulterated romance? That’s right, you can’t.

And then, lastly, it’s the way that Blue and Gansey interact. With Adam, Blue completely freezes. Unless she’s angry, she loses any semblance of character she previously had. Instead, when she’s with Gansey, it’s very Elizabeth and Darcy. They have these quick, witty conversations that start with one of them (usually Blue) angry and end with both of them laughing. An example:

“Isn’t every female relative of yours in this house somewhere?”

Blue whispered furiously. “Don’t be un-un—“

“Couth? Uncouth?”
“Disrespectful! My grandmothers are both dead.”

“Well, Jesus. What did they die of?”

“Mom always said ‘meddling’.”

That’s how you develop a romance, people.

(We are going to ignore the plot-hole of Blue knowing how or when Artemus’s mother died because it’s small and insignificant, but I do want to brag about my knowledge of the series by pointing it out. So, I guess we’re not going to ignore it. I’ll shut up now.)

Overall, my feelings about this chapter can be summed up in one sentence: Thank God, we’re going to Cabeswater.

Best Character Moment:

Gansey took a drink of his healing tea. Maura’s chin jutted as she observed the lump of It heading down his throat. His face remained precisely the same and he said absolutely nothing, but after a moment, he made a gentle fist of his hand and thumped his breastbone.

“What did you say that was good for?” he asked politely.

Best Turn of Phrase:

Gansey completely forgot they were being secretive and let out a tremendous laugh. It was a powerful thing, that laugh. He only did it once, but his eyes remained shaped like it.

Action: The promise of future action is enough for me. 7/10

Magic: I don’t think Maura’s tea quite did the trick. And anyways, she spent the whole chapter being distinctly unhelpful. 4/10

Comic Relief: Gansey insinuated that Blue’s family keeps the male relatives live in the basement! Classic comedy! 11/10

The Raven Cycle Reread: 2.12

Summary:

In the beginning of this chapter, for an exceptionally lovely page and a half, we are thrust back into 300 Fox Way. It’s been so long that I almost forgot what their house number was, which is a travesty. I promise it will never happen again.

But, as things go at Fox Way, this is a pretty quiet morning. We’re mostly concerned with Blue’s summer reading and its subsequent interruption as her Aunt Jimi comes in to smudge the room. I didn’t know what that was, but I quickly found out it’s when you burn bundles of herbs and then walk around to cleanse somewhere of bad energy. The bad energy we’re getting rid of today is Neeve’s, because unlike the reader, the occupants of Blue’s house haven’t forgotten that she was doing bad witchy stuff very recently.

Now Jimi waved the lavender and sage in Blue’s face. “Sacred smoke, cleanse the soul of this young woman before me and give her some common sense.”

Blue is waiting for Adam and Gansey to come over and leaves the smokiness of her room, fully preparing to wait for them out there, when she realizes the attic door has been left open. What teenager wouldn’t be inclined to snoop, with an invitation like that? Blue goes upstairs.

She finds that everything has been packed away and shoved to the side except for Neeve’s mirrors and her scrying bowl, which looks like it’s been recently used. That doesn’t make sense, not only because Neeve has been gone for months, but because scrying is dangerous and the women of Fox Way have been sufficiently warned against it. We are (not so subtly) posed the question: who’s scrying? And what are they looking for?

We then switch point-of-view to a nice little flashback where Ronan explains how he once saw the devil. This isn’t a joke, or a fun little metaphor where he describes the human cruelty he’s been witness to. No, Ronan Lynch saw his father shoot a red, horned being in the head. What he called the devil then showed Niall its genitalia and then left.

I’m not entirely sure what to make of this story, except to tell you all that it’s supposed to serve as an explanation for why Ronan is religious and transition to a scene in St. Agnes, with Noah and all three Lynch brothers.

It was the devil who drove him to church every Sunday, but it was his brother Matthew who drove him to a pew beside Declan.

Declan looks terrible. We know why he looks terrible; remember when he got the shit kicked out of him in chapter two? But he doesn’t tell Ronan everything, instead saying it’s a burglary and refusing to say anything more about it. Ronan’s a little jealous; he’s definitely of the fun sibling mentality that dictates nobody but him can beat up his brothers.

That sweet bonding moment is interrupted when Declan, acting with no tact (as per usual), tells Ronan that Kavinsky isn’t Lynch Family Approved and they should stop hanging around each other. Even if there wasn’t gay tension there, Ronan would still have a right to be pissed, but you can see how the setting might up the tension. Catholic church, estranged brother telling you not to talk about the boy you dreamed a present for the night before—it’s a lot to take in.

Sometimes, Declan seemed to think that being a year older gave him special knowledge of the seedier side of Henrietta. What he meant was, did Ronan know that Kavinsky was a cokehead?

In his ear, Noah whispered, “Is crack the same thing as speed?”

Ronan didn’t answer. He didn’t think it was a very church-appropriate conversation.

When church is over and they all leave, we get a wonderful cameo from Declan’s-smart-girlfriend-Ashley, who fights with Ronan and acknowledges the church as an institution is oppressive to women (thank you, Ashely, you underappreciated bottle-blonde goddess). Ronan is having none of this and leaves to look for a street race. Which is to say, he leaves to look for Kavinsky and the spiritual satisfaction he didn’t find at church.

I’m going to gloss over this part, because I know that Stiefvater loves cars but I just don’t know anything about them. Descriptions of souped-up whatevers and loud mufflers just confuses me. Let’s just say that Ronan knows how to find a car with which to race, and that takes the kind of Rich Boy Car Knowledge that he and Kavinsky have in spades.

Noah and Ronan drive in the direction of Kavinsky’s house. Kavinsky shows up in his Mitsubishi, calls Ronan a fag, and then pretends to get offended when he’s called a Russian in return. I realize that I truly do not understand teenage boys, and thank God for that.

Ronan wins the street race. For one second, he is happy. It’s a new experience for the both of us.

Thoughts and Feelings:

These new-fangled chapters with their multiple locations and diversified plot structures are really throwing me for a loop. It feels like years since we were smudging Blue’s room with her Aunt Jimi! Granted, that makes sense, as any church service also seemed to me, in childhood, to take several years, but still. Wow.

We got to meet Matthew for the first time, which is nice. There’s a gratuitous description of his dimples (which makes sense in a couple books when you learn more about the Lynch family structure) and he turns down the church wine which is very adorable and wholesome for a boarding school boy. Declan and Ronan make a lot of angry noises at one another, which makes sense with what we know of their characters.

I was a bit startled by the throwback to Neeve and her mysterious disappearance, because she feels so irrelevant now. It’s also well-within my moral code to just write her off. She messed with stuff she shouldn’t have messed with—she deserves to be gone! Anybody who had a healthy appetite for reading as a kid knows that’s what happens to villains. They don’t die, because killing is ~wrong~, but they deserve whatever odd punishment is granted them.

I wasn’t so much startled by all the anger that was floating around the church. This is Ronan’s book, so seeing what he does on the weekends is inevitable. It was a motley crew, though, there’s no denying that. Ronan, Noah, Declan, Matthew, and then Kavinsky. In hindsight I have to say I’m glad Blue was there to balance it all out.

I’m excited for this to move forward, though. Blue dropped the hint that she’s waiting for Adam and Gansey, Ronan is angry and ready to mess some shit up for everyone, and Noah is being proactive about the state of his soul. It’s pretty much all I can ask for as we transition to figuring out what the hell is going on with Cabeswater and where Glendower is sleeping. If we ever do, in fact, find out either of those things (don’t worry guys, I’ve read the series. We do find them out. It just takes a couple more books).

I’m going to stop rambling and go to the highlights now.

Best Character Moment:

A lady reached over the top of Noah to pat Matthew’s head fondly before continuing down the aisle. She didn’t seem to care that he was fifteen, which was all right, because he didn’t, either. Both Ronan and Declan observed this interaction with the pleased expressions of parents watching their prodigy at work.

Best Turn of Phrase:

And so Ronan became a reverse evangelist. The truth burst and grew inside him, and it was laid upon him to share it with no one.

Action: As street races go, this one took place after a house-cleaning and Catholic mass. Not all that exciting. 5/10

Magic: I personally hated the magic we were presented in this chapter, which was the red devil that Ronan saw with his father. It felt superfluous and creepy for no reason. 2/10

Comic Relief: Man oh man does Matthew provide relief from the tension between his older brothers. But how funny was it, really? 6/10

The Raven Cycle Reread: 2.11

Summary:

This is an interesting chapter in that it doesn’t fall into any of the predetermined categories. It’s more like a dream scrapbook, moving from Ronan to the Gray Man to Adam in quick succession. This format was so daunting, in fact, that I took a 2 week break from doing any work with regards to this blog and now I feel like a big idiot who does nothing but sleep and watch YouTube videos. But we all knew that was true even before I stopped reading Dream Thieves, so I don’t know what I was so worried about.

We start off with Ronan’s dreams, which are naturally the most exciting:

It was a massive old forest, oaks and sycamores pushing up through the cold mountain soil. Leaves skittered in the breeze. Ronan could feel the size of the mountain under his feet. The oldness of it. Far below there was a heartbeat that wrapped around the world, slower and stronger and more inexorable than his own.

When I dream, it’s usually about missing class. This is infinitely more interesting.

The trees are calling him Greywaren in Latin and everything is ominous and rustly, so Ronan calls out for a girl. I’m not exaggerating, he says “Girl?” and then she appears. She’s been around since Ronan was a kid, big when he was little and now vice versa. She talks to him in Latin and helps him make things real so he can take them home. He calls her Orphan Girl.

In the time it’s taken for Ronan to describe Orphan Girl, he’s dreamt hundreds of hornets to crawl all over his hands. But this is a dream, and Ronan is the king, and when he decides they aren’t hornets, they aren’t. Now they’re ladybugs, and Ronan is moving forward in the dream.

He scratches on a rock: the trees speak Latin. He grabs a replica of Kavinsky’s sunglasses to take back with him, to prolong the game. The Orphan Girl asks Ronan to take her with him, but he wakes up instead.

Then we’re thrown into the mind of the Gray Man, who is dreaming of a stabbing. He’s never the victim; first he’s the wounds themselves, then he’s the one doing the stabbing, and then he moves on to be the knife itself. That’s weird enough to jar him out of sleep, but remember, this is our Gray Man. Ever the pragmatist. He just rolls over and goes back to bed.

And then, last, Adam. Adam’s not even sleeping.

Curled on the mattress, he covered his face with his summer-hot arm. Sometimes, if he blocked his mouth and nose, just this side of suffocation, sleep would overthrow him.

He’s doing the immensely pleasurable thing we all do while we’re trying to go sleep where we think about every awkward and horrible things we did the day before. Adam is thinking about when he lost his temper in front of Blue, and when he sacrificed himself, and whether he even deserves to be alive. You know, everyday stuff.

Basically, everyone else gets to dream instead of Adam. What a surprise.

Thoughts and Feelings:

Here’s the thing about this chapter: it’s almost entirely contenders for my best turn of phrase category. It’s a transitional chapter to get us away from the exposition and into the action, and it’s beautifully written. But it’s ultimately unsatisfying. I didn’t learn anything from these characters that I didn’t already know.

Was it cool? Yeah. Did I get Harry Potter’s Nagini dream from Order of the Phoenix vibes from the Gray Man’s knife dream? Yeah, obviously. But did it enhance my understanding of the story or the characters within it? No, not particularly.

Now in the interest of getting my Ulysses reading done in time for class today, I’m going to cut this short. But an apology is due for being so lax about this, and to compensate for that I’ll be doing another life update complete with pictures very soon! Not that anyone cares, but it does make me feel better.

Best Character Moment:

Time was a circle, a rut, a worn tape Ronan never got tired of playing.

Best Turn of Phrase:

He had been here before, lots of times. He’d grown up with this recurring dream forest. Its roots were tangled in his veins.

Action: Other than several stab wounds and a pair of sunglasses, I have nothing to show for reading this chapter. 3/10

Magic: Dream forest! 7/10

Comic Relief: I laughed at nothing but my own jokes. It’s not a rare occurrence, but it is disappointing. 4/10

The Raven Cycle Reread: 2.10

Summary:

At this point all I do is apologize for posting updates late, and I’m tired of it! Especially when it pertains to self-imposed deadlines about a passion project that I’m only doing because I couldn’t find it anywhere else on the internet. Chapter updates will come when they come, and this will be the last one until at least Monday because I’m going on a class trip to Yeats country this weekend and will be too busy hearing about Innisfree 30 million times to think about Maggie Stiefvater and her creations.

But, anyways. Back to the book.

Gansey hung up the phone at the end of last chapter, but somehow he’s back on it, talking to Adam again. He wants Adam to come with him to some fundraising party his mother is throwing, since Adam might find a political internship or something equally as snakey to do with his time. Gansey’s trying to placate Adam’s confusing rules about when he is and isn’t allowed to accept help while also unrolling an enormous satellite map of Henrietta, and it’s proving difficult, to say the least.

For some weird reason, though, everything seems to be going okay at Monmouth. Adam agrees to go to the party, Gansey gets his map pressed flat, Ronan and Noah are dropping expensive things out of second floor windows. And then, as if that wasn’t good enough, Adam asks Gansey for help with Blue. Specifically her whole hang-up on kissing—why won’t she do it? Is it Adam? Has she talked to Gansey at all, and if she hasn’t, could Gansey bring up the subject gracefully and see what’s up?

“I’m really bad at talking, Gansey,” Adam said earnestly. “And you’re really good at it. Maybe—maybe if it just comes up natural?”

I don’t know if you remember, but in the last book Blue and Gansey had a conversation that seemed to be about nothing but kissing. Gansey has the whole story but it’s a secret story that’s not his to tell. He does his best to skirt around the definition of a lie, but it would be a really bad idea to say “yes we’ve talked about it but no I’m not telling you what she said” to your emotionally vulnerable and deeply insecure friend. It would actually transcend really bad and be firmly in the realm of disastrous.

And also, Gansey has a very obvious thing for Blue, and it’s hard for teenage boys to rationalize those feelings. And Gansey still is a teenage boy, no matter how many times he’s described as being an old man. And then there’s this:

“Well, she’s not really like a girl. I mean, sure, she’s a girl. But it’s not like when I was dating someone. It’s Blue. 

Oh, Gansey. This is going to pose such a problem in the future.

The rest of the chapter is consumed with Noah’s righteous anger at being thrown out the window by Ronan (“you’re already dead!”) and questions of whether or not Adam has a red tie to wear to Gansey’s mother’s fundraiser. It’s all very short, and sweet, and it makes me wary. What’s going to explode next?

Thoughts and Feelings:

Although I have to be at the train station in an hour and am therefore glad this chapter was short, I don’t really understand why it wasn’t rolled into the previous one?

Like, okay, I get that Dollar City was a setting for a phone call touched by magic. And this call is distinctly non-magical; in fact, it pertains to everything that I forgot was going on in the Gangsey’s lives because I was too focused on the magic. But it’s suspended in time. I have no idea when this chapter takes place. Is it the same night? Is it several days later? It feels like you could pick up these four pages and plunk them anywhere else in the novel and they’d work just fine.

And I’m not saying I don’t understand the impulse to put them in. I totally get it! I, too, love the background noise of Ronan and Noah breaking expensive things for fun, and who wouldn’t want to throw their dead friend out a window? But to have a cliffhanger (stated by Noah, of all people) lead into a chapter like this is distinctly unsatisfying. It leaves the same taste in my mouth as a chapter about the Gray Man does: okay, that was nice, now what?

I’m not denying the fact that towards the end of the book I’ll be begging for chapters like these. I’ll be like, “boo hoo, where are soft moments with my boys where things are cute and Ronan is engaging in destruction of property?” But for now, I’m spoiled and I want something different.

So apologies for such lackluster thoughts, but I’m only as good as my source material. It was nice, but nothing special.

Best Character Moment:

Blue was a fanciful but sensible thing, like a platypus, or one of those sandwiches that had been cut into circles for a fancy tea party.

Best Turn of Phrase:

Once, he had dreamt that he found Glendower. It wasn’t the actual finding, but the day after. He wouldn’t forget the sensation of the dream. It hadn’t been joy, but instead, the absence of pain. He couldn’t forget that lightness. The freedom.

Action: I said it once and I’ll say it again: Noah gets thrown out of a window!!! 5/10

Magic: Absolutely none, except that Noah doesn’t die upon defenestration. 2/10

Comic Relief: A soft kind of funny that I was mad at but have come to appreciate. 6/10