The Raven Cycle Reread: 1.6

Summary:

Welcome to Nino’s, the pizza place that only the cool Aglionby kids frequent and that Blue uses to steal their money in the form of tips. Also home to one of the greatest meet-cutes in history, because it’s not a meet-cute at all! It’s a goddamn disaster.

Blue starts her shift thinking one thing: she does not want to be there. We hear about her many other jobs and about her waitress friend, Cialina, who sees the Gangsey walk in and immediately claims their table for herself. Darn, we think. Maybe this will be a ships passing in the night situation and we won’t get the interaction we so crave.

Wrong! Adam thinks Blue is cute and Gansey takes it upon himself to see if he can make that happen. He doesn’t know that he lost the battle the minute he walked in while talking on the phone (he’s actually asking Maura for a reading, which is ironic—but that irony doesn’t help anyone). And then, when he offers to pay Blue for her time spent talking to Adam, it’s all over.

For a moment, Blue was actually lost for words. She had never believed people who claimed to be speechless, but she was. She opened her mouth, and at first, all that came out was air. Then something like the beginning of a laugh. Then, finally, she managed to sputter, “I am not a prostitute.”

Gansey goes back to his table so Ronan and Noah can make fun of him mercilessly without shouting across the restaurant. Adam tries to crawl into a hole and die, which Blue thinks is kind of cute. Readers become confused, because, in Blue’s words, Gansey has to be her true love:

Neeve had said this was the year she’d fall in love. Maura had said she’d kill her true love if she kissed him. Gansey was supposed to die this year. What were the odds? Gansey had to be her true love. He had to be. Because there was no way she was going to kill someone.

While this is good logic, Gansey still manages to be completely tactless and convince Blue that there’s no way she’ll ever fall in love. But then we remember that Gansey and Co. are coming to the Sargent’s for a reading and we hold out hope that maybe this time everything will work out. Maybe.

Thoughts and Feelings: Seeing the Gangsey through Blue’s eyes is an experience I never want to forget. First off, Stiefvater always, without fail, uses the opportunity of looking through another character’s eyes to give out hilarious nicknames. She starts off the tradition with some zingers: President Cell Phone for Gansey, Soldier Boy for Ronan (he’s “a soldier in a war where the enemy is everyone else”—very Hot Topic), and Adam is the elegant one. Gansey’s the one who calls Noah smudgy and Blue sticks with it, so now the whole gang has code names and we never have to use their real names ever again.

We also spend some time getting to know Blue, which I appreciate. She’s got big dreams, that involve being a five-foot-tall researcher of pygmy tyrants. She’s also firmly in opposition of everything Gansey says to her, which is fun, and aware of the fact that Adam is being very cute and embarrassed. People don’t often realize how cute Adam is being and I’m glad she pointed it out. Ten points to Blue for absolutely crushing it in this chapter. Five points to Ronan for calling Gansey a bitch and thinking everything Blue said was hilarious.

Best character moment:

In the background, she caught a glimpse of Soldier Boy making a plane of his hand. It was crashing and weaving towards the table surface while Smudgy Boy gulped laughter down. The elegant boy held his palm over his face in exaggerated horror, fingers spread just wide enough that she could see his wince.

Best turn of phrase:

Really, she didn’t know if she’d truly like to find out more about the pygmy tyrant. She just liked the name, because, to a five-foot-tall-girl, pygmy tyrant sounded like a career.

Action: One half of the main love interest called the other a prostitute and yet it seems we’re still moving towards true love. Also, Blue’s embarrassing realization that she’s probably going to kill that guy she just yelled at in the pizza place is imminent, so. We’re getting somewhere. 9/10

Magic: No magic except for the comebacks Blue throws at Gansey, which are pretty sick. 6/10

Comic relief: I don’t need to explain myself here. 11/10

The Raven Cycle Reread: 1.5

Summary:

And thus begins the worst plotline of the book: what did Barrington Whelk do? And was it because he was so unfortunate to be stuck with the name Barrington Whelk, or just because he’s a raging asshole?

The short version is that the Gangsey’s Latin teacher turns out to be the worst and also killed his roommate on St. Mark’s Eve when he was a student at Aglionby. He only works there because his dad lost all his money and now he’s as bitter as Severus Snape and probably just as mean to children. He especially hates the Gangsey, because he’s bitter that they have a beautiful friendship and he’s so, so alone.

The mere mention of Ronan Lynch’s name had scraped something raw inside Whelk. Because it was never Ronan by himself, it was Ronan as part of the inseparable threesome: Ronan Lynch, Richard Gansey, and Adam Parrish. All of the boys in his class were affluent, confident, arrogant, but the three of them, more than anyone else, reminded him of what he’d lost.

Boo hoo, dude. You lost it because you literally killed someone. But that’s neither here nor there. Whelk thinks nefarious thoughts for a while, and then resolves to steal Gansey’s research, because if he has to be alone he should at least have a purpose. End scene.

Thoughts and Feelings: As someone who went to a private school for thirteen years, I thought it was kinda nice to see how seriously these teachers take their jobs (if only there were a font that displayed the sarcasm I wish to be oozing right now). While my school was a co-ed day school, located in a progressive section of a city, and not full of quite so many rich kids, I certainly admit that there was a certain amount of prestige that came with just Being Very Expensive and had nothing to do with the quality of the education. I had some truly terrible teachers (and some great ones, but neither Whelk nor Milo justifies that description). It seems that the Aglionby elite are suffering through the same situation.

Other than that, this chapter was just to set up a Small Bad Guy™ who plagues our intrepid heroes and gets his comeuppance at the end. Not very interesting, but necessary.

Best character moment:

Whelk was suddenly afraid that Milo could see the memory on him, could hear the inexplicable voices in his head, incomprehensible but nonetheless present ever since that failed day.

Best turn of phrase:

Every time his heart beat, red lines streaked in the corners of his vision, the trees darkening with his pulse.

Action: I understand why this had to happen but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. 2/10

Magic: The only magic here was used to murder Czerny!!!! Very bad and no fun!!!!!! -4/10

Comic relief: Barrington Whelk is about as fun as a wet pile of paper. 0/10

And thus begins the journey

I just received a box set of books in The Raven Cycle (the British versions, incidentally, but I can call gasoline petrol without losing any of the original charm), and I figured I’m going to be reading them to death anyways so I might as well write it down.

For each chapter I’ll be doing a summary and a couple of paragraphs of my thoughts and feelings, because as a teenager I have a lot of those. After the chatty bits there’ll be a rating system with some criteria that I made up myself, based on what I love about the series and why I love it. Best character moment and best turn of phrase come first, and then I rate the chapter on how well it gives me the three most important parts of any novel: the action, the magic, and the comedic relief so I’m not crying all the time.

New chapters go up twice a week, on Sundays and Wednesdays, and I hope you’ll stick around!