The Raven Cycle Reread: 1.39

Summary:

Hello everyone! We are back at it again at Monmouth Manufacturing, with an after-school Blue and an abandoned apartment. After the last couple of chapters I’m thinking it might be nice to just hang out with Blue in an empty parking lot and take a break from all the drama. But Blue manages to make her own drama, by thinking yet again about how little she understands Gansey and how much the fact that she’s actually starting to like him and his apartment (and even Ronan) unnerves her. She also tries to pretend that she doesn’t like the Camaro, but we all know she’s lying to herself. Blue loves the Camaro just like everyone else.

Noah’s waiting in the stairwell to see Blue, and once he uses Blue’s energy he can pet her hair. It’s not as spiky as usual, which Noah says “sadly,” and I just want to take a moment to talk once more about the fact that I’m in college and I’m studying creative writing. My professor would be SCREAMING if he read this sentence. He would take a flamethrower to the book. He would use his writerly connections to call Steifvater and her publisher and her editor and yell at all three of them. Sadly is a bad adjective to use. I cannot picture the emotion. These are things I learn in college!!!! Yay for learning.

But back to the story: Noah fills Blue in on the events of last night. Blue is first surprised that Ronan’s at the library, studying, and then she’s shocked and angry about Adam’s situation, and then she acts so goddamn empathetic and kind that I don’t know what to do about it.

Her first thought was a strangely unpleasant one—that she hadn’t been a good enough friend for Adam to share this with her. But it was fleeting and replaced almost immediately with the horrific realization that Adam had no family. Who would she be without hers?

I feel the exact same way and I didn’t know it until just now (hi family, big shoutout to you guys).

But before I can get too emotional, the phone rings. Noah is absolutely insistent that Blue pick up the call so he helps her break into Monmouth. It’s Malory, asking for Gansey, and Blue has a very dramatic moment where she thinks that her whole life has been taking messages for other people. Cool it, girl. You’re a key player in the hunt for a magical king. You’re in the thick of it, don’t complain.

Malory has some trouble with Blue’s name so she becomes Jane for the rest of the conversation. The gist of it is this: Malory tried the ritual to wake the ley line and when his colleague made a joke about jumping out of his skin, his skin literally came off. Also, Blue shouldn’t tell Gansey because he has a “thing about death,” and it’s so great that there’s now a woman in the hunt for the ley line because it really is such a man’s game, isn’t it? Blue takes all this in stride, copies down the information on some old calculus homework, and hangs up all in under five minutes. A conversation with Malory in under five minutes! Do you guys see why I’m obsessed with Blue now?

Enter the boys:

Gansey was the first into the room, and he clearly hadn’t expected to find anyone there, because his features hasn’t been arranged at all to disguise his misery. When he saw Blue, he immediately managed to pull a cordial smile from somewhere

Hold for more boys.

Adam and Ronan came in then. Ronan was bent double with a duffle bag and a backpack on his back, and Adam carried a dented Froot Loops box with a Transformer poking out of the top.

“Nice Transformer,” Blue said. “Is that the police car one?”

I appreciate Blue trying to diffuse the situation with aggressive normalcy, but unfortunately it does not work. Adam and Ronan both disappear to their respective rooms to mope, and because Gansey’s bed is just in the middle of the living room, he has to mope in front of Blue.

Gansey continues with his relentless self-loathing, which includes him kicking things and saying “yee-haw” (don’t ask me why, I don’t know). Gansey acknowledges that he’s being self-pitying and Blue agrees and then tells him that she likes him better “this way.” We know she means unmasked and uncertain, the closest they can ever get to what she thinks of as the Real Gansey, but he brushes it off and announces that if there is even the slightest chance someone could get hurt they will not be performing the ritual.

I’m going to take a second to tell you about their physical positions right now, because it’s very important that you can picture this situation. Gansey put his face in his pillow (“sadly”) and so Blue knelt by the bed and kneeled over him. But, when the conversation got serious, Gansey rolled over. Basically, they’re looking at each other upside down and I’m feeling aggressive Spiderman Kiss Energy.

Ronan, taking in Blue’s posture and Gansey’s below, observed, “If you spat, Blue, it would land right in his eye.”

Gansey moved to the opposite side of the bed with surprising swiftness, glancing at Adam and away again as quickly.

Oof.

There’s yet another argument between Gansey and Adam, of course. Gansey’s stance is that there will be no waking the ley line, because it is too dangerous and he loves his friends more than anything else in the entire world. Even more than this search that he’s dedicated his life to. Adam’s argument is that it’s worth the risk, and even if it weren’t they have to stop Whelk from doing it first. Also, he needs that favor.

We end with Adam asking Gansey how it is he manages to live with himself. It’s about now when I want to close the book and stick it in the freezer.

Thoughts and Feelings:

So. A lot happened in this chapter. A lot to talk about, a lot to process, and yet, like always, this section will be a complete mess that talks about nothing and everything all at once. I’m writing three final papers right now, so you’re going to need to cut me some slack with this organization.

First off, we’re introduced to a version of Gansey in this chapter that I have never met before. And seeing as I am the resident expert on all things Raven Cycle (a title I give myself that nobody can take away from me), you’d think I would have noticed prior to this reading. But I did not!

Malory’s perception of Gansey is inherently youthful, not only because of his own age but because when Gansey was traipsing around the UK he hadn’t met Ronan and he hadn’t met Adam. In other words, all Malory saw was the Gansey façade, because without his friends Gansey is infinitely more isolated and scared. And then, in the page long pity session he participates in with Blue, we see it again.

AND IT IS SO ROMANITIC! I mean, the weird sort of romantic that you have to sit with for a while, but still. Get a load of this:

He muttered something into his bedsheets and waved a hand at the air. Blue crouched by the bed and leaned her arms at the head of it. 

“What now? With a lot less pillow in your mouth this time?”

That’s cute. That’s cute. It’s not a Big Moment, but sometimes Small Moments can be even better. You can collect them, and count them, and come back to them when you finish the series and you are sad because you want to hang out with your favorite characters for a little bit longer.

Best Character Moment:

“You are being self-pitying.” But Blue sort of liked it. She’d never seen anything like the real Gansey for so long at one time. It was too bad he had to be miserable to make it happen.

Best Turn of Phrase:

She thought this was a joke. In any case, she laughed and didn’t feel bad about it.

Action: Although there is little to no movement, the emotional action present here is amazing. 10/10

Magic: Noah pets Blue’s head because of her battery power. Adorable, magical, the whole nine yards. 13/10

Comic Relief: Ronan is funny but only because everyone else is so sad. 8/10

The Raven Cycle Reread 1.38

Summary:

WARNING: this chapter will break your heart six ways and then spit on the pieces. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

We took a brief break from our Gangsey last chapter to hear about Whelk’s culinary woes, but now we’re back. But we don’t want to be back, because by “back” I mean Gansey is waiting for Adam outside the hospital and they’re about to have the granddaddy of all fights. Or, I guess it’s just a version of the same fight they’ve been having since they met, but still. It’s a particularly bad version.

The first thing Gansey says after hello is that the receptionist said Adam didn’t have insurance and Gansey covered it. 38 chapters ago I would have said “aw, what a good friend” but now I know that’s the worst thing Gansey could have told Adam. It needed to be said, though, and I’m glad Gansey is the way he is and paid for it no question. It’s just the world’s shittiest situation.

But Adam doesn’t get angry. All he says to Gansey is “you win,” because Adam thinks that the whole situation makes Gansey happy. Gansey’s response (telling Adam not to be shitty) is warranted, but Adam isn’t in the most rational place so he keeps telling Gansey to just say I told you so and get it over with. I love Adam, but sometimes he is so obtuse that I just want to take him aside for a chat about how he should maybe cut his friends some slack, but unfortunately I do not have that power.

He wouldn’t lie; he wanted Adam out of that house. But there had never been a part of him that wanted him hurt to accomplish that. There had never been a part of him that wanted Adam to have to run instead of march triumphantly out.

Then Gansey uses the word repugnant in his argument and Adam calls him out for trying to make him feel stupid with his big fancy words. Gansey’s response is horrible and I won’t repeat it, but as soon as he says it he knows he’s gone too far. Adam knows it, too, which is why he gets out of the car and starts to walk down the highway alone, towards God knows where.

Gansey has a moment of the most aggressive self-loathing I’ve ever seen written on the page, and once he’s done he starts the car. It’s time for that moment in Legally Blonde where Elle leaves the restaurant and her gross boyfriend (I can’t remember his name—Wormer, or something?) drives next to her and begs her to get back in the car. But this time, it’s Gansey and Adam and the Camaro and I want nothing more than for everything to work out.

And it does work out. Kind of.

Gansey thought of one hundred things he could say to Adam about how it would be all right…but Gansey’s words had somehow become unwitting weapons, and he didn’t trust himself not to accidentally discharge them again.

So they drove in silence to get Adam’s things and when they left the trailer park for the last time, his mother watching from behind the kitchen window, Adam didn’t look back.

Emphasis on the kind of.

Thoughts and Feelings:

I mean. Come on. This chapter was six emotionally devastating pages and I really don’t think I ever want to read them again, but I have to go back and find my good character moment and my turn of phrase, but I don’t want to.

I can’t even pull what I did last time and say “this is so well written” because while it is, it’s just Gansey hating everything about himself, which is isn’t a novel idea. Every young adult character hates themselves, and most are very dramatic about it. What makes this particularly hard to read is that we’ve seen from Blue’s perspective and from Adam’s, and we know that some of the things Gansey is thinking are accurate. Everything that he thinks about himself, Blue and Adam have thought at some point in the previous 366 pages.

But, the last time we saw Adam, he was talking to Ronan about how devastated he would have been if Whelk had pulled the trigger. We’re literally watching Blue fall in love with Gansey bit by bit as he reveals himself to her. And that’s why it sucks to hear Gansey feel so hopelessly alone. The end.

Best Character Moment:

In the end, he was nobody to Adam, he was nobody to Ronan. Adam spit his words back at him and Ronan squandered however many second chances he gave him. Gansey was just a guy with a lot of stuff and a hole inside him that chewed away more of his heart every year.

They were always walking away from him. But he never seemed to be able to walk away from them.

Best Turn of Phrase:

But then he stopped. He dropped his head into his hands. His thumbs worked through the hair above his ears, over and over, the knuckles white. When he sucked in his breath, it was the ragged sound that came from trying not to cry.

Action: There’s a lot of emotional action, if that counts. 6/10

Magic: Absolutely no magic! None!!! 2/10

Comic Relief: This was the least funny chapter I’ve ever read. 0/10

P.S. I just want to pop in to say that the ratings are bad because the criteria I’m grading on were not made for chapters like this. It is a good chapter! It is absolutely vital to the trajectory of the book and the arc of its characters. It’s just, I don’t know, neither magical nor funny.

The Raven Cycle Reread: 1.37

Summary:

Hello again! Welcome to another (and, unfortunately, not the last) very short Whelk-centric chapter! We clock this one at a whopping three pages, and so you really can’t expect all that much from me in this post. I can’t make miracles. And if I could, I’d be writing my own books.

Here’s the gist: Whelk misses being rich and the delicious guacamole that came with it. He’s also mad that he didn’t take Gansey as a hostage when he had the chance, because it would have been easier to just take him to the ley line and sacrifice him there.

Whelk missed the good food that came with being rich…Carrie, the chef’s name, had been an effusive but intimidating woman who adored chopping things up with her knives. God, he missed her guacamole.

So he’s eating his terrible poor-person cheeseburger and he’s lamenting his terrible planning skills and he’s gnashing his terrible teeth, when the pay phone next to him rings. It’s Neeve. She’s being very eerie and she says she wants to help him wake up the ley line.

Whelk wants to say no, because Neeve is being very creepy, but he’s also an idiot and can’t do any of this by himself so obviously he says yes. Now I just have to buckle in and wait for them to fall in love.

And, that’s the end of the chapter. I know. It was a doozy, just try and keep all the crazy plotlines straight.

Thoughts and Feelings:

I mean obviously I’m joking about Neeve and Whelk falling in love, but wouldn’t it be funny if I weren’t? I’m trying to imagine a first date between the two of them but frankly it’s hard. You have to imagine Neeve would want to go corpse robbing during a blood moon because she is a walking stereotype, but that means Whelk would try and hit her with the shovel because he wanted to go eat guacamole and make fun of high schoolers.

I don’t know, I’m just spitballing here because this chapter was really short and there’s absolutely nothing I can say about it. I guess I appreciated that Whelk acknowledged Neeve’s power and expertise, because I feel like that’s not something I expected him to do when a woman is involved. He does call her a “thing” immediately after, though, which kind of dims the effect.

Best Character Moment:

As he chewed, a plan was falling into shape, and the plan involved sleeping in the back seat of his vehicle and making another plan in the morning.

Best Turn of Phrase:

Neeve’s voice was mild and eerie. No live person, Whelk thought, should sound so much like a computerized voicemail menu.

Action: A burger consumed, a phone call made. 4/10

Magic: Neeve did contact Whelk through a gas station pay phone using a stolen hair, so. That’s kinda dope. 7/10

Comic Relief: Everything about this chapter was so weird and specific to Barrington Whelk and his whiny ass personality and, honestly, it was all hilarious. 10/10

The Raven Cycle Reread: 1.36

Summary:

I think this is the toughest chapter to read in this whole book. And it’s not because it’s full of big words or it’s really boring, because we’ve already read those chapters. This one deals with Adam and his father and I want to put a little disclaimer up here saying that this summary, while it will search for the little moments of friendship between the characters that aren’t human garbage dumps, it will not be fun or lighthearted. So with that out of the way, here is Chapter Thirty-Six.

Before they go stop Barrington Whelk, Adam Parrish needs to go home. He has to ask Ronan to drive him, which he hates, because Ronan doesn’t let him talk circles around his situation like Gansey might. Ronan makes damn sure Adam knows that he doesn’t deserve what’s happening to him and he needs to leave.

The two of them try to banter about the Latin homework (get it? Their teacher just tried to kill their best friend, it’s funny) but it doesn’t really work. Adam’s father is silhouetted against the window, and they know that as much as Adam can’t go home, he won’t go anywhere else, either. We’re reminded, too, that Adam’s in a particularly emotional state when he talks about what would have happened if Whelk had shot Gansey.

It was hard to remember what life at Aglionby had been like before Gansey. The distant memories seemed difficult, lonely, more populated with late nights where Adam sat on the steps of the double-wide, blinking tears out of his eyes and wondering why he bothered.

But Gansey isn’t dead, and Adam’s life won’t return to that bleak place. Except for the fact that he is, of course, going home to his father. And it turns out that Robert Parrish found one of Adam’s pay stubs, and subsequently accused him of lying about how much money he made. Instead of listening to Adam, he hit him.

But Ronan never fully pulled out of the driveway, and while Adam is trying to think of a way to diffuse the situation Ronan comes in to punch Robert Parrish in the face. The fight is quick and dirty, but seen through Adam’s perspective it’s all spinning sky and dizzy fragments. Eventually the cops arrive start to put Ronan into cuffs so they can take him back to the station. Adam can’t let Ronan be taken back to the station, and he can’t go back to the trailer.

Even with his eyes closed, he felt like he was falling, like the horizon pitched, like his head tilted. Adam had the sick feeling that his father had managed to knock something crucial askew.

And then he said what he couldn’t say before. He asked, “Can I… can I press charges?”

And that’s the end of the chapter.

Thoughts and Feelings:

Every time one of these chapters comes up I’m struck by the fact that the language used to describe Adam’s pain and abuse is so beautiful. I never thought I could look at a written description of someone’s head hitting concrete and marvel at the power of simile. Pain is one of those things that’s impossible to describe unless you experience it. When you’re telling someone else about pain you can quantify it on a scale of one to ten, or relate it to some well-known injury like stabbing or throbbing, but more often than not we throw around words like “unbearable” or “unimaginable.”

If we wrote about pain the way we wrote about love, I wouldn’t be so floored at the language in this chapter. There would be fifty million ways to describe a toothache and fifty million more to describe a cavity. Love is an abstract concept we’ve beaten bloody with dialogues and declarations. But here, Steifvater treats pain the same way she treats love. She describes them with the same care and attention to detail.

And I love this chapter. I hate what it does to Adam, but then again I’m so proud of where he ends up, and I’m so enamored with the language that takes him there.

Also, shoutout Ronan. He just needs a little love and I thought I’d put it down at the end here so nobody forgets how amazing and important he is ❤

Best Character Moment:

Adam couldn’t move in with Gansey. He had done so much to make sure that when he moved out, it would be on his own terms. Not Robert Parrish’s. Not Richard Gansey’s.

On Adam Parrish’s terms, or not at all.

Best Turn of Phrase:

When the side of Adam’s head hit the railing, it was a catastrophe of light. He was aware in a single, exploded moment of how many colors combined to make white.

Action: Adam moving out is the best action any of us could have hoped for. 10/10

Magic: There was no magic in this chapter, so I’m forced to give it a low rating even though it didn’t need magic because this storyline has nothing to do with the magical plot elements. At least, not yet. 2/10

Comic Relief: All of the humor was the weirdly unsatisfying morbid humor that Ronan projects at all times and makes me kinda sad. 5/10

The Raven Cycle Reread: 1.35

Summary:

Just like the last time all of our main characters gathered in the Fox Way kitchen, everything is fraught and nobody is happy. We have several categories of bean that we have to deal with: Adam, the precious bean, making tea even though he has to keep asking where everything is. Ronan, the nervous bean, aggressively pacing the length of the kitchen. And Gansey, the injured bean, sitting at the kitchen table with his thumb in a splint, looking helpless. I love all types of bean indiscriminately and so does Blue, which makes this moment tender and also sweet.

Everyone is also a little stunned that their Latin teacher had the balls to almost shoot Gansey, but Blue is the only one who takes the time to look at Gansey’s face for a little longer.

Gansey’s eyes were different. She spent a minute too long trying to figure out what was different—it was a combination, she decided, between them being a little brighter and the skin around them a little tighter.

We find out later that this isn’t a commentary on emotions but rather the fact that Blue didn’t notice Gansey was wearing wire-framed glasses. It kind of invalidates all of the analysis I was about to write, but imagining Gansey in glasses is cute so I’ll let it slide. Moving on!

Everyone’s mad at Neeve because she’s technically doing Barrington Whelk’s bidding. Yes, that Barrington Whelk, the one that killed Noah and tried to kill Gansey and is just a huge asshole in general. All the accusatory statements made in a row by Maura make this scene feel a little bit like that Thanksgiving episode of Friends, where Joey wants to show the hot dancers the new world and Phoebe’s in love with Jacques Gusteau. Nobody wants to be in that kitchen but nobody can leave, you know?

Blue makes it even more awkward by bringing up Butternut (which is, apparently, what we’ll be calling her father for the foreseeable future). Maura’s upset because she thinks Blue will be upset, but Blue’s just pissed that her mother kept all of this from her. Meanwhile, Gansey is doing the Lord’s work by providing a little bit of comedy to the situation:

 “How do you know I wouldn’t have just been happy with the truth? I don’t care if my father was a deadbeat named Butternut. It doesn’t change anything right now.”  

“His name wasn’t really Butternut, was it?” Gansey asked Adam in a low voice.

Neeve brings us back on track by trying to convince the group she’s blameless, but they’re having none of it. Gansey brings up the fact that Maura refused to tell him about the ley line, to which Maura is like, yeah, good point. They shake down the plot of the whole book into a couple sentences, with wry interjections from Adam and Ronan, before Neeve reaches the conclusion that they should go perform the ritual and wake the ley line up.

The fact that it requires a sacrifice of sorts doesn’t seem to bother her; the search for Glendower is a zero sum game that Barrington Whelk needs to lose. And Persephone corroborates that by saying the ley line will be woken in the next few days anyway, so it might as well be them who do it.

Gansey’s caught up in the unknowns: does someone have to die? If they don’t have to die, what will they offer? Will it tie them to the ley line like Noah’s spirit? Wouldn’t it just be easier to stop Whelk from doing the ritual and tell the police where Cabeswater is?

That is universally shot down as the worst idea ever, and Gansey knows before he says it. But he’s tired and he just broke his thumb and the world is being so much uglier and meaner than he believes it to be.

Several exasperated faces turned on Gansey. Maura said, “Well, he’s not going to go away because you don’t want to deal with him.”

“I didn’t say it was possible,” Gansey replied, not looking up from his splint. “I just said that it was what I would like.”

It was a naïve answer, and he knew it.

This is the point at which I was screaming at the book, WHY DOES EVERYONE FORGET THAT HE IS A CHILD???? But of course they do, and it hits me right where it hurts every time.

The chapter ends with Gansey and his king-like call to action, and Blue looking her mother directly in the eyes while she disobeys her. It’s a badass moment, and I never want it to end.

Thoughts and Feelings:

So, here we are. Barrington Whelk is on the lam (don’t blame me for that phrasing, blame Ronan). Blue saw Gansey’s splinted thumb and discovered she has a thing for injured rich boys. Ronan’s out for blood. Everyone knows what they have to do. It’s time to set the plan in motion, wake up the ley line, and set the magic loose!

I’m ready for the magic to be set loose. I’m waiting. Let’s go, guys. Let’s move on to the next chapter! I don’t want to have thoughts and/or feelings about this one, I’m revved up! And no, this isn’t me being lazy and skipping this part of the post, it’s me being EXCITED! FOR MORE RAVEN BOYS! So to get this over with:

Thoughts: mmmm good chapter very nice, good moments with the bois

Feelings: I’M FEELING EXCITED AND STRESSED AND STRESS-EXCITED:0

Best Character Moment:

“Could someone cut this hospital bracelet off?” he asked. There was something gallant and hectic about the deliberately offhand way he asked it. “I feel like an invalid. Please”

Best Turn of Phrase:

“NO.”

Both Neeve and Maura said it at once. Neeve, however, won for overall impressiveness by pairing her outburst with leaping from her chair.

Action: This is the rising action. Please put the narrative bread dough in the narrative proving drawer and lets go KILL SOME LATIN TEACHERS!!!! 6/10

Magic: I mean, everyone was in the same room. That feels about as magical as you can get. 8/10

Comic relief: The Raven boys playing the straight men to Fox Way’s shenanigans will never not be hilarious. 9/10

The Raven Cycle Reread: 1.34

Summary:

Hello everyone and welcome back to the long and agonizingly slow moving Raven Boys reread I torture myself with twice a week! I used to be at least two weeks ahead every time I posted a chapter but this one is a race against the clock, since not only have I used up all my extras and must write this real time, I have a midterm to study for and two papers due tomorrow. But, nevertheless, this chapter features Calla, whose presence magically makes all my troubles disappear.

Remember when Calla kept reminding Blue about this snooping expedition they had planned to Neeve’s attic to touch her stuff? Yeah, me neither. I started reading this chapter and I was like “why are we in the attic” and then I realized that for the past 100 pages every time we see Calla she’s reminding Blue not to forget about their Scooby Doo-esque fact-finding mission, and I straight up ignored her. Calla, I’m so sorry. You know I love you and I didn’t mean it.

So they’re in the attic. Or, they’re walking up the stairs to the attic while Blue thinks about how to send Barrington Whelk to jail. Remember that angry rant I went on where I was like “they could not possibly guess that it was Barrington Whelk who killed Noah because they do not have enough information?” Well, they immediately guessed it was Barrington Whelk. But I stand by my statement. There was no evidence gathering or bulletin boards with pinned string, and thus there is no way they could have figured it out.

Anyways, back to the attic (even while I’m writing this summary I seem to forget Neeve’s spookiness is a major plot point). It smells really bad, which is apparently due to the asafetida Neeve is keeping in there. You put it in a cauldron and make either curry or some witchy potion, so I guess Neeve is a supernatural sous chef.

All jokes aside, what she’s done to the attic is creepy. There’s statues, and mirrors, and candles, and burned up plants. Blue is remarking on the creepiness when, right on cue, Persephone appears to let them know that she wants to help. And that Maura knows they’re snooping and she’s giving them until midnight.

Persephone crouched to look at a black leather mask with a long pointed beak. “You didn’t think she believed you about the dwarf movie, did you?”

Calla and Blue exchanged a look. Blue mused over what they meant: that Maura wanted to know more about Neeve as much as they did.

They start with the easiest part: Neeve said she was coming to look for Blue’s father, who showed up, melted Maura into a puddle of goo, got her pregnant, and then left. Blue isn’t bothered by this because she is very sensible, and happy that Calla said he was cute. They go over all the nicknames Maura used for him (Puppy, Lover, Butternut) which makes Blue physically ill.

The gist of what they discover is that Neeve wants to be more famous than she is (more famous than Leila Polotsky, who apparently is well known in some circles). It’s implied that Persephone was very famous at some point, which I want elaborated on. And then Calla stops touching things and looks instead to Neeve’s day planner, which tells her everything and involves no psychic ability whatsoever.

Basically Neeve got a call from a guy who wanted to pay her lots of money to come to Henrietta and find Glendower on the ley line. She declined his request and then decided to look for it anyways, without getting paid, and figured telling Maura she was looking for Blue’s dad would give her a good place to crash. Then Blue grabs the planner and realizes the mysterious man who wanted to find the ley line is Barrington Whelk, and she’s like, “this guy again? Ugh.”

But before she can tell Calla what’s going on, Persephone lets them know that the Gangsey is here, Gansey broke his thumb on a gun, and Maura brought Neeve back early. Thus concludes the snooping session, thank you and goodnight. 

Thoughts and Feelings:

Here’s what I took from this chapter: Neeve is witchier than a psychic should be, and that combined with her inferiority complex has made for a pretty bad situation. Also, Gansey broke his thumb because he is a big idiot and now Blue knows all about it.

I was a little shocked by the parallels between Gansey and Maura, because when Maura asks Neeve why she didn’t just tell her she was looking into the ley line, she sounded an awful lot like Gansey handing his journal to Whelk. The leaders of both gangs, the raven boys and the women of Fox Way, don’t seem concerned with keeping knowledge private. It’s kind of refreshing, to not have to deal with secrets being guarded so closely.

It also would have been nice if Maura had this philosophy all the way back when Gansey came in for the reading. It probably would have saved us a lot of drama. And me a lot of time spent summarizing said drama.

I’m in a creative writing workshop right now and one of the things my professor and the rest of the people in the workshop are saying is that they can’t see the space around them. I never noticed it before but now it’s all I can think about when I read a piece (“where am I? Can I see the world around me? Is that gopher rendered anatomically correct?”). I’ll give Steifvater this one, she definitely fleshes out Neeve’s room for me, and in doing so, her character. There were no pretty gloves for her pretty hands, though, so minus one point for consistency.

Best Character Moment:

“I refuse to believe Mom ever called some man puppy,” Blue said.

“Oh, but she did. Also lover.” Calla picked up an empty bowl. There was a crust in the bottom, as if it had once help a liquid with some body to it. Like pudding. Or blood. “And butternut.”

Best Turn of Phrase:

Blue didn’t touch anything, but she did walk further into the room, peering at a small statue of a woman with eyes in her belly. The entire room was giving her a crawling feeling. “She must be making a lot of curry.”

Action: We’re just sneaking around…just sneakin! 5/10

Magic: I mean the mirrors looked cool but the whole point was that Neeve is a fake magician who needs a mask to feel self-love so… 5/10

Comic relief: I laughed out loud at a line in this chapter when I was reading it before class but when I read it out loud my prof roasted me for it, so that’s why it didn’t get a perfect score. 9/10

The Raven Cycle Reread: 1.33

Summary:

I don’t want to be rude but after the events of last chapter I kind of forgot Gansey wasn’t around, so reading the beginning of this chapter was a little like whiplash. We’re thrown immediately back into Gansey’s rich white guilt, which slowly becomes anger at Ronan for making him use his privilege.

I don’t want to keep talking about the fact that I’m a college student (have I mentioned that yet? I take classes and everything), but there’s this point where Gansey is driving in his car being all mad, and he goes “is it so hard to just go to class and do your homework?” and, like, yeah. It is. Just because you’re Mr. Gentleman and Scholar doesn’t mean the rest of us can just breeze through life. Okay, rant over. Back to the plot.

Gansey’s so pissed that he’s ready to slam on the gas pedal, and for a split second I thought he was going to let loose. But that’s asking for too much from him, especially after such a trying day. The kicker is that the minute he eases on the brakes, the Pig starts to die. Damn Ronan, and damn the Pig, apparently.

There’s no cell reception and he doesn’t know anything about car engines, so Gansey’s getting ready to walk to the nearest gas station when a pair of headlights comes up behind him. He expects the driver to get out of the car and help him, but, plot twist! It’s the man we love to hate, Barrington Whelk.

Gansey is like “Mr Whelk?” which made me laugh because calling him Mister is just…so counter to the way I speak about this man. And to how we as readers think about him. He’s a shriveled, sad little man and frankly I’d forgotten he was actually a Latin teacher. But, you know, he’s also an evil bad guy and he has a literal gun, so. I guess Barrington Whelk gets 10 villain points for actually following through on an evil scheme.

It was somehow difficult to process the fact of the gun. It was hard to go from the idea that Barrington Whelk was creepy in a way that was entertaining to joke about with Ronan and Adam to the idea that Barrington Whelk has a gun and was pointing it at Gansey.

“Well.” Gansey blinked. “Okay.”

This is the point where I was wishing for a little bit more emotion from Gansey, but also not, if that makes any sense. The way he’s just bemusedly cooperating is the definition of hilarity, but I also wanted there to be some kind of Clueless moment here. “I can’t lie on the ground, Sir, my chinos would be ruined!” I don’t know, I think it would be fun.

This emotionlessness goes away, however, when Whelk starts getting mad that he’s no longer getting away with Noah’s murder. This is when Gansey realizes this man, the one in front of him, is the one who killed Noah, and he finally starts to feel something. The fact that Gansey’s own life means less to him than Noah’s is not only emotionally devastating but also very stupid, because, as a quick reminder: Barrington Whelk is holding a literal gun.

And then he takes the safety off (cue internal screaming) and presses it to Gansey’s forehead (CUE INTERNAL SCREAMING), and Gansey has this beautiful moment of self-confidence and rebirth that you should totally go and read (page 324, in the paperback). It doesn’t help anything, obviously, because Barrington Whelk is a pile of human suck with absolutely nothing to lose.

When he said that, Gansey knew Whelk was going to kill him. That there was no way that someone could have that much hatred and bitterness in his voice while holding a gun and not pull the trigger.

(CUE INTERNAL SCREAMING)

But then Gansey flashes back to Ronan teaching him how to throw a punch—hilarious, because the lessons went so poorly—and because of this, when Gansey swings at Whelk he manages to connect and send the gun flying. There’s a quick scuffle and then another car comes driving down the road, headlights on, and Whelk runs away with Gansey’s journal and without his gun.

Gansey takes the gun and the Camaro miraculously starts, and so he drives home. Whelk knows Gansey knows, and he has nothing to lose. Gangsey, assemble.

Thoughts and Feelings:

So, here we are. The chapter where the Gangsey is split up, becoming one Gang and one Gansey, and as a result Gansey almost gets shot in the head. Stick together, guys. It’s best for all of us, me included.

I like this chapter a lot, and I think it’s because of a confluence of reasons. First off, Gansey’s complete and utter detachment when his life is being threatened. The perfect adjective for it is bemused, because he spends most of this interaction being like “Mr. Whelk? My Latin teacher? What are you doing here?” instead of the appropriate reaction, which is “hi please don’t shoot me.”

And I mentioned this in the summary but I think it’s worth repeating: the moment Gansey figures out Whelk is the one that killed Noah, the confusion and numbness goes out the window and he is ready to kill. The portrayal of friendship in this book is why I have so few friends; my standards are astronomical. If you won’t let your creepy high school Latin teacher hold a gun to your head to avenge my death, then we can’t eat lunch together. Sorry!

I apologize for this being a little scattered but I also want to talk about this quote:

The journal weighted his hands. He didn’t need it. He knew everything in it.

 But it was him. He was giving everything that he’d worked for away.

I will get a new one.

Like, I’m sorry. This is such a beautiful moment. Gansey has been having these internal struggles over who he is and who he wants to be for so long, and he finally realizes that it’s this thing. This carefully curated love letter to the search for something fantastic, this thing that Blue can’t help thinking of when she tries to write Gansey off as just another rich asshole. His identity is caught up in this book (and in the Camaro, which we shouldn’t neglect in this analysis but we are because it makes everything too complicated), but the fact that he’s willing to let it go and rebuild his identity? SO IMPORTANT. I want the phrase “I will get a new one” shouted at every birthday party I have. I want it on my gravestone. I want it tattooed on my forehead!!

And then, of course, this moment is so beautifully juxtaposed by the image of Gansey, lying in a ditch, thinking about how much his thumb hurts.

Really, he’d gotten off light. But still. It hurt.

This is the duality of man. And, also, me every time I get a paper cut.

I can’t tell you how aggressively in love I am with the fact that Steifvater has created a narrative in which a teenage boy is allowed to be exactly what he should be: as stupid as an adult and as complex as a child, and growing, always growing. Also, still alive. Thanks for not letting him get shot with a gun, that would suck.

Okay this has gone on for far too long so I’m going to sign up but thanks for listening to my insane rambling okay byeeee:)

Best Character Moment:

“If you’d just asked,” Gansey said “I would’ve told you everything in there. I would’ve been happy to. It wasn’t a secret.”

The handgun trembled against Gansey’s forehead. Whelk said, “I can’t believe you’re saying anything when I have a gun to your head. I can’t believe you would bother to say that.”

Best Turn of Phrase:

Gansey was beginning to feel something somewhere in his gut. It didn’t feel like fear. It was something strung out like a rope bridge, barely supporting weight. It was the suspicion that nothing else in Gansey’s life had ever been real except for this moment.

Action: This chapter had a literal gun pointed at the literal head of a LITERAL MAIN CHARACTER. Literally action packed. 100/10

Magic: No magic except for the magic of self discovery, which we love. 6/10

Comic relief: Everything about this chapter was so morbidly funny I really don’t know what else to say about it. 8/10

The Raven Cycle Reread: 1.32

Summary:

So this is the chapter where Blue meets Monmouth, the sixth member of the Gangsey and the only one she hasn’t been acquainted with yet. The chapter starts with Blue knocking on the door feeling self conscious, and we’re reminded that the only character who uses a cell phone like it’s intended is Gansey. Blue and Adam don’t have one, and Ronan treats his like a useless metal brick, so that’s why Blue just assumes they’ll always be waiting outside for her after school instead of, I don’t know, texting them. One “wya” could go a long way for this group of friends, honestly.

When the boys invite her inside, they’re clearly putting Blue through some sort of test that hinges on her reaction to the space, but she’s not even a little bit fazed. She does ask what the downstairs looks like, though, and our resident comedy duo lets her know what’s up.

“Dust,” Adam replied. He used his foot to discreetly move a pair of dirty jeans, boxers still tucked inside them, out of Blue’s direct line of sight. “And concrete. And more dust. And dirt.”

“Also,” Ronan said, moving off towards a pair of doors at the other end of the floor, “dust.”

But this doesn’t distract Blue from her careful inspection of the space. She finds it beautiful. She finds it so beautiful, in fact, that she’s reminded of her tree vision and wants Gansey to kiss her. The interior designers on HGTV dream about a reaction like that, and they’ll never get it because they aren’t sixteen-year-old mad geniuses with old money Virginia accents.

Ronan goes to feed Chainsaw (which makes Blue very confused, because she has no context for the statement and thinks he means a literal power tool), and Adam decides it’s time for them to hang out. Blue ruins the mood by asking the loaded question “Adam do you live here,” which opens up the whole “I’m not rich” dialogue and lasts a couple pages. They get it together once Blue admits that she’s not rich, either, and then Adam takes Blue to see some old trinkets Gansey keeps in boxes.

The examination of artifacts gets real romantic real fast. They pick up a pair of stones, each with a hole bored into it by seawater, and they hold them up to their eyes and look at each other, and then Adam touches her face. (I don’t know how else to phrase that in the summary, because the book literally just says “he reached out and touched her face,” which doesn’t sound descriptive or romantic).

Her skin felt warm; his fingertip touched just the very edge of her mouth. “It’s very flattering.”

Adam gently pulled the stone out of her hand and set it on the floorboards between them. Through his fingers he threaded one of the flyaway hairs by her cheek. “My mother used to say, ‘don’t throw compliments away, so long as they’re free.’” His face was very earnest. “That one wasn’t meant to cost you anything, Blue.”

And thus begins the 32 chapters and a prologue dilemma: Blue is sixteen and wants to make out but a psychic told her not to. Her way around telling Adam is to say that she doesn’t want to be kissed because she’s “very young,” which is very funny but not very believable. Thankfully, though, Ronan makes an appearance with Chainsaw and ends the whole conversation.

He asks Blue if she wants to hold Chainsaw, and Blue is like “oh my God, a Raven boy with a literal raven bird,” and it takes her a second to tell Ronan that she’s down to pet his familiar. But she wants to do the impossible and impress Ronan, so she holds the bird and lets it melt her heart. And then Noah shows up! They sit on the floor like a lil family and I love it! Except then it gets sad, fast:

“I want you to know,” Noah said, pressing the carved bone against his Adam’s apple, hard, as if it would squeeze the words from him, “I was…more…when I was alive.”

It’s all very fraught, and that feeling leads the gang into the murder mystery they’re trying to solve. Ronan tells Noah to cut the shit and tell them who did it, but Noah doesn’t want to. Contrary to everything we know about Barrington Whelk, he was once capable of having friends, and Noah keeps making excuses for him. They keep asking for a name, until finally Noah tells them they already know. Which, um, how would they? But I’ll get into that a little bit more in my next segment, coming up right now!

Thoughts and Feelings:

I mean, come on, Noah. You were friends with this guy seven years ago, you’ve never said his name out loud, and you expect your friends—one of who doesn’t even go to the school this guy works at—to just know his name? The reader already knows, but we’ve known since Gansey picked up the driver’s license like 50 pages ago. This reveal does nothing for anybody and frankly I’m mad.

Other than that this chapter read like a bottle episode, which isn’t a bad thing. I mean, I am ready for some car chases or boxing matches or tree rituals, anything that would move them closer to magic and farther from self-pity on the floor of Monmouth Manufacturing, but when does anyone listen to me? Never, because this book was published seven years ago and these people are fake.

I’m too tired to have any other thoughts and/or feelings beyond the fact that I missed Gansey and that’s that. The end goodbye:)

Best Character Moment:

So she truly was sensible. This was distressing. She felt like she’d done so much work to appear as eccentric as possible, and still, when it came down to it, she was sensible.

Best Turn of Phrase:

Noah’s resemblance to the crookedly smiling photo on the driver’s license Gansey had discovered was akin to a photocopy’s resemblance to an original painting.

Action: None! No action! Just Blue not kissing Adam and Noah not telling anyone anything and a lot of sitting cross legged on the floor! 4/10

Magic: Blue let Noah use her magical Starbucks outlet energy which is both cute and practical. 8/10

Comic Relief: All of this was situational comedy and I thought it was halfway effective. 6/10

The Raven Cycle Reread: 1.31

Summary:

Welcome back, folks! It’s time for a rare yet unfortunate Blue-less chapter, in which the central conflict is that Ronan is the only one enjoying the present because everyone else is still too worried about his future. Cue emotional angst.

Aglionby has a day off of school but the local public school doesn’t (you know what they say: the more you pay, the less you go, and it’s pretty much true). This means Gansey can go home for his mother’s birthday, Ronan can get drunk in his bedroom, and Adam can catch up on homework and feel sad about the fact that nobody’s around to hang out with. If Noah were there his problem might be solved, but ever since they discovered his skeleton he’s been feeling extra ghosty.

Adam remained at Gansey’s desk, scratching at some Latin homework, aware that the light that came in the windows didn’t seem to light the floorboards as well as it ordinarily did. The shadows shifted and clung. Adam smelled the mint plant on Gansey’s desk, but he also smelled Noah—that combination of his soap and deodorant and sweat.

It’s a beautifully haunting scene, made even more so by the gross reminder that no matter what teenage boys do or how much soap they use or if they’re literally dead, they will always have to contend with an underlying smell of BO.

Instead of answering Adam when he asks how he can help, Noah goes full cat and knocks the mint plant off Gansey’s desk. The police don’t have any leads and the Gangsey isn’t telling them about the Mustang they found (finally, the caution and weariness of adults I expected) because it might lead them to Cabeswater. It doesn’t seem like there’s anything they can do, beyond talking to Noah when he shows up, which has Adam in a foul mood. When there’s a knock on the door that reveals itself to be Declan, the day gets even worse.

Declan’s looking for Ronan, and although Adam gently steers him back out the door without any physical alteration, he doesn’t get spared the news that Ronan’s getting kicked out of Aglionby for bad grades. Declan’s blaming it all on Gansey, which doesn’t make any sense because it’s not like he’s a college consultant that Declan paid to sneak Ronan onto USC’s crew team. Gansey promised he’d help Ronan, but if Ronan doesn’t give him anything, there’s nothing Gansey can do. And Adam agrees with me! He tells Declan as much, and I am so very proud of him.

Declan’s parting words are “no Aglionby, no Monmouth,” and we all know that if Ronan had to live with Declan he would land in jail for murder in less than a week, which is what Adam calls Gansey to explain. Gansey’s having a horrible terrible no good very bad day as well, and we catch him as the argument over that stupid plate Helen bought his mother is heating up. I’m tired of that plate and so is Gansey, so he moved into his dad’s fancy garage and we get a discussion of how rich Richard Campbell Gansey III really is.

Most important, his father’s cars were all famous in some way: they’d been owned by a celebrity or been part of a movie shoot or had once been involved in a collision with a historical figure.

Gansey settled on a Peugeot the color of vanilla ice cream that had probably been owned by Lindbergh or Hitler or Marilyn Monroe.

In my copy of the book, there is a post-it note stuck next to this scene that reads: “THIS IS SOME RICH BULLSHIT” and I stand by that statement. Things only get richer and more full of bullshit when Gansey calls the guidance counselor of Aglionby Academy and offers him a $30,000 donation and a very sweet story in which Ronan has become like a brother to Gansey and like a son to his parents. Or, as another post-it past me wrote put it, “this sweet moment is ruined by the rich bullshit.”

But the bribery works! Ronan is allowed to stay at Aglionby if he gets B’s in his finals and stops being an asshole, both of which are long shots but possible with a lot of training and positive reinforcement. And then, like a physical manifestation of Gansey’s rich guilt, his father shows up to make fun of the Camaro and extend the metaphor to include each man’s vehicle.

The garage door opened on the Camaro, parked directly in front of them, blocking their exit. The Pig was low and defiant and rough around the edges in comparison to the demure, self-contained, always smiling Peugeot. Gansey felt a sudden and irrepressible love for his car. Buying it was the best decision of his life.

Hot take: what’s a Peugeot? Okay, I just googled them and honestly they’re kind of ugly. Expensive, but ugly. Which makes sense, because if you thought the garage full of cars wasn’t a ridiculously extended metaphor, you’ve got another thing coming:

A car was a wrapper for its contents, he thought, and if he looked on the inside like any of the cars in this garage looked on the outside, he couldn’t live with himself.

Oof. If only Blue was as omniscient as this narration, then maybe we can stop hearing about how every word out of Gansey’s mouth oozes money and power. Or at least we could get out of this ugly car and do what this chapter’s very last post-it note requests of us: “I vote we go back to Cabeswater!!”

Thoughts and Feelings:

I always forget that our protagonists attend an incredibly difficult Ivy League prep school. When chapters like these force me to remember I long for the simplicity of the third book in the series, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, in which it is summer vacation and I don’t have to deal with any of this. But then again it’s important that Gansey’s bribing his guidance counselor and Ronan is being a shit and Adam is lonely. I so often extoll these characters for the beautiful things they say and do, because they’re all deeply compassionate and empathetic people who are all trying their best to do good things. But I wouldn’t love them nearly so much if they weren’t deeply flawed as well, which is where this bribe comes in.

As for the scene in the garage, I don’t know much about cars but I do know plenty about Maggie Stiefvater. Or, at least, enough to have heard that she loves old cars and probably knew what a Peugeot was without having to google it like I did. This scene didn’t hit as hard as it could with me because my first car (which wasn’t even mine, I could only take it about ¼ of the time my brother did because he had infinitely more friends than I did in high school) was a 15-year-old Chrysler minivan. The check engine light was on for all three years I drove it around, and it was still on when we scrapped it last summer. So, no, I can’t understand the subtleties of car metaphors, and I wasn’t particularly interested in hearing what Gansey, Sr. had to say about them. But I did like what the chapter revealed about Gansey, so I guess that’s a win.

Best Character Moment:

On the outside, he knew he looked a lot like his father. On the inside, he sort of wished he looked more like the Camaro. Which was to say, more like Adam.

Best Turn of Phrase:

The apartment felt oppressive without anyone else in the main room. Part of Adam wanted to lure Ronan out of his room for company, but most of him realized that Ronan was, in his unappealing and unspoken way, grieving for Noah.

Action: I mean, the biggest fight was about a three-thousand-dollar bronze plate. I don’t know what else to say. 4/10

Magic: Noah is using his ghost magic to act like the apartment cat. As nice as that is, I wish he was back to being one of the apartment humans, but I guess we can’t have everything. 7/10

Comic Relief: Gansey’s family is so rich it makes me laugh. Everything they do is gold plated and futile. I don’t know if I can call that comedy, per se, but it sure was funny. 5/10

The Raven Cycle Reread: 1.30

Summary:

Remember when I was like “hey I’ll be back to putting out chapters twice a week now?” Well, I lied. I’m always out here pretending college isn’t hard when really it’s designed to be hard, so, I’ve learned nothing. But that’s not news. Also, I’ve been rewatching Game of Thrones, which takes up the majority of my non-homework time, but I digress. Even though Arya Stark owns my ass, this is a Steifvater only zone.

Back to the (ir)regularly scheduled content!

If last chapter was all of the boys’s reactions about Noah being dead, this one is more about Blue’s. In short, she’s very upset. She has the most experience with spirits, seeing that every woman in her family talks to them all the time, but figuring out Noah’s dead has changed more than just her perception of him. He’s not able to pass for alive anymore, and he doesn’t hang out like he used to. This is sad! All they get is a phantom voice, or a shadow, or Ronan will get scratches on his body (of course Ronan is the only one who gets scratched, that’s like the most emo way to interact with a ghost). Blue’s takeaway from all of this is that she wants to find the person who murdered Noah and put him in jail to rot, and honestly? GO OFF BLUE. Find Whelk and make him SUFFER.

So anyways, beyond the new ghost situation, it’s Friday morning and Blue’s off to school. Calla’s left her a suspicious post-it note so she won’t forget about movie/snoop night, and while she’s grabbing it off the fridge Neeve decides to scare her by revealing that she’s been sitting at the kitchen table this whole time, wearing a shirt that’s the same color as the walls. Say what you want about the woman, but accessorizing with a literal house is a power move.

Blue’s trying very hard not to act suspicious, but Neeve has no personal boundaries and she’s already telling Blue she looks sad and she should have a reading. Blue is like, no, dude, I’m gonna go to school, but Neeve waves with her beautiful and graceful and also beautiful hands (have I mentioned how pretty her hands are? They’re very pretty) and get’s in Blue’s business anyway.

Neeve said to her back, “you’re looking for a god. Didn’t you suspect that there might also be a devil?”

Goddamn.

Apparently death is an easy subject for Neeve to see, and she knew that Blue was touching death every time she went to see Noah. Then she goes even creepier, and tells Blue there’ll be more death before the journey’s done.

Thoughts and Feelings:

We all knew Neeve was creepy, but this is next level. Especially since this time she can’t blame it on some monster that took over while she was scrying. This was all Neeve and her stupid calm expression and her pretty hands and her lack of boundaries.

It’s a weird forshadowing that suggests Glendower’s the thing they’re looking for but he might not be the thing they find, and that’s kind of scary and would also probably suck for Gansey. Imagine if he gets to a tomb and it’s, like, an evil mummy in there. He’s looking for Glendower but someone other than the Welsh got there first, and not only does he not get his favor but he’s also cursed forever. That would suck.

This chapter’s pretty short, though, so there’s not much for me to feel about it besides sad that Blue’s sad, and weirded out by Neeve’s comments. So I’m basically just empathizing with Blue, which I’ve been doing throughout this whole novel, and probably will keep doing until the series is over. The end.

Best Character Moment:

Blue just kept thinking of the skull with its face smashed in, of Noah retching at the sight of the Mustang. Not throwing up. Just going through the actions of it, because he was dead.

She wanted to find whoever did this to him and she wanted him to fester in a cell for the rest of his life.

Best Turn of Phrase:

“I’m just warning you,” Neeve said. “Watch for the devil. When there’s a god, there’s always a legion of devils.”

Action: Absolutely no action. Just Neeve blending into a wall and foreshadowing some action. 5/10

Magic: Also no magic?? Or, maybe Neeve actively uses magic to creep on us, but I’m not counting it because I’m scared. 4/10

Comic relief: I guess I can laugh at the post-it note Calla left. Thanks for saving the day, you magnificent woman. 5/10