The Raven Cycle Reread: 2.04

Summary:

At the start of this chapter, we launch ourselves right back into the Gray Man’s beautiful brain, starting off with his reasoning for becoming an assassin. Unlike Barrington Whelk, who was just a murdering bastard, our new villain is in his current line of employment because being an academic focused on Anglo-Saxon poetry isn’t a very lucrative profession.

He preferred a job he could approach with pragmatism, one that gave him the freedom to read and study at his convenience. So here he was in Henrietta.

Although he had to give up on his dream we do get a nice little description of a book the Gray Man wrote (“Fraternity in Anglo-Saxon Verse”) which made it onto a fair number of college syllabi and resulted in two instances of polite fan mail. I’m glad he has something else to live for, especially something as pure as looking for the old-English equivalent of the found-family trope.

But back to the action. The Gray Man is staying at a very quaint bed and breakfast run by a couple that seem nice, but overinvested. We learn two new things about our antagonist: he looks hot in V-neck sweaters and he likes his Corona with lime. He’s also very good at small talk and blending in, but then again he’s an assassin, so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.

The Wetzel’s hadn’t had a boarder in several weeks, and the Gray Man allowed himself to be the focus of their intense welcome for about an hour before excusing himself with another Corona. By the time the door shut behind him, the Wetzels were decided supporters of the Gray Man.

So many of the world’s problems, he mused, were solved by sheer human decency.

That’s tea right there!! Just be nice to people, and they won’t even care that you kill stuff for a living.

He’s trying to use an EMF reader and other fun gadgets to figure out where the Greywaren is, but none of them are working. We love static-noise Henrietta, especially when it keeps Ronan from getting pistol-whipped like his brother.

Then comes, what I call, the Page of Discovery. Over the course of one typed page, we discover that the Gray Man is employed by a professor named Colin Greenmantle (remember that name). We discover that they’re looking for an object that can take things out of dreams. We discover that that object is, in fact, Ronan. We also discover that Declan is a marginally less shitty brother, since he obviously knows what his brother is capable and did a fantastic job of lying to an assassin under the threat of death.

See? Page of Discovery.

In the end, Greenmantle is pissed the Gray Man isn’t working faster. But the Gray Man is such a dope and polite villain that he doesn’t particularly care. He knows he’ll get it done. He’s confident, self-assured, and has his folder of nice words about his poetry book. We love him.

What we don’t love is the final line, where we realize why Greenmantle is so anxious to get this thing found: there are other people looking, and they’ve found Henrietta too.

Thoughts and Feelings:

Why is every adversary in this series an academic? First a high school teacher, then a man with a graduate degree hired by a Professor? Is Stiefvater trying to tell me something? Should I drop out of college so I don’t become someone else’s worst enemy? I’m not so sure my father, who also reads this blog, would be too happy about hearing that.

I just think this chapter was wonderfully inserted. It answers a lot of questions we might have about a character like the Gray Man. I’m not wondering about his motivations. I’m not wondering about where he’s staying, or what he does in his free time. I’m not wondering who sent him (even though we don’t know a lot about Greenmantle, I’m glad the reveal isn’t dragged out for too long). Stiefvater sprinkles in little hints that the Gray Man and his parents aren’t on good terms, and that something is off about his family life. That foreshadowing is immensely helpful in the chapters to come.

This is how you drop in a villain. Especially because he’s not even a villain, per se, he’s just a guy trying to make a living. And a funny one, at that.

I’m still excited to get back to the Gangsey. I want to figure out what’s going on with Adam, and watch Blue sort out her many romantic feelings, and Ronan have crushes on any boy who knows his way around a car. But this interlude wasn’t so bad. And that is a huge compliment.

Best Character Moment:

The Gray Man tugged a folder out of his duffle bag and opened it on the bedspread. A course syllabus lay on top: Medieval History, Part I. Required reading: Fraternity in Anglo-Saxon Verse. Sliding on a set of headphones, he queued up a playlist of The Flaming Lips. He felt essentially happy.

Best Turn of Phrase:

For a moment, there was no sound but that of three consenting adults mutually enjoying an alcoholic beverage after a long day. The three emerged from the other side of silence firm friends.

Action: While checking into a hotel would be a very action-packed and anxiety inducing event for me, the Gray Man handled it without too much fanfare. 4/10

Magic: Static Henrietta is a wonderful place. 7/10

Comic Relief: The Gray Man is a wry comedic God and should be worshipped as such. 11/10

The Raven Cycle Reread: 2.03

Summary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts and Feelings:

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

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

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

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

Best Character Moment:

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

Best Turn of Phrase:

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

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

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

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

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

The Raven Cycle Reread: 2.02

Summary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts and Feelings:

So. Declan.

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

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

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

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

Best Character Moment:

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

Best Turn of Phrase:

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

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

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

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

The Raven Cycle Reread: 2.01

Summary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You incredible creature,” Gansey said.

See? Cute.

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

Thoughts and Feelings:

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

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

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

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

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

Best Character Moment:

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

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

Best Turn of Phrase:

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

Action: It’s chapter one, dude. 5/10

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

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

The Raven Cycle Reread: 2.00

Summary:

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

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

-August Strindberg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is also Niall Lynch. Fun multitudes, right?

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

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

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

Thoughts and Feelings:

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

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

Dream Thieves! Woohoo!!

Best Character Moment:

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

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

Best Turn of Phrase:

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

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

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

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

The Raven Cycle Reread: 1.Extra

Almost a year ago (July 18th, 2018, to be exact) I finished reading The Raven Boys in a single day. I read the copy I used to check out of the library, before my mom bought me my own books (the American hardcover, as opposed to the British paperbacks I now own). Then I decided to write down my reaction in a journal I keep for feelings about books and media I consume, to commemorate the moment and get some things off my chest. I wanted to transfer it here because I think I need a little break before I delve into Dream Thieves, and there’s nothing like a good old pre-written ranting to throw up here while I take the week off.

I also think it’s an interesting contrast, since these are my thoughts after reading it in one day, and you’ve only read my thoughts after they’ve been marinating for seven months. It’s a very different way of reading, I can tell you that much. But here it is, everyone:

A younger Emily’s reread of The Raven Boys

So this is probably going to be a part of a longer series in which I talk about all 4 Raven Cycle books individually and then altogether, because I find when I am in a creative spell I simply cannot resist them. So there’s that.

But of the first book in particular, there’s something to be said about a series I read bit by bit as it came out. I fell in love with the Raven Boys first, and I waited for the others to see what would happen next. A special spot in my heart is reserved for this book, and so I am biased.

I do maintain that this book isn’t prose, it’s just poetry without the line breaks. Everything is described in a way that doesn’t actually describe it at all, which strikes me as the ultimate trust of the reader. Steifvater knows when she describes Ronan’s tattoo as a hook, a knife, a fleur-de-lis, that we will understand Ronan is dangerous, damages, and wondrous. We love that Blue is sensible, in her crochet leggings.

This is the kind of book that ensnares me. It is, to steal Persephone’s words, more raven than the others. And I love it to death, I really do. This is a desert island book. Stiefvater is a desert island artist. I would take her work anywhere, and I’m not even being dramatic. I’m being sensible.

SOME OF THE BEST TURNS OF PHRASE:

  • Girlfriend held her hand to her chest in an unconscious reaction to masculine nakedness. In this case, the naked party was not a person, but a thing: Gansey’s bed, nothing but two mattresses on a bare metal frame, sitting baldly in the middle of the room, barely made. It was somehow intimate in its complete lack of privacy. (42)
  • “Get used to some turbulence, you little bastard.” “You can’t name it that.” “Her name’s Chainsaw,” replied Ronan. (95)
  • A bruise spread over his cheekbone, red and swelling as a galaxy (130)
  • The tiny bunch of flowers made sense. They matched Adam’s frayed sweater. (181)
  • Adam’s mouth made the soundless shape of a laugh (213)
  • She recognized the strange happiness that came from loving something without knowing why you did, that strange happiness that was sometimes so big it felt like sadness (223)
  • There was something musical about Ronan when he swore, a careful and loving precision to the way he fit the words together. A black-painted poetry (238)
  • “They were just such small hurts, you know?” (270)
  • “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.” (305)
  • It was a catastrophe of light. He was aware in a single, exploded moment of how many colors combined to make white. (339)
  • The roar of the engine starting was probably what had woken Gansey in the first place, the moonlight merely a memory of the last time he’d been woken. (374)

Current Emily’s reaction

So there’s that. Obviously I was trying a bit too hard to be poetic, but there were also plenty of things I didn’t pick up on. I didn’t mention the funny moments, or the complicated and sometimes frustrating magic, or the way that Stiefvater sets up little moments between each character pairing that feel like a screen test of romantic potential. I didn’t notice how obvious it was that Blue wanted to choose Adam but she couldn’t get over Gansey and his sexy, sexy journal. I wasn’t nearly as appreciative of Calla as I should have been. And, because I was reading so very fast, I didn’t feel the slow drag of every Whelk POV chapter pulling me down.

There are upsides and downsides to every way of reading. But, frankly, I’m just really glad I got to do it both ways. I’m glad this book holds up no matter how many times I’ve read it. And yet, I’m really excited to put Raven Boys back on my shelf and pick up Dream Thieves. I can’t wait for you to really meet Ronan. It’s long overdue.

The Raven Cycle Reread: 1.48

Summary:

We’re here, folks! THE LAST CHAPTER!!! I’m going to be all sentimental about it in the thoughts and feelings section, don’t worry. I’ll put it at the end so you can skip it if you want.

This chapter finesses a nice time transition by taking us right to Noah’s funeral where, after a couple weeks of detective work, they give his bones to his family to bury. In that time, everyone finished school successfully, Gansey shed a little bit more of his good boy image by quitting the rowing team, and Adam got his own apartment above a church.

We also learn that Neeve disappeared because Calla, Persephone, and Maura snuck into her room and moved her mirrors around. Which sounds a little bit like psychic bullshit, but that’s characteristic of Blue’s family. But other than that, everything is right with the world:

And slowly their lives found an equilibrium, though it didn’t seem they’d ever return to normal. The ley line was awake and Noah was all but gone. Magic was real, Glendower was real, and something was starting.

After that beautiful quote Steifvater takes us right to Blue’s funeral OOTD. I don’t know why Gansey is judging her when he and Ronan both showed up in designer suits, but hey. At least her T-shirt dress DIY has black lace on it. It’s mourning-chic, get off her back. And it’s not like she’s planning on going to talk to Noah’s grieving family, right? That would be crazy.

But when Noah asks you to do something—no, begs you—you do it. So even though Gansey grabs her arm (alert! arm touch alert!) and she’s going to embarrass herself, she’s going to go tell the Czerny family what Noah told her to say: he’s sorry for drinking his mother’s birthday schnapps. Blue and Noah’s relationship is underappreciated and deserves more love, and this feels like a good time to say it.

Anyways, Blue walks up to the family and says her mother is a psychic. It wasn’t the best way to introduce herself, but the minute she relays Noah’s message his mother starts crying and she exits as gracefully as possible. Until, of course, everyone leaves and they start to dig up Noah’s bones.

Here’s the thing: of course Ronan lounged on the hood of his BMW while everyone else worked. Of course Gansey thought nothing of renting a literal backhoe to do the gravedigging. And of course Adam miraculously knows how to use it. After all that work, they rebury Noah’s bones behind the old church so they’re on the ley line. They get their friend back, we get our favorite boy back. Everybody wins.

“No,” Noah protestet, around Blue’s arm. “I’m serious. This place creeps me the hell out. Can we go?”

Gansey’s face broke into a relieved, easy grin. “Yes, we can go home.”

“I’m still not eating pizza,” Noah said

But this wouldn’t be a Maggie Steifvater novel without one good cliffhanger to end it all, and here it is: remember that baby bird that appeared out of nowhere? Her name rhymes with Slainsaw? Yeah, she didn’t exactly come from “nowhere.” Ronan took her out of his dreams.

Stiefvater really does love her zingy endings. Good thing we don’t have to wait for the next book… NEW DREAM THIEVES CHAPTER NEXT WEEK!

Thoughts and Feelings:

Whew. It really has been a wild ride. I’ve carried this book with me in my backpack every single day of 2019, and so far it’s been a pretty eventful year. Having some Raven Boys as constant companions wasn’t the worst thing I could’ve done.

As for this chapter as an ending, I’m glad this was the loose end that got wrapped up. I forgot about Noah. You forgot about Noah. We all feel terrible about it, and we’re very happy that he got the ending he deserved. It’s also important that we find out one of the main characters has superpowers. Okay, maybe they’re not under the traditional definition of superpowers, but when you can make a bird appear when there wasn’t anything there before? That’s super.

I guess I’m just excited for a new narrative. Not that it’s going to be all that different from this one, really. We get new points of view and a new Whelk-ish antagonist (although this new guy is better, I promise). We also get breakups and new love and better magic. We get more visits to Cabeswater. We get a hell of a lot more Persephone, which is a win for everyone.

There are a lot of people who have read The Raven Cycle and say that Dream Thieves is their favorite book. These people are the types that, when they hear the name Ronan, call him “my baby” and insist that he needs protection from all things bad and scary. He really doesn’t. I mean, he is (as established) a soft boy, but he’s not in need of any sort of protection. All this is to say that Dream Thieves is Ronan’s book. And people love Ronan.

Dream Thieves is not my favorite. If I had to pick a favorite, it’s Raven Boys, because I’m loyal and I read it first. What I’m trying to get across, though, it that you should be excited for the next book. If you love Dream Thieves half as much as everyone else does, this is going to be a fun six months.

Excelsior. Onwards, and upwards.

Best Character Moment:

When they ran back to the BMW, breathless and giddy with their crime, Ronan told Gansey, “This will all come out and bite you in the ass, you know, when you’re running for Congress.”

“Shut up and drive, Lynch.”

Best Turn of Phrase:

Ronan, still in the ruins, looked over his shoulder at them. In the dim light of the flashlights, the tattooed hook that edged out above his collar looked like either a claw or a finger or a fleur-de-lis. It was nearly as sharp as his smile.

Action: A grave robbery occurred. Blue ruined a funeral. It was wild. 9/10

Magic: Noah used the power of love to turn Blue into the Long Island Medium. 8/10

Comic Relief: The fact that I can say the Gangsey relayed a message from beyond the dead and then robbed a grave all in one chapter is objectively funny. They’re teenagers. Why is nobody monitoring the hilarious shit they do? 11/10