Sunday, November 28, 2010

Second Chances

Sorry to post so late--I'm sure all two of my readers were biting their nails in anticipation. I'm kidding; I love you all, the few, the proud, the devoted.

Anyway this book is a cocktease just like the adult books. It promises wrong-headed preaching yet when it comes time to deliver, it wusses out. This is what we get instead of preaching.

Judd told Sergeant Fogarty and the two detectives his whole story, from being raised in the church, to rebelling, to running away, to the Rapture, to getting home, connecting with Bruce Barnes, meeting the other kids, praying to receive Christ, and moving in together.

On one hand, I'm a little grateful Ellanjay has put down their usual sledgehammer style of preaching; on the other hand, I'm tempted to pull out a sledgehammer of my own and pound into their heads the basic commandment of all writers: Show, don't tell.

Anyway, Bruce and Lionel go to visit Talia in jail and we get more discussion about whether or not the Rapture is it or not. Bruce obviously leans towards second chances which would be noble if it weren't for the fact it raises even more questions, such as what about people like Ryan's parents who never got the opportunity to take advantage of their second chance? But I have a feeling, Ryan's parents, now that they are condemned, will never be heard from or mentioned again in this forty-book series.

Anyway, later we meet Josey, Sergeant Fogarty's wife, who is currently on my favourite characters' list along with the cabbie. Why? Because Josey is acting like someone who's had her whole world shaken upside down and is on a quest for answers, as opposed to our close-minded protagonists who swallow whatever Bruce tells them. She is described as being into new age stuff--channeling, crystals, etc.--but the book makes it clear that she is at a lost to describe what has happened, which is how a person should be when faced with something of this magnitude: lost, frightened, and curious. She is someone who deserves to be in a much better book.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Four-for-One Adventure Pack

Sorry to do so many chapters at once, but nothing really happens in these books. :whimpers:

The misadventures of the Hardly Boys and Nancy Clueless continues in the next four chapters as the quartet works with Det. Tom Fogarty to set up a sting to ensnare LeRoy. Again, never have I so longed for Bruce Barnes and his incredibly wrong-headed theology.

Also, Fogarty has to be the worst cop ever, if he needs a bunch of kids to help him set up a sting. I haven't seen police work this shoddy since Sergeant Johnson relied on a group of thirteen-year-old girls to catch criminals for him. Not to mention, again why is busy playing cop with a bunch of teenagers when ever kid in the state has disappeared?

So anyway, Judd is spying on LeRoy who is, stupidly enough, hanging around Lionel's house. I'm not sure who's dumber, Judd for playing secret agent man on some guy who's shown he's not afraid to kill anyone who gets in his way, or LeRoy for continuing to hang around the house that belongs to the nephew of the guy he killed. I might put up a poll on this: Who's dumber? Fogarty or Judd or LeRoy

Ryan briefly reflects on his parents and apparently being converted results in your conscience being sucked out of its socket because he has no problem with the fact that his parents are in Hell.

He put out of his mind the fact that his parents had not been Christians and that unless something very strange and very quick had happened before they died, it was likely they weren't in heaven now.

[long passage of me screaming obscenities about the sheer wrong of this passage.]

Basically what happens next is LeRoy and his partners in crime are arrested and the cops and the kids hang out and talk about the disappearances and one of them seems to make the connection that only RTCs disapppeared.
But anyway, Fogarty asks this question which sets us up for some wrong-headed theology next chapter.

"You brought this up, kid. What's your take on the vanishings? What do you make of it?"

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Three-for-One Adventure

Our bad gangster novel continues in the next two chapters where much yet nothing happens really. It is a tale told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. It's hard to snark because it lacks the grotesquely bad theology and feels completely out of place in the book much like Buck's spy adventure in England.

Basically Judd, Vicki,and Ryan are waiting for Lionel and Ryan is the only one who justifiably afraid for which the others lambast him. Poor Ryan, forever playing the role of Butt Monkey. He and Hattie Durham really need to start a support group. Call it "Characters against Ellanjay Abuse."

It turns out the apartment complex where Andre lives is on fire so there's an action sequence where Judd and Lionel decide to go in and get Andre out. It actually makes a little sense for this Big Damn Heroes moment to happen because the fire department and every other department would be too busy dealing with the disappearance of every child on earth, but the problem I have with it is that they don't even bother to ask about the other people in the building; they only care about Uncle Andre. Everyone else is untermenschen to borrow Fred's word.

Lionel has a conversation with his dying uncle and it's not actually too bad. It's a little melodramatic but sometimes melodramatic is perfect for the situation at hand.

"No! No!" Lionel screamed. "God, don't let him die! Andre!"
Judd covered with his hand the deep wound in Andre's neck as the man tried to talk. "This is what hell will be like," he rasped. "I deserve it, Lionel."
"No! We all deserve it, Andre! But you don't have to go! Don't go!"
"It's too late."
"It wasn't too late for the thief on the cross! Please, Andre!"

Again, this conversation is dripping with melodrama, but it's not too bad though as always are sympathies are with Andre rather than Lionel.

But when Lionel and Judd get out of the building, Judd's car is gone and with it, Ryan and Vicki.

Ryan and Vicki, it turns out, didn't escape to a better story but high-tailed at as soon as they saw LeRoy, aka the guy Andre was in trouble with, coming.

But Lionel is not in a good mood and who could blame him after what he's witnessed. But Vicki, desperately looking for asshole points, tries to comfort him in the worst possible way.

"Because we love you," she said. "That's why. We need you in this family. I feel awful for you and sorry for your uncle, but from what you tell me, he knew the truth and had every chance to accept Christ."

See this is why you don't convert to RTC religion: because there's nothing at all about the love of Christ in this conversation. In fact, RTC religion as many have said, is akin to spell-casting. Without saying the magic words, God's hands are tied and you're going to hell, but if you do say the magical words, you can run circumvent God.

Judd offers these words of comfort.

"You didn't mess up, Lionel. I hate to say it, but Andre messed up. There was nothing more you could do. You explained. You pleaded with him. Plus, he knew all this from the beginning. He was raised the same way you were."

All the on-screen damned apparently had heard of Christ somewhere along the way, but Ellanjay neglects to deal with the off-screen damned. What about some lost tribe in the South American jungle who have never seen a white man, let alone heard of Christ? What about them, Ellanjay?

But anyway, that's it for this week. Hopefully soon we'll be back to wrong-headed preaching and I'll have more to talk about.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Meeting up with Uncle Andre

Glad to see we are in agreement that Ryan's the butt monkey of the series. I like it when people agree with me.

Anyway, these next two chapters are a jarring shift in tone. Basically Lionel goes out in search of his uncle and what follows is a gangster-novel that tries to convince is it's in the hood when really it's written by a middle-aged white guy. Jerry Jenkins ain't no Mario Puzo, that's for sure. These chapters feel like they belong in another novel, not one where all the children have disappeared, save for those too tall for the rapture line.

So anyway like I said, Lionel goes to meet up with his uncle's fiancee and they have a few conversations.

Lionel tried to talk to her, mostly to simply change the subject. "So, Talia," he said, "where were you when the disappearances happened?"
"What?" She said, as if demanding to know what in the world he was talking about. "Where was I?"
"Yeah. Simple question. Everybody remebers where they were. I was slepping in my basement with Andre. Where were you?"

This conversation isn't too bad except that Talia should be able to instantly answer where she was when all the world's children disappeared. In fact this parody of a gangster film shouldn't be happening; both Lionel and Talia should be hold up in their houses, hoping and praying that the rioters leave them alone as they count their slowly dwindling supplies of canned food.

Talia starts crying and Lionel, being the compassionate guy that he is, takes this opportunity to chalk up another on his fuselage.

"It's not too late, Talia," Lionel said. "I'm a believer now, and so are three of my friends and lots of other people--"
"No! No! It's too late. When Jesus took the Christians away, the Holy Ghost left and nobody can be saved anymore!"

I take Ellanjay is using this opportunity to attack a popular end times belief. Fred can probably dissect it better than I but for a while, the belief was the Rapture was it. No more chances, no more nothing. Those left behind were damned and there was nothing they could do about it.

Okay, so we finally meet Uncle Andre and I kind of like him even though the book says I shouldn't. Why? Because Uncle Andre is acting like a man who has lost everything that ever mattered unlike his smarmy asshole of a nephew. Here's his description:

Andre was barefoot and wore a pair of old, shiny suit pants and a sleeveless T-shirt with food stains down the front. He appeared not to have bathed for days. His hair was matted, his facial hair patchy. His breath smelled of alcohol, and his dark eyes were bloodshot.

This is how people respond to a crisis of the magnitude spoken of in the book: they fall to pieces.

Of course Lionel is too busy looking down on his uncle for drinking and smoking to offer him any comfort and we get some evidence that Lionel's mother, Lucinda, was like Irene Steele: a preachy harridan that was generally no fun to be around.

There had never been cigarettes or booze in Lionel's house. When guests asked his mother if she minded if they smoked, she always said kindly, "Of course not. I have an air-conditioned facility for you just beyond that door." It was the door to the driveway.

Apparently a RTC woman doesn't just say "I'd prefer it if you don't smoke in my house." An RTC woman goes the passive-aggressive route. Between this and Irene Steele's fanatical insistence upon Raymie not knowing his father drank, no wonder Beverly LaHaye responded by moving a thousand miles away from her husband; any less would tarnish her purity.

Anyway not much happens in the second chapter except a continuing parody of a gangster novel. Strangely enough, I find myself wishing for more preaching. At least it would give me something to talk about since it's so wrong-headed.


I think I'm starting to develop Stockholm Syndrome thanks to these books.