Sunday, April 3, 2011

Why the Kids books are better than the Adults.

Is Left Behind: the Kids a good series? No. There are tons of YA authors who are more in touch with youth culture and deal better with issues such as the end of the world and religion a million times better than Ellanjay. Read Katherine Paterson, read Ann M. Martin, Jerry Spinelli, anybody but Ellanjay if you want good YA fiction. If you really want post-apocalyptic YA fiction, I recommend Susan Beth Pfeffer's last survivors series. It's dark, grim, and shows how people really react when the end of days is on them.

But is Left Behind: the Kids better than the adult books? Much as it pains me to admit this, I have to say, yes. While the kids has nearly all the flaws of the adult series and is terminally boring, it lacks the creepy sexual politics and so far, things are actually happening in these books. I don't know why the kids is better than the adults, but note when I say better, I don't mean they're good books. These are still terrible, terrible books. In short, Left Behind: the kids is better than the adult books the way a kick in the gut is better than a kick in the teeth.

So apparently the temple in Israel has already been built. Got to hand it to Nicky Cherskiy: he works fast. Not to mention, he has the incredible ability to move mountains since the muslims don't object to them building on the dome of the rock because apparently he moved it.

Oh, and Bruce met up with some guy from Singapore who's giving them permission to use the stadium Dr. Ben-Judah uses, to hold meetings there. It is then they find out that Vicki has been arrested and their mole at the school, Coach Handlesmen, is in trouble. Naturally Bruce decides to go to Singapore. Why?

"Wait," Judd said. "If God wants you in Singapore, that's where you should go."
"I wouldn't want to abandon Vicki or Coach Handlesmen when they need me most," Bruce said.
"You're not abandoning them," Judd said. "They would want you to follow God's leading. I'll go back."

And naturally Bruce decides a sixteen-year-old boy is the perfect candidate for negotiating the release of a comrade from NWO (New World Order) goons. Once again, Bruce proves how useless he really is.

So Vicki is in the slammer and is visited by Chaya. She advises Chaya to get an apartment near Bruce and that's all the happens in her section. Back to the manly men.

Judd arrives back in Chicago and is shocked, shocked, to have his luggage searched by NWO goons. Judd's outrage at this seems quaint in our post-9/11 days of full-body scanners, but this was composed in 1999 aka pre-9/11, so I suppose we can give Ellanjay a pass on this.

Basically the NWO goon is searching Judd because his name came up in an investigation of Coach Handlesmen and I point to sections like these as proof that the kids books are better than the adults. Stuff is actually happening: christians are facing actual persecution and the NWO goons are actually doing something.

The NWO goons search Judd's computers but the hard drive's crashed and they can't find anything on him, so he's free. But at the end of the chapter, we finally get some mention of money woes.

It was a bank statement. His father's account which he thought would easily last the next seven years, was dangerously low. They would be lucky if the money lasted seven months.

Okay, this is bothering me. Judd is a rich kid: he lives a house that's big enough that each of the YTF can have their own room and it's in a wealthy Chicago suburb. So how is it that he managed to drain the account so fast with the YTFs' expenses. Granted that trip to Israel couldn't have been cheap, nor could the paper, but could they really have drained his father's account with living expenses alone?

Next chapter, we're back to Vicki in prison. Vicki gets shanked. Now, for some reason, we're back to Judd. Why we haven't heard from Ryan or Lionel in a while, I don't know. I imagine them hanging around off-screen at some support group for victims of Ellanjay Abuse with Hattie and Verna.

Basically the NWO has stepped up the number of guards at the school and Judd has decided to become Valedictorian, because apparently in Ellanjayland people actually listen to valedictorian speeches, so Judd sees this as his chance to evangelize.

Back to Vicki. She survived the stabbing so we can cancel that candlelight vigil we had planned but now she's being shipped from Juvie to an adult facility. Why we keep cutting back to Judd, I don't know; right now her story is more compelling, but she's a chick and Judd's a dude so therefore, his story is considered more exciting.

Anyway, Judd gets called to an assembly where it is told that there will be zero tolerance for those who evangelize and they're given new uniforms to wear. The uniforms are black with white doves on the shoulders and those who don't want to wear the dove, get uniforms with red Xs.

And that's the snark for this week. I would have done a third chapter but I think this post is long enough.


Redwood said...

So how is it that he managed to drain the account so fast with the YTFs' expenses.

I suspect that, like most teens, he's stupid about money. There was never seven years worth of money in the account, even if he hadn't had the trip to Israel and the paper.

Seriously, outside of millionaires, very few people have more than a few months worth of expenses in their checking/savings accounts. Maybe a year tops, even for the very upper-middle class.

It's just that teens have no clue how much money it takes to pay the rent, buy groceries, etc. So they see an account with say, a hundred thousand dollars, and think they could live on it for seven years.

(Actually, a couple of kids probably could live on that for seven years, if they budgeted very carefully - but not while paying the mortgage on that McMansion. They'd have to move somewhere with much lower living expenses)

Firedrake said...

Does more stuff happen per page in these books? I remember you mentioning a while back that you were already four books in - could you give a (very rough!) page count to where you've got to now?

Bruce is the man who will say anything to avoid having to do anything. Our hero, folks...

Mouse said...

I am on chapter 32, page 291 of Pursued which is, like my previous book, four books shoved together. I think we might be nearing book eight but I'm not certain.

Firedrake said...

So in terms of page count probably somewhere similar to where Fred's got to in the main series - but there's certainly been a fair bit more going on... Thanks!

Heather said...

Okay, I was going to go into this whole post about the housing market having just collapsed (meaning the kids, through Bruce, about to be able to buy an empty, recently repossessed house (or a dozen) for nearly nothing), and all this extra stuff just lying around from all the raptured people (it shouldn't count as stealing if no one's coming back for it, and besides, everyone who vanished would probably rather their stuff go to support the church than the GC), but then I realized why the bank accounts must be so low. This is where Bruce is getting all of his money from. He realized that any good church that wants to be a megachurch (and send its pastor to Singapore on short notice) needs lots of money, and so he made sure that happened, whether with the kids' permissions or not. Of course, that's even assuming the various parents involved didn't leave all of their money to the church rather than their kids.

(Normally, I'm very much a fan of charity, but Bruce does strike me as the kind of person who could make $100,000 turn into $100 in a very short period of time without ever quite realizing what happened.)

Mrs Grimble said...

"Coach Handlesmen" ?????
Wha-? Really? I'm now reminded of that legendary bit of cricket-match commentary:
"...the bowler's Holding, the batman's Willey...."
(Ok, that one works better if you're British, or aware of the British slang term "willy". But, anyway, snorfle.)

Evil Paul said...

"And naturally Bruce decides a sixteen-year-old boy is the perfect candidate for negotiating the release of a comrade from NWO""

Considering that Bruce let himself be talked out of rescuing a young girl from an evil NWO detention centre by the same 16 year old douchebag, maybe he wouldn't be much use after all.

"Let my people go!"

Also, has anybody actually freaked out yet over Vicki being arrested and shanked in prison? What about her (phony) drug use? Has there been any kind of "Oh shit this is real!" moment at all?

Mouse said...

No one's really freaked yet. There's a little "Oh I really miss Vicki." moments but other than that they spend more time on the paper than on her.

Poor Vicki. I would name her the series' butt monkey were it not for the fact Ryan gets it worse.

Ruby said...

@Mrs. Grimble--

Yeah, the "Coach Handlesmen" name made me stop short, too. I know there are plenty of real people out there with names that could be interpreted with humor or just a O_o look, but Jenkins relies so much on the weird names and anagrams that it eventually just becomes a meta of its own and you don't know what's meant to be "meaningful" and what's meant to be "just a name...what?"

muenchner kindl said...

and they're given new uniforms to wear. The uniforms are black with white doves on the shoulders and those who don't want to wear the dove, get uniforms with red Xs.

Oh no. I thought Nicola Alps is half-way gay and therefore fashion-oriented (at least in later adult books)? In the adults books, the authors make a point of telling us, (despite avoiding real physical description as always) that he has his hair coiffed the European way and wears a tasteful suit and such, implying that a man who wants to look nice/ smart/ snappily is some kind of European degenerate, while manly man like Ray look smart in uniform but hate it ... or something.

So why would Nicolae, esp. with Hattie, being smartly dressed as his personal aide, choose *black* as uniform colour, that practically screams "evil" for anybody who's watched a Nazi or a Star Wars movie (aka almost everybody)? Is this simply colour-coding for your convenience, as TV tropes calls it?

Moreover, why would the OWG / OWR use the dove, a specific Christian symbol, for the uniforms, and a special X for those who don't? (And why would the Christians of the YTF refuse a dove?)

Among the myriad of things Ellenjay don't know anything about is obviously history of real repressive regimes: under the Nazis, people wore the party ensigna if they were members, and if you didn't have one, the empty place branded you bad enough as is. No need for special crosses.

About the money: what prevents Judd from maxing out his parents credit cards? And why would he pay mortgage, if he knows the world will end soon? Just do as Fred said in his recent post about the Adult TF, negotiate a contract where all payments are made 6 years from now with 20% rate of interest to sweeten it, because you know the world will end before you have to pay back.

I think the explanation that Bruce as "shepherd" took the money for himself to prevent the kids from spending it on something they might like which would of course be unreasonable. Presumably they have to come to him now every week to receive pocket money, and they only get it if they followed all the rules and read enough bible verses.

Oh wait, I know one way to spend money: the newspaper. Printing hundreds of copies at the local copy shop isn't cheap.