Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Insert Witty Post Title Here

Since I'm going to start providing links to various media, maybe I should place a warning: some of these may not be Work-Safe, so be careful. Don't want anybody getting fired because of my posts.

So the sun has finally risen and naturally because Ellanjay don't understand how the sun works, snow melts almost instantly. But I'll give them a little credit in that they acknowledge that all this snowmelt could have problems: the river is rising and the American YTF are wondering if they need to move to higher ground. This is what would happen if all the snow melted at once. So I'll give Ellanjay a half-point because they got something half-right.

But enough about boring stuff like whether or not Our Brave Heroes have to evacuate due to rising waters; the important thing is that the generator is running again so they can get their all-important emails again. I know y'all were just biting your nails raw in anticipation.

As you guessed there's more emails from that Carl* guy who I still don't give a rat's ass about even though the YTF are endlessly debating whether this guy's on the level, whether he's trying to trap them, and Oh God, how little do I care about this.

The America-based YTF find out that Carl's heading their way and that apparently the GC are staying away from Chicago due to reports of a whole lotta radiation downtown. As you probably guessed, this radiation thing is mentioned in passing and no one seems to care about what this means for the people living in the area or what's going to happen when the radioactive cloud reaches them because Ellanjay are fucking morons who didn't think about stuff like this and think we'd rather hear about a character we'd long since forgotten about and his fucking emails!

Okay, deep breath..

Okay, so not really much is going on in Israel. Samuel apparently wants to be called Sam and they're still kicked out of Jamal's house. To my surprise, they aren't talking too nastily about Jamal. Ever since reading the last chapter in which he kicked them out, I was bracing myself for pages of the YTF whining about how Jamal is TEH EVOL!1111 for kicking them out because he felt they were a bad influence that was putting his family in danger. Frankly, because I hate the YTF and I like being contrary, I was fully on Jamal's side: the dude has lost one child; is it so horrible that he wants to protect his remaining one? But actually, the YTF, while they're still not "Yea, we got thrown out," are understanding of his desire to protect his family.

Lionel does ask Judd if he does have feelings for Nada. Judd admits that he likes her but only as a friend. Nada is also described as being a "knockout" which, given that we have no further clues about what she looks like, is about as meaningful as Hattie's description of being drop-dead gorgeous. We can surmise, however, based on her name and the fact she was mentioned as having an Arabic accent, that she is of Middle Eastern descent and though I know eventually, Judd will be married off to Vicki, I almost want him and Nada to hook up. Make the story less predictable. Though I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't have a romance between her and Lionel; they're both ethnic which makes it okay.

The section ends with an interesting note in which Judd rejects the idea of dating Vicki because in his words, "They fight too much." There's so much we can read into that, given Ellanjay's views on women, especially ones that don't bow and do as the menfolk say, but I think we should move on.

In America, the YTF are doing a bible study. Naturally, Melinda and Charlie are listening closely, while Janie stares off in the distance. Astute readers can tell that Ellanjay are using this as an indication that Melinda and Charlie are slightly less eeevil than Janie, but I'm going to just assume that Janie is just sick and tired of hearing the same few verses taken out of context over and over again, because is it really that difficult to remember the horrible shit that's going to happen to you?

Token Jew basically says to keep an eye on the sky and says that three more horrible disasters are going to happen and given that the whole world probably looks worse than Afghanistan under the Taliban rule, is anyone going to notice a few more disasters? But then again, we've already talked many times how Bruce "Dead and Useless" Barnes and Token Jew are really awful at their jobs.

Anyway the section ends with Janie rolling her eyes at all this, but Melinda's all "I don't know. They've been right about everything thus far." So yeah, inevitable conversion coming up...

Anyway, in a rare show of courage, Judd, following Lionel's advice, decides to go back to Jamal's and talk to Nada about his feelings. This also marks a rare show of sympathy from an Ellanjay character in that Judd is demonstrated as caring about the feelings of one of those shallow, fickle, overly emotional creatures known as women. I honestly don't know what to think about what's going on except to assume that this is the Ghostwriter's doing again.

Anyway, the scene between Nada and Judd is actually fairly decent with Judd doing his best to let Nada down gently, but naturally, she is hurt and tells Judd to leave. Once again, I do have to commend that for once, the plot isn't bowing to the wishes of mini-Rayford aka Judd. Nada is upset and the plot acknowledges that she is justifiably upset: she's had her heart broken. It's nice to have a female character go against a male character's wishes and not have her lambasted as the Whore of Babylon (cough:Hattie:cough) for daring to go against him. Nada has every right to be upset--broken hearts are never fun--and the book acknowledges that.  We also finally get some description as to what Nada looks like: she has long brown hair and dark brown eyes. It's not much but I'll take what I can get.

But Nada does get a nice dig in at Judd asking "How can he hope to fight against the GC when he can't even stand up to her father?" and while I quibble about that "fighting the GC" part because you know Judd wouldn't last long if he experienced actual suffering at their hands, it's still nice to see that arrogant turdblossom get served every now and then.

The chapter ends with another appearance by Mr. Stein. He's grown a beard and his face is all lit up, which naturally means that he's gone off the deep end. Surprise, surprise, I'm right. Apparently he received a vision from Zod telling him to go into Africa and witness to people living in the deepest jungles who haven't heard of Christ. God also told him to take Judd with him. I could quibble that Africa isn't as dark and isolated as they used to be (it'd make more sense if they headed into the Amazon rainforest), but once again, I'll overlook it because finally, someone is thinking what about isolated tribes who haven't heard of Christ?

I've peeked a little ahead at the next chapter. I'm not going to snark it because this snark's long enough as is, but apparently Judd thinks Mr. Stein has gone off the deep end. Frankly, I'm not sure why: isn't seeing visions traditionally been a part of the Christian religion? What is it about Mr. Stein's vision that makes Judd go, "Oh hell no!" Me, I think it's because going to Africa, without the basic technology that a rich American would be accustomed to, would be a sacrifice on Judd's part and Judd's too weaksauce to make that sacrifice. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it until we find out otherwise.

*For those wondering, yes, I am picturing Carl as being Carl Carlson from The Simpsons. Why? Because I'm a lifelong Simpsons fan and because it adds a little diversity to Ellanjay's whitebread world.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It's Okay to Disobey Authority, so Long as it's Brown-skinned.

Well so far, at least at the beginning, there's still some of that good writing around. My theory: as the series wore on, Ellanjay, who always have about a dozen projects they're currently half-assing, decided to just let things be and didn't pay too much attention to the writing of LB: the kids. Though I still think roofies were involved somehow.

Anyway, the kids at the schoolhouse rock! Vicki and her fellow RTCs are actually demonstrating basic hospitality by taking care of Melinda. I know Ellanjay probably only see this as a means to a possible conversion, but kids, if you're reading this, this is what you should be doing as a means of demonstrating hospitality as opposed to being Assholes for Christ.

Not only is Vicki and the others trying to treat Melinda's frostbitten toes,but Vicki stays with her, giving her aspirin, and holding her when she moans, until her toes start to look a little better. It's really sad when I feel like throwing a Mardi Gras-style bacchanalia when the characters act like compassionate humans.

But there are signs that some of Ellanjay's "RTCs are good/everyone else is full of concentrated evil" philosophy seeping through. After taking care of Melinda, it's mentioned that the YTF start trying to clean up the place, fix the roof, and get the generator going again and naturally, only the RTCs are mentioned as doing this work, because the heathens (for those who don't know, the heathen count is at three, with Charlie, Janie, and Melinda still being unconverted) apparently don't care about getting warm again. But there are some decent signs: Janie is depicted as complaining about the food, but she does wolf it down when it's given to her, giving her a touch more humanity than she has demonstrated thus far. The section ends with Melinda, who's bundled herself up, asking "What's going to happen to us?" You'd think by now, Vicki would have given her the full rundown by now, but instead Vicki simply pats her shoulder and says, "We'll take care of you." Again, it's a nice, human touch somehow seeping in, in that Vicki is showing basic humanity.

In Israel, Moist and Ellie are ranting about leaders who don't do what they promised to do and how shit's going to happen as a result. :Yawn: MEGO Now, I'm longing for J. Michael Straczynski's awesome albeit short-lived series, Jeremiah. Now there was a good show and if you're wondering why I'm bringing it into the conversation, in season two, a character (played by Sean Astin), who refers to himself as Mister Smith and claims to have been chosen by God to be his prophet,  is introduced and I'm reminded every time I read any of Moist and Ellie's Tourette's-style ranting, just how badly Ellanjay fail at creating prophets. It's true that many of the Biblical prophets were earthy figures (Amos was a pruner of trees before being called to this line of work) and some were more educated (Isaiah advised kings which implies a little education), but all managed to convey a certain otherworldliness in their writings; you could believe that they were in touch with something bigger than themselves.

You get elements of that in Mister Smith. He is closer to an Amos-type prophet rather than an Isaiah, but he does, despite being an earthy, practical person, demonstrate an otherworldly knowledge that makes people sit up and take notice. Moist and Ellie just sound like they have a Schizophrenia; they are robots, parrotting what bits of holy writ they've heard over and over again, of which they know the words, but not the music. But to be fair, JMS does have more talent in his baby fingernail than Ellanjay do in their entire bodies, so I suppose this isn't too surprising.

In America, the YTF are freezing, running out of firewood, and they can't get the generator going. Melinda's still in considerable pain and that's all that happens in the brief check on the America-based YTF. I kind of wished that Ellanjay would realize that all this back-and-forth between Israel and America gives the readers whiplash and that he shouldn't switch locales between paragraphs and if he does, stuff should be happening. If all that's happening is both sides saying variations on, "Damn it's cold out," then why not do one chapter in Israel and the next in America, so as to make things a little easier on the reader?

Judd's in prison and freezing in his cell, but apparently isn't as affected as some of the other prisoners, though you'd think since they are in all likelihood, eeevil heathens, that all the hellfire inside would be keeping them warm, but apparently it doesn't work that way. There is an affecting moment when Judd realizes a man that had been lying still is in actuality, dead, but it isn't dwelled on too long because stuff like this might actually traumatize the kids who are hoping for the apocalypse so they can watch everyone burn. Emotional responses from the characters would ruin the fun.

Daddy Goldberg is massively pissed at Judd because he converted his son. Judd tries to chalk one up for Zod but it doesn't work and he's sent back to his cell, where he has a curious conversation with a grizzled, old man. Now the whole time, I was thinking, "Oh boy, is he going to have Judd 'pick up the soap'" given how he's introduced but like I've said many times, Judd is a mini-Rayford: of all the YTF, he's in the least amount of danger no matter what situation he's in.

Anyway the grizzled old pervert man (GOM) tells Judd, after making Judd give him his blanket, that they're releasing him and that he should check his coat. Judd is confused but realizes what the readers' have already figured out: the GC are releasing him with a tracking device in hopes of ferretting out other RTCs. He tries to convert GOM, but GOM doesn't take the bait. Later, GOM and him trade coats before Judd's released. He does get his wallet and ID back, but Judd for once demonstrates a few braincells by realizing, "Hey, these can be bugged as well," and throws them away. Me, I'm hoping that the GC were a few steps ahead and sewed a tracker into the lining of the coat, but I'm not going to bet the farm on that. Also, given that we can put tracking chips in animals and chances are the GC probably don't have any of the moral hangups that would prevent them from putting chips in people, why haven't they put them in their prisoners? That would be great: if Judd got back to Jamal's, only to realize he played right into the GC's hands and has doomed his friends. But again, not going to bet on it.

But as Judd heads back, the sun comes out and the earth is warm again  and Judd thinks this infuriating line which suggests to me that Ellanjay have regained consciousness:

A monitor inside the coffee shop showed a replay of the entire conversation between Nicholae and the witnesses. Commentators praised the work of the potentate. Judd smiled. He knew God had been looking out for him and other believers.
Except for all the RTCs who died during the freeze because they were homeless or weak or sick or just plain unlucky enough not to have the resources a rich American does, you prick!

[primal scream]

Anyway in the schoolhouse, Vicki and the others are celebrating the end of the freeze and making plans to consider resuming classes and worship. Vicki finds Janie standing by a river and they talk. Vicki is all "God did this and more's coming," but Janie remains convinced that the break in the freeze is Nicholae's doing.

In Israel, Judd waits around before returning to Jamal's, which is a smart move in case he's being followed, but I'm holding onto the faintest hope that he's been lowjacked. He runs into Lionel. They talk about Daddy Goldberg, but the conversation soon turns to Nada. Apparently Jamal cares about her and is keeping her locked up, But still Nada managed to disappear, leaving behind a note saying that she does have feelings for Judd and wants to meet up with him so they can talk. Needless to say, Judd is not pleased by this and neither is Jamal, who throws him and Lionel out, saying that they've caused enough trouble for his family. Frankly, I'm still shocked that Ellanjay are actually letting their teen protags disobey an adult RTC. Isn't RTC-ianity huge on obedience to all RTCs in authority regardless of how incompetent, corrupt, or evil they may be? But then again, judging by their names, which are all scary and ethnic, and the fact that Nada has been mentioned as having an Arabic accent, it may be that before becoming good RTCs, they were islamo-commie-fascists muslims* and since Muslim and Arab are interchangeable because it's not like one's a racial distinction and the other's a religious distinction, maybe the message is "Obey all RTC Authority figures so long as they're white and not a scary shade of brown.

*I've also flirted with the idea that Jamal's family were Palestinian Christians because it's not enough to be Christian in Ellanjayland, you have to be of a specific subculture, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that Ellanjay assume that all Palestinians are Muslim, much in the way too many idiots assume Arab=Muslim.

**If you're wondering about all the links and videos, I'm trying to liven up what I'm sure is a dull job, reading my posts, since nothing happens in these books as said many times before.

Friday, August 17, 2012

All this Good Writing is Starting to Scare Me

Mouse is more than just a little disappointed with the comment turnout from her last post, but then again, I probably shouldn't whine about that given that I can't keep to a consistent posting schedule. Anyway, let's get down to business

[old serial voice] So when we last left our brave heroes, Judd actually did some basic heroism, there was a decent feeling of suspense, plus Daddy Goldberg provided hints that he might (until the inevitable conversion scene) be the compelling character I so sorely crave, and Nicky Usambara displayed basic villainy by outfitting his officers with buttons that when pushed, will summon other troops to their area. Funny isn't it, how I feel a need to commend the characters for doing basic anything? [/old serial voice]

Everyone up to speed? Good.

So Judd grabs Nada and runs for the kitchen but Daddy Goldberg stops them. There's a weird choice of verb usage in the next sentence making me wonder if I missed a detail because I was distracted by some other, more obvious wrong in this story, in which Judd is described as "blasting" Daddy Goldberg. Needless to say, my inner third-grader is going nuts with that choice of verb, but I doubt that's what the writers intended so anyone wanna help me out? Either way, Judd has pinned Daddy Goldberg to the ground and as the GC are busting in, he tells Samuel, Nada, and Jamal to run for it. over their protests. I suppose I could question why the GC haven't completely surrounded the place, making any kind of escape impossible, but dammit! For once, given the way this scene is written, I actually feel a little suspense! I actually care about what's going to happen to Judd, even as my cynical side is saying, "Y'know in all likelihood this will result in nothing, just like everything else."

I'm going to assume that the ghostwriter has been writing most of the scenes in this book, at least the ones I like, because I can't imagine anyone as tone-deaf, as ignorant and proud of it as Ellanjay actually doing decent albeit by-the-book writing as this.

Daddy Goldberg manages to slip free from Judd and Judd tries to escape, only to run into the GC and the fact I actually feel some concern about what's going to happen to him is testament to the skills of the ghostwriter.

Meanwhile, the kids in America are freezing in the school and even that has some suspense as Vicki is worried because Melinda's condition is deteriorating and she's wondering what more can be done. Again, cynics may wonder why she's the only one deteriorating so badly, but shut up! For the first time in a while, I actually care about the characters and what's going to happen to them. After enduring so much crap in these books, can't I enjoy a little of the good without it being tainted by base cynicism?

Janie and Charlie are bickering over who gets to sleep next to Phoenix aka the dog and even that seems to work because even though the characters are godless heathens worthy of hellfire and damnation by Ellanjay's standards, you get a feeling that the writer has some compassion and knows that they're fighting because they're freaking cold, not just because they're horrible heathens full of concentrated evil. Janie then hints at something she read in a book about a guy who was freezing to death who used his dog to stay alive. In her words: "Won't tell you what the guy did, but it didn't end well for the dog." And again, there's none of the usually derisive notes that the characters usually refer to her; you get the idea that she's suggesting this because she's freaking cold and not because, again, concentrated evil. Y'know this spate of good writing makes me wonder if the brave ghostwriter slipped something in Ellanjay's drinks and banged this out while they were out cold. Just remember, it wouldn't be that hard for him to get away with something like that; Ellanjay believe that editing and rereading are for wimps.

There is a brief discussion of that email from Carl, which I'm not going to rehash the whole 'Carl' thing because I don't care, but the section ends with a massive snowstorm hitting which douses the fire, making things even colder, and plunges the room into darkness.

Lionel speeds off, driving Jamal and Nada and Samuel back home and in a nice touch, he's actually nervous to be driving because the most he'd done before was back out of a driveway. I suppose I should question why they're not being followed though; surely the GC would be suspicious of a vehicle hanging around the scene.

Jamal and Nada argue and for once, you can't tell which side the author's hand is tilting towards, because they're both making cogent points. Jamal is chewing into her for taking such a stupid risk, but Nada is like, "Hey I love you and I admit I screwed up, but you have to let me live my life." Once again, some good writing...all this good writing is actually starting to scare me a little. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.

They discuss what will happen to Judd, realizing there's the very real possibility that Judd might lead them to their hiding place (they don't actually say he might be tortured into confessing but it's nice to see hints). They also discuss something in which the Nicky Amaro said about how he wasn't going to go after believers, but realize that hey, what's said in front of cameras and what goes on in a GC Jail are often two different things. They ask Samuel if he knows anyone who could help and he briefly mentions a lieutenant who knew his mother, but they wisely decide that it's too risky and the chapter ends with them saying that all they could do right now is pray.

At the schoolhouse (I'm trying to cut down on the "In America" jokes) apparently the weight of the snow caused the roof to cave and the YTF can't get a fire going because the wind keeps blowing it out. :starry-eyed wonder: There's actual suffering afflicting the heroes...I need to sit down for a minute. Melinda complains that she can't feel her feet and they take of her shoes only to find that three of her toes on her left foot have developed frostbite.

So Judd is in GC custody preparing to be questioned. He's resolved not to tell the GC anything but is nervous so he prays a little. Daddy Goldberg enters with a man who introduces himself as  Deputy Commander Woodruff and they begin questioning Judd. It's a short scene but Judd does demonstrate some smarts by refusing to directly answer their questions about Token Jew, instead opting to go for the indirect approach: when asked if he believes in what Token Jew proclaims, Judd says, "Has everything he said come true?" Again, bravo, brave ghostwriter. Whatever it is you slipped in Ellanjay's drinks, well, let's just say, they need a continuous pump of the stuff so we can get more good writing.

The ending of the chapter is just a little disappointing with Judd mentioning Nicky's latest bit about how he's going to leave believers alone, which causes the GC to be like, "Oh well," and escort him back to his cell, rather than just saying, "Yeah, he lied," and continuing the torture, but with all this good writing, I'll forgive a little missed opportunity.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My Quest to Find a Compelling Character to Follow

Yeah, I know it's entirely too easy for me to get out of the habit of doing these snarks. It's not like the YTF are incredibly compelling characters and I've spent weeks biting my nails wondering what's going to happen to them: you can predict what's going to happen to each character on the basis of gender and their saved/unsaved status along with whatever rank they have in the great RTC hierarchy (because Jesus was all about hierarchy. Don't you read your Bible?). Once you know the answers to those all-important question, you can pretty much predict how their plots will play out, even if you haven't sneaked a peek at the series' wikipedia page. Judd is basically a mini-Rayford, Vicki is Judd-with-boobs, and Lionel is Black Judd. The only characters who had any kind of compelling story that would make you wanna spend pages reading about them were the Power Couple of Awesomeness and they're dead.

But anyway, now that I've gotten my excuses for not updating out of the way, let's get down to business.

So okay, last time Nada was yanked inside a house after she and Judd decided to check on Samuel after he came out to his dad for being gay an RTC. Much as it pains me to do this, especially when the character in question is as weaksauce and obnoxious as Judd, I must admit that Judd actually displays more courage than all the Tribbles combined; rather than just shrugging his shouldiers and leaving Nada behind to go back to Jamal's house and whine about how eeevil the heathens GC are, he actually searches around the house, trying to find a way in so he can rescue her. This is how low my expectations have gotten thanks to these books: whenever a character thinks of someone besides him/herself or does basic heroism, I actually feel like throwing a parade in their honor.

Judd's unable to find a way in, but he does witness a confrontation between Nada, Mr. Goldberg, and Samuel. I'll admit there's actually some decent writing in this scene as Mr. Goldberg makes threatens and accuses his son of treason, Nada  remains silent but unbowed, and Samuel tries desperately to convince his father that Token Jew was right about everything and Jesus is the messiah. This kind of scene usually doesn't demand much by way of writing skills--not too hard to make a comrade falling into enemy hands and a son trying desperately to convince his father of the truth and rescue his comrade, tense--but given how many times Ellanjay have demonstrated a complete inability to create suspense, it's actually kind of refreshing to have a scene with some tension in it. Granted, I'm still not too worried because Ellanjay have demonstrated that they are averse to having the Good Guys actually suffer, so in all likelihood, any suffering Nada and Samuel go through, will take place off-screen and won't be dwelled on too much, but on the other hand, given their status as supporting characters, there's a chance that Ellanjay might be less willing to hold back. If it had been Judd or Vicki in that scene, there'd be no question that Ellanjay would hold back, but Nada and Samuel, while I doubt whatever happens will be too horrific and I doubt we'll see anything onscreen, there's still a little leeway here regarding their fates.

Yeah, sorry about that...didn't mean for my speculation to take so long. But I thought it does demonstrate how you can predict every twist and turn based on what you know about the characters' status: it's like all the supporting characters know they're playing second fiddle to the "awesomeness" that is Judd.

Anyway, that scene ends on a cliff-hanger with Mr. Goldberg picking up the phone and calling HQ, which is a good place to end the scene, nice way to build tension. I'm going to guess that the Ghostwriter wrote most of the material for this scene, because Ellanjay hate tension and suspense and try to murder it before it's ever born.

Lionel is still at Jamal's home and is currently trying to keep Jamal from figuring out where his daughter and Judd have run off to. Frankly I'm surprised that he's managed to keep Jamal distracted so well: surely since Jamal's an RTC like all good people, shouldn't he be concerned about his virgin daughter running off with a nubile American teenager? I thought all RTCs had massive hangups about sex.

He and Lionel briefly discuss Carpathia's recent remarks, y'know the ones that came across as more realistic and inspiring than anything Ellanjay has put in his protagonists' mouths. Jamal says that Carpathia is like Pharaoh in the Old Testament in that he'll do anything to stop the plagues. Lesson learned from Ellanjay: wanting to stop a massive plague of darkness and cold that will kill millions of people, is evil and wrong. Like I said in my previous post, if their incredibly convoluted prophecy called for planes to hit the towers, they would have danced in the streets with the Palestinians.

Naturally, Lionel is unable to keep Jamal from finding out about Judd and Nada running off in search of Samuel and Jamal, not realizing that he is an adult in a Young Adult novel and by virtue of this genre, he's useless.  Still, I'm a bit shocked, given that Ellanjay strike me as the type to value obedience above all other virtues when it comes to children, that they actually have Lionel chew out Jamal for being mad at Nada and Judd for running off, saying that while they're young, God can still use them to carry out his work. Frankly, because I enjoy being contrary and because I enjoy any opportunity to take potshots at Judd, I'm with Jamal. Doesn't any of them find it a little risky going to the house of a GC member just to rescue one person? Especially since, according to RTC logic, if Samuel is martyred for his faith, not only will he be spared more suffering, but he'll get that sweet martyrdom that really scores points with the Almighty and he'll get an even better afterlife than everyone else, so shouldn't they just leave him be? Not to mention, if they're captured trying to rescue this one person, chances are the GC would happily torture them in order to get them to name names and safehouses, so you'll have succeeded in endangering a whole bunch of people solely for the sake of one teenager. I know it sounds coldhearted, but while I'd try to search for Samuel and pray that he's all right, dashing into the home of a GC officer probably won't help anybody.

Jamal does agree to take Lionel with him in search of his daughter because Lionel is the only one who knows the way, but says as they leave that he and Judd aren't welcome in his house anymore.

At the schoolhouse In America! Vicki and the others are freezing. Apparently it's cold enough that Melinda's , aka the unconverted heathen who's marginally less eeevil than the other unconverted heathen (Janie) because she shows some curiosity about RTC-ianity, lips are turning blue and at one point, Vicki stops her from falling asleep, saying that she might die if she does. I'm no expert on extreme temperatures and how they affect the human body (I do know that it's true that if you are suffering from Hypothermia, you better stay awake), but if already her lips are turning blue and she's getting sleepy, then how much longer do the YTF have before they die at the hand of an Angry God?* And why is Melinda the only one who seems to be suffering significantly from the cold? It can't be because of her unsaved status--barely any mention of Janie suffering--so why?

Naturally, all Melinda wants is to be warm again and Vicki, being the tactful person she is, asks her what it'd take to get her to take home a Super Special Awesome TurboJesus Today! But Melinda doesn't immediately take the bait, saying that she'd feel guilty for asking Jesus for help, just because she's in trouble. We could quibble by pointing out that she probably shouldn't be asking Jesus for help period, because he's caused all this suffering and will keep raining down shit on earth because his hands are tied by some cockamamie prophecy hammered together by charlatans and no amount of praying will change his mind, even though you'd think the book of Jonah proves that's within his capacity, but frankly, I'm more commending the book for creating a character that doesn't treat Christianity like The Secret! but with Jesus! Too many people forget that verse in Matthew 5:45 about how it rains on the just and the unjust alike, and as a result, end up saying horrible things to people who are suffering.  Word of advice: when dealing with a friend or relative or someone going through a hard time, just say, "I'm sorry," and offer to cook or clean or something, or even just be there. Nothing more, nothing less.

But the section ends with Vicki and Conrad moving Melinda closer to the fire so she won't freeze and Vicki praying to God on Melinda's behalf, so I guess Melinda remains an unrepetent heathen and should she die without muttering The Prayer, she'll be in Hell for all eternity, suffering from the opposite of Hypothermia. Because that's the kind of deity TurboJesus is.

Meanwhile, Judd yanks the phone out of the wall, thus preventing Mr. Goldberg from having them "disappear," though you'd think he could use his cell phone. If the infrastructure allowing internet access remains standing despite several Acts of Zod back-to-back, you'd think cell phones would still be available. Given that the publishing dates of this book span the years 2001-2002, Ellanjay can't say they weren't inventend at the time of writing; at that point in history, they were practically ubiquitous. Maybe smart phones weren't available, but nearly every other kind was.

Samuel tries to convert dear old Daddy, but like in every other kind of attempted conversion, Strawman Has a Point Daddy points out that Zod took his mother and has "disappeared" millions and killed millions more, to which Samuel can only give the same weaksauce argument that all the other characters give in response to this argument, which is "Zod's trying to get your attention."

Naturally, Daddy doesn't bite the hook and because I'm still desperately searching for a compelling character to follow since the Power Couple of Awesomeness remain dead, I'm forced to latch onto him as my hero. He does prove to be awesome in that even though Judd yanked out the all-important phone, apparently Mr. Goldberg had a button within his coat that once pressed, would summon GC thugs to his location. Props to both Mr. Goldberg, but also to Nicky Ahaggar for demonstrating an iota of basic villainy.

*If you're curious, dying as a result of the disasters brought about at Zod's hands as opposed to getting murdered by the GC, probably doesn't count as martyrdom as according to God's Own Prophet, Tim LaHaye. So the RTCs who died in the quake, or the meteor strike, or the hailstorm, or drank bad water after Wormwood hit, or froze to death out in the cold, while they'll still enter heaven, they probably won't get the Super Special Awesome perks that comes with martyrdom. Sorry Loretta, Chaya, and who knows else.