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.