Thursday, December 27, 2012

Running out of Ways to Alleviate my Boredom

Sorry, sorry. I know I need to get on a more regular posting schedule but I'm going to be visiting relatives tomorrow through the weekend, so I thought I might as well post today. Also, I tried to set up a RSS thing for my page but I'm not sure what RSS is or if I succeeded. Let me know if there are some things I need to do to fix it or whatever.

So as said before last week, the American branch of the YTF are at a bowling alley (where a group of believers meet) and now it's surrounded as the GC are about to make their move. Nothing really happens except people cry and the pastor says to trust in God.

Meanwhile, in Israel, Judd is not happy to see Nada. He explains that they're only cleared to have three people arrive in New Babylon and that if four do, they'll be in trouble. That actually seems like a legit security issue, especially in the post- 9/11 era. The section ends with Nada saying that she can't go home and that she's run away. I wonder if this has something to do with her father's insufficient amount of YTF ass-kissing, though I thought he'd sipped the Flavor-Aid and realized the superiority of Judd.

Back to America...I know my faithful readers, having seen Ellanjay blow away so many suspenseful opportunities before, are waiting with bated breath to see just how they squander it this time. Basically the section is short but it consists of Vicki opening the back door so Pete can back up his truck and open up the back so people can get in. He says that GC transport vehicles are on the way so they have to hurry and that's where the section ends.

Wait a minute...what the hell, Ellanjay?! I thought you said earlier that the bowling alley was surrounded with GC vehicles; now they're on their way. Did I, in a desperate hope for suspense, misread the books (a likely possibility given how bored I am) or is this a big honking continuity error?

In the plane, Judd is like "You can't run away from home?" but Nada is adamant about going with them. We also find out that while her father does like Judd, he doesn't want her to pursue a relationship with him. Judd tells her to call her parents but Nada refuses saying that they would just make her come home. She also chews out Judd for refusing to stand up to her father, but Judd says that when he sees how much he cares for her, Jamal will change his mind.

Basically all that happens in the next section is they load the truck and Vicki takes a recording device (used to record meetings) from a woman and set it up so that it plays a recording of an old meeting, so that the GC think they're still in there. I don't see why Ellanjay keep having us switch back and forth between locales so much. Why not do a chapter on the plane and a chapter in America rather than a few paragraphs here and a few paragraphs elsewhere? Does Ellanjay think that kids suffer from severe memory defects and wouldn't be able to hold onto details throughout a chapter?

Judd explains the situation about Nada to Mac, who manages to come up with a cover story for why she is here. The story is, she is a family member coming to pay respect for her brother (who was lost in the Wrath of the Lamb quake for those of you wondering). Apparently they're being hosted in the main complex in New Babylon as opposed to a hotel on the outer fringes or something more sensible like that.

The next section, Pete is driving around with all the people in back of the vehicle. He plays it cool, managing to deal with the first GC peacekeeper's questions, but the section ends with them hearing a siren just as they approach the ramp for the highway.

Next chapter, Pete has been pulled over and it's a fairly decent scene, except that what little tension there is, is diluted by the fact that we know nothing is going to come of it, just like nothing came of every other run-in with the GC. I have a hard time believing that the GC could conquer a group of seven-year-olds, let alone the world. What happens is that Vicki unzips their protective suits, causing the demon locusts (remember those?) to swarm all over them, thus enabling Pete to escape. So I guess when, back at the bowling alley, the people there kept talking about how God would protect them, they meant Vicki because she's the one who actually enabled them to escape.

Meanwhile, the plane is flying into New Babylon. Nada gets back from calling her parents. She's in tears as she explains that her father chewed her out for playing what he calls "love games" which sounds like a fatherly thing to do. I would be pretty pissed off if my teenage daughter stowed away on a plane so she could chase after a boy she likes and that's overlooking the fact that they're going right to the anti-Christ's headquarters.

Mac talks about how Nicky's going to issue the mark of the beast soon enough. He warns them to be careful not to let people know they're believers. Nada objects, saying, “Just keep quiet and let them go to hell?” This is essentially Ellanjay's theology because remember Ellanjay believes that the truth must be a carefully guarded secret, accessible only to an elite few. Remember how Bruce "Useless" Barnes bravely refused to reveal the identity of the anti-Christ to the other members of his congregation?

Pete's barrelling down the road in his truck when he hears, through a radio he stole off of one of the downed GC agents, that they're coming for him. He takes an exit and the dazed passengers get out of his truck and make plans to go hide in the caves.

There's really not much to talk about when it comes to the ending of the chapter. Basically the kids are walking around New Babylon and Lionel shakes his head after Nada flirts with Judd. I don't know why but in an effort to end my crushing boredom, I'm going to assume Ho Yay, just because it's more fun that way.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Not Very Snarkworthy

Can't help but notice a shrinkage in comments. Guess that's because nothing really snarkworthy has happened. While I cherish each instance of good writing in this book, it's also really boring to snark. Oh well, maybe this week will be different.

First section is in America and it's really dull actually. All it is, is a lot of summarizing so I'll just sum it up for you. They convert people, fix stuff, show them Token Jew's website, then move on.

In Israel, Judd tells Lionel about Pavel's plan to sneak him into New Babylon, but the conversation inevitably turns to Nada. Lionel's basically like "Dude, just tell her you're not interested," but Judd surprises me by saying, "“My problem isn’t telling her I’m not interested. If that were true I could do it. The problem is, I am interested.”

Wow...I must say this is kind of a drama-free announcement seeing as I've read the wiki page and know that he and Vicki eventually end up together, but I must applaud them making some effort to introduce dramatic tension about who Judd's going to end up with.

Basically, Judd's plan is to go to New Babylon and maybe work out his feelings towards Nada.

In America, the YTF receives a coded message from Carl saying that the GC is headed to South Carolina (where Tom and Luke are), but also Johnson City, Tennessee, and Baltimore, Maryland. He goes onto say that they are specifically targeting a believer named Chris Traickin. Apparently Traickin is not only a believer but also a former senator and he's been trying to stir up other believers in order to start a new government, which is more than the so-called Tribulation Force has done.

In Israel, Judd and Nada talk. Judd is diplomatic towards Nada saying that he wants to use this trip to sort out his feelings towards her. Nada still has feelings for him, but understands why he feels the need to leave. The section really isn't that snarkable though it ends with Judd kissing Nada on the cheek and Nada whispering, "I love you," in his ear.

The chapter ends with Vicki asking how long until they get to Johnson City. The answer is an hour if you're wondering.

Next chapter, the YTF arrive at a diner in Johnson City and they meet up with the cook, Roger Cornwell, who, like all good people, has the Zod-mark. He tells them that he saw the GC coming into his town and thinks they might be headed to the bowling alley across town because that's where his group meets. So the YTF are working to try to warn the believers before the GC get there.

In Israel, Judd, Lionel, and Sam are about to leave. Mac McCullum (gotta love Ellanjay's names) meets up with them. We hear that apparently St. Rayford decided to bolt during the Meeting of the Witnesses because he figured it was only a matter of time before Nicky Kilmanjaro had him killed. He managed to fly Token Jew and Chloe home, but Our Buck is still stuck in Israel. Mac is wondering if it isn't high time he quit as well, considering that Nicky passed a law requiring people to bow in his presence. Oh and apparently Pavel is dying. I'm sure you're all just heartbroken at the news.

Nothing happens in the next America section except that Vicki and the others race to try to get to the bowling alley. Now to Israel.

Mac tells them that Nicky and Leon are also plotting against the SuperPope. I wish I could say for certain why, but as I recall the SuperPope had been getting a swelled head so this seems standard operating evil overlord protocol.

Vicki races to the meeting and tells the believers that the GC is onto them. Surprisingly, the believers are rather dismissive of her and her warning. This is surprising since you'd think that now that Christians are Teh!Persecuted! they wouldn't be so shocked that the GC might come for them and would have planned on it. But they do eventually listen to Vicki and decide to let the Lord show them what to do.

Meanwhile, Judd is shocked to find that Nada has decided to tag along with them.

The chapter ends with Vicki realizing they're surrounded on all sides. I think it's safe to say that absolutely nothing will come of any of this.

Hmmm...this writing was neither good nor snarkworthy. I despair.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Brief Bit of Good Writing

Okay so Pete and Vicki, along with Carl, Shelly, and Conrad are all riding south in Pete's truck, which, for those curious, means that the only ones currently at the school are Melinda, Charlie, and Janie, aka the unbelievers, and Lenore and baby Tolan. I admit I had no real reason for pointing all that out except to better keep track of who's where.

Like I said I had considered last week doing a three-fer snark but when I read ahead, I changed my mind. The reason I changed my mind is because we actually get some good writing here. I'm assuming this is all the ghostwriter's, Chris Fabry, doing because I can't imagine anything good coming from Ellanjay. I took the liberty of looking Chris Fabry up on Amazon and apparently he has a long list of titles attributed to him. I don't know if he was a ghostwriter on all of them, but I'm almost curious enough to check out some of his titles, even though I find most Christian fiction to be horribly derivative, just because his simple workmanlike talent almost makes parts of this novel worth reading.

Anyway, the trip causes Vicki to start thinking about a trip, she took with her family. Now those who read the post entitled "Meet Vicki Byrne" will recall that before her parents became Assholes for Christ good RTCs, they were drunk rednecks. Fabry sticks with that aspect of the background, yet manages to add some shading to their characters and we get a sense that even before they became RTCs, they did love and care about their kids even if they weren't going to win parents of the year. It is rare to see these kinds of shades of grey in Ellanjay's work, which is why I attribute all of it to the ghostwriter.

Basically, Vicki's parents borrowed an RV and took her and her sister on a long road trip to see the ocean. The trip ends up going south and they run out of money quick, but before they do go back home, Vicki's father goes out of his way in order to drive them by the beach so they can see the ocean. I really wish I could just post all of this so I can show you just how decent the writing is, but I'm trying to keep the long-ass quotes down to a minimum. Still, it is a decent description of Vicki and her sister playing along the beach and it's nice, these moments in the story when the writers ease up on the narrative gas and let the characters reflect for a moment. I will post a small sample so you can see what I've been gushing on and on about. Sorry to gush so much, but these moments of good writing are so rare that I find myself greedily treasuring each instance.

It had been such a long time since Vicki had remembered her father’s smile. The events since the disappearances had kept her so busy she didn’t think much about the past. But now, with the rumble of the diesel engine and the shaking of the truck cab, she let herself go back. She remembered little things like her dad’s stale-beer breath, the brand of cigarettes he smoked, and little Jeanni’s screams as Vicki chased her around the house. She remembered the laundry her mother used to hang on a line by the trailer. Seeing one of her shirts or a pair of pants flapping in the breeze had always embarrassed Vicki.

Pete's truck takes them by the ocean and Vicki asks if they can stop by the ocean for a bit. They do and we get more good description of the scenery. Now my inner critic is sarcastically saying, "Uh, hasn't Wormwood poisoned all the water by now so they probably really shouldn't be playing in the surf," but while I will concede my inner critic's point, again this is nice writing. Besides, eventually Ellanjay will regain consciousness and the writing will take on its usual suckitude so I should just enjoy these moments.

The chapter ends with them meeting a pair of believers, Tom Gowin and Luke, and they warn them that the GC's on to them so they better disappear.

Next chapter, we're back to Israel, which I assume means we're back to more of the bad writing I've come to expect from Ellanjay. Basically, Judd is browsing the YTF website, which is, if you're wondering, and he receives an email from Pavel, aka another character you've long since forgot about. Nada is with Judd and once again, she flirts with him, but Judd isn't interested in her.

So Judd and Pavel talk about how Pavel's father is now a Tribulation Saint. Apparently, the SuperPope and the ten kings were all bit by the demon locusts and Nicky Bonanza is planning on doing a speech with a CGI-ed locust sitting on his shoulder in an attempt to convince the people that these locusts can be tamed. Also, the Brave RTCs bravely packed tracts and pamphlets in with relief supplies, so as to spread the word or some brave martyriffic stuff like that. The Israel section ends with Pavel asking Judd to come visit him in New Babylon.

Then we cut back to America and lordy lord, is it boring. Basically they meet up with some kids and Vicki starts the conversion speech, which I'm sure we'll see more of in the next chapter. Naturally it begins with the spiel about Zod trying to get your attention by killing you horribly. Since this snark is long enough, I'll spare you.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Not Much to Look At, Not Much to Say

Happy Friday everyone!

Okay, as stated in a previous post, Pete wants Vicki to go south with him so she can instruct others on the Bible. They also talk about putting together a website, which naturally they'll link to Token Jew's website. How they're going to do this since Nicky Alps announced that he'll arrest anyone who goes to Token Jew's website, I don't know.

There's really not much to say about this first section, though there is this little bit about how they're going to find all the believers.

“That’s where Carl comes in,” Pete said. “We let the GC ferret out the believers and before they can arrest them, we tip the believers off and give some teaching.”
“Won’t the GC figure out there’s somebody working on the inside?” Conrad said.
“Maybe,” Pete said. “Carl will have to be careful.”

My response: Wasn't the whole point of this trip so as to teach others about the Bible? Why would they need to ferret out believers? Wouldn't they just be preaching to the choir? Not to mention, ugh, another double agent plotline...getting sick of Ellanjay's obsession with that plot line mostly because they never put it to any good use. There's so much dramatic tension that could be milked from it, but seeing as Suspense and Tension ran over their dog when they were a kid, Ellanjay strangle it before it can ever be born.

Anyway, in Israel, Judd and Lionel research locust stings and create a household mixture that looks like real stings and put it on themselves. There's mention of an email from Vicki asking Judd for permission to go with Pete, proof that Vicki's becoming a proper lady against women RTC woman in that she's asking Judd for permission to go somewhere, when Judd has never asked her for permission to go off into the desert or do anything for that matter. Judd encourages her to go and we're back in America.

Well I'll be...We actually get mention of Butt Monkey aka Ryan. I thought once he was dead and buried we'd never hear about him again, but we actually do. Basically Darrion talks about how Ryan showed her the light. It's not really that snarkable, though this part is interesting.

“I thought God was a force in the universe,” Darrion said. “I’d meditate and try to work myself into a spiritual state. That was empty. Ryan said God was a person, and when he prayed, he prayed to somebody who cares. That’s part of what turned me around and got me thinking that Ryan was right.”

As I recall, Darrion was a follower of the EBOWF aka Nicky Cardamon's vaguely defined faith. Only a few faiths would define God the way Darrion just did, but then again, remember in Ellanjayland, other faiths don't have their own ideas about God; they just hate Jesus. So I suppose, according to Ellanjay, they'd latch onto anything that'd give them an excuse to keep hating Jesus.

Now we're in Israel again. Judd and Lionel and Sam are at the hospital. Judd has apparently bowed to Lionel's wishes and agrees that he was wrong to do something to Deputy Woodruff and promises not to try anything again. They draw straws to see who gets to go in and who has to stay with the getaway vehicle. Judd draws the short one, leaving Lionel to stay with the vehicle. Surprise, surprise, the mini-Rayford gets to do the important job of trying to convert the heathens.

Apparently the GC have put up an electric shield to zap any locusts that try to get through. Didn't think that demon locusts could be taken out with electricity, but gotta hand it to the GC for thinking of it.

So Sam is there to see his daddy and tries to convince him of the truth. Naturally when told of this, Daddy Goldberg gives the same response that every other non-believer gives: "And this is evidence of God's love how?" Of course, even though we're like twenty books into the series, Ellanjay still don't have a good response to the question. Sam just goes "You need to convert," Daddy Goldberg refuses, but Deputy Woodruff sees them and triggers an alarm. That's where the chapter ends.

So the alarm has been sounded and Sam and Judd are running for their lives. Luckily a GC nurse, who, like all good people in this series, has the Zod-mark, tells them where they can leave. Sam and Judd find themselves in the laundry room and I roll my eyes as Judd tells Sam to tie some sheets together. Really the old knotted bed sheet escape? Are there any cliches left unused in this story?

I'll give you the short version since there's really not much snarkable material: Sam and Judd climb down the laundry chute and escape.

In America, Vicki makes preparations to leave. Also, apparently Mark used some Super Special Awesome program that turns their emails into a code that the GC can't crack. I roll my eyes.

I thought about doing a three-fer snark, but I've looked at the next chapter and there appears to be a decent amount of material there, so I think I'll leave you with what I've got thus far.