Saturday, November 23, 2013

Weaseling Out of It (Or why LB: the kids pales in comparison with other YA Literature)

So Judd rushes over to Chaim's house but it's engulfed in flames and there's nothing he can do. So he listens to a news crew report on the disaster then goes back to General Jew's house and talks about Rayford while watching the news.

Next section, surprisingly enough we're still with Lionel and Judd. Lionel is wondering if they should take Z-Van's offer so they can get back to the states. Judd, demonstrating a few brain cells, is worried about what Z-Van will do if he finds out they're RTCs.

And that's seriously all that happens at the beginning.

In America, Vicki and the others are working on the kids' version of the website and agree to take turns keeping watch so that they can watch Nicky's resurrection.

At midnight, Vicki is awakened by Darrion and they begin their watch. Since Darrion has been a little on edge lately, Vicki decides to talk to her. I thought about quoting their talk but it would be a very long quote and I don't like to take up that much room, so I'll summarize for you.

When Darrion was thirteen, she sneaked out of the house with a friend and went to a party. While at the party, which was at the house they are currently staying at, she was raped. Well, I have to be honest with you and admit that they don't actually use the word "rape;" they weasel around it though, avoiding never actually saying what happened to Darrion at the party.

“I’ve heard that something like one out of every four women will be hurt like that in their lifetime,” Vicki said.

“Yeah, well I’m one of those statistics.”

I suppose I should give Ellanjay or the ghostwriter a little credit for taking on such a loaded topic, but I'm still rather disappointed in them. YA literature, nowadays, has proven time and time again that it is capable of handling issues such as rape just as well as adult literature. In fact, given that young people aren't immune to rape, it may be even more important for YA literature to confront those issues head on. Ellanjay aren't really doing teens any favors by being all shy and weaselly about what happened to Darrion. I suppose whoever wrote this section was thinking more about the RTC adults buying these books for their teens to reinforce the catechism being taught at home, but again, they aren't really doing the teen readers any favors. After all being an RTC doesn't protect you from rape or assault either.

I will give credit where credit is due, though. The blame isn't placed on Darrion; it's placed on the perps, which is where it belongs. Too much RTC art uses rape to punish the bad girl for her misdeeds; I don't need to go into all the wrongs associated with that.

Darrion admits that she still feels like it was her fault and Vicki says,"No, it wasn't." She then wakes Shelly and Janie and has them take over their watch. Darrion protests, saying that their time isn't up, but Vicki says this:

“It’s okay,” Vicki said. She grabbed a flashlight and opened the back door. “Take me to where it happened.”

Uh, Vicki, I'm not sure it'd really be all that good for Darrion to go to the woods and point out where she was raped. I'm no expert on this, but wouldn't it be better if she decided to return to the spot, rather than be dragged along by a friend?

The section cuts out here and we're back to Judd. Basically all that happens is Judd talks to Mr. Stein about Z-Van's offer and decides to take it. Me, I question why the writer or writers decided it was a good idea to cut back to Judd, when Vicki and Darrion were in the middle of such a drama-laden, crucial moment.

Vicki and Darrion reach the spot in the woods and kneel down and pray. Gotta give whoever wrote the section some credit: there's some nice sensory detail with the description of the cold and snow in this section. It's basic stuff but it works. The chapter ends with this revelation.

Vicki took her hand. “You put yourself in a bad place by trying to get back at your parents. You were na├»ve. But what they did is on them. Nothing justifies that.”
Darrion dropped Vicki’s hand and stood up, eyeing her. “You seem to know an awful lot about this stuff.”
Vicki bit her lip and had to wipe away a tear. “I’m one of those statistics too, Darrion.”

Second chapter continues with Darrion and Vicki. Turns out Vicki was taken advantage of (again, they never use the word "rape" or "assault") by her uncle. When she told her mother about it, her mother blew her off, saying that her brother would never do such a thing and that she'd punish Vicki if she ever said anything like that again. Vicki admits that for a long time, she felt it was her fault until she talked with Bruce Barnes about it and he sent her to a female counselor, who really helped her.

Wow, so Bruce Barnes apparently isn't completely useless. I have to say that I don't mind this retcon in the least; it adds shading to both Vicki's and Bruce's character.

Judd and Lionel are packing to leave Israel. Sam is upset and decides to stay with Mr. Stein so he can be the YTF's man in Israel. The section ends with them taking off.

Vicki awakes to go see if there's any news about Nicky and to answer emails on the website. Vicki proves she's not completely rock-stupid by assuming that some are from the GC trying to entrap them. Neal Damosa comes on the news again and makes a speech about Nicky.

“All of the death and destruction we have seen in the last few years could not prepare us for this moment. Most of you have lost fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, and it may feel at this moment that you have lost another family member.”
“Oh, give me a break,” Conrad muttered. “Can you imagine having Carpathia as a family member?”

Fred already touched on this in his latest post but lesson learned from Left Behind: evil people spring from concentrated evilness. They do not have families or loved ones and anyone who is saddened by the loss of an evil person, even if it's just a case of them pondering what could have been, is evil.

They receive an email from the pastor in Tucson, saying that Buck's brother and his family were killed in a fire. If you're wondering, they did become RTCs before the fire killed them. The YTF notes that Chaim's house was destroyed in a fire and wonder if that's the way the GC's going to get rid of RTCs. Me, I wonder if there's a less attention-getting way of getting rid of people, like say having a secret police drag them away in the middle of the night. Although, I'll admit that the fire could serve to drive home the point to other secret RTCs that you're not safe.

They decide to try to contact Charlie. For those of you who've forgotten, Charlie was the guy who decided to stay with that hick couple, Bo and Ginny Shairton. They realize they haven't heard from Charlie in a while and start to worry that they left him in a trap.

Next section, yet another short one with Judd deciding to tell Z-Van the truth. That's seriously it.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

R.I.P. Nicky [Insert Mountain Range of Choice here]

Hello and happy Saturday!

Nothing much really happens in the first section. Judd hides out in Kasim's apartment and watches Chaim Rosenzweig playfully roll his wheelchair across the stage. I'm serious: that's all that happens.

Meanwhile Lionel and Sam are looking for Mr. Stein. They dig Kasim's body out of the rubble and again, that's seriously all that happens. These sections keep getting shorter and shorter and less stuff happens.

Vicki bravely continues to bravely watch TV. Nicky Hoel comes on and makes bland pleasantries but says nothing about the event, y'know the one where Zod managed to witness to people without killing them horribly. I'm disappointed: I was looking forward to the BS Ellanjay would try to put in Nicky's mouth to explain all this. I think I have a touch of the Stockholm Syndrome thanks to this series.

So Nicky introduces Chaim and makes a bland speech. During this speech, three of the seven other potentates (can't think that word without giggling because it's so stupid) sit down and Nicky woodenly says, "Do not do this to me." Word of advice to any writers out there: the old "Foreigners don't use contractions" thing doesn't work, especially when you're writing about a polyglot like Nicky. Contractions aren't that hard to master and having your characters not use them only makes me picture them as Brent Spiner.

An explosion rocks the stage. In the confusion, Chaim drives a sword into Nicky's head. I'm going to guess the head wound is "Because Prophecy, that's why!" But I can't help but wonder if that's really an effective use of a sword. Would a sword really be able to go through someone's skull like that? But anyway, Nicky's dead though I know, he isn't really; according to the prophecy, he becomes Satan.

Judd makes his way back to General Jew's house and meets up with Kasim and Nada's parents.

Next chapter, Z-Van is still laid up at General Jew's house with casts all over him. He asks to see Judd and that's when we cut to Vicki.

Vicki and the others are discussing Token Jew's interpretation, about how right about everything he was, and about how Nicky's going to be possessed by Satan soon.

Judd talks with Z-Van, who plans on laying low and letting everyone think he's dead, only to show up again later, in hopes of boosting sales. He mentions Paul McCartney, which only goes to show just how out of touch Ellanjay are. Their audience probably thinks of Paul McCartney as "member of one of those dinosaur bands my parents listen to."

Z-Van then calls an associate and manages to get a plane, so he and Judd can get out of there.

Mr. Stein shows up and makes several headbangingly stupid statements.

Mr. Stein prayed, then said, “I believe we are in grave danger. If any of you wish to leave, now is the time.”
“Why are we in danger?” a man in a long robe said.
“With the death of Nicolae Carpathia, the Global Community will have every reason to go after their enemies. I believe they will come after followers of Tsion Ben-Judah. It could mean imprisonment or perhaps our lives.”

Uh, correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't the GC already been going after followers of Token Jew? I'm fairly certain I've read about people getting imprisoned and whatnot. This feels like Revenge of the Sith where we're supposed to be shocked at how evil Anakin has become when he's still acting like the same child-murdering, whiny asshole he'd been in the previous movie.

Then they hear an announcement. Apparently St. Rayford has been accused of murdering Nicky. Judd is shocked, shocked that Rayford is being charged with a crime even though Rayford did take a shot at him.

The chapter ends with Judd noticing that Chaim's house is on fire and that's where my snark will end. I know it's a short snark, but the next chapter looked promising and I didn't want to stretch this snark out too long.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

I'm back!

Hello! Well, I'm back and I'll be posting every Saturday again. I got a job--it's not much but it gives me a little spending cash--so I was able to purchase the next book I need. I'm sure all of my commentators have given me up as dead and abandoned this blog, but I'll still give it my best shot. Because as masochistic as it sounds, part of me really wants to see the For Kids! version of Left Behind to its end. I do solemnly swear to try to avoid complaining about how bored I am, but I will make no guarantees, because while the For Kids! version is better than the adults version (in the way getting kicked in the gut is better than getting shanked in the gut), many times it's very dull, lacking the creepy sexual politics that stir up such interesting discussions on the adult books.

All that out of the way, let's get to it. Here's some music to get us pumped.

So when we last left our heroes, Lionel was looking for Judd. This section starts with Judd running after Kasim, in hopes of stopping Kasim's assassination plot. And here's where I massage my temples again, because I thought Judd had already talked to Kasim and talked him out of it. The only reason this series is forty books long is avarice and padding.

Basically what happens next is we get a repeat of Lionel's scene with the GT rising from the dead and Zod witnessing to people in a way that doesn't involve trying to kill them horribly. Me, given how masochistic I am, I'm waiting for the inevitable bullshit explanation Nicky Alps cooks up to explain all this, given how little Ellanjay understands human nature. Because right now, given the circumstances in the novel, we've got an actual factual miracle that might even give Richard Dawkins pause and in normal settings, it would set off a wave of soul-searching among every religion on Earth, but given that Ellanjay's lack of understanding...yeah, I'm looking forward to Nicky.

So Judd follows after Kasim, but as he does, the earthquake hits. There's some nice bits of what would be great horror writing (like Judd finding a human hand) were it not for the fact we're supposed to see the massive loss of life as good thing. Remember Zod is supposed to be the hero of this novel and of course the plot armor all the named characters are wearing. Judd tries to help a trapped woman but she is crushed, which provokes no kind of soul-searching even though he knows she's burning in Hell for all eternity. I know I say that a lot, but trust me, if you had read this part of the novel, with the unnamed woman begging and saying, "I don't want to die," you'd understand.

Then we go back to Lionel. Lionel struggles to help a woman rescue her husband from an elevator only to discover, when he forces the elevator open, that all the occupants are dead. Again, there is no identifying information attached to this woman or her husband and this is only described in the abstract, in an attempt to keep the readers from thinking treasonous thoughts like "Hey this as far as I know, basically good human is suffering from all eternity because Zod smashed the elevator's cables." Again, you've got to wonder what kind of novel Stephen King could hash out with the PMD checklist because it has all the elements of a great horror novel: humans at the mercy of an all-powerful force. Lovecraft himself had a field day with those kinds of stories.

Lionel's section ends with the announcement that Nicky's gala will continue as scheduled. Gotta give Nicky props: that is genuinely evil, a real "Nero fiddles while Rome burns" moment.

Next we cut to Vicki and the American branch of the YTF, who are bravely watching the events unfold on television. Shelly asks if any believers will die in the quake, which is a major headdesking statement, if ever I heard one. Not to mention the whole mess of heathens unbelievers who will die.

“I’m not sure,” Vicki said. “I think these judgments are mainly to get the attention of unbelievers, but Loretta and Donny Moore and Ryan and a bunch of other believers died in the wrath of the Lamb earthquake.”

And we get another mention of Ryan! Like I said before, I really should have started a tally, because even in death, he remains the series' butt monkey.

I can't help but wonder what would happen if the members of the YTF said The Prayer, but mostly continued to live their lives (didn't read Token Jew's epistles or go to church or anything religious like that). Because given that you're going to get punted no matter what you do, worshiping Zod is pointless, since He wants to burn up the wheat and the tares. Of course, in addition to what I suggested, they could help take care of those hurt by the disasters by providing food and shelter, but that may be too much to expect from these novels.

Vicki notices Darrion sitting alone. Darrion apparently feels guilty about something but won't say what it is to Vicki. She just asks to be left alone so she can think and that's where Vicki's section ends.

Judd is forcing his way through the rubble, trying to find Kasim, and, in true Tribble fashion, not giving a damn about the others trapped. He finds Kasim dead, so we can stop worrying about him actually doing stuff to stop Nicky. But the chapter ends with Judd finding Z-Van trapped in the rubble. :massages temples: Don't tell me that the Madonna Dahmer-ripoff I know and love is going to convert.

Next chapter, we get a brief moment, a very brief moment, of introspection from Judd as he wonders why Z-Van was allowed to live while Kasim died. Naturally it doesn't last long and of course, Judd doesn't follow this train of thought to its logical extreme that if you get punted no matter what, what's the point in worshiping Zod?

Judd is unable to get Z-Van out from under the rubble, so Judd gives him a bottle of water and they talk for a few minutes. Z-Van reveals his real name is Myron. After this conversation, Judd hears a GC truck calling for volunteers and runs towards it in hopes of finding help for Z-Van. Applaud, people: Judd is showing rare compassion right now.

We cut back to Vicki's group, who is still watching television. Basically all that happens is Leon Fortunado comes on the air and says the gala will continue as scheduled and that Nicky Imeon is personally involved in the search for survivors.

Next section, Judd and Lionel are finally reunited. Woo...They pull Z-Van from the rubble and take him to General Jew's house. They watch a newscast while trying to treat Z-Van's injuries and we get an actual number on how many people have died in this latest disaster: the newscast says an estimated 7000 people are feared dead. That's twice the number of people killed in the 9/11 disaster but I doubt Ellanjay will linger long on this nor delve into the consequences of so many people dying. Ellanjay would get along well with Josef "a million deaths is a statistic" Stalin.

The chapter ends with the announcement that Chaim Rosenzweig (whom I'm tempted to dub "Inventor Jew") has recovered from his stroke (though is still in a wheelchair) and will be at the ceremony. Judd then reflects that soon Nicky will be possessed by Satan.