Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Fate of Anne Frank and Ellanjay Completely Forget about Wormwood.

What we have waiting for us are a lot of action scenes...forgive me, please, I'm doing the best I can with what I've got.

The chapter begins with Judd and Lionel basically helping tear down stuff and load it up so they can get to Petra. Yea, just what every Young Adult novel needs: Exciting!Packing!Action.

We then cut to Vicki's section which I enjoy a little better because the writers ease off the narrative gas and allow the characters to be something besides Expositors Extraordinaire. Basically what happens is Vicki and Shelly talk about boys.

While Mark got some needed sleep, Vicki pulled Shelly aside and told her about her conversation with Judd.
Shelly put a hand over her mouth. “How do you feel about it?” she said.
“Excited. A little scared. I’ve liked Judd as a friend for a long time. It feels like something’s changed with him.”

Uh, what exactly has changed between Vicki and Judd? It's been several books since they were on the same continent. Oh yeah, I know what's changed: the writers realized that it's nearing the end of the series and they haven't paired them up yet, so they're hurriedly trying to do so even though the only thing they have in common, besides being RTCs, is that they're boring.

But then we get this headdesker:

Shelly ran her tongue over her lower lip and tilted her head back. “Since we’re being honest about guys, I have a confession.”
Vicki grinned, anticipating what was coming. “Conrad and I have become pretty good friends since our trip out west. We’ve been doing a Bible study together. And he writes me letters. Isn’t it romantic?”
“If anything can be romantic these days, it’s writing letters to somebody staying in the same house with you. Does anybody know?”

Unlike Judd and Vicki, who haven't been on the same continent for several books, Shelly and Conrad have been living in close quarters and this is the first mention of any kind of relationship beyond friendship regarding them. I'm dead serious: they just pulled this one flat-out of nowhere. Oh and letters? I guess in Ellanjayland even modern teenagers are hip to Victorian-style courtship. Next up on Conrad and Shelly's list: holding hands.

Here's some advice to aspiring writers out there: if you're going to have characters in romantic relationships, you have to show them acting romantic towards one another. No, you don't have to show the actual act of coitus but some flirting or kissing or something that gives us the idea that they're more than just friends. Right now, I'm picturing a pair of pinballs rubbing up against each other.

Next Vicki and co. turn on the news which informs them that Manny is dead. No. Stop. Think of the children [/Sarcasm] They read an email from Manny, wonder if the gang members converted before Manny died, and that's it.

Here's a good question to ask those of Ellanjay's politics: was Anne Frank sent to Hell when she died? After all, she was Jewish. Maybe not one of those Orthodox SuperJews that predominate these books but still Jewish. I find myself asking that because as Judd watches the evacuation, Westin tries to get an Israeli (or in other words, a Jew) to reject the faith of his followers and accept Jesus. The guy's response is "Never!"

This anecdote isn't very long but it's enough to make me wonder about Anne Frank's fate. Firedrake already told me about the whole "Harrowing of Hell" doctrine and I'm sure Ellanjay accepts it on behalf of everyone in the Bible, but what about all the other Jews. Is Anne Frank along with six million others burning in Hell while the SS (the majority of which identified as Christian) getting front row seats in Heaven. Maybe you think I'm Godwinizing the debate, but sometimes the debate needs to invoke Godwin's Law.

The choppers start firing bullets and that's where the chapter ends.

The next you probably guessed, the only ones being harmed are the GC while the RTCs fly unscathed. But those stubborn Jews Israelis simply refuse to convert, saying that it's a trick. Frankly I'm with them: given that Nicky has declared war against the RTCs and the Jews, wouldn't it make perfect sense for the Jewish people to conclude that all this is a result of Hashem intervening and not immediately bow and accept TurboJesus.

Meanwhile, Sam is trying to convert the Israelis in his vehicle. Once again, Ellanjay are trying desperately to make this all suspenseful as they go through gunfire and all that, but it fails because WE KNOW NOTHING WILL HAPPEN BECAUSE IT'S ALREADY BEEN PROPHESIZED THAT ZOD WILL PROTECT THEM! [/ragedump]

Judd talks to Chang, who exists to fill in gaps in the readers' knowledge, on the phone. Apparently he used his Super Hacking skills to get Token Jew on the air. They say the pundits keep trying to talk over him, but you know what might stop that nefarious Token Jew. A BULLET TO THE BRAIN! Any reason why the eeevil one-world dystopian government is all pacifistic when it comes to dealing with a guy rallying people to fight against it? I know, because prophecy! That's why! But I must protest the stupidity; it's in my nature.

Oh and he executed the Supreme Commander Walter Moon for allowing Token Jew on the air. Again, what might help? EXECUTING TOKEN JEW!

Apparently Fortunado has said he plans on praying him off the air and it ends with the announcement that the water has turned to blood. Uh, correct me if I'm wrong, but since Wormwood has hit, poisoning all the water on earth and Nicky has done the water to blood thing before HOW THE HELL IS THIS SUPPOSED TO BE SHOCKING?!

Vicki and co. watch Token Jew's message. There's really nothing to snark: it's basically Token Jew going "Jesus is the Messiah so abandon millennia of teachings and accept the eradication of your culture for your own good." I think Rubyfruit said in a previous conversation that she found herself more offended on behalf of the Catholics than on any other group in the LB series, but I find myself more offended on behalf of the Jewish people. Granted I'm really in no position to talk about issues facing them given that I'm a Gentile whose expertise comes from reading Judaism for Dummies but more and more I wonder why Ellanjay are shocked! Shocked to be called anti-Semites. Do they really believe that we should see a series that presents the Jews abandoning their faith in droves to become good RTCs as anything but?

The GC keep trying to shoot down the RTCs but since they're graduates of the Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy, they keep hitting each other. I know we're supposed to see this as miraculous but that's my interpretation and I stand by it.

The chapter ends with Judd talking to Chang again. The blood water problem is international (again, I shout until I am hoarse about Wormwood) and the GC are instituting lie detector tests to ferret out moles. This is supposed to be shocking because an eevil organization violating 4th amendment rights...color me shocked and surprised.

I've decided to throw on another chapter so I can finish out this book. I've already purchased all the books I need so there won't be any delay in snark.

For those of you worried about Chang, fear not. He's crashed his computer so they can't recover the hard drive and I'm sure when it comes time for the lie detector test, he'll just give some variety of weasely answers like a good RTC.

Vicki watches the destruction of GC forces on the news and we get this headdesker as it talks about how the water turning to blood has affected stuff.

Though the Global Community tried to downplay them, reports from around the world flooded in about the seas turning to blood. Beautiful vacation resorts became death sites as whales, fish, sharks, and every imaginable sea creature perished and rose to the surface. Ships radioed Mayday signals, saying they had run out of drinking water and were unable to get back to land.

If you're going hoarse shouting "WHAT ABOUT FUCKING WORMWOOD!" you're not alone. I'm doing the same. Not to mention, it's good that Zod has wiped out all variety of sea life, real good. So I take their vision of Heaven is an entirely sterile one free of any of the fauna and flora that make Earth interesting. Once again, I find myself longing for the other place.

Nicky gives the generic "We shall overcome" speech which is supposed to be inspiring, but once again, wouldn't inspire anyone with a pulse.

“This Micah claimed to represent the rebels, but we now know he is an impostor who has used his trickery to create the great seawater catastrophe,” Carpathia said. “Do not be dismayed. The enemies of the Global Community will be brought to justice, and just as the difficulty we have faced with the sores has passed, so this problem with the earth’s waters will be overcome.”

Is it any wonder why I envision him as being played by Brent Spiner?

Oh and apparently the RTCs aren't affected by the blood water and bottled water is affected too. Congratulations, Ellanjay, you've condemned pretty much all of the world's remaining population to die horribly only to end up in Hell where they'll suffer horribly for all eternity. Soft drinks and juice for some reason remain unaffected.

Judd and Lionel and Westin are searching around for Z-Van so they can borrow his plane and go back to the states. Me, I question why the hell they're still hitting him up for favors given that Z-Van has accepted the Mark meaning he's fully on Nicky's side. I also think it's damn nice of him to keep letting them run around using his stuff like that, awful nice behavior for someone who's supposed to be one of the Legion of the Damned.

Vicki is doing her watch when she sees someone in the bushes. Yawn.

The chapter and book end with Judd and Lionel running towards Z-Van's plane only to see it get a massive hole blown in it. So I guess our brave heroes will have to find another way to get back to the states. Why I should care, I don't know.

Saturday, June 21, 2014


We begin this week with a mostly Vicki chapter. Ugh...Stay tuned kids, because we got some real good toy commercials coming up, I swear.

Now, you're probably wondering why I'm so down about this. Isn't spending time with Vicki better than spending time with a watered-down mini-Rayford aka Judd? But truth is none of the characters really have any distinguishing traits. As said in a comment on a previous snark, the characters, for all we know about them, might as well be pinballs with little name-tags attached and as many of my readers will point out, they have as much control over the plot as pinballs do over their own path. Here's a challenge for my readers: name some traits of some of the characters mentioned. By traits, I mean personality traits, not ethnicity or background. So no going, "Uh...Lionel's the black guy, right? or "That dude's Jewish."

Vicki and Mark are walking down the hallway searching for Claudia. They find her but she doesn't have the Super Special Awesome Zod-Mark and the GC are closing in on them. But it turns out that the GC do have a few brain cells to rub together, because it turns out this whole thing with Claudia was a trap.

I'll admit I skimmed through most of the next part. Forgive me, but it's really impossible to snark given that it's just a boring collection of action verbs which have no consequences because nothing ever happens to the good guys. If you're wondering, Vicki and Mark are saved by a black maid named Florence, who's so stereotypically black that I wonder why there aren't massive protests over these novels. Then again, Ellanjay seem to be ignorant and proud of their ignorance of anything outside of White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant male.

Florence has Vicki and Mark climb into the laundry because we can leave no cliché unused in these novels. And just because I believe in spreading suffering around, I'll provide a sample of Florence's dialogue:

The woman hummed the tune again, stopping long enough to say, “My job’s the same as the Lord’s in a way. I take the trash out and make sure it gets put in the right place. He takes our trash and puts it on the cross where Jesus can take care of it. Simple as that. Hmm hmm hmm hmm …”

I'll end this chapter for you: they escape without any trouble and I'm bored to death with the whole thing.

Next, we begin with Darrion bravely watching the news. The news is essentially this: Nicky is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life. Also Darrion smirks about how they haven't connected the sores with The Mark.

Nothing happens on Lionel's end so let's just skip to Judd.

Well, nothing's really happening there either, just a lot of thinking. He's mad at Lionel for getting separated from him, making me wonder if I need to dust off my "Ho Yay" tag. And we get another mention of Ryan! Judd actually apologizes for having been such a jerk to him. Too bad, Ryan's dead making any such apology completely pointless.

Judd talks on the phone with Vicki and I suppose we're supposed to read unresolved sexual tension between the two, but given that the writers know nothing about how teenagers act towards one another, it comes across as them trying desperately to come up with an excuse to pair up a pair of paper dolls. I'll sum things up: Vicki is worried, Judd talks about what a jerk he was to Ryan, Vicki's all "He knew you cared in the end," and then they hang up. Mac shows up and David Hayseed is dead. Given that I don't think Hayseed made any appearances in this series, I don't see why we should care.

I'm throwing in a third chapter because the snark's a little skimpy.

Judd and Lionel are hanging around talking, when Chaim, still calling himself Micah, shows up to give his speech. I won't go too much into detail about this speech as it quickly devolves into the standard altar call, but let's start:

“Of the billions and billions of people who have ever lived, One stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of influence. More schools, colleges, hospitals, and orphanages have been started because of him than because of anyone else. More art was created, more music written, and more humanitarian acts performed due to him and his influence than anyone else ever. Great international encyclopedias devote twenty thousand words to describing him and his influence on the world. Even our calendar is based on his birth. And all this he accomplished in a public ministry that lasted just three and a half years!
“Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God, Savior of the world, and Messiah, predicted that he would build his church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Centuries after his public, unmerciful mocking, his persecution and martyrdom, billions claimed membership in his church, making it by far the largest religion in the world. And when he returned, as he said he would, to take his faithful to heaven, the disappearance of so many had the most profound impact on this globe that man has ever seen.

I could also point out that in addition to all these great humanitarian acts, Jesus has also been the inspiration for the Inquisition, numerous pogroms, and to top it all off, the Holocaust. You can't point out all the good that's stemmed from Christianity without acknowledging the bad.

“For years skeptics have made fun of the evangelist’s plea, ‘Do you want to be saved tonight?’ and yet that is what I ask you right now. Do not expect God to be fooled. Be not deceived. God will not be mocked. Do not do this to avoid a confrontation with Antichrist. You need to be saved because you cannot save yourself.
“The cost is great but the reward greater. This may cost you your freedom, your family, your very head. You may not survive the journey to safety. But you will spend eternity with God, worshiping the Lord Christ, Messiah, Jesus.”

What if instead of doing this in order to avoid a confrontation with Nicky, they're doing this in order to avoid the fires of hell? You can't say, "Don't convert out of fear!" when that's what your characters do! It just doesn't work!

I'm going to quote 1 John 4:18 again, so you can see how Ellanjay fail.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

After Chaim's speech, Rabbi Ethan Ben-Eliezar and his wife come up to Mr. Stein being all "How could we have been so blind? How was we supposed to know that your attempts to extinguish our culture were for our own good?" Well okay, they don't say the second part but it's implied. They then ask about The Prayer, giving Ellanjay yet another excuse to quote it in its entirety. They say the prayer and stop being ignorant Jews and become RTCs, thus losing what few distinguishing traits they had.

That's where I'll leave you. Sorry to do so much summarizing but like I said there really isn't a lot to snark.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Jewishy Jews Strike Back!

Like I said what we have waiting for us in this chapter is the inevitable conversion scene and oh boy does it suck. Not that I'm not used to Ellanjay's failings by now, but still.

Like I said before, Mr. Stein mentioned that Nicky wouldn't be able to stand against his ultimate enemy and the wife of Ethan Ben-Eliezar (no points for guessing ethnicity) was like "Who's that?" Because Jews are either mind-blowingly ignorant of Jesus or they hate him with all their hearts, but heaven forbid, you accuse Ellanjay of anti-Semitism. I'm sure some of their best friends are Jewish. In fact, they love Jews. Just look at all their great Jewish characters...there's Tsion ben Judah aka Token Jew, Chaim Rosenzweig, Mitchell Stein...Ellanjay just love Jews so long as they abandon the faith of their fathers and stop being so inscrutable and Jewish.

Thankfully, the beginning of Mr. Stein's conversion speech is done in summary. Normally this kind of summarizing, of rushing through pertinent information (like all the Old Testament prophecies which of course, point to TurboJesus) is a bad thing, but here, I welcome it. Less stuff for me to suffer through.

Mrs. Ben-Eliezar mentions that she had a daughter named Meira who, like all good Jews in Ellanjay's world, stopped being Jewish and became a Christian. As soon as she says her daughter disappeared, Mr. Stein leaps all over this saying, "I know what happened to your daughter and you can see her again, but only if you do exactly what TurboJesus wants." Well, okay he leaves off the last part, but yet another lesson you can take from these novels: Emotional Blackmail is A-Okay to use in order to convert someone.

But then for some reason we cut to Vicki. [TANGENT] Y'know more and more I'm starting to think that bad books are just as good or maybe even better at teaching you the craft than good books. Because I've not gotten very far in this chapter and already I can point out so many flaws and say, "Hell yeah, am I doing better than this!" Not to mention, it gives me hope. If something this bad saw the light of day, maybe there's a market for my Young Adult novel in progress. [/TANGENT]

Manny and Hector talk. Hector, being a hardened reprobate, is scoffing about all those people resisting the Mark being like, "It's just a little tattoo." Manny naturally tries to convert him but Hector rolls his eyes. That's all that happens. Why did Ellanjay interrupt the previous section to bring us this interlude which goes nowhere and does nothing? Do they think if we don't get a Vicki section in every chapter we'll forget she exists?

Lionel and Westin are heading to Petra. Z-Van appears, chews them out, but gives them the idea to use Z-Van's plane to transport pilgrims to Masada.

We finally cut back to Judd who's with Mr. Stein as he tries to convert those heathen Jews. Mr. Stein keeps up the emotional blackmail going, "If you accept Christ, you'll see your daughter again." But Rabbi Ben-Eliezar is having none of it. He's all "You expect us to believe all this?!"

But Mr. Stein has a weapon up his sleeve: Revelation 12. I'm going to post the entire chapter so we can all get a look at it and see just how badly Ellanjay fails.

12 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. 4 Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.”[a] And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 6 The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.

7 Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.

They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.

Therefore rejoice, you heavens
and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
because he knows that his time is short.”

13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. 15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.

We've already heard Ellanjay's interpretation of the woman given wings of an eagle verse. If you're wondering their interpretation is that all the RTCs will flee to Petra in light aircraft and be safe there. As for the river the dragon spews from its mouth, well, their interpretation needs to be seen to be believed:

“It says the dragon will try to drown Israel with a flood that comes from the dragon’s mouth. Dr. Ben-Judah believes this flood refers to the Antichrist’s army.”
“Oh dear,” Mrs. Ben-Eliezar said.
“But the Scripture goes on to say that the earth will help Israel by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that gushes from the dragon’s mouth.”

To quote Fred, this is what Ellanjay mean by straightforward reading of scripture. How they get "river from dragon's mouth" to mean "army of soldiers" I don't know. Me, I'm just disappointed that it doesn't involve Nicky trying to kill everyone with his drool.

Chang calls and tells Judd that Nicky killed Loren Hut and is planning on shooting down all the craft flying for Petra.

“Carpathia wants to wipe out the Orthodox Jews and the Judah-ites wherever they are.”
“Then everybody needs to head to Petra,” Judd said.
Mr. Stein asked what was happening and Judd held up a hand.
“Carpathia says Petra is just as defenseless against their weapons as Masada,” Chang said. “Judd, if God doesn’t do something miraculous, you guys could all die out there tonight.”

Yeah, I know they're trying desperately to build some sort of suspense. Well guess what, it fails miserably given that they've already mentioned in a previous chapter that the RTCs will be safe at Petra for three years and it mentions IN THIS CHAPTER that the earth will swallow Nicky's army. So why are they worried? Also, did editors even look at this book or do they just red-stamp them into printing?

Next chapter begins with Vicki eating. Again, given that nothing happens on her side, I don't get why Ellanjay keep cutting to her. Didn't Hitchcock say that "drama is life with the boring stuff cut out of it." Clearly Ellanjay don't know that.

Anyway, there's a lot of talking which amounts to nothing. Vicki still wonders what to do about Claudia and Manny introduces them to his sister, Anita.

Lionel's section is basically techno-porn with them talking about GPS and navigating. I'd have a modicum of respect for their techno-porn but given how badly they failed to predict future trends like cell phones and internet porn becoming widespread, yeah. Word of advice, guys: to paraphrase someone I've forgotten, good sci-fi sees not only the car, but also the traffic jam. Ellanjay fail to see either.

In Judd's section, Mr. Stein is still trying to do his damnedest to convince those Jewishy Jews to abandon millennia of teachings and convert! But the Rabbi is being stiff-necked and refusing to bite. Again, that's what Jews do. They either stubbornly refuse to convert despite canned arguments or they kill you if you do.

Judd thinks a little about Vicki and even when they have him doing a little reflecting, I still hate Judd.

Manny decides to stay and try to convert the gangs to RTCianity. Vicki and Mark decide to go after Claudia. They check into a hotel*, allowing the clerk to list all the amenities, and I'm bored to death with the whole thing so that's where I'll end the snark. Sorry if it seems like I was too angry and not funny enough but buttons were pushed.

*So they allow Vick to check into a hotel room with a guy she isn't married to?! That sound you hear is Irene Steele having the vapors. Seriously, they do mention each room having two double beds, but I'm still surprised they went through with this given how rigidly puritanical Ellanjay and their ilk tend to be.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Debating Ellanjay-Style

Okay I've been ignoring the Vicki plot because nothing's really been happening, just a lot of talking, and it didn't seem to really matter given all the stuff with the epic pig ride, but apparently now it's going to pay off. Probably in a disappointing fashion because this is Ellanjay we're reading but still I'll give you the down low on what's been going on with Vicki.

Basically, they've been trying to work out what to do about Claudia. Manny said he'd help, but it turns out that he's been secretly contacting an old friend so now they're worried that he's been putting them all in danger. Now that you know all this, let's move onto the snark.

Manny is all apologetic. They've received another email from Claudia saying that she's leaving her hotel room by noon and wants to know where to go. As they talk, they realize they're being pursued by a GC squad car.

Meanwhile in Israel, we get Lionel's perspective and yet another example of Ellanjay's compassion.

Lionel moved along with Sam and the crowd making its way from the Temple Mount. He kept looking for Judd but couldn’t find him. Many who had Carpathia’s mark were trying to leave for Masada, and Lionel felt sorry for them. Though they didn’t realize it, these people had decided their eternal fate when they had taken Nicolae’s mark.

:teeth grinding:

Now, now in an attempt to play devil's advocate, Lionel is compassionate: the text says he clearly feels bad that his god is going to send all these people to Hell for all eternity. Granted he doesn't feel bad enough to do something to help them or even PREACH TO ALL THE UNMARKED CONSTANTLY UNTIL THEY DRAG HIM OFF TO BE EXECUTED! But he does feel bad for them.

Nothing else really happens in this section except Lionel's all "What's Masada?" giving Sam (and the authors) an excuse for more Exposition. Me, I'm lazy and I'm wondering why I should give a crap so I'm not going to post it. If you wanna know what Masada is, Wikipedia will probably be able to help you out.

Meanwhile Judd is with Mr. Stein. He talks with Chang who says he'll be able to set it up so that everyone can hear what goes down between Nicky and Chaim at the Knesset. Why? Because it's the duty of every Ellanjay character to witness yet do nothing, that's why.

Vicki's section is pretty much a car chase which would be suspenseful but since nothing can happen to these characters, I'm going to fast-forward through it. Told you the pay-off would be disappointing. That's assuming we ever get a pay-off to this story.

Lionel is following Sam around through Jerusalem and we get this scene.

Lionel saw one man shriek as he tried to wrestle a gun from an equally sick GC Morale Monitor. “I can’t go on like this!” the man screamed.
The Morale Monitor gained control of the weapon, took a step back, and aimed. “Stay where you are or I’ll shoot!”
The man howled like a hurt animal and lunged wildly. The Morale Monitor fired, and the man crumpled to the ground. Lionel and Sam rushed over with several others. Someone rolled the man on his back, and blood poured from a wound in his chest. He gasped for air as his head lolled to one side. When he saw the Morale Monitor, he smiled slightly. “Thank you …”
One of the rabbis felt the man’s neck and said he was dead. The Morale Monitor, who looked only slightly older than Lionel, seemed near hysterics. “I didn’t have a choice! I told him to stop!”

Okay, before I start getting into all that is wrong about this (and there's a lot), I will commend Ellanjay in that I think this scene was meant to be one of horror and it succeeds. The only problem is THE STORY FAILS TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THIS MAN'S SUFFERING ISN'T OVER! Am I the only one who remembers that all unbelievers go to Hell and that this punishment lasts for all eternity?! Also, while I have no objections to the bad guys using child soldiers, they are the bad guys after all, but you'd think this would give Lionel some pause, make him think "Hey this guy's a kid like me." I say child soldiers because only 3 and a half years have passed in this series and since Lionel was thirteen at the beginning of the series, that means he's sixteen, maybe seventeen tops at this point.

Judd and Chang talk some more. Chang is still going on and on about the Mark and I'm like, "Get over it already!" Especially since this section establishes that Chang took it unwillingly and therefore isn't going to be pitched into Hell for all eternity.

Vicki drives into a garage and hides there. That's apparently enough to ward off the GC dragnet. Second chapter begins with her hearing the sound of the GC squad car outside the garage. Then Vicki and the others see a guy standing on a walkway who tells them to get out of the car. I'm going to assume that this is Hector aka that guy Manny made contact with for those who care.

Lionel meets up with Westin. They gather a bunch of people in a hummer so they can go to Petra. I'm serious: that's all that really happens. So sorry to do so much summarizing but the For Kids! version of this series is more boring with only occasional moments of jaw-dropping bad unlike the adult books where the jaw-dropping bad is pretty much continuous.

Some pointless interludes later, we finally get to something worth snarking: Chaim and Nicky's debate, if you can even call it that. One of the primary rules of debating is to know your enemy's argument before you knock it to the ground. Ellanjay, given their inflated sense of self-worth, think they do, but they don't. Let's start a drinking game*: every bit of illogic, take a sip. Every time the "good" character weasels out of addressing the villain directly, take another sip. Judging by what I've seen thus far, you should be good and hammered by the time this is all through. Let's start:

First we get some alpha-male posturing from Chaim. Me, I'm a little surprised given that Chaim has been established to be one of those weak-wristed intellectuals that threaten Ellanjay so much.

Nicolae Carpathia said, “Forgive me for not standing.”
“I represent the one true God and his Son, Jesus, the Christ,” Dr. Rosenzweig said. “I prefer to stand.”

Now for a whole mess of weaselly debating.

After a moment, Nicolae said, “All right.” The man seemed furious. “I am letting these people run off to the hills. When do the sores go away? I upheld my end of the bargain.”
“We had a bargain?” Dr. Rosenzweig said. Judd pictured him in his brown robe, standing up to the most powerful ruler in the world.
“Come, come! We are wasting time!” Carpathia sneered. “You said you would lift this spell if I—”
“That is not my recollection. I said that if you did not let them go, you would suffer yet a worse plague.”
“So I let them go. Now you—”
“It is not as if you had a choice.”


Again, rule of debating according to Ellanjay: interrupting people is A-Okay and not at all proof of rudeness or a sign that you have a weak platform.

Something banged on the table and Carpathia screamed, “Are we here to play word games? I want the sores on my people healed! What do I have to do?”
“Make no attempt to stop Israeli Messianic believers from getting to Petra.”

As said by many people smarter than me, the anti-Christ, in competent hands, has the potential to be a tragic character, someone forced to carry out this cockamamie scheme that makes no sense by forces beyond his reckoning and who will be punished for doing so. I'm thinking of Lucifer from the Sandman comics who wonders whether his rebellion against God was his choice or just another part of the Master's great plan. But since Ellanjay don't deal in shades of grey because doing so would force them to admit some not so great aspects about the hero of their novel, we're left with this.

Carpathia paused. Judd wondered how many of his top cabinet members were in the room, suffering from sores. “Have you not noticed? I am the only full-time employee of the Global Community not suffering from the plague!”
“And that only because you have not taken your own mark, though I daresay you worship yourself.”
Footsteps. Nicolae came close to the phone. “Our medical experts have determined there is no connection between the application of the mark of loyalty and—”
Why does your bad breath not surprise me?”

Ellanjay clearly argue like teenage girls or like Conservapedia.

Yet another lesson learned from these novels: Kids, if you want to dazzle in a debate, forget constructing cogent arguments: just insult their appearance. Because fat and ugly people never make good points.

“If I am not god,” Carpathia said, “I challenge yours to slay me now. I spit in his face and call him a weakling. If I remain alive for ten more seconds, he, and you, are frauds.”
Judd shook his head. He wished God would take Nicolae up on his challenge.
“What kind of a God would he be if he felt compelled to act on your timetable?” Dr. Rosenzweig said, a smile in his voice.

Is there a reason God has to be a slave to any kind of time-table? God has proven in the Bible that he can change his mind. I cite as example, the third chapter of Jonah.

3 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”

3 Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. 4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.

6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:

“By the decree of the king and his nobles:

Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened

No, the only reason God is so slavishly devoted to this prophecy in Ellanjayland is because he's a dick. But then again, I doubt that Ellanjay are that familiar with the book of Jonah. They probably think it ends with him in the whale. But the ending to Jonah is very telling. I'm sure the writer or writers of that book would have a lot to say to Ellanjay and those of their ilk. As Fred has put it, Ellanjay only preach because they're secretly hoping that those nasty evil sinners will get what's coming to them.

4 But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

4 But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

5 Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”

“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”

10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

The debate ends and not soon enough since I may have given my readers alcohol poisoning. Sorry about that. The Judd section ends with the wife of Ethan Ben-Eliezar (another Jewy McJew name for you) asking, "Who's that?" when Mr. Stein mentions Nicky's greatest foe, thus setting up a conversion scene which will take place in the next chapter.

But this snark is hella long so I'll just give you the ending: yes, it is Manny's friend, Hector, in the garage.

*Please don't. I don't wanna be responsible for any alcohol poisonings that might result.