For those of you who have completely forgotten about what Judd and Lionel have been up to, I'll give you a quick run-up. After being in Israel or New Babylon or Ellanjay Knows What Else for several books, Judd and Lionel are finally on the same continent as their close friend/obligatory love interest Vicki, after getting a flight out of Petra. But said flight took them to South Carolina and now Judd and Lionel have to hide out with South Carolina believers from eeevil GC bounty hunters, thus not only delaying Judd's inevitable marriage to Vicki, but also giving Ellanjay an excuse to further pad out the series.
The beginning of the chapter is mostly summarizing, which is usually bad given that most people subscribe to the "Show, Don't Tell" school of entertainment, but like I said before, in these books, where the showing is so jaw-droppingly awful, the "tell" parts are easier to endure.
After a few paragraphs of summary, Judd decides to talk to Tom and Luke, allowing me to dust off the "Ho Yay" tag. Ah, Christian Fiction...always the best creators of Ho Yay around. [tangent] I spent several minutes trying to track down an old example of Christian short fiction from the now-defunct Focus on the Family spinoff, Brio magazine, but I couldn't find it. I just remember my head exploding from all the femmeslash overtones because seriously, platonic female friends do not talk to each other like that. Instead you'll have to settle for a parody someone did on Fanfiction.net Enjoy! [/tangent]
For those of you who don't believe me, when I say Ho Yay, here's a sampling.
One afternoon Judd was talking to Luke and Tom about their lives before the disappearances. Luke said he had always dreamed of being a shrimper and having his own boat.
“Is that how you got those muscles?” Judd said.
Luke smiled. “I guess. I’ve always felt like I’ve been cut out for physical stuff, you know, hard work. I like using my hands, where old Tom here—” he patted his brother’s back—“uses his brain, what little he has.”
Maybe it's the fact that I'm a pervert who got her start writing fanfiction and therefore sees potential for Yaoi everywhere, but please tell me I'm not the only one wondering when the bow-chicka-wow-wow music is going to start?
After more Ho Yay-rich banter, they get down to the all-important job of exposition. Luke is worried about the expanding bounty hunter network and wants to :gasp: :choke: do something about it, violating the sacred tribbles' ethos of doing nothing. Tom's like "What are you going to do when you find them? Kill them?" and Ellanjay neatly side-step the potential grey areas that having their heroes kill people would bring by having Luke weasel out of it by saying, “No, that wouldn’t be right. But we can sure slow them down, don’t you think?” which makes me raise an eyebrow because what exactly can they do besides kill them at this point in the series?
Meanwhile, Vicki and the rest of the American branch of the YTF are bravely watching TV and talking about the false prophets and all the eeevil they do. Why just look at the horrible things they've done:
“Exactly,” Mark said. “They’re counterfeiting Christ’s miracles just like they have to fake everything else, like the mark on the forehead.”
The blood-to-water miracles seemed most popular. One woman had changed water to blood, then changed it to wine. There had been reattached limbs, healing of skin diseases, three blind people given back their sight, and twenty-three lame people made to walk.
The bulk of this chapter is essentially Vicki watching the news. I'm going to fast-forward through it because, yeah, can't really snark it. Basically one of the false prophets very eeevilly fulfills a grieving father's request by bringing back his sixteen-year-old daughter from the dead instead of leaving her to burn in Hell WHICH IS WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF THE FALSE PROPHET HADN'T INTERVENED! AND THE RTCS WONDER WHY EVERYONE CHOOSES TO FOLLOW NICKY! [/ragedump]
Oh and if you desire a flatter forehead, I'll provide another passage which lends itself perfectly to headdesking.
Janie broke the silence. “I don’t understand. I thought only God could raise the dead.”
“The power of evil is real now more than ever,” Marshall said. “Tsion has talked about this many times. Satan is being allowed to deceive, kill, and destroy like never before. I don’t understand it either, except to say that Satan can only do the things God allows.”
Yeah, Satan is being real destructive what with his prophets committing such eeeevils as making poisoned water drinkable, resurrecting the dead, and healing the sick, which we all know is totally what Jesus wouldn't do.
Next chapter, Judd helps Luke put together what they call BHDs or Bounty Hunter Defense kits, when Judd, of all people, decides to make some observations about the South Carolina Believers' Organization.
“Everybody follows Luke and Tom,” Judd said. “There’s no give-and-take.”
“Somebody has to be in charge,” Carl Meninger said. “If we voted on everything, we’d never have tried to help you.”
Judd nodded. “I think there have to be leaders, no question. But if others just follow, they start feeling left out.”
A teenage girl named Shawnda raised a hand. “We came up with our own ideas at the last hideout, and that’s when we let somebody in who ratted us out to the GC.”
“I can understand being cautious,” Judd said. “The goal isn’t to make sure everybody has a vote so we rule by majority, but you might be missing out on gifts people have by not including them.”
And right now, I'm going, really, Judd? Because not only did all this talk about problems with the South Carolina believers come way the hell out of nowhere, but since when have you demonstrated your stellar qualities as a leader and organizer? Vicki's the one doing all the heavy-lifting of getting the YTF together and organized while you've been running around on another continent with Lionel. It's almost as though leaders are defined in the LB-verse, not by what they say and do, but by whether people automatically defer to them regardless of how their decisions turn out. That and whether they possess the almighty penis, which automatically disqualifies Vicki regardless of any virtues she might have.
The talk is interrupted by Tom reporting movement in the swamp. I'm going to use my mighty psychic powers and predict that nothing will come of this, just like every past instance in this series.
The next section, we check in with Chinese Stereotype, I mean, Chang Wong. Chang Wong is grieving for the death of his father, even though he admits that since his father's a believer, he'll get the Super Special Awesome Upgraded Body and he'll see him at the Glorious Appearing.
In the meantime, Chang, realizing that since Judd and Lionel are major characters and therefore matter more than him, spends his time trying to find a way to get them to Illinois. But he's not having any luck. There's a brief interlude as he watches Nicky go by and wonders if Nicky can read his thoughts. Chang tests this by thinking about how Nicky is evil incarnate, but because he's protected by God, Chang's safe. :shakes head: They keep insisting that their religion isn't spell-casting and yet...
Chang is told to report to Director Akbar's office and because I'm a kind person who tries to accommodate her readers' needs, I'll post a link to that one meme everyone's thinking of: It's a trap. [geekish tangent] Which is a shame because from what I heard Admiral Ackbar's backstory in the Expanded Universe is pretty cool. His species organized and effectively kicked the Empire off of their planet and later formed the core of the Rebellion, from what I heard. Yet he'll always be associated with those few words. [/geekish tangent]
Anyway the rest of the chapter is really boring, so let's wrap this sucker up: Judd spots some people creeping around and wonders what to do. And Akbar asks Chang some questions about his co-workers because he suspects there's a mole in the GC operations.
Sorry for all the tangents in this snark, but hey, they were probably a lot more interesting than anything in the books, so yeah.