Monthly Archives: December 2011

A Break Till January

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This is just a quick note to say I (EmotedLlama) won’t be updating till January.

See you in the new year!

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Avery Trudge and Murder: Episode Three

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The papers documented two missing persons; Yu Furukawa, a Japanese businessman who had gone missing three days prior; and Horace Princeman, an unemployed American. They were undoubtedly the two bodies in Felicia’s apartment; neither report had much information, but Avery now had the names and thus a lead. He left the police station immediately, taking care not to be seen by the tall detective. It couldn’t have been a coincidence that the papers were left on Krill’s desk; of all the detectives in the local police, Avery knew Krill to be the most incompetent. Whoever was trying to ruin Felicia had friends in the police. Or just some skilled burglars–either way, this person was powerful.

Avery’s first step was to speak with his contact, Mr. Ian Kilpatrick. Avery had qualms about seeing the bumbling, often useless man, but Mr. Ian Kilpatrick did have connections, and often knew things only rocks had the right to–and if there was any link between the two murdered men, Avery had to find out.

“Hello, Janie,” Avery said as he entered Mr. Ian Kilpatrick’s office; why he needed a secretary Avery didn’t know.

“Mr. Trudge!” Janie the secretary replied, her tightly curled red hair bouncing animatedly. “Mr. Kilpatrick has not seen you in some time!”

“No he hasn’t,” Avery said curtly. “May I go in?”

Janie looked perplexed as she peered up at Avery from her desk–then again, she had a tendency to look befuddled even when she had perfect knowledge of the situation at hand. “Yes, of course,” she said, picking up the phone on her desk then mumbling something unintelligible into it.

“I don’t think you–” Avery began, noticing she hadn’t dialed or pressed any of the numerous buttons on the phone’s base.

“He’ll see you now!” Janie said, giggling in a eerily maniacal fashion.

“Right.” Avery didn’t care to speak any longer with Janie, so he strode right past her as she stared intently at the door Avery had entered from.

Mr. Ian Kilpatrick was turned away from the room when Avery entered–Avery stared at the back of the tall chair in the back of the room for a moment before it slowly swiveled around, revealing an empty grey suit. Another one of Mr. Ian Kilpatrick’s tricks; Avery did nothing, itching for Mr. Ian Kilpatrick to reveal himself.

“Avery,” came a voice to Avery’s left; he turned in the voice’s direction to find himself face-to-face with a mirror. As Avery sighed, the mirror swiveled around to allow two passages on either side of it, both shrouded in darkness. Mr. Ian Kilpatrick soon stepped out of the left passage, wearing a suit identical to the one on the chair.

“Brilliant entrance,” Avery said, his voice dripping with sarcasm he knew Mr. Ian Kilpatrick would ignore.

“Yes, I do think so–are you here for any business in particular, or are you going to apologize?” Mr. Ian Kilpatrick strolled to his desk, carefully picking the suit from off the chair and sitting down.

Not knowing what he could possibly have done to warrant an apology, Avery brushed past the small talk:

“I need information on two men; Yu Furukawa and Horace Princeman.”

“You don’t say. I will need time, of course.” Mr. Ian Kilpatrick leaned forward, resting his hands on his desk. “What are you looking for?”

Avery thought a moment before speaking. “Any connection between them, between them and Felicia Spatt, or between them and anything that might get them killed.”

“That’s a quite extensive list of things to look for,” Mr. Ian Kilpatrick said gravely. “Sounds fun!”

“I expected nothing less of you.” Avery had expected quite less, of course, but flattery never hurt.

“Yes, well, that tends to happen. You may leave.”

And so Avery left, ignoring Janie’s attempts at a conversation as he passed by her desk. His destination was now his apartment; all the traveling of the day had taken time, and it was now early afternoon. He didn’t have specific plans, but he found that important things tended to happen just as he began to relax, which was occasionally useful.

Avery’s apartment was shrouded in darkness when he arrived, the drapes shut tight and the lights all off. He flicked on the nearest light as he entered, putting his coat on its rack and moving into his living room, where he turned on the light as well before sitting down on his couch.

And, sure enough, just as his mind drifted from the case and he begun to relax…

“Mr. Trudge. You haven’t been expecting me, I assume?”

Maximum Ride Spork: Part Eleven

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(Until this spork, I’ve been using a copy of Maximum Ride from the library, which was paperback. Recently, however, I bought a used copy that’s hardback. Because of this, the page numbers I’ve been citing will not be consistent between previous sporks and all from now on.)

Chapter 20

This chapter opens up by telling us Iggy is super smart. Because of course he is, right? Anyway, he and Gazzy are trying to make bombs, apparently from a stereo. Oh, and then this:

He [Iggy] had just fixed the computer, presto change-o. (pg 64)

He just magically fixed the computer. Brilliant storytelling, JPatterson. Yepyep.

You know, a thought: how did Iggy learn all this stuff? Did they have a program on the computer to read things out loud? Did the others read stuff to Iggy? Does he know braille, or does he just get by without written word? These are all things I’d like to know, things that would expand upon his character and be quite interesting, IMO. But of course we don’t get to learn this stuff, because action!

They need a timer, and Iggy tells Gazzy (for some reason referred to as Gasser) to get Max’s alarm clock.

Chapter 21

Max tells us she’s somewhere in Arizona. Whether this is just stupid or bad infodumping I’m not sure, but it’s still silly.

Oh, and apparently Max’s wings are accordions. Seriously:

I pulled my wings in, feeling them fold, hot from exercise, into a tight accordion on either side of my spine. (pg 66)

This simile makes no sense. None whatsoever. And apparently by tying a windbreaker around her neck Max’s wings are completely hidden. Riiiight.

Anyway, we get a description of some ridiculously cliche bad guys, their leader berating the girl for telling on him beating up some other kid. And one of them has a shotgun!

Max gives a brief monologue about how she hates the strong picking on the weak, how it happened to her and seems to happen so much on the “outside world”. I could say something about how I’d like to know her other experiences with this, but I think I’m getting rather repetitive about it.

And Max is apparently a mind reader, too!

Just another stupid girl, they [the bad guys] thought, relieved. Their eyes lingered a moment on my scratched face, my black eye, but they didn’t keep watching me. (pg 67)

Yep, Max is a mind reader. Why didn’t she tell us this? It seems like something pretty important. Oh, and a beat up kid walks in on these guys and they just ignore her? That makes no sense whatsoever.

One of the guys using “chick” as an insult later, and Max is telling us how she’s stronger than full-grown men, apparently because of genetic engineering.

…I thought they were just bird-kids? Now they’re genetically modified humans with bird DNA? I could use some exposition, JPatterson!

The bad guys rush Max (apparently shotguns are no good for shooting with?) and she dispatches them with ease. Oh, and she uses the word “jeezum”. I did a quick search, and it would appear this is a way of saying “Jesus” without offending religious people. Because Max cares so much about offending religious people? I can understand her not using swear words at all as this is a kid’s book, but it makes no sense for her to specifically use a non-offensive word.

One of the bad guys picks up a gun (referred to as “his gun”, despite the narration never telling us there was more than one, and I would assume this isn’t shotgun guy as the narration is vague about it) and cocks it, starting towards Max, who runs away.

So this kid picks up a gun and moves toward his target, and she runs? The heck?!

Chapter 22

So Max is running into the woods, and the bad guys (who she has, like, a hundred names for–bozos, yo-yos, yahoos, bullyboys…) yell at her and one of them shoots the shotgun.

Then Max gets weirdly angry and says how this situation is like the situation in her dream. Oookay, Max, no need to be so weird about it. If her other behaviors didn’t discount it, I’d think Max might actually be showing normal signs of PTSD!

And then Max gets shot and trips and falls down steep slope, ending up in an overgrown ravine. Her shoulder and wing were hit by the shotgun shot, and she angsts a bit before telling us it’s in her nature to fight for the underdog, which Jeb always told her was her fatal flaw (oh, wonderful, our protagonist’s worst flaw is that she roots for the underdog!). The chapter ends with this:

Jeb had been right. (pg 72)

Which might actually be a dramatic ending to a chapter if there had been any previous mention of any of this.

Chapter 23

Fang and Nudge are flying around, and Nudge is hungry. Fang leads them to a cave, where they sit down and eat dried fruit and chocolate bars. The entire exchange seems really weird to me in an indescribable way, but whatever.

And for some reason Nudge is just now asking about where Max went and what she was doing, despite her supposed talkativeness and the fact that it’s been an hour since Max left. I’m not buying it. Anyway, Fang says they’re right over Lake Mead and they’ll wait for Max here. In a cave, where she can’t see them. Brilliant. Nudge finishes eating, then goes and looks around and sees something!

Chapter 24

So there are birds, including fledglings, near the cave on the ledge that’s outside it. The birds are staring at Nudge and Fang, apparently having done nothing for the five or ten minutes Fang and Nudge were inside the cave. For some reason I don’t think predator birds with babies would really just stand by while a couple of humans go right by them, but what do I know?

“Ferruginous hawks,” Fang said softly. “Largest raptor in the States. Sit down, very slowly. No sudden movements or we’re both bird feed. (pg 75)

And yet these birds did nothing before. Yeeaah.

Nudge starts to speak but Fang “motions” for her to be “quiet, very quiet.” I’d like to know what kind of motion could convey that.

Fang starts to extend his wings to let the birds catch his scent. I’m no bird expert so I can’t say for sure, but I fail to understand why Fang’s wings wouldn’t just smell like the rest of him, which would be human. Yes? I don’t even know.

But, at least in this novel, it works and the birds just continue on, no big deal. I dunno, I’d think they’d still have some reaction to a bunch of human-looking animals, regardless of their smells. But again, I’m not a bird expert, can’t say for sure (and I’m inclined to believe I’m wrong, if only because that’s common for me).

Anyway, there’s a bit of fluff and the chapter ends. Yippee.

(Sorry for the late posting on this one; bad timing got in the way.)

A Quick Review of Anya’s Ghost

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Anya Borzakovskaya is an outcast at school; she’s Russian, a bit overweight, a bit weird. She has one friend in Siobhan, though she’s not much. Until one day she falls into an old, abandoned well and meets a ghost–Emily Reilly. A new friend.

Thus is the premise of Anya’s Ghost, a graphic novel written and drawn by Vera Brosgol. Very interesting events ensue, of course, but I don’t want to say much more due to the relatively short size of the book–I’ve already explained the first quarter or so. I can say, however, that the story is incredibly well done; in just over two hundred pages Brosgol does an amazing job humanizing the characters and situations, to the point that the ghost fits right in and seems perfectly plausible. While it might not earn points in total originality (the overall themes and concepts have been handled before), Anya’s Ghost is still riveting for the short time it lasts.

“I was never strong, and he would have caught me. I could almost feel his breath on my neck when… I fell.”

Similar to the story, the art is amazing; simple and just slightly stylized, it perfectly complements the book throughout,with flair at just the right moments and an easy-to-read format. It’s kind of hard to say anything more.

I don’t want to keep going for fear of being redundant; thus, time for the score!

Four out of five stars!

Anya’s Ghost is a spectacular graphic novel, seamlessly weaving supernatural with real life and presenting it all in a wonderful format. Strictly speaking, it’s lacking nothing; but to me, there’s just not that “punch” to the novel that would warrant five stars; I recommend Anya’s Ghost to everyone, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it a classic.

Maximum Ride Rewritten: Part 2

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((A quick note: I kind of implied with the last part’s introduction that this is intended to be better than the original, which isn’t really my intent. Though I’m attempting to fix some of the logical fallacies, some of my changes are just that–changes, only because I believe them better or more interesting. In addition, I talked about making them psychopaths or whatever; I’m not going to try that, as I’d end up mangling it horribly.

Bad writing! After originally posting this, I noticed that Iggy’s real name is James canonically. To keep with my naming scheme of real names, I changed his name through this chapter and will be using it in the future. It’s a shame, because I actually like the name Iggy.))

“Max?”

The voice came from behind me–I whirled around instinctively, alarmed by the noise, though I knew it was Devin once I registered his voice. Young and scared sounding. Another nightmare, likely.

“Yeah?” I said, mustering up as much concern as I could.

He said nothing for a moment, just standing there with his long blond hair over his eyes. He was wearing pajama bottoms (which he had been wearing for days at this point) and his torso was bare to free his brown wings, which were longer than mine. Almost useable.

“They were chasing me again.” Devin spoke at just over a whisper, trembling.

“Oh, honey…” I used Jeb’s words, from when he comforted the others; I still didn’t know how to handle the nightmares.

Tears ran down Devin’s face and he ran forward, burying his face in my stomach. I patted his back, still feeling too inadequate to do anything else. It had been two weeks since Jeb left, and I was adapting slowly. I sighed softly, crouching down to face Devin.

“We’re safe here,” I whispered. “They can’t find you.”

“But…” He didn’t finish his thought, if he even had one, and his stomach grumbled loudly.

“Come on, let’s get some breakfast.” I stood up and turned back to the fridge, opening it gently so as to not make too much noise. I peered into it, feeling the same sense of fear that had plagued me ever since Jeb had left. We were running out of food; only the stump of a loaf of bread was left. I had known that was all that was there before looking in the fridge, but I had to look in the slight chance I might have missed something.

I closed the fridge; the bread could be lunch. For now, we still had a little bit of dried fruit, a single can of condensed milk. Enough for breakfast, but nothing more. I pulled those out of a cupboard along with two glasses and two small plates then set them on the counter and began rationing out a small amount of both milk and fruit for me and Devin, mixing the milk with tap water.

“Is Jeb coming back today?” Devin asked as we ate at the kitchen’s island counter.

“I don’t know,” I said absently; I was only half paying attention, my mind focuses on coming up for a solution to our nearly empty food supplies. More and more, traveling to the nearby town seemed like the only option…

“Hey,” came a voice from in front of me–startled, I looked up from my food to find Jacob standing there, his stunted black wings trailing out of a dark sweater.

“Hey,” I replied, smiling tentatively. “Breakfast.”

Jacob nodded, taking a portion of the food I had left out. Though I had taken over rationing, I trusted him to take the right amount–rather, I had to make sure he didn’t take too little.

“We’ll have to go to the town,” Jacob said as he sat down next to me.

I nodded, then said, “Jeb left money in his office.”

Jacob said nothing and we finished eating in silence. Devin took off for the living room, where he had left his practice books the previous night; I headed to the other bedrooms to wake James, Monique, and Angel.

James was just leaving his room as I entered the corridor that housed our bedrooms. “Jake’s in Jeb’s office,” I said as we passed, using Jeb’s name for Jacob. It felt right, with me being the leader in Jeb’s absence. James said nothing, brushing past me.

Now I was at Monique and Angel’s room; there weren’t enough rooms for all of us to have our own, and Jeb had placed them together. Now I wished I could ask him why.

Monique was already awake, sitting on her bed against the wall, when I entered the room. Wavy, rough-looking brown hair draped down her back, nearly matching her darker skin and similar brown eyes. She was the only one of us with long hair; her miniscule wings, able to lie nearly flat against her back, allowed her to. She was the only one of us who could pass as normal.

“Hi,” I said to her as I padded towards Angel’s bed, which was hidden by drapes–Angel liked being alone, for reasons I couldn’t understand.

“Hi. Do I have to get up?”

I managed a smile, turning back to Monique and crossing my arms like Jeb. “Yes. Breakfast’s in the kitchen; take half.”

Monique scowled, her eyes droopy. She got up, however, and I turned back to Angel’s bed as Monique left the room.

“Time to get up,” I said in a slightly raised voice as I pulled back the drapes surrounding the bed. Angel was curled up over a pillow, lying on her stomach–she was wearing a shirt, which bulged at the back in a worrying way. Feathers stuck out from both the bottom and neck of the shirt, and I frowned. Angel hated her wings, the only working pair among us, and frequently tried to hide or get rid of them, often with horrible results. I could still remember when she had tried to cut off the feathers with a pair of scissors she had stolen from Jeb.

“Mmm,” she said at last, straightening out on the bed.

“Angel, you know you’re not supposed to do that,” I said as she sat up slowly. “Take off the shirt.”

“No!” Angel said, anger breaking through her sleepy voice.

“You’re just going to hurt yourself,” I said, trying to sound stern. “Take it off.”

“You’re not Jeb,” Angel said feebly, but she nevertheless began scrabbling at the shirt. Maybe she was just remembering when I had accidentally broken her wrist.

“No, I’m not.” I really, really wished I was right now.

Maximum Ride Spork: Part Ten

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And we’re back to Angel! She’s being forced to run on a treadmill by an EVILLL scientist, who apparently likes hurting her.

Now, this is interesting; the narration simply tells us Angel can feel the scientist’s “eager anticipation” for hurting her. This seems to contradict previous instances of her mind reading, where she picked up direct thoughts–people rarely think in direct thoughts, but it’s often used in narration to make things simpler. But why use direct thoughts and “he/she could feel X”? It’s rather strange. Not to mention that apparently crazy mutant kids think in direct words, but a scientist just feels things.

Anyway, Angel gives up and falls unconscious, dreams of Max, then wakes up in a hospital bed. The scientist is raving about how long Angel lasted (three and a half hours), and another is discussing about how they want to “dissect this recombinant”. Why it was necessary to call Angel a recombinant, I don’t know, and the whole bit seems to just be trying to bash the reader over the head with “THESE GUYS ARE EVIL, SEE! HATE THEM!”

They take Angel back to her crate, and she falls asleep, ending the chapter.

The first page of the next chapter is wasted with a cheesy, silly bit with Max forgetting where she is and blah blah blah, it’s nearly the next day! …Which, by my calculations, means they were sleeping for over twelve hours. Maybe this could happen, I guess? I really don’t know how much sense it makes. Fang starts loading up a backpack with cans and crackers and trail mix (because you leave a bunch of food in your vacation home? Also, no can opener) as Max gets her shoes out from under the couch.

…She was tired enough to sleep for more than twelve hours, and yet she took off her shoes?

Weirdness aside, Max briefly protests Fang taking the food, but Fang ignores her and she just… gives in? I don’t know, because the narration doesn’t even acknowledge it. They leave the house and start flying, and the chapter ends.

Soon into the next chapter Max says that they had been asleep for ten hours (somehow she knows what time it was when they reached the house?), which means she hadn’t gotten hungry the previous day till about five PM, after flying for hours, and only having had breakfast at around seven.

Uh.

Somehow I feel as if I’m paying more attention to the timeline than JPatterson.

Some discussion and planning for when they get there, and the chapter ends.

The next chapter begins with some fluff, including a description of the land below as “Robin Hoodsy” because of the greens and browns. I guess Max earns some points for originality? Because I’ve never heard anything like that, nor does it even make sense to me.

Max focuses on some kids down below:

I glanced down again and refocused. Then I scowled. What had, at first glance, looked like just a bunch of boring, earthbound kids schlepping to school together now turned, upon closer examination, into what looked like several big kids surrounding a much smaller kid. Okay, maybe I’m paranoid, danger everywhere, but I could swear the bigger kids looked really threatening.

The bigger kids were boys. The smaller kid in the middle was a girl.

Coincidence? I think not.

(Note: I originally forgot to cite the page number here, and I did not catch it until I had a different copy of the book. Thus, I don’t want to be confusing and use the different pages numbers, so this mistake will be left in.) Um. Okay. Sexism aside, Max decides to go down and help the girl, because those boys are just so threatening! Fang protests a bit, but Max pretty much ignores him and tells him and Nudge to meet her at Lake Mead. Because they can oh-so-easily find each other at this huge lake. Aaand, the chapter ends.