And we are now onto part 5, entitled, “The Voice–Make that My Voice.”
So, into the chapter proper and the computer screen fades to green, then displays a greeting to Max, then she hears a voice, then the screen goes crazy and Max sees the words “Institute for Higher Living,” and then it goes blank.
So the kid with the computer tries to “track this down,” and…
Fang and I watched, but a couple minutes later the geek stopped, flicking his computer in frustration. He looked at us with narrowed eyes, taking in everything: the drying blood on my chin, the other kids sleeping near us. (pg 271)
So apparently dried blood and other kids counts for everything nowadays.
And then they do some talking with the kid about random stuff, and according to Max the kid is schizophrenic. How does she know this?
He shrugged. “Wouldn’t take my Thorazine. They said, no Thorazine, no school.”
Okay, I’d been around wack-job scientists enough to pick up on some stuff. Like the fact that Thorazine is what they give schizophrenics. (pg 272)
I feel like there’s a difference between scientists who handle bird kids and doctors that prescribe medication. But that’s just me.
So then the kid goes on to display what I assume to be stereotypical schizophrenic behavior (c’mon, JPatterson, a minor-ish theme of your books is the kids who are different wanting to be accepted, and you pull a “he’s crazy so he can act crazy”?) and runs away, blah blah blah chapter end.
We get a whole paragraph wasted on some simile that Max makes then deconstructs, and then they all go back above ground:
“It’s so bright,” the Gasman said, shielding his eyes. Then, “Is that honey-roasted peanuts?”
Their incredible scent was impossible to resist. You could have an Eraser selling those peanuts, and we’d probably still go. I focused my eyes on the vendor. No. Not an Eraser.(pg 276)
You know your evil minions have a problem when our heroes can discern whether or not someone is a minion with ease.
But anyway, since the Institute for Higher Living is just obviously the Institute they were looking for, Max goes for a phonebook, then when it’s missing uses the… I actually don’t know the term for it, because I am unfamiliar with the system. (But of course Max knows it, because of course.) Anyway, she goes through the whole automated information thingy, but there’s no Institute for Higher Living in New York City so oh no!
I mean, it’s not like they were just recently in a library with a computer that could search for an Institute of Higher Living or anything. Except you know.
Then we get a great example of poor writing:
In an electronics store, a short-circuit camera was displaying passersby on a handful of TV screens. Automatically, we ducked our heads and turned away, instinctively paranoid about anyone having our images. (pg 277)
Arguably the first rule of writing is “show, don’t tell.” That means to, well, show, not tell. JPatterson already broke this rule by telling us that the flock are paranoid and stuff, but here is further wrongness. See, it can be discerned why they ducked their heads and all by the fact that 1) it’s one of few logical conclusions, and 2) we already know the flock are paranoid. By deleting the second half of the sentence (and preferably “Automatically” as well), it becomes a much stronger sequence of events. More punchy, more telling of our characters, more natural. I mean, look at this:
In an electronics stores, a short-circuit camera was displaying passersby on a handful of TV screens.
We ducked our heads and turned away.
Tell me how that’s not a better two sentences.
But since JPatterson is lazy and writes as if his audience are idiots, we get what’s in the book.
Then a good morning greeting to Max displays on the TV screens, and the voice in her head speaks to her. And apparently Max can tell it’s the same voice from before, but also doesn’t know if it’s male or female, young or old, etc. Essentially, it’s devoid of defining characteristics, but can also be recognized.
Brilliant writing, JPatterson.
I don’t know about the rest of you who have little voices, but something about mine made me feel completely compelled to listen to it. (pg 278)
So Max gets the flock to go to the Madison Avenue bus. And we also get told, once again, that the flock are low on money. But they can still afford honey-roasted nuts and all that, and the book never bothers to tell us how much they have, or even where they got it.
Blah blah blah, they get off the bus and toy store!
And because this book is a firm believer in gender stereotypes, the boys go off to Legos and the girls go for stuffed animals. I mean, it does mostly fit with the characters, but you know. (I actually don’t know, please tell me.) Anyway, Angel wants a little stuffed bear dressed as an angel, but Max cannot afford it and Angel snaps at Max! And you know that just so out of character that Max has to tell us that. Not like we could tell or anything. Then, Max wanders off to another section:
There were Magic 8 Balls, and when you shook them, an answer would float to the surface of a little window. I shook one. “Very likely” was its prediction. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to ask it a question. (pg 283)
I like this. It’s got a certain sensible humor to it that’s really enjoyable. Just thought I should point out that I don’t hate everything about this book.
And then a Ouija board magically moves and tells Max to save the world.
Anyone want to tell me how that works? Because I have a feeling this random telekinesis will never be mentioned again.
So, apparently it’s been just over a week since Angel got kidnapped. Math time!
According to Google Maps, it’d be about 2,500 miles to go from Death Valley to New York City. Putting just over a week at about a week, two days, and given that it took about three days to save Angel, let’s say that they were traveling for six days.
Now, saying that they were able to fly for, say, 8 hours a day (and I think that’s being generous), that’s 48 hours that they were flying.
That means they were traveling at about 52 miles per hour. Which, while believable (at least to me), seems to conflict with the whole “90 miles per hour” speed Max was able to get to earlier in the book. Saying that that was a higher-than-normal speed, let’s say 70 miles per hour is their average, and that’s the speed they actually traveled at. That’s 37 hours of total flight time. 37 hours out of 144. Discounting 10 hours per day for sleeping, plus 2 more for finding/eating food, and that’s 109 hours. Anyone want to tell me what the flock did with those extra 35 hours?
ANYWAY, turns out Angel mind-controlled a woman to buy her the bear and the chapter ends.