A couple years ago, along with another book I got this little booklet of the first few chapters of James Patterson‘s Witch and Wizard. By that point, I already didn’t care much for James Patterson, and my thoughts of Witch and Wizard was pretty much “why are these kids so snarky?”
Now, it makes me feel kind of nauseated.
That’s not because it’s Just That Bad, really, because it isn’t: there’s just an indescribable quality to the writing of this book that I loath. However, because I figured “hey, entertainment value!” I’ve decided to spork the booklet, writing it out in its entirety. (I think this should be fine under fair use, as it’s only the beginning of the book that anyone could read in a bookstore.)
Now, as it happens, this book was “co-written” by Gabrielle Charbonnet, which as far as I know means Gabrielle wrote the first draft and James Patterson took over from there. Since this means James Patterson made the finished product, and his is the name bigger than the book’s title and it is billed as one of his books, I will be directing all criticism at him exclusively.
So, without further ado, the first seven chapters of James Patterson’s Witch and Wizard.
Prologue: You’re not in Kansas Any More
Gah, even our prologues have titles now?
Wisty [This is to indicate that the chapter is from the character Wisty’s perspective; the other character is Whit.]
It’s overwhelming. A city’s worth of angry faces staring at me like I’m a wicked criminal–which, I promise you, I’m not.
So only two sentences in and we’re already treated to some of JPatterson’s signature overuse of italics. Guh.
The stadium is filled to capacity–past capacity.
Using dashes in two consecutive sentences is rather repetitive, and makes for boring reading. If I had written this, I probably would have caught it while I was writing. Here, it’s in the published version.
By the way, is an overcrowded stadium really a city’s worth of people?
People are standing in the aisles, the stairwells, on the concrete ramparts, and a few extra thousand are camped out on the playing field. There are no football teams here today. They wouldn’t be able to get out of the locker-room tunnels if they tried.
I feel like the last two sentence here are unnecessary and redundant, but maybe that’s just me?
This total abomination is being broadcast on TV and the Internet too. All the useless magazines are here, and the useless newspapers. Yep, I see cameramen in elevated roosts at intervals around the stadium.
Hi, “yep!” May I ask what you’re doing in that sentence?
There’s even one of those remote-controlled cameras that runs around on wires above the field. There it is–hovering just in front of the stage, bobbing slightly in the breeze.
So there are undoubtedly millions more eyes watching than I can see. But it’s the ones here in the stadium that are breaking my heart. To be confronted with tens, maybe even hundreds of thousands, of curious, uncaring, or at least indifferent faces… talk about frightening.
So… people are crowded into the stadium, but a bunch of them don’t care at all about what’s going on? Eh?
And there are no moist eyes, never mind tears.
No words of protest.
No stomping feet.
No fists raised in solidarity.
No inkling that anybody’s even thinking of surging forward, breaking through the security cordon, and carrying my family to safety.
Clearly, this is not a good day for us Allgoods.
In fact, as the countdown ticker flashes on the giant video screens at either end of the stadium, it’s looking like this will be our last day.
It’s a point driven home by the very tall, bald man up in the tower they’ve erected midfield–he looks like a cross between a Supreme Court chief justice and Ming the Merciless. I know who he is. I’ve actually met him. He’s The One Who Is The One.
Stupid name and rampant capitalization aside, how does a man drive home the point that this family will die?
Directly behind his Oneness is a huge N.O. banner–THE NEW ORDER.
And then the crowd begins to chant, almost sing, “The One Who Is The One! The One Who Is The One!”
I’m sorry, but I just can’t imagine anyone seriously chanting something like that. I mean, come on.
Imperiously, The One raises his hand, and his hooded lackeys on the stage push us forward, at least as far as the ropes around our necks will allow.
I see my brother, Whit, handsome and brave, looking down at the platform mechanism.
Calculating if there’s any way to jam it, some means of keeping it from unlatching and dropping us to our neck-snapping deaths. Wondering if there’s any last minute way out of this.
So first, how the heck does our narrator know what her brother is thinking?
Then, second, really? In an apparently modern-day world (judging by the mention of Internet), a family is being hanged to death and, according to our narrator, nobody is protesting? JPatterson, you’re not Lemony Snicket, you can’t write a world in which everyone is idiotic enough to act like that. So stop, please.
I see my mother crying quietly. Not for herself, of course, but for Whit and me.
The omniscient first person narrator strikes again!
I see my father, his tall frame stooped with resignation, smiling at me and my brother–trying to keep out spirits up, reminding us that there’s no point in being miserable in our last moments on this planet.
Should I even continue pointing it out?
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m supposed to be providing an introduction here, not the deaths of our public execution.
So let’s go back a bit….
Really. You wrote out a good two pages of description of all this, then catch yourself, then don’t bother to delete your horrible introduction? Really?
Part One: No Crime, Just Punishment.
[This is laid out to look like a flyer.]
By order of the new order, and the Great Wind–The One Who Is The One–let it be known that as of now, this moment, or twelve o’clock midnight, whichever should arrive first, following the swift triumph of the order of the ones who protect, who have obliterated the blind and dumb forces of passivity and complacency plaguing this world, all citizens must, shall, and will abide by these three orders for order:
1. All behaviors NOT in keeping with N.O. law, logic, order, and science (including but not limited to theology, philosophy, and IN PARTICULAR the creative and dark arts, et cetera) are hereby ABOLISHED.
2. ALL persons under eighteen years of age will be evaluated for ORDERLINESS and MUST COMPLY with the prescribed corrective actions.
3. The One Who Is THE ONE grants, appoints, decides, seizes, and executes at will. All NOT complying shall be SEIZED and/or EXECUTED.
—As declared to The One Who Writes Decrees by THE ONE WHO IS THE ONE
Seriously, what the heck?
Sometimes you wake up and the world is just plain different.
Sure, that happens to me sometimes.
The noise of a circling helicopter
Okay, stop right there. How do you know it’s circling, Whit?
is what made me open my eyes. A cold, blue-white forced its way through the blinds and flooded the living room. Almost like it was day.
But it wasn’t.
So you were sleeping in the living room? That’s an… interesting choice.
I peered at the clock on the DVD player through blurry eyes: 2:10 a.m.
I became aware of a steady drub, drub, drub-like the sound of a heavy heartbeat. Throbbing. Pressing in. Getting closer.
What’s going on?
I staggered to the window, forcing my body back to life after two hours of being passed out on the sofa, and peeked through the slats.
And then I stepped back and rubbed my eyes. Hard.
Because there’s no way I had seen what I’d seen. And there was no way I had heard what I’d heard.
You… rubbed your eyes to help with your hearing?
Was it really the steady, relentless footfall of hundreds of soldiers? Marching on my street in perfect unison?
I’m gonna say no because that seems like a rather pointless thing to do.
The road wasn’t close enough to the center of town to be on any holiday parade routes, much less to have armed men in combat fatigues coursing down it in the dead of night.
I shook my head and bounced up and down a few times, kind of like I do in my warm-ups.
There are supposed armed men outside the house. I don’t care about warm-ups, and mentioning does nothing but to ruin the tension. Not that JPatterson’s prose contains any tension anyway.
Wake up, Whit. I slapped myself for good measure. And then I looked again.
There they were. Soldiers marching down our street.
Italics are either used for thought or emphasis. I don’t see how the last two sentences here are either.
Hundreds of them as clear as day, made visible by a half-dozen truck-mounted spotlights.
Just one thought was running laps inside my head: This can’t be happening. This can’t be happening. This can’t be happening.
Expressions like “running laps inside my head” also serve to kill tension.
Then I remembered the elections, the new government, the ravings of my parents about the trouble the country was in, the special broadcasts on TV, the political petitions my classmates were circulating online, the heated debates between teachers at school. None of it meant anything to me until that second.
Least. Attentive. Student. Ever.
And before I could piece it all together, the vanguard of the formation stopped in front of my house.
So you make the connection… but don’t piece it together? I don’t understand.
Also, I find it dubious that there would be all of these people in such a formation to come to a single house. At the very least they’d be more stealthy about it.
Almost faster than I could comprehend, two armed squads detached themselves from the phalanx and sprinted across the lawn like commandos, one running around the back of the house, the other taking position in front.
Because you can totally see all that from a single window without being seen in turn. (And they can totally move that fast.)
I jumped away from the window. I could tell they weren’t here to protect me and my family. I had to warn Mom, Dad, Wisty–
But just as I started to yell, the front door was knocked off its hinges.
“But” means there’s contradiction. Please tell me how the second paragraph’s sentence contradicts the previous one’s.
Also, as can easily be discerned by the poor rationalization for the prologue’s existence, it was for dramatic effect to “hook” the reader. And then… we go right from a hook to a dramatic opening, rendering the prologue completely useless and making this rather boring as I know how it’s going to turn out (and I’ve already figured out pretty much what’s going on). So, that’s a complete fail.
It’s quite hideous to get kidnapped in the dead of night, right inside your own home.
Funny language like this doesn’t work when you don’t use it all the time.
It went something like this.
I woke to the chaotic crashing of overturning furniture, quickly followed by the sounds of shattering glass, possibly some of Mom’s china.
I’ll say it a third time: unnecessary details ruin tension. I don’t care about china, I care about why things are crashing around.
Oh God, Whit, I thought, shaking my head sleepily. My older brother had grown four inches and gained thirty pounds of muscle in the past year. Which made him the biggest and fastest quarterback around, and, I must say, the most intimidating player on our regional high school’s football team.
Also, the last two sentences should be one sentence. It flows better, and I think is grammatically preferable.
Off the playing field, though, Whit could be about as clumsy as your average bear–if your average bear were hopped-up on a case of Red Bull and full of himself because he could bench-press 275 and every girl in school thought he was the hunk of hunks.
Yay for informed character traits! That’s totally good writing! Also, *yawn*
I rolled over and pulled my pillow around my head. Even before the drinking started, Whit couldn’t walk trough our house without knocking over. Total bull-in-a-china-shop syndrome.
Funnily enough, the Mythbusters proved that bulls are rather mindful of their surroundings, and likely would not break china in a china shop.
But that wasn’t the real problem tonight, I knew.
Because three months ago, his girlfriend, Celia,
Wait, so we have Whit and Wisty Allgood, as well as Celia? Very… interesting collection of names there.
had literally vanished without a trace.
I really hate it when people use literally when they don’t mean literally.
And by now everyone was thinking she probably would never come back. Her parents were totally messed up about it, and so was Whit. To be honest, so was I. Celia was–is–very pretty, smart, not conceited at all. She’s this totally cool girl, even though she has money. Celia’s father owns the luxury-car dealership in town and her mom is a former beauty queen. I couldn’t believe something like that would happen to someone like Celia.
And by this point I’m extremely bored because none of this is relevant. Tell us this when Celia is important, which come on, we all know she will be. (Also I’m not sure how his girlfriend having disappeared is “the real problem” when no problem was brought up in the first place.)
I heard my parents’ bedroom door open and snuggled back down in to my cozy, flannel-sheeted bed.
So, random aside, but whatever happened to Wisty yelling? As far as I can tell we’re now past that point, and last I checked one can still yell when one’s front door has been knocked down.
Next came Dad’s booming voice, and he was angry as I’ve ever heard him.
“This can’t be happening! You have no right to be here. Leave our house now!”
Realistic dialogue -1.
I bolted upright, wide awake. Then came more crashing sounds, and I thought I heard someone moan in pain. Had Whit fallen and cracked his head? Had my dad been hurt?
Jeez, Louise, I thought, scrambling out of bed.
You know, the narrative didn’t use the “I thought” tag before, and I actually liked it. Here, the tag is just completely useless.
“I’m coming, Dad! Are you all right? Dad?”
Realistic dialogue -2.
And then the nightmare to start a lifetime of nightmares truly began.
I gasped as my bedroom door crashed open. Two hulking men in dark-gray uniforms
I have no idea what to imagine when I hear the word “uniforms.” I mean, at least give us a context–for all I know, they’re clowns and clown clothing is their uniform! (Also, is that hyphen really necessary?)
burst into my room, glaring at me as if I were a fugitive terrorist-cell operative.
A quick Google search finds that this hyphen is definitely unnecessary.
“It’s her! Wisteria Allgood!” one said, and a light bright enough to illuminate an airplane hangar obliterated the darkness.
So many unnecessary details and words and phrases and guk!
I tried to shield my eyes as my heart kicked into overdrive. “Who are you?!” I asked. “What are you doing in my freaking bedroom?”
This is one of those snarky bits that I mentioned.
More of JPatterson’s short chapters, I see.
“Be extremely careful with her!” one of the humongous men cautioned. They looked like Special Forces operatives with giant white numbers on their uniforms. “You know she can–“
I can’t tell if it means they had Special Forces-esque uniforms, only with giant white numbers, that they looked like Special Forces that had giant white numbers (which seems unlikely, as it’s an oddly specific thing to resemble), or if it’s just an overall sentence fail.
Plus, I have no idea what these Special Forces look like.
The other nodded, glancing around my room nervously. “You!” he snapped harshly. “Come with us! We’re from the New Order. Move one step out of line, and we will punish you severely!”
Realistic dialogue -1,000.
Also, note the poor use of adverbs. If you remove the dialogue tag completely, it comes across as exactly how it’s described–thus making the tag completely unnecessary. At the very least, leave out the adverb.
I stared at him, my head spinning. The New Order? These weren’t ordinary policemen or EMS personnel.
“Um–I–I–,” I stammered. “I need to put on some clothes. Can I… can I have a little privacy?”
“Shut up!” the first commando guy barked. “Grab her! And protect yourself. She’s dangerous–all of them are.”
“No! Stop! Don’t you dare!” I screamed. “Dad! Mom! Whit!”
Then it hit me like a runaway tractor trailer on ice. This was what had happened to Celia, wasn’t it?
Yeah, because disappearing completely is exactly like having loud armymen breaking into your house. Also note the unnecessary simile.
Oh God! Cold sweat beaded on the back of my neck. I need to get out of here, I thought desperately. Somehow, some way.
I need to disappear.
How do you think a specific sentence desperately? And how is disappearing at all going to help?
The seriously muscle-bound men in gray suddenly froze, their blocklike heads whipping back and forth like puppets on strings.
So all kinds of unnecessary hyphens, and then “blocklike,” which could actually use one, doesn’t get one. Eh?
“Where is she? She’s gone! Vanished! Where’d she go?” one said, his voice hoarse and panicky.
This is not how people talk.
They shone flashlights around the room.
I feel like “shined” would be a more natural word here.
One of them dropped to his knees and searched under my bed; the other rushed over to look in my closet.
Where’d I go? Were these guys totally insane? I was right there. What was going on?
Maybe they were trying to trick me into running for it so they had an excuse to use force.
Because a person in total panic from having men invade her house would definitely think of something like that in such clear terms.
Or maybe they were escapees from an asylum who had come to get me the way they’d come to get poor Celia–
“Wisty!” My mom’s anxious shout from the hallway pierced the fog that had invaded my brain. “Run away, sweetheart!”
The use of the word “sweetheart” makes me read this in a kindly old grandmother tone, which makes the whole thing come off as kind of silly. Like, “oh, dearie, it looks like those bad men have come to chase after you! Run away, sweetheart!”
“Mom!” I shrieked. The two guys blinked and stepped back in surprise.
“There she is! Grab her! She’s right there! Quick, before she disappears again!”
Because someone has the time to say all that before these supposedly trained professionals would grab her?
Big klutzy hands
Okay, so maybe they aren’t trained?
grabbed my arms and legs, then my head. “Let me go!” I screamed, kicking and struggling. “Let. Me. Go.”
But their grip was like steel as they dragged me down the hall to the family room and dumped me on the floor like a sack of trash.
I quickly scrambled to my feet, more floodlights whiting out my vision. Then I heard Whit shouting as he was thrown onto the living room floor next to me.
That’s right, throw the vanishing girl in the middle of the room. That’s totally a smart choice.
“Whit, what’s going on? Who are these… monsters?”
This dialogue is horrible!
“Wisty!” he gasped, coherently enough. “You okay?”
“No.” I almost cried, but I couldn’t, wouldn’t, absolutely refused, to let them see me wuss out.
Every awful true-crime movie I’d ever seen flashed through my head, and my stomach heaved. I nestled close to my brother, who took my hand in his and squeezed.
Suddenly the floodlights turned off, leaving us blinking and shaking.
“Mom?” Whit shouted. “Dad?” If my brother hadn’t been stone-cold sober already, he sure was now.
I gasped. My parents were standing there,
Where is “there”?
still in their rumpled pajamas, but held from behind like they were dangerous criminals. Sure, we lived on the wrong side of the tracks, but no one in our family had ever been in trouble before.
Not that I knew of anyway.
So much melodrama.
One of the most terrifying things in the world you can never hope to see is your parents, wide-eyed, helpless, and truly scared out of their wits.
My parents. I thought they could protect us from anything. They were different from other parents… so smart, gentle, accepting, knowing… and I could tell at this moment that they knew something Whit and I didn’t.
Wow, our narrator sure is observant.
They know what is going on. And they’re terrified of it, whatever it is.
“Mom…?” I asked, staring hard into her eyes, trying to get any message I could, any signal about what I should do now.
As I looked at Mom, I had a flash, a collage of memories. She and Dad saying stuff like “You and Whit are special, honey. Really special.
“Honey, I hate to tell you this, but all those years that we said ‘special’ we meant ‘stupid.'”
Sometimes people are afraid of those who are different. Being afraid makes them angry and unreasonable.” But all parents thought their kids were special, right? “I mean, you’re really special, Wisty,” Mom had said once, taking my chin in her palm. “Pay attention, dear.”
Pay attention to what?
Then three more figures stepped forward from the shadows. Two of them had guns on their belts. This was really getting out of hand. Guns? Soldiers? In our house? In a free country? In the middle of the night? A school night, even.
I see the trend from Maximum Ride of diffusing every dramatic moment with a quip is still evident here.
“Wisteria Allgood?” As they moved into the light, I saw two men and…
Byron was a kid from my high school, a year older than I, a year younger than Whit.
Without knowing Whit’s and Wisty’s ages, this information means nothing to me.
As far as I knew, we both hated his guts. Everyone did.
So the kid who everyone hates is along with this evil government thing, which I would assume means everyone hates the new government which I assume was instilled through majority vote?
“What are you doing here, Swain?” Whit snarled. “Get out of our house.”
Byron. It was like his parents knew he’d turn out to be a snot, so they’d named him appropriately.
The funny thing is, the author of a novel takes the place of the parents, and thus it was the author who named this character, which means the author named him appropriately. So this is essentially JPatterson pointing out his own poor writing.
*Sigh* I really wish someone would have a villain named Mindy or Kyle or something.
“Make me,” Byron said to Whit,
Because I totally can’t tell who he’s talking to.
then he gave a smarmy, oily smile, vividly bringing to life all the times I’d seen him in school and thought, What a total butt. He had slicked-back brown hair, perfectly combed, and cold hazel eyes. Like an iguana’s.
Could we get a plain, kind-looking villain while we’re at it?
So this jerk extraordinaire was flanked by two commandos in dark uniforms, shiny black boots that came above their knees, and metal helmets. The entire world was turning upside down, with me in my ridiculous pink kitty jammies.
Pink kitties sound positively adorable and, if it were up to me, we’d all be wearing clothing with adorable things when the world goes to horribleness. Wouldn’t that make everything so much better?
“What are you doing here?” I echoed Whit.
“Wisteria Allgood,” Byron monotoned like a bailiff,
There are no multiple ways to speak in monotone. Monotone is monotone. Adding a simile to monotone is like saying “it was brown, like brown.” Which is stupid.
and pulled out an actual scroll of official-looking paper.
What does official-looking paper look like?
“The New Order is taking you into custody until your trial. You are hereby accused of being a witch,
My jaw dropped. “A witch? are you nuts?” I shrieked.
I feel like the persecution of witches would’ve been a pretty big deal for this new government, thus meaning our narrator would’ve heard of this by now. (Then again, least attentive student ever who nevertheless knows when her parents know something.)
Also, why the heck is Byron, who I assume is a teenager, in charge of this arrest?
The two goons in gray marched toward me. Instinctively I held up both my hands. Amazingly the New Order soldiers stopped in their tracks, and I felt a surge of strength–if only for a moment.
Now, here I’d like something further on how Narrator held up her hands–was it in a defensive way, or a “I give up” kind of way? There’s a big difference.
“Did we just go back in time?” I squealed. “Last I looked this was the twenty-first century, not the seventeenth!”
I narrowed my eyes. Another glance at that smarmy Byron Swain in his shiny boots spurred me on further. “You can’t just come in here, grabbing us–”
Whitford? A quick Google search finds that Whitford seems to only be a surname. So why the character’s parents would name him Whitford… oh yeah, ’cause they have to be Whit and Wisty, Wizard and Witch. Gag.
Byron Swain rudely interrupted,
How does one interrupt politely?
continuing to read in an official tone from his scroll,
Wait, so is it a monotone or an official tone?
“you are hereby accused of being a Wizard. You will be held in custody until your trial.”
Why did he switch up the order? For Wisty it was custody, then Witch, not Witch, then custody.
He smirked tauntingly at Whit, even though under normal circumstances my brother could have picked him up and wrung his neck like a chicken’s.
Key word being normal circumstances. These are obviously not normal circumstances, so why would this be an “even though”?
I guess confidence isn’t hard to come by when you have armed soldiers at your beck and call.
I wasn’t under the impression that Byron had the soldiers under his command.
“Wisty is right. This is utterly crazy!” my brother snapped. His face was flushed, his blue eyes shining with anger.
It’s my understanding that Whit and Wisty are standing next to each other, so how does Wisty see this?
“There’s no such thing as witches or wizards! Fairy tales are a load of crap. What do you think you are, you creepy little weasel? A character from Gary Blotter and the Guild of Rejects?”
Our hero, ladies and gentlemen: he can conjure snark even in the most dire of situations!
My parents looked horrified–but not actually surprised.
I’m not sure how one could spot the difference.
Really? That’s the best you can come up with, WTH?
I remembered slightly odd lessons my folks had given us throughout our childhood: about plants and herbs, and the weather–always the weather–and how to concentrate, how to focus.
If it’s always the weather, how are there also plants and herbs?
They also taught us a lot about artists we’d never study at school too, like Wiccan Trollack, De Glooming, and Frieda Halo.
Yeah, and you never made the witch connection? Even when a new government was coming about that persecutes witches?
As I got older, I guess I thought my parents were maybe just being a little hippie-dippy or something. But I never really questioned this stuff. Was it all somehow related to tonight?
No, vaguely witch-like lessons you got from your parents totally aren’t related to being arrested for being a witch!
Byron looked at Whit calmly. “According to the New Order Code, you may each take one possession from the house.
Why? I mean, why? Why would a rule like that ever exist?
I don’t approve, but that’s the letter of the law, and I will abide by it, of course.”
Under the watchful eye of the gray-garbed soldiers, Mom quickly moved to the bookshelf. She hesitated a moment, glancing at Dad.
I thought that it was Whit and Wisty who were being allowed items, not their mom.
He nodded, and then she grabbed an old drumstick that had sat on the shelf for as long as I could remember. Family legend has it that my wild-man grandfather, back in the day, actually leaped onstage at a Groaning Bones concert and took it from the drummer. Mom held it out to me.
“Please,” she said with a sniffle, “just take it, Wisteria. Take the drumstick. I love you so much, sweetheart.”
Take it, because inflection on that word totally makes sense. Also, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that this drumstick is an item of magical significance, and as such the rule of taking one item only exists for the characters to get their magic relics.
Oh, convenient plot devices, how I abhor you.
Then my father reached for an unlabeled book I’d never seen before–a journal or something–on the shelf next to his reading chair. He thrust it into Whit’s hands. “I love you, Whit.”
Yeah, just let your prisoner take an unknown book that could contain all kinds of information.
A drumstick and an old book? How about a drum to go with that stick? Couldn’t they give us a family heirloom or something vaguely personal to cheer us up? Or maybe Whit’s mammoth stash of nonperishable junk food for a handy-dandy sugar rush?
I can’t tell if that last one is supposed to be a joke or serious, but either way it’s rather stupid.
Not one part of this
waking nightmare made[book makes] any sense.
Byron snatched the tattered old book from Whit and flipped through it.
“It’s blank,” he said, surprised.
“Yeah, like your social calendar,” said Whit. The guy can be funny, I admit, but his timing sometimes leaves something to be desired.
Such as any ounce of sense.
Byron slammed the book against Whit’s face, snapping his head sideways as if it were on a swivel.
I don’t think heads work that way.
Whit’s eyes bulged and he sprang toward Byron, only to have the soldiers body-block him.
Byron stood behind the bigger men, smiling wickedly. “Take them to the van,” Byron said, and the soldiers grabbed me again.
“No! Mom! Dad! Help!” I shrieked and tried to pull away, but it was like wriggling in a steel trap.
I have no idea what wriggling in a steel trap would be like, as “trap” is an incredibly vague word and I’ve never been in a steel trap. Bad, useless simile is useless and bad.
Rock-hard arms dragged me toward the door. I managed to twist my neck around for one last look back at my parents, searing my memory with the horror on their faces, the tears in their eyes.
And right then I felt this whooshing sensation, as if a stiff, hot wind were blowing up against me. In an instant, blood rushed to my head, my cheeks flooded with heat, and sweat seemed to leap from my skin and sizzle. There was a buzzing all around me, and then…
You won’t believe me, but it’s true. I swear.
Spit it out!
I saw–and felt–foot-long flames burst out of every pore in my body.
I heard scared-silly screams everywhere, even from the commandos, as I stood gaping at the orange-yellow tongues of flame shooting off me.
If you think that’s weird, listen to this: after that first moment, I didn’t feel the least bit hot. And when I looked at my hands, they were still skin-colored, not red or blackened.
It was… far-out, actually.
I didn’t realize people still used that term, “far out.” Didn’t it die in the seventies or something?
Suddenly one of the soldiers swung Mom’s porcelain vase at me. I was drenched–and the flames were gone.
Byron Swain’s cronies were stamping out the drapes and some smoldering on the carpet where the soldier’s had dropped me.
But then Byron himself–who’d apparently fled the house during my immolation–reappeared in the doorway, his face faintly green. He pointed a spindly, shaking finger at me. “See?! See?! See?!” he shouted hoarsely. “Lock her up! Shoot her if you have to. Whatever it takes!”
Could this guy get any more cartoonish?
I was suddenly overcome by this horrible, stomach-twisting feeling that this night had been inevitable–that it was always meant to be a part of my life story.
But I had no idea why I thought that, or what it meant exactly.
Yeah, neither do I.
And it’s there that my preview copy thingy ends.
You know, I have tentative plans to review James Patterson’s other “YA” series, the Dangerous Days of Daniel X, but I absolutely refuse to go through this book. I just can’t.