One of those recurring themes I’m getting pretty sick of seeing crop up in media lately is the characters and lost family. It comes in lots of forms but the standard everyone seems to tap into the most is children and their real parents. Allow me to use an example.
Spoiler Alert for the Movie Hanna. Skip to Spoiler alert END to avoid.
In the movie, Hanna has grown up in the woods under the instruction of her father. They have no modern conveniences, they hunt for their food and he’s training her to be a badass CIA agent.
The part that grated on me was when Hanna finds out she was part of a genetic engineering project to make supersoldiers and that her “dad” was really just a agent assigned to the project. When the project was scrapped the rest of the kids were destroyed but her “dad” had a crisis of conscience and tried to hide Hanna and her biological mom. She snaps when she finds out and runs off, angry that she’s been lied to.
However, she has no reason to be angry. She grew up knowing nothing besides living with a man she called father. As far as she’s aware, it’s perfectly normal to grow up under the care of an adult not related to you.
Spoiler Alert END.
Max and her friends have no reason to be so attached to their parents. They spent their formative years in a lab and then their later years with a single adult and then all by themselves. The only place they would have learned about parents would be from pop culture.
I really hate how these kids know the exact layout of everywhere. I don’t mind that they know what direction they’re going or if they never feel lost. That’s plausible enough, especially considering they can fly. I mean more that they know street names and local landmarks like they’ve been living there all their lives.
A few more blocks, and we turned left, walking toward the East River. Inside me, the tension mounted.
My breath was coming in short huffs. Every step was bringing us closer to what could be the Institute: the
place where the secrets of our lives might be revealed, all our questions answered.
How do you know it’s called the East River? Did you get on a tour bus when you showed up, Max? ‘For those of you new to New York(pauses for chuckling) you may notice people refer to certain places you’re not familiar with. So in order to break you into the New Yorker mindset faster we’ll be visiting all the places that other New Yorkers go and know so we can faster acclimate you to our culture, thus ensuring conformity. Now on our left you’ll see Famous Ray’s Original Pizza, founded in…’
Then Max says she’s not even sure if she wants her questions answered. What if her parents are bad people who gave her away on purpose. Uh, newsflash Max. They did. I don’t think the “scientists” were sneaking in to the offices of obestricians and injecting pregnant women with magic mutant serum. ‘Hello, madam.’ ‘Uh, hi. Who are you?’ ‘Why, I’m your Doctor…Mister Smith.’ ‘No, my doctor is about a foot taller and he doesn’t wear Axe body spray.’ ‘Nonsnese, it’s me. I just took the lifts out of my shoes and changed my cologne. Now let me inject your uterus with this suspicious syringe and I’ll follow up with you in a year. Also, next time you see me I’ll be taller again and will pretend not to know this ever happened.’
They probably had consent to do their “experiments” which means they knew what was going on. Ergo, your parents gave you up to an out of work theater troupe armed with medical waste and bird DNA suspecting that they were up to something. That means that if they don’t hate you, they certainly don’t care.
And stop whining about your parents, Max. I just established that you have no reason whatsoever to care about who your parents are. As far as you know, growing up without them is perfectly normal and kids living with their parents is simply something that happens on TV and are is no more real than the Terminator, Middle Earth or Newt Gingrich. But Jimmy says they care and so they do.
Nudge idly wonder if the “institute” will be like the school and if they’ll have to break in. And she babbles a bit before Iggy shuts her up. Thus endearing him to the audience far more than anyone else. Max pats Nudge on the arm and says she knows she’s worried.
Her sweet face shut down, and I put my arm around her shoulders briefly. “I know you’re worried,” I said softly. “I am too.”
Right, what if she’s not worried and she simply lacks a censor between her thoughts and her mouth? Maybe she only babbles when she’s excited? Or maybe she’s afraid because she can see the guy with the sniper rifle sitting on the roof across from her. But they find the building without incident.
It was the building from the drawing in my brain.
And if you don’t think that’s a weird sentence, maybe you should reread it.
Or maybe you should articulate your thoughts better, retard. So Max asks if they’re ready and everyone says yes. Iggy though, intent on becoming of of my favorite characters, gives her a sarcastic salute and shouts ‘aye, captain’. “I so wished he could see me roll my eyes at him.” Is Max’s only thought because how dare that blind kid’s disability get in her way to show disdain. Stupid cripple kid, ruining everything.
So they go inside and look at the directory. Surprise, surprise there’s no listing for the Institute of Higher Learning. Max bothers the receptionist, who gets angry because she’s evil. Then Max asks if there’s a basement and the receptionist says no. And then something happens to her computer.
There’s a pot of gold beneath every rainbow, filled her laptop screen in big red letters. The message broke up into smaller letters that then scrolled across the screen over and over, filling it.
Right, that makes perfect sense. Why can’t the “voice” just talk to her directly rather than interfering with someone’s job? Anyway, this draws the attention of the security guard. Being as Max and them love attention, they start running the moment they see someone in uniform even if they don’t have authority. Max then jams a pen in the door on the way out and they run away.
The next chapter has Max complaining about her lungs burning and how tired she is. So they slow down and note that there’s no one chasing after them. Then Gasman has a tantrum.
With no warning, the Gasman turned and punched a mailbox. “This sucks!” he yelled. “Nothing ever goes right! We get hassled everywhere! Max’s head is busted, Angel lost Celeste, we’re all hungry—I hate this! I hate everything!”
To be fair, if you guys stopped being so suspicious you probably wouldn’t get chased all the time. At least part of the blame has to lay at the feet of your crippling antisocial behaviors. Max asks Gasman what she can do to make him feel better. He says he just wants to sit down somewhere and eat.
“Well, I just want—I just want to, like, sit down somewhere and eat a lot of food. Not just get food while we’re walking. I want to sit down and rest and eat.”
I looked solemnly into his eyes. “I think that can be arranged.”
And that’s the end of the chapter. Great job Jimmy. You’ve managed to find yet another diversion for the protagonists to attend instead of getting down to business. And to top it all, you completely wasted a chapter, even by your own standards. You could have just written this part off as part of the last chapter and then given your readers a real one. I’d figure you’d at least not jerk your fans around.