You know what would be funny? If Max and the rest were flying along and Angel got sucked into a jet engine. Even better if it caused the Hudson River crash. Sure Max would moan and complain until the end of time but it would strip the story of one of the most annoying characters.
See, Angel is what I like to call the Enigma Weapon of the story. It’s like the characters have a really powerful railgun, disguised as something innocuous, and in order to use it, they have to solve a puzzle first. So it’s no surprise when it goes off completely by accident.
A lot of writers use the EW as a way of evading the stigma of Deus Ex Machina. They give a protagonist “unreliable”, which means reliably working when the plot demands it, powers that activate to save them. Now, unlike a character that has powers but is still learning to use them, like in X-Men or the Wheel of Time, the EW is generally useless. They get dragged around like furniture until they do something stupid and force the main characters into danger which causes their powers to activate.
That way the writer can shout ‘See, see! It’s not by my hand that they’re rescued. It’s their innate ability! It’s nothing like a dues ex machina!’ Not only is it somewhat lazy, it makes the character unlikable because they’re basically the anchor that weighs everyone down.
Anywho, Max is flying up and over the city. She comments on Long Island and its relative size to Manhattan. It’s good thing that there are no traffic/police helicopters, low altitude aircraft, high-rise dwelling bird watchers or even any one laying on their back trying to get a tan in New York or else they would have been spotted by now.
I know, maybe in Jimmy’s universe, everyone is born with fused spines so they can’t look up or down. Max and them are actually just a test to see if humans can be made more flexible than a bit of rebar and that’s why the wolves really hate them. The back braces they have to wear most of the time mat their fur down.
After an hour and a half, we saw a long stretch of black beach with few lights, which meant few
people. Fang nodded at me, and we aimed downward, enjoying the heady rush of losing altitude. Roller
coasters had nothing on us.
Well, roller coasters do have the distinct advantage of not being totally unlikable. So they find some “underdeveloped” beach area and then find some boulders to camp by. Max passes out food and they eat, then do their stupid fist bump before laying down to sleep. Then the cousin of Magic Voice pops in again and tells Max that it’s time to learn.
Then I was pulled into unconsciousness as if getting dragged beneath a wave. Dimly, I heard bits of foreign languages that I didn’t understand, and the Voice said, This is on a need-to-know basis, Max. You need to know.
Wait, how do you know they’re foreign languages, Max? Why are there foreign languages playing in the background? If someone is transmitting this into Max’s head, you’d think they wouldn’t waste the bandwidth on useless things. Not only is it wasteful but it would distract Max form the things she needs to know.
Oh, and just in case you forgot, Max and them grew up in a lab. Did I mention that they grew up in a lab? Yeah, they grew up in a lab and stuff. You could tell it was a lab because there were people wearing white coats and carrying test tubes. Or was that a bunch of arctic explorers doing impromptu chemistry exams?
The ocean. Another new and incredible experience. We’d grown up in lab cages until four years ago, when Jeb had stolen us. Then we’d been in hiding, avoiding new experiences at all costs.
Yes, we get it Jimmy. They were deprived. But not so deprived that they can’t make pop culture references like a sixty year old man. Jeb had some standards and he’d be damned if he was going to let those kids out into the world without knowing about the Lone Ranger or the Andy Griffith show.
It’s great to see Max really buckling down and working on her self imposed mission. You know, waking up and watching Gasman and Angel frolic along the beach, going into town and buying cookies. Yes, that’s what Max has done all day after waking up. Max then spends a substantial bit talking about how she’s trying to find cookies as good as Vet made.
I took a bite of cookie and chewed. “Hmm,” I said, trying not to spit crumbs. “Clear vanilla notes, too sweet chocolate chips, distinct flavor of brown sugar. A decent cookie, not spectacular. Still, a goodhearted
cookie, not pretentious.” I turned to Fang. “What say you?”
Well, I’d say you’re a pretentious snot who needs to be smacked with a cinder block. You had a few cookies, once! That does not make you an expert on all things baked! Maybe we’ll luck out and the Breadmaster will drown her in a vat of cookie dough. And though the cookie discussion should have ended, Max continues reviewing it and trying to be cute.
One day I shall make a device which will bring characters to life from any book you provide it. Once it’s complete, the first thing I will do is strangle Max to death with her own intestines while ramming cookies into her face. ‘How do you like them cookies! That’s how they crumble!’ And then, for no reason, Nudge gets excited about the ocean.
Nudge ran up, her clothes wet past her knees. “This place is so cool,” she said. “I love the ocean! I want to be a scientist who studies the ocean when I grow up. I would go out to sea, and scuba dive, and find new things, and National Geographic will hire me.”
Yes, Nudge has officially crossed over into the land of annoying stereotypes. She’s a vegetarian, doesn’t bathe and she wants to be a marine biologist. Now all she needs to do is refuse to shave and wear hemp clothes while petitioning for Greenpeace and the transformation will be complete.
Fang says they’re happy here and wishes they could stay. Max seems to have other ideas though.
I was surprised. “We have to find the Institute,” I said. “And if we find out anything, the others will want to track down their parents. And then, do we find Jeb and confront him? And who’s the Director? Why did they do this to us? Why do they keep telling me I’m supposed to save the world?”
Let me break down each of those statements and questions. No, you don’t have to find the “institute”. You’ve given no sufficient reason to do so. How do you know they’ll want to track down their parents? Nudge is the only one who’s shown any interest.
No, you don’t find Jeb and confront him, he’ll confront you. The “director” is the big boss at the end of the game. Save your health potions because he has three forms. They modified you because it was funny and they keep telling you to save the world because Jimmy think he can have a mystery plot that draws the readers in simply by not telling us about it.
Fang then suggests that they just forget about it. Sorry, Fang. Unless you’re going to talk back to Max and subtly question her authority, Iggy will remain my favorite character. Max goes to answer but then the younger kids come back and Max says they’ll talk about it later.
I thought these kids hated scientists because of their background? Of being used for cruel experiments? By scientists? But now Nudge wants to be a scientist?
meh, whatever. This wouldn’t be the first time their background has been conveniently forgotten for the sake of some throwaway line and it won’t be the last.
And stop stealing my dream career, Nudge.
They have that flexible trauma that comes and goes, depending on the situation. It makes for much easier writing. Oh, wait. Did I say easier? Because I meant sloppier.