UnStrung, the 1.5 novella that I won’t call a cashgrab because it’s actually some pretty substantial racist garbage and not a couple pages like Seeds of Wither, says it’s cowriten with a Michelle Knowlden, who seems to mostly write detective stories. I don’t know if it’s her fault this is so terrible or if it’s just that he was testing the water with his Old Umber Talking black kid before he really went for it. (more…)
So in conclusion, this book is shitty prolife propaganda by someone who’s prolife but not fanatic about it because he doesn’t see what the big deal is, really. It opens by saying that the world it presents, where abortions are banned in return for killing older kids for organs, is the result of a compromise between prolife and prochoice people, and while it will never work up the guts to actually say it directly, this means that murdering older children from organs has to be the demand of the prochoice side, because we know the prolife side’s demand was to stop abortions.
Then for some reason it insists evil is really about caring about things instead of just going along with what the government tells you, and that people who deliberately fight back are the real monsters. I think the sickest part of this is it actually does admit women can get pregnant and it’s not their fault with Risa, but it doesn’t care, because if Risa actually was raped and got pregnant, she’d be worthless and we shouldn’t care what happens to her. Besides, what about the fetus’ bodily rights? Especially when unlike Risa, it’d still be a virgin.
I really don’t have the stomach to go through and summarize things in any more detail than that. Point is, the book is terrible and the author is terrible.
Last break for this I went through all the different sorts of stories you could tell with the basic idea, and let’s now demonstrate you could tell this exact plotline without it being terrible. Let’s go over just how utterly this failed solely on narrative grounds.
There’s a sprawling ranch in west Texas.
The money to build it came from oil that had long since dried up, but the money remained and multiplied. Now there’s a whole compound, an oasis as green as a golf course in the middle of the flat, wild plains.
I’d just like to break in here and say that this is why that whole area is turning into desert. Water management is important.
Alright, let’s hear from the kid who failed to blow himself up.
I think I said earlier that there were eight parts, but apparently it’s just seven. So almost done!
“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us . . . Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
This perfectly encapsulates all the quotes of this book. There’s no coherent tone. Sometimes it’s pretentious stuff, sometimes it’s a joke. And here at the end, it’s also riding the coattails of other, cleverer people.
Anyway, we’re all really here to find out if Connor-sue made it through with real injuries.
So now Connor’s going through the same oh god how can the person I thought was safe be not safe thing Lev did, but because he’s a sucky protagonist he just thinks this instead of doing anything.
And then the guards come to get him.
Time for Roland to die.
Connor tells us they’re in thirty-kid dormitories and that before dinner he sees two beds have been stripped, and no one mentions it.
Conner can’t remember either the names or the faces of the missing kids, and that haunts him.
Connor has never given a solitary fuck.
Risa’s chapter jumps back and forth between more cheery evil stupid adult chatter and her talking about the place. Mostly, it’s about how special Connor is. She’s advised not to stay friends with the so-called Akron AWOL because surely the more we tell kids he’s a big deal the less they’ll think he’s a big deal, and she goes on about how upset she was about what happened to him.
Physically, he was not harmed in any way. It would not do to damage the merchandise. Psychologically, however, that’s a different story. They paraded him through the grounds for nearly twenty minutes. Then they took off his shackles and just left him there by the flagpole. No trip to the “welcome center,” no orientation, nothing.
Oh no, no welcome center!
And now let’s find out what Roland’s actually doing.
Back to Connor again.
Roland is slowly breaking. He confesses to many things, petty acts of vandalism and theft, that Connor couldn’t care less about.
I am really ambivalent about this.
“I’m here,” Roland calls from outside the FedEx jet. “What do you want?”
Connor remains hidden inside the hold. He knows he’s only going to get one chance at this, so he’s got to do it right. “Come inside, and we’ll talk about it.”
“No, you come out.”
Nice try, Connor thinks, but this is going to be on my terms.
In fiction, this is the role a villain plays.
Yup, the viewpoint character for Ch37 is seriously “Emby and the Admiral”. Book, you have a simple format and you can’t even stick to it? It’s not like you’ve been shy in past chapters to just have a tiny couple-paragraph extra chapter for a different viewpoint character when you want to add something that wasn’t covered.
Where Lev was between the time he left CyFi and his arrival at the Graveyard is less important than where his thoughts resided. They resided in places colder and darker than the many places he hid.
He had survived the month through a string of unpleasant compromises and crimes of convenience—whatever was necessary to keep himself alive.
So yeah, the idea the novella could explain his behavior is a retcon, as is the very idea he stumbled onto a “chancefolk” reservation.
So, we’re reached the halfway point by chapter count. Quite a bit farther by page count. And I really can’t stand another chapter of this at the moment, so break time.
Often these involve going over how to fix things and still keep the general plotline, but instead let’s go over how there are plenty of good stories you can tell with these elements and the author didn’t because he’s a bad person who prefers writing propaganda for kids.