Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thursday Hickey of the Beast Post, 4/14/2011

Dear readers, please forgive me - I got in last night after dinner and completely collapsed. I do have internet access where I am staying, thanks to my lovely hosts, and I did also have time to read the chapter; what I lacked was brain to make a post. So, here is the post, a day late.

Chapter 5 picks up pretty much immediately where Chapter 4 left off - Chapter 4 ended rather abruptly, dragging the reader into Chapter 5 almost against their will. (I've been reading chapter books to my eldest daughter - not this one, but others - and frequently we'll get to the end of a chapter and she'll ask why the author ended it THERE, in the middle of something exciting. I ask her if the end of the chapter makes her want to hear the next chapter, and she says yes, so I say, "That's why it ends there.") Chapter 5 starts so abruptly that I needed to go back to re-read Chapter 4 to follow the thread - this is, of course, a danger with a serial novel, but the fact that I have easy access to previous chapters (without hunting down the last month's edition of whatever) made that an easy process. Which is good.

Chapter 5 goes like this - little plot, a nice chunk of world building, and then a little plot. The middle part of the chapter gives us some lovely description of life on this campus - all of the students living in each other's pockets and doing the research for papers (and I had to go back to Chapter 3 to check on the topic of Connie's paper assignment. She's writing a paper for her English class, and the assignment was to pick a mythical creature to write about. I thought she had chosen Medussa, but that was one of her friends - instead, Connie is looking at vampires; non-western varieties. Ominous.). There is also a lovely description of Formal Dinner Night - apparently on Wednesdays, the students are required to dress up and have formal dinner, as an effort to "civilize" them. And then, at the dinner, we get our first mention of hickeys - the hickey from the title? Could be, but the hickey in question is purely speculative; if it exists, it's hidden by a scarf - and a tiny sliver of plot in the form of a disappearing student; there one Wednesday, but gone the next.

Thus far, we have some lovely writing. Connie mentions that a student has a North Carolina accent, but Izzy does not attempt to replicate that accent in her writing (I almost always hate when authors do that). I also like that Connie is a) not startlingly accomplished in everything she does and b) better at Math and Science than Art (ie, not stereotypically girly in her subject strengths). I especially liked the description of school life - 300 hormonal teens with almost no privacy and nowhere really to go on dates, and yet romance happens:

Stuff happens. Mostly it happens at dances and in common rooms, when people have been here long enough that they don't give a damn about being sort of in public. That's Springden: raising the next generation of exhibitionists. So if people do start going out, everyone knows pretty quick.
 I'm not sure about the pacing - that is, the chapters are short, but I'm getting them once a week. I think if I were getting much more in each chunk - say, two chapters a week - it would be almost too much, and if I were getting the chunks less frequently, say every two weeks, that would be too spaced out. What I'm wondering is if two or three chapters every two weeks wouldn't be a better option; but then I wouldn't have something to read every Tuesday. I want more, and I want it immediately, because that's how I read books. Still, I'll take what I'm getting, and I'll be happy. Now I'm waiting for next week!