Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wednesday Hickey of the Beast Post, 5/4/2011

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First up, I think I lose my official geek card if I don't mention that today is Star Wars Day - May the Fourth be with you.

We are up to Chapter Eight, and things are starting to move now. There are 30 chapters, so we're not quite 1/3rd of the way through the book. Now is a good time for the plot to really start kicking in; for our heroine (if she IS a heroine, and not a protagonist, or even the villain in disguise...) to start sensing that this is really about her; for the novel to start wrestling with it's central premise, to start asking the big questions. Izzy does not disappoint, Chapter 8 is a doozy.

We open with a little world building. Actually, this is interesting, because the novel is set in New England, so Izzy isn't really doing world building, per se - it's not like she has to describe the tall blue trees and the corkscrew shaped mountains in the background, or explain why the elves live underground and the dwarves live in trees (contrary to the usual tropes/cliches of the genre). She just has to describe New England as it actually is - but she does have to do that, because most of us are not lucky enough to actually live in New England. And here, at the beginning of this chapter, she does that - we get a breathtaking vision of New England in early Autumn, when the northeastern United States are really at their best. I can almost smell the woodsmoke and see the reds and oranges on the trees.

Then, we get a further piece describing the school environment - the season sets off the grounds nicely, and the students, forced to dress for the weather, are at their wholesome best, so brochure pictures are being taken.

Then, we get a nice piece of character building - Connie is a tad boy crazy. We meet Tony Alligo. I believe this is the third or fourth boy we've met with a name, and Connie has (in her letter to Amanda) rated each of them as to their datability, explaining that she doesn't have a crush crush on any of them (really), but it's clear that Connie evaluates boys this way on a regular basis. As is right and proper, of course. As a reader, by the way, Tony is the first guy thus introduced that I feel any identification with whatsoever, and so I hope we see more of him later in the novel; either as a love interest, or as part of Connie's Scooby Gang, or whatever. Tony and Connie compare notes on their history papers about mythical beasts (I mentioned this, right? The students are writing history papers on mythical beasts, and the possible real world causes for the myths.) - Connie has written on vampires around the world, and Tony has written on sea monsters. This comparison of notes feeds into the description of the class, in which Tony and Connie are called upon to present their papers, briefly.

Finally, the plot rears its head. Becky, the featured guest in Connie's most recent nightmare, is called upon to present. She spaces out a little (Connie notes that this is normal for students at about this time of the semester - especially given that most of the class was probably up until after midnight finishing the paper. As an educator, I cringe, but I also know this to be true.), and then, after speaking a sentence (she has written on the Sirens), she collapses. Staring in Connie's nightmares has consequences in the real world, and now it's fairly clear that Connie is a little freaked out.

So, I think Izzy is setting us up to look out for vampires. Connie has presented on vampires, and not necessarily blood sucking ones, but rather vampires that feed on various forms of life essence (Chinese qi drinkers, incubi and succubi [although she carefully does not mention these sex related demons in her class presentation], etc). She's had dreams involving giant mosquitoes - blood sucking insects. The result of those dreams seems to be the collapse of the featured guest. That points to vampires, I think - but perhaps this is too obvious, perhaps it is a red herring. Perhaps it is a real clue cunningly disguised as a red herring. Perhaps... perhaps I will have to wait until next week to see where the story goes.