Chapter One – Happy Birthday – I Think!
Sarah yells at Josh for standing on her foot. It’s dark and they’re hiding to surprise Dave because it’s his seventeenth birthday. This is the first birthday we’ve ever seen celebrated here. Reb asks why it’s such a big deal.
“It’s his seventeenth birthday, that’s why!” (page 7).
…exactly. You can’t do a lot when you turn seventeen, except get into R-rated movies, and I doubt they’ll be doing much of that. An eighteenth birthday might be a slightly bigger deal, since you’re becoming an adult, and everyone’s excited about sixteen because you can start driving, but seventeen is pretty boring as birthdays go.
Dave walks in. They all start pounding him on the back and shaking his hand. Sarah ruffles up his hair. It’s a little creepy.
Abbey Roberts said, “Back in Oldworld we used to spank people on their birthday. One lick for every year old they were” (page 8).
Right. I have no idea if this archaic and slightly perverted custom is still being perpetuated in modern-day America, but I kinda doubt it.
Token tells her to go ahead, if she wants too. The quotes keep coming:
…and his teeth shown brightly against the blackness of his skin (page 8).
Morris uses this exact descriptive phrase in every single book. At least once, and usually more. He has no other way to describe Token. This is apparently how Morris remembers black people. White teeth showing up against black skin. Because, y’know, they’re black. Also, “shown”?
Abbey says that Dave’s too big and she’ll let the men handle the spanking (!). She gives Dave a kiss on the cheek (!) and then tells Sarah it’s her turn (!!) and then Sarah kisses his other cheek (!!!). Why? No real reason.
“And now, you guys can give him that spanking anytime you want to.”
“We’ll take care of that later,” Reb said (page 9).
Sorry. There is just no way that that doesn’t come across as homoerotic.
They give him presents. Reb gives him eelskin boots, Josh gives him a knife, along with some advice:
“ – and don’t let Jake borrow it. You know how he dulls a knife” (page 9).
No, we don’t. There’s never been any mention of this. Ever.
Jake gives Dave a present. Everyone watches carefully because they all know how much he loves inventing things. It’s a little black object with a button on it. Dave presses the button and it emits a horrible high-pitched shriek. So basically, it’s a rape alarm. Yes. Jake gave Dave a rape alarm. That’s not weird at all.
Sarah gives him a shirt, Token gives him a snakeskin belt, and Abbey gives him an Australian hat that makes him look like Crocodile Dundee, according to Josh.
We enter Josh’s mind and he thinks through the Sociopaths’ backstory and brings it up to the fact that Goel has called an assembly of the leaders of the House of Goel. I wasn’t aware that there were leaders, aside from Goel, and I also wasn’t aware that they had large meetings, considering that the all-powerful, all-pervasive world leaders want to kill all of them, but apparently they do.
They’re staying in a house near this meeting-place. That night Dave puts on his hat and preens in front of Abbey. Abbey tells him to stop tooting his own horn, and that he’s getting conceited. Dave tells her she’s the pot calling the kettle black, since she spends half her time primping. They start yelling at each other. Abbey says that girls could run the world better than boys. Dave says that women would make a mess of things. Sarah tells them both to shut up. Dave pats Abbey on the head and says that men are made to take care of women, because women are weaker, and have to be taken care of.
This is all really obvious foreshadowing, of course. Naturally, it doesn’t make any sense. Dave has always been a bit of an egotistical douchebag, but generally speaking he gets along well with Abbey and doesn’t say sexist things to her. So really this is just Morris randomly making whatever character is available say what he wants the book to say with no regard for their actual personalities.
Dave struts off and Abbey thinks about how she’d like to be his boss for just a week. To make something out of him.
“Yes, I certainly would like to have charge of Mr. David Cooper for a little while!” (page 15).
So that means in the first chapter we have racism, sexism, a homoerotic paddling, a guy being given a rape alarm, and now Abbey wants to make Dave her bitch. That’s got to set some kind of record for young adult Christian-themed novels.
Chapter Two – The Power of Goel
The next day the Sociopaths head outside. There’s lots of people there. There’s a mention of Happy and Grumpy – although not by name, and suddenly Goel appears. We get the standard description – age could be anywhere between 25 and 55, simple gray robe, etc. He’s also white and has long brown hair. Of course.
Goel jumps up and gives a speech and everyone feels like he’s talking directly to them. The speech isn’t terrible, but neither is it interesting or relevant to the book, series, or character. When it’s over, Josh turns to Sarah.
“I never understood who he is or what he is – but he’s not like any man I know” (page 19).
He’s God, Josh. As evidenced by the fact that he appears to you in dreams to save your skins, he can walk through walls, and defy the laws of physics. You should be used to this by now.
The next couple of days they sit around waiting for Goel to show up. One day they’re eating some lousy meat, complaining about it, and talking about how possum tastes, and Goel shows up. He tells them what fine work they’ve done (hah!) and how they’re made of pure gold (ahahahhahahahah). Jake asks Goel why he doesn’t just use his power and crush the Dark Lord.
“But if I did that, it would mean that you and the others in this world would have no freedom” (page 22).
I’m sorry, what? No freedom? They have the freedom to choose Goel’s side or the Dark Lord’s side or to be free agents, don’t they? Besides, at the end of this series, Goel is going to use his power to crush the Dark Lord anyway. Oops – did I spoil that for you? My bad. Anyway. Jake’s question is decent enough. Wondering why an all-powerful God simply doesn’t solve your problems with a snap of his fingers is quite common. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more pathetic answer than what Morris uses here.
Goel tells them that they have to survive by love. Then he tells them that they’re going to a tribe called Fedor to warn them against the Dark Lord.