Chapter One – Another Quest
The book opens with Abbey complaining. In this book, the spelling of her name has mysteriously switched from Abbey to Abbie, after remaining constant for the first three volumes. I refuse to conform. And right away we get a stupid quote:
her blue eyes gave off sparks (page 7).
I understand the metaphor, but please, phrase it a bit differently, Morris, so it doesn’t sound like little bits of fire are shooting from her eyeballs.
Abbey complains about her fingernails and other things and it’s mostly just to let the new readers know that Oldworld is gone. Honestly, though, you’d think Morris could find a better way to get this information across. They’ve been out here for months now. I’m not saying Abbey would have stopped complaining, but certainly everyone else would just ignore her when she did instead of pointing out why it doesn’t do any good to complain when all the beauty shops were destroyed in the nuclear war.
Apparently they’re in the middle of a forest. Goel has ditched them. Which doesn’t really make sense, if you think about it. Goel led them away from Camelot, ditched them for a few days in the woods, and then randomly comes back to tell them where they’re going next. Then again, this happens in pretty much every single book.
Sarah and Abbey hear some noises, and start to freak out. But it’s just the boys coming back from the hunt. I’m not sure why all five of them needed to go hunting, as Token and Jake have already proved their uselessness, and I’m even less certain why they would leave two girls alone in the forest. Chalk it down to general incompetence.
We get re-introduced to everyone and Jake is suddenly Jewish. There’s been no mention or even the slightest indication of this so far in the series, and Jake’s eaten pork several times. Also, Reb is now from Texas, instead of Arkansas. It has been stated, numerous times, by our omniscient narrator, that he was born and raised in Arkansas, and by Reb himself. But now he’s from Texas.
They share some awkward, pointless dialogue, and eat some rabbits the boys caught. Jake reveals that he doesn’t know what R & R is, further cementing his stupidity. And Goel appears. Everyone is delighted and they ask him questions that they would have asked him at the end of the last book and already know the answers to. Goel tells them that Dave will be the leader on the next adventure. Josh is upset. He hides it poorly. Goel tells them that the Dark Lord wishes to stamp out goodness and happiness and love and unicorns and rainbows and bunnies and they need to journey to a place and teach the people they find there about the good things in life.
“They need,” he said firmly, “to learn about dignity and honor and love. They must learn to treat others as they themselves would want to be treated” (page 14).
I dunno. For this kind of task, the last thing I would do is send a bunch of snot-nosed, selfish teens. Then again, I wouldn’t trust the Sociopaths to fetch me a glass of water.
Goel gives them a map and some money. And then he vanishes.
Chapter Two – Voyage to Nowhere
I really like this chapter title. It should have been the title of the book. Hell, it should have been the title of the series.
The Sociopaths have reached the ocean. There’s a little village there, with lots of ships. Josh says they should head on in.
Dave sent Josh a quick look and said sharply, “I think we’d better get organized before we go into the village?” (page 15).
I’m sorry? Organized? Organized how? Then again, it turns out that Dave is just jealous of his new authority, since he quickly forgets the nonsensical comment and they all head into town. Josh is bitter. Sarah thinks he’s being just as bad as Dave, but she tries to console him. And we get some inner monologue about what she thinks of Josh:
Josh was generally a sweet-tempered young man, terribly shy at times, and sensitive as a young girl (page 16).
All I need is for Josh to overhear Sarah telling Abbey that he’s as sensitive as a young girl, and I can die happy.
They find a shop and everyone gets a new set of clothes from a shop that conveniently has lots of clothes that fit teenage kids. Dave pays for them with some of the gold coins that Goel gave him for the journey. As I recall, Goel gave them money for the journey, not for new clothes. And as I further recall, there was a big deal made back in book 1 that you couldn’t buy or sell anything in Nuworld unless you had the Mark of the Beast on you. However, this has been apparently forgotten.
The shopkeeper asks them where they’re going.
“We’re going to a place called the Isle of Mordor,” Dave replied (page 17).
The shopkeeper looks terrified. Apparently Mordor is a name of ill omen and nobody wants to talk about it. Big surprise, there. They head out and Dave goes over to talk to the captain of a ship. He comes back awhile later and explains that he’s secured them a trip to Mordor and back again, when they’re done. That was easy.
The next day they leave. The food is very good, and the beds are even better. Sounds just like a post-nuclear-war sea voyage to me. But none of the sailors want to talk about Mordor. Finally Josh goes to talk to the cook, a gnome named Bentley. Yes. Bentley. Bentley tells them that back when he was a boy there was a storm and they had to stop at Mordor and several monsters came out of nowhere and took two of their men.
…so basically, it’s the Lost island.
They reach Mordor after a few more days and the Sociopaths hop aboard a small boat. The Captain tells them he’ll stop by on the first of every month until he finds out that they’re dead. Actually, he cuts off before the last part, but that’s the general idea.
They get ashore. Reb asks Captain Dave what they should do. Dave is annoyed at the name. They divide up their packs and start hiking. Later that night they camp and commiserate about how hard the going is. Some more useless dialogue is exchanged, and we get this gem from Jake:
“We’ve gotten real close, haven’t we, the seven of us? Back in Oldworld we didn’t even know each other, and now we’re closer to each other than anybody else” (page 24).
If you have to ask, Jake – you’re not very close. And no. We see nothing that indicates that any of these people like each other – with the possible exception of Sarah and Josh. We’re told, occasionally, that Reb and Token are pals, but there’s never any evidence of this.
That night, as Sarah goes to sleep, she thinks about how Josh said he would rather have someone smart – like her – than a shallow materialistic whore like Abbey. And as she goes to sleep, she thinks about how she would trade all her intelligence for Abbey’s long eyelashes. Which, in my opinion, is proof positive that Sarah’s not that smart.
They go on. They don’t have any weapons, because Goel told them not to bring any. Reb has made a slingshot that can kill pretty much anything within fifty feet. So, in other words, they have a weapon.
A couple days later they stop for the night. While looking for game they find a giant footprint that’s three feet long and obviously belongs to some giant monster. It’s very ominous.
Chapter Three – The Lost World
That chapter title doesn’t sound familiar at all.
Dave ponders how much longer they’ll be able to keep going on. This kind of thought is generally used when you’re at the brink. A total lack of food, horribly harsh conditions, everyone clinging to life…things of that nature. Instead, we learn that they’ve been walking through ankle-deep mud for two days. Apparently, the swamp extends away from them in all directions, but moments later Token sees a dry spot and they all climb out onto dry land. Consistency, what’s that?
Dave and Josh have a little spat, but Sarah plays peacemaker and separates them. Everyone splits up to go look for food, and Josh complains about Dave. Sarah tells him that being the leader is difficult, and Josh, remarkably, agrees and gets over it. I think he may actually be maturing a bit.
No one finds anything, but suddenly Token calls everyone over. He’s found a giant nest with a bunch of huge eggs in it, bigger than bowling balls. They talk about them for a bit, and decide to eat them. Jake gets out his knife and cracks one open, and then suddenly says that they shouldn’t eat it, because they don’t know what it is. Dave looks at it and agrees. Yeah…didn’t you also not know what it is…before you smashed one of the eggs open? For that matter, anything that lays eggs larger than a bowling ball is something that you probably shouldn’t mess with. You’d think that Reb, at least, would be aware of this.
The next day they run out of food, which indicates pretty poor planning, if you ask me. Reb recommends they run a trot line across the river and try to catch some fish. Since they’ve been walking along this river for their entire journey and have been low on food for their entire journey, I wonder why they haven’t been fishing every single night.
Reb puts out the line. They wait. After awhile he goes back to the river and they’ve caught a fish. He shouts for a bit and suddenly a Tyrannosaurus Rex wanders out of the foliage on the other side of the river. Everyone screams and runs into the forest to hide, and the T. Rex wanders off in the opposite direction. And yeah, it’s basically just about as exciting as it sounds. In fact, the T. Rex didn’t even show any signs that it had seen them.
Morris doesn’t bother explaining how the dinosaurs are there. I think it’s going a little far to say that this is a real ‘lost world’ – of the kind that would be around before the nuclear war. In the first place, this island is not particularly remote. At all. In fact, it’s probably just a short distance off the U.S. coast, so I’m going to take a guess and say that ‘Mordor’ is actually Chincoteague Island, and the dinosaurs are actually radiation-mutated ponies.
The Sociopaths talk a bit about velociraptors and I just need a moment to ponder how glorious it would be if they ran into a pack of raptors and were eaten alive. It’s not going to happen, of course, but even so…
They move their stuff into the trees, which are particularly thick in a few areas, too dense for a T. Rex to enter, and sleep. The next day they go on, and see some brachiosauruses. Later, they talk, and Reb mentions how he’d rather face a dragon than a T. Rex. Right, because a giant, flying dragon with poisonous teeth that can kill you by breathing on you is not as dangerous as a Rex. Yep.
Suddenly, a bunch of cavemen jump out of the foliage and surround them. They’re armed, and they don’t look particularly friendly.