Thursday, November 26, 2009

Part 2, Chapter 4 - Despite All His Rage...

The first sentence of this chapter is "Jonnie watched the monster." The second is "Thirsty, hungry, and with no hope, he felt adrift in a sea of unknowns." They don't work well together.

The second line is descriptive and dramatic, a good opener. Unfortunately, it follows a concise description that makes the following sentence feel rather jarring and prosy, especially since the narrative immediately goes back into beige prose afterward. It's like L. Ron decided he should be poetic for a moment, and, once satisfied, resumed churning out the literary equivalent of thin, gray gruel that comprises the majority of this book.

Terl shows up to stare at Jonnie for a bit, then the alien checks that the bars haven't been loosened, and counts the uneaten ration bars Jonnie has shoved as far away as possible (Jonnie is of course surprised that a tool-using, humanoid creature can count). After this Terl unhooks Jonnie's collar and fastens it to a bar closer to the cage gate. Finally, Terl messes with how the gate is wired shut, and "doesn't seem to notice" how one of them springs free as he leaves.

His captor out of sight, Jonnie lunges at his packs, desperate for food and drink, only to find that the water bladder has burst and his pork spoiled. Sucks to be him. Maybe you ought to have gone for them during your first escape attempt, Jonnie? Guess he didn't want his flight to be weighed down by a full stomach or essential supplies.

Jonnie scoops up his "kill-club" (someday to be replaced with a "shoot-gun") and a rope, then inspects the cage door. He manages to untwist the wires securing it, opens the door, and is off on a daring escape!

After three miles with no sign of pursuit, Jonnie finds a brook in a gully, and displays some survival skill by not immediately drinking, but rinsing his mouth and soaking before taking some careful drinks, lest he get sick from sudden rehydration. Still apparently alone, he goes a-huntin'. The only animals he can find are rats, but he's hungry, and throws his club. Luckily for him, this does not reduce the rat to rodent puree, so he goes back to the stream, cleans his kill, and, not willing to risk a fire, eats it raw. Not a complete savage, he finds the experience repellent and struggles not to barf back up what he's forcing down.

And then Terl throws a net over him, hauls Jonnie in like a rodeo calf, tucks the human under his arm, and starts lumbering back to the compound.

Yep. Terl was willing to let his captive escape just so he wouldn't have to do some research or exercise his brain over what to feed it. I know L. Ron intends for us to feel that Terl isn't as clever as he thinks he is, but I think it's possible to succeed too well in this regard.

We end at the very bottom of page 63. Next chapter: pest control.

Back to Chapter Three

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