Monday, November 20, 2006

FUGITIVES OF CHAOS, A Review: WOW!

I am hard to please. Every year, I leave dozens and dozens of books unfinished, merely partially read. I've left some, bored, in the middle of the first chapter. If the story doesn't grab me and hold me fast, I'm gone. Buh-bye. I'm too old to waste my time on books that don't zap my brain or soul into the pleasure zone pretty dang fast.

All that to say that even being sick and gaspy and sleepy and a mess this weekend, I could not put down Fugitives of Chaos except by actual force of necessity. (ie, I needed to visit my nephew for his pirate birthday party or I needed to sleep.)

Did not want to put it down. Wanted to tuck it inside my shirt and read it surreptitiously between offering clues to the buried treasure. (I was the Hermit of Skull Rock, my brother was the Ancient Fisherman, my sister was the Beauteous Mermaid then the Giant Squid then the Dread Barracuda, and my husband was the Handsome Captain of the Ship Called Shed, meaning he sat by the utility shed to hand out the clue.) Arrrr, mateys. Now, go away. The Hermit wants to pillage this here novel, ARRRrrrrr.

SPOILERS FOR ORPHANS OF CHAOS AHEAD:

If you read part one, Orphans of Chaos, then you already have an idea of what mythy delights, brainy goings on, teenage angst, sea monster & Colin sex-on-the-brain subplots, super suspense, life-and-death battling awaits you in part two of the Chaos Trilogy: Fugitives of Chaos...

When last we left our intrepid orphans-who-are-not-orphans, or even human, for that matter, they had been foiled in their daring and delicious attempt to escape from the British boarding school-that-is-no-mere-school and the menacing staff-who-are-also-not-made-up-of-humans. We got to follow the youth-who-are-but-are-not-really-young through the sometimes humorous, sometimes scary, always fascinating discovery of their identities and powers.

But, having been foiled, they have had their memories of the previous weeks erased.

Fortunately, our plucky and fast-thinking narrator, Amelia, who is really Phaethusa (daughter of Helios and Neaera), and who can see and pass into the fourth dimension--and see such things that will blow your reading wee mind--well, Amelia is not long for the land of amnesia. And good thing, too. Because it wouldn't do to have her forget all the amazing stuff she found out in part one.

To catch you up to speed: The headmaster Boggins is really Boreas, the North Wind, who, when he spreads his wings in his pirate pants is something of a sexy bad boy. The staff includes a siren, a witch, a Cyclopes, an Atlantean, and Grendel (yeah, that Grendel, as in BEOWULF). And they are all keeping the "orphans" as hostages, pawns in a Cold War of sorts between Olympians and Titans. As long as the Olympians hold the kids hostage, the Titans do not make a move on Earth or Olympus.

But the kids are sick of being hostages. They want to go home.

If they go home, all heavens and hells and dimensions break loose.

Oh, isn't your mouth just watering?

Note: A review of the Greek mythological stuff you learned in school--or that I hope you learned in school--would not be amiss, particularly the stories relating to the Titanomachy, the war of the Titans. The names comes fast and furious in part one, and if you have forgotten your Hesiod or Homer or Bullfinch's or Hamilton or etc, you may have to read slowly to get your bearings. But once you do, part two is a snap. John C. Wright's prose is clean and brisk and brimming with pertinent dialogue, so you'll be oriented soon enough.

So, our brave and gifted would-be-aviatrix Amelia, at the close of book one, manipulates the chemical with which she's about to be injected so that it has free will. Yes, the chemical intended to blank her memory of knowledge and escape and capture is now able to decide what it will do within Amelia's body.

ENTER BOOK TWO, wihch for some reason doesn't have the glossy cover like book one. What up with that?

"I was dead for about half a day."

Amelia reawakens, memory gone, so much that it's quite suspicious.

Then, "Her arm liked her. Her arm was friendly. A warm, tail-wagging, puppy-like, unabashed friendliness radiated from one motionless spot above her elbow."

The chemical doesn't act against Amelia and the memories return.

The orphans now proceed, in their usual ingenious and fun-to-follow fashion (with all attendant subterfuge and danger), to find ways to break the blocks one each of them, one by one, so that they can recapture their knowledge and powers. It's not a simple process. As the story unwinds, Amelia finds herself once more at the mercy of Grendel, who is in some serious me-wanna-her-for-missus groove and carries Amelia to his lair. You get to find out more than you may want to about the life of a man-eating, sea-dwelling groom. Heroic feats gain them freedom. As fugitives, on the run across Britain, then across the world, they must grow in their skills, and fast. They must also make tough decisions while evading eavesdropping winds and spirits. And they must survive the deadly fury of a terrifying sea monster, because if they don't survive, if they are killed, the whole Earth is doomed.

War is coming, again. Titans vs. Olympians. And five kids-who-are-not kids are smack in the middle of the power plays. Good thing they are formidable kids.

I was actually breathless during one part of their daring escape scene--whree they attempt to recover the items of power relating to each which are kept in a special safe--and would just start reading aloud to my husband. And the discussions about who trumps whose powers, the dialogues about paradigms--superb!

I found only one scene uncomfortable. And those of you who've read it can probably guess which one. (Hint: Sappho might have approved.) Seemed a tad on the gratuitous side. But, that's my only quibble. I thought the evolution of the five in part two was terrifcally well done, and the cliffhanger ending is making me totally nuts.

Which is good. Means I want more. And I don't always want more.

Gosh, do I really have to wait five months for the conclusion? :::biting nails:::



2 comments:

Heather said...

Can I just say that that sounds like one cool-cat birthday party?

Mirtika said...

Yes. You may. :)

The kindlings had fun. What I didn't expect (I'm the one who did the treasure map--aged by hubby with some matches burning the edges--and made rhyming clues), was that after they found the spot where the treasure was buried, that they'd come running to me and say: LET"S DO ANOTHER!

I didn't have any more treasure or clues. So, I had to get paper and pen and hastily think of some really lousy clue rhymes, and had to reposition the players and rebury the treasure.

Then they yelled DO IT AGAIN...so we did it ONE MORE TIME. After which, I said, no. That's it.

Next time, many more clues, many more players, and a longer game. Hahahha.

Mir