Friday, June 28, 2013

The Quest For Skye: Chapter 1

Well, well, well, J. L. Rothdiener, we meet again.

You all may remember him from his Christian book The Quest For Forgiveness, which I read a few months ago and was not a fan of. My friend Travis was highly amused with my... shall we say passionate ranting against the book, and offered to purchase the second book in Rothdiener's "The Quest For..." series, provided that I would snark it on my blog.

Challenge accepted.

The second book is called The Quest For Skye, and it is available for $2.99 on Kindle, so if you would like to purchase one and read along with me, please do. I only ask that if you spend money on it, that you also leave a review on Amazon when you've finished reading it. If you genuinely love it, then, um... I'm glad for you? But I can't possibly be the only one who sees this author's true lack of talent, and it would be nice to not be the only 1-star reviewer on both his books.

I hope to write something for the series every Friday. I figure I'll read it until I just can't take it anymore and have to put it down. We'll see how far I get today.

All right, I've read the synopsis, and it looks like it's going to be one of those plots I have a bit of a bias against anyway - "young child changes people's lives by being hopeful and inspirational." So, admittedly, I'll be working past that bias. However, there's some medicine and science involved in the story, which is going to be awesome, given the author's previously demonstrated lack of expertise with anything involving technical knowledge.

Let's get started.
The fury of the restless waves pounded the cliffs as the scientists fought desperately for a cure.
That's the opening sentence.

This is going to be a long journey.
Near the center of the island was a small hospital, a clinic with an experimental laboratory. To an outsider, the unusual nature of the lab's equipment might have suggested the lair of mad geniuses, bent on world domination, or the creation of some breathless monstrosity. But these were not characters in a horror movie. They were dedicated physicians and scientists, fighting against the clock - fervently searching for the cure to a certain disease before it stole more innocent lives... the lives of children.
This book is going to be a lot more fun if I just decide right now that I'm going to read the whole thing aloud in my most dramatic voice.

"Before it stole more innocent lives... the lives..."

(Insert thunder and lightning.)

"...of CHILDREN!"

We're told a team of researchers are on the brink of a breakthrough in "the medical field," and he throws some doctor babble at us about mixing up a "pharmaceutical surrogate of their own invention" and putting a radioactive microorganism in it. So that's cool, although we don't really know why or how this will save innocent lives... the lives of children.

We're introduced to our first character with a name:
Doctor Layland Leontiou, a Greek billionaire whose sole purpose in life was to combat childhood diseases.

I really hope everyone in this book is clearly a character from a parody soap opera.

We meet Doctors Whitman (who is a nuclear physicist), Miller, Bowman, and Malinda, "the lone female in the group." Malinda is married to Doctor Layland Leontiou, though it's a little insulting that the only woman doing science is there because she's married to the Greek billionaire funding the science. Also, I dare you to say "Malinda Leontiou" three time fast.

Doctor Whitman explains that they're releasing an organism into another vial. If it's too slow, it will be "ineffective," but if it's too fast, things will EXPLODE. So that's fun.

Doctor Layland Leontiou is worried, but Malinda reassures him by telling him the computer will take care of the whole thing, and, by, the way, her heart tells her that "this is it," so he finally says, fine, they can do their experiment.
The men, experts in their fields, inserted their hands into the gloves, ready to begin the process.
He's told us like 3 times in the past 2 pages that these guys are experts. We know this already. Is there some reason that it's even more important for us to know this as they put on gloves? Can these gloves only be handled by experts? Are they explosive gloves? Do they put gloves on in a special way? Can you tell if someone is an amateur by the way they put on their gloves? Why is that explanation in this sentence?

All they really do with their gloves is put the vials in the right place, and then they back up and watch the computer arm put the vials together. Malinda Leontiou explains to Doctor Layland Leontiou that the organism is going to "take the form of a retrovirus," and then attach itself to defective genes and destroy them. So we finally have an explanation for what explosive medical nuclear science they're doing.

But then something goes wrong, and you know it's gone wrong because the computer screen freezes, and a siren goes off:
Immediately, a siren sounded throughout the compound, followed by a continuous announcement: "Warning! Warning! Computer shutdown! Warning! Warning! Computer shutdown!"
That seems like a useful alarm. I wish I had one like it.

Since the computers have frozen, the computer arm just goes crazy and dumps ALL the radioactive organism into the vial, and the door isolating the scientists from this deadly virus just swings open because it's been "deprived of its electromagnetic signal." Everybody runs away because "If air touches, the virus, it will explode," and Malinda is dragged away from her laptop:
"My computer," she screamed, reaching for her life's work.
Apparently this Greek billionaire and his team of very very experty experts have never heard of backup files or backup security. Seriously, for doing such an extremely dangerous experiment with all this expertise and all this money, they did it really stupidly. You'd think they'd want to watch for things like, oh, say, the deadly virus isolation chamber door randomly swinging open if the billionaire's wife's personal computer stops controlling it.
The men rushed to aid Whitman, the brave scientist who was using his own body to shield the others from the harmful rays.
Have the harmful rays touched air yet? I was promised explosions. Where are my explosions?

Whitman dramatically yells at everyone to go, and that "It's too late for me," and he desperately tries to hold that door shut - the one that keeps automatically swinging open.

Everybody makes it to the decontamination room right before EXPLOSION. Whitman is instantly killed, the entire lab bursts into flames, and the people in the decontamination room... are thrown to the ground and caught on fire because they didn't shut the door in time. Or, well, two of them are. Malinda is still alive, but her safety hat is exploded off her head. She seals herself inside the decontamination chamber, and she and her husband (who is sitting safely behind the glass wall of his office where he was watching all this) stare at each other.

We end with:
Dr. Layland Leontiou cried out in horror, "Malinda!"
I'm not sure what's going on. Is she stuck in the decontamination room? If so, why? They can't possibly have only one exit. That's the worst decontamination room ever. Is she doomed? Is she going to burn alive? WHAT IS HAPPENING?

Well, we won't find out for awhile, because the next chapter is a flashback.

This is going to be fun, guys. It's meeting all my expectations so far.

(Chapter 2 can be read here.)


  1. As a scientist I can confirm that this is all entirely accurate. Microbiology experiments are well known for randomly exploding radioactively, and sensible safety precautions are for sissies. Also, computer crashes frequently cock up all your work, and there's never a backup.


    Actually, that last sentence is true.

    1. It's one thing if a computer crash means you lose your last hour of work. It's quite another if it unlocks and opens a door that is the only thing standing between you and a deadly exploding virus.

      (Seriously, what kind of really crappy door needs to be held shut by computers? Aren't doors SUPPOSED to stay shut? Surely when automatic door system fails, the opposite happens - the doors stay shut and don't open. Unless they're open already, which these were not. GAH.)

  2. It sounds to me like the expert scientists didn't hire an expert contractor to build their lab. Or to run their IT, which makes me wonder why none of these expert scientists was tech savvy enough to deal with the issues present in any capacity aside from shrieking and scrambling. For that matter, why were they even in that room, when Doctor Layland Leontiou could clearly watch what was happening from another, safer room. Why didn't they all watch from where he was? Or at least keep Malinda Leontiou's computer in the room with Doctor Layland Leontiou?

    You're right, by the way; it is entertaining to keep using their full names. Though even that begs the question why expert scientist Malinda Leontiou doesn't have a title. It must be because she's a girl. I bet J.L. Rothdiener was freaked out when he couldn't think of what the feminine form of "doctor" is so he decided rather than embarrass himself, he would just sidestep it and hope no one noticed. And, really, who could blame him?

    Speaking of which, is "Layland Leontiou" an even remotely Greek name? It sounds French to me. Or at least, Pretend French. But not Greek or even Pretend Greek. "Malinda" means "honey" in Greek, apparently, so there's that. I sincerely hope that Doctor Layland Leontiou calls Malinda Leontiou "honey" as her pet name because that would be totes brils.

    Oh, wait. I get it. Is funny, because Malinda Leontiou is just Doctor Layland Leontiou's wife! Not actual person! Ha! Ha! Ha!

    Yeah, I'm gonna get my money's worth out of this tripe...!