Friday, February 14, 2014

The Quest for Skye: Chapter 29

Recap: Doctor L. L. is alive but dying, and Skye is dying, and Morgan and Tammy have finally agreed to take over the clinic until Skye dies, but after that, forget all the rest of the girls who need their help, they're taking off.
It took a joint effort to prepare the turkey and trimmings for over a hundred people in less than five hours. But they pulled it off, and dinner was ready, as promised.
...Who is "they"?

Are these not the regular cafeteria workers? Is this not the kind of thing they do every day? Surely they feed most of the people in the hospital and on the island every day, in less than five hours. And of course it took a "joint effort." Who the heck would be like,  "I want turkey and trimmings for over a hundred people in less than five hours! But only ONE OF YOU CAN DO THIS!"

I can't even get past the first paragraph of a chapter before I'm reminded what a terrible writer Rothdiener is...

Doctor L. L. and Skye show up in the cafeteria and everyone applauds.
Morgan could see how deeply admired, respected, Layland was. I wonder what the Klitous would think if they saw this?
"Stupid Markus and his wife. Nobody loves THEM. Ha!"

Doctor L. L. cheerfully announces to everyone that Malinda's dead and that he'll be dead soon.
Facing his computer expert, he added, “Ty, I want to thank you and Jane for everything you’ve done. Your computer skills have proved beneficial more times than I can count.”
Well, now we have finally confirmed who Ty is... now WHO THE HECK IS JANE?

He thanks a few more people, including "Nurse Penni," who we never met, and Victoria, who we did very briefly. He then introduces Morgan and Tammy as the new people in charge. Skye is about to pray for the food, when suddenly there is the sound of HELICOPTERS outside. A guard tells Lance that three armed military helicopters have landed in their courtyard and that all the men are waiting out at the helicopter pad.
Morgan jumped up to join Lance; Tammy grabbed his arm. “Honey, be careful.” She tried to sound upbeat, keeping her composure.  
He lowered his eyebrows. “When was the last time you talked with Senator Talbert?”  
Tammy nodded, understanding what he was asking.
What? I don't understand what he is asking. Talbert hasn't been mentioned in the book up until now (I just checked). Is Morgan asking her to, I don't know... call this senator she might or might not be friends with and ask him to... what? He's presumably an American senator. What the heck is he supposed to do about Greek military landing on somebody's private country island? I mean, America does occasionally like to jump into battles we have nothing to do with, but this doesn't seem to be a case where that's likely to happen.

Of course, the previous book in this series involved the President of the U.S. granting an American pop star the right to move her Muslim mother's body from its grave in Iraq and transport it to the U.S., against the wishes of pretty much everyone in Iraq, including her government and the rest of her family. So Rothdiener's grasp of America's political clout is a little bit... confused.

Lance and the guards are putting on bulletproof vests and getting guns, and Morgan's like, "Me too! Me too!" When Lance asks him if he's used one of them before, he's like, "Pshaw, I went hunting with my dad sometimes." I gotta say, I do NOT particularly want a gun in Morgan's hands... But they shrug and give him one, and Lance talks him through how to use it, explaining concepts like the safety and the trigger.


The helicopters land, and out pour the following people: 30 armed soldiers, the colonel who was with the last Greek invasion, a "high political figure in the Greek government" named Dimitri Petrou, a judge, Markus and his wife, and a cameraman.

Lance tells them they're all under arrest because they're violating the Leontiou-Greece treaty. Petrou says nuh-uh, because probably Leontiou is dead.
“Once the world finds out about his death, the Greek government will fall. Then my party will take control, at which time the new Greek government— with me as its new leader— will step in, and if need be, with force, remove everyone here, including Leontiou’s precious little heir to the throne.”
I STILL don't really understand why Leontiou's death causes the Greek government to fall. Is it the island itself that is going to destroy the Greek government/economy? Leontiou himself can't possibly be that important, given that he has isolated himself so fully from anything but his Batten research.

All the people on the island show up at that time, and Lance says they'll all fight to the death to protect the island, which is kind of a big assumption to make. I can just imagine him saying that, and like half the people go back inside the clinic.

Morgan yells at Markus that it's going to look really bad for them if the camera captures them firing on civilians, but, um, he's ignoring the fact that Markus is the one controlling the camera. It'll only look bad for them if he captures that and then decides to release the tape. In which case, he was kind of asking for the bad publicity.

Morgan then appeals to Markus' sense of not-shooting-civilians-being-the-right-thing-to-do, but Petrou goes all supervillain and summons four jet fighters.
Lance responded, screaming over the noise, “The Greek government... the real Greek government, would not do this.” 
“I will sweep those fools away with a wave of my hand!” Petrou bellowed.
See? I told you. Supervillain.

Lance says he thinks Petrou's bluffing, but with a wave of his hand Petrou apparently orders the helicopters to order the jets to blow up a water tower, which they do.

Then... Doctor L. L. finally shows his face, makes a speech about how children are people too and they shouldn't be shot at, and then...
Six American Super Hornets were streaking across the island, in hot pursuit of the Greek planes. Out numbered, outgunned, and outclassed, the Greek jets wasted no time in beating a hasty retreat.


All the soldiers get into the helicopters and fly away, but, um, they leave the non-soldiers behind on the island. Way to take care of your own, Greek army.

“You might also be interested to learn that Tammy once saved the life of a United States Senator’s son. Senator Talbert serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and he’d like nothing better than to repay that debt. Tammy phoned him when we heard your merry little band of cutthroats landing on the island. After that, I figure the chain of command was followed. Senator Talbert called the President of the United States, who called NATO command. You see, the island of Kardia falls under the protection of NATO, a fact of which your government has just been reminded.”
OK. I'm not going to comment a ton on this because I don't know much about how exactly NATO works. I did look it up on Wikipedia to get an overview, but I don't believe in writing oodles about things I don't understand, so I'm just going to say:

1) How the heck did Leontiou Island get to be part of NATO? How come Morgan knows this but apparently nobody else does?

2) THAT MOVED FAST. Seriously, from when Morgan said, "Psst, call the senator," to when the jets showed up, I'd estimate like 5-10 minutes' worth of dialogue has happened. That's 5-10 minutes for Tammy to find a phone, figure out how to reach her senator friend, give him a call, explain the situation, have him give the President a call, explain the situation, have him give NATO command a call, explain the situation, and have him order the jets to go from "a few miles from here" (where they were holding war games, Morgan explained) to Leontiou Island?

Yeah, no.

Morgan ends his explanation with this zinger:
“If I were a betting man, Mr. Petrou, I’d wager that you’re not going to be having a good day, probably for the rest of your life.”

I can't even say that with a straight face.

"You'll be having a bad day... FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!"
But suddenly, it was imminently clear to all that Dr. Morgan Hamilton was assuming the mantle of leadership. Tammy felt a surge of pride. She now had no doubt that Morgan was up to the challenges facing him as the clinic administrator.
Oh, sheesh. Is the best measurement of a good administrator really whether he can coordinate a NATO attack in time to force a Greek army off an island and then throwing out a really stupid "goodbye" line?

But then again, this is playing into the icky stereotype that aggression = manliness = awesomeness, which always annoys me, because I tend to find that aggression = obnoxiousness = GET AWAY FROM ME.

So the three political people go back to... oh, another helicopter, I guess the soldiers didn't abandon them completely. They're apparently going to be arrested when they get to Greece, so, um, that's nice? But Markus and Anna are still stuck on the island. Unless they have yet another helicopter. Which, it turns out they do. So there were at least four helicopters, because when the soldiers left it definitely referred to "helicopters," not just one helicopter. SOMEONE needs to learn to count.

They all head back inside for turkey, and Lance says it's OK that they blew up the water tower, because that was just the old one. So that problem's solved.
The Hamiltons were overwhelmed by Skye’s prayer. She talked to God like she was chatting with her best friend. Again they thought, if only we could be more like Skye.
Yup. Because Skye's prayer isn't about God. It's about Skye.
While Morgan ate, his mind was still reeling with the recent events. What had given Dr. Leontiou the strength to do what he’d done? Or, rather, who had given him the strength?
Could it be... DUN DUN DUN... God?

Actually, it probably isn't. It's probably Skye. God doesn't seem to be very involved in this story.
Layland knew he no longer had to worry about the Greek government trying to take over.
Well, that wraps up that subplot. Should be about time for the book to end now...

WHAT? We're only 75% of the way through? Is this story NEVER going to finish?

So then there's an uninteresting couple sections where Doctor L. L. dies and Skye cries about it. It is nice to know she has feelings after all, though of course when she seemed heartless earlier it was because her parents weren't actually dead yet.

The next day, Leontiou's lawyers arrive:
Sitting around the large table in the meeting room, Barrows explained what happened when Petrou and his associates returned to Athens. “They, along with fifty other government officials, were arrested. The socialists on the left had been working quietly trying to bring the Leontiou Empire down, and overthrow Greece. Fortunately, their efforts were thwarted by Lance and Morgan.”
I still don't understand why the Leontiou Empire's reign was connected to Greece, and I still don't know what Skye had to do with ANY of this...

Apparently Doctor L. L. was convinced when he died that Morgan's "YOU CAN'T TAKE OVER OUR COUNTRY" stand meant that he would be willing to stick around and take care of the clinic after Skye died, which is, um, not at all what that means, it was just Morgan reveling in being a tough guy, but whatever.

And then Morgan and Tammy sign the papers and the clinic is theirs and finally the longest chapter in the world is OVER.

Roughly 50 more pages to go, says the Kindle. We can make it!

(Chapter 30.)

1 comment:

  1. I'm pretty sure that Rothdiener's sense of storytelling is rooted in episodic television, where the buildup promises consequences that the fact the cast is already signed for three seasons means that everything has to be put back in order at the end of this week's show. I can see Chapter 29 being a sweeps episode (helicopters! explosion! guns! SOMEONE DIES!).

    Someone should have told him that a showdown only has heft if we understand the nature of the two sides. We'd never even heard of this Dmitri Petrou guy, but all of a sudden he makes his first appearance, has this confrontation, and winds up arrested - off-page, at that - all here in this one chapter?

    One question you didn't ask that crossed my mind: Is there some reason that the Leontiou-Greece treaty would only be in effect until Leontiou died? Is it an actual treaty or is it just the terms of sale for the island?

    Also: Why does Petrou even care about The Island of Dr. Leontiou, anyway? He doesn't seem to have any interest in the people there. I assume he wants Leontiou's money, but how does attacking the island get him it? He's a judge, so why not just rig some kind of skeezy legal seizure of Leontiou's assets? I don't understand any part of this scheme, and I don't believe Rothdiener does, either.

    Petrou is now my most-hated character in this book because he had the power to end it and he failed.