Chapter by Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
A lot of people talk about how they want to relate to the characters, and that is important, although I think I have a better ability to do so than most given I can relate to a dalmatian rescue dog with a bark-activated water gun on his back in a show for preschoolers. However, I tend to look more for characters I would want to spend time with and/or cheer on to victory. I’m having a hard time with some of the heroes in this book on that front. When I’m having a stronger connection to a dead character than the second-in-command of the hero group trying to solve the problem I think something is wrong. Seriously, if Mike Rodgers isn’t fired by the end of this story he better have pulled off something that could only be done if he was there, the psychologist is giving me cause for concern and I’ve barely met her, and I’m not too thrilled about the Press Secretary and I haven’t met her at all. In a different story Paul Hood would be the straight man in a sitcom filled with screwballs. So what’s the page count for the next set of chapters?
- Chapter 22: Tuesday, 7:08 AM, Virginia/Kentucky Border: four physical pages, three space-length pages
- Chapter 23: Tuesday, 7:10 AM, Op-Center: ten pages
Almost the opposite of our count last week. Let’s see how worse Paul’s headache is going to be.
Okay, it’s official. Mike Rodgers is a big jerk!
He went along with this to play soldier again, made sure Paul couldn’t stop him, and as we read his thoughts he’s showing us what little respect he has for his boss…because he wants to be the one in charge. That’s two Starscreams we see surrounding Paul right now including Ms. Mackall…or would be if Mike was where he was supposed to be instead of forcing one of the special ops soldiers to stay behind because they’re too young and not as experienced as the middle-aged man. I actually started hating him more as I wrote this paragraph. I’m not even sure how much I’m exaggerating given this guy’s personality. He’s even talking about wishing he could get him to go with the track and be a womanizer despite his family, and he hates the fact that Paul’s background is more in politics. And yet he’s more of a professional than you are, Mike, because he’s where he’s supposed to be. This is not inspiring confidence.
And Liz the psychologist isn’t much better. She has issues with Hood as well, because he doesn’t accept her finding as the absolute truth. Liz also likes to mess with her assistant because she doesn’t have as much life experience as she does book experience. Interestingly, Paul lives a very Christian life for an atheist. (I know he’s an atheist because Liz is going over his profile and fantasizes about sending his profile to Pat Robertson just to embarrass him.) And yet he’s loyal to his family, we’ve seen he loves his wife and children (I think he’s the only one not divorced among the Op-Center staff), doesn’t do drugs (not even in his youth), and really hasn’t shown any hatred to anyone. His anger in his call to Mike wasn’t yelling like J. Jonah Jameson (or to be honest, me) but low tones and carefully chosen words (which Mike mentally made fun of him for). He’s doing his best to be nice even to people he doesn’t really care for and at least tries to pay attention to the psych profiles. Meanwhile, Liz had more nice things to say about the North Korean President (who isn’t coming off as a member of the Kim Jung family as he actually does seem like a fairly decent guy for a dictator) than she does Paul. So he’s basically surrounded by people who want to see him fail, either because they want his job or want someone who will immediately kiss her butt. I should also mention that you don’t need to see the picture of Freud to know that she thinks way too much about everyone’s sex lives.
Also, we have the first swear in this book and it’s from her mind. Only took 108 pages, so at least the author isn’t putting swears in there just to be edgy but because the dialog called for it.
Meanwhile we meet Ann Ferris, the aforementioned press secretary, and attorney Lowell Coffey II. Liz, at least in her head, makes no bones that she doesn’t care for Coffey, who like Ferris comes from money but unlike Ann wasn’t afraid to use it to get into law school, at least according to Liz. I think she dislikes this guy more than Paul. Ferris, however, is probably the only one not wanting to see Paul fail because she wants to get into Paul’s pants, as she has a penchant for fooling around with married men ever since her husband cheated on her. Said husband (now ex-husband…I’m trying to figure out if this makes her a hypocrite and I can’t blame Alanis Morissette for this one) is described as an ultra-liberal former radio host and both of them are from Connecticut. So she’s also a poor representative of my home state, a woman who likes to date married men (Liz’s thoughts allude to her dating a President–my money’s on Clinton), and now she wants Paul, because he doesn’t have enough trouble. Liz was called in to guess what the response would be from the North Korean President and how to better word the press release Ferris and Coffey are working on…and then the computers all go down. You know, author, at some point you really need to stop piling on the problems and let things get sorted out.
Final thoughts: I’m not liking these people. Paul Hood has not shown any reasons why he should be disliked by anyone beyond their own desire for power and yet everyone around him seems to be interested in ruining his life in one way or another whether it’s taking his job or ruining his marriage, or even both. This is not boding well for South Korea, the unification, or my continued enjoyment of the book. Maybe next time things will improve, but I’m starting to wish Soonji lived and one of these people took her place.