Cleverly Disguised Book Club: Abarat

Candy Quackenbush is growing up in Chickentown, Minnesota, yearning for more–which she finds, quite unexpectedly, when a man with eight heads appears from nowhere in the middle of the prairie, being chased by something really monstrous. And so begins Candy’s epic adventure to the islands of the Abarat. Peopled by all manner of creatures, cultures, and customs, the islands should prove a fertile setting for the series that Barker is calling The Books of Abarat. Candy is an intelligent and likable heroine, and the many supporting characters are deftly drawn, both in words and in the full-color interior art that Barker has produced to give the story an extra dimension.

Abarat, written by Clive Barker, is weird . . .  . Like, really weird, and kind of uncomfortable, which I think is a staple of Clive Barker’s books. Oddly enough, however, that doesn’t make it bad. In fact, I got so sucked into this book that I still go back and read it from time to time. The engaging story is made even more enchanting by the amazingly unique art that accompanies it. But . . . it’s weird.

waiting

 

I feel like that’s going to be a common refrain for this book. Indeed, this entire book series (for yes! It is now a series, with 3, and an upcoming 4th book! Which I did not know until I was researching for this post. Awkward.)

I can summarize this book the best I can, but I honestly don’t think it will be nearly adequate enough to explain it. It’s really one you have to read to understand, much like The Westing Game.

There are many central characters, but the most important is Candy, a young heroine that is literally thrown into a new world that she had no awareness of before she found a lighthouse in the middle of a field on the outskirts of the Midwest town she had grown up in. Despite her ignorance of the world, she and Abarat are linked by magics and forces as yet unexplained.

witchcraft

 

Ha ha. Sorry, sorry. Couldn’t resist!

But seriously, it is actually witchcraft. There are all kinds of crazy magics and people wandering around Abarat, a world made up of 25 islands, each pertaining to one hour of the day (plus one extra for mysterious reasons). Candy makes her way through some of the islands, the hours of which I can’t remember, and meets all kinds of interesting people.

The story has a habit of switching from character perspective to character perspective, which I actually like. It makes the whole thing more rounded and developed, and we get the perspectives on characters that aren’t just the main heroine and her friends. We get the main villain’s perspective a couple of times, and I remember actually getting really into his story, but that might be because I tend to glomp onto villains with the sense of a sinking person to an anchor  and wanting to know how the whole thing resolves.

Spoiler alert: It doesn’t.

furry disproves

 

No, there was always going to be a sequel to this book, and that left me freakishly frustrated and drooling over the sequel the minute it came out. And even that didn’t resolve anything, just left me with a void of feeling, which I think I’ve heard is also common for Clive Barker. Now that I know about the third one, I think I’ll go look it up and see if there’s anything worth mentioning. I was a little turned off by the series after the second one, but the first one was a brilliant and engaging. I totally recommend it obviously and encourage you to keep going with the series. If for no other reason than to keep dreaming of the possibility that any of the subplots will eventually make sense.

PENTATONIX!!!

Alright, so, Luther College has had lame concerts all four years that I’ve been here, but all my waiting has finally paid off. PENTATONIX CAME TO LUTHER COLLEGE!!!!!!!!!!

dancing colbert

fuck yeah

foaming mouth guy

spaz

uncontrollably excited tom hiddleston

I cannot contain my joy!!! I screamed so hard I gave myself a headache! And the best part was that I got to go with my ‘mates and we all sat together and screamed together, and we just haven’t managed to get out much this year, so it was really great. I’m also really loopy because I’m not really used to the concert scene, so my ears are ringing, my head feels filled with cotton, and everything feels kind of numb. Is this normal???!!! I HOPE SO!!

See, I haven’t had much experience with concerts. My first one was Hillary Duff back in the day, and I don’t remember much of it. Plus, it was a very different energy. Then the second one was Celtic Thunder, which is very not the same thing. I’ve managed to literally miss other concerts by, like, a week!!!

bitch are you serious loki

Anyway, the concert was a BLAST!! Luther’s a big music place, and I have discovered one of the few things that will get the Lutheran majority out of their seats and at least clapping (not much dancing, but whatever. Sucks for them :P) And if this is how concerts always are, hopefully with more dancing, then I’m all over getting my hands on another opportunity to go to one!

ANOTHER!

Wheeeeee!!!! I’m, like, super wired, but my hands are kind of numb, which I might have said earlier? I’m also really tired. Ha ha! Thank god I don’t actually have to use my brain much tomorrow!

i regret nothing

Lord of the Rings: The Third Age

Alright, so, I talk a lot about video games on this blog, which I am not ashamed of in the slightest, so here we go.

A while back, I was browsing the used game store in my dinky college town looking for cheap entertainment. Since the PS2 is now considered a fossil, the games are now disgustingly affordable, the good ones going for $15 and the bad ones going for $2. A while ago, my ‘mates and I discovered that we love horrible video games.

happy thumbs up

Our first horrible video game was the EA Harry Potter game based on the fourth movie. It was short, confusing, and disgustingly padded. 😛 Since that, as I said, was super short, we were on the lookout for something new. And I found this game: Lord of the Rings: The Third Age. At the time, all I saw was a $2 pricetag and another EA stamp of shame and I was sold.

crazy rafiki

So, we started it off, originally trying it with 2 people, the max for both the game and my number of controllers, and we quickly found out three things:

  1. The game was not about any of the Lord of the Rings characters that actually matter
  2. Only one person could actually wander around, despite co-op mode being turned on
  3. The game was built from the pit of hell that is random encounters and turn-based combat

ahhh mulan

Despite that, we were not deterred. Much. We continued on, starting off with an elf and a warrior wandering around a forest picking up stuff from chests and getting interrupted ever thirty seconds by things that generally didn’t like us.

Full disclosure, my friends and I really suck at video games. We get lost easily, we die a lot, and we don’t generally use strategy.

unimpressed cat

Not that these flaws ever seem to deter us from playing them, but it does give our friend Gavin a lot of joy in tormenting us when “he plays it better his first go” because he is a big jerkface because he knows how turn based combat works better.

whatever jafar

Everything was going just fine and dandy for us for a while. We met some new guys, a questionably hetero pair of a ranger and a dwarf who joined us in our mission of trying to visit every place in the movies without actually connecting to the actual plot except in a few awkward scenes.

Yes, the idea of the game is that we, a group of six (eventually) ragtag weirdos helped the main characters of the movies somehow win they day and may or may not die at the end (it’s uncomfortably unclear, but I’ll get to that later). Oh, while also having a bit of plot and “drama” of our own, most importantly focused on the warrior and a ridiculously skewed love triangle that involves the elf and a warrior woman we found in Rohan. And there’s something about the Nazgul having created the warrior through . . . . magic? Something something fight the monsters beat the guys profit. That’s about the only substance in the hastily thrown together plot.

grossed out prince

 

The point is, the game is bad. The mechanics are bad, the plot is bad, and the characters are bad. The only thing that allows it to be called Lord of the Rings is because it’s set in Middle Earth and attempts to mooch off the plot like a lamprey. After the first few hours, we kind of abandoned it for a little while, until my friend Meggie took up the mantle of gamer for a while, while the rest of us sat around and shouted suggestions and encouragements. We didn’t know how to strategically level up our guys, and so then got stuck in Helm’s Deep where we kept getting killed by Uruk-hai bitches that kept staggering us and killing us literally before we could do anything. So we (meaning mostly me) had to level grind for two days before being able to kill them. That was a load of bollocks, and was almost more mind numbing than level grinding in Pokemon which apparently I’m one of the few who do that, so . . . ., although it did give rise to two of the many jokes that have since become standard in our household:

Meggie: Hey Kat, let’s go find some Wild Men!

(meaning one of the types of enemies that are present in Rohan)

and

Me: *gets attacked by a Wild Man* AH! He Wild Pierced me!

(meaning one of their attacks)

cruella laugh

 

Childish? Yes. Hilarious? YES!

Anyway, over the course of most of the year, we’ve sunk over 50 hours into this game, so recently, today actually, we finished it, and now we’re sitting around going “Now what?” Especially with the shitty ending we got, which consisted of a cut scene featuring awkward screen shots from the movies that really had nothing to do with our characters and no ending animation for us! What is this?! We didn’t get any resolution! We didn’t find out what happened to our characters! Technically all that happens is that we defeat Sauron’s Eye (don’t ask) and then we cut to the scene from the movie where the tower crumbles. So, there is a chance that everyone just died. And, in case I haven’t made it clear by now, I’m not into those kinds of ambiguous endings, especially not from a game that has no right to feel important, despite all the hours we’ve sunk into it!

fuck this shit loki

 

In all honesty, thought, it was a fun experience. It was one of those weird bonding things that manages to suck everyone in with its horribleness and its frustrating, ball-grating combat and I hope that we can find another game as engrossing as it was. I have one in mind, but we’ll have to see, won’t we?