Chapter Thirteen: The Express Lane

“What in the name of wombat milk are those thangs?”

If you need to ask who said that, then clearly you haven’t read the previous updates.

Piper tries to speak the name of the creatures, but can’t manage to say it. Tookie says it—the LeGizzârds. What are they? We don’t get any description of them

Tookie calms Piper down by talking in Colorian. Dylan introduces Tookie to Piper, and Shiraz correctly infers that the bubble around SansColor is to keep the LeGizzârds out. Piper exposits about how many Colorians, including her father, have been killed by the LeGizzârds, although her mother claims that Piper’s father died from a “deadly dermal disease.” No, I think he was really killed by bad alliteration.

Shiraz and Dylan also reveal that their fathers are dead, and Tookie is asked about her own father. She says that she lost her father as well, noting that it’s not entirely the same thing as the other three. What a great way to start off a friendship—misleading your soon-to-be friends!

Piper notices Dylan staring, and explains her albinism. She also mentions that her mother isn’t really a queen and she isn’t really a princess; she just uses those words to annoy her mother.

The pouch then arrives over a thick cloud of fog, with heavy drumbeats and what they suspect to be the gates to Modelland in the distance. Shiraz begins to fear that they were chosen to be sacrificed, and starts singing a song. The song is quite eloquent for someone who apparently isn’t the best at English as established earlier. Dylan also mentions sacrifice rumours, faints, then reiterates that she has four brothers and four sisters. Tookie is also fearful, having heard of sacrifice rumours in Metopia as well, and begins to think that this is all too good to be true.

They pass over the Diabolical Divide, where they see various articles of clothing.

“Those items must be from the expired Pilgrims who caught the Plague,” Piper said quietly.

“Expired?” Dylan shook her head. “The princess of SansColor is also the princess of understatement! Those Pilgrims aren’t just expired, honey—they’re dead!”

I’d really like Dylan to go expire in a hole now.

The Gates of Modelland come into view, and after a description, the walls of the pouch start dripping liquid. Dylan fears that they’re going to be electrocuted with the liquid, and the girls all hold hands. The pouch crashes into the ground, spilling the girls out. It also produces an umbrella out of nowhere for Piper to shield herself from the sun.

The drumming stops, and a strange being approaches with a head shaped like a human hand, with eyes, nostrils, and lips in the palm of the hand, but an ordinary human body.

With a heavy Très Jolie (French) accent and numerous French words, the creature introduces itself as Guru Applaussez, a name which I look forward to typing more times. He takes them for being seamstresses.

Yellow smoke starts rising around them. The girls start fearing that they are being sacrificed, but the smoke flies away and forms a door. A nude figure steps out, shoots fabric out of its fingers which turns into underwear that flies around the girls’ heads (?), and chooses a pair of blue bloomers. A necklace appears, which causes Tookie to recognize the figure as the Scout that had chosen the four girls. She produces more clothes that she puts on, then her necklace turns into a belt of yellow fabric around the Scout’s waist—her Sentura.

The Scout lifts a veil off of her face, and guess who the hell it is? It’s Ci~L! We get a long-winded description of her beauty, followed by Ci~L complaining about her armpit sweat.

Lovely.

Ci~L looks at the girls, then after her expression turns dark suddenly, she puts her ear to Dylan’s mouth, “[moves] to Shiraz and [places] her fingers on her wrist” (Whose fingers? Whose wrist?), then touches Piper’s chest. Then she simply extends her hand towards Tookie.

Guru Applaussez says that he will take the seamstresses, but Ci~L tells him that they “are not dressmakers, they are tastemakers—of tomorrow. Bellas of Modelland.”

As they know that “Bellas” are students at Modelland, the girls realize that they must not be sacrifices. Guru Applaussez goes off, and Ci~L mentions that he’s just frustrated that the rest of his family has four hands while he only has three. I’m not sure if I want to know how that works.

We get more exposition on how awesome Ci~L is: she’s a poetry-slam champion and gave speeches at college graduations. Tookie wonders if Ci~L had been demoted, given that Scouts are the girls who almost reached 7Seven status but didn’t quite make it. The girls then shout out a cheer for Ci~L, who asks them not to worship her. Ci~L unenthusiastically starts the “welcome crap”, but cuts it short, given that they’ll be hearing it shortly “from a stone bitch”. Dylan asks her to recite a poem, to which Ci~L refuses; Piper asks her to show off her powers, which gets us this lovely remark:

“Honey chile, you’ve already seen the powers at work,” Ci~L said nonchalantly. “How do you think we got to Modelland? In a bus?”

Well, Ci~L is probably the most interesting character so far. After Lizzie, of course.

Ci~L says that she’ll be seeing them if they pass the torture tests, leading Tookie to wonder what Ci~L meant. More Scouts and their picks arrive, and Tookie’s group is led to a strange face where they are told that they register. We get a few more names and countries from the other new students: Veekay of NorDenSwee, Franca of Cappuccina, Kamalini of Chakra, Bibiana of Terra BossaNova, and…Zarpessa of Metopia. Tookie is surprised to see Zarpessa there, and after blurting out Zarpessa’s name, knows from the look on Zarpessa’s face that the girl knows that Tookie saw her at the Dumpsters.

Finally, Tookie’s turn to get registered comes. After she says her name, the face announces, “Sub—um…substantiated.” Ci~L pushes Tookie on through, then seemingly whispers something to the face. Rather, one of her necklace-“tentacles” send sparks into the painting, seemingly scrambling the face. When Tookie’s three friends approach the face, they are verified before they even finish saying their home country’s names. No one else seemingly notices anything out of the ordinary, and Ci~L describes the process as the “express lane”. Her almost-bipolar demeanour leaves Tookie wondering whose side Ci~L is on. As the gates open, Ci~L describes Modelland as a torture chamber and makes a mention of some sort of mess she is in. She then falls into a hole in the ground, without giving any answer to Tookie asking what she meant.

The new Bellas watch the gates open, and Tookie squints to look at Modelland.

Through the still-narrow slit, she saw that it was like nothing she could ever have imagined.

Chapter Fourteen: Arancia Rossa di Sicilia

The girls walk down a path lined with statues of beautiful women. Fireworks form the word “welcome” in other languages. A citrus scent wafts towards them, which Piper identifies as arancia rossa di Sicilia —or, as Tookie puts it, blood orange. Yes, this chapter is fancily-named after a scent that briefly appears in the chapter. After a bit of stupid dialogue from Dylan, they come upon ten similar-looking girls, each wearing a badge that identifies them as Modelland Bella Tour Guides. All of them seem confused about our four heroines.

The Tour Guides form golden copies of themselves, which they use as mirrors to fix their appearance before telling the girls to step onto the gold surface they were on. As the new Bellas do so, golden copies of each girl appear—except for Tookie, Dylan, Shiraz, and Piper, for whom giant question marks appear. Zarpessa makes an insulting comment towards them. You’d think that, given Zarpessa’s apparent fear of having her Dumpster-dive outed, she wouldn’t potentially provoke Tookie. But that would make sense for a better character, not the stereotypical “mean girl”.

One of the Tour Guides asks for Tookie; based on her description, she’s from an Eastern country and has a “BayJingle” accent.

I wondered what “BayJingle” was supposed to mean, until I said it aloud. “BayJingle…Beijing.” And then promptly slapped myself in the face. Such creativity!

It makes you wonder though—is this supposed to be in our world? You’d think so, given the obvious connections in the names (Striptown = Las Vegas, BayJingle = Beijing), but then again, our world doesn’t have countries with four completely different climates or countries full of albino people. All it does for me is to leave me confused and my opinion of this book slightly lower.

The Tour Guide introduces herself as ZhenZhen, who swapped out the group she was supposed to lead for Tookie’s merely because they were brought in by Ci~L. It even turns out that she changed her hair colour to reddish-brown, as Guru Applaussez tells her to change it back to its black colour.

Dylan was eyeing ZhenZhen like she should be locked up in a mental facility.

Heavens, did Dylan just express something that was actually smart?

We then get ZhenZhen gushing about Ci~L, even mentioning that she wanted to change her name to Zhen~L. When she notices that only Tookie’s name is on her list, Ci~L pops up and magics her friends’ names onto the list. Now that actually seems like a useful power, rather than something stupid like “Excite-to-Buy” or “Seeduksheeon”. Tookie wonders if Ci~L had anything to do with her friends’ names popping up on ZhenZhen’s list. It’s surely a mystery, given that her friends’ names seemingly appeared by magic when Ci~L was doing a gesture that she had done earlier, where she had made it quite clear that she was tampering with something.

They’re led over to another group of recruits, who immediately start whispering amongst each other over our four heroines. ZhenZhen takes Zarpessa’s group of new Bellas as well, telling them that she doesn’t want them getting clawed on their first day. She takes the new students around the buildings, first to the M building where the BellaDonna and administration staff are. ZhenZhen tells them that they cannot enter the M building without an invitation.

Next, she takes them to the O building, which stands for Opera. She tells them that the BellaDonna is part of the royal line which commands the school, and leads them to a circle showing images of the most famous Intoxibellas. Tookie recognizes the 7Sevens from the demonstration before T-DOD, and is reminded of Lizzie when she sees Exodus’s name. Shiraz notices that one of the images is fuzzy, and ZhenZhen reveals that the image is Ci~L’s.

Zarpessa then tells them that she heard that Ci~L was “off message” and is back at Modelland as a punishment. The girls in the group start gossipping, in languages that Tookie recognizes: the languages of Kwaito (“the land of safaris and tribal dance”) and TooLip (“the land of windmills”), along with Pyramidian. I’m not sure which of these are the stupidest.

ZhenZhen tells the group to stop gossiping, then leads them to Beautification Boulevard, where their classes will be—if they survive “THBC”. Tookie asks what “THBC” is, but is told that it is a secret. Ci~L gets more praising, as ZhenZhen tells the group that Ci~L mastered all of her classes and that no one has ever surpassed her skill. I’m starting to get Sue-insert vibes here…

Next we get a look at an egg-shaped structure called the OrbArena, where boys and girls play ManAttack—the boys coming from Modelland’s brother modelling academy, Bestosterone. Doesn’t Modelland sound like a really good name right about now?

ZhenZhen describes the boys as nothing more than accessories at Modelland, simply there to do work and provide eye candy. Wow, the male models do stuff other than being eye candy? And there are male models in a world where not every guy is obsessed with being a model? There’s plenty of unfortunate implications here, folks.

Passing a ship that serves as the “CaraCaraCara” classroom, they come to an obstacle course which includes swinging ropes, flamethrowers, and spinning dance floors. ZhenZhen explains that the obstacle course is where final-year Bellas train for the 7Seven Tournament. Modelling is very serious business in this world.

Dylan says that she just assumed that it was all about who was the prettiest, and after a snide comment from Zarpessa, ZhenZhen says that every girl is easily exchangeable. She uses the word “equation”, which prompts Piper to blurt out a comment about how S-M-A-R-T she is.

ZhenZhen then spills the beans about something she isn’t supposed to tell the girls (but does so because Ci~L warned girls about it when she was a Tour Guide): the Catwalk Corridor. She also mentions the Ugly Room and how fireballs shoot out of the Diabolical Divide every few years upon Modelland; one such incident resulted in some of the girls dying in a stadium fire.

Suddenly, an alarm rings! ZhenZhen tells the girls to start running to the O building, and we get insightful descriptions of how Tookie’s friends run.

Shiraz took off instantly in a cheetahlike sprint. Piper was close behind her, her gallop precise and efficient, like she was speeding forward but barely moving at the same time. Dylan followed, her run a sexy swagger.

So Shiraz is very athletic, Piper is smart, and Dylan is an idiot. Aren’t you glad that Banks shows us how each character’s personality is reflected in how they run?

Tookie, on the other hand, stands still, thinking about how she doesn’t fit in and how Myrracle should be there instead of her. Then a girl wearing a SMIZE and some sort of headphones tells Tookie to run. Tookie starts running, and then trips over her own feet. Because we needed Tookie’s running to tell us that she’s an awkward twit.

That brings a close to this chapter. Join us next time, where we learn more about these mysterious headphones and get some pretty awful homophone usage in The BellaDonna’s Burden and The THBC Tamasha.

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Comment

  1. Prince O' Tea on 22 February 2013, 23:52 said:

    I dearly desire Dylan’s death through decapitation.

    Does that count for alliteration?

  2. Pryotra on 22 February 2013, 23:55 said:

    I’m still not sure if this is serious or not.

    With all the Whimsy and Twee it’s really hard to tell. Maybe I’ve just gotten so cynical. I’m still wondering if drugs were involved somehow…

    Ci~L seems…interesting. Almost as if she’s as bored to be here as the reader probably is. I’m sure that she’s really Tortured somehow, and Tookie’s Innate Goodness is going to make her open up and help her achieve her dream of becoming the 7Seven or whatever with the power to make the guy she was stalking automatically fall in love with her…

  3. Taku on 23 February 2013, 00:53 said:

    Dammit, I cannot stop reading it as “Guru Applesauce”. It’s a lot nicer than whatever it is, so I’m just going to continue with that.

    “NorDenSwee”, really? So subtle the way Banks packs the three major Scandinavian countries, Norway, Denmark and Sweden, into a single word.

    I’m still wondering if drugs were involved somehow…

    Considering they’ll be competing in something called the “THBC”, it’s certainly a possibility.

    I’m not even sure how to pronounce Bestosterone. Is it Best Osterone? Bes Tosterone? Be Stosterone?

    It’s Ci~L!

    Well. So much for the mystery. I actually thought that was going to be a plot point.

  4. lilyWhite on 23 February 2013, 01:21 said:

    Dammit, I cannot stop reading it as “Guru Applesauce”. It’s a lot nicer than whatever it is, so I’m just going to continue with that.

    I may have to steal that… (not really of course)

  5. Taku on 23 February 2013, 01:51 said:

    Go right ahead, it’s easier on the eyes than applausesez

  6. Prince O' Tea on 23 February 2013, 09:59 said:

    I just hope no teenage mothers decide to name their children after characters in this book. I’m still hoping the woman calling her baby Pinkamena Zecora was a troll but I’m really not sure.

  7. Brendan Rizzo on 23 February 2013, 12:25 said:

    Wait a sec… Modelland practices HUMAN SACRIFICE?

    Truth be told, I kind of like Ci~L from what we’ve seen of her. But I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before her plot line is forgotten.

    And of course Zarpessa winds up at Modelland. It would be inconceivable for a story like this not to have an alpha bitch who hates the main character for no reason. Ugh.

  8. Prince O' Tea on 23 February 2013, 14:59 said:

    And who is currently dating the Love Interest. Because anyone who dates someone you personally feel entitled to is an Enemy and a Mega Bitch from Hell for daring to stand in your way, even if they were dating before you even met.

  9. Fireshark on 23 February 2013, 15:19 said:

    “NorDenSwee”, really? So subtle the way Banks packs the three major Scandinavian countries, Norway, Denmark and Sweden, into a single word.

    And she forgot Finland. That’s even worse.

  10. Asahel on 23 February 2013, 15:39 said:

    And she forgot Finland. That’s even worse.

    Ah yes, Finland.

    Finland, Finland, Finland! The country where I want to be!
    Only thinking of camping, or just watching TV!
    Finland, Finland, Finland! You’re the country for me!

  11. Apep on 23 February 2013, 15:44 said:

    Well, the Norwegians, Swedes and Danes are Germanic, while the Finns are… not.

  12. swenson on 23 February 2013, 21:48 said:

    As explained by Scandinavia and the World.

    Read the rest of the comic while you’re there, by the way. Either Sister Finland or Mexico is my favorite.

    Also this explains why Estonia doesn’t count as Nordic.

  13. Fireshark on 24 February 2013, 00:24 said:

    Huh, I didn’t know that Finland wasn’t considered part of Scandinavia. I guess I shouldn’t let my Finnish ancestry fool me into thinking I know much about European geography.

  14. Epke on 24 February 2013, 07:25 said:

    Yeah, Finland is a Nordic country, but not Scandinavian. The differences are the language (Germanic and Uralic) and tribes.

    Kwaito (“the land of safaris and tribal dance”) and TooLip (“the land of windmills”), along with Pyramidian.

    The effort Banks put into her creation is staggering. No, really. Also, I am getting the impression that Ci~L is plotting something by including these unconventional girls… perhaps a coup? Or a revolution of the ideal of beauty?

  15. Apep on 24 February 2013, 11:59 said:

    TooLip (“the land of windmills”)

    That one’s actually kind of clever.

    arancia rossa di Sicilia

    According to Google translate, this is Italian for “red orange of Sicily”. Which raises certain questions – namely, is there a Sicily in this world, or did Ms. Banks just not realize that?

  16. lilyWhite on 24 February 2013, 12:22 said:

    According to Google translate, this is Italian for “red orange of Sicily”. Which raises certain questions – namely, is there a Sicily in this world, or did Ms. Banks just not realize that?

    There’s probably a Scilislania or ScilItalia or something stupid like that.

  17. Prince O' Tea on 24 February 2013, 15:24 said:

    Better “red orange of Sicily” then “buttocks of the cream”

  18. swenson on 24 February 2013, 16:07 said:

    The effort Banks put into her creation is staggering.

    lololol

    Re: Kwaito: is that an intentional reference to Kuwait (which has neither safaris nor tribal dances, as far as I know… although, do Bedouins live there? And do they count as tribal? And do they have dances?) or an accidental one?

  19. Shoobydoo on 27 February 2013, 06:21 said:

    Kwaito comes from a South African language (the world itself derives form Afrikaans according to wikipedia) that sort of means “cool”. It’s a genre of music and also a brand of cheese! I did a project on international cheese for school last semester, which is the only reason I know that.