F: First of all, I apologize. We do not spend forty pages on a plane. We spend fifteen. I do, however, believe that fifteen pages is far too long to spend on a plane if nothing whatsoever happens and the book in question isn’t a novelization of Snakes on a Plane or something.

The next morning, I awoke with great energy and felt positive and enthusiastic about the trip.

T: If anyone can find me an actual 17-year-old who thinks like this, I will offer them a million dollars. And if I ever actually speak like this, please. Show mercy. Shoot me.

F: Oh, teenagers who don’t sound like teenagers. What would YA be like without you?

Kelsey heads on down to the circus, where Ren is being loaded onto a truck. He is “calm and unruffled” and spends the entire time staring at Kelsey. Apparently this is not remotely weird to her. After all, she’s just so special that of course the tiger has nothing better to do than gaze at her beauty. After a totally uneventful drive with totally unnecessary dialogue, they’re at the airport. Transitions, CHouck. Learn them.

T: Ren is loaded onto a private plane with a “Flying Tiger Airlines” logo. Maybe CHouck didn’t realize it, or maybe she didn’t care, but that is an actual company that operated from 1946 to 1989, at which point it was sold to FedEx. Besides that, the small cargo plane described here doesn’t sound like a Boeing 747, Boeing 727, or Douglas DC-8, which were the only planes in the company when it was sold. Getting into the plane, Kelsey actually points out how different this plane looks from a commercial jet.

My new theory is that CHouck invented a random name to go with her book, and didn’t even bother Googling it to see if any other company just happened to have the same name. Research fail, my dear.

This plane was definitely different. It was luxurious, wide open, and had plenty of legroom and comfy leather reclining chairs. It was so much nicer than flying coach. Comparing this to a regular plane was like comparing a soggy, stale French fry you find under a car seat with a giant baked potato with salt rubbed into the skin and topped with sour cream, crumbled bacon, butter, shredded cheese, and sprinkled with fresh-cracked black pepper. Yep, this plane was loaded.

F: Are you ready? Brace yourselves for the freakishly detailed descriptions of food that will continue throughout the rest of the book, frequently supplemented with run-ons and comments from Kelsey’s 7-year-old alter ego, and mimicked by the loving and overworded presentation of clothes and outfits.

T: Awful narration aside, who cares what the plane looks like? There are several more paragraphs that mirror the one above, lovingly listing the beautiful comforts that this plane has, but they’re utterly pointless. After this single chapter, the plane disappears. The description doesn’t even give us an idea of what the plane looks like, just how incredibly plush and posh it is. Essentially, it’s a large proof-of-wealth badge for Mr. Kadam. I can’t recall the exact words, but this reminds me of a passage in On Writing where King points out that description needs to be proportionate to the amount of time spent in the place you’re describing. Fifteen pages, long as it is to spend on a plane, is not enough to warrant a full page of description.

F: Kelsey spends an hour and a half on the Sudoku and crossword, then finally can’t help but ask Mr. Kadam how exactly he wound up with the Flying Tiger plane. After all, that’s clearly the most pressing question here.

T: Unfortunately, Mr. Kadam’s answer makes it clear that CHouck did intend for this plane to be from the actual Flying Tiger Airlines. Apparently, Mr. Kadam’s employer was the head of the airlines, and kept the one plane for personal use after selling the company to FedEx. This still fails, however, seeing as none of the planes used by the Flying Tiger Airlines were suited to personal use. It took me ten minutes to find that.

F: To show that Kelsey is “hip” and “with it”, she references The Simpsons. She asks Mr. Kadam about the cargo the company transported, and how he ran it, and a load of other questions about this single company. Spoilers: this will never come up again. It’s not a plot point, it’s just pointless facts. If anyone were really that interested in the company, they could look it up. It looks like Wikipedia just threw up onto the pages.

“Yes, I spent a lot of time developing Flying Tiger Airlines. I very much enjoy aviation.” [Mr. Kadam] gestured to the aircraft. “What we’re riding in here is called an MD-11, a McDonnell Douglas.”

T: Now she’s just taunting me. The first ever MD-11 flight was in 1990, which was a year after the Flying Tiger Airlines were sold. Look up the friggin’ information, CHouck! Now, if this was just an imaginary company that happened to have the same name, I might be able to give her some slack, but I refuse to allow her to use a real company, then destroy logic just to give Mr. Kadam the “best” plane.

F: After he’s finished gushing over the plane that should not be, Mr. Kadam decides to share some tiger myths from his homeland.

I nodded enthusiastically, urging him to go on. I drew my legs to the side and tucked them into my chair. Then I pulled my blanket up to my chin and leaned back into my pillow.

T: TJ:LKElkj;eljk;sel;jkel;kjfjhfshei. {malfunction- shutting down}

F: That speaks for itself.

After Kelsey has cozily buried herself in the chair (suffocate, please, suffocate), Mr. Kadam exposits about the wise, gentle, brave nature of tigers, and their important role in Indian myths. All of this is absolute filler. Mr. Kadam mentions how in Islam, Allah sends tigers to protect his followers, but also to punish traitors.

“Hmm, I think if I were Islamic I would run away from it, just to be on the safe side. I wouldn’t know if it’s coming to punish or protect.”

T: {starting up} … {reading} … {malfunction- shutting down}

F: (Kelsey): I’m totes a teenager! Promise! Look at how vapid and airheaded I am!

Oh. Here we are. Time to bow before the Mary Sue’s feet, fools, for she has been chosen by tigers. Isn’t she Speshul? So, Kelsey asks if Mr. Kadam knows any “damsel-in-distress type tiger myths”. Red flag! Red flag!

He considered. “Hmm, yes. In fact, one of my favorite stories is about a white tiger that sprouts wings and saves the princess who loves him from a cruel fate. Carrying her on his back, they relinquish their corporeal forms and become a single white streak journeying into the heavens, eventually joining the stars of the Milky Way. Together they spend eternity watching over and protecting the people of Earth.”

I yawned sleepily. “That’s really beautiful. I think that one’s my favorite too.”

T: Your favorite? That’s not a story! That’s a summary! What exactly do you like about it? Wait … you haven’t even heard any other stories! {headdesk}

… Hang on. You thought I missed it, didn’t you? Well,

F: … He gets touchy about adverbs.

Kelsey is falling asleep so quickly I suspect drugs. While she’s “forcing [her] eyes open”, Mr. Kadam waxes poetic about the wonderful qualities of the girls that white tigers are drawn to. What subtle foreshadowing this is!

Mr. Kadam looked at me thoughtfully. “A white tiger is a very special kind of tiger. It is immitigably drawn to a person, a woman, who has a powerful sense of self-conviction. This woman will possess great inner strength, will have the insight to discern good from evil, and will have the power to overcome many obstacles. She who is called to walk with tigers-”

I fell asleep.

F: {gigglesnort} This parodies itself. Besides that, Kelsey is a whining, bored brat. I doubt she’ll ever display the slightest measure of these qualities. And I don’t remember that whole “imprinting” thing from Indian lore.

Kelsey wakes up and heads to the bathroom. There are four full paragraphs of description about the “beautiful rust- and cream-colored tiles set in a lovely pattern”, “soft, alabaster towels”, and a shower. I sense something is not right here.

T: {rises from the grave} Nothing is right here! The first passenger airplane to have a shower on board was unveiled in 2008- 19 years after the Flying Tiger Airline company was sold. No McDonnell Douglas has ever had a shower on board. And four paragraphs of description are spent on a bathroom, while Kelsey is only in it for five paragraphs. It is never seen again.

“Today’s lunch is crusted hazelnut halibut with buttered asparagus, garlic mashed potatoes, and a lemon tart for dessert.”

F: Thank you. I care. I really do.

They stop to refuel in New York. Kelsey pets Ren like a housecat. They lift off once more. Kelsey watches Gone with the Wind. Kelsey and Mr. Kadam eat once more.

For dinner, Nilima served us stuffed chicken Marsala with grilled zucchini and a salad. I felt a little better eating more vegetables, but then she brought out chocolate lava cakes for dessert.

T: Kelsey angsts over eating chocolate lava cakes.
Lava cakes.

F: Kelsey takes a lesson from Bella Swan and discusses her favorite characters from literature with Mr. Kadam: Hamlet, Captain Ahab, Dr. Frankenstein, Iago, simple stuff like that.

She goes to visit Ren again (is that even possible while the plane is in the air?), and talks to Mr. Kadam about how Ren could hurt her, but he won’t, because her Sue instincts tell her that he is a friend.

Kelsey goes to the bathroom again. Then she sleeps. Then she wakes. Then she eats breakfast. Then she goes to the bathroom again. Then she feeds bacon to Ren. Then she puts her things away. {headdesk} That was … that was worse than an actual plane ride. Keep in mind, every sentence of description I just wrote required at least two paragraphs of inane chatter about it.

“Miss Kelsey, welcome to India.”


Tagged as:


  1. Juracan on 27 June 2013, 17:24 said:

    And if I ever actually speak like this, please. Show mercy. Shoot me.

    [opens drawer, looks at flintlock pistol, with only one shot]

    I’m saving that one.


    I can find some other way to relieve you, though.

    I yawned sleepily. “That’s really beautiful. I think that one’s my favorite too.”

    This girl, Kelsey, is she… um… is she alright? Like, has she been dropped on her head as a child? Because she doesn’t seem to fully register the information that is being presented to her in a way that makes sense. It’s like she’s maybe having a conversation different than the one Mr. Kadam is.

    Maybe that explains the plot of the book— she lives in her own little world.

  2. Brendan Rizzo on 27 June 2013, 18:28 said:

    So how old is Kelsey, exactly? Five?

    If any five-year-olds are reading this, I apologize.

  3. lilyWhite on 27 June 2013, 19:17 said:

    What makes me a little sad is realizing that in almost all of these blatant wish-fulfillment romances, the heroine is mind-numbingly stupid. It would make one think that the girls who read these books don’t place much value in intelligence…if not for the fact that the heroines are treated like the smartest peoplez evar and/or gain enough IQ points to become all-knowing whenever the plot requires them to be S-M-R-T.

  4. Oculus_Reparo on 27 June 2013, 20:52 said:

    Oh, the plane. I needed that plane when I was sandwiched in the middle of a row on a fourteen-hour flight. I have the worst time trying to sleep in airplane seats.

    “Carrying her on his back, they relinquish their corporeal forms”?? Shoot me if I ever say anything like that, unless I’m reading an academic paper aloud.

  5. Mingnon on 28 June 2013, 03:32 said:

    “Flying Tiger” Airlines, Tigers being mouse-eaters, Tigers and their fondness for princesses… Not to mention the author mistaking an airplane chair for a bed. This is less of a romance and more of a poorly-written fairy tale… and I am using the name ‘fairy tale’ VERY lightly here.

    And oh yeah, keep thinking yourself as being enthusiastic you sad-bored sounding main character.

  6. Epke on 28 June 2013, 14:48 said:

    Oh, lord… hey, Kelsey? Know what your future and a group of crows have in common?

    A murder.

  7. swenson on 1 July 2013, 09:11 said:

    I think the rants on aviation history were the best part of this spork thus far. Ah, the power of ten seconds of Googling. Gotta love it.

    Please tell me something actually happens next chapter.