Chapter 9 – Lost And Found

This chapter had the potential to be really good and give us a better idea of what Marcus’s personality is like. But, because Savage hates good writing, things go downhill quickly.

The chapter opens with Marcus looking at a business card. It’s the card of a guy named Ben Linstrope, who is a Child Welfare Attorney of the State of Arizona. He’s come to the school to see if Marcus is the missing son of a couple whose child was abducted by a gang as a little baby. Marcus has one of those “It’s too good to be true!” feelings, and Linstrope is giving off very creepy vibes, doing things like giving toothy smiles and running “a long, thin finger” down Marcus’s wheelchair. Uh.

The attorney pulls out a photograph from his portfolio and shows it to Marcus. It’s of a young-looking man and woman holding a baby whose features Marcus recognizes as being his own. Seeing this causes Marcus to become very hopeful that he’ll be reunited with his father and mother. He’s almost scarily emphatic in his hopefulness, repeatedly insisting to himself that:

The baby in the picture had to be him. It had to.

This stubborn hopefulness actually comes off as good character building. Marcus has been an orphan his entire life and now he’s facing the possibility of having parents. A couple of pages are spent on showing that Marcus is excited and even a bit nervous, which was well done by Savage. Unfortunately, Savage then decides that characterization is bad.

Linstrope tells Marcus that the gang who abducted him as a baby admitted to having tortured him, which is why Marcus is now crippled. Then he says that they have to make sure that Marcus is indeed the couple’s son, and Marcus asks what he needs to know. Linstrope shows him a drawing that looks exactly like the mark Marcus has on his arm and says that the gang had branded the child of the couple. If Marcus has the mark, then he’s definitely the right kid, and he can go home to his parents. Marcus is very eager to prove that he’s the right child and wonders what it’ll be like to have parents, but then he suddenly remembers how Linstrope looked like the man in his dream. And this is where all the good characterization we had this chapter goes down the drain.

[Marcus] was studying Mr. Linstrope’s eyes, and something in them was setting off huge warning bells inside his head. The mark on his arm itched almost uncontrollably, and it was all he could do to keep from reaching up and putting his hand over it.

Marcus tells Linstrope he doesn’t have the mark, and the attorney acts like he doesn’t believe Marcus and drops a not-so-subtle hint that he knows Marcus is lying. How does he know that? Well, he’s got powers, which he’s been using on Marcus this whole time. Long quote ahead!

Looking into Mr. Linstrope’s eyes, Marcus suddenly found himself wanting to admit that he had the mark. Tell him, whispered a voice inside his head. You can trust him. He’ll take you to your family. Marcus tried to shut the voice off, but it wouldn’t go away. He tried to pull his eyes from Mr. Linstrope’s dark gaze, but he couldn’t seem to.

Show him. Show him. SHOW HIM! The voice drummed over and over in his mind. His hand was trying to reach up toward his shoulder, but he wouldn’t let it. It took every bit of his control to keep his fingers locked on the arm of his wheelchair. If only he could manage to look away, even for a second.

facedesk WHY?!

This is bad writing. Bad. It’s revealed that Marcus has been literally being compelled to feel hope and joy and then do what Linstrope suggests to him through magic (that’s used via eye contact.) All that happiness he felt at the possibility of having loving parents for the first time in his life? The emphatic insistance that he was definitely the son of this couple? His desire to prove that he was their child by showing his mark? None of that was actually him. The entire chapter’s worth of characterization was just tossed away and excused because the baddie is magically manipulating Marcus’s feelings. This entire chapter, which could have been used to show us more about Marcus’s thought processes and feelings, is reduced to being an incident that has no reason for being in the story other than to push the plot along.


Teagarden takes the initiative and exposes the mark on Marcus’s shoulder. Marcus struggles to hide it, but it’s too late, and Linstrope sees it.

Mr. Linstrope was leering like a large, predatory beast.

“It looks like we have our boy.”

Aaaaaand we’ve reached the end of the chapter.

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  1. danielle on 10 May 2012, 18:18 said:

    Ditto to Y U No Guy.

    Now I’m envisioning an alternate universe where Marcus shows him his mark voluntarily, and is kidnapped by the baddies because he wanted parents so badly. Plenty of angst fodder there, Savage!

  2. Mingnon on 11 May 2012, 17:35 said:

    And this kiddies is why you can’t have as much conflict as humanly possible.

  3. Sweguy on 11 May 2012, 18:15 said:

    I liked the build up, it truly touched a human emotion. It could’ve been saved if Marcus had raged at the end over Linstrope abusing his situation and his loss of parents. It could’ve actually been a pretty powerful scene.

  4. Erin on 12 May 2012, 15:25 said:

    Ugh, so much wasted potential.

    I have a feeling I’m going to be saying that many times through the course of this book.

  5. swenson on 13 May 2012, 21:23 said:

    I really liked the first part, as I thought it was true to the backstory of the character, the kid who never knew his parents and jumped at the chance to find them.

    And then he had to go and ruin it all by going “hurr hurr, it was really an evil spell”. Because characters like that can never be wrong or misguided, only fooled by the bad guys.

    I was rereading the Hawkmistress! spork, and that was actually brought up as one of the biggest ways that main character is a Mary Sue—the world precisely conforms to her perceptions of it. She’s never truly wrong or anything, she always turns out to be right about everything. I don’t know if Marcus is quite that bad so far, but it’s something to remember. Make your hero screw up sometimes! And the little voice telling them the right thing to do is such a copout.

  6. danielle on 14 May 2012, 01:40 said:

    @ swenson: It totally is. And even in real life, how many people do you know who ignore that “little” voice, aka the conscience? It makes me long for The Silver Chair, where Eustace and Jill KNEW the right thing to do and didn’t because they were scared or lazy or whatever.

  7. Lone Wolf on 16 May 2012, 14:50 said:

    Whatever Marcus’ voice here was, it certainly wasn’t conscience.