The epic(?!) saga continues.

Chapter 3 – Now You See Him

Now you don’t! (hides behind a wall)

The chapter opens with description of Marcus Kanenas, one of the main characters of the book. He’s the disabled kid who the bullies in the previous chapter tried (and failed miserably) to attack.

Marcus Kanenas, a thirteen-year-old boy with scruffy, reddish-brown hair, sat on the worn hallway floor in patched blue jeans and a school T-shirt that still looked new and stiff. The shirt hung like a sail on his skinny frame and narrow shoulders. His right arm, which held the mop tucked under it, was corded with wiry muscle from years of pushing himself around in his wheelchair. By comparison, his left arm, withered and weak, looked like a broken chicken wing with the left three fingers tucked into a permanent fist.

Marcus’s name is a lot more special sounding than every other normal person we’ve seen thus far. Chet and Pete are normal, average names. Marcus Kanenas on the other hand is just…special sounding. I guess because he’s a main character he needs a fancy name. One (or maybe both, it wasn’t clear) of his legs is damaged, which is why he’s in a wheelchair.

Marcus has a short stare-down with the gang, then shouts “en garde!” and thrusts his mop towards them.

The imagery is just not working.

“How’d the freak get over there?” Pete crowed.

He crowed? What is he, a rooster?

Marcus somehow manages to mop the floor (see what I did there) with Beaver, Squint, and Pete. Then Chet, who’s been spacing out since he got whacked on the nose, snaps out of it.

Focusing his eyes on Marcus like a bull taking aim at a matador’s cape, he rubbed the purple goose egg on his nose.

Though I know Savage means a large welt, I’m now imagining that there is an actual purple egg on Chet’s nose. Teehee.

The next page and a half just has Marcus fending off Chet, until Chet finally manages to grab the mop. Then Marcus rolls into Chet’s legs and knocks him down the stairs. The chapter ends there.

Chapter 4- Crime and Punishment

No, not that Crime and Punishment.

We’re introduced to a new character- Principal Teagarden. We get the requisite description of him, though he probably will never show up again:

The principal was a tall, stork-like man with wintry gray eyes and rimless glasses that balanced on the end of his sharp nose. Thinning hair was combed in a complicated pattern on top of his scalp to disguise the fact that he’d been mostly bald for the last five years.

What is with Savage’s obsession with comparing characters to birds? In the first chapter, there was that creepy owl-like villain, and now we have a principal who resembles a stork. I find it interesting that the author felt the need to point out that he’d been balding for “the last five years.” This is being told from Marcus’s point of view- who we know is new to the school- so how could he tell that the principal hasn’t had a full head of hair in five years?

Then it’s revealed that principal is CHET’S UNCLE!!!! HOW WILL THIS ALTERCATION PLAY OUT NOW?!!!

As is to be expected, Chet tries to blame Marcus for the trouble.

“It was his fault. We were just mopping the floor like you asked us to when he came wheeling out of nowhere and knocked me down the stairs.”

Teagarden wants to know if this is true. Marcus decides Chet’s gang will eventually get revenge if he blames them, so he decides to take the blame to avoid further trouble. He tells Teagarden it was an accident.

“An accident?” the principal bellowed. “An accident?” There are no such things as accidents at Philo T. Justice. There are only rule-keepers and rule-breakers. And you [sic] Mr…..Mr….”

“Kanenas,” Marcus murmured, keeping his eyes lowered.

“You are a rule-breaker.” The principal pulled out his handkerchief and blotted his red cheeks. “You race around on this contraption of yours,” he said [sic] giving Marcus’s wheelchair a distasteful nudge with the tip of his shoes, “and you endanger the lives of every other boy in this school. I’ve got a good mind to-”

This confrontation has a couple of glaring faults to it. First of all, the kids were told to mop the floors, so it would make sense to send someone to supervise them and make sure they did it properly. Secondly, why is he so angry at Marcus? We’re told this school is in Cove Valley, Arizona, in the United States, and we’re given no indication that this is taking place during another time period, so I’m assuming this is supposed to be current day. I find it a bit hard to believe that the principal of a school would accuse a new student who is disabled of “racing around,” calling it a “contraption,” and also say that the disabled boy is endangering “the lives of every other boy in this school.”

This is known as discrimination, and whatever personal bias this principal has toward the disabled, he, as principal, should be behaving in a way that’s considered socially acceptable; i.e., not raging at a disabled teenager. The school supposedly has strict rules for the students to abide by- but considering that, it’s highly difficult, if not impossible, for someone to race down a flight of stairs in a wheelchair, so unless this principal is a complete idiot he should be able to see this. The only explanation I can think of is that we’re supposed to hate Teagarden, and so Savage is trying to make us feel the hate in the most amateur way possible. Which makes me sad.

Suddenly, while Teagarden is still raging, the English teacher/track coach Mr. Allen appears out of nowhere and saves Marcus from the wrath of the principal. Teagarden hurries off to some appointment Mr . Allen reminds him of, telling the teacher to “See that the trouble maker is punished.”

Mr. Allen points out that Chet just happens to be around when a lot of accidents happen, with other students being the victims of the “accidents”. He then tells Marcus that wheeling through the halls at high speeds is a “violation of school policy” and says that if he holds to his version of what happened, he’ll receive two hours in seclusion as punishment. We get brief exposition that Marcus has endured many harsh punishments at other schools he’s been at, which begs the question of why he’s always getting in to trouble. This makes me wonder if he’s supposed to be a bit of a trouble maker. But if he’s not, then why at every school he goes to do people hate disabled kids?

Marcus says it was his fault again, and Mr. Allen sends Chet and his gang to repair and wash Marcus’s wheelchair. Apparently Mr. Allen has some dirt on Chet, which he uses to keep Chet from telling on him when he threatens to make them “mop floors until they’re twenty” if he finds Marcus injured any more.

As Chet and his friends carried the broken wheelchair out of sight, Mr. Allen turned to Marcus. “I’m afraid you’ll have to come with me. Can you make it on your own, or shall I see if I can find another wheelchair?”

“I can make it on my own,” Marcus said. And to demonstrate, he scooted down the stairs and across the hall faster than a boy with two good legs and arms.

If he’s able to move better than a fully functional person without using his wheelchair, what was the point of making him disabled to start with?

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Comment

  1. Fireshark on 12 April 2012, 21:51 said:

    And to demonstrate, he scooted down the stairs and across the hall faster than a boy with two good legs and arms

    Note: People with disabilities are always better than you, especially at the thing they’re supposed to have a hard time with.

  2. Danielle on 12 April 2012, 22:33 said:

    And to demonstrate, he scooted down the stairs and across the hall faster than a boy with two good legs and arms.

    PLEASE tell me I’m not the only one who finds that mental image hilarious! Seriously, I want this book to be made into a movie JUST so I can watch that scene over and over.

  3. LoneWolf on 12 April 2012, 23:36 said:

    Marcus seems to suffer from a really bad case of Informed Disability. He is even better at fighting then ‘Maya, the Princess of Maradonia’! Come on, defeating a gang of kids led by someone three years older then him, while being disabled?

    Mind you, “Marcus” is merely a variant of “Mark”. Not that speshful.

  4. Rorschach on 13 April 2012, 00:46 said:

    This book sounds just swell.

  5. Requiem on 13 April 2012, 01:42 said:

    Perhaps Marcus was trained by Mr.Miyagi and Jackie Chan.

    I’m already wondering what kind of deus ex machina are going to come into play soon.

  6. Mingnon on 13 April 2012, 02:41 said:

    Mind you, “Marcus” is merely a variant of “Mark”. Not that speshful.

    Well, there’s the surname of ‘Kanenas’, which sounds a bit suey for a modern day setting to me…

    Anyway, I am now reminded of that scene from Little Monsters (Ala the Nostalgia Critic review):

    Principal: “You’re new here aren’t you? Well I think we’re going to have a talk, in my office! You have rules to learn!”
    Critic: “Ah yes, the new law of High School. If you’re the new kid, you are automatically to blame.”

  7. Mangraa on 13 April 2012, 08:10 said:

    Ugh, yet another OVERLY handicapable character. While it is true that many with “basic” physical handicaps (meaning not neurological or otherwise affecting the entire body, especially at a cellular level) do adapt quite well, can do incredible things with their working parts, and often can be just as functional as non-handicapped people (might be a little slower, but they can do it), the fact that Marcus is able to out-perform a regular kid in an action DIRECTLY related to his afflicted parts just screams “Stu!”

    I thought it was enough having him fend off 3 kids without the use of his wheelchair. That is impressive and can be due to his upper body strength and ability to move on the floor in ways fully-functional people couldn’t dream of since they never needed to adapt. But no, this HandiStu has to be better and faster doing the most basic of leg-related actions. Technically, he’s better than if he wasn’t handicapped, so he’s really some Nietzschean überStu in disguise.

    On a physics note, I know or have known a few people who had no use of their legs, as well as a couple of legless individuals. While it is true that the legless ones could scoot like motherfuckers, propelling themselves with their arms, they weren’t as fast as a regular person. Those who HAD legs but couldn’t use them were slower, since their legs were in the way/extra baggage when they scooted or hopped. And yes, in some cases someone would use the lift-body-and-swing method, which worked the best on high-traction floors, and they could definitely move. But faster than a guy taking running strides of 2+ feet? Bullshit.

    The kid is on Sturoids, supplied by the author. I’m looking forward to seeing how else this guy manages to out-everything everybody. He probably scores the most points in the regional basketball game or something by the end.

  8. swenson on 13 April 2012, 08:59 said:

    And to demonstrate, he scooted down the stairs and across the hall faster than a boy with two good legs and arms

    My cousin with cerebral palsy would like to have a word with this boy. Possibly involving pepper spray. Or a firearm.

    The simple fact is that being physically disabled is hard. While I know we want our heroes to be able to overcome everything, I just would like to see somebody who’s disabled and actually has to deal with the fallout. Maybe they have ridiculous upper body strength, but when they get teleported to the magical land with no wheelchair ramps, they become almost entirely dependent on the goodwill of others to carry them around. Or whatever, I just don’t want to see another character who can somehow miraculously do everything better than a non-disabled person, simply because they’re handicapped. Real disabilities do not work that way.

    (That being said, my cousin can get around pretty quickly if he wants to be. But it’s not comfortable for him (he mostly sort of “frog hops” on his knees), wears out the knees of his pants almost instantly, and he’s still not as fast as a person with full use of both legs.)

    On a side note, I was unable to find a trope that specifically discusses this, but I think Inspirationally Disadvantaged is likely the closest, specifically type B.

  9. Pryotra on 13 April 2012, 10:20 said:

    This is really irritating.

    You know, a main character who’s in a wheelchair can be a really interesting character, but the way this guy does it is so ridiculous, over done and just plain offensive that I’m starting to feel somehow rabid.

    That principal could have easily lost his job for discrimination. You know, when you seem to think that the fact that someone is disabled, black/asian/hispanic/whatever, gay/bi/asexual is grounds for exclusively blaming them when something goes wrong dispite the fact that he’s obviously being bullied? Yeah, that kid could complain and it would really get him in trouble.

    There was a book called Speak where the teacher of some subject or other decided to turn his class into a rant as to why people who came to this country on the Mayflower should get better jobs because they were in the country first and how everyone else is an evil immigrant. This was because his son didn’t get the job as a firefighter he wanted. The class was…unsympathetic. One kid basically said that maybe the guy’s son didn’t get the job because he was a bum and another one reported him. He had to have his lessons taped after that.

    I thought that it was a pretty good example of what happens when you discriminate like that.

    Also, I hate to say this, but even most bullies don’t go after kids in wheelchairs. While this might not be true of everyone, but it just seems unrealistic somehow.

  10. Lone Wolf on 13 April 2012, 10:56 said:

    Yeah, that kid could complain and it would really get him in trouble.

    To be fair, there are cases of similar abuse that weren’t reported for quite a long time even in America, not to mention less PC countries.

    And the evil principal is the stock Road Dahl-ish “nasty adult” character. Tales for tweens/young teens are ripe with characters like that.

  11. Pryotra on 13 April 2012, 11:16 said:

    To be fair, there are cases of similar abuse that weren’t reported for quite a long time even in America, not to mention less PC countries.

    They usually weren’t done right in front of a teacher though. I don’t know, the whole way this is set up doesn’t work to me. It seems too contrived and unnecessary. We’re not even going to ever see this guy again are we?

    Yeah, I’ve seen it so many times. The problem is that I’ve seen it actually done well, so when it isn’t, I get impatient. I mean, there are things that the principal could have done that would let you know that he’s a “nasty adult” without being stupid.

    Even Umbridge was better designed than this guy, and she was about as subtle as a neon light.

  12. Lone Wolf on 13 April 2012, 11:20 said:

    Point taken, having the principal do it in front of a relatively benevolent adult is something that demands explanation.

  13. BlackStar on 13 April 2012, 11:23 said:

    To be fair, there are cases of similar abuse that weren’t reported for quite a long time even in America, not to mention less PC countries.

    I did consider that possiblity, that Teagarden’s extreme bias was something that had just been unreported. However, this sentence right after Mr. Allen tells Marcus his punishment convinced me that’s not the case.

    Marcus had no idea what seclusion was, but it couldn’t be worse than some of the punishments he’d suffered at his other schools, and he imagined it was much better than what Chet had in mind if he caught him alone again.
    (the bolding was mine)

    Basically, Marcus has received extremely harsh punishments in numerous schools. Why? It’s not said. But clearly Marcus is frequently put in circumstances like this, where he is the victim but biased people place the blame on him. Also, Teagarden is an idiot because he doesn’t seem to notice the fact that it is in fact impossible to race down a flight of stairs in a wheelchair. Well, impossible if you want to go down them without getting nearly killed.

  14. Pryotra on 13 April 2012, 12:34 said:

    The Stupid is strong with this one.

  15. Fireshark on 13 April 2012, 12:45 said:

    There are some pretty terrible schools out there, although most of them are for “troublemakers.”

    I just read an article about a school called the Judge Rotenberg Center, where the state of New York sometimes sends “troubled” kids. Anyway, they use painful electric shocks to reprimand kids. Not electroshock therapy or anything, just pain. Many of the people sent there are autistic or have other learning disabilities.

    So yeah, we have a tendency to regard really over-the-top stuff in fiction as stupid, but sometimes we don’t know just how bad real life can get.

  16. Kyllorac on 13 April 2012, 13:12 said:

    And to demonstrate, he scooted down the stairs and across the hall faster than a boy with two good legs and arms.

    My sister used to do just that. Instead of crawling, she scooted everywhere, and catching her was an absolute PAIN. She could scoot faster than you could run, I swear. Especially down stairs.

    Granted, she had two functioning legs to scoot with.

    I wish we had video of it. In hindsight, it’s hilarious. Not so much when you’re the one chasing her, though.

  17. taku on 13 April 2012, 19:20 said:

    There are only rule-keepers and rule-breakers.

    Hmm, smells like a Tesch Koan. I wonder how many of these we’ll see?

  18. Erin on 13 April 2012, 22:11 said:

    two hours in seclusion as punishment.

    So, this school uses time-outs? On thirteen-year-olds? Well… that’s different.

    Also, it appears Mr. Allen is aware that Chet is a troublemaker and that Uncle Principal Teagarden (I can’t take this last name seriously) turns a blind eye to it. Why does he not report this nepotism to the school board? That seems like something the token Good Teacher should do. I suppose Marcus telling his parents about it won’t happen either, as they are likely either a. out of the picture or b. completely disinterested in their son’s life.

    I can tell this book is going to be fun.

  19. LoneWolf on 14 April 2012, 03:44 said:

    His parents died early, as the reviews of the book say. Our Hero is an Orphan.

  20. VikingBoyBilly on 14 April 2012, 07:51 said:

    Here’s a little tidbit I gleaned from one of the reviews

    the people, the animals and even the trees and flowers talk.

    Not even in Teschland did the trees and flowers talk. I can’t wait!

  21. LoneWolf on 14 April 2012, 08:02 said:

    Now I want to write a cynical story about an idealistic teenager who gets sucked into a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT magical WORLD, buts finds it full of injustice, both social and personal.

    Admittedly, that concept is not that novel. Soviet YA fantasy often began like that (and ended, or course, in a people’s revolution organized by the young hero).

  22. Sweguy on 14 April 2012, 11:11 said:

    I’ve got to say, thus for the book is quite good (for an amateur author). I mean, compared to GTesch and Paolini this deserves some sort of reward; one even understands the sentences!
    Is this book self-published?

  23. LoneWolf on 14 April 2012, 11:27 said:

    Published by Shadow Mountain, which, from a short Google search, doesn’t seem to be a self-publishing company

  24. Danielle on 14 April 2012, 12:23 said:

    I’ve got to say, thus for the book is quite good (for an amateur author). I mean, compared to GTesch and Paolini this deserves some sort of reward; one even understands the sentences!

    Yeah, I can see why it makes BlackStar so sad. If the author would just break out of the box a little bit, this book could be so original! Yet he keeps falling back on the same cliches every fantasy author uses.

  25. Sweguy on 15 April 2012, 19:43 said:

    Oh yeah, I see. While I do feel he deserves some points for using a pretty good language, the componets in the story are still… questionable. Anyways, I feel its to early in the story to mark it with the LOL-worst-writer-EVER-stamp.

  26. Pryotra on 15 April 2012, 21:37 said:

    Yeah, that’s true. The writing and ideas are bad, but I’ve seen worse, and I’ve seen a more irritating protagonist than this guy.

    This one’s just kind of bland at the moment.