The cool air outside was a welcome change from the stuffiness of the bathroom and the kitty-litter stench of the Catwalk Corridor.
Dylan threw up all over the bathroom floor. I think the bathroom would smell a lot worse than a bit of kitty litter.
Piper and Tookie head toward the stupidly named infirmary. Piper makes a comment about “it” taking only 33.4 seconds, but doesn’t clarify what “it” is.
ZhenZhen hears them and runs over to the two girls.
“You have to learn how to strut even under their scrutiny. Those catty divas have to learn how to behave.”
“So they’re trapped as cats because they’re wicked mean on the outside, right?” Tookie asked.
ZhenZhen nodded. “When they stop yelling insults, being lazy, showing up late, ingesting narcotics, they get turned back into people.”
Apparently, Modelland just says that Intoxibellas are on “extended vacation” whenever they’re punished at Catwalk Corridor.
ZhenZhen finally notices that Tookie’s lip is bleeding, and suggests she goes and gets it taken care of before it gets infected. Gee, ya think?
Tookie continues asking ZhenZhen questions instead. ZhenZhen reveals that she’s going on her Go-See-Go, which is part of her final exam. It’s a month of working with clients “and stuff” to see if they’re good enough models to make it in the real world.
“Some girls drop out at this point – they get into drugs, they get caught up with the wrong guys, all kinds of stuff.
I’m guessing the wrong guys are guys who encourage them to be themselves and not buy into the Modelland propaganda about what beauty is.
They start talking about Ci~L’s recent behavior, which Piper calls spooky.
“Spooky’s the new edgy. Whatever my girl Ci~L does is good for me.” Then she leaned closer. “Tell me exactly what she is doing to freak you out. It’ll probably work well for me at Go-See-Go.”
One of ZhenZhen’s classmates interrupts before ZhenZhen can learn about how awesome spouting bad poetry, getting tortured by the BellaDonna, going insane, and engaging in self-harm is.
ZhenZhen then serves her main purpose in the chapter: spouting exposition. It turns out that there is a emergency ZipZap that leads to LaDorno. The emergency ZipZap is incredibly dangerous because it sometimes leads to LaDorno but not always. Apparently, a lot of girls died using it during “the big stadium fire” because they were dumped in the Diabolical Divide.
I’m assuming that fire is the reason that the Bestosterone boys are building a new stadium. And this is at least the second reference we’ve gotten to girls dying while at Modelland. How they have good PR is a mystery.
Anyway, that ZipZap has now been hidden, where it will remain until a protagonist finds it and uses it. Okay, the book doesn’t say that last part, but it’s pretty obvious.
After ZhenZhen leaves, Tookie finally gets around to asking Piper what takes 33.4 seconds.
“Burning my skin in the sun,” Piper admitted. “Multiply that by twelve if I have an umbrella.”
Bull. People with albinism are not vampires. They don’t sparkle, and they can spend more than 6-7 minutes in the sun before burning. They just need to be much more careful about sunscreen and not spend quite so much time in the sun as other people. (Due to a lack of melanin, people with albinism don’t tan. They just go straight to sunburns. But this still takes some time.)
Honestly, I’ve done more research on albinism out of curiosity than Tyra Banks did for writing this book.
Piper explains that they have a sun shield called BurnBattler that protects her for three days which gets applied to her skin, eyes and hair. Why they put it on her eyes and hair is a mystery. My theory is that it’s an elaborate form of torture.
“Wow, I wish they could fix expando-hair,” Tookie swooned.
“Oh, the girl who tells me to love and accept my natural self and the hair that grows from my scalp now wants a super-long-lasting mop fix of her own!” ZhenZhen smirked playfully. “So I’m supposed to Run-a-Way walk your walk, but what about you?”
Your friends told you to leave ZhenZhen. Listen to them. Thankfully, they leave.
Tookie worried for ZhenZhen, who was beautiful but not as polished as her classmates.
Considering I don’t think we’ve had a single description given of her classmates, this sounds less like honest concern and more like an insult.
ZhenZhen could be an honorary member of the Unicas, she thought. Then she caught herself. Of course, ZhenZhen is far too stunning to be a member of our wacky crew.
Aren’t you also friends with Kamalini, who is really beautiful? Not to mention that Tookie’s the only one who has really been described as unattractive. The only flaws the others have is Piper has albinism (not a real flaw), Shiraz is short (not a real flaw), and Dylan is plus-size (which only qualifies as a flaw in the fashion world).
The girls arrive at the courtyard outside the Fashion Emergency Department Store.
The atrium was open to the sky, like a riad in the alchemy-and-spice land of Medina, and there was a pool in its center filled with a mysterious greenish substance.
A “riad” is a type of Moroccan house/palace with an interior garden or courtyard. Thus continues Tyra’s habit of using different names for real-life places instead of creating original cultures.
The girls go to the “Drama Trauma Center” which is the intensive care unit. There are a bunch of Bellas inside with “odd and unspeakable injuries.”
Tookie is said to be nervous because her mother had taken her to a bunch of doctor’s offices when she was younger in an attempt to “figure out what disease her daughter had that gave her dirty and snotty eyes and a frame that refused to gain weight.”
Heterochromia is not a disease, and Tookie is lucky to have the metabolism she has. Any decent doctor would have told Creamy this.
Even though Tookie had been poked and prodded by hundreds of needles, the painful tests were always inconclusive.
So this world has no OSHA and no medical ethics. Nice to know.
A woman who looked about one hundred and fifty years old sat behind the desk. She wore an elaborate sage-green cape made of multiple types of pistols, knives, nooses, and razors, with a hat shaped like a pair of angry scissors. Upon closer inspection, Tookie realized that the blades of the scissors were really blades. Sharp serrated knives.
It’s like the safety code violation version of Pokémon. Gotta break ‘em all!
The best part? This walking safety hazard is a nurse. Oh, wait. I’m sorry, a purse.
At Modelland, I guess nurses are called purses, she realized. You shoulda seen that coming, Tookie!
That doesn’t even work as a horrible pun. There is no connection between being a nurse and being called a purse. It’s like calling a sheep “sleep.” Or a felon “melon.” It’s nonsensical and unfunny. This fails even as a bad pun. It is an anti-pun.
Anyway the “purse” is named Drestookill.
Purse Drestookill says that the cats have tetanus on their claws, so Tookie will be called quickly. She’s told that she’ll start spasming shortly due to the tetanus. It would take much longer for that type of symptom to show up in real life. But we’ve already had at least two references to people dying at Modelland, so I’ll assume it’s been magically cursed to be a deathtrap.
Purse Drestookill (ugh) tells Tookie to place her arm in her “head device”, the blade scissors on her hat. Instead of doing the logical thing (lopping Tookie’s arm off), it puts a band on her arm that reads “Clawed by Catwalk Corridor.”
She then insults Tookie’s forehead and tells her to go sit down.
Piper then says that Purse Drestookill calls her names, too: “Red-eyed Peas, Frosty the SnowBella, Al-Bella-bino.”
Wait . . . the Black Eyed Peas and Frosty the Snowman exist in this world? This isn’t some alternate history of Earth. This is an entirely different world (albeit with thinly veiled versions of real world places). It makes no sense for Frosty the Snowman and the Black Eyed Peas to exist within this universe.
These references are pointless, unnecessary, and detract from the story. It would be like if Harry Potter suddenly started referencing Death Note.
Tookie sits next to a girl who is soaking wet and wearing a uniform “five sizes too small.” Her diagnosis is “Flooding Pants”, which was caused by washing her uniform in hot water instead of cold.
“Now I can’t get the uniform off, and the floods have been happening like clockwork. I can’t swim, and I can only hold my breath for -”
Suddenly, water rose from the girl’s feet as if she was in her own private fish tank. The water swelled higher and higher until it completely covered her head. The girl flailed about, eyes bulging, panic-stricken. Purse Drestookill ran over, yanked a razor from her arsenal of weapons, and punctured the bag.
What bag? I didn’t leave anything out. That bag was not mentioned until it got punctured. And isn’t drowning someone for not following the washing instructions on their uniform overkill?
Tookie then looks around to see other weird infirmaries.
Across the aisle was a girl with blackened eyes and foul-smelling dark puffs of exhaust coming out of her sockets.
Desperada, “the girl who hadn’t stopped bawling since she’d arrived at Modelland,” is sitting nearby, along with Zarpessa, who has gashes all over her hands.
Tookie smirked. The cats did a lovely job on her!
Desperada continues wailing, and Purse Drestookill puts “rusted silver bullets” in her ears to drown out the noise. Uh, silver doesn’t rust. It tarnishes.
Tookie goes over to talk to Desperada, offering to let her go in front of her to be treated for her cat scratches. Wait . . . I don’t think Desperada was even at Catwalk Corridor. Why would she be hurt? Tookie’s not very bright.
Desperada says that the problem is her stomach.
Then a woman with roller skates for feet, and oatmeal-colored hair arrives. Zarpessa then asks the woman if she can go first, calling her “Purse.” The woman says that she’s a doctor, and Zarpessa says this:
“But you only handle the small stuff, right? Like knitting up cut knees and putting patches on bumps and scrapes. The big stuff is for a man’s mind. Open-heart surgery, brain trauma, that kind of thing.”
Where did that come from? I guess we needed another reason to dislike Zarpessa?
The roller skate woman is wearing an odd outfit made of bristle-brushes, stockings and her hair looks like a mop.
Tookie then got the pun right away. The bristle-brush jacket, the grime-removing stockings, the literal mop head … scrubs.
That is so unsanitary. The FDA would shut this place down in a heartbeat.
The woman goes over to Desperada and introduces herself as Dr. Erica. She puts sandpaper on Desperada’s head which somehow lets her know that “gastric and skin acidity suggests electrostatic normalcy, but texture of epidermis indicates elevated hormonal activity.”
I’m not a doctor, but that sounds like complete BS to me.
Dr. Erica then says the problem is that Desperada has BW, Boy Withdrawal.
“Okay, my stomach doesn’t hurt – my heart does! I miss my boyfriend so much I think it might stop! Please write me a note so I can go down the mountain to see him! I don’t know what he’s doing while I’m gone! What if he’s messing with another girl?”
Then he’s an untrustworthy jerk, and you deserve better. And it’s really pathetic that she’s been crying literally non-stop for three months because she’s been separated from her boyfriend. That means she is completely unable to function on her own.
If I ever hear someone praise this book for being empowering to girls, I’m going to laugh in their face.
Dr. Erica then says that some “silly guy” isn’t worth the fuss, and that no Bella can go home of her own accord. Desperada says that if she won’t get permission, she’ll just go home. But apparently, she isn’t allowed to do that . . . in spite of other girls doing so during Thigh-High Boot Camp. Why? Not explained.
The doctor smirked. “Just leave, you say? At Modelland, Bellas pay a pricey toll for hopping the fence. You do not want to do that.”
Dr. Erica then rolls her eyes, and basically says that Desperada’s behavior is to be expected because of the name her parents gave her. You know what? I think it’s a stupid name, but Dr. Erica is still being completely unlikeable. Just like pretty much every other character in the story.
Then Bravo comes into the room with a gash on his cheek. Piper identifies him as “thumb boy.” Like everyone else, Purse Drestookill is smitten with Bravo, and acts excited that Bravo is there to get some stitches removed. He goes and sits down, reading an old issue of Modelland magazine, which has Ci~L on the cover. (Given the BellaDonna’s hatred of Ci~L, you’d think magazines like that would be banned.)
Tookie is then called in. They go into a room, and Dr. Erica says that Tookie must be in agony, and Tookie agrees. There have been zero mentions of Tookie being in pain for several pages now. Just saying.
“You hide pain well,” Dr. Erica went on. “Something tells me you’ve been doing that for a long time.” She placed her hands on each side of Tookie’s head and stared into her eyes. “On a pain scale of one to ten, I see you’re at about a seven and a half.”
Uh, doctor? The patient is the one who’s supposed to rate their pain. That way you can get before and after ratings from the patient, and get a good idea about whether the patient’s pain has decreased or not. It isn’t like solving an equation that gives you one concrete answer. Different people have different pain tolerances, and will rate the exact same pain differently.
“Here’s a Zed Med for the agony while I fix you up. I have to warn you, though. The Zed Meds mess with you. They have a Z effect.”
Then two of the tendrils of Dr. Erica’s hair snake into Tookie’s nostrils, and Tookie’s pain subsides. Not only is this gross, but it makes pretty much zero sense. Medicines that you take nasally tend to be for respiratory problems, not for cuts on your lip. (And if it’s supposed to be a local, it should have gone near the lip, not the nose.)
Tookie gets woozy from the medicine and asks where Dr. Erica got her skates. And we get the first really interesting part of the chapter. Dr. Erica was born with her skates. All the doctors in Modelland are.
“Hundreds of years ago, Modelland took us all in,” the doctor explained, her hands moving quickly over Tookie’s sliced ankle and then her lips. “Anyone born … different. We would be locked up and tested on without this place. If it weren’t for Modelland, my kind and others like me would be freaks.”
“It was a blessing for my kind, because the powers that be at Modelland recognized that skates for feet would be put to good use in emergency medical situations . . . They figured we could get from one patient to the next with speed and ease. So they trained us all and … here I am. They take good care of us.”
She says her daughter is currently in medical school, and that beneath Modelland is a whole underground world where the various people that Modelland took in reside.
This is actually really interesting.
It explains why the Gurus don’t look entirely human. It establishes that they are in fact human . . . which makes Tookie’s constant referring to some of them as “it” even worse. It also shows that Modelland has done some good. It’s helped a large group of oppressed people. People who would otherwise be treated as subhuman guinea pigs and freaks. It’s given them a home, and a place where their natural abilities can be put to good use.
Are they all magical? Where do their supernatural abilities come from? Why does society ostracize them for their magic while practically worshiping the magic of the Intoxibellas? Are they related to the LeGizzârds? Could the LeGizzârds be “freaks” that Modelland left behind? Is that why one of them is attempting to get to Modelland?
I want to know more about this hidden society. It’s certainly a more compelling story than Tookie’s.
Naturally, we’re done talking about them for the rest of the chapter. Because interesting stuff is never allowed to last more than a few pages in this book.
Tookie complains about the double standards for Gurus and Bellas, and Dr. Erica says she doesn’t know why these double standards exist. I’m pretty sure that models and teachers should be examined with different sets of standards because their jobs are very different, but what do I know?
“But your guess is as good as mine. And that’s all that doctors do, anyway. Make educated guesses.”
No, guessing is not “all that doctors do.” Thanks for denigrating an entire profession there, Tyra.
Dr. Erica then gives Tookie some more nasally applied medicine, sticking her hair-tendrils so far into Tookie’s nostrils that they reach her throat. Why she’s numbing Tookie’s throat when it’s her lip that’s injured is beyond me. Presumably, she got her diploma in a box of Cracker Jacks.
Dr. Erica then says some nonsense that is meant to sound profound.
“Oh, and I know you heard me talking about how children grow up a certain way depending on what their parents name them. Dig deep to see if your name is something is follow or fight against. Tookie. The last syllable sounds like key. Maybe you’re searching for something, and you have the power to unlock it or set it free.”
I’d advise fighting that name if it’s somehow supposed to determine her destiny, since Tookie means “butt” and is the name of a multiple murderer.
Dr. Erica leaves Tookie while the pain meds take effect.
The Likees are brought in and put on a single bed. Their teeth are enormous, and their hair has become Mohawks. The reason? They keep stealing clothing from others (“Clothes Horses”).
“Take them to the Intensive Couture Unit and let them hold some hay and straw handbags. That should calm them down.”
Dr. Erica comes back, and Tookie asks if she can have her filling replaced while she’s there. Dr. Erica says yes and then leaves. I wonder if she always wanders in and out of her patients’ rooms.
Bravo comes into the room for treatment in the bed next to Tookie. Bravo is told to relax while he waits. Zarpessa comes over.
“No need to wait alone,” she said in a silky voice. “I’ll keep you company until the doctor removes those manly stitches of yours. You poor, poor baby!” She reached out to touch Bravo’s neck.
More injured girls limped over to Bravo’s bed. “Must take lots of muscles to pose with those big tools,” one uttered in a deep voice.
And thus Zarpessa’s only positive trait – being a kind and thoughtful girlfriend – is laid to rest.
And I know that teenagers tend to be hormonal . . . but this is just ridiculous. It makes all of the models-in-training come off as a bunch of vapid boy-crazy airheads and/or complete assholes. And I’m pretty sure this book was not meant to give us a negative opinion of models.
Bravo ignores them and goes over to Tookie. A couple of the girls insult Tookie because Bravo is paying attention to her.
“What happened to you, Tookie?” Bravo asked. “Just this morning, those lips of yours looked good.”
So Tookie has gone from the stalker to the stalkee.
Tookie tries to talk but the Zed Meds make her say “zats” instead of “cats.” Bravo teases her about this, and asks her if the “Zatwalk Zorridor” is scary.
“Zarry, zarry zarry,” Tookie said, turning beet-red. She had wanted to say Very, very scary. “Do you have a Zorridor to Zeszosterone?”
Bravo then says that unlike the Bellas, the Bestosterone boys are not magical. He says that they hope, but that the chances are “one in a million.” I’d say that means Bravo has about 50/50 odds of gaining magic later.
This, again, makes the Bestosterone boys seem much more useful and impressive then the Bellas. They perform manual labor, are architects and bodyguards, and none of them have magic. All the Bellas do is learn to use magic to look pretty and sell junk.
Bravo then tells Tookie that his real love is architecture, which is why he’s at Modelland. Zarpessa butts in and says it’s her first love, too. Bravo ignores her.
Tookie’s stomach growls, and Bravo goes and gets her some “Modelland Munchies by Guru Lauro.” These munchies taste like whatever you want, are loaded with whatever vitamins you need, and melt on the tongue.
We also learn that Bestosterone is on the other side of the mountain, and they get loaded up with protein only, so about all they eat is meat, eggs and powders. (I guess they all have scurvy, then.)
Tookie tries to feed herself, but thanks to the very convenient medicine, isn’t coordinated enough to do so. So Bravo gets to feed her.
She opened her mouth to take a bite, and as she was wrapping her lips around the sweetness, a thick pool of her bloody saliva dribbled onto Bravo’s hand.
“Yuck!” Zarpessa screeched from her bed. “Too-Too just mouth-pee-peed all over you!”
Why is this book determined to make all the potential romances as gross as possible? And did Zarpessa take a blow to the head? Who talks like that? (Aside from maybe three year olds.)
Bravo corrects Zarpessa, saying her name is Tookie. The text then tells us that he hasn’t wiped away the bloody drool yet. Yuck.
Zarpessa admits to knowing Tookie, and jokes about Tookie getting sacrificed. Bravo looks uncomfortable, and goes back to talking to Tookie.
Bravo reached forward to touch her lip. “It probably hurts, huh? Nothing worse than a cut on your lip when you kiss.”
Heat rose to Tookie’s cheeks. First thumbsucking … now cut-lip kissing?
At least the text is aware how screwed up this is.
Zarpessa makes fun of Tookie for never having kissed anyone.
“Uh, I think you should leave her alone …”
Zarpessa doesn’t shut up, so Bravo turns around and glares at her.
“Look, I told you to leaver her alone,” he said in a biting voice. “Why can’t your bitchy little brain understand that?”
Zarpessa leaves to go back to the waiting room. (But not before mouthing “I can’t wait till they burn you alive” to Tookie.)
Bravo feeds Tookie some more, and Tookie decides that the food is too dry. She pulls some whipped cream out of her magic flower brooch.
Bravo asks about what the brooch holds, and Bravo gets up and touches a jar of gauze to the flower. Tookie and Bravo then go around putting a bunch of random stuff into the flower brooch. (The text treats this as harmless fun rather than the theft it is.) The stolen goods include someone’s shoes, a pillow, a box of magical sandpaper, and a pair of crutches.
I’m having fun, she thought. With a guy. A guy every Bella wants the attention of.
Woo-hoo! Kleptomania is awesome!
Tookie is taken away to get her lip fixed, and Bravo looks at her fondly, obviously sad that she’s leaving. Dr. Erica confirms that Bravo obviously likes Tookie.
Tookie is told to count backwards from ten. During this time, Tookie spends several paragraphs wondering how a guy like Bravo could like a girl like her.
Could she actually like him? The guy who was more striking than most girls at Modelland, and one hundred times better-looking than Tookie herself? Could she like a naturally-arched-eyebrowed pretty boy?
What? Is he a Vulcan?
But his nails were chipped, so he wasn’t perfect. Maybe she could like him. Maybe a myriad of things were changing for Tookie De La Crème – and maybe it was time to change them.
“Things were changing?” I wish.
Tookie hasn’t changed. She just acquired a new love interest. And Tookie likes Bravo for the exact same reasons she liked Theophilus: both were nice to her and were attractive. This certainly aren’t bad reasons to like someone, but it’s not marking some turning point in Tookie’s character.
Tookie is the same as she’s been since the beginning of the book: a flat character who is passive and completely incapable of standing up for herself.