Something occurred to me after I posted the last installment. We were told that all the Gurus have to have deformities. What’s Gunnero’s deformity? Because all we’ve been told is that he looks part woman, which I interpret as him being effeminate. Is he a hermaphrodite? Because that would be an actual birth defect. But if the reason he’s considered deformed is because he’s effeminate, then that’s pretty screwed up.
We open the chapter with Myrracle talking to her mother. Myrracle says that Tookie De La Crème is a name that really doesn’t go together with Intoxibella.
The Pilgrims had been hiking for months. Bruised and battered, hungry and dirty, the Pilgrims trudged to an overlook and collapsed against the rocks.
I wish I knew whether this is supposed to be another time skip or not. Guess we’ll find out next chapter.
The trip across the Diabolical Divide supposedly has a 100% mortality rate, and this group has survived months. That’s pretty impressive for a bunch of people who are completely untrained and have never been there before (with the exception of their guide).
The wind starts blowing, and the Pilgrims get the weapons that they’ve made from bits of debris scattered around the Diabolical Divide. Creatures called Tumble Terrors come with the winds. We don’t really get much of a description of them, aside from being “pug-sized.”
Creamy had made a brew of “insect repellant, paint remover, and turpentine” which protects Myrracle and herself from the Tumble Terrors. She’s been keeping it secret from the others. The Tumble Terrors have injured Abigail Goode and took a three-inch chunk out of her mother’s “shaggy buttocks.”
As an aside: I really wish Tyra would quit making fun of Abigail and her mother for being hairy. It undermines the whole message of “you can be beautiful, even if don’t match the dominant view of beauty.”
They had also bitten off one of Lynne’s middle finger. Lynne is upset, not because of the lost digit, but because she’d wanted to use that finger to flip off an Intoxibella named Larcenina. Why? Well, because Larcenina and her husband had been having an affair.
Lynne uses “Intoxibella Larcenina” as a phrase to motivate her during the journey. Creamy tells her to shut up.
“I’ve told you a thousand times. Larcenina won’t be an Intoxibella any longer, once everyone finds out she’s mating with a civilian!”
Okay, what the hell? Intoxibellas aren’t allowed to go out with ordinary people? Who are they allowed to go out with?
It’s made clear in Modelland that male models are supposed to be eye candy only. Unless that changes after graduation, the only choices left are: remain celibate or have the Intoxibellas date each other.
And it’s nice to know that the prejudices of Modelland extend far beyond mere actresses to pretty much the entire population. Bunch of stuck-up witches.
Creamy and Lynne snipe at each other a bit more, while we get to see more of our LeGizzârd Pilgrim.
Meanwhile, the twisted, rabid, hunchbacked figure the Pilgrims had named Hunchy expertly speared a Tumble Terror and hurled it to the ground. Then he took off his boot, revealing razor-sharp claws, lifted his foot, and sliced the creature’s human torso. It yelped in a deep, human-sounding voice.
Wait . . . are the Tumble Terrors human or just humanoid? I’m assuming humanoid due to their small size and the fact that they travel with the wind.
And now, the text proceeds to disappoint anyone who was hoping that “Hunchy” or the LeGizzârds will be complex characters rather than just evil cannibals.
Hunchy reached into the fresh gap in the torso, sifting through various organs that were still operating, and pulled out the pancreas. He then placed the entire bloody organ in his mouth.
An unsatisfied look illuminated his face and he quickly spat the pancreas out, wiping his tongue of any trace remnants. The sweetbreads he desired, the reason for his trek, were so close, yet so far, within a certain pale-skinned Unica who resided in Modelland …
So, he’s willing to take a trip of several months so he can eat Piper?
Why? There are plenty of helpless people for him to eat right there (the other Pilgrims). And if he can make the trip from the jungles outside SansColor to the mountain, he could have just traveled to some other city and start picking off random civilians.
And, no, I do not buy the idea that someone with albinism will somehow have a different tasting pancreas than someone without albinism. I’m pretty sure that there isn’t any melanin in the pancreas. And he can’t have gone months without eating, so he obviously doesn’t need to eat pancreas to live. (Having a group of sentient beings who needed to eat humans to live would actually be interesting, and Lord knows we can’t have that in this book.)
The only possible sane reasons for him to follow Piper all this way is because he’s either evil or insane.
It would make far more sense for him to want to kidnap her and use her as a hostage. Since Piper’s mother is prime minister, Piper would be a wonderful bargaining chip. But, nope! Hunchy just wants to eat her. We don’t even get to learn his real name. Just some insulting nickname the Pilgrims gave him.
Their guide, Macy Kamata, tells them that they have now passed through the first level of the barrier. One of the pilgrims (Jessamine) is extremely upset by this. Kamata ignores her complaints.
Kamata tells them to get camped for the night, telling them that the next level is where they will “crap [their] pants.”
Myrracle and Creamy, having actually thought ahead, are the only ones who sleep in a tent instead of out in the open in sleeping bags.
While in the tent, Myrracle tries to give Creamy some of their rations.
“You have to eat, Creamy.”
Creamy wrinkled her nose. “You know me. I can’t eat that. Old food, dehydrated, then wrapped airtight to allow it to fester and get even older? No thanks. I’ll eat more of those tree saplings along the way. I’ll be fine, Myrracle dear.”
I feel for Myrracle here. Trying to get her mother to eat, but her mother refusing due to her neurotic attitudes towards food. You could also interpret this as Creamy lying to make sure that Myrracle has plenty to eat, but I doubt that’s the intention.
They hear music and unzip their tent to look outside.
The Pilgrims lay in a circle, their backs to the heap of backpacks piled in the center. Their eyes were closed. Long silver plants that resembled musical instruments had wrapped themselves around the heads of the snoring Pilgrims and were starting to enter their mouths. All the while, the strange stalks emitted a spooky, haunting melody.
Anyone else reminded of the plants from The Ruins?
Creamy recognizes them as Flute Creepers.
Kamata had told them that the Flute Creepers snuck up on sleeping victims, anesthetized them with Flute Creeper venom, and then crawled into their windpipes. They digested their victims slowly over a period of weeks, working from the bodies’ deepest interiors to their exteriors, all while the victims remained alive but paralyzed, feeling every bit of the pain.
Cool! Actual danger, with some legitimately creepy plants. And with my favorite characters in the book starring in this chapter, even! Is this book going to get good?
Although why no one notices the plants sneaking up on them is anyone’s guess. Kamata was supposed to keep watch to prevent the plants from getting them.
“Do we let them die, Creamy?” Myrracle said calmly, peering out at the knocked-out Pilgrims.
Well, so much for Myrracle being likeable.
“There’s strength in numbers, Myrracle, dear. We need them for later,” Creamy said, walking up to the group. “The mountain needs them for later,” she added under her breath.
Creamy then throws one of the makeshift spears, cutting one of the Flute Creepers in half. She then reaches in and pulls out the creeper’s heart.
“The heart of the creeper has the antivenom. The victim has to eat it to live.” Creamy opened Kamata’s mouth and moved his jaw up and down.
That is not how antivenom works! You don’t just eat whatever poisoned you. You dilute it, inject it in an animal, and then use the antibodies the animals produces to create the antivenom. Apparently, Tyra was not willing to do thirty seconds of research to learn this.
After Kamata is chewing on his own, Creamy goes and saves the rest of the group. Myrracle is surprised by this, and asked how Creamy knew how to do this.
“Personal research, Myrracle, dear. Personal research.”
And the chapter ends before we can learn more about this. I predict that the next chapter will not be about the Pilgrims (and, no, I haven’t looked to see).
You wanna know what’s sad? Even knowing that I’m supposed to hate them, I still prefer the Pilgrims to our protagonists. Even if they’re a vindictive, quarreling – and in “Hunchy’s” case murderous – bunch, at least they are willing to risk death to achieve their goals. What they are doing is interesting, dangerous and takes a lot of guts.
Some trivia: Modelland was published by Delacorte Press, which is an imprint of Random House Children’s Books. Tyra Banks signed up for all three books to be published by Delacorte.
Wendy Loggia, who edited Modelland (and also edited The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) had this to say:
“Readers will be drawn to the books for the very same reasons they love Tyra — her adventuresome spirit, her sincere desire to empower females of all ages, and her unique success in the fashion world are very much present in the story.”
The Vice President of Delacorte Press, Beverly Horowitz, said the book had “a powerful and positive message.”
This book is making a vain attempt to say that beauty shouldn’t be narrowly defined.
The only people described as genuinely ugly in this book — aside from one Guru — are members of the Pilgrims: Creamy, Hunchy, Lynne, Abigail Goode and her mother. (Tookie doesn’t count, since other characters are constantly telling her that she’s actually pretty.) They are repeatedly attacked for their appearance, both by the narrative and by other people. Their actions also show them to be rotten people.
Most of the other women and girls are passive, boy crazy, shallow and spend their time criticizing and tearing each other down. Even the good characters are obsessed with their looks and are not above making fun of someone for being homeless. (It’s apparently okay to do this as long as the target is also a jerk.)
How positive and empowering.