Jun 12, 2008

That's Not a Fart Cloud, it's Rising Star TB #49

Rising Star
TB #49
Karle Dickerson
Published: 2001

Well readers, you guessed it. It's time for another edition of How Can Claire Mistreat Herself Today brought to you by our sponsors The Thoroughbred Series! After all the time I've been spending with Mel recently, I decided it was time I pay some attention to Christina. Wouldn't want her to get jealous, after all. She's prone to really annoying temper tantrums.

Cover: Well okay. Christina is wearing goggles. Check one for reality. I'm not sure what's she's doing riding an Arabian in a race, or when Star turned into Champion from the cover of Arabian Challenge, but I guess they are related. Also, the horses in the background appear to be engaged in a battle to the death that's going in end in a collision with the inside rail, but those are pretty standard at this point in the series (both collisions with the inside rail AND battles to the death), so I won't say much more about that.

Is Wonder's Star a has-been?
No one thought Wonder's Star would get well again. Everyone was certain he would never run another race. The racing press was calling him a has-been.

But Christina Reese never gave up hope. Slowly and steadily she's been bringing Star back into racing condition. In her heart of hearts she still has Triple Crown dreams for them, but the Kentucky Derby is only a few months away and they're running out of time! Instead of starting with an easy local prep race, Christina enters Star in a tough Derby prep race, praying that he can withstand the grueling pace. Is it too much, too soon? Or will Star shine like the champion that he is?
Blah blah boring. There's not really much to nitpick here. For once it's dead accurate. We should mail someone a cookie as a reward.

Plot: Okay. So I always wanted to sit down with whoever decided it was a good idea to make Star almost die of a mysterious disease and punch them in the face. There are numerous reasons for this, one of them being that we wasted a whole book in Montana while Star and Christina were mentally rehabilitated by the Thoroughbred series's version of the Saddle Club's dude ranch. Though whoever was in charge of these decisions was smart enough never to label Star's disease, which therefore prevented the dissemination of any inaccuracies concerning it, they were not smart enough to come up with a plausible explanation for his difficult recovery such as, oh, I dunno, "Star was just deathly ill," and instead had to go with, "being sick caused Star and Christina to lose their special bond and they had to go chase it down somewhere in Montana." Anyway, I think I'm getting a little ahead of myself here, so I'll leave this bought of hatred for another review and move on to Rising Star itself.

This book takes place after Star and Christina have returned from roping cows and doing magic mushrooms with Lyssa in Montana. They're training at Whitebrook and Star's times couldn't be better. I am sure this is a result of the fact that the Whitebrook crew is breezing him every other workout. This will really keep a horse sharp. Despite this, Star and Chris are surrounded by doubters, as usual. Because Star almost just, like, died, Ashleigh is reluctant to push his training too hard, and is uncertain as to whether or not Star is capable of enduring the rigors of the Kentucky Derby, let alone win (sound vaguely familiar, anyone?). Christina, being a passionate supporter of horse abuse, completely disagrees with her mother: Star is ready to race and is going to win the Kentucky Derby, damnit. Unfortunately, the press tends to agree with Ashleigh, and delight in calling Star all sorts of names that degrade his past accomplishments and declare his career dead. Christina just finds this unacceptable. They are being far too rational and predictable.

The obvious solution to all this badmouthing is to invite a reporter to Whitebrook to interview Christina and watch Star work. After taking a sample of his poop back to a lab to be scientifically analyzed the reporter will be able to determine and share with the world at large that yes, Star is capable of stopping a speeding bullet. Oh wait, that's Superman. Well, never mind.

To our infinite surprise, this scheduled rendezvous with the reporter does not go well. First of all, Ashleigh mistakenly thinks the interview will be with the Daily Racing Form, but oops, it's with something called the Racing Reporter, which apparently is like the Enquirer of local Kentucky racing publications. This means the reporter is looking for a juciy, gossipy story to write about Star such as "Son of Kentucky Derby Winner has Sex with Goat." Or not, moving on. The reporter is out for gossip though. She's really sad to learn that Christina's twisted ankle came about because a yearling stepped on her and not because Star attacked her like a vicious shark. I can sympathize. I think we're all disappointed in that.

Anyway, the reporter asks a bunch of super annoying questions and to shut her up Christina declares that Star is going to run in the Derby, something that is news to everyone, including Ashleigh. Then she tauntingly invites the reporter to watch Star's work that morning, thinking "this will shut her up." Unfortunately for Chris she gets on Star's back fuming mad and as a result rides the colt horrendously, making both her and her pretty princess, err, prince, look like total jerks. Score one for Whitebrook. The reporter joyfully skips off to her car with her juicy story while Ashleigh and Ian berate Christina for being such a complete idiot.

At dinner that night or the next day, while everyone is still pretty peeved about the article, Christina decides it's a good time to tell her parents that she doesn't want to go to college. Well, not exactly. She wants to defer for a year so she can spend every waking second curled up in a ball in Star's butt I MEAN jockeying. Her parents, having learned from all prior Thoroughbred series parents, are appropriately horrified by this decision and Mike even says "Once you take time off, it's harder to go back to school." At this point I wanted to punch Mike in the face. Rarely does this ever happen, but I agree with Christina here. I think it's a good idea to take time off before going to college, and Christina even has a halfway decent reason. So shut-up about it Mike.

Fortunately for Chris, her parents concede after that one feeble attempt to put their feet down, the first of many instances in this book where Mike and Ashleigh prove how they are complete and total pussies when it comes to parenting. Honestly, when has Christina ever not gotten everything she wants and/or been punished when she openly disobeys her parents? Only multiple times in every book, that's when.

Not so with Parker, however. He's really peeved that Melanie is the one to tell him Chris will be taking a year off (when do Parker and Melanie ever talk alone?) and insinuates it's a stupid idea because Mike and Ashleigh didn't go to college. Except they did and we heard all about it in multiple story arcs. Thanks dumb author. Anyway, I'll add at this point that Parker is acting super weird the entire book, but we can write it all off to him being on his man period. It happens even to the best of us.

Sans reporter Star puts in another stellar breeze and Christina starts whining again about how Ashleigh isn't sending Star to Florida with the rest of Whitebrook's horses. Boo to the hoo, ya'll. Ashleigh just doesn't think Star's ready to face such stiff competition (AKA Celtic Mist) in his first race back after his illness. She does have experience with these things, she reminds us. Chris reluctantly agrees, but this doesn't matter because, YOU GUESSED IT, no one knows Star like she does and he needs to race!!!!!!!!! Ahh!!!!

Christina has just got to come up with some perfect solution. For inspiration she decides to watch a video of Wonder winning her Kentucky Derby. Congratulations Karle Dickerson, you read Wonder's First Race, or at least the last chapter or two. You've proved nothing to me by rewriting the race absolutely word for word. I just want you to know this.

After the tape is over Ashleigh walks in and announces that she's found the perfect place to race Star: at Fair Grounds in Louisiana in a smaller stakes race. It will be good prep but it won't be as challenging as the Florida Derby because Celtic Mist won't be running. Christina is appropriately horrified. A Whitebrook horse race a track that's not located in Kentucky, California, New York, or Florida? Dear god, what the fuck is Ashleigh thinking? Also, a smaller stakes race? Guh. If she has to race Star in stinky old New Orleans then it will be in nothing less than the Louisiana Derby. To convince her mother of this she makes Ashleigh a bagel. Ashleigh, being a glutton for bagels, is easily swindled and Star is entered in the Louisiana Derby. Oh yeah, but before Christina can get to New Orleans her family and friends throw her a good luck surprise party and Katie hires a fortune teller who says some incredibly general things and Parker is mopey. Now back to the action.

Christina gets to New Orleans and is upset by the humidity, jazz music, and graveyards. And oh yeah, did I forget to mention that Brad Townsend has decided to enter Celtic Mist in the Louisiana Derby too? At this point his obsession with beating Whitebrook & Co. is almost pathological, especially since if there was trophy for it he'd lose almost every single time. I am inclined to believe that he's not really in it for the winning, he's in it because he gets pleasure out of making Christina and Melanie shit their pants on a constant basis. After that the races are just peanuts. Also he's hired George Valdez to ride Celtic Mist. Not because he's good, mind you, but because he is out to get Christina, which freaks her out. Brad is just so devious!

All this is just too much for Christina so she whines and cries, and calls her mom to whine and cry, then whines and cries some more. Eventually everyone gets so fucking sick of her that they leave her at the motel (it's the world's crappiest motel, by the way) and she bemoans the fact that NO ONE UNDERSTANDS!!!! She can't call Melanie or Kevin, and lord knows she can't call Parker while he's surfing the crimson tide. But wait! She can call Lyssa. And she does. And Lyssa saves the day by talking about Native Americans and positive visualization techniques and reality sandwiches. Thanks Lyssa, your expertise is appreciated.

The next day Chris is finally zen and she and Star win the race. Except Brad has to throw a fit in his private box because Celtic Mist stumbled way after Star passed him and he wants to lodge a complaint even though there was no interference. Honestly I'm sure Brad knows this and took pleasure out of the knowledge that he can freak Christina out even after she's won. So anyway, both Brad and Christina are happy, and now we only have to wait eight more books until Star loses the Derby and all of Christina's fucking whining is for naught.

Points of Interest:
  • I am so tired of Christina/Melanie being the only ones who notice Star/Image's capabilities despite the fact that they are surrounded by trainers with leagues more expertise and success. Further, I am tired of these people listening to these two ignorant brats. It's really no surprise that Star lost the Derby and Image broke her leg. It might have to do with the fact that those in charge of the decision-making were incompetent!
  • Whitebrook has four licensed trainers, but for some reason none of them ever travel with the horses. Instead they send who strings with Chris and/or Mel and a groom or two....what?
  • Ashleigh is already pinning her Derby hopes on Image, who at this point has raced twice, been disqualified one of those times, and still hasn't figured out which way the finish line is. I think her expectations are realistic.
  • Apaprently Brad is the one who sent the evil reporter to Whitebrook and spread all the ugly rumors about Star and boy he just can't wait to read the review of Star's terrible performance. I am beginning to think this man is omniscient and/or omnipotent.
  • Because Chris never carries a whip she is forced to smack Star with her hand to get him to run when he's misbehaving. Dear lord, now she's physically abusing both of them!
  • I don't think anyone who writes these books has any conception about what it means to enter a horse in a race, or to know you will. Star is entered in the Louisiana Derby only a few days before it's run, joining the long line of Whitebrook horses who are entered into races at the last possible second like they're lines at a Borders Book Store you can jump in and out of or something.
  • I think Madame X is a better name for a phone sex operator than for a psychic, don't you?
  • Apparently jazz plays everywhere in New Orleans: it's pumped through the speakers 24/7 at both the airport and the racetrack.
  • Lavinia is a guido: she comes to the track decked out in a beige linen suit and tons of gold jewelry. Gotta represent TA with the bling, bitches.
  • The motel is called "Catfish Joe's." This stereotyping is so heavy it's becoming offensive.
That's it for today, loyal readers. I'm not sure what I'll read next, but I am sure it will be awful. Thank you for tolerating the bad plots and my typos. Until next time.

1 comment:

Mara said...

I am inclined to believe that he's not really in it for the winning, he's in it because he gets pleasure out of making Christina and Melanie shit their pants on a constant basis.

You know, that makes a weird amount of sense.