Jul 3, 2008

TB #71, Calamity Jinx , Gives Me Terrible Fits of Rage Inbetween Snores

I read this book about a week ago, but decided it was time to bring the focus back to the Thoroughbred series, at least for one book, before we get back to the fun of reviewing other horsey children's books.

Here it is, ladies, the penultimate book of the Thoroughbred series. I guess I've always liked the rather dramatic color scheme of this cover, but here we are once again suffering from huge horse syndrome, the strangest bridle I have ever seen, and a cartoonish Western saddle. Also, Allie is wearing funny pants, has feathered Bettie Page Bangs, and a nice rack. Neat! Also, they should probably have a vet check out that humongous vein in Jinx's face.
Can Allie save Tall Oaks?

Life at Tall Oaks is great for Allie -she feels at home with her new foster family and with life on a farm. But tensions are running high around her: Melanie and Kevin are bickering over Jinx's training; and even worse, Cindy, Allie's foster mom, and Ben, the farm's owner, seem to be having troubles of their own. Allie would do anything to help, but what can she do?

Can Allie help the people and horses she cares so much about, or is Tall Oaks teetering on the brink of disaster?
Okay. I avoided reviewing an Allie book for a long time because I knew it was going to fill me with rage. This book is ridiculously boring, so it's mostly Allie in general my rage is directed at. Firstly, I wish Jennifer Chu or whomever was responsible for this unparalleled turd of a character had never listened to the yahoo mailing list members who stupidly thought it would be wonderful for the new character to be Cindy's adopted daughter. What a stupid, contrived plotline when there were millions and billions of better ways to introduce a new character. For instance, a wonderful magical girl rider could have popped out of Ashleigh's butt one day while she was taking a poop. Even that would be preferable to Allie's origins.

Secondly, Allie's appearance completely switched the focus to Tall Oaks, an awful invention of the new generation, and put Allie in the care of two of the most loathed characters in TB history: Cindy and Ben. Clearly this idea is the most brilliant one that a member of the human species was ever lucky enough to happen across. I can't believe the publishers/authors had the audacity to generate this situation after dumping Cindy as a character because people hated her and forcing Christina back into racing because people hated not hearing about Whitebrook. It is an astounding move that only serves to prove how little these people cared, though at this point I don't think they cared at all, as evidenced by the horrorific grammar in that half-hearted attempt at a synopsis. Not that they had much to work with. Like I said, this book gives boring a whole new meaning.

Everything is really super wonderful for Allie. She lives at Tall Oaks with Super Cindy and 2x4 Ben, and that is just the best possible scenario for a fourteen year old horse lovein' girl. She's already over losing both her parents, mostly because she is creepily obsessed with Ben and Cindy, the worst couple in EVER, getting married so that she can have a (violins) Real Family. Please kill me now.

Except things aren't really so peachy. Cindy is like, really oh my god busy because she refuses to hire anyone to help her run Tall Oaks, which is apparently really difficult even though they appear to only have about 7 or 8 horses on the place. Everybody wants Champion babies so all she's doing is answering phone calls about making Champion babies. This is time consuming, apparently. No one has email. Also, because she is so busy and Ben is always traveling they never see each other, meaning they are never having sex and will never get married meaning Allie will be an orphan forever! Waaa!

Anyway, Allie goes off to Florida to watch Jinx race in some stakes race, I forget, who cares. Jinx has gone bat shit bonkers and been kicked out of his stall and moved into a more isolated barn. Apparently this really upsets Jinx, and Kevin is upset with Melanie for letting this happen. Everyone is really mad at this point and Kevin and Melanie stand there yelling at each other, which makes Jinx even angrier, and apparently Allie is the only one who notices this. So.

After Allie arrives Jinx settles down and puts in some fantastic works, restoring everyone's faith in him. Then it's race day, and of course Brad is there racing Light Fandango, having meticulously tracked every Whitebrook horse's racing schedule to make sure he always has a horse entered against them. This time he makes a point of thanking Melanie for entering Jinx in the race because, and I quote, "having a horse like Jinx in the race just increases his colt's chance of winning." Or dying. Either way this makes Brad awesome. What a putdown.

Despite his ealier fantastic works, Jinx finishes dead last after making no effort to run, and everyone returns to Tall Oaks disgruntled and disgusted. After trailering him all the way home, by the way. Allie goes to talk to Lila, her disgustingly awful friends, about Jinx's problems and relates how awful Melanie and Kevin are being to each other. Lila promptly declares this is because they are trying really hard not to like each other while somehow managing to avoid explaining to Allie the complexities of sexual tension. Allie is an asexual neuter, by the way, so she basically takes Lila's word for it. Even shown porn I doubt she would grasp what's going on. I mean, come on. This girl thinks Cindy and Ben go great together. Ugh.

Lila's solution is to plan some sort of romantic picnic, so Allie goes home thinking about this only to discover that Jazz has called a horse agent to come look at Jinx. Melanie and Kevin are distraught about this, though they both seem to go back and forth over whether or not they should just sell Jinx. Honestly, I feel like at this point Mel might have made enough to pay Jazz for her share in Jinx, but who knows with these crazy kids.

Allie frets some more in a really annoying attempt to create drama, and she and Lila go on a trail ride where they discover this really great clearing or something, which Lila decides will be the site of Kevin and Melanie's surprise romantic picnic because she is really bossy and Allie is a follower. Meanwhile, Ben has asked Allie and Cindy up to the house for dinner, but Lila tells Allie not to go so that Cindy and Ben can have much needed alone time (i.e. fuck like rabbits). Lila is pretty savvy, I guess. This works out well, as all goes according to plan, leaving Allie extra time to try to convince Melanie and Kevin that they are totally in love, something they both flat out deny. Then Allie yells at Ben because he doesn't think Cindy wants him to ask her to marry him. Ben thought he was being respectful of Cindy's independence, but it turns out that he is wrong because the Thoroughbred series is stuck in 1952 and all any woman can or should dream about is getting married and they are all just waiting for him to float along on a cloud and save them from the drudgery of single life. Stupid fucking Allie.

After all this Kevin and Melanie go on the trail ride and come back fighting and screaming at each other. Allie's had enough of this and basically tells them both, "You wants to fuck each other and until you do Jinx is not going to run because he is a Puritan and sexual tension makes him extremely uncomfortable." They both walk away from her without saying a word, so now she's worried she doesn't have friends any more. No real parents and no friends. Oh bother.

Not to worry though. Both Kevin and Melanie thank Allie for pointing out that they were acting like jerks, though they still refuse to fuck. Go figure. Then Jinx wins a race so Melanie is his official owner. Everyone goes to a party at Tall Oaks and Ben and Cindy announce their engagement. Then Samantha goes into labor and gives birth to twins (not at the party, unfortunately) and they are named Lucas and Leah, causing hundreds of readers to scratch their eyes out of their heads to stop the pain of the hideousness that is those two names. The end.

Points-of-Interest:
  • Dear Allie: Sleeping in Jinx's stall = death.
  • Allie runs into Vince Jones, who promptly asks this untested 14 year old to jockey for him because of her royal jockey breeding. She then tells him no because she will only be riding for Tall Oaks because this is 1920s Hollywood and she has signed an exclusive contract with Cindy McLean Studios.
  • Apparently Gulfstream still uses VHS to tape all its races. In 2005. When I'm pretty sure they officially stopped making VHS. In 2005.
  • Sassy Jazz is now a broodmare, which is exactly why she makes a perfect pony horse to use in high speed workouts! While pregnant!
  • At one point Allie tells Cindy's groom, Elizabeth, that she's going to go groom Jinx and give him attention. Elizabeth responds by saying, "Why? I heard he's being sold soon." Because we at Tall Oaks do not groom or take care of horses that have shamed us enough to necessitate being sold.
  • Why does Whitebrook keep sending horses to Laurel Park? It's a dump. I know. I've been there.
  • I'm not sure if they appear in this book, but I've noticed that Mary Anderson, et. al. have a really strange obsession with vapor lights.
  • Allie nods approval quite frequently.
  • Mary Anderson also has an obsession with hair: Cindy makes up yellow and red silks for Melanie because her hair is yellow and Kevin's hair is red. I still find this to be more acceptable than Jazz's silks, at any rate.
  • Okay, I have a bone to pick with these books. Every single main character horse ever, except for Pride, has been the horse no one ever expected to win that turned into an unbelievable stakes-winning machine. Even Champion was a "misfit." The latest in this line is Jinx. Why oh why can't Whitebrook et. al. have a horse that they spent bajillions of dollars buying/breeding and know he's going to be fabulous? Why?????
That's all folks. Now I'm going to go de-stress.

3 comments:

sundae-mourning said...

i still can't figure out why Champion was such a misfit. he had the bluest of blue blood, he was foaled with a silver spoon in his mouth and he did everything that was expected of him and more. he was just a complete asshole, instead of being sweet *and* talented like the rest of Wonder's foals.

while i liked the idea of Jilly's daughter being introduced as the next heir, it pisses me off that they had to kill her. she couldn't have say, moved back to Kentucky and started galloping horses for Whitebrook while bringing her daughter with her since her husband is busy flying from track to track? TB has had a ton of awful ideas, but this one has to be in the top three.

yasoup said...

Sundae--I also loved Jilly. She was something of a Mary Sue, but she was fun and wasn't as starry-eyed as Ashleigh.

Hey, I thought y'all KNEW THE ANSWER to the posed question. Pride (and Princess) were one of the few horses who wasn't a hopeless case-turned-champ. WHY? Because every TB girl needs a horse only she can turn around, a horse that will only perform for the said girl!

Anonymous said...

Ooooohhh someone has an obsession with Star Wars! Lucas and Leah??? There is no way that those names are unrelated to Luke and Leia.