Dancing Jax | Chapter 22


Warning: Contains Spoilers!

‘So many movies about predators coming from outer space,’ he said. ‘But that’s not where the real dangers are. People in the olden days knew, before science told them it was stupid.’ He pointed to the ground. ‘Down there, Martin. Deep down there, that’s where it’s coming from.’ 

Aufwader’s Thoughts: Barry’s assertion that ‘phases and crazes’ among the students never last is absolutely chilling. Yes, under normal circumstances, he’s right. But these cards aren’t for trading, and this is no playground fad.

The sense of menace early on in the chapter really pays off when Paul is finally caught, and in class, of all places. Like with Shiela, we have a moment where we thought the reality of Austerly Fellows’ evil might just get through to Martin before it was too late, but of course, that’s not meant to be. However, it’s interesting that Paul actually manages to resist for quite a long time in comparison to some of the other children. Was that because he had taken time to learn about Dancing Jacks, and Fellows’ diabolical plan beforehand? Perhaps most of the power of the book is in surprise attack, making those who are unaware of its true purpose more susceptible to its influence.

Matt’s Thoughts: This chapter is a total rush (but not necessarily a good one), swooping from Martin and Barry missing the point – again, the tragic irony that their ‘aberrancy’ is blinding them to the real danger – through Martin’s maths class (now greatly transformed since we first met him) and finally, the turning of Paul.

Just a few hours, we say, and he would have been fine! Martin might have listened. We haven’t met Gerald yet, but we sense that he certainly wouldn’t have brushed Paul off if he could have got t his place.

But the book got to him first. It’s scenes like the classroom scene here that make me dream about how you would film something like this. It would almost need two directors – one to make sure that Felixstowe felt as real-life and ordinary as possible and another to create a Mooncaster that is totally OTT. It’s the juxtaposition of the fantastic and the ordinary that make this chapter come alive.

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