Warning: Contains Spoilers!
He thought it was important to remind them, especially the younger ones, what their world was like before all this had happened.
Aufwader’s Thoughts: In the awfulness of Freax and Rejex, it was easy to forget that people like Gerald were still alive and kicking even in a Jax-infested world. The one small scene between he and Maggie, while it certainly doesn’t ‘make up’ for Freax in any way, reminds us that there is still some hope to be had in this bleak trilogy.
Gerald’s line about ‘Mr Despair’ has stuck with me since I first read it, and is probably one of my favourites in all Jarvis canon. Even chained up in North Korea with a hellscape outside, the Castle Creeper is still alive, it’s possible to undo the effects of Dancing Jax, there’s a full book to turn things around, and we are not at home to Mr Despair.
Matt’s Thoughts: I don’t know whether British people worry as much about North Korea as Australians do. But there’s something about living in the South Pacific – and maybe our sensationalist media – that makes us worry about this enigmatic country. It’s a place that simultaneously strikes us as terrifying and fascinating at the same time. So reading this chapter, with its descriptions of TVs checked for tampering and tours of Pyongyang mausoleums, is grimly amusing.
But the moment that makes this chapter is, of course, the conversation between Maggie and Gerald. We’ve talked earlier about how it was a bold move creating a whole new cast of characters for the second book of this trilogy but now that we see characters from Books 1 and 2 interacting, it’s all paying off.
It makes so much sense that Gerald would be a source of positivity and counselling to the traumatised young people of Freax and Rejex. There was almost no kindness displayed by the adults in that second book, so to see something like this in Book 3 offers us a little bit of hope.
Final question: was it ever made clear in Book 1 that Gerald was an aberrant? I’m assuming he is, but there’s also part of me that feels that if there was one person in this whole series who could withstand the Ismus and his crew by sheer force of personality, it would be Gerald …