God Damn DINOSAURS, That’s What’s Going On!: Magic Tree House #1 Chapters 8-10

Hopefully you enjoyed our reading of Magic Tree House, because we finish it today! [Ariel says: I keep forgetting this book is only like three pages. Whoops!] I’m pretty sure our summary of this book was longer than the book itself.

Next week, we’ll be returning to our normal fare of emotionally abusive relationship stories masquerading as erotic romance. We make our long-awaited return to Sylvia Day’s Crossfire Series as Ariel reads the third entry, Entwined with You.

[Ariel says: Is it wrong that I’m looking forward to this? I have the same relationship with this series that Eva and Gideon have with each other – I’m angry at the characters all the fucking time, but I just can’t stay away. I need to know what happens, and I need to be there to laugh at it. They’re familiar and I know I won’t be scrambling to find stupid things to laugh at. It’s also this general need I have to finish things. It drives me nuts when we leave series dangling here, except for like Hush, Hush because I barely remember that we read that book.]

Yes, I said Ariel is reading Entwined with You. Basically, I can’t even. I realize that this is Bad Books, Good Times and I kind of signed up for this shit, but Bared To You and Reflected In You were so bad and offensive that I refuse to read more Sylvia Day. But fear not! While Ariel’s reading Entwined with You, I’m going to be reading another book that calls itself romance when it’s actually a poorly-written shitshow of misogyny and glorification of emotionally abusive relationships: Samuel Richardson’s Pamela. [Ariel says: Extra fear not because we’ll still be commenting on each other’s posts, but this way we reduce the suffering a bit.] 

And suddenly, our readership dropped by 73%.
And suddenly, our readership dropped by 73%.

Yes, Sylvia Day is so bad and offensive that I would rather read Pamela, a slow-paced novel from the 1700s that I couldn’t even make myself read it for an English class I took in college, than read another book written by Sylvia Day. Fucking congratulations, Sylvia Day. Your books are so bad, I can’t even hate-read them. [Ariel says smugly: But I can… wait, now I’m just embarrassed.] 

Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded is a strange beast. Published in 1740, its proximity to the development of the novel as a literary form means that it still shows up on college syllabi not so infrequently, but modern critics have observed that it’s really more like the 18th century Fifty Shades of Grey, because it’s an overwritten love story between a controlling man who falls in love with a barely developed female protagonist for no clear reason, and pretty much nothing happens. So we thought it would be fun if while Ariel read Entwined In You (the most recent and most prominent Fifty Shades imitator), I read Pamela, and we all learned just how little misogyny dressed up as badly-written romance has changed in the last 300 years. [Ariel says: Is it everything you ever dreamed up and more? Or significantly less perhaps?]

But for now, dinosaurs.

Chapter 8: A Giant Shadow

Jack returns to where they just escaped from a Tyrannosaurus Rex that they know is still there because he has to get back a book he left there.

This worked out nicely.
This worked out nicely.

We’ve known Jack for a very short time and he has already made the worst decision of any character we’ve ever read on Bad Books, Good Times. [Ariel says: Which is a crying shame because I really believed in him at first, which I can’t say for any of the other characters in anything else we’ve read. Damn it, Jack, you really let us down.] 

He peeked out at the giant monster. The horrible-looking creature was opening and closing his huge jaws. His teeth were as big as steak knives.

Jack decides to check the book he risked his life for to see if it will offer any advice on how to survive a direct encounter with it, as nonfiction books about long-extinct animals are wont to do. [Ariel says: I was genuinely expecting Jack to quickly pull out his notebook and scribble some insightful note like “scary. not nice.”] 

Jack opened the dinosaur book. He found Tyrannosaurus rex. He read:
Tyrannosaurus rex was the largest meat-eating land animal of all time. If it were alive today, it would eat a human in one bite.
Great. The book was no help at all.

[Ariel says: It’s almost like the book had been written in anticipation of this exact moment. Like everyone opening this book just wanted to find out whether or not it was likely a Tyrannosaurus would eat a human if it was around today. I mean, after Jurassic Park I guess this was a valid concern, but still.]

Jack knows he can’t outrun the dinosaur, so he does what might be the next best thing and hides in hopes of waiting it out. Annie – whom Jack can see from where he is and yet is in no apparent danger form the Tyrannosaurus for some reason – leaves the tree houseShe makes flapping motions and points at the sky, which is apparently a code entirely too complex for Jack to decipher. Jack is spotted by the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Henry the Pteranodon suddenly swoops in to his rescue, and one of the books we’re reading for this blog is finally building up to a goddamn dinosaur showdown!

LIKE I ALWAYS SAID IT WOULD.
LIKE I ALWAYS SAID IT WOULD.

[Ariel says: Holy shit balls! I remember this scene vividly, because I’d gotten very emotionally attached the Pteranodon for some reason and was really really worried he was going to get killed.] [Matthew adds: Clearly we’ve already seen enough of Jack’s decision-making abilities that even children are ready to leave him to his fate.]

Chapter 9: The Amazing Ride

Annie guides the Pteranodon to Jack as the T Rex charges towards them. Jack observes his role in the tense scene with despair.

Climb on? “But I’m too heavy,” thought Jack. [Ariel says: Childhood obesity in ‘merica, amirite? Where’s Michelle Obama when you need her.] 

Jack gets over being a fatty fat-face and climbs on the Pteranodon, which takes off into the sky! Also, dramatic tension happens!

They teetered this way. Then that.
Jack nearly fell off.

It’s almost a shame I have such high standards for what counts as “exciting” now.

Jack looked down. The Tyrannosaurus was chomping the air and staring up at him.
The Pteranodon glided away.

Basically the only thing missing from this scene.
Basically the only thing missing from this scene.

They fly over the valley, staring down in wonder at all they had seen that day, from the triceratops to the duck-billed dinosaurs and their babies. Of course, Jack and Annie really didn’t wander that far from the Tree House at any point, so all of these awe-inspiring creatures are in imminent danger of being killed by a T Rex.

The Pteranodon drops them off in front of the tree house and they thank it for saving their life. As I just pointed out, though, they haven’t actually traveled all that far, and the Tyrannosaurus immediately shows up again. Couldn’t Jack see the tree house from where his confrontation with the Tyrannosaurus happened in the first place? Surely they wasted more time flying around and saying goodbye to Henry than it took the Tyrannosaurus to walk to the tree house. [Ariel says: OMG just like it took more time for us to explain the book than to actually read it. MY GOD.] 

They climb up into the tree house:

Jack and Annie tumbled into the books.
“Make a wish!” cried Annie.
“We need the book! The one with the picture of Frog Creek!” said Jack. […] He had to find that book about Pennsylvania. […] He grabbed it and tore through it, looking for the photograph of the Frog Creek woods.
He found it! Jack pointed to the picture.
“I wish we could go home!” he shouted.

Wait, when did they figure out how to do all this? The one time they used the magic tree house before this was an accident, so how did they know to find a book of where they wanted to go and to point to a picture of it and to specifically say they “wish” they could go there? And, sure, you might also be expecting me to criticize how convenient it is that Jack happened to already be carrying a book about his hometown, but they’ve already found a magic tree house that travels through time and space, so I think we can overlook this convenience. However, how does the book drop them off at the exact time and place as when they left? They’re not “returning” so much as doing the same procedure for going to a new place. So wouldn’t it take them to the time when the photograph was taken?

"You're not thinking four-dimensionally!" "Yeah, THIS IS A FUCKING TREE HOUSE."
“You’re not thinking four-dimensionally!” “Yeah, THIS IS A FUCKING TREE HOUSE.”

Chapter 10: Home Before Dark

Despite the dangers of setting the contradictory rules of time-travel, Jack and Annie make it back home to Frog Creek woods, like it’s a children’s book trying to not overcomplicate things or something.

No time had passed since they’d left.

I get it, book. Geez, stop rubbing it in my face.

“What happened to us?” he said.
“We took a trip in a magic tree house,” said Annie simply.

Annie continues not worrying about the implications of their misadventure. [Ariel says: IN WHAT WORLD WOULD THAT BE ANYONE’S REACTION? IN WHAT WORLD.] 

“But how?” said Jack. “And who built this magic tree house? Who put all these books here?”
“A magic person, I guess,” said Annie.
A magic person?

Annie’s efforts to not make things complicated reaches a new low:

[Jack] reached into his pocket and pulled out the gold medallion. “Someone lost this back there… in dinosaur land. Look, there’s a letter M on it.”
Annie’s eyes got round. “You think M stands for magic person?” she said.

The logic is infallible. I do frequently wear a shirt with a P on it for poor quality book blogger. [Ariel says: What the fuck, Annie? There is a letter M on something called MEDALLION, and your first thought isn’t maybe that it could just be referring to that? Magic person my ass.] [Matthew adds: It’s like we can’t expect much critical thinking from someone who constantly runs in front of dinosaurs.]

Jack knows someone traveled to dinosaur times before they did, but doesn’t dwell very long on the mystery. They leave the tree house, realizing nobody is going to read their story. Man, Jack, it’s like all those notes you took on how the dinosaurs were nice and maybe had small brains was for nothing.

“Tomorrow,” Jack said softly, “we’ll go back to the woods. […] And we’ll climb up to the tree house […] And we’ll see what happens next,” said Jack.

mth tigersmth volcanomth sabertoothmth titanicmth ninjas

Or… or maybe they should not? [Ariel says: I need to read the ninja one again. That picture is amazing. I need to know what kind of notes Jack writes about ninjas. I just need to.] [Matthew adds: “Not nice. Clothes.”]

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15 comments

  1. Madeline Reply

    I FREAKING CALLED PAMELA. I’m glad you’re still reading Entwined with You, even if Matthew can’t eve. Can’t wait to see how far we’ve come from Pamela to Sylvia Day, except… that’s right! APPARENTLY WE HAVEN’T.

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  2. Dana Reply

    You’re reading Pamela? I KNEW IT!

    And I just love the excerpt from the dinosaur book Jack has: “Tyrannosaurus rex was the largest meat-eating land animal of all time. If it were alive today, it would eat a human in one bite.”

    First of all, that is FALSE. Spinosaurus was bigger! Don’t be a scrub Mary Pope Osbourne. I also want to know who the scientist was that came up with the whole “T-rex would eat a human in one bite” theory, because, by golly, he sounds almost as insightful as Jack!

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    • matthewjulius Post authorReply

      Not even remotely! I was surprised too. I put this on my kindle and was all prepared to sit down and read it and then five minutes later BAM done

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  3. Jena Reply

    Now I’ll just patiently wait for the day when someone writes an erotic fanfic of the Treehouse books and it becomes the next literary sensation.

    It has potential. I mean, swap the T-Rex for Travis and Jack for Abby and this is pretty much the plot of Beautiful Disaster.

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  4. Kristin Reply

    Seriously cannot wait for the new books!! Entwined with You is…no…you just have to read it for yourself. I cannot recall Pamela from my English Lit days, however, but the tie in sounds promising!

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    • matthewjulius Post authorReply

      well, if Entwined with You is anything like the fifty shades of books it’s transparently imitating, someone will try to break Eva and Gideon up, Eva will get pregnant, and nothing will actually happen.

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  5. AJ Reply

    It’s over already? Already???

    I sure as hell don’t remember these books being this short. Although I do remember Jack writing only the word “wrestlers” as a note in one of the later books–probably the one about ancient Greece or some shit like that. Ehh. Even now, when I remember that scene, I can’t help but think, “Wow, ‘wrestlers’. How very evocative. I can totally picture what you’re trying to…nope.”

    Now I can’t stop thinking about how this book is more or less the same length as David Henry Hwang’s published script for M. Butterfly.

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  6. Pingback: 1740 Shades of Grey: Pamela Part 1 | Bad Books, Good Times

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