I was reading Noise on Black Friday. I took a break after about fifty pages, turned on the computer to check email, and saw first thing the videos of ambulances driving the fallen away from Best Buys in Colorado. Then I read the story of the woman at the California Wall Mart who pepper sprayed her fellow shoppers to protect her xbox console. And all morning I had thought I was reading a novel.
What Hiram and Levi have been learning, what they have assembled in The Book, are lessons in ruthlessness. They will not be victims. They will take advantage of chaos. They will regard all those outside their Group as enemies, and they will neutralize them when necessary. They neutralize some unsuspecting National Guardsmen who have been called in to discourage the turmoil breaking out in malls and on the campus. They steal the NG's Humvee with its 50 caliber machine gun. It comes in handy when dealing with disgruntled suburban males who don't like the look of what's going on. Hiram and Levi pick up some followers before their escape from the city, but this crowd, only partially trained in the disciplines of the 'Casts, prove to be a mixed blessing. When one thirteen year old is caught trying to escape -- he wants to go home to his parents across town -- he is tied to a porch railing, judged, and neutralized. The Group has done the right thing. The kid knew too much.
Noise is an unsettling read. It follows its relentless logic for just 200 pages and gets the survivors of Hiram and Levi's group to their Place of safety. I am one of those movie watchers who always wonder why characters hit guards and bad guys over the head instead of killing, I mean, neutralizing them, but I also know there is always payback time. Much of what is in The Book makes an awful sort of sense, given the situation. But nobody's long-term prospects look good.
|Get the message?|