Mark Reads ‘Terrier’: Part 16

In the sixteenth part of Terrier, no. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Terrier.

Trigger Warning: Talk of death/grief.

Let’s just set the bar here, because this is something I said in my second review ever for this trilogy:

Hey, at least Pierce warned me! So should I get attached to the recruits/Puppies that I meet in this chapter? Probably not. Will I inevitably adore many of them and then face inevitable heartbreak because I’ve done so? It is in the cards. Because goddamn it, I already want to take Ersken and hug him and put him in a different book full of actual puppies so that his spirit and kindness won’t be crushed out of him. HE IS TOO GOOD FOR WHAT MAY COME TO HIM. I also liked Verene fairly quick, too.

There’s a thing. I said. I said it to all of you, I meant it, and then I promptly forgot I wrote it at all.

Sigh.

I just went back to the beginning of this section so I could start writing my review, and I’m staring at the words, “The funniest thing happened last night,” and I can’t imagine this story as happy anymore. At least for the time being, I’m overwhelmed by the sadness I feel for Verene and Rollo. I’m sad because Verene is only mentioned for a single sentence in the entry for Wednesday, and that’s because Beka basically took Verene for granted in sense. Like the reader, we’d gotten complacent, and Beka just always assumes she’s going to be there. And why would she suddenly question this? Even though I didn’t realize it until now, the Puppies had fared very well so far in all their training. Few had dropped out, none were seriously injured, and everything was okay. Now NOTHING IS OKAY.

Oh god, I’m on video saying that I thought that Beka said “so much has happened” because there was a development in the Shadow Snake case. I WAS EXCITED. But you know, Beka’s straightforward style is something that she uses constantly, so there really wasn’t a way I could have guessed that she was going to talk about the most upsetting thing imaginable. Even though she and her Dogs were patrolling for Beltane, I thought that one of the rushers they cuffed would finally reveal some pivotal clue needed to unravel this complicated mystery. I thought that Beka’s statement that a lot had happened simply referred to the heightened amount of activity on Beltane.

And then that arrest. It was a lot to handle, admittedly. Five rushers versus the three of them! Why wouldn’t I think this was what Beka was talking about? The whole thing was massively chaotic, and Beka ended up giving chase for the second time during her training. That seemed significant enough to me! (And I realize I’m analyzing this from a strange perspective. I’m hoping this sheds light on how completely fucked up the upcoming plot twist made me. I know I’m generally unprepared, but this was just… no. No.) Well, we also can’t ignore that she threw her sap at someone who was going to hit Goodwin, which is undeniably funny to me. Clearly no one was prepared for Beka to do that.

I then assumed that her arrest of the rusher she chased was also part of her overwhelming, ridiculous day. That interaction was particularly scary, since Beka was on her own and she didn’t have nearly as good of a weapon as the other man. A baton versus a sword? There was a high chance that this wouldn’t well, but Beka was smart enough to not only stay alive, but to call for Dogs nearby to help her. That’s not to ignore what a close call she had when she didn’t notice that the rusher had pulled out another dagger with his left hand. Even when Tunstall and Goodwin come to her aid, Goodwin makes a scene of pulling out a strangling cord from the man’s codpiece. I have a feeling this is something that actually used to happen??? Good lord, I never would have thought to search there. (NO JOKES ABOUT ME SEARCHING MEN’S CROTCHES ALLOWED. lol there MADE THE JOKE MYSELF.)

I did want to discuss one other thing before we get to tragedy. There’s a point after this arrest where Goodwin dismissively talks about the man who was nearly robbed, and it’s actually somewhat similar to her victim blaming earlier. There’s a different context here, and as someone who has lived in numerous poor parts of Southern California and in Oakland, there’s a pervasive behavior from upper class folks where they basically treat poverty like an adventure. It’s an exciting thing for them to temporarily visit a place that’s “ghetto” and “scary,” and it can be met with some pretty nasty pushback from those communities. The whole idea of poverty baiting infuriates me because… shit, my life and the lives of the people who live in these places is not your field trip. And sometimes, you do feel like you’re living in a zoo! It’s dehumanizing and cruel. That doesn’t mean I think it’s okay for Goodwin to blame the man for what the thieves did to him. But I understand why she and Tunstall spoke as they did about the man because I’m sure they’ve seen flagrant touting of riches in the Lower City because… well, that’s what some rich people do. It’s not enough for them to just have money; they have to make sure other people know they’re above.

Still, it’s a complicated situation, and at the very least, it doesn’t mean that people deserve to be violently attacked or that they don’t deserve safety, either.

It’s here that I have to talk about The Thing. I knew something awful had happened when I read that people were weeping inside the kennel, but goddamn. It’s still so rough to read, y’all. And I don’t know what to say about this. It hurts a lot, and there’s so much in the text that’s some of the saddest shit I’ve ever read. Like:

I looked up at Tunstall. “We had breakfast this morning.” I told Goodwin, “Just this morning.”

It’s surreal. It’s absurd. And the suddenness of it all hits Beka and the others, and they can’t fathom a world without Verene and Rollo. No, it goes beyond that, and I imagine that it’ll take many of these people a long time to fully accept that they gone. But I saw something beautiful – sadly so – in all of the grief and pain. With the exception of one person, these people came together as friends. The network Beka and her friends made at breakfast every day came together again in its own fucked up way. Beka lets Ersken sleep in her apartment so he’s not alone; many of them (Rosto included) do what they can to comfort Phelan, to make sure he’s not alone during such a horrifying time in his life.

And then Beka comes to Ersken and Verene’s defense at her funeral. I think that Hilyard’s outburst is full of emotional issues and grievances that deserve to be discussed, but I’m maintaining the same opinion as the one I gave in the video: Have some tact, dude. The absolute wrong time to criticize Beka for her method of comforting Ersken was exactly that time. And look, if he thinks that being a Dog is ridiculous and foolish, he’s allowed to think that after this experience! But why on earth are you using her funeral, which is intended as a way to honor her memory and allow their spirits to pass on to the Peaceful Realms, for your own personal gripes? Oh, and then you claim that Rosto, Aniki, and Kora are “not real folk”? Well, NOW YOU’VE DONE IT. YOU’VE FUCKED UP. NO WAY.

I don’t imagine we’ll see Hilyard again.

I think I was most devastated by “The Puppy’s Lullaby,” which had a surreal and disturbing affect on Beka. They’re singing of sending a Puppy to the next realm, and Beka full realizes the context of the song. She is a Puppy, and her life is always on the line. And it’s scary to think about your mortality like that, to accept that the world is cruel, and that by signing up to protect these people, you increase the chances of being the victim of that cruelty.

But then Verene’s and Rollo’s spirits show up on the pigeons, and I was a billion percent done forever. I can’t get over this. Verene was so young. She was so young, and now she’s gone.

It makes sense, then, that Tunstall, Goodwin, and Beka are assigned to a much more active district (The Cesspool) so as to distract them from Verene’s death. I know that technique helped me keep my own thoughts from death when my father died. I also assumed that this was why Gershom sent them to break up the illegal slave auction, too. He knew work would keep them thinking about anything other than the death of their own. More than ever before, this section made it clear that Gershom truly cares about the Dogs under his care, and I was very impressed that he spent time with every team in the wake of the deaths that upset them all.

Still, the coin that Beka earns and the arrests she helps make aren’t enough to heal everything. I don’t think she’ll be fine for a while.

The original text contains the words “mad” and “idiot.”

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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