Monday, April 8, 2013
More Moore part 14: The Ballad of Halo Jones Book II
I find myself sitting here in front of this mostly blank screen, contemplating Book II of Halo Jones. Not so much what to write about, but how I'm going to get an article of any sort of length from a Book that was by all accounts so slight on story it might as well have been nonexistent. I said in my review of Book I that Halo is played as a kind of everygirl, an average teenager that we can all identify with, and Book II only exacerbates the problem that she's not all that interesting, and with a few exceptions there's so little that happens in Book II that it makes me wonder what Moore could possibly do to finish this story, given that the main character does absolutely nothing of note for 2/3 of the novel.
Halo spends the entirety of Book II as a hostess on the Clara Pandy, a spaceliner that's already obsolete by the events of the story. Long gone are the charmingly irreverent moments of Book I where Halo and her friend Rodice made trips to the mall and spoke in somewhat irritating 50th century teen slang (indeed, the slang has been dropped entirely, so apparently even Moore was fatigued by it). There's a prologue that makes place in 6427, fourteen hundred years after the events of the main story, which seems to imply that Halo is a known, if minor, figure in the future, but you'd be hard-pressed to tell why, at least within the confines of the first two books. Halo spends time with a dolphin steersman (the only reason she was brought onto the Pandy was because she could speak cetacean), has a few directionless conversations with her bunkmate Toy, writes a letter to Rodice, and otherwise engages in pretty much exactly what you'd expect from a hostess on a pleasure cruise. None of the characters have the same chemistry she got from Rodice, so the stories are fairly uninteresting. There are some hints of bigger things going on behind the scenes, trouble in the Tarantula Nebula, with Earth harassing helpless colonies, but it's exactly that, background information that has little, if anything, to do with the events on the Clara Pandy, at least in Book II. There's exactly one exciting moment, where it turns out that Halo's robot dog murdered her roomie back in Book I, because he's in love with Halo and wanted to be closer to her. This leads to a well-executed chase, but it ends quickly and predictably, and once it's over it's back to business as usual, with Halo dancing with the Pandy's owner to close out the Book.
Book II is a big step backward for The Ballad of Halo Jones. Where the first Book made up for its deficiencies in action by having a group of likable characters and entertaining situations, Book II has neither of these, and it shows how much Halo needs Rodice, because without her she's a dull character in dull situations. Ian Gibson's art is still decent if unexciting, though he still has the same problem of giving all the females in the story interchangeably pouty expressions, and considering the story is mostly about groups of young women, this is a pretty serious problem. The plot seems to be hinting at something bigger brewing, so perhaps Book III will give the it the needed push to come to a satisfying ending. But as it stands, it's a bad sign when the whole of Book II's arc can be told in one paragraph. Book II of The Ballad of Halo Jones will hopefully be revealed in the next Book to be a necessary part of the cogs of the plot getting in motion, but as it stands it's slight to the point of being weightless.
Best quote: "He's a psychopath! He'd use anything- melanoma bombs, ratwar..."
"Whaat? Ratwar was outlawed centuries ago!"
Up next: The Ballad of Halo Jones Book III closes things on a strong note...I hope.