Actually, speaking of Carter’s humour… what is it (that we know and think as readers) that she draws on to achieve a laugh? For example, Chapter 27 begins…
At approximately 0900 hours on Saturday, October 14, Operative Morgan was given a stern lecture by Agent Townsend, a tracking device by Agent Cameron, and a very scary look from Operative Goode. (She also got a tip that her bra strap was showing from Operative McHenry.)
The Operative then undertook a basic reconnaissance mission inside a potentially hostile location. (But it wasn’t as hostile as Operative Baxter was going to be if everything didn’t go according to plan.)” (p.211)
The font (which I couldn’t replicate here – typewriter style of some sort), format and language style bring a genuine report to mind, as they are no doubt meant to do, but the content completely undermines this impression. Equating tracking devices with ‘very scary looks’ from boyfriends and tip-offs with fashion advice does also somehow undermine the seriousness with which spy-work and ‘national security’ is always discussed… in a funny way. I like it; I just have to think a bit more about how it works…
After the ‘report’, the novel’s narrator (and protagonist) picks up the thread of the story in its usual fashion, though this slightly ironic tone continues… “Walking across the square that morning, I should have been afraid. I looked down at my hands, waiting to see [-p.212] them shake a little, but they were steady; my pulse was even. I don’t know if it was my training or my gut telling me that I was prepared – I was ready. But more likely it had something to do with the voices in my ear, talking over one another, giving orders all the way.” (211-212)
Things that matter
Of course, part of the humour is in the cross-over between questions of state security and the urgency of teenage concerns. Consider the start of Chapter 32:
THINGS THAT SIMPLY MUST BE DONE WHEN YOU MISS THREE DAYS OF SCHOOL, SURVIVE A TERRORIST ATTACK, VISIT THE PLACE YOU WERE TORTURED AND SOLVE THE MYSTERY THAT HAD PRETTY MUCH DOMINATED YOUR ENTIRE LIFE (A list by Cameron Morgan)
* Laundry. Sure, it’s not the most exciting part of post-op life, but it’s a part of it nonetheless.
* Homework. It is either a great advantage OR disadvantage to have Elizabeth Sutton in charge of collecting class notes and assignments while you’re gone. Really, it’s a toss-up. ….” (244)
Get what I mean…?
Ref: Ally Carter (2012) Out of Sight, Out of Time. Orchard: London, Sydney