Also, before we get started, I reserve the right to make innuendo about the phrase "Touching Spirit Bear" when ever I feel it's appropriate. :D
Now, we're going.
Chapter one introduces us to our protagonist, Cole Matthews. Cole is from Minneapolis and is in Alaska to avoid being sent to jail by spending a year in exile on a small island in the middle of nowhere. Apparently this is apart of something called the Healing Circle of Justice, which sounds like something Sailor Moon would say but is apparently an actual thing. It's a tribal Indian thing where the person who has done something wrong tries to learn how to heal and become a better person by being helped by other members in the community.
The question then becomes, what exactly did Cole do to deserve this? Well, Cole is apparently a juvenile delinquent. He's fifteen and has been in trouble half his life. Which means that he started getting in trouble when he was seven. This is a seriously disturbed kid. He also hates everyone.
Cole thought back to all the people at home who had tried to help him over the years. He hated their fake concern. They didn't really care what happened to him. They were gutless - he could see it in their eyes. They were afraid, glad to be rid of him. They pretended to help only because they didn't know what else to do.
For years "help" had meant sending him to drug counseling and anger therapy sessions. Every few months, Cole found himself being referred to someone else. He discovered early on that "being referred" was the adult term for passing the buck. Already he had seen the inside of a dozen police stations, been through as many counselors, a psychologist, several detention centers, and two residential treatment centers.
Obviously, what we have here is a severely disturbed individual. He's done drugs, though what sort, it's not mentioned. It's just thrown in there with all these other things that he's done. It's probably not even going to be mentioned ever again, just there to show how troubled he is.
In any case, Cole robs a hardware store and trashes it. It's not enough that he robs the place, he has to trash it to. And then in a brilliant maneuver he BRAGS about it at school a week later. This then begs the question why is someone who is such the juvenile delinquent doing in school? Why so he can brag about his exploits. Silly plot holes. So, of course, someone rats on him. And the police don't manage to keep it a secret so that Cole can beat the boy who told on him into a bloody pulp. Because no one crossed him and got away with it.
Poor Peter gets put in to the hospital while Cole gets kicked into jail. When Cole finds out that he might have done Peter permanent damage, he says that Peter deserved it. Lovely chap, isn't he?
Cole hates his parents and thinks they're jerks. Why? Because they don't bail him out of jail like they did all the times before hand. Obviously there is something wrong with them. Apparently Cole's dad thinks that everything is his fault. The fact that Cole's room isn't clean, the garbage wasn't emptied out, the lawn wasn't mowed. All truly horrible things. And the fact that his parents, who are divorced (probably because of him) can't visit him together means that they don't care about him. He ignores them whenever they do visit so eventually they stop. He probably thinks this is their fault too.
Eventually Garvey introduces him to the concept of Circle Justice. It is, to be politically correct, "It's a healing form of justice practiced by native cultures for thousands of years". Garvey calls Cole champ a lot and tells him that if Cole goes with this he could get out of going to jail. Of course, Cole jumps for it.
He acts all innocent, saying that he wants to change and stuff and Garvey falls for it apparently promising to get him into the program. When Garvey leaves, he's denounced a fool by Cole.
Thus we meet Cole, someone who is entirely unlikeable but we're supposed to root for. At least with Eragon, Paolini was trying to make him likable, even if Eragon was a total twat.
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