When I first learned of GREY's existence, I immediately looked to my calendar to see if it was April 1st. It was not. The horror was real. FIFTY SHADES OF GREY was going to be written--and speedily published--from Christian's point of view.
In all honesty, I wasn't surprised. All the commercially successful books are doing it. BEAUTIFUL DISASTER did it. EDGE OF NEVER did it. HOPELESS did it. It's probably the easiest way to publish a "new" story: rewrite it from another character's point of view. Hell, Stephenie Meyer did it in her heydey, too. Not just with MIDNIGHT SUN, but also with THE SHORT SECOND LIFE OF BREE TANNER. And considering FSoG's origins, it makes sense that it would follow in its predecessor's footsteps.
But that doesn't mean I was happy about it.
I think you all know the synopsis of this book by now, even if you haven't read the series or watched the movie. Girl meets boy. Boy is billionaire. Boy is really into BDSM. Girl is really into boy, but not so into BDSM. Enter soapy wangsting and bad sex.
This is literally the summary of the book. Literally.
Nothing else really happens.
So Anastasia Steele is a student at Washington State University. Her roommate and best friend, Kate Kavanagh is supposed to interview Christian Grey, a media mogul and CEO of a corporation that allegedly doesn't have a board. Kate gets sick, and convinces Ana to do the interview instead.
I've only read part of the first book, and I didn't like what I read (why I didn't finish, obviously), but at least it was readable. Not particularly pleasant, mind you, but readable. This book is...I don't know. It's like if you told a really sexist, douchey, sadistic boy to sit down and write what he thought FIFTY SHADES OF GREY should be like. During the whole interview, for example, Christian fantasizes about hurting Ana.
I wonder briefly if all her skin is like that--flawless--and what it would look like pink and warmed from the bite of a cane (10).
As she fumbles and grows more and more flustered, it occurs to me that I could refine her motor skills with the aid of a riding crop (11).
I have a sudden urge to drag her out of her seat, bend her over my knee, spank her, and then fuck her over my desk with her hands tied behind her back. That would answer her ridiculous question (17).
The ridiculous question she asked is, "Are you gay?" There is a pretty strong undercurrent of homophobia in this book. Christian takes many opportunities to assert that he has never done any BDSM activity with the opposite sex, ever, God forbid! But BDSM doesn't always have to be about sex. I'm fairly sure that a straight Dom could tie a gay sub up, just so the sub could enjoy the sensations--and vice-versa. Not all aspects of BDSM revolve around sex. So this...odd reiterating of his sexuality seems defensive, and blurs what BDSM is really, actually about.
FSoG does a lot of that, blurring what BDSM is actually about. But more on that.
After the interview, Christian is obsessed and orders a background check on Ana. Somehow, this background check allows him to be privy to some details--i.e. the amount of money in her bank account to the penny--but not others, like her religious views or her sexual history. Which is odd, because those things should be pretty easy to find, whereas bank details are, well, not.
Also, what the fuck, Christian? WHO DOES THAT? Oh, hey, I like this girl--I THINK I WILL LOOK UP ALL HER PERSONAL INFORMATION TO DOCUMENT FOR LATER.
As Christian's dick comes to the conclusion that it wants to fuck Ana, he starts referring to her as "a deal." Getting Ana to sleep with him is "closing the deal." Every time he thinks he's cockblocked himself, he calls it "blowing the deal" or "losing the deal." One of Ana's reservations about starting a relationship with him later on is that he treats her like a prostitute. He denies this repeatedly (and gets pissed off, to boot), but referring to her like a business deal really underscored (for me) the reasons she might have felt this way: he thinks he can buy sex for money from her. By his own admission, he's done it before. By his own admission, he's used to using money to get his way.
Hell, he's referring to her as "a deal." Like consent is something you can fucking broker.
Newsflash: it isn't.
Anyway, they have coffee, and we get this weird line.
As she tells me she likes her tea weak and black, for a moment I think she's describing what she likes in a man (37).
He lets it drop that he used a GPS to track her cell phone and she doesn't even blink.
When Christian takes Ana home after she drinks too much, it's supposed to be sweet in the original book. Considerate. Especially since he saves her from date-rape. But in this edition, told from Grey's POV, he pretty much jokes about date-raping Ana with his brother right after he chastises Jose for doing the exact same thing. When Jose, a man of color, attempts to take advantage of Ana, it's wrong. But when Christian, a privileged white man, laughs at his brother's congratulatory "hope you get laid!" with a "me, too, bro!" it's supposed to be...I don't know...an insight into how much he wants her? Some bullshit like that? No matter how you look at it, it's ugly. Moving on.
The original books received a lot of flack for the ever-present inner-goddess and subconscious. You're probably wondering if Christian has something similar. The answer would be yes! His cock. It agrees. It concurs. It listens to music, and is oh-so-eager. So basically, yes, exactly what you would expect.
Christian also has a really weird relationship with food. I've seen friends criticize the other books for how he berates Ana about food, but I had no idea it was so bad until I read the books myself. He is always on her about food, always asking her when she's eaten last and what, how much she's had to drink, how skinny she is, how she's not athletic enough, how she doesn't eat enough, how she isn't allowed to waste food. One of the clauses of his infamous contract is that he gets to provide her a list with what she is and isn't allowed to eat. What the actual fuck. How invasive.
I also took issue with his relationship with Elena, who "seduced" him when he was fifteen. This is statutory rape. In most states, the age of consent is eighteen. Why? Because young adults--children--do not have the emotional or experiential wherewithal to enter into consenting relationships with adults. It puts them at risk for being taken advantage of--and it is taking advantage, because the balance of power is so unequal, and the risk of physical and emotional damage is so great.
Relationships like that can't be equal.
But in this book, Christian treats Elena with reverence. He's annoyed when Ana calls her Mrs. Robinson (a reference from The Graduate, in case you didn't get it, although that at least had a male who was of-age and in a consensual relationship, whereas this one has a lot of uncomfortably blurred lines--she was a friend of his mom, they had to keep it a secret, she later employed him (while they were having sex?--that enters into a whole other morally gray (ha--gray) ballpark, etc.)).
At one point, Ana (surprisingly) sums up my dislike of this relationship with this:
"She took advantage of a vulnerable fifteen-year-old boy. If you had been a fifteen-year-old girl and Mrs. Robinson was a Mr. Robinson, tempting you into a BDSM lifestyle, that would have been okay?" (291).
While this is a good point, it's still a flawed argument, because it suggests that all people who engage in BDSM are mentally ill, or emotionally disturbed, or else in some way perverted. Christian says that he is drawn to BDSM because he uses it like therapy (which I'm pretty sure is a huge no-no). BDSM isn't supposed to be about transferring your own issues onto your submissives as if they were strawmen. It's about sexual (or psychological) satisfaction and trust.
But Christian does a lot of things that are borderline (or in some cases, actually) abusive, as I said earlier. He tries to isolate her from her friends. He gets very angry and hostile towards Kate, when she starts to get worried about his effect on Ana and attempts to keep them apart. When Ana says she doesn't want to see him again--twice--both times he drives to her house and in one instance, demands explanations; in the other, he spies on her house and sends her presents.
The gift-giving is really inappropriate. Even though Ana is quite poor, and he knows she is in no position to reciprocate and that this makes her uncomfortable, he insists on sending her things he knows--he knows!!!--are unwelcome. First edition Thomas Hardy books, an Audi, a BlackBerry, diamond earrings, expensive clothes, and uprgrading her plane tickets without her permission.
The car thing is especially disturbing because he arranges to have her own car sold without her permission. Oh, he informs her retroactively, but that's not the same as asking permission, and doesn't quite cover how invasive and domineering and creepy his actions are.
Why does he do this, do you ask? He doesn't think her car is safe.
Oh, the irony.
Then there's also these decidedly unromantic quotes:
Christian: "You'd think I'd coerce you into something you don't want to do, and then pretend I have a legal hold over you?"
Ana: "Well, yes" (156).
Note: he doesn't dissuade her from this.
"If you were my sub, you wouldn't have to think about this. It would be easy" (161).
Note: this seemed like a pretty concrete example of how this book uses BDSM to legitimize domestic abuse. It sounds dangerously close to the "if you loved me, you'd do it" guilt-tripping some abusers use to emotionally manipulate their victims into doing what they want.
...you really wouldn't like me when I'm angry (199).
Note: he says this to her a lot. His bad temper is joked about, but it's scary how often he threatens Ana with it. It makes the "punishment" scenes uncomfortable, rather than sexy.
Kate, on their relationship: "Ever since she met you she cries all the time" (200).
Alaska is very cold and no place to run. I would find you.
I can track your cell phone--remember? (208)
"No one's ever said no to me before. And it's so--hot" (245).
Note: Trivializes the importance of consent while also shaming women who embrace their sexuality and actively seek out and fulfill their own sexual gratification. All the women who express interest in Christian in this book are shamed by him--ruthlessly. He's quite cruel. Sickeningly so.
[Ana's] pissed at me; maybe she has PMS. She said her period was due this week (293).
Note: He refuses to see that his own behaviors might be the source of her distress.
"What happened to the other fourteen [women you slept with]?" she asked.
"You want a list? Divorced, beheaded, died?" (311)
Note: this is a legitimate concern since the only other two sexual partners of his that we actually meet are severely disturbed. One is a pedophile, and the other is apparently suicidal. Apparently slashing your wrists in your ex-boyfriend's house is a "spectacle" and merely a case of "suicidal ideation."
You know. Nothing serious.
I think the most disturbing scene of all happens when they actually discuss the contract. Christian decides to get Ana drunk because he knows it makes her more talkative and complacent.
REAL BDSM revolves around SSC--safe, sane, consensual. You cannot be safe, sane, and consensual if you're drunk, and Ana's painful lack of experience (and Christian's bucketloads) make this even more unpleasant because it's so obvious he's taking advantage. It'd be taking advantage even if Ana had slept with hundreds of men, but the fact that she knows so little about sex just makes this feel like she's a lamb in the lion's den, and it's so unpleasant and so unsexy that I was just like WHAT. D:<
Other highlights of this book.
At one point, Christian contemplates stuffing a peeled ginger root up Ana's ass. Peeled, because apparently it hurts more if you peel it. I'm surprised he didn't go with a ghost pepper, then.
By the way, this is what ginger root looks like. It is about the size of a human hand. Can you picture this shoved up your ass? I can't. And I have a good imagination, & years of Tetris under my belt.
My hand glides down her ass to the blue string, and I tug out the tampon, which I toss in the toilet. She gasps, shocked, I think, but I grab my cock and slide into her quickly (298).
Stop trying to make tampon sex happen. It's not going to happen!
He also has a special pair of jeans he wears when he has BDSM sex. He calls them "Dom Jeans" or DJs for short.
Christian--and E.L. James, by proxy--quotes Andrew Carnegie to Ana in his interview. Except he doesn't. The quote he shares with her--"the growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership"--was actually coined by Harvey S. Firestone. A quick visit to Google would have cleared that right up, but it's obvious that nobody ever bothered to fact-check.
I think that was my biggest beef with this book, to be honest. I'm a reader of bodice-rippers and bad romance. If a book is entertaining enough, and well-written enough, it can be excused of nearly any flaw. However, the writing quality in this book is all over the place. Many parts of it are so boring that I just skimmed them (the contract itself is at least ten pages long and written in painfully dull legalese). Christian's many asides to himself, his tendency to refer to anything with two X-chromosomes baby, his self-congratulatory attitude, and the many factual errors in this book (yes, you can get pregnant on your period), bespoke a painful lack of editing. The impression I got from reading this work was that editing was mostly bypassed in favor of getting it published as close to the movie's release as possible in order to capitalize on the renewed interest following in its wake. This is pure speculation on my part, of course, but I don't think I'm completely incorrect.
GREY is a truly terrible book, easily one of the worst--if not the worst--I've read this year. It truly puzzles me how this series has garnered the popularity that it has. The relationship was awful, and borderline abusive, and reading the book through Grey's eyes turned an already dubious male lead into what almost seemed to be a reprise of Patrick Bateman a la American Psycho (maybe that's why he allegedly wanted to be the screenwriter for the movie version?).
I suppose if there's one bit of silver lining in this (fifty shades of) gray cloud, it's that E.L. James has caused publishers to look at independent authors differently than they have in the past. Before, they were a mockery, the much-laughed-at vanity-publishers. Now, people are looking at it as a viable enterprise that can actually--if you're very lucky--bring in the big bucks.
Okay, James. You've made your point. Now can we all stop beating the dead cash cow and go home?
------- Edit: Is it just me, or does that REALLY look like it could be Daniel Radcliffe on the cover?
Let me start by saying this authors vs. reviewers crap doesn't benefit anyone. There are no 'sides.' Or at least, there shouldn't be. Most writers staLet me start by saying this authors vs. reviewers crap doesn't benefit anyone. There are no 'sides.' Or at least, there shouldn't be. Most writers start out as readers -- at least, I did -- and I know that some books that work for me don't work for others (and vice versa). We're all in the same boat...except some of us happen to write books.
(Honestly, if you're a writer and hate reading or don't want to make the time to read, you probably shouldn't be writing in the first place.)
And yeah, maybe the whole writing-books thing makes the relationship unequal from the start, because authors have a lot of influence that most reviewers don't have. (Although there are reviewers and authors of all levels of fame and popularity, so this really depends.)
I started blogging on this site seven years ago, way before Goodreads achieved its present day claim to fame. I remember when it was just a handful of users and I'd see the same faces on every book page. I'm ollllllld school.
And then a few years after that I started publishing and kept on reviewing, because that was how I'd made my friends on this site and it seemed disingenuous to no longer review and share books with my friends just because I'd happened to write some.
But because people do take this whole 'sides' business to heart, even if they say they don't or wish they didn't, a small but vocal population started getting pretty angry with me once I started becoming popular enough to matter.
They would say things like, "It's kind of strange seeing one author bash another author's books. Don't you have any empathy?" Or, "It's kind of tacky to attack other authors, don't you think?" Or, "I bet you don't even read half those books you're reviewing. No way you have time to read and write."
Because as an author, I'm only supposed to say nice things about other people's books and if I don't like something, I'm not supposed to say anything at all. That's how it is apparently supposed to work, apparently, and if you break the rules, a lot of people won't have anything to do with you. Because there are authors and there are reviewers, and we are supposed to stick this out together, don'tcha know?
I've had people I considered friends remove and block me because they didn't like my conduct as an author (for various reasons). And while this is fine, I'm not going to pretend that this doesn't make me sad, or that it didn't take me a while to be as okay with it as I am now. I mean, there's my reviewer persona and there's my author persona and there's my everyday persona and they are not all the same or equal. I may be vitriolic in my reviews at times, but that doesn't mean I do the same with people.
Authors aren't their books, and it's important to recognize that because I think that is where so much of this drama comes from: authors (and sometimes fans) taking reviews as personal attacks when they are just basically a list of reasons about why that book did not work for that particular reader.
Reading is something I feel very passionate about. Books take more time to get through than movies, and I think because of that, the relationship between a book and reader is so much more personal, so much more fraught with emotion. It's like a relationship (gah, I sound so corny, but it's true)- both sides have to put in effort to make it work. And like relationship, not every pairing is guaranteed for success...and sometimes one party is more at fault than the other (baby, it's not you, it's me).
So yeah, this 'sides' thing really doesn't help anything. It alienates readers from authors -- it makes it more difficult for readers to approach authors about their books or to feel safe offering criticism that (let's be honest) really would benefit all parties if it came to light. It makes it difficult for authors to GET people to read their books because readers can never really be sure whether you're going to be one of those author crazies that will throw a rage tantrum when they get anything less than three stars. And it makes it difficult for author reviewers like myself, because we straddle the fence and end up getting people from BOTH camps mad at us, because who the hell do we think we are, thinking we're too good/speshul to choose a side?
I used to blog about this pretty often, but I stopped because I was starting to feel like a broken record, and because reviewing and writing take so much out of me that I don't really have as much time as I'd like to bitch (I'm really, really good at bitching). I think most people get it, anyway. But for the small and obdurate portion of the 'net that don't, here's a clue:
Life is too short to get hung up over things like, "Waaah this meanie gave my book two stars!" or "Waaah this person said mean things about me on the internet! I'M GOING TO GET THE DIRT ON THEM NOW." Rather than focusing on 'sides', you should be focusing on your passions and finding good books to read and meeting people you actually like, who make you think about the world in new and exciting ways.
I don't always agree with what my friends say -- whether it's about a book I wrote or a book that I just really, really like -- but that doesn't in anyway detract from their right to say it, or its overall subjective truthfulness.
I know there's a number of people here who think of me as a big fat hypocrite and in some ways, yeah, you're probably right. We're all hypocrites. But I also put up with a lot of stuff. I get negative reviews. I get people who stalk me from website to website under various sock accounts & talk shit. I've had authors more famous and popular than me write nasty things about me. I get blocked all the time. And I deal with it. I don't whine (much) about it, or send my readers and fans to attack them (not that they would, anyway -- they're good people, and if I tried that crap, I'm sure they'd give me a good talking to: it's why I love them), or write long, butthurt treatises about why being an author is so hard. (Actually, this review probably comes pretty close to that -- but hey, I already admitted I was a hypocrite, so Mulligan.) But I try my best to be professional, and I really respect and admire and love the people on here who do the same: who feel that same passion about the written word and want to share it with others.
That's why I became a writer in the first place, yo.
A lot of Karina Halle's fans say that she's losing her edge...
I would agree with this statement.
Lately, KH's last couple books have heavily relied on what I call "appropriation of trendy subcultures." When tattooed gangbangers were popular, she wrote about that. When rock musicians were popular, she wrote about that. When nerds were popular, she wrote about that. And so on, and so forth.
From a commercialist standpoint there is nothing wrong with this, as long as you can make it work. And for a while, she could. But a lot of the soul has gone out of her writing and now her books seem to rely excessively on stereotypes and over-the-top sex scenes to keep the ball moving.
WHERE SEA MEETS SKY pissed me off, because KH decided to appropriate geek culture -- and she does it very badly. There's also a lot of slut-shaming, and the male MC is a giant dick whose only saving grace is his giant dick. Not going to cut it here, I'm afraid.
I made it to about 25%, and then I cast the book aside in disgust because I could tell this book was going to piss me off. Lately, KH has decided that she likes writing about cheating, and from what I've seen in reviews of her books that deal with this, the characters go about their adultery/infidelity with the emotional depth of horny teenagers. Whereas geek culture is something that I feel a part of, and I hate seeing it ill-portrayed, cheating is something that I have also, unfortunately, been exposed to, and I hate seeing it romanticized because I think it is disgusting and, yes, cowardly, and about as romantic as picking up a copy of FSoG infected with herpes.
You can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
******Edit: WARNING -- MAJOR SPOILERS******
Never have I ever... had such a discrepancy beYou can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
******Edit: WARNING -- MAJOR SPOILERS******
Never have I ever... had such a discrepancy between my opinion and that of the masses. Not since The Sea of Tranquility. In fact, I think The Edge of Never bothered memore than Sea did for reasons I will soon go into.
Goodreads, how could you lead me astray?
Let's start with our protagonists. Camryn is 20. She acts about 16. She's a wannabe hipster who fancies herself the femaleChris McCandless, and her biggest dream is to just drive off to nowhere in particular and have grand adventures.
Oh, and she's really, really deep, you guys.
"I wonder if the ocean smells different on the other side of the world (162)."
"Instead of sitting around dreaming up new sex positions....I dream about things that really matter...What the air in other countries feels like on my skin, how the ocean smells, why the sound of rain makes me gasp (12)."
"I started seeing a lot of people as mundane by the time I was twelve (166)"
"I loved Ian in the now, the way he looked at me, how he made my stomach swim, how he held my hair when I was puking my guts up after eating a bad enchilada. That's love (37)."
When she's not comparing love to post-hangover nausea, or orgasming to the sound of rain, Camryn is all about hanging out with her only friend. She's one of those beautiful girls who is inexplicably a loner, except when it comes to the menfolk of course, and this is because she's just too deep for people to comprehend.
Apparently she has "depression" but claims that she was able to work herself out of the funk. As anyone with clinical depression knows, this is not how it works. When people do not do their research about real clinical disorders and throw them into their stories for "coolness", what they are actually doing is trivializing the disorder and marginalizing those afflicted. Stoppit.
But no, she doesn't stop it. She has to claim Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, too.
"I'm not 'clinically' OCD; I'm just one of those people who claim the acronym because of a few methodical habits (138)."
Despite Camryn's loose morals, she refers to every able-bodied woman in this book as a slut. Her friend is a slut. Her mom is a slut. The couple enjoying making out too much? Sluts.
Fuck you, Camryn.
After her best-friend's boyfriend tries to rape her, and the best-friend reacts to this news by calling Camryn a slut and telling her that she's going to beat the fuck out of her if she doesn't shut up, Camryn decides to go on her road trip. She is very responsible about the whole thing, even going so far as to lie to her mother about what state she'll be in.
Because you wouldn't want anyone to be able to ID your dumbass corpse, right? Right.
Now for the love interest, Andrew.
Andrew is 25. He acts about 18. Maybe 17. 19, if he's lucky. 25? Fuck no.
The most important thing about Andrew is that he's good-looking, has abs, and tattoos. He was offered a $50,000 modelling contract and turned it down because that would be selling out, you guys.
He's also one of those boys who is supposed to be all manly and romantic because he goes around beating the crap out of people vigilante-style like he thinks he's the fucking Dark Knight. Apparently, he's been in jail--but only for putting a guy into a hospital for hitting his girl.
"The man three seats up just looked at her again. I'm about ready to bash his fucking brains in right now, just for looking (63)."
The reason Camryn and Andrew meet is because he saves her from Creepy Bus Pedorapist. Which raises an important question: if Andrew saw Pedorapist giving her the lustful eye, why didn't he say something? Why did he just kick back and let the psychodrama unfold, and then leave her alone, putting her in a position where she almost did get raped?
But don't worry guys, it's okay. He's got a soft side. He cried during The Notebook. No way he can be a bad man, right?
"If you were to let me fuck you, you would have to let me own you (170)."
"I've always been Daddy's Girl, but you have to grow up sometime and now... now I'm Andrew's Girl (296)."
Nope. Sorry. He's a douche.
At first I wanted to like him, but it is impossible. He's manipulative, and refuses to have sex with Camryn (penetrative sex) unless she lets him "own" her. He lies, hides information from her, takes her to a bar for underage drinking where she almost gets raped again by two assholes, both of whom he beats senselessly. He uses sex as leverage, tries to leave with a passive-aggressive break-up note, says he'll stay only if she lets him own her and fuck her. He doesn't tell her about a very serious medical condition until he ends up having a seizure and scaring the fuck out of her.
But no, it's okay because he's nice to his mom...um, he can sing and play guitar, he has a tattoo of Eurydice on his ribs and thinks Orpheus is his muse, he has a Texas drawl, and oh, yes, abs. Personality? Well...he listens to classic rock and calls women "baby," if that's what you mean.
Oh, and he's really good at sex, apparently. So good that they have sex without using a condom. That's right. And Camryn forgives her friend for ignoring her near-rape and threatening to beat her up for daring to confess to it, and giggles/cries with her over Andrew for the duration of the story.
The ending? Made me want to throw up. Talk about a book that doesn't show ANY consequences. What, so you get to act like as big of a douchebag moron as you want, but it's okay because it's okay?
These are adults.
Being an adult means consequences.
Having unprotected sex leads to babies and STDs. Joking about rape and axe-murderers gets you branded as a psychopath. Letting a brain tumor grow for eight months unchecked leads to death. Beating people up because you're jacked up on testosterone and manly-manness leads to jail time.
ACTIONS. HAVE. CONSEQUENCES.
"I never really had any enemies, except sometimes a few of the cheerleaders showed jealousy towards me because Ian loved me and wouldn't give them the time of day (135)."
"Any other time, with some other random girl, I would've already gotten out of bed to toss the condom in the toilet... (140)"
"I would never think you were a slut unless you went around screwing a bunch of guys, for which then I would be in jail because I would have to beat the fuck out of all of them (197)."
"I don't give a shit what [those girls] are saying, or how rejected they feel. In an hour they'll be riding some other guy's cock and will forget they ever spoke to me (249)."
Because Camryn finds herself enjoying sex, she assumes this means she is a nymphomaniac.
"You're the best sex I've ever had because I got something out of you I've never gotten out of a girl before....I de-virginized your innocence, made you more comfortable with yourself sexually. And that is so hot to me (332)."
Murder and Rape Jokes
"If I had been someone else, you might've been the rape victim of your very own Lifetime movie(24)."
"No guy is going to lead a girl that looks like you out alone on the top of a goddamned warehouse building just to talk. Ten more minutes and he would've thrown your little ass on top of that table and had his way with you. No one can hear you scream out here, Cam (30)."
"It's actually kind of funny...no matter how hard she pushes, the weight of my body is too heavy to move me completely (82)."
"You're just going to hop in the car with a guy you barely know and trust him not to rape you on a deserted highway somewhere...? (115)"
These next two are extra special, because Andrew says these to Camryn while she's half-passed out over the toilet bowl:
"I can take complete advantage of you now (222)."
"Don't worry, I won't molest you (223)."
Isn't that what EVERY girl wants to hear when she's only half-conscious? Rape jokes?
"I'm afraid of Andrew and what kind of pain he could inflict if he ever hurt me, because I get the feeling it wouldn't be any kind that I could bear. Already it's unbearable and he hasn't even hurt me yet (228)."
In keeping with the rape motif of this book, on page 234, while watching Andrew sing for her on stage, Camryn feels like she's in a dream. What she actually says is that she feels like she'll wake up any moment back in North Carolina with Natalie and Damon standing over at her roofied body.
"Well, it definitely wasn't so I could find you later and cut you up into little pieces or anything (275)."
Other Random Offensive Things
Camryn's frenemy, Natalie, is bisexual. When she jokes about how hot Camryn in, Camryn is quick to inform us that being a lesbian is "so sick" (15). Not the good kind of sick. The hurl kind.
"You don't hold another man's hand, boy. What the hell is wrong with you? (102)"
"Fast food doesn't make people fat (67)."
"Oh my God, I'm hideous! My make-up has completely worn off (133)."
"Oh my God, my nipples are like beacons shining through my shirt! (135)"
"I literally melt under the blush of my face(265)."
Other Nuggets of McWisdom
According to Camryn, Aerosmith is a 90s band, like Alice in Chains. LOL, no.
Andrew likes the taste of Camryn's crotch so much that, after giving her oral sex, he laments having to brush his teeth. He also thinks Vagisil and lube, and body wash and hand soap, are the same things.
Women are supposed to offer sex to men as a test to see whether or not they will refuse as good gentlemen are wont to do.
You should definitely avoid going to the doctor if you think you have a tumor. Ignorance is bliss!
Fuck this book. Fuck it with something hard and sandpapery.
Cole Cozen: Hi, my name is Cole and I'm . . . an abusive boyfriend.
Everyone: Hi, Cole.
Therapist: Hello, Cole. Thank you for coming today. Admitting yoCole Cozen: Hi, my name is Cole and I'm . . . an abusive boyfriend.
Everyone: Hi, Cole.
Therapist: Hello, Cole. Thank you for coming today. Admitting you have a problem is the first step―
CC: I don't have a fucking problem.
Therapist: Okay. Well, your ex-girlfriend seems to feel otherwise―
CC: She's a slut. A cheating, goddamn slut who wants to fuck her best friend. Both her best friends. She's a bi-cheater. Not my problem.
Travis Maddox: Preach.
Therapist: Now that is not appropriate language, Mr. Maddox and Mr. Cozen. Do you think those young ladies enjoy being called names?
TM: Hey, I call it how I see it. If they act like skanks, they aren't fit to touch the sheets I sleep in.
CC: I just love her so much, I can't control myself around her. I can't help it. I just have too many feelings. I can't keep them all inside. And when I see her with other guys . . . I want to kill them. If she ever fucked me over, I think I'd kill her.
Edward Cullen: Or myself.
Christian Grey: Or whip her with a belt.
TM: Or have sex with a bunch of girls where she can see what she's missing.
Therapist: Enough! Enough! Let's talk about that. What are some other ways you could show your girlfriend that you care?
CG: Anal beads.
Therapist: NO, Mr. Grey.
Therapist: No, no aggression!
Therapist: (relieved sigh) Yes, very good, Mr. Cozen.
CG: How about a first edition of an obscure nineteenth century novel?
Therapist: Expensive gifts are inappropriate so early in relationships, Mr. Grey. You can't BUY a woman's affections.
CG: (smirk) Clearly, you don't know how wealthy I am.
Therapist: Why don't we discuss why you think you're here?
CG: The hospital contacted the authorities when they retrieved a foreign object from my wife's―
Therapist: That's enough. Mr. Cozen?
CC: She fell. Onto my fist.
TM: Her best friend fell. On my fist.
EC: I really shouldn't be here. I'm perfect just the way I am.
CG: No, YOU are here because you are a hundred-year-old virgin.
Seriously, though, Bitter End was a pretty good portrait of an abusive relationship. As a precautionary tale, I think it works wonders. As a regular story, meh. Everything felt very contrived, and some of the situations didn't make sense. (Like, how on Earth did Cole know where to follow her all the time? And what was he really doing when he talked about family issues?)
My problem was that everything comes across as rushed: the relationship, the sex, the abuse. I didn't really have time to get to know Alex as a character, she was too busy being a plot device. Also, Alex was really frustrating. I didn't like her as a character at all, and the way she treated her friends and family while dating Cole made me feel sick. I really, really, really liked Bethany and Zack, though. Way more than I did Alex, actually. Oh my God, Zach. What a sweetheart. I'd totally date him. If I were a high school student, that is. Or if he were a grown-up twenty-something-year-old. Oh, and Alex's little sister, Celia, reminded me of my own little sister.
Good message, well researched, okay writing, meh characterization. Lots of feels. I think more description and emotion needed to be woven into this storyline, along with more personal details of Alex's life to make her a sympathetic and relatable character. Bitter End is more of an "experience" novel, than anything else, and that makes it feel clinical and cold. I hear her other book Hate List is far better. Since it's been checked out every time I've gone to the library, that seems to be true.
I've been thinking a lot lately. And I've decided that I'm finally at a point where negative reviews aren't really a big deal anymore. It's not that II've been thinking a lot lately. And I've decided that I'm finally at a point where negative reviews aren't really a big deal anymore. It's not that I don't care, or that I don't want to improve; it's more like I've reached a point where I've been able to dissociate from my work.
It took years and years to develop a thicker skin. I've gone through a lot, both on this site and off of it, to get to this point.
And if I've learned anything as an author who also happens to review books, it's that reviews are highly subjective. Different reviews are written for different types of people. Some will be helpful to the author. Some won't. A negative review might actually entice a reader, whereas an overly gushing positive review might deter one.
I know there will always be some people who give me the side-eye for continuing to review while writing books, and while I don't really like the assumptions behind some of their reasons for doing so, I can understand where they are coming from.
However, I do want you to know that I don't think of my books as perfect, or as my babies, or anything silly and overly precious like that. My books are subject to the same scrutiny with which I view all other books. And just because I down-rate a book, it doesn't mean I think I'm better than that author. There is always, ALWAYS room for improvement....more
I requested this on Netgalley because the premise sounded intriguing--I mean, arranged marriages, Irish vs. Italian mafia, debauched characters, shoot-em-ups... what could possibly go wrong?*
At the time that I applied for this book, I was not aware that it was P2P fanfiction. Which it is. Apparently RUTHLESS PEOPLE started out its life as TWILIGHT fanfiction. But that has no bearing on my review. There are plenty of other things that allow this book to fail on its own merit. The similarities are there if you know where to look for them, including an "oops!" moment where Bella--sorry, I mean Melody--calls Liam "Carrot Top", even though he's described as having "dark brown sex hair" (17). (I guess that means he's wearing a merkin toupee?)
The book opens up with Liam's POV. He's having sex with a woman he doesn't care about. It is important to set the stage with lots of slut-shaming, because this is an easy way to make Melody look good later by comparison. This is on the day that he's meeting his bride-to-be, by the way. And do his family members arrive just in time to see the unfortunate girl depart and throw in a bit of slut-shaming of their own? Can I get a Sarah Palin "You Betcha"?
She pouted, and it was ugly. Most of her facial expressions were ugly, but I didn't keep her around for her face, or her brain for that matter (7).
^Even this, as disgusting as it is, is mild compared to some of the woman-hate in this book.
"Maybe if the women knew how hard it was to make a few million, they wouldn't spend it so quickly" (31).
Because all women are good for is having sex and buying shoes! LOL!
The timid girl glanced at us, but did not answer. Instead, she kept her eyes glued to the floor. If she didn't speak up soon, I would twist her ugly little head off (33).
Because if women are ugly, it doesn't matter if they're killed! LOL!
"What I wouldn't give to fuck the shit out of her tight pussy. I would ride the fuck out of her until she broke down like a good little cunt whore" (249).
Because it's okay if men joke about raping you if you have a husband to shoot them in the head! LOL! That's so empowering! (Wait...)
"Where is that big bad bitch who set fire to the bossess' wedding? Or are you just an Irish bitch now? Did Callahan fuck all the fight out of you?" (284)
Because even if you're married, you can still be a whore! LOL! Fuck you, you pregnant cow!
"You're going to let them rape me?" She tried not to look scared. The men all cringed at the thought.
"No one wants you, whore" (340).
Because nobody ever rapes women who aren't pretty and asking for it! LOL!
But wait--that's just the slut-shaming done by the menfolk. Melody slut-shames, too! Because nothing says girl power like taking a dig at other women!
"What's wrong with getting pregnant?" Olivia asked, glaring as she drank her wine while the servants brought our food.
"Nothing," Mel said, glaring back." Nothing at all, especially when you do nothing else other than make yourself look pretty and shop" (150).
Silly whore, you can't be empowered unless you're emasculating! LOL!
"Barbie, I know I'm better than you," Melody said, sipping her red wine. It was basically a food group for her. "All of my parts are original and not made in China" (151).
Silly whore, don't you know that having big boobs automatically makes you a slut? Even when you're born with them, but especially if you're not? LOL! (I guess that makes me a slut, then. Who knew?)
""Shut the fuck up, you five cent bitch," I said before she dared to lie and tell me how sorry she was. "My husband is off the market. You should be ashamed of yourself. We're in God's house...the very church we were married in, and you are thinking of trying to have an affair. You are a disgusting little whore. How many daddy issues could you possibly have?" (171)
Silly whore, HOW DARE YOU STEAL MY HUSBAND. LOL! BUT SERIOUSLY. I'M ABOUT TO GIVE YOU A MAFIA-STYLE SWIRLIE! LKJSDLFSLDJ KFSDJFLSD >:A
"I believe she said I a [sic] classless, emotionless, cunt-faced daughter of a whore" (185).
"There are very few people I consider to be 'women'" (247).
Silly whore, the opposite is true! Most women are, indeed, worthy of being called women.
...Except you, Melody. You're a separate class entirely. And that's not a compliment. LOL!
All that would have been enough to make me hate this book a million times over.
But that's not the least of it.
The editing is shite.
Now, I get that this is an indie effort, and that the author might not have the money for a publisher, but God, even a final read-through before publishing or just sending it to a friend to have a second pair of eyes give it a quick look-over would have caught some of these problems.
(And yes, I got this from Netgalley, so I have the galley edition, but a lot of the problems in question are technical errors, like odd or convoluted syntax, so the problem is deeper than just bad editing. The author's writing style is riddled with extremely poor grammar.)
Evelyn, looked too sweet to be packing with her sandy brown hair curled gracefully under a large sun hat, but then again, it was my grandmother who had taught me how to fire my first gun (22).
^I have no idea what is going on with this sentence. I think two got smushed together by accident.
...I was laying on a bed alone (187).
^Not how you use the verb "to lay"...unless Melody is an anthropomorphic chicken, that is.
Part of me wanted to lay with him. A big part of me wanted to lay with him to him [sic] (200).
^Again, not how you use "to lay." It should have been "lie."
Also, there's a typo.
"Ninety percent of those wounds could have been self-inflicted. After all she is a very unstable woman with a history of stalking and violent acts in a fit of jealously [sic]..." (225)
"Please send the officers in," my Mel replied as she walked, more like glided, toward me (235).
^Awkward sentence structure.
The author also seems to have trouble understanding how to use quotation marks when the same person is speaking but their dialogue is broken up over the span of multiple paragraph. This is how she does it.
Liam said, "blah blah blah blah."
"Blah blah blah blah."
But since Liam is the one talking in both those instances, it should be written like this:
Liam said, "blah blah blah blah.
"Blah blah blah blah."
You don't put quotation marks around the end of the last sentence. I think of it as a gracious pause, like the beat of silence you allow in conversation to see if the person really has finished speaking.
Just a thought.
But no, that STILL doesn't even begin to describe what's wrong with the book.
For example, the moments of sheer, face-palm-worthy WTFuckery:
[The Irish] could drink every day, from dusk until dawn, and still walk in a straight line (18).
"The Irish and their fucking drama" (21).
"Rule two. We never use a fucking condom" (128).
"Patrick Darragh, is like my malware. He can make sure nothing that we don't want in the press gets in the press, and he can also get anything on air in seconds" (131).
"You fucking Irish breed like rabbits" (132).
I was the girl who murdered a cartel member at seventeen because he stole a pound of weed from us (200).
"However, I know why I was created. God needs me" (235).
The laughable sex scenes:
I stared up at her in amusement, holding on to her thighs as she ripped my pants to get at my dick. She didn't have to wait because the moment she pulled my pants from me it sprung up before us. This was why I chose to go without boxers (121).
He pulled on the drawstring on his pants. His dick was pointed right at me... (207).
Sometimes they were quite titillating. I will concede this point: the author is capable of writing sexy scenes. But then the dialogue would devolve into something that sounded like a preteen girl writing, well, fanfiction. It was just juvenile. I wanted to giggle, like I was in elementary school again. So not sexy. But this is more of a matter of personal taste. I'm bringing it up only because it impacts the rating I gave the book and I am trying to write a well-rounded review.
Then there's the sheer repetition.
Then there's the sheer repetition.
Then there's the sheer repetition.
He was amazing and had stamina that was unheard of (99).
He had stamina like I had never seen (208).
The writing was very lazy in this regard. There were several other instances like that, and while I didn't bother to keep track of them all, it was frequent enough that I went through the whole book with a feeling that was very much like deja vu. You know most word processors have thesauruses, right?
Since I was reading an e-copy of this book, I was able to perform a search function on the words I noticed being used the most.
The first was fuck. The word fuck is bandied around in this book a lot. Which sounds prudish, because hey, we all say fuck, it's an awesome word. (If you haven't seen the video of "The Usage of the Word Fuck", you should, as it is both hilarious and edifying. I thought about it a lot while reading this book. Mainly how much I would rather be watching it than reading this PoS.)
Now, I did have to do the counting myself, so I could be off by a bit, but by my count, the word "fuck" (and variations of it, such as motherfucker and fucking) were used 213 times by page 100. By page 200, it was used 402 times, and by the end of the last fucking page, the word fuck had been used a stunning 619 fucking times in total. I was a little disappointed, to be honest. I was hoping it would break 1k.
That's an average of 1.7 fucks per page.
(That's 1.7 more than the number I gave this book.)
The second word that was overused to the point of me rolling my eyes every time it made an appearance was "glare" or "glaring." The two main characters, Liam and Melody, spend a lot of time glaring at each other, or their enemies, or even just glaring because. They're bad guys. It's what bad guys do.
I performed my handy dandy CTRL-F search and counted up the times the word appeared. Again, I could be off by a bit, but by my count, the word was used 115 times. That's a lot of glaring--it causes wrinkles, you know. And then you might have to get one of those face-lifts that automatically turns you into a whore. :(
You're probably wondering why I read this book to the end if I disliked it so much. That's because I am very tired of trolls telling me that I didn't like a book because I didn't read to the glorious ending that would have blown my mind, and completely changed my thoughts and feelings about the book. Gentle reader, I read all the way up to the back cover (well, the virtual version of it, anyway), and I still hated the book.
Shane Dawson’s memoir features twenty original essays—uncensored yet surprisingly sweet.
Okay, now let's look at some quotes from this book.
It's the same feeling a wicker chair gets when a circa-2006 Kelly Clarkson takes a seat. TENSE (18).
Fat-shaming. And misogyny.
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME, YOU BARELY GED-ACHIEVING, TACKY-DRESSED SNAGGLE-TOOTHED CUNT?! (22)
I wasn't the prettiest girl at the prom but I was definitely good enough to get date raped (23).
One day she came up to me with an idea I knew was bad from the second it left her dick-suckin' lips (26).
Even more misogyny.
...he had me join a group of surfer kids who had a collective IQ of ten and a collective STD score of everything (43).
Even as a young kid I remember wondering, "Is my mom a whore?" (71)
Slut-shaming his own mother. Why? Because she had a sexy swimsuit. A one-piece.
A wise person once said: "Prom is only for whores and for the guys who want to fuck them." (161)
Slut-shaming and misogyny.
I had never heard of Shane Dawson until I read this blog post by a friend of mine, talking about Shane Dawson's up and coming book deal with Atria and why she wasn't going to read it. I don't spend much time on Youtube to be honest, because I find so many of the users to be perpetuating what I consider a highly toxic, homophobic, misogynistic, racist, apologist environment. Just look at the comments section of any video -- pretty much any video at all -- and you'll see what I mean.
The thing about Shane is that he allegedly did a couple videos in blackface, and was even called out by a black Youtube star (who was also a woman). He did remove these videos apparently, but as you can see from the article, it's obvious people didn't forget. From his responses showcased in the article, it seems that he also did not appear to understand why his videos were in poor taste, and his responses look, to me, defensive. In I HATE MYSELFIE (which could just as easily be called I HATE WOMEN, going by some of the quotes he has chosen to include in here), there is a chapter that's called "Racist" or "Racism" or something like that, where Shane addresses being called a racist.
The laughable thing is that he claims the reason he was branded as a racist wasn't even his fault! No, it was because of a Harriet Tubman sex tape skit that went viral, and because he had worked with some of the actors in it, everyone assumed it was his idea! That's why people call him a racist. It was all a big mistake, you guys! He doesn't bring up the blackface incident. Which is maybe not surprising, but it was disappointing: I would have liked to see his perspective on the incident, and what he'd learned from the incident. Sometimes mistakes like these can actually have a positive outcome: they can teach us to be more sensitive, and more careful about what they say. Given the average age of Dawson's fans, this could have been a very powerful and important message to convey.
But no, in this chapter, he claims that he's actually not being a racist by making fun of other races. In fact, it would practically be racist not to! Besides, Asians are allowed to make fun of Asian people, right?
Margaret Cho isn't considered a racist for making jokes about Asians and their stereotypes because it's what she grew up with (155).
On the very next page, Shane uses the much-exhausted excuse of every tried and true racist out there:
"My black friend thinks I'm funny!"
Right, Shane. Right.
I HATE MYSELFIE is not limited to these problems, however. Shane is watched by a very young audience, and yet he seems to me like a very bad role model. He claims that he ate 250 packets of Splenda a day, and his eating habits actually put him in the hospital. (Where did he get all these packets? A lot of his fans mailed them to him.) He got so dehydrated from drinking Splenda drinks in lieu of water that at one point he started hallucinating in a bathroom before losing consciousness.
I'm not sure what the moral is here. That if you act shocking enough, and make enough waves, you will become famous for being a total asshole and make bank?
He tries to make himself seem approachable by writing about his experiences being bullied and struggling with obesity. While these are issues that many people -- especially teens -- struggle with on a daily basis, his way of dealing with this is wrong. Shane still eats badly. And his reactions of dealing with bullying are reprehensible. At one point, he catfishes one of his bullies, tricking him into showing a picture of his dick by pretending to be a girl. He considers distributing the picture to everyone but then has an attack of a guilty conscience last minute and decides not to.
The only "sweet" thing Shane seems to have done is that he has commissioned an army of 12-15-year-olds to design the drawings for his chapter headings, and then included links to their Facebooks, Instagrams, what have you. As a publicity stunt, that's perfectly clever, and tantamount to John Green's big announcement that he based THE FAULT IN OUR STARS off a real girl, and then wrote his big fat tear-jerky blurb all over her diary when that was published posthumously.
I read this book to satisfy my curiosity, and it's pretty much confirmed everything that I've suspected. Shane is not someone I am interested in getting to know, nor is he someone I am willing to support with time or money. I'm sure I will get people on this review trying to make apologies for him, or claiming that he is shocking with the intent of being satirical or edgy. No. Those are also apologist arguments. There are some things that are just in poor taste to joke about, and if you do joke about them, you have to deal with the consequences of doing so (scorn and condemnation).
For those looking for a decent comedian who has social commentary to an art, I suggest Sarah Haskins. Her Target Women series, with the way it challenges gender norms, has made me a lifelong fan.
As a further part of this edit, I will say that I have had people come onto this review and try to make apologies for him and/or try to insult me for my opinion. I anticipated this, but I would like to clarify something else. I am not writing this review because I am jealous, or out of malice, or because I consider myself a paragon of virtue. I was interested in reading this book because I had heard some conflicting things about this Youtube comedian, and I wanted to see his side to the story before making any sorts of decisions about his work. Now, after reading it, I have made my decision: Dawson's work is simply not to me, and I find many of his attitudes and lifestyle choices personally offensive. I received this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review, which I have attempted to do to the best of my ability.
First, I would just like to say that I am incredibly disturbed that this book was published by an imprint of Scholastic, which markets to preteens and children. BREAKING BUTTERFLIES contains some ideas that are, frankly, harmful and dangerous.
***MAJOR SPOILERS TO COME***
The book opens with a story about the two protags' parents. There were two girls named Sarah and Leigh. Sarah is a shy loser who is completely blindsided by the amazing and beautiful Leigh. They become best friends, and decide that when they grow up, Leigh will have a boy named Cadence and Sarah will have a girl named Sphinx, and their children will be married, and then the two of them will be grandmothers together. Pinkie swear?
They end up doing just that, and Sphinx (Sphinxie) and Cadence become friends. Except there's something not quite right about Cadence. When he's just five years old, he smashes a butterfly in his hands, making Sphynxie cry. Sphynxie's father doesn't trust Cadence after that, but the two mommies are like, "No, he's just a little boy, he doesn't know what he did was wrong." But then, a few years later, Sphinxie and Cadence are left unsupervised, and Cadence informs Sphinxie that she is "his" and slashes her in the face with a knife, almost gouging out her eye. Sphinxie's father goes, "I told you so." Sphinxie gets stitches, and Leigh's mother whisks Cadence off to England, because apparently England is a cure for sociopathy.
Now Sphinxie is a teenager and one day she finds her mother in the kitchen talking on the phone. It turns out that Cadence has terminal leukemia. Terminal, because his mother, Leigh, has decided that she doesn't want him to have to go through chemotherapy because there's a chance that it might not work, and she doesn't want him to barf. Because mothers totally think, "Oh, gee! There's a pretty big chance this cure won't help my baby, whom I love very much. Might as well just let him die au naturel, then!" that is totally what any loving mother would do in this situation.
Sphinxie decides that she has to see him though, because he was her best friend when they were kids! She owes it to him! Never mind that he cut her in the face with a knife and almost gouged out one of her eyes, they're still best friends. Obviously, Sphinxie's father is not cool with this but Sphinxie insists, so her mother decides that one week probably won't hurt.
So they go to England.
Cadence is sickly looking but Sphinxie is totally attracted to him. Because he's so hot! He practically sparkles, just like Edward Cullen (you may think I'm exaggerating; I am not. I lost count of how many times Sphinxie says Cadence "shines"). He paints. He plays piano sadly. He's good at chess.
He's also a sociopath.
Cadence still believes Sphinxie is his. He tells her that according to their mothers' little legend, they are destined to be married and have children. He gets mad at her for putting concealer on the scar on her face, because he wants everyone to see his mark on her. He gets angry for no reason, and when Sphinxie goes into his super-sekrit painting study without asking his permission, he explodes when he finds out, threatens her, and then pushes her to the floor, causing her to scream.
The two moms rush in and Cadence is SO SORRY OMG I DIDN'T MEAN IT, and Sphinxie feels bad because she shouldn't have trespassed in his sekrit space and also, he is dying, so mulligan.
When the week draws to a close, Sphinxie's mom is relieved to be going home, but guess what? Sphinxie doesn't want to go home. She wants to stay with Cadence until he dies, because he's so lonely and cares about her so much and he needs her and she has to do this for him because that is the not-selfish thing to do. Because when someone is abusing you, it's because they need you, or possibly because they're dying of cancer. Because apparently cancer is a free pass to be evil as you please.
More fuckery happens.
Cadence, Sphinxie, and Leigh go to a pet store. Cadence looks at a little budgie and decides he wants it. Later, he tries to kill it in front of his mom and Sphinxie. When Sphinxie makes him let it go, Cadence attacks her, and they fall into a glass table and get impaled with shards of glass. "Don't call an ambulance!" Sphinxie says, even though she's got a shard of glass sticking through her palm. "I'm fine!" So in a bid for worst mother of the year, Leigh says OK, and she drives Cadence to the hospital, and he gets some medicine and everything is okay.
Except Sphinxie tells her parents what happened.
"WHAT THE FUCK?" say her parents. "COME HOME IMMEDIATELY!"
"I can't," says Sphinxie. "I need to stay here for him. Can't you see how badly he needs me?"
By this point, I'm thinking, no way can this possibly get any worse. I mean, we're already glorifying an abusive relationship -- and this is a physically and emotionally abusive relationship that makes books like TWILIGHT and, I hate to say it, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, look like Disney.
But Cadence has another WTF ace up his sleeve. "Guess what?" he says, "I'm going to die soon, and I want you to die with me, because I'm not going to live long enough for us to be married and have babies, so I bought you a knife, and when I tell you to I want you to kill yourself with us and together we shall be dead and still and it will be art. Because suicide pacts are romantic."
Sphinxie is horrified, but she also likes the idea of being a marble statue. Especially when Cadence tells her that they can be holding hands when they die. She starts thinking about this seriously. She cares about Cadence so much, can she really live without him? And he wants this so much, why should he die alone? She doesn't tell anyone this because she knows that if she does, even Worst Mother of the Year will probably send her packing because that's pretty fucked up.
Although...Cadence later tells Sphinxie that his mother knew he was a sociopath all along, because the psychologists diagnosed him as one. But Leigh didn't tell Sphinxie's mom because she knew that Sarah wouldn't bring Sphinxie to England if she knew that her BFF's son was a murderous sociopath. Denial. Not just a river somewhere in Egypt.
Sphinxie's father, the only rational human being in this book, has had enough, though, and she and her mother end up booking a flight. Which makes Sphinxie angry. How dare they take away her right to kill herself! Maybe she ought to kill herself anyway, because it's not like Cadence is taking away any of her rights! After all, he has cancer and he needs her here so much and she loves him.
At the end of the book Cadence gets really sick, and Sphinxie tells her parents she's not coming home until Cadence is dead, and good sense goes out the window because Cadence has cancer, so they say, "Okay, sweetie, you can stay with the dying sociopath. We'll come up for the funeral and then take you home." Then Cadence and decides it's suicide pact time. He kills that poor little bird and tells Sphinxie it's her turn next. But Sphinxie decides she doesn't want to die, although she does tell Cadence that she loves him. And then Cadence dies and she cries.
But it's okay, because she has eggs in her uterus! She will have a baby one day! And then she will tell her baby the story about her tragic love affair with the beautiful shiny special sociopath.
I am not kidding.
Let's go over what we've learned here today, shall we?
1. Cancer is a magical thing that allows you to be as cruel and terrible as you want.
2. If a guy cuts your face with a knife, it means he loves you so much he wants to mark you as his.
3. If a guy asks you to do a suicide pact with him, it is romantic and artistic and not creepy as fuck.
4. As a woman, your primary objective in life is making babies. And planning weddings.
5. If a person you love turns on you, it is selfish to run away as fast as you can.
6. Lying about whether someone is hurting you/planning to hurt you is perfectly healthy.
7. If a man plays piano, is good at chess, and paints pretty pictures, he can't be a sociopath.
8. This was a love story, and not society's cry for help.
I am...I don't even have words. How did this book get published? And why is it being marketed to impressionable teen girls?
The closest he will ever come to happiness is when he's hurting her. Will she let him? A beautiful and twisted story of first love and innocence lost--written when the author was just eighteen.
Red Queen features one of the bitchiest, sanctimonious, self absorbed, and narcissistic characters I have EVER encountered in literature. The winnerRed Queen features one of the bitchiest, sanctimonious, self absorbed, and narcissistic characters I have EVER encountered in literature. The winner of the Righteous Bitch award is Margaret Beaufort, Plantagenet and progenitor of the Tudors.
Originally I felt sorry for her. I mean, here's this girl who lives in a fantasy land and has somehow convinced herself that she's destined to be the next Joan of Arc, or at the very least a saint, and then her mother foists her off - at twelve - to be the wife of some middle-aged noble whose sexual encounters run along the lines of Wham! Bam! Heir me, Ma'am!. She has a very awful and painful experience with childbirth, and finds out that her mother has given her midwives explicit directions to save the life of her son rather than hers, if it comes to that.
Oprah does not approve.
Then Margaret's husband, Edmund, dies, and she ends up marrying this other dude, Henry Stafford, who's quite a bit nicer than her other husband . . . except for the fact that he's a filthy opportunist! And he doesn't like fighting in war! What a pussy! How dare he value his own life and the life of his family over his country! What an awful man! The way she treated her husband was quite revolting. She was always nagging him to go into battle, and pressing him for descriptions when he was quite obviously traumatized. She resents him for being cowardly and old, and it is at this point that her naivete stops being endearing and starts making her sound like a five-year-old throwing a temper tantrum in a nursery.
To make matters worse, Margaret starts obsessing over Elizabeth Woodville and Edward of York, the current holders of the throne. Originally, her child was next in line, but the throne was seized by another family in battle. She alternates between calling Elizabeth a whore and a witch, basically asking, "Why don't you just ride off on your broomstick then, bitch?", resenting her for being pretty and shapely, and bitching that "she isn't even that pretty, anyway! And she's dumber than me and not as blessed by God as I am." (Seriously.)
Margaret calls the both of them traitors, and spends much of her time in church praying for their deaths. THEN, after the death of her second husband, she starts speculating that maybe she would like to marry Edward after all, if only so her son could be queen and she could sign her name Margaret R. (for Regina) on letters and bits of stationery. She points out that she would be a better wife because she doesn't care about his looks (although he is very attractive), though the thought of him naked makes her shudder in disgust because she imagines that he must demand all sorts of crude and perverted acts in the bedroom, the foul traitor! Still, she wants to marry him even though she hates him, and resents Elizabeth (WITCH! WITCH!) for being alive.
Margaret also spends a lot of her time praying for the death of their young son, because apparently that is an equal crime tantamount to depriving her son of the throne. There are pages and pages of this hate, and it is rather akin to reading the diary of a teenage girl. I just got so sick and tired of the stupid narrator because she is such a bitch, and it's no small wonder her husbands both died - they probably offed themselves to avoid her vitriolic nagging.
Also, it's kind of ironic that Margaret claims to be so blessed by the grace of God, and a direct recipient of His ear, because if you know anything about Catholic dogma, you'd know that Margaret actually embodies many aspects of the seven deadly sins.
Greed: I'm not happy being a lady, I want to be QUEEN OF ENGLAND!
Sloth: My husbands should fight for me, because I'm a lady and therefore incapable of lifting a finger, let alone a sword! For the same reasons, nursemaids shall feed and look after my son for me, and scholars shall provide the education and discipline!
Wrath: I'm going to pray that God will smite the people I hate! Whooppee!
Envy: I'd be a much better queen/wife/lay than that Elizabeth Woodville slutfacewhore. God, I wish I were queen instead of her!
Pride: God has blessed me with His special favor because I am so fucking awesome. My son should be king, and I should be the dowager queen, and I am a special, unique, beautiful snowflake and if you do not do as I command, I shall pray to God for bad things to happen to you. YAY ME
Margaret Beaufort: Holy Bitch, or Wholly Bitch? You decide.
I see this book all the time at work, and every time I walk past it, a little part of my brain goes "WANT." But I don't really have the money for new books, and Stephen King is such a hit-or-miss author with me that I'm loath to spend my hard-earned cash on what is essentially a crap shoot. Then my library got a copy of this book and solved my dilemma for me. Hooray.
REVIVAL is about a boy named Jamie Morton who is an old man by the end of the book. It can basically be chopped into three parts: Jamie as a kid growing up in the sixties. Jamie as a junkie, trying to obliterate the traumas of his past with a failed career as a rock star and copious use of drugs. Jamie reunited with the now-insane preacher he knew and admired as a little boy--the horror.
I loved the first part of the book. Nobody can write nostalgia like Stephen King. He can capture the zeitgeist of a given time period with ease, which makes reading his historical fiction a pleasure. Part of the reason IT is one of my favorite books of all time is because of how well Stephen King wrote about the fifties. He does the same with his book, 11/22/63 (which I loved), and again here.
The problem is that it takes a while for this book to get creepy. It's a little ominous in some parts in the beginning (and there are some really disgusting gory accidents), but nothing like the tightly laced suspense of some of his other books. NEEDFUL THINGS, for example, and IT, had me turning the pages with one hand so I could bite the nails on the other. Usually, King's middles are solid, but I found myself skimming. I wasn't interested in Jamie's failed career or his drug-fueled oblivions.
I kept reading because I heard the ending was a mind-fuck and I had several theories about which direction it would go in. I had hoped that none of my theories would prove correct--and that happened (be careful what you wish for), but in the worst way possible. Stephen King went out with a Langoliers ending: in giving us closure, he went the reductio ad absurdum approach and ended up becoming laughably ridiculous. Which is sad, because I could think of so many great possibilities for this book. (I was thinking something along the lines of Christopher Priest's PRESTIGE.)
However there were two things that I did really like about this book:
1. The Easter eggs. Stephen King makes several references to some of his other books. Just as the main character in 11/22/63 ends up meeting the kids from IT, Charlie Jacobs makes a passing reference to JOYLAND and at one point Jamie is in a band that considers calling itself "The Gunslingers" (although they decide that would be too "dark").
2. The play on words in the title. On the one hand, it can be interpreted as referring to revival churches in the South, built on fire and brimstone and "call and answer" evangelical sermons that portray Jesus as almost magical. It can also refer to bringing someone back. To revive.
All those definitions come into play in this book.
I wasn't a fan of this book, but all of his works are so different--I love that he's starting to branch out into other genres, like noir and time travel--that I'm hoping his next one will be a better fit for me.
I'm changing my rating for this book from 2 stars to 1 star because the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much DIVERGENT really upset me. (There is a discussion about this in the comments, if you're really curious about the reasons behind the one-star difference, or if you would just like to join in the discussion.)
So when this book first came out, I was like, "Hmm, I should probably read this." But then I thought, "Nooo, I know what happens when I read books like this. I hate them and then people get mad at me, and I feel bad, and I hate myself for putting myself through this--again--and why do I do these things to myself again OH MY GOD." So I was like, "Okay, I better not read this."
But then my friend--my friend--says, "Hey, I got this amazing book and it is so awesome and I am sure you'll like it and DID YOU KNOW THERE'S A MOVIE? HERE, BORROW IT."
And the book--was DIVERGENT.
And I was like, "Well, fuck. Now I have to read it."
DIVERGENT is an odd paperweight of a book. It's 467 pages but feels ten times longer, because nothing happens until page 260 or so. And yes, you can argue, "But there was action! They jumped off buildings, and hopped on moving trains, and there were fights, and people got hurt!" Yes, all those things did happen. But there was no real point to them. What were they preparing for? They are in Chicago. And what happens in Chicago in the future apparently stays in Chicago because there is no mention of the Outside World. (And Internet. Does Internet no longer exist in the future? How horrifying.) So they are in Chicago preparing to fight...somebody. But who? A giant train?
Beatrice Prior is in Abnegation, which is a faction. Factions are basically cliques, except they're also careers, too, and maybe also religion, because I swear, with the feet-washing and the guilt, and the self-sacrifice, Abnegation was more of a cult than a...whatever a faction was supposed to be. (The same goes for Dauntless, actually. I'm sorry, but anyone who describes suicide as an act of Ultimate Bravery is a suicide cult. And Eric is its leader.)
Why are there factions? Because...somebody decided humanity worked better, if you split them apart and made them have obvious differences. Because, you know, that worked so well for Palastine and Israel. Or the Shiites and the Sunnis. Or, as a less extreme example, the unpopular people and the jocks. DIFFERENCES MAKE EVERYONE GET ALONG--oh wait, no they don't.
So yeah, our five factions are
The best way to describe this book is a cross between HUNGER GAMES, VAMPIRE ACADEMY, and HARRY POTTER. With a religious agenda. I could really tell that the author was religious, and probably some fairly extreme form of it--the references to God (either oblique or direct), the hairshirt philosophies of the Abnegates, the martyr aspects, or the fact that Tris's mom believes that all people are inherently evil--and as an agnostic, some of the things being pushed here really disturbed me.
For example, the vilification of curiosity, technology, and knowledge. Technology is eeeeevilllll. Biomedical technology is eeeeevillll. Creating AI will lead to zombies!!! Smart people only want to manipulate you, and hijack your brainz!!! There's a What Faction Are You? quiz in the back of the book and of course I scored as Erudite (because let's be honest--oh wait, I'm not all that honest. Buh-bye, Candor. And I'm too much of a meanie book reviewer to be in Amity. And the less we say about my bravery, the better. I can't even go on the kiddie roller-coasters at Great America). So maybe I'm pissed that scoring as Erudite makes me eeeevilll. But seriously, why?
That's a question I asked myself a lot over the course of the book: "But seriously, WHY?"
Why does wearing all black, piercing yourself, getting tats, and running into oncoming traffic (yes, they DO this), make you brave? Doesn't that just make you stupid? Four at one point says that Dauntless has a boundary between bravery and idiocy. WHERE THE HELL IS THAT BOUNDARY? Because apparently in Dauntless Land, jumping in front of trains, suicide, and beating the shit out of people are totally cool. Yeah, nothing idiotic about any of those things. But learning, on the other hand, is bad! Terrible! Reading a book = synonymous with Nazi party! HOW DARE YOU MEMORIZE ALL THOSE FACTS, WILL? NOBODY LEARNS ANYTHING IN FUTURE CHICAGO! NOT NOBODY, NOT NOHOW. I'M CALLING JOE MCCARTHY.
And let's not even get started on the violence. The Dauntless have these Fight Club sessions where they beat the crap out of each other on a regular basis. This is how you move up in the ranks in Dauntless. They also teach them how to use guns, and apparently only the Dauntless use weapons. (Which doesn't make sense, because if I was living next to a bunch of crazy people like the Dauntless, I would definitely want to own a gun.) There's attempted rape, attempted murder, somebody gets an eye gouged out, people get guns held up to their heads, oh and somebody dies on the train. But nobody cares. HAHAHAHA YOU ARE THE WEAK LINK. GOODBYE.
Bea(Tris) keeps whining about how she's not selfless enough, but at the same time, what IS selfless? According to the book, it's giving poor people food and giving up seats on the bus and not asking questions. For the WHOLE 480-something ENTIRETY of the book, we have to listen to Tris say, "I'm brave, but am I brave enough? Oh God, I don't think so. But wait, yes I am! I have to prove myself! I am DAUNTLESS! I am also selfish. That's why I'm going to beat the crap out of people. I have to prove myself. I have to be #1...even though that will call attention to myself as a DIVERGENT." Man, this girl has no self-preservation instinct AT ALL.
She's also vain as fcuk. There are about six or seven instances where she stands in front of a mirror and reports back EVERYTHING she sees. And yeah, I figured out, "Hey, she's Abnegation and they aren't allowed to look at mirrors. So she's like, Oh, who's that?" But she does it ALL THE TIME. Eventually the thrill should wear off. Plus, she doesn't think she's pretty. Which just doesn't make sense. I mean, she's tiny, and skinny, and she has curves and everyone is flirting with her all the time. It's like the author was like, "I'm going to write a strong, confident women...except, uh-oh, women aren't supposed to be too confident! I'd better make her awkward about her sex appeal and sex!"
And oh my God, the references to sex in this book are as awkward as a middle school sex ed. video. SO MUCH STAMMERING. It's SEX, people. Not an invite to a BDSM play room. Did I mention that the relationship between Four and Tris is SO CONTRIVED? I actually liked Four, but I didn't like him with Tris. They had no chemistry. But it's SO IMPORTANT FOR A FEMALE CHARACTER TO FALL INTO INSTA-LOVE WITH THE FIRST HOT GUY SHE SEES. Because reasons. Never mind the awkward maybe-sorta-not-really love triangle with Al. Poor Al.
Poor Tris's family.
Poor girl who got run over by train.
SO MANY BAD THINGS HAPPEN IN THIS BOOK. It's like Final Destination. People keep dying for no reason except...fate, maybe! Who the hell knows? I don't care anymore. And they aren't even given a second thought. Like Tris feels bad for maybe half a second (if she even notices at all--it depends on whether or not Four happens to be in the room at the time), and then she's like, "Four! Being brave! Dauntless! Not being selfish! Not letting anyone know I'm divergent!"
Except you bring up your divergence every fucking chance you get, you moron.
Tris is pretty much an irredeemable Mary Sue. She doesn't just have two factions, no, she has three. (Dauntless, Abnegation, and Erudite--oh the IRONY. That's like finding out Crabbe and Goyle were originally meant to be Ravenclaws LOLOLOL) But she eliminates Erudite because they're eeeevilllll, F U. I felt like the whole idea of factions was created as an excuse to make Tris Captain Snowflake of the Speshul Brigade. Also, forbidden romance! BECAUSE SHE IS DIVERGENT AND IF FOUR FINDS OUT HE MIGHT KILL HER. :O :O :O Because that totally did not happen in THE HUNGER GAMES. And the whole falling for your instructor thing, but not being able to because favoritism and also NOT ALLOWED? Yeah, that was totally VAMPIRE ACADEMY.
There are a lot of other things that bothered me, which I've probably forgotten (it was a really long book), but if you want a blow-by-blow you can check out my status updates on Goodreads. All 34 of them. But I'm going to do a quick summing up about what I liked and disliked about the book.
-Four & Christina (sort of)
-The fear landscapes
-EVERYTHING ELSE (especially Tris)
I don't understand all the love for this book. It read like an indie novel. I felt like the writing and plot were very subpar and that about 10k words could have been cut (like all the times she spent looking into the mirror, or the pointless descriptions of hamburgers--I DON'T CARE). But hey, the 4.35 rating begs to differ. I don't think even the bible has ratings that high. So hey, maybe when it comes to books, my taste is...DIVERGENT. LOL.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like, to be one of those women who always agrees with the majority. Sobbing along to The Notebook, calling Christian Grey your book boyfriend, believing in love at first sight...it must be nice. I'm not one of those women. In fact, the only thing that keeps me from being a total raving bitch is that I know (sometimes) when to keep my unpopular opinions to myself.
This is not one of those times.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you are probably aware of John Green's incredible success with THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. Not that he was lacking in success before. And as he continues to break the bank, lesser authors are falling over themselves in attempt to ride his coattails and scoop up any dropped cash. Jennifer Niven, with her terrible attempt at FAULT IN OUR STARS PART II: BIPOLAR EDITION is one of these.
It's hard to say, exactly, why this book pisses me off. There are so many reasons. One is that, as someone who has had problems with depression in the past and who knows many other people with depression and bipolar who struggle with their disorders daily, this book is really fucking insulting. Niven attempts to glamorize bipolar and suicidal ideation, and in doing so marginalizes everyone afflicted with the disorder. Finch, who has what is probably Bipolar II, is a pretentious ass-hatter. He's nasty to everyone except Violet, reckless, pretentious, and fascinated with suicide. But the way it's written, he turns suicide into a game. "Hmm, this might be fun," he goes. "Will I, or won't I?"
Violet is also depressed because of her sister's death. They were close and now she's gone, and she thinks she might like to die, too. So she climbs up to the school's bell tower with the intent of jumping and -- surprise, surprise -- Finch is already there, and persuades her not to jump. (Which made me think of Jack and Rose from the Titanic, and yes, it is just as contrived.) After this, they form a relationship. And really, what kind of a message is that to send to teens? It's basically the same thing that New Moon got so much criticism for: "put your life in danger, and hot men will save you!"
Another thing that bothered me about the book is its complete lack of authenticity. The teens in this book do not sound like teens. A good percentage of their romantic exchanges consists of quoting Virginia Woolf (and does the fact that Virginia Woolf committed suicide foreshadow something, perhaps suicidal ideation? Oh look, someone read the Wikipedia page about depression and suicide! Good job! Here's your gold star) at each other and paragraphs of navel gazing a la John Green that really made me want to exfoliate because at least when John Green does it, you expect that from John Green; it's far more painful to see someone do it in conscious imitation. I mean, for fuck's sake.
Oh, -- and even at my darkest points, I still thought Virginia Woolf had a giant stick up her ass.
The way suicide and depression are treated in this book is also sickening. When Violet's parents find out that he was thinking about killing himself, they treat him as if he's got leprosy -- like his suicidal nature might rub off on their daughter (literally) and cause a gun to magically appear in her hand and blow her head off. The entire school calls Finch (whose full name is Theodore Finch) Theodore Freak. The school paper publishes a list of the top 10 suicidal students, and the faculty allows this (never mind that no school in their right mind would do this because of the potential lawsuits and psychological trauma). In fact, the principal actually interrogates Finch (who is number one on the list), giving him a hard time about whether he is going to kill himself because, after all, the idiotic assholes on the school paper said it, so it must be fucking true!
I am honestly blown away by the fact that this book has been optioned for a movie already because it is pretty much a carbon copy of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS -- worse, it brings nothing new to the table, somehow managing to be both pretentious and ignorant, while also insulting the very people it claims to be bringing attention to. I didn't cry while reading this book. I said, ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW, and deducted another star for predictability.
This was quite possibly the most over-hyped book I have come across in years. I can't believe they're making a movie out of something that's so unpolished. It is awful, offensive, and ignorant, and I am honestly shocked that it doesn't have more negative reviews because HOLY SHIT.
Once upon a time, there was a girl who read Twilight. And while she liked it--especially the creepier parts--she was annoyed by how sappy the male protagonist was and how easily the female got over his controlling, possessive behavior. And she thought to herself, "Wow, if this guy wasn't a vampire, this story would be totally effed up."
The Horrorscape series was born.
Well, actually, no. Not really. I'm lying. I started this story around '05 or '06, but it wasn't really fleshed out the way it is now until far later.
The premise is about a very young woman who gets romantically entangled with a boy whom she initially perceives as a twisted, tormented soul--only to realize that he's actually a burgeoning psychopath who's quite happy with the way he is, thanks, and by the way HAVE YOU SEEN MY BINDER OF WOMEN? No, seriously. He.... Well, that would be telling, wouldn't it?
Rather than the more usual route of the bad boy being softened by the good girl, Val starts to grow steadily more corrupt under his influence. She starts to develop some mental health disorders of her own, as a result of all the trauma he puts her through, a warped view of her own sexuality, and, ultimately, ends up far more cold and callous than the "nice" girl she initially was. I'm quite proud of this, and have taken great pains to portray him as unappealing as possible despite his attractive facade. While it was spurred on by books like Twilight and FSoG, it is really closer to Lolita or The Collector in tone because Gavin was never meant to be a real love interest, simply because, like the men in the two aforementioned books, he isn't capable of it.
When this was published online, I was often amused when people attempted to rationalize Gavin's sick and twisted behavior (sometimes the lengths to which they would go seemed rather, um, worrying. Men don't do things like this ((view spoiler)[e.g. murdering the friends of, sending threatening messages to, drawing graphic representations of (hide spoiler)]) to women they love). And saddened, because it just goes to show how thoroughly this "love trumps all" stereotype has permeated our culture.
It's definitely safe to say that the endless line of idealized abusive romances in YA and new adult romance prodded me into preparing this for publication. I'm a very contrary person, and my exact mindset at the time was something along the lines of, "They want abusive, border-line psychotic boyfriends? They'll get abusive, border-line psychotic boyfriends! IN SPADES!" Gavin is frightening--and the lengths he goes to possess the female character in this book and the others in the series are, well, horrifying.
Because the Horrorscape series is horror and while there are undertones of romance, the behavior of the characters contained within are far too dysfunctional and superficial to be considered love. And Lovescape doesn't really have the same sort of ring to it, does it?
Oh, book. How do you piss me off? Let me count the ways.
1. You try to masquerade as a strong female fantasy noveFeminist fiction you say?
Oh, book. How do you piss me off? Let me count the ways.
1. You try to masquerade as a strong female fantasy novel when your MC is a total bitch who spends all her time debating over whether or not to give her husband permission when he ravishes her or not (because it's not rape if you're married, folks!).
2. The MC's first husband sleeps around, but she's totally OK with that - until he starts giving her younger sister The Eye. Oh, but god help the MC if she ever decides to cheat. When she even looks at a guy wrong her husband comes close to beating and then raping her.
3. Borderline pedophilia. Because if she's got her monthlies, you can give it to her daily, apparently.
4. Merlin is a pimp in this novel. No, seriously. He is. "Cheat on your husband - he's going to be dead anyway soon and this guy is a total stud. Plus, who's the whore and who's the wizard here? Exactly. NOW SLEEP WITH HIM YOU SLUT. AND BEAR THE SON I NEED FOR MY PROPHECY!"
5. He's not a rapist. He just didn't know how to deal with the young beautiful girl he was saddled with as a wife. As soon as she stopped fighting him and calling it "rape" he was a perfectly nice man. No, that's not Stockholm Syndrome at all. It's marriage.
It's not even particularly well-written, either. I found it very heavy-handed and full of purple prose. The words were so tangled up in their own sense of self-importance that I found myself forgetting the plot so many times that I eventually just stopped caring.
Plus, all the rape and girly things and rampant sexism really grated my cheese, if you know what I mean. I just can't read a book that makes me want to do this:
CEASE AND DESIST is finished. I'm currently in the process of revising the book chapter by chapter with the help of my beta-readers, Jazzy and ChristiCEASE AND DESIST is finished. I'm currently in the process of revising the book chapter by chapter with the help of my beta-readers, Jazzy and Christina They are both doing an absolutely wonderful job, and I seriously cannot sing their praises enough.
This will mark my second finished book series, and my sixteenth finished work. I've now been publishing (for profit, anyway) for almost four years, and I feel like I've come a long way in those four years.
I have you, the readers, to thank for that.
I read all my reviews, positive and negative. And I re-read them right before I publish a new book in the series because I believe my reviewers know what they're talking about when they point out a flaw in my writing. This has been my policy with all revisions and rewrites, and it has worked out remarkably well for me, I think, because readers know what they want. And it is my job, as a writer, to give it to them (to the best of my ability).
So thank you so much for reading this crazy series. I'm really excited to be able to share this book with you in a few months. I hope you like it, and I also hope that you feel like your voice matters. Because even if it doesn't seem like it, your thoughts can make a huge difference. :)...more
I think it's a vast understatement to say that TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is a popular book. Pulitzer-Prize-winner, best-seller, life-changer, it's a book that's made a serious impact on and contribution to society, as well as literature.
I, however, did not like TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. I found its alleged charms overrated, and the message heavy-handed. Yes, I could appreciate the moral message in the book, and the impact it must have had in its time, but I thought it was really boring.
GO SET A WATCHMAN is worse, though. Far, far worse.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding this book's publication. I'm not going to get into that, but if you're interested, you can easily look it up. But from what I gathered, GO SET A WATCHMAN was never intended for publication. It was the prototype of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, and TKAM was the fleshed-out story that emerged from the flashbacks of her original story of an adult Scout.
GO SET A WATCHMAN is the story that preceded TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Scout is an adult, now going by Jean Louise, visiting her father after living in New York for many years. She gets a lot of crap from her Aunt Alexandra because she's marrying her childhood friend, Henry, "Hank," who is, according to her and several other people, "poor white trash."
Scout annoyed me in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD because she was so childish. Jean Louise is worse. She's judgmental and seems to have a nasty, judgmental thing to say about anyone. Repeatedly, she condemns femininity, and bemoans the fact that Eve was stupid enough to eat the apple and inflict womankind with something as inconvenient and offensive as menstruation.
She also has a lot of opinions about race.
I just read Robin Talley's book, LIES WE TELL OURSELVES, and one of the things that really jumped out at me was how racist people can be even when they're so convinced that they have good intentions, and the racist lengths such people will go to rationalize their racist beliefs while simultaneously desperately, eagerly, pathetically, trying to convince everyone that they are still a nice person, despite trying to keep an entire group of people down.
Jean Louise informs us with smarmy self-satisfaction that she grew up surrounded by Negroes who swept her floors and took out her garbage, and how much she appreciates them for this. She loves her help, and would never dream of treating them poorly, even if they are inferior human beings. My stomach churned when she called herself "color-blind" and is called this by others, as well, even though she repeatedly refers to black people as Negroes.
[The Negroes] were poor, they were diseased and dirty, some were lazy and shiftless, but never in my life was I given the idea that I should despise one, should fear one, should be discourteous to one, or think that I could mistreat one and get away with it (125).
Barf. Like, seriously. Barf-and-a-half.
I couldn't help but wonder if this was a product of its time. Because if the book was written earlier than TKAM, this might very well have been the thinking style of "liberal" people in the South. The problem is that it doesn't really work in a modern lens, except to provide a snapshot of a single point in history that is now horribly dated and ickily personal, because it read, to me, like someone's musings on their own personal philosophies as they tried to work out their shaky thoughts on a hot-button issue. The last fifty pages or so consists mostly of proselytizing.
Because here is where the book gets really weird and fucked up. Atticus is now an old man and still a lawyer, although he's become bitter--and racist. In the interim that Jean Louise was gone, he's also become an ardent segregationist and a racist. For example, Atticus has joined "All the Maycomb Citizens' Council," Maycomb's answer to the Ku Klux Klan. And when Jean Louise confronts her uncle about it, she finds out that he may have been in the actual KKK as well. Can you fucking believe it? Atticus Finch in the KKK.
The book attempts to rationalize his membership in this group by saying that you can't change anything from the outside--you have to conform to society's thinking in order to make a difference. And while Atticus would never bomb any Negro houses (seriously, explosives are used as an example), it's perfectly okay for him to talk about his views with like-minded gentlemen.
Uh-huh. I repeat, barf-and-a-half.
She ends up confronting her father, who tells her, condescendingly, that New York has made her too liberal. He says that it's important to oppose the NAACP, because they're idiots who don't know what they're doing, basically, and that black people are "inferior" and don't know what's best for them. He delivers a slippery slope argument, adding that if blacks are treated equally, they'll vote and elect black people to take government positions! THE HORROR! Also, schools will suffer and everyone will become stupider as desegregated schools are forced to lower their standards to accommodate the poor, lazy black student. By this point, I was reaching for the alcohol, because seriously--WTF.
JL is horrified--understandably--at this wretched perversion of what her father was and what he stood for, and reminds him of this. But he cross-examines her like a lawyer, and manages to drag out her own racist thoughts. She is also against desegregation, because the gov't shouldn't get involved in what doesn't involve them, dammit! It opposes the 10th Amendment! Also, she feels a little revolted at the thought of marrying a black person and desegregation might cause that, too. THE HORROR. Because in this book, it is said that only "trashy" people marry black people, and that they, too, must be saved from themselves by having segregation maintained because ew, guys! EW!
At the end of the book, JL talks to her uncle, Dr. Finch, who has heard about her confrontation with her father. He gives her that story I told you earlier, that her father is just a gentleman talking about ideas with other gentlemen in his pseudo-KKK group, and would never actually harm a black person, and all he does is subtly influence the group with his magnificent, noble ideals. Scout realizes that she's been a total bitch, that her father was right all along, and feels guilty for calling him names, and accusing him of being racist. Also she breaks off her marriage with Henry. Not because he's poor white trash but because she just doesn't want to marry him. Because Scout--Jean Louise--is noble and color-blind and doesn't see things like race or class. She's amazing like that.
BRB, barf-bucket's full. Let me go bail that out.
This book is...I don't even have words for it. I feel like we've all been trolled on an epic scale. Hell, I half-expected the last page of the book to be a Rick Roll. That's how fucked up this is.
HOLY SHI- WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN . . . I THINK I'M GOING TO THROW UP.
I can't . . . I just . . . can't.
Don't make me review this. Noooooooooooooo.
.HOLY SHI- WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN . . . I THINK I'M GOING TO THROW UP.
I can't . . . I just . . . can't.
Don't make me review this. Noooooooooooooo.
. . . OK. I . . .
I think I'll be all right now. *vomits*
American Psycho is about a psychopath. Obviously. He's Ivy League-educated, with a really good job, and an expensive apartment in the Upper West Side. Women love him, men want to be him. He spends the vast majority of his day trying to be really really ridiculously good-looking in the style of Derek Zoolander, or hanging out with his friends, all of whom have about as much depth as a mirror. But by night, he goes around torturing and killing men, women, children, and animals. And since this is written in first-person, there is no escape from this horrible narrative, no handy-dandy ellipses to trail off as the scene transitions to another character.
Just in case that wasn't enough, though, he's also a snob, a racist, a bigot, and a misogynist. You know, in addition to being a serial killer. Because the polite 'good old boy'-type killers who love their moms are hypocrites. Treat everyone like they're next on your list! The real irony is that Patrick Bateman (the psychopath) hangs out with such a shallow, jaded bunch of people that they figure he's just joking, or attempting to be shocking, when he drops sinister hints about what he does in his free time. Anyone else would raise an eyebrow, or at least maybe phone in a call to the police. But Pat's friends? Yeah, they just laugh - at least, until they start screaming. Everyone in this book is unlikable. Pat's just the only one who's an actual psychotic.
I'm not giving a summary because I'd actually rather forget what I just read. In fact, I'll be taking the next Nope Train to Fuckthatville because the sooner this book is forgotten, the better. In fact, I'm not even entirely sure why this is on the 1001-books list. It's like someone threw Clockwork Orange, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hannibal Lecter, and 1984 into a blender and had Chuck Palahniuk write it. WHY ARE THERE BARELY ANY HAPPY BOOKS ON THAT LIST? Yeah, it's important to be able to recognize the harm cruelty and violence and oppression can do - but I still think the 1001-list would be far more valid if it was filled with books about the triumph of the human spirit. You know, racial and sexual equality (or the struggle thereof), love, the pursuit of happiness, scientific and artistic creativity. It's kind of depressing, really.
And I'm so freaking tired of people saying, "No, you just don't get what they're trying to say here. The writer is trying to symbolize ________ and ________, through gratuitous but artistic ritualistic violence."
Because if that's what it takes to understand, I'd rather remain in the dark, thank you very much, Mr./Mrs./Ms. Pretentious. Quite honestly, I don't think Bret Easton Ellis is a very good writer, and the only reason this book is even on the list at all is because he decided to dance all over the lines of what constitutes morally acceptable in literature. (Which is kind of like giving a kid a place in a modern art museum for writing some really lewd and bigoted graffiti on a building.)
So . . . yeah. If you are easily offended, very religious, squeamish by violence, and do not want to see a rat eat its way through someone's vagina, do not read this book.
And because I made you go through all that, here's a cute baby penguin.
Edit//04/06/14: Okay, so I asked one of my friends who used to practice law and here is what she says.
Regarding the sleeping-with-the-clients: "If you were already in a relationship with someone and then they asked you to represent them, that's okay. But you can't just begin having sex with a client who came to you." (Paraphrasing American Bar Association Rule 1.8 Conflict of Interest (J))
This is the worst book I have read this year.
BLINDFOLDED INNOCENCE has it all. Slut-shaming, racism, male douchery, infidelity, sexism, misogyny, purity myth, bad writing, pure stupidity, and so much more. It's basically another case of Fifty Shades of Copyright Infringement, and to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if this originally started out as TWILIGHT fanfiction that was P2P as well, because...yeah. It's as insipid as it is unoriginal, and I've got a tic over my eye from all the RAGE that reading this inspired in me. Because oh man, is it offensive.
Let's start with the main character, Julia.
I am a twenty-one-year-old college student who has had a total of two partners. In college terms, I'm practically a saint! (29)
She's had sex, but the author does everything she can to distance Julia from them. Them being other women. Slutty women. Women who (gasp!) enjoy sex without the help and guidance of a man to teach them.
"If I slept with every guy I made out with, can you imagine my reputation? Not to mention I'd be pregnant with six kids!" (33)
Only if you're too stupid to use a condom (which she is--more on that later).
Also, pregnant with six kids? What kinds of hormonal supplements are you taking, Julia?
But the single-mother-shaming doesn't stop there! No.
I could see why divorcing wives would throw apart their legs and beg him for more than lawyerly duties (56).
Julia is a piece of work. Why? Because she is the embodiment of everything that she claims to hate. She dresses like a stripper, wearing flashy stiletto heels and short skirts to a law firm. She wears leopard print and cork heels. She sunbathes topless in public pools at hotels. At one point, she gets drunk and starts doing body shots off a stripper (i.e. licking off salt and lime and liquor from another woman's tits) while a bunch of horny men watch. Because lesbians only do it for the men obviously.
You would think that this would make Julia a little more sympathetic to other women. Nope!
"I am not one of your strippers you can order around!" (60)
"Don't you think that you risk too much for something you can get from all of the sluts lying around waiting for you to fuck them?" (134)
"Beautiful women fill the casinos."
"You mean prostitutes?" (143)
"Welcome to my world of slutdom" (217)
"Then obviously YOU are the type of woman he's been dating--women who are okay with him sticking his dick everywhere he wants to" (225).
^Julia says this to her so-called best friend Olivia. Charming, right?
You know how Julia manages to stay so chaste? She leads men on, makes them believe that they're about to have sex, and then walks away before anything can happen. Then she doesn't take their calls. She does this because she likes the thrill of seeing them squirm and suffer from unfulfilled arousal.
When she's butthurt about something Brad does, she seduces one of her fellow interns and does the same thing to him. She's a bitch on wheels. If that's purity, fuck it. I'd rather be a slut than a bitch.
Brad is even worse, if that's possible. He sleeps around with everything that has a vagina. He cheats on girlfriends. He sleeps with interns, clients, and even slept with one of his colleagues' wives--while he was still married! And you know what the biggest irony is? He's a fucking divorce lawyer.
He's also a total womanizing asshole who has slept with almost 200 women.
I'm not exaggerating. Julia asks him how many women he's slept with and he says,
"If I had to guess, probably in the hundred-fifty-to-hundred-eighty range" (139).
He's also a wannabe rapist.
"That girl rode up that elevator to my room not knowing anything about me and was ready to have sex with whoever opened the door. There's no worse turnoff than that. Now, you, who are fighting me supposedly tooth and nail, that is a big turn-on for me" (145).
"Has anyone ever sued you for sexual harassment?"
"That would assume that harassment had occurred. I assure you, I don't make advances unless the women are clearly receptive."
"Do I seem clearly receptive?"
"I figure you're a work in progress" (85).
Right. No doesn't mean "no." It just means you're "a work in progress."
Excuse me while I grab some mace.
Julia is told that she should stay away from him by several people but that never works.
As a rumored horndog, he should have smiled, flirted or asked me out--even if I had planned on saying no (52).
I could just as easily imagine him ripping someone's head off as dipping me backwards into a kiss (56).
He has absolutely zero respect for women, and one hell of a Madonna/whore complex.
"I date bad girls--you are wholesome and innocent. You will make a great wife for a tax accountant one day" (155).
We find out later that Brad is interested in orgies, menages, threesomes, etc. Basically, his ultimate fetish is having multiple partners. But only on his own terms. For example, when he takes Julia to a strip club, he ditches her to go have sex with one of the strippers, while having another one distract her so she won't notice. But when men are interested in Julia, he threatens them/chases them off, even though he's made it explicitly clear he isn't interested in monogamy. Double-standards much?
"I also don't think humans are engineered to be monogamous. It's against our basic instinct to be tied to one person for the rest of our lives" (266)
"I believe, for a couple to value their partner and learn their sexual needs, they need to occasionally sample sex with other people" (266)
I know a lot of the people on my friends list are drooling over this guy. Why?
He's such an asshole.
Julia doesn't want to have any part of this. She makes this explicitly clear, but Brad forces her into it through emotional blackmail. He says menages are for the benefit of women, but honestly, how many women do you see clamoring for threesomes? It's usually the men. And sure enough, Brad says,
"I can't wait to see someone else inside you, how you react when they fuck you" (276).
Just for women's pleasure. Riiiiiight.
One thing that really pissed me off about this book (well, okay, there were a lot of things, but this was one of the biggies) that I alluded to earlier was the fact that despite knowing that he's slept with almost 200 women, Julia allows him to fuck her without a condom. There is no concern about STDs or pregnancy and at no point afterwards does Julia get tested. She does at one point say, "I can't believe I had sex with you without a condom!" or something like that, but it's less like, "OH MY GOD I MIGHT HAVE AIDS/HERPES/CHLAMYDIA/GONORRHEA/SYPHILIS/A BABY" and more like, "I TRUSTED YOU AND YOU BETRAYED ME! I HAS A SAD!"
What. The. Fuck.
Of course, the book ends with Julia giving in to Brad and having a threesome. Because what you want in a relationship doesn't matter. It's all about giving into the hot, sexy man. Because the only thing that matters is what he wants.
This was an awful book. I hated Julia's character. I hated Brad's character. I hated how all the minorities in this book--whether gay or Asian--were walking stereotypes. I hated that cheating is fetishized in this book. I hated how the law firm IS NOTHING LIKE AN ACTUAL LAW FIRM (they have fucking house parties in the building. With dance music. And alcohol). I hated how lesbianism is trivialized and turned into something that women do for the benefit of men. I hated that Brad slept with almost 200 women and we're supposed to find this sexy. I hated the born-again purity myth, and the implication that if you aren't a virgin you're supposed to slut-shame and debase other women to make yourself seem more virginal by comparison. I hated how they didn't use a condom, and how STDs and pregnancies weren't even mentioned in a book that's all about cheating. I hated how women were portrayed in this book. I hated how men were portrayed in this book. I hated how Brad's behavior is depicted as some sort of paragon of manliness. I hated how preachy this book was. I hated the slimy feeling reading it gave me. I hated knowing that some women out there are reading this and thinking this is sexy, because this is the standard of sexiness that has been set by society.
But most of all: I hate being a woman in a culture that hates women, and devalues confidence, fidelity, intelligence, sexual knowledge, and female friendship in women.
This is the worst book I have read this year, and might just be the worst book ever.
P.S. I read every page, from cover to cover. It still sucked. ...more
This is one of the worst 'romance' novels I've ever read. The main charactYou can read more of my reviews, faster, at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
This is one of the worst 'romance' novels I've ever read. The main character is a total idiot, offensive to women everywhere, and the male character isn't a love interest so much as a borderline sociopath whose cruel actions are rationalized by the cheapest possible means (and ineffectively, to boot).
I don't understand why this book has the high rating that it does, but since that's the reason I applied for it on Netgalley I suggest you exercise caution while reading this book, else you're bound to be disappointed.
Also, trigger warnings for this book and review: rape, dubious consent, non-consent, forced consent, blood play, knife play, abuse, sex trafficking, physical abuse/assault, gang-rape.
Tess is the main character and she has a boyfriend named Brax who is rich and doesn't have a personality. He also thinks Tess is too interested in sex. He also refuses to experiment in the bedroom and freaks out when she puts on fancy underwear for him and produces a giant dildo. A typically normal male reaction, I think you'll agree. Tess doesn't even bother telling him about her secret desires to be tied up, spanked, and violated, because she knows it'll scare her boyfriend away. But she obsesses about it constantly, and this is a cheap way to set the stage to explain why she isn't explained by the Hero's abuse.
I've never seen anyone fail so badly at self-respect, either.
"Two things I wanted most in the world: for Q to die a miserable death, and for him to fuck me" (128).
"The rape must've done something, made me a danger whore" (175).
She gets kidnapped in Mexico and sold into sex trafficking. This part was pretty gruesome but I think it's pretty obvious how not happy Tess is about it, so I didn't actually dislike these scenes all that much. They were dark, but her reactions to it were mostly realistic. I wasn't too wowed by the writing style, but I hoped that the plot would make up for it. (Hey, it can happen.)
All that changes when she gets sold to Q.
What can I say about Q?
I didn't find him sexy.
I know we're supposed to see him as tortured. Nope. I just saw him as a sick fuck who should have been arrested. At the end, when we're supposed to see him as redeemed? I still saw him as the same sick fuck, only he'd managed to brainwash Tess into seeing him as the hero. Actually, no, that's giving him too much credit. Tess pretty much brainwashes herself, does all the work for Q.
What the fuck is going on?
Here are some quotes from loverboy:
"if you bite, I'll hit you so hard, you won't wake up for days" (113).
"Your punishment for not obeying is starvation" (118).
"I'm not afraid of hurting you. I'm afraid of how far I'm willing to go" (128).
"Fuck, I want to make you bleed" (196).
"Your skin is beautiful whipped, Tess, blooming pink and red. I think a few more colours are needed. Perhaps a deep maroon" (223).
"I love treating you like dirt. It gets me fucking hard" (226)
"I was even jealous of myself when I fucked you" (272).
He's definitely got a Hannibal Lecter vibe going...but at least Hannibal was smart. This guy's just a moron with money.
And I don't understand why everything he did suddenly became okay when he:
-Threatened to rape her when she was scared
-Made her wear a revealing dress without underwear, and let her believe he was going to let his business associates take turns fucking her while she was chained to the ceiling
-Let one of his Russian colleagues pour boiling chocolate on her skin and then fuck her with a splintered knife handle
-Force her to have sex with him less than an hour after she was gang-banged and sustained vaginal tearingbecause he wanted her to "make new memories"
-Get mad at her for crying about being gang-banged
-Get mad at her for not forgetting about the rape the day after it happened
-Whips her until her back is basically pouring blood
-Cuts them both with his knife during sex
-Gets drunk every time he wants to have rough, bloody sex
Tess is no less disgusting an individual. She has internal monologues about everything. Like, how apparently there's different forms of rape, and it's okay if the guy who rapes you makes you think you kind of want it, especially if you come. That's right. The Russian guy with the knife who was a friend of Q and Q with his mind-fucks, constant abuse, and post-rape rape isn't rape, but the ugly guys who gang bang her - yeah, they were rape because they weren't hot or rich.
What kind of a fucking message is that to send?
Also, there's Tess talking about how therapy is horrid. Yes, because if you don't see a counselor, you're sweeping the problem under the carpet and everything's just hunky-dory, right?
FUCK THIS BOOK.
The writing, as I said before, isn't that great, and you get weird sentences/word combos like these:
"Growling, his tongue plundered mine ruthlessly, out of control" (79)
"my nipples pinpointed" (116)
"The silver tantalized in his fingers" (118).
There were more but those weren't really what I was focusing on in this review. However, they were noticeable enough that they jumped out at me and I thought I'd write them down because I try to do thorough, well-rounded reviews for books that I don't like, as I think it's really important to say why you don't like a book, because I always find those helpful when I'm making a purchasing decision.
I received this book for review from Netgalley, so the copy I'm quoting from might be different from yours - especially if the author decides to hire an editor and/or implement the changes.
Yes, that's me with glasses. A RARE SIGHT. (pun intended) xD
I'm always wary about books like these, books with a lot of hype, because then I get these expectations, and I'm terrified of being let down, so I want to read the book, but I get into this cycle of "oh my god, what if I hate it?" and the book is just sitting there, looking at me accusingly with its tempting cover, until I have no choice but to suck it up. So that's what I did here. I sucked it up.
I'm still not quite sure if that was a mistake.
Let me start by saying that no one can plunge the depths of the fucked-up human psyche like Gillian Flynn. I'm pretty sure she's taken a bevy of abnormal psychology classes, probably sitting up front with her little notebook, and cackling evilly to herself while taking notes. Her books could be textbook examples of clinically inappropriate behavior, and yet she does it in a way that is not at all cliche, so rather than rolling your eyes, you shudder when you see the happy husband and wife couple in the supermarket.
Because maybe they aren't so happy, after all.
"You'd literally lie, cheat, and steal--hell, kill--to convince people you are a good guy" (44).
Nick Dunne's marriage is on the rocks. His wife isn't the woman he thought she married, he's having a midlife crisis, he's tired of feeling like the bad guy, etc. Marriage has basically become a long laundry list of all the ways he is a fuck-up and that is not a good feeling. Now it's his anniversary, and he's pretty sure that she's going to find a way to make him feel even stupider than usual.
[She] was only remotely like the woman I fell in love with. It had been an awful fairy-tale reverse transformation. Over just a few years, the old Amy, the girl of the big laugh and the easy ways, literally shed herself, a pile of skin and soul on the floor, and out stepped this new, brittle, bitter Amy (49).
But it's worse, oh, so much worse. Because Nick's wife, Amy? She's disappeared. And it's starting to look as if said disappearance happened against her will. Happy anniversary, honey. Now the cops are giving him the hairy eyeball, and he's wondering, "what the fuck?" At the same time, we, the readers, are treated to Amy's side of things via her journal. It's told in before/after format, with dual POV, which a lot of writers cannot pull off (like Mary Kubica's GONE GIRL attempt--THE GOOD GIRL, a copycat attempt that is akin to going out to Taco Bell for some haute Mexican cuisine).
It's been a little while since my last Flynn book, but as I was chugging along with GONE GIRL, I couldn't help but think, "Her earlier characters had a bit more pizazz than this." Which is probably the last thing any writer wants to hear--that their earlier work was so much better--but DARK PLACES and SHARP OBJECTS kept me up all night, whereas GONE GIRL was only mildly entertaining. "What's with all the hype?" I wondered, as I turned past page 150. "I don't get it--a movie? What?"
And then page 200 came along, and I was blasted with mindfuck #1. Several mindfucks immediately followed suit, culminating with the very last mindfuck on the last page of the book. And then I set GONE GIRL down, feeling a bit as though I'd been sucker-punched.
I liked GONE GIRL. I can see why a lot of people wouldn't, since it is different from her earlier books, and it was not without flaw (the pacing was a little uneven, and the second portion of the book was a lot better than the first--although the first does contain some very necessary set-up). Like I said, I can see both sides, and while this book didn't change my world view or keep me up until 4 A.M. turning pages, I really enjoyed it, and I am actually excited to see the movie.
There isn't much more I can say without spoiling anything. I actually avoided reviews for this book, because with books like GONE GIRL, people can't help themselves, they have to post spoilers so they can be all, "Oh my god, you guys! I get it! I'm so smart!" And then you have to wonder why there isn't a "murder" key on your computer keyboard because, for fuck's sake, who does that?
There is a special circle in book hell reserved for people who spoil endings. You have to spend all eternity translating Fifty Shades of Grey to pig Latin and back again. Aters-lay, aby-bay!
So as you may or may not know, my book, Terrorscape, was banned by Amazon (during Banned Book Week, no less). I have a blog pEDIT: LOOK WHAT LOU MADE!
So as you may or may not know, my book, Terrorscape, was banned by Amazon (during Banned Book Week, no less). I have a blog post about it, which you can read HERE.
I was talking to my mom about this and she wanted to know why the book got banned.
"I don't think I should tell you, Mom."
"Oh, yes," she said. "I think you should."
So I told her, and she was like, "What, that's all?" (She actually said something else- but I decided to use what she said as the premise of this storyline, so I can't say anymore. It would be telling.)
This isn't going to be a full-length novel. It's going to be the epilogue you guys were asking for. And it's going to be the story my mom suggested.
The story of a girl pushed too far.
You wanted banned? Oh, man. You're gonna get all the banned you can handle.
***edit//01/09/14: TERRORSCAPE IS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE AGAIN!
You can now buy it on Smashwords HERE. And guess what? It's ten cents cheaper than it w***edit//01/09/14: TERRORSCAPE IS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE AGAIN!
You can now buy it on Smashwords HERE. And guess what? It's ten cents cheaper than it was on Amazon! YAY
***edit//10/20/13/: Hi guys! So as you may or may not know, Terrorscape was removed by Amazon for content violation. I guess because of the dark, disturbing content (i.e. rape, torture, dub/non-con, murder, serial killers, mindfuckery, etc. etc. etc.). Welllll, since I know some of you were very upset and messaged me about where you can read this, I'm posting to let you know that I'm hosting a giveaway on Booklikes!
You can enter to win 1 of 100 - yes, that's right - *100* - copies of Terrorscape. So far, only about 25 people are applying, so that just means that 75 sad little copies won't have homes to go to. APPLY NOW! Because I'm just giving these away!
Note that they will be ebooks. I am too poor to afford 100 hard copies of my book. One day, God willing....
Anyway, thanks so much for the support! I hope you win. Please spread the word and tell your friends. :)
Edit: The more I think about it, the less I like the ending of this book, or the way it attempted to combat the "male gaze." I may well end up rounding down a half star to a three star rating at some point but for now my original 3.5 star rating still stands.
This book has received a lot of fanfare, and I'm always wary of that because I don't really like being told what I ought to like. I also attempted to read Raeder's other book, UNTEACHABLE, and didn't like that one, either, so fool me twice, why don't you?
Fool me three times, then, because BLACK IRIS was actually decent.
Okay, so here's the thing. I'm not unbiased. BLACK IRIS was hard to read because some of the things that happened in this book related to me in a personal way. It was a strange feeling, seeing facets of myself in the main character, especially in the last 10% of the book when all hell breaks loose. I had this same issue with BORING GIRLS, which actually has a very similar plot. It's like that poem about two roads diverting, and seeing what the other road could have been like. It's just so weird. It's like looking in a mirror and seeing your reflection do something all on its own. "Would I be capable of this?" you think. But of course, you don't really have an answer.
Not until you've already done it.
So BLACK IRIS forced me to think about a lot of things I've spent most of my adult life trying not to think about. (By the way: it has a lot of trigger warnings: violence, rape, sex, drug use, homophobia, sexism, stigma against mental illness, suicide ideation, etc. This is not a comfortable read.) I respect the book for that, but it didn't make it a fun read for me. I had to put it down several times.
Laney is a girl who likes girls, but she also likes guys too. She's crazy, and that's how she likes it. She revels in it. When she meets Blythe and Armin, the three of them get on like a house on fire. But all three have secrets, and Laney's might prove to be their undoing. The story is told in nonlinear format, jumping from past to present, and has a lot of sex. Lots of sex. F/F, F/M/F, M/F. SO MUCH SEX. It is well written sex, but there is so much. PREPARE YOUR OVARIES/TESTICLES.
BLACK IRIS is not just porn, though. It is also a revenge story. And a story about really insane people doing really insane things, with no desire to be "normal." Which is another thing I feel a little ambivalent about. On the one hand, I have always found mental illness fascinating. Like sexuality, mental health exists on a continuum, and what we take as the status quo is really just a mean of all the amalgamated states...and yet, with our desire to label things, we brand this mean as being "normal." On the other hand, stories like these can be harmful, because even though they bring awareness to valid issues, they do so in a way that attaches negative stereotypes to the very people it is trying to bring awareness to. I can't really say more about this without spoilers, but I do think that Raeder tried to explain away some of the things that Laney did.
Did I buy it? Hmmm. I bought some of the emotions. How self-hatred can either implode or explode, forcing you to destroy yourself, or the people around you, or both. I bought that because I've been through it, and I know how that hatred can consume you like caustic poison. Reading this book brought all of that right back. I'm not sure I'm sold on some of Laney's motivations, though, and the revelations at the end, and the big secrets...those were odd. Interesting, but odd. I do think that the last 10% really tested my suspension of disbelief. Everything just kind of becomes a Quentin Tarantino-esque slippery slope from that point on.
I guess the moral to this story is that you shouldn't fuck with people, because they might fuck back, and they might fuck better than you. It's a crappy moral, but these are pretty crappy people, and they've had crappy things happen to them, so watch out, bitches.
Edit: I have been informed that there has been some odd subtweeting going on that may or may not be about me and this review.
All I have to say about that is this: this is a book. My review is about the book, and not the author. Any professional would understand that. I'm going to assume that the author is a professional.
So, before we get down to brass tacks, yes, I read book one, and no, I did not like it. Yes, I read book two anyway. It was on Netgalley and I was feeling bored and masochistic, which is never a good combination. Some people drink or have sex with their exes -- I read books I know I'm going to hate. Choose your poison.
Initially, I thought the writing in this book was a significant improvement over the first book, RUTHLESS PEOPLE. I thought, "Hmm, wow, this book may even get two or three stars out of me." But this improvement only lasted about fifty pages, and pretty soon the awkward sentence structure and typos and misused apostrophes from book one were back, which made me wonder if maybe the author only edited as far as the Kindle sample would reveal. (Unfortunately, some people do do this, and however sneaky they think they're being, it's pretty obvious...)
Melody and Liam are married and in addition to the normal married people problems (we're having too much sex, honey! *cough*), they're having mafia people problems as well. Patriarchs who think that the younger generation is too soft, traitor family members, bloodied carpets, etc.
I've decided that I'm not going to finish this book because frankly, I don't have the patience. It isn't an improvement over the first book -- all the old errors still stand -- and since this book is being released into the public, for money, my rating is a reflection of what I feel is an unpolished and unsatisfying work.
Because while in some ways, THE UNTOUCHABLES is a better book than RUTHLESS PEOPLE (slightly better writing, fewer pointlessly offensive descriptions, less slut-shaming), it is still not a good book.
There is a lot of telling and not showing. The Callahans are always going on about how much money they have, and how bad-ass they are, and how much they rule at sex. (Oh yes, they love to revel in the juices, these two.) I felt like I was being told these things without being shown them.
Every single character in this book has their own POV, regardless of whether it's necessary or not. POV swaps are always a tricky thing in fiction because, unless they are done very carefully and very well, they can come across as repetitive and annoying. In this case, it was the latter; every character sounded the same, and I was left with the impression that these endless POV swaps were less for narrative integrity and more for bulking up the page count of the novel.
Because, to be honest, not a lot happens. I checked out my friend Kat's review -- she actually liked the book -- and despite some twists that I will not be privy to, apparently, since I am not finishing the book, even she concedes that not much happens. Which is nice to know. Sometimes I wonder if my thoughts are biased (which they are, obviously), but nope, apparently it wasn't just me.
Having read book one and most of two, I think it's safe to say that I'm done with this series, and probably the author, as well. I really don't like her style, and she doesn't seem to be improving at all as a writer, which is sad, because the idea for this series had a lot of potential.