You can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
Never have I ever... had such a discrepancy between my opinion and that of the masses. No...moreYou can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
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 yo...moreCole 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.
Red Queen features one of the bitchiest, sanctimonious, self absorbed, and narcissistic characters I have EVER encountered in literature. The winner...moreRed 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.
You can read the rest of this review @ BookLikes HERE.(less)
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.
Writing this book has made me very uncomfortable. It is trashy, explicit, violent, misanthropic, dark, devastating, and dism...more1/20/14: An Important Note
Writing this book has made me very uncomfortable. It is trashy, explicit, violent, misanthropic, dark, devastating, and dismal. It's written in the style of a bodice ripper, sort of, in the sense that the heroine goes around acting TSTL and awful things happen to her that she convinces herself she wants, and the 'hero' is actually the villain, and the ending is not Disney-style sunshine and rainbows.
The thing that sets this book apart from bodice rippers is that the heroine has a rather serious mental disorder that impacts her ability to make good choices.
I would just like to point out that this book isn't representative of my personal philosophies, beliefs, or thinking style. None of my books are. I am of the firm belief that all relationships - whether sexual or not - should be consensual, safe, and sane. If someone is abusing you or forcing you to do things that you do not want to do, they are bad people and should be treated as such.
Romance novels break all the rules of what constitutes a 'good' relationship (usually). It's sad, but it's far more entertaining to read about fucked-up people having fucked-up sex than two happy people having happy sex. Anyway, this is just a little public service announcement warning you all what you will be getting into with this one, and to not take romance novels too seriously.
I love and respect you all, and certainly wouldn't want to make someone feel upset or uncomfortable by failing to adequately warn others of the explicit and unsavory content in my book.
Thank you, and make sure you read the trigger warnings.
***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...more***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. :)
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.
....moreHOLY 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.
Oh, book. How do you piss me off? Let me count the ways.
1. You try to masquerade as a strong female fantasy nove...moreFeminist 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:
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.
EDIT 04/21/2013: I have some new information about this book!
First: This book should really be classified as 'New-Adult' and not 'Young-Adult', since it does contain situations and themes not really appropriate for younger teens. So this is just something to keep in mind. (Plus, I like to think of myself as a genre-bender, giving all those other NA books the ol' one-two! :D)
Second: the SEQUEL, Armed and Dangerous, (which I know many of you are excited about) should be ready by early to mid-May. I am working SUPER HARD on it right now, and have already finished about 25% on the final draft.
As always, I thank you for your support and consideration.
I started this book about six or seven years ago. I still remember what the original draft was like, and to this day I cannot think of it without cringing. Oh, the things that come out of a sixteen-year-old's keyboard.
Cloak and Dagger is my first published book. I guess that makes it my baby. But not a coddled baby. More like the baby who is misbehaved and is always throwing temper tantrums, and needs to be set down in the corner while author-mommy cleans up the mess and heartbreak, and angsts about how this was never how she pictured motherhood authorhood.
I didn't know how much work it was going to be. Years of revisions, building onto the original work, and then cutting it back down to size. I cut about twenty THOUSAND words from the final draft before submitting it for publication, and found out in the process that I have a rather inordinate fondness for lovingly placing extraneous adverbs within the text. Who knew?
C&D is the product of too many James Bond films, an annoyance of Stockholm Syndromesque romances, and the niggling question that fills each of our minds when reading darker romantic suspense: Why doesn't that gosh-darn 'bad boy' ever stay bad? I'm not going to sell this book as THE BEST BOOK EVAR!!1! because it isn't (that distinction is reserved for the Brontes and Jane Austen, thank you very much), but it was fun to write, and I hope people have fun reading it.
This isn't a romance novel at all. It's a handy-dandy guide on what not to do as a w...moreI've figured it out, you guys.
No, seriously, I've figured it out.
This isn't a romance novel at all. It's a handy-dandy guide on what not to do as a writer, but disguised as a novel to underscore the point all the more effectively.
Ana, see, she's the epitome of Mary Sue - don't write your character like Ana!
Christian, he's the epitome of Marty Stu - don't write your character like Christian!
All that icky sex, like the tampon scene, the spatula scene, the soapy washcloth in the wahoo scene - all big no-nos! See how important it is to do your research? How else would you know that yes, you can get sex on your period, and that sticking soap up your cooch can give you a urinary tract infection?
I finally get what EL James meant, when she said she had "set the bar quite high in terms of storytelling." This is probably the most ingenious allegory I've seen since Animal Farm.
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. (less)
I am in bed right now sobbing the way I did when I read The Fault in Our Stars, or when t...moreYou can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian!
I am in bed right now sobbing the way I did when I read The Fault in Our Stars, or when the wife in Up died, or when my sweet little kitty had to be put down, and I'm not even ashamed.
Before I Fall is one of the most beautiful stories I've read in a while. Everything about it, from concept to characterization, is perfect. It's hard to write a flawed protagonist and still make her likable, but Oliver does, and I found myself wanting to like Sam in spite of knowing I really shouldn't. It's got a great supporting cast, and she really captures how it feels to be a teenager.
Read the rest of this review @ BookLikes HERE.(less)
edit//04/02/14:BLACK BEAST IS NOW PUBLISHED PUBLISHED PUBLISHED PUBLISHED PUBLISHED PUBLISHED PUBLISHED! WEEEEE! CHECK OUT MY BLOG FOR DETAILS!!!!
edit...moreedit//04/02/14:BLACK BEAST IS NOW PUBLISHED PUBLISHED PUBLISHED PUBLISHED PUBLISHED PUBLISHED PUBLISHED! WEEEEE! CHECK OUT MY BLOG FOR DETAILS!!!!
edit//12/08/12: The AMAZING LOU made me another gorgey cover. Isn't it beautiful? It is so beautiful. I am not worthy!!!
After noticing that YA PNR and UF tends to follow the same template (*cough* Twilight *cough*), I kind of wanted to try my own hand at the genre. Which turned out to be a bad thing, as I ended up with this bloated behemoth of a book filled with ass-kicking, monsters, complicated magic, a made-up language based off Latin, Spanish, and WTFuckery, a magic-based cult that uses and abuses christian theology, and I don't know what.
Black Beast is the first in a series called The Shadow Thane, though he doesn't really show up until later (your pants will thank me, he's f**king scary). The main character is a girl named Catherine Pierce who lives in a typical nuclear family--except that her mother sometimes turns into a hawk, and her dad doubles as the family dog.
During adolescence, shape-shifters are supposed to "settle" into one form (kind of like the daemons from Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy) except that Catherine, for whatever reason, hasn't. The other shifter families are tight-knit so the Pierces have become somewhat alienated because of their daughter's abnormal development.
There are racial tensions between shape-shifters and witches, who are united only in their fear of Slayers, wariness of humans, and abject hatred of vampires. But the truce is a fine one, capable of being overturned at any moment. Which is exactly why Catherine is not exactly what one might call pleased when a manipulative, dangerous witch named Phineas Riordan barges into her life hurling wild accusations.
I'm pretty proud of this book. Catherine has a strong mind and isn't afraid to speak it. I really enjoyed researching the animals in this book and getting in their "minds" when Catherine transforms. As a child, Animorphs was one of my favorite series because of how realistic the animal scenes were. I want to recapture that same sort of "knowledge is power" vibe without sounding preachy or pedantic.
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 p...moreEDIT: 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.
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?
. . . Reading this book actually made me angry. I had to stop, because I found it so horrendous, so utterly offensive, that I was unable to continue...more
. . . Reading this book actually made me angry. I had to stop, because I found it so horrendous, so utterly offensive, that I was unable to continue. Not because of the subject matter, because sex is something that should be discussed with teenagers, but because of the execution. The women-hating, putting men on pedestals, rationalizing abuse, slut-shaming, biblical prizing of virginity, and the discrimination . . . all of this was nauseating. It was a pandora's box of anti-feminist sentiments -
AND I OPENED IT! OH GOD THE HORROR
I have a weakness for dystopian science-fiction novels. I always have, because they can provide wonderful social commentary by taking the reductio ad absurdum approach (i.e. taking a problem and then magnifying it to the point where even its proponents will have to admit it's ridiculous; e.g. "You want drug free? FINE. WE'LL BE A DRUG-FREE NATION. NO MORE COLD MEDICINE. NO MORE VIAGRA. NO MORE CHEMO. TO THE MEDIEVAL DARK AGES WE GO!"). The advent of The Hunger Games hype/movie is a double-edged blade because (1) the books are awesome, (2) it has inspired some similarly awesome authors to publish some similarly awesome books, BUT (3) it has also inspired some not-so-awesome writers to publish tepid romance and then market it under the guise of being dystopian YA.
Originally, I was super-exited for XIV to come out. The concept is good - I will admit that freely. XIV takes place in a hyper-sexed near future, where the legal age for "consensual" sex is sixteen. There's also a caste system (called "tiers") that isn't really explained very well, but has to do with socioeconomic status, the places you're allowed to shop, what your parents do for a living, etc. Women are pretty much objects for the sexual gratification of men. Upwards mobility can be attained by marriage, and that's pretty much the only option for these girls. Apart from working for the government. Or being homeless. Or sex slaves. Oh, the agony of choice. On the surface, it is reminiscent of The Handmaid's Tale, except Atwood handles the subject with a bit more grace, and with a more likable protagonist. Because Nina, unfortunately, is anything but likable.
"Maybe I was too sensitive to things. Most girls my age worried about unimportant stuff - what to wear, hanging out with the right tier, using the right slang, and guys. They didn't think turning sixteen was something to worry about - not the way I did" (96)
Such a visionary, right?
Nina, our main character, is a repulsive, judgmental, whiny, idiotic rhymes-with-witch. I spent most of the book hoping that somebody would slap her. Heck, I was ready to slap her. Nina is fifteen, almost sixteen, and is absolutely dreading coming of age. She agonizes about how she's the only one who doesn't want to be objectified by men, and is scared at the prospect of sex . . . at least, until her love interest, Sal, comes on the scene. Then she's like, "Oh, I only want to be objectified by one man, but oh, he would never have me because I AM NOT WORTHY. *my creys*"
"I wasn't going to have a boyfriend if I persisted in being anti-sex-teen...I spent the next period in the bathroom, breathing in the smell of disinfectant and urine and feeling like it was all that I deserved" (173)
She deserves to smell pee because she feels pressured to have sex with her crush.
"Are you her boyfriend?" Dee said.
"Maybe." Sal grinned at her. "Does she need one?"
"All girls do," Dee said. "Especially when they're practically sixteen" (136)
Naturally, Nina reacts to this with a sweet innocent blush INSTEAD OF RUNNING THE FUCK AWAY OMG IT'S A TRAP IT'S A TRAP.
Virginity plays a key role in this book as well. In this sense, Karr does a pretty good job capturing the dichotomy of society's mixed standards. Women are supposed to be innocent and chaste, but they're also supposed to be absolutely awesome at sex the first time they ever try it (*COUGH* 50 Shades of Grey *COUGH*) because God forbid you come across as a *cue that horror movie scream* . . . PRUDE. Girls are not allowed to have sex until they get their XIV tattoo on their wrists to show that they're ready to be ravished. And they are. Ravished, that is. Whether they want to be or not.
"We're all supposed to be so excited about sex and willing to do whatever with practically any guy who asks" (23).
. . . we are?
"Men were known to use their illegitimate daughters as Cinderella girls, servants - and other things - for their legit families" (67).
Nearly all the men in this book are sex fiends, rapists, perverts, pedophiles, abusers, testosterone-laden jocks/thugs (called 'letes), and just basically horrible monsters and you're lucky if they even bother to glance at your wrists before knocking you to the ground. The only men who aren't bad are (of course) Nina's real dad and her love interest. Everyone else? Antichrist.
"When [my mother] refused to answer [him], [my step-dad] made her get out his box of [porn] vids. "You need a refresher course, babe," he'd said. Then he ordered me to take Dee next door to Sandy's. He never wanted his daughter to see what a horrible person her father was. Me, on the other hand, he didn't care about at all.
There is also a lot of slut-shaming, as I pointed out before. Slut-shaming is basically saying that any sexual abuse or unequal treatment is a result of the woman "asking for it" in some way . . . usually by dressing provocatively, putting herself in dangerous situations, or giving mixed signals that so confuse the poor male's libido that he is turned into a raging sex monster left with no choice but to rape her.
"I was under the impression that the candidates had to be virgins."
"I'm a virgin." Sandy looked the teeniest bit hurt at the implication.
"I know you are, dear." Gran gave her a hug. "It's just that dressing like that gives boys the impression that you don't want to be" (15)
"Look at your friend Sandy - see what sixteen propaganda has done to her? Why, two years ago she was as sweet and innocent as they come. Now she's on the verge of becoming a wild sex-teen" (109)
In other words, if you have premarital sex you are still a tramp, even if society is saying it's OK. What is going on here? I'm confused, and I can't imagine how those poor girls feel. And you know what? The sheer stupid factor of this book's characters made me not really care. I mean, there's this one scene where her abusive step-dad is threatening to kidnap Nina's eleven-year-old sister and take her away to make her into a Cinderella girl/sex slave, and she's like, "I don't wanna tell my grandparents - they might worry." THEY SHOULD FUCKING WORRY. YOU SAID YOURSELF THAT HE'S A PERVERTED MAN AND YOU'RE SCARED TO DEATH OF HIM. CALL THE GODDAMN COPS YOU DUMB BITCH.
That was pretty much the last straw for me. I mean, it was that or chuck the book out the window, and since this happens to be a library book I'd rather not pay the damage fees. So I stopped reading. Literally all of her decisions are like that. Selfish, or stupidly, moronically selfless. She has no personality and beyond Sal and whining about how boys like her too much, and how all her female compadres are whores, she has zero interests. In fact, she's a lot like a more judgmental Bella Swan.
And I really shouldn't have looked at the author's profile before composing this review because her first blog post says something about volunteering at an animal shelter. Great, now I feel guilty. Well. Not as guilty as I'd feel if she were working at a battered women's shelter - but STILL. God, I really hate it when authors who write bad books have GoodReads accounts, because then I'm afraid they'll read my review and get hurt feelings. Well, Ms. Karr, if you're reading this, all I have to say to you is this, "I'm sorry I didn't like your book. It wasn't for me. All the best to you, and your future endeavors."
I can't say my feelings are the same for this POS, though. RRRRAAAAAAAAAGH. [image error]
Everyone and their mother seems to love this book. I know everyone says that, but in this...moreYou can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
Everyone and their mother seems to love this book. I know everyone says that, but in this case it's true. Thousands of ratings, and only 12 of them gave Sea of Tranquility one star. I'll be honest: that's intimidating. But because I've always prided myself on honesty, I am giving this book one star. I'll also admit I couldn't finish this book. Gladly.
Nastya is . . . well, nasty. She's a total bitch, and one of the most repulsive protagonists I've read in a while. I get that she's depressed and has a traumatic past and all (even though I couldn't finish, I did read the spoilers just to get some perspective), but come on.
You can have a horrible character and still make them interesting. It's hard, but possible. I just read The S-Word and that MC was a total witch. But she was interesting, and the plot was engaging, and I wanted to know what she was going to do next, how she'd change.
I had no such investment in Nastya. For starters, she's incredibly self-destructive and she brags about it. It's hard to feel sympathy for someone who is so quick to debase themselves. Gosh, I sure do love throwing up! Man, is it ever so cathartic.
Golly gee, dressing like a slut is a total hoot! I love pissing girls off by having their boyfriends ogle me, and LOL this way no decent guy is gonna approach me and I won't have to get hurt. Oh and bee-tee-dubs, I'm wearing cute undies, so oops! accidentally-on-purpose crotch-shot!
Look at those self-congratulatory sluts. Wearing pink like they think they're teen hooker Barbie. I'm not like that. I'm funeral parlor Barbie. That makes me so much better than them. Because pink is for skanks.
Apparently this started out as independently published, and was duly purchased by Atria once they got wind of its success. I could kind of tell, and kind of not. It's good for indie, but goes on and on about nothing. It reads, in other words, like the Myspace journal of a particularly embittered teen desperate for attention.
Plus, the execution begs many questions such as:
WHY are they letting this girl into a shop class with high heels?
WHY does her aunt give her free rein despite the fact that she desperately needs help?
WHY has she not had any therapy?
WHERE are this girl's parents? And WHAT the hell are they doing that's so much more important than taking care of their mentally ill daughter?
WHAT is the point of the male- and female-hating? Making all girls out to be sluts and all boys out to be pimps/johns is just disgusting to everyone.
WHY do all the POV switches sound exactly like the same person?
And so on.
I honestly don't see why this book is so popular. She's like a female Travis Maddox.
All the people on my flist, and all the people on their flists, were hyping up this book like there's no tomorrow. And that's cool for the author--I'm sure she's excited to see so much squee for her book--but bad for me, the Picky and Unregenerate Reader.
Let me start by saying that this book does not have BDSM. I'm sorry, but rough sex does not constitute BDSM. The kinkiest thing they do is buttsecks. (And the unapologetic asshole uses hair conditioner as lube on her...er...unapologetic asshole.)
So yeah, if you were looking forward to BDSM, prepare yourself for disappointment.
I knew from page one that I would not like Theresa Drazen. Her narrative voice just rubbed me the wrong way. Plus, she has so many annoying nicknames. "Tinkerbell"? "Tee Dray"? I'm just going to call her "Too Dumb," because that's what she is.
Reasons to f ollow.
So anyway, Too Dumb meets Italian Stereotype at a bar. She's got toilet paper stuck to her shoe. He informs her of this. She goes back to the restroom in a swooning stupor, thinking to herself that his hand on hers felt like sex. (Uhh...no comment.)
Too Dumb has a sister, Too Drunk. Too Dumb finds a guy disrespecting Too Drunk and gets mad. Italian Stereotype proceeds to beat the living shit out of Random Douchebag on the hood of a Porsche, and then makes Random Douchebag lick up Too Drunk's vomit from the hood. Ew.
While this is going on, Too Dumb orgasms to herself over Italian Stereotype, marveling how someone can look so breathtakingly beautiful while pummeling someone on a car. I, on the other hand, would be screaming my head off and calling the cops, but maybe that's why I'm still single. I'm not letting all these Christian Grey lookalikes give me the runaround and treat me like shit.
Italian Stereotype hits on Too Dumb, and she turns him down. He gives her a business card and they go out to dinner. Too Dumb jokes about the guy he beat up, because when you see a guy beat someone up and make him eat vomit, you aren't revolted, no, you're turned on and use it as a bonding thing. Of course. Italian Stereotype propositions Too Dumb, who immediately runs to the nearest cash wrap to get herself all wrapped up like a little present so he can tear off her bow.
Here's what happens next:
-Italian Stereotype tells her that "he will hurt her to keep her safe." Uh-huh.
-Butt sex. Italian Stereotype uses hair conditioner as lube. He calls his Saint Christopher medal his protection. Because Saint Christopher totally gives a shit about whether or not you get AIDS.
-The word "my pucker" is used to describe Too Dumb's butthole.
-I laugh. A lot.
-Italian Stereotype sings an ass-fucking song while he fucks her in the ass. It goes, "...in your ass, Contessa, si, si, si..." NO, I am not joking. Page 134, bitches.
-I laugh. Some more.
-Italian Stereotype says a whole bunch of really misogynistic things that are supposed to show us how he is a Rebel without a Cause. (Does being in the mafia count as a cause? Hmm...)
-Cheating Boyfriend, AKA Too Dumb's ex, who also happens to be the District Attorney, tries to use Too Dumb to find out Top Sekrit Infoz on Italian Stereotype's 'legitimate businesses.'
-Italian Stereotype castrates some people, & chokes them with their own genitals.
-Too Dumb listens to this and then sets out to look for Italian Stereotype. Not to tell him off, but to fuck him some moar. More threats for her own good. More misogyny. She tells Italian Stereotype to fuck her while she's scared. Some panties get ripped.
(Are Panty-Rippers the new Bodice Rippers, or something?)
-Sex, sex, sex.
-Deus ex machina.
I will say this, though. It was better written than most erotica out there. But that doesn't do much in the way of redemption for this Fifty Shades of Awful.
I will never understand the hype. Never. Sorry. :(
Oh, baby. You just threaten me so good.
I love it when you're psychotic.
Tell me how many men you'll kill for me. It makes me feel like such a special snowflake.
Oh, yeah, awkward and physically implausible sex. GIVE IT TO ME IN THE PUCKER.
Give Me Everything You Have chronicles how the life of a professor crumbles after the smo...moreYou can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
Give Me Everything You Have chronicles how the life of a professor crumbles after the smothering idolization and infatuation deteriorates into a suffocatingly intense hatred. James Lasdun was a writing professor at a university who taught workshops. One of his most promising students struck up a correspondence with him on her quest to publish. It seemed like the two were destined for friendship--until the relationship soured.
Stalking is a subject that is of interest to me, both for personal reasons and for the sake of pure intellectual interest. I suspected from the get-go that mental illness was going to play a key role in this memoir; the obsession, the drive, and the sheer intensity of the hatred required to fuel the two aforementioned behaviors, bespeak maladaptive behavior and thought patterns.
I wanted to sympathize with Mr. Lasdun, but he made it extremely difficult to feel pity for him. Not that I blame him entirely for what happened (I don't), or that I think he received his just desserts (I don't), but I do think that his role in the escalation of these events was not as minimal as he might like to believe.
✉ When the emails from his student turned flirtatious and sexual, he should have terminated their correspondence then and there . The fact that he continued to talk to her after this happened several times does not look good for him at all, and I could understand how someone with BPD might believe that he had "led her on". At the very least, his conduct was inadvisable, if not unprofessional.
✉ This wasn't a book about being stalked so much as it was about Jewish history, culture, literature, and an affronted view of how men are basically victims of false cries of rape. I wanted to feel sorry for Mr. Lasdun--and I certainly feel for his wife and children--but he was so unlikable. He analyzed everything to the point where it seemed, as another reviewer pointed out, like navel gazing. He compared himself to Gawain, even to Jesus and Judas, and waxed tirelessly on the brilliance of authors as Tolstoy, Eliot, Lawrence, and Highsmith. Yawn. Yawn. Yawn.
His criticism of Goodreads not having a report option was laughable, especially when he said that that was the only reason an offensive review of his book was still there. I also thought thatpointing out and naming that reviewer as possibly being his student reeked of BBA. What if wasn't his student? I kind of got the sense that Lasdun was encouraging people to seek out his abuser, and abuse her in turn. Indeed, when I checked that review out, it had several extremely abusive comments.
✉ His armchair psychiatry is extremely offensive--and also blatantly wrong. He confuses the definition of mental illness (maladaptive behaviors/thought patterns causing distress, inability or difficulty to function, harm to self and/or others physically, psychologically, or emotionally) with the criminal definition of insanity (being unable to tell the difference from right/wrong and/or recognize potential consequences at the time of committing the criminal act).
He also does not seem to understand what Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD, is, let alone that his student in question actually has it. The diagnosis was actually suggested by a policeman, who said that his student's obsessively abusive behavior reminded him of his BPD daughter. As a psychology major, I find the hubris of people who attribute their own diagnoses to others sickening and arrogant.
BPD does not mean that the person "chooses" to be sane or crazy as they wish, as Mr. Lasdun apparently believes. That is wrong. So, so, so wrong. Rather, people with BPD tend to have a very black and white view of the world, rife with internal chaos and self-hatred. Anything less than absolute praise is an insult, and their personal relationships tend to fluctuate wildly from absolute love and perfection to total hatred and imperfection. When people cannot live up to their expectations, they become angry and betrayed.
BPD is frequently accompanied by drug use, promiscuity, and self-harm/violence. It is a tragic disorder, and if you are curious about firsthand experiences of it, the woman who wrote Girl, Interrupted (Susanna Kaysen) was afflicted with BPD. The sad thing about personality disorders is that a) they tend to occur in clusters, or with other mental illnesses like mood disorders, and b) people with personality disorders don't see themselves as having the problem--they see other people as the problem--and are likely to meet suggestions of seeking help with extreme anger.
When Mr. Lasdun and his colleagues sent the student in question the letter inviting her to seek help, I flinched internally, because that was pretty much the worst thing that they could have done to someone with her unfortunate ailment. Had any of them actually bothered to research BPD, it is possible that the situation might not have escalated to this point.
✉ While reading this, I couldn't shake the dawning suspicion that the motives behind this, were, at least in part, meant as a publicity stunt. The nonstop commentary about literary novels, the references to his own works and skills as a professor (including teaching at Princeton), and his vehemence at his student's critiques of his work as being racist and sexist, made me wonder.
This had some interesting insights on stalking, and I have to say it was unique reading from a male victim's perspective about a female perpetrator, but the execution was rather dull and watery, and I had difficulty dredging up much sympathy for the author based on his highhanded sanctimoniousness.
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!
This is, without a doubt, the most badly-written, disturbing, offensive piece of erotica that I have ever read. I literally feel like I should apologi...more
This is, without a doubt, the most badly-written, disturbing, offensive piece of erotica that I have ever read. I literally feel like I should apologize to someone for reading this on the writer's behalf. Preteen girls everywhere, liberal feminists, and those who practice consensual, safe BDSM for a start.
"The worst?" You say. "Surely you jest, Nenia! You've read excerpts of Fifty Shades."
No, gentle reader. As unconditional and irrevocable my loathing is for Fifty and all its spawn, at least Christian Grey never made Ana have sex with a donkey.
That's right. A donkey.
Before we embark further on our tortuous exploration of Fifty Shades of Pedophilia that is Bianca, let's get you equipped with a brief summary. Bianca is thirteen years old and considered the most beautiful woman in Florence even though (sniff) she doesn't have blonde hair.
Despite her incredible shortcomings, Bianca has a male fan club that follows her when she goes to church, hoping to catch a glimpse of her legendary beauty and enchanting aquamarine eyes.
...No, I'm not being dramatic. This is seriously what happens.
Bianca pretty much has the medieval equivalent of a fairytale life. Her father is a renowned silk merchant, her mother is royalty. It's almost guaranteed that she's going to get hooked up with a duke or a price when she's older. Men adore her, women admire her- life is pretty sweet.
But one day, Bianca's fifteen-year-old brother gets into a spot of trouble. A big, bloody, won't-wash-out-with-cold-water spot of trouble: he and his friend, Stefano Rovere- accidentally kill a prostitute. Against Marco's wishes, the two boys dump the body in the river. But Stefano can't help running to Daddy Sebastiano. Faster than you can say "sex kills," Sebastiano demands the hand of Bianca to pay for his and his son's mutual silence, and to ensure that Marco doesn't blab.
It's a pretty thin pretext for blackmail, but romance novels rarely need much spurring on when it comes to creating reasons for excessive sex. And Sebastiano is a thirty-six-year-old man with Needs, dammit, who wants himself some underage nookie.
Did you just throw up in the back of your mouth a little? You might want to grab yourself one of these. It gets worse.
Got your "unsee button" handy? Okay. Moving along.
Sebastiano is a psycho. He doesn't have much in the way of back story. We know that he killed his last two wives because they ceased to arouse him sexually. We know that he likes orgies and depravity. We know hurting people during sex gives him a major case of the happies. He makes Christian Grey look like the good-old-fashioned boy next door.
In fact, if you took the main character from American Psycho and placed him in Fifty Shades of Grey, and had V.C. Andrews's crappy ghost-writer, Andrew Neiderman, write the sex scenes, you would get something that very closely approximated this book.
So why does this book garner the dubious honor of being THE WORST EROTICA EVER? Well.
#1. We first meet Sebastiano while he's beating his Moorish slave. At first, we are led to believe that she doesn't like it- which provides an interesting sort of juxtaposition of character, being forced to serve a man who might very well kill you if you disobey- but Small changes her mind, and has the slave woman go from mocking her cruel master's perversions and pitying his ill-fated bride to praising her master's hot bod and sexual prowess, and being a complicit accomplice in Bianca's sexual abuse. Because rape is a-OK if you're hot.
#2. As if this weren't bad enough, Sebastiano isn't even really interested in Bianca beyond using her to hurt her family and gain their compliance, and possessing a young wife that will make him the envy of his peers. When he finds out that the rumors of her beauty are an understatement, he decides it might be fun to hurt her, as well.
In fact, the idea of going Hiroshima on her hymen gives him such a raging hard-on that he ends up going straight home to ravish his slave, who is amazed by what she claims is the best sex of her life. Wow.
#3. Since this is taking place in the 1400s, there's no sex until marriage- but Sebastian pretty much does everything else to her: forcing her to give him blowjobs (and... swallow), finger-banging her and enjoying her discomfort all the while telling her how much more it will hurt when he uses Big Sebastian instead, sucking on her boobies in public, and pretty much violating about a million child pornography laws. To make matters worse, Bianca starts to enjoy it.
She feels bad about enjoying it, but secretly she likes it.
To her credit, she complains to her mother, but Bianca's mother just shrugs and says, "Well, that's marriage for you." Excuse me, woman, but marriage or no, if a thirty-six-year-old pervert is playing hide the finger in your daughter's vagina and molesting her in public, I think you should take notice. But maybe that's just me.
#4. To his horror and disgust, Sebastiano cannot get it up on his wedding night because Bianca is crying too much and it's distracting him. He calls in his younger son, and demands that he rape Bianca to consummate the marriage. The son is eager to comply, but then Bianca's crying makes him feel bad and he says that he's not comfortable with the idea of screwing his step-mother. Sebastiano beats him. Bianca begs him to stop. Sebastiano beats her instead while Rape Jr. takes the chance to flee. Bianca's pain arouses him and he rapes her for the rest of the night.
#5. Eventually, though, Vanilla rape with a side of beatings gets old and Sebastiano starts getting creative. He forces Bianca to have threesomes with his slave. Sometimes she holds Bianca down while Sebastiano rapes her. Sometimes Sebastiano holds her down while the slave performs oral sex on her, and then rapes her when she's close to orgasm. At one point, Sebastiano has violent anal sex with the slave while Bianca watches, horrified, and says, "ONE DAY THIS WILL BE YOU."
#6. Sebastiano buys a special rape donkey that has been bred to have a ginormous donkey-doodle, and have oral, vaginal, and anal sex with humans. He uses the donkey with the slave and finds it delightful, and plans to have a foursome with himself, the slave, the donkey, and Bianca.
For the first time in the book, Bianca's and my reaction were the same. She flees to her family for help, after playing 120 Days of Sodom with Sebastiano to persuade him to let her mother visit, and they put her in a church for sanctuary. And that's when I stopped reading.
To top this mess of various bodily fluids with a cherry, the sex scenes are absolutely awful. I was bummed, because the story started out pretty well-written and I thought to myself, "This isn't so bad. I wonder why everyone is giving it such negative reviews?" Bertrice Small is one of those ladies whose prose goes purple when sex is involved, as if trying to hide the awkwardness of these racy encounters under a curtain of flowery verbiage. Which is kind of like throwing a doily on two morbidly obese fat people making the beast of two backs. It's still ugly, but now there's a doily on there so it's ridiculous and scary, as well.
Cum is described as "juices," which makes me never want to drink juice ever again- especially lychee calpico (I hate you, Ms. Small). Fleshly peg is used to describe a penis. White globe for breast. A man's balls are referred to as "a hairy, pendulous sac," and at one point, when Sebastiano is ravishing Bianca's boobage in the garden, her nipples are described as "helpless."
Is this supposed to be erotic? Because it makes me want to take a vow of chastity.
Kristen Ashley has a cult following, and even though I know books like thi...moreYou can read more of my reviews, faster, at my blog, The Armchair Librarian.
Kristen Ashley has a cult following, and even though I know books like this never end well, and even though I know better than to give into the hype -- well, I'm only human. I gave into the hype.
And yes, I get that some women really go in for the motorcycle bad boys, and the tattooed thug wannabes. I get that what depraved dukes and sexy pirates and naughty highwaymen do for me, these walking coat-hooks do for you. That's cool. Live and let live.
What disturbs me about this book is that it is so badly written, and yet still manages to be so popular. I'm not talking about the chatty, casual narration. I'm talking about the repetitive prose, the fact that a good portion of this book is Tyra saying, "Holy Hell!" or "Ohmigod!" like she's runner-up in a Miss Ana Steele competition, or that so much of the conflict is, "I hate you!" "No, you don't!" "You're right, I don't!" "Fuck me!" "I don't want to!" "Yes you do!" "Okay, you're right, I'll fuck you!" "YAY ORGASM TIME!"
THE WHOLE FREAKING BOOK.
Well--except for the random portion about the Russian mafia. WTF.
But that's not even my biggest grievance. Because I can respect the fact that editors are expensive and not easy to come by. My biggest beef is that everyone is like, "Awww, Tack is so shweet!" when he is, in actuality, the biggest douche to come on the market since the SuperDouche 9000!
Here are just a few quotes from this Romeo:
"I do not work with bitches who've had my dick in their mouth" (19).
"So give me your number, get your ass in your car and I'll call you when I got a taste for you" (25).
"You think...right now, I put my hands and mouth on you in about two minutes you wouldn't be pantin' to be flat on your back, legs wide open in my bed?" (26)
"Jesus...tell me, when you're such a pain in the ass, why do I seriously wanna fuck you right now?" (31)
"I asked you to suck my cock, you'd have your mouth wrapped around it so fast, you'd break the sound barrier" (45)
"Every guy who works there is takin' their break in the bathroom, jackin' off, thinkin' of you in your tight skirts and sex kitten shoes. You wear that to work, no one'd get any work done" (50).
"I make out wherever the fuck I want, which means you do too" (85).
"Babe, I asked, you didn't hesitate to spread wide for me. I told you that mornin' you started workin' for me, I touched you, you'd spread wide and you did. You give attitude, darlin', I enjoy it. It works. You got a way of dishin' it out that makes me go hard and part 'a the reason I go hard is I know, I get in there, it's gonna be worth puttin' up with your mouth" (131).
"Give me that mouth again, babe, then get outta here" (151).
This isn't romantic. This is misogynistic and abusive - and it NEVER STOPS.
Apparently, he even chokes the heroine at some point because he needs to make sure she has a pulse.
Oh, and don't even get me started on the enabling Aunt and Uncle, who tell her to go back to this man. Bitch, please. My family members would be grappling for who got to fire the shotgun if a man treated me the way he treats Tyra.
Let's not even go into the fact that:
-Tyra is 35 and acts like she's about 19. That's right. 35. And Tack is like, what, late thirties?
-Tack has two teenage kids, and his son totally ogles Tyra nad makes inappropriate comments.
-Tack tries to have sex with Tyra while his kids are right next door. WTF.
-His ex-wife is a walking stereotype, who he slut-shames relentlessly.
-SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT WORK IS NOT OKAY. OKAY? OKAY.
-Did I mention that sexual harassment at work is not okay?
-I just really, really want to point out that sexual harassment at work is not okay.
-BECAUSE BOTH OF THESE CHARACTERS SEEM TO THINK IT IS.
-Tack even uses the "you were asking for it" defense, and she motherfucking agrees with him.
-After he fucks her, he pretends he doesn't remember her name just to fuck with her.
Do you want to date this douchebag? 'Cause I sure as hellfire don't.
It's unlikely that I'll ever pick up another KA book again after this hot mess.
I can't believe that this book has almost 100,000 ratings and only 400 of them were negative. Like, I seriously cannot believe that. THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS was one of the most irritating, pretentious, purple-prose-ridden, piece of shit reads I've had the displeasure of picking up this year.
***SPOILERS TO COME***
This book is about Tom and Isabel, a couple who live on an island in Australia. Tom married Isabel when she was a teenager(!) and after three miscarriages, she's gone a little...well, crazy.
One day, there is a shipwrecked raft with the dead body of a man and a screaming baby. Tom wants to report the boat to the authorities but Isabel wants to keep the baby and is afraid that if they report the boat the baby will be sent to an orphanage. She begs him to wait one day but it's clear this isn't going to be a short-term thing because she names the baby Lucy that night and he catches her breast-feeding it. Really creepy.
Isabel: We have to do what's best for the baby. We're keeping her.
Tom: Then we should return her to the family.
Isabel: NO. Her mother's probably dead. There was a sweater on the raft. We're keeping the baby.
Isabel: Don't you love me? No, you don't. You went to war and it made you an evil person, because only an evil person wouldn't let me keep this baby. Are you an evil person, Tom?
Tom: ...fine, we can keep it.
Two years go by and, of course, Isabel still has the baby. Of course. Because she's just such a good person, right? They go to the mainland to show off the baby and discover--surprise, surprise--the baby's mother is still alive and hasn't given up all these years. She's also the daughter of a wealthy family, so she has resources, and isn't the callous child-abandoner Isabel painted her as.
(At one point, she says, stupidly, something like, "What kind of mother leaves their baby alone?" SHIPWRECKS DON'T COUNT, YOU DUMB BITCH.)
Hannah: Hi. I'm Hannah. My daughter and husband disappeared one day. I'm sad.
Isabel: This is my daughter Lucy.
Isabel feels guilty, but she's more afraid that her 'daughter' will be taken from her.
Tom: You should tell her the truth.
Isabel: No, this is my baby. We have to do what's best for the baby.
Tom: She has a mother--
Isabel: Yes, and it's me. I'm her mother. War has made you unfeeling and callous. You promised me we could keep this baby but you lied and now you're going to destroy our lives because you're an evil person. Only an evil person who couldn't feel love wouldn't let me keep this baby.
But Tom's guilt gets the better of him and he writes Hannah several notes telling her the baby is still alive and being well cared-for and that Hannah shouldn't trouble herself. Because telling her the child is still alive and expecting her to forget about it is so rational, right? And not cruel at all?
Of course, Hannah calls the police and when Isabel finds out she is furious. She tells Tom that if Lucy ends up back with Hannah, he might as well have "killed her and Lucy and the family" (paraphrasing here), conveniently forgetting the fact that she fucking stole a fucking baby.
Eventually Lucy ends up with Hannah again, but Lucy has grown attached to Isabel and treats Hannah horribly. Hannah's sister, Gwen, doesn't help matters because she sneaks Lucy over to Isabel again and even tells Isabel that she'll help her figure out a way to get custody of the fucking child this bitch stole from her sister. I can't even--what? Gwen even tells her sister that she should give her baby back to the child thief. By this point, I wanted to destroy things--possibly this book, except I'm borrowing it from a friend, and friends don't destroy other friends' books, even if said book pisses them off to no end.
Nobody in this book has any conscience or sound reasoning. The introduction of babies seems to serve no other purpose than to emotionally manipulate readers, and judging from the ratings, it worked. But maybe it's because I don't have children, but I couldn't wrap my head around this. Isabel stole a baby. She made her husband lie to the authorities and compromise his job. She let the police think he was a murderer and child-napper because she was mad at him for turning the baby in. She had no respect for her husband's war-induced PTSD and said horrible emotionally traumatic things. She was abusive, if not physically then emotionally. Is she fit to be a parent? No.
I couldn't understand why the author seemed to like this character so much. They say things that are supposed to be deep and meaningful, and it was like reading a goddamn John Green novel with awful grownups. I couldn't stand it. Isabel and Tom were villains, and I wanted to see them punished. I hated the fact that the one sympathetic character in this novel was vilified as selfish and irrational: Lucy was Hannah's baby, and the entire town turned against her, including her own sister. And the only reason the sister sides against Hannah is because Isabel's husband saves her from attempted rape in the beginning of the book. Greaaaaaat.
That was the last straw in my book.
I guess if other people want to read about awful characters doing awful things that's their business, but I probably won't read anything by this author ever again. The lazy, affected writing; the POV swaps; the bad, 2D characters; and trope-ridden storyline made this nigh unbearable. I also couldn't understand why, if Isabel kept whining about the children in the orphanages, she didn't just adopt two or three of them instead of stealing other people's babies.
This is one of the worst 'romance' novels I've ever read. The main charact...moreYou 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.