Thursday, January 31, 2013

Narcissus in Chains--chapter 62+63

So my computer ate most of the last review, and it took me ALL DAY to work this out. Crap. Well, that tells you how terrible things are in the Anitaverse. The Internet itself is trying to keep more of this shit from spewing out across its...uh...whatevers.

Ah well...where were we?

Anita grilling Bacchus. Well, while she's grilling Bacchus, the doorbell rings. Nathanial zips right up to answer it and Anita yells at him to see who it is first.

Yeah. How many home invasions did it take for us to learn THAT lesson, Ms. Heap Big Vampire Hunter.

Nathanial announces that it is Zeke, the werewolf from the club. Ya'll remember Zeke, right? The Werewolf who...uh...yeah, it's been two rescues, a LONG awaited gunfight and about four fucking...uh...fucking scenes for us to get here. We're not going to remember a wolf who was introduced WAY way back in chapter Something Before Ten. If this guy was major HE SHOULD BE IN MORE THAN ONE SCENE.

Fun fact: I've written two books now (This Found Thing and Gray Fox) in which I wrote the climax of the story in the middle of the first draft. Do you know what it feels like to realize the PERFECT ending conflict is occupying the middle third of your story? To realize that not only do you have to move things around, you have to remove conversations and in many, MANY cases invent new ones, you have to figure out how the fuck to foreshadow it, you have to figure out a new way to introduce a character or two, and then you have to re-read it about an extra ten times to make sure, absolutely sure, that you have removed every trace that the climax was actually the thing that happened after chapter two.

But you know what? You do it. And if you realize that you need to throw out two thirds of a book because your last third is actually the whole story you want to tell? You do that too. Because sometimes you can't write and you need to fuck around for a hundred pages before you find the sweet spot. I've done it. (Oh god do not get me started on what Starbleached is doing to me. DO. NOT. I beg you.) but the thing is? Laurel, darling? It should not be this clear that this is what you are doing. Your job is to make ME happy. Not you. This is called "Writing". Not "Masturbation."

Anita goes to the door with Bodyguard and a large number of weapons, which are carefully described. And when she glances out the window she discovers a bloody picture of Micah being chained up and tortured.

Anita decides to let Zeke in. Bodyguard says she can't kill him until they know what they're doing next. She says I know, thus establishing her cred as a bad ass. Then Bodyguard gives an "OMG you're so tough" speech that RUINS her cred as a bad ass.

Chapter ends.

Next chapter.

Zeke also has a picture of Cherry being chained up and tortured.

This is how we know Anita is a horrible person. She has known Micah less than two days now? And Cherry is something like her ward. She's one of the leopards Anita has to care for (leaving aside the utter squickiness of a girl in this series, specifically, named "Cherry". It's like having a kid named "meat" in a room full of pit bulls) and Anita has known her for years.

MICAH is the one she freaks out over. MICAH. Not Cherry.

Anita also monologues about how her sitting there talking to Zeke calmly (about all the shit Bacchus just told us) is a sign that she is insane. Anita, babydoll, if you are insane than a police negotiator is a fucking psychopath. What you are is a human being who understands that emotions will not help. Normal people hit that stage all the time. Usually the first time they have both a major emergency and kids. The pard are kind of your kids. You have to function if you want to go rescue your kids.

Stop trying to make being crazy something sparkly and special.

There is discussion of what a panwere is. It's a were that is more than one animal. Chimera, IMHO, should shapeshift into an actual fucking Chimera for his late intro to be a forgivable thing, and he does not. I am pissed.

By the way, this is a HUGE thing. This is a universe breaker, game changer revelation. Shifters CANNOT become more than one thing up until now. Everything we understand about Anitaverse weres is now out the window.

And I have used more words talking about it than the actual book does.

So Chimera wants Anita as a mate because she's a panwere too. Okay. Yeah. Whatever.

Because Anita does not seemed convinced at Chimera's bad-ass cred (probably because he's existed as a thing for less than three chapters in a sixty-fucking-five-chapter book) so Zeke sends out for Gina. You remember Gina, right? Right? Because I sure don't. I *THINK* it's the chick Micah went back someplace for, but she's not on my radar. AT ALL.

Gina comes in. Gina is yet ANOTHER victim in this book. She's been tortured. Zeke tells Anita that Chimera is unstable and is attacking people, and he wants to start a palace coup and get Chimera out. He has a history of going into other people's territories and killing the alphas so he can take them over and rule as top...uh...whatever. And it's a problem because the big guys--wolves and whatever--don't protect the little guys, and am I going too fast for you? Oh, I'm sorry. MAYBE IT IS BECAUSE THE ACTUAL PLOT THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN FUCKING AWESOME IS BEING DUMPED ON MY PLATE AS I AM TYPING THIS.

This was the book that could have been, people. Infiltration. Investigation. Gunfights. Admittedly with heyna analogues who are Everything Straight People Fear About Gay Guys, but as non PC as that sounds even THAT would have been better than watching our main character MIND RAPE PEOPLE SHE SHOULD CARE ABOUT. This could have been a good--if horrifically everything-ist--book, and instead we got the crap I've been slogging through for two months.

So we get a list of what Chimera is: Wolf, leopard, lion, bear, snake, heyena. Goody. That explains where all the alphas are going. Chimera is a sexual sadist, though, and he only kills people after he breaks them. "Break" is defined as "forced to shapeshift" because the breaking point of the human soul is something easily identified, and the concept of "give a little bit until the son of a bitch lets his guard down" is obviously something that nobody employs, ever. He hasn't been able to force the lion or dog to shift, and Narcissus isn't broken either, so all three are still alive.

And hey, you remember Jason and Paris from Richard's pack? The dude who wanted to beat Richard and the chick that wanted to screw him? They're with Chimera too. Because RICHARD is WEEEEAAAAAAAK, folks. As if this hasn't been pounded into our brains six thousand times already.

And Micah is with Chimera too. He was supposed to get the leopards the way Jason was supposed to get the wolves, but he didn't count on Anita being there.

Which means that the guy that raped Anita, let us not forget that, is allied with the big bad of this book, and everybody will be okay with that forever. Probably because Chimera is doing awful things to everybody.

Gina goes on a monologue about how Micah is now being tortured because Micah betrayed Chimera and protected Anita, and how that means Anita stole him from Chimera, and I am trying REALLY HARD not to read gay/bi subtext into this, because I already did that once and my brain does not like going in the Hole of Homophobia that is at the core of this book. But it's not working real well.

Finally, after monologuing more about how wonderful the traitor-rapist POS Micah is, Anita agrees to go rescue him and kill Chimera.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Host--Chapter three

Wanderer is pissed. She thinks she's been given a defective host because the Seeker wants information from her. She's also not used to being pissed, and this pisses her off even more.

Have I raved enough about how much I love the concept of Xenocidal pacifists? Because it almost makes up for sparkling vampires. It also almost makes up for this being a Stephenie Meyer novel.

There is an aside about intuition being the sixth sense. Okay. Yeah. Whatever, Stephenie. The Seeker asks what could be wrong, and Wanderer says her memory is defective. She was trying to access the memory the Seeker wanted, and the memory isn't there.

Hey, Unnamed host chick? You go, girl.

There is babble about attachment points being correctly adhered to. For some reason this makes me think about The Human Centipede, which I have never seen and have no intention of watching ever, so my brain is kind of in this state of IDK WTF right now.

Then we have inner dialogue about Wanderer adapating to the body.

Again: I fucking love this. My numerous issues with S. Meyer aside, I love every part of this. Do not worry, my loyal blog readers. You will get much indignation from me. But for right now, everything about this concept is ringing all of my bells. Wanderer is not used to the human body, the human body is fighting her every inch of the way, and adaptation for the xenocidal Soul is not easy.

Kudos for making your Yeerks pacifists, Meyer. Also note: I am not letting you get out of this. My lingering love for K.A. Applegate will not allow it.

Wanderer starts freaking out about color. Aww, Meyer. Did somebody give your son the first book from the Andalite's perspective? That's soo sweet. I remember Ax freaking out about flavor something fierce, and then you had the time Cassie shapeshifted into a Yeerk to infiltrate and rescue the traitor yeerk whose name I can't remember. She was so happy to get to see again. Ah, good times, good times.

This is totally Animorphs fan fic, FYI.


The Seeker explains about the memory defects. It's worth mentioning at this point, the Seeker is a brown person. Dark hair, olive skin. Wanderer is white. Every other major character in this book is white. The Seeker is the only antagonist worth writing about. And she's also the ONLY brown person in the ENTIRE BOOK. Actual race is also never mentioned, but "Olive completion" isn't something commonly applied to caucasian folk.

Way to go, S. Meyer. I feel dirty for liking  anything you write already.

(Also, brown loyal blog readers? Olive is a terrible descriptive term for skin tone. Olives, my dears, are green, and they are only an acceptable thing if they are either Kalamata or in a Hendricks Dirty Martini, Dry, with a twist. Or if they are black. Black olives are wonderful things. Is it too late to mention that I can only read this book slightly drunk? I'm slightly drunk right now. Imagine that.)

Wanderer has been inserted into this host because she prefers an Adult. Wanderer prefers to take over somebody else's body long after they've had time to develop their own Personhood. Wanderer does not consider this personhood an actual thing. Wanderer is a --


*sigh* Fine. Fine.

Wanderer is a waste of alien glitter skin. There. Are you happy, Robot Susan B. Anthony?

Wanderer is then told about the resistance human Adults typically put up to being turned into prisoners in their own bodies Hosts for Souls.

Apparently a Soul took over an adult named Kevin. The Soul was a musician. Oh, I'm sorry, he had a Calling in Musicial Preformance. Because he was from the Blind World Planet of the Bats Singing World. Only Kevin was a mechanic. So the Soul becomes a Mechanic, which is a HUGE scandal. And then the Soul begins blacking out as Kevin takes his own body back, once in a while. Eventually Kevin the Host knocks a healer out and tries to cut the soul out of his own body. 

The souls react by removing the soul from Kevin and giving him a little kid to inhabit, while Kevin himself is destroyed.

Goodnight, sweet prince Kevin. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

(In case you haven't guessed, I don't like the Souls much.)

The Seeker assures Wanderer that she is not the average soul, while simultaneously guilt-tripping her for not choosing an immature host. Wanderer, meanwhile, feels ashamed that she isn't strong enough to supress our STILL unnamed human host.

Wanderer asks the Seeker why she was not implanted into this Host, as obviously the Seeker wants to know where the fuck the wild human came from. Seeker says that she's "No skipper", which means a body-jumper, which is apparently something that is frowned upon.

Wanderer then gives us the host's name. Melanie Stryder.

Melanie, for 90% of this book, will be my heroine. For the last 10% she will be the scum of the earth, but we're going to ignore that for the time being.

Melanie is also twenty years old. Finally, FINALLY, S. Meyer is writing about somebody who is not underage when the story starts.

Wanderer tries to remember why Melanie was trying to meet her cousin. She tells the Seeker where they can find Melanie's note, and then Melanie hijacks her own mouth to find out if they found Sharon. Melanie is hogtied in her own head and she is still fighting hard. Fuck you Wanderer. Melanie, have a beer.

Wanderer finds out its too late for the Seekers to find Melanie's buddies. Melanie feels relief. Wanderer just feels even more pissed at how present Melanie is in her own body. Well, again, Fuck you Wanderer. This ain't your house to begin with.

Melanie also remembers the pretty-faced boy's name" Jared. Wanderer turns this over to the Seeker, and the chapter ends. 

Narcissus in Chains--chapter 61

Anita interrogates the surviving wereheyena. His name is Bacchus.

Bacchus. Ulysses. Narcissis. Yeah. Why do the were heyenas have a naming theme? And why is that theme greek? The text mentioned earlier that Narcissus has been "adding to his ranks" until he has five, six hundred men. Just men. And they're all gay. And this is the middle of midwestern America. And LKH is expecting me to believe that Narcissus is grabbing random gay guys off the street of St. Louis and infecting them with were-heyena and he managed not to hit a John, or an Andy, or a


Narcissus has been infecting random men with therianthropy because he wants more people on his side. Narcissus, a gay person, is kidnapping and infecting "normal" people with a blood borne disease that utterly totally and permanently alters your life because he wants more allies.

Go fuck yourself, Laurel. Go. Fuck. Yourself. If you cannot figure out why that is disgusting and creepy and oh, so very wrong, you need to go back to human school and learn how to be one. GOOD. FUCKING. GOD.

And Narcissus is either limiting his recruting to gay greek men with romantic names, or he's taking their names away and replacing them with his own choices. In real life, Narcissus is a bad caracature of a marganilized people. In this universe he is a dangerous, dehumanizing predator rather like Anita, and in both worlds he needs to be erased before he does more damage to lable he identifies with.

 And then Narcissus introduces "Chimera", a panwere who is apparently into even more BDSM stuff than Narcissus. Chimera has abducted all the pack's lovers. Because of course the romantic partners are going to be easy to identify and hold onto. The feminine half of a gay partnership always dresses like Bobby Trendy.

And in case you can't recognise it, kiddies, that was sarcasm.

So the only person who can rescue these poor tortured wereheyenas from their own apathy is Anita. Somebody linked me to an article yesterday about how she's a straight warrrior or something. Yeah. No. If straight people get to elect a warriror my vote is going to go to somebody who can manage to avoid the penis when she doesn't actually want it. We don't need a warrior, though, so that election should be delayed a few more decades.

So if Anita doesn't co-operate with Chimera, he will kill all the weak little were-heyenas that Anita now has to protect. What does Chimera want?

Anita. As his mate.

Once again, the way to rescue a bunch of frightened shapeshifting predator men is through sex.

Anita is reluctant to come to the rescue until Bacchus reminds her of a traumatic point in her life, in which she was mailed parts of people she cared about to try to make her do something. At this point me and my dudes would be in the car halfway back to turn Chimera into a grease stain, but Anita has to be convinced and cajoled into having sex rescuing people.

Anita wonders why she wants to help someone she tried to kill. My vote is, because you are a person and these are also people and if you are a good human being you help other people not have parts chopped off of themselves. Anita decides its because she's an oversocialized, hormonal female.

That's what the text says. That's not me.

How did I go from trying to kill him to feeling bad for him? Maybe it was a girl thing, or maybe I’d been oversocialized as a child.
She gets a layout of the club from Bacchus, and the chapter ends.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Host--Chapter 3

So I've been reading for fun on the side, and I have found the best book ever. Warm Bodies. It is a zombie love story, and the zombie is one of the two lovers in question. The writing is fucking. awesome. The story itself has a point and a heart, and it's something that everybody everywhere should be reading.

Right. Back to The Host.

I kind of sort of like Twilight, in that trainwrecks don't happen every day and we have to take what we can get. But the one scene I hated more than anything else wasn't the scene where Edward eats the baby out of Bella's stomach, or the watching-her-while-she-sleeps-thing, or the abuse of native cultures, or the misogyny, or the massvie amount of Mormon propaganda in the book.

It was the fucking tent scene in Eclipse. To explain, S. Meyer decided that there wasn't enough tension, so she decided to have Edward, Bella and Jacob all sleep in the same tent, and had Bella overhear a conversation between Ed and Jake about who gets to keep Bella. Folks, I have pretended to be asleep before, and I have been actually asleep before, and the only time I really overhear a conversation is when I'm playacting.

But it's time to repeat the preformance of the Stupidest Scene Ever by having our STILL unnamed main character overhear a conversation between her doctor and the Seeker. Let me give you the bullet points:

-humans are violent nasties and humanity is an infection
-Souls have "callings" that determine their jobs.

Time out. If you're not raised borderline fundie, you probably don't get the overtones of that terminology. You do not decide to go into religious jobs. You are called. As I understand it, Mormons take it one step further. Your husband or wife is determined by angels up in heaven, if you are successful it is because you are obeying the hand of God, ect. ect. I'm not criticizing the belief system, but I DO want to point out that it leaves people open to massive amounts of exploitation. Back to book:

-Seekers are horrible people.
-Souls own the entire United States, and consider everything they overtake "civilized". Free humans are uncivilized.
-The Seeker and the Healer hate the everloving fuck out of each other
-Our STILL unnamed main character soul is about as active as Bella fucking Swan, and I already don't like her. This will change a little bit, but not that much.

And then, finally, FINALLY, our main character gets a name: Wanderer. Because she's been to so many worlds and refuses to settle down.

Wanderer uses her time lying frozen on this medical bed to think about the other planets she has been on. Apparently it was in the drip trap of HP Lovecraft's fridge. Telepathic, thousand-eyed plants. Wow.

Wanderer also decides that only the uncivilized soul would become a Seeker. Violence is just so far beneath the true soul.

However, because "Good citizenship was quintessential to every soul"  (oh Applebloom, I am so very, very sorry) Wanderer remembers every aspect of her body's last life that she thinks the Seeker might want. The body came to Chicago to find her cousin. But when Wanderer tries to remember more, she finds the information blocked out. The person is still in this body and she is fighting as hard as she can to spare her loved ones from becoming prisoners in their own body.

Finally, Wanderer sits up, the Seeker welcomes her to Earth...and the chapter ends.

...yeah. LKH and S. Meyer get their advice from the same damn chapter-breaking book.

Narcissus in Chains chapter 60

So Anita heads back to Narcissus in Chains and is lead in by a nervious looking Ulysses. The other guards look nervious and scared too. Ulysses explains that their master has punished them.

Anita looks down on this. She treats it as a self-inflicted thing. Nobody who didn't want to be punished would stick around for it, after all. Because abuse is a thing you just leave cold turkey and have no other hang-ups with all the time, right?

Ulysses gets even more nervous and asks for Anita to leave her guns behind.

Anita says no.

Ulysses says please.

Anita says no.

Ulysses says Anita has no idea what will happen to them if they let her go inside with her guns.

Anita decides that Narcissus is being a really bad dom.

The readers, however, have picked up that Ulysses has said "my master" every time, and knows that something else is going on, and super-uber perceptive Anita, who can read subtle nuances into the mearest glance of most weres, is being written as EXCEPTIONALLY thick and insensative right now, and that means somebody else is in charge.

Ulysses begins to beg on his knees, saying that his master will kill the guard's lovers if Anita and Co. don't surrender their guns. And I just realized that other than Asher and Narcissus, these are the first gay dudes in the book. Asher was a prima donna, Narcissus was a psychotic sadist, and these guys are sniveling murderous cowards--or at least, they're being written that way.

Hey, you know what the difference between a gay guy and a normal guy is IRL? Absolutely nothing. They're the same person. They don't dress like June Cleaver (unless they want to) they don't flame on, and like everyone else on the planet, some of them can be VERY bad ass. Some of them can even manage to be bad ass while kicking no ass at all.  (No one else IRL has managed the sheer awesome badassery of Bayard Russtin. There were no truely awesome human beings before Bayard Rustin. There have been none since. Bayard Rustin handed Chuck Norris another fist, and Chuck threw them all down in disgust. Yes. I just said it. Bayard Rustin was more badass than Chuck Norris.)

But I guess in this universe if you are hardwired not to want to screw Anita, because you're a straight woman or a gay man, you must be evil. Or a coward.

I hate this book.

Anita decides all these poor abused men are broken little puppies and she must take them all and give them all sanctuary. Do not ask me how you can both demonize, cutisfy, dehumanize and rescue somebody all at the same time, but this book just managed it.

And then somebody shoots one of Anita's bodyguards, and she responds by putting her gun to Ulysses's head and threatening to pull the trigger. Because it's totally his fault.

So now they're all being held under gunpoint. Anita and the remaining bodyguard time a couple volleys of fire and kill a couple guards before the return fire pins them back behind cover again. (...just how fucking big is this club? And why do I keep imagining an medeval castle instead of a nightclub when I read this scene?) and then the wereheyenas rush Anita.

The text strongly implies that it's all of them. All five hundred plus.


They escape the club being chased by a horde of half-shifted heyena men.

Boys and girls, we just spent two thirds of this book reading about disgusting, humiliating, probably-not-consensual sex, and the fallout from said disgusting, humiliating non-con sex. This has been lightly peppered with so much ugliness Westboro Babtist Church would say "Fuck. Even we can't top this shit" and go home.

 We could have been reading about silver gun battles and pissed off were-heyena car chases the entire time. 

You may rage incoherantly now. I'll wait.

The heyenas swarm the car. There is much firing of weapon and much exploding body parts, because Anita only packs the kind of rounds that explode when they go into a body. At one point she runs out of ammo and half decapitates a person (most of the head is still there, just...not the important parts). It's gross and brutal and totally the book we wanted, but sadly the slog it took to get here just wasn't worth it.

Anita pulls a random Uzi out of the floorboards of the car. It has a big clip, too. Triple ammo capacity, so it takes twelve seconds to empty at full auto instead of just four. (Mythbusters did it. Look it up)

At one point the bodyguard tells Nathanial to slow down, they don't want to be pulled over with bodies in the car. I think they should be more worried about the bodies on the car (one of them is dangling through the brand new sunroof) but that might just be me.

Then Anita realizes one of the bodies isn't dead, so she questions it. Finally she catches up to the rest of us and realizes that Narcissus isn't in charge of the gang anymore. Oh, dear, who is?

We find out later, because that's the end of the chapter.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Narcissus in Chains chapter 58+59

Anita wakes up naked outside of the hot tub covered in cold towels. Sorry, guys. No surprise penis this time. Though really, at this point I think the only reason why there isn't is because we are on "page" 379 of a 422 "page" ebook, and sex uses up what little room we have left.

Anita still has her arm around Damian. Asher and Nathanial are trying to cool Anita down.

Hey, folks! Fun fact: being unconsious is not a cool trope. It's an actual medical condition that is dangerous. There is a reason why anesthesologists make good money; drugs are bad, and the difference between "hey, I'm still kind of awake for this" and dead is really, really thin. If you get hit in the head and you're out cold, it is because your brain has been hurt, and the longer you're out the more severe it probably is. If it's more than five minutes, you have brain damage. If it's more than fifteen, congradulations, you have probably forgotten how to talk.

I passed out from heat exhaustion once. It was hot, I was wearing sweat pants in a garage for a tai-kwon-do lesson that was less "lesson" and more "boot camp" and I hadn't eaten properly. I leaned over to get water and woke up on the floor with my head between my knees. I was out for maybe a couple seconds. My parents made me go into the house and sit on the couch with ice on my neck. I got watermelon. Everybody else had to keep on kicking the damn bag.

The point? If you are unconsious due to heat, it is because your brain is cooking. It is a medical condition. It is not something that should be left to two psychotic vampires and the wereleopard that vacuums with pearls on. And if you're out long enough to be declothed and wrapped in slightly cool towels, you should also be in an ambulance on the way to a doctor supervised ice bath. Anita is INCREDIBLY lucky that she is not dead or in convulsions right now.

Hey, have LKH's descriptive powers suddenly improved?

 His eyes were clear, bright, alive again. His eyes were the color of emeralds, and it wasn’t caused by vampire powers, it was his natural eye color, as if his mother had fooled around with a cat to get him here. People just didn’t have that color of eyes.

God. Random bestiality just to describe someone's eye color. Jesus Christ, Laurel. It doesn't all have to be sex.

Damian says he knows Anita is his master. Anita goes off on a long ramble about how she doesn't think she could be a good ruler, and how she couldn't go quietly into that good night of servitude, and Damian is all calm and greatful and like "Thank you for mind-raping me into serving you in the first place" and he kisses her and then the chapter ends.

Guys, I'm not doubling up because I want to be done with this book. I mean, I DO want to be done with this book but running The Host at the same time almost makes it okay. I'm doubling up because nothing is fucking happening in these chapters. 

Anyway. Next chapter. The end game.

Micah calls. Apparently Anita left Cherry and Zane in his care and he's letting her know they'll be fine. Uh huh. Let's leave two characters this book has established as weaker beings in the care of your rapist, Anita. I'm sure this is going to end well. Anita is unnerved because she's "sleeping" with somebody she doesn't love. Right. Everything about your relationship with the shithead is totally consensual.

Gag me.

And then Anita goes to bed in the tiniest, most revealing nightclothes she has, because they're cool. Okay, fine, whatever. It's really hard for me not to critize how you dress, Anita, when you spend so much time both describing the most revealing outfits humanly possible and reassuring us that it's not actually revealing because you are just so short.

And then the phone rings.

 When this book began Anita was wearing something insanely tiny and it was late at night and there was a random phone call from the club Narcissus in Chains demanding Anita come rescue Nathanial.

At the halfway point, Anita had to go rescue Gregory

At the three-fourths mark, Anita had to go rescue Damian.

This time Anita is in bed wearing something insanely tiny, and it is late at night, and there is a random phone call from the club Narcissus in Chains demanding Anita come rescue the missing Alphas. YES. WE ARE DOING THIS AGAIN FOR THE FOURTH FUCKING TIME.

Anita talks to Narcissus's bodyguard, Ulysses, for a while. And it's just like the conversation with Gregory--inane and banal until you realize that somebody's got a gun to his head...or in Ulysses's case, to his lover's head. Anita hangs up the phone, puts her guns on, and heads out with her posse to go do the same damn thing she's done through this whole book.

Which I hate. Passionately.

Next chapter(s): We find out what kind of book we COULD have been reading, if LKH had not totally utterly and completely lost her fucking mind.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Host--Chapter Two

Time to meet our main character.

And I have to say it. Trust me. I don't like saying it. S. Meyer does a good job showing the "soul" adapt to her new body. The as-yet-unnamed soul slowly aquires memory and sensory imput from the body she is now inhabiting, and it is VERY well done.

Of course, this wouldn't be a Stephenie Meyer novel without a significant amount of self hate and a bias towards white America, and since Souls are oh, so perfect this translates into that anti-humanity stuff I was talking about last post:

The language I found myself using was odd, but it made sense. Choppy, boxy, blind, and linear. Impossibly crippled in comparison to many I’d used, yet still it managed to find fluidity and expression.
Also, you've got a fucking wonderful example of S. Meyer's bias. This is English, folks, but it's never identified and the existance of other languages is NEVER brought up. The existence of any continent other than the grand old US of A is never brought up either. So either Meyer forgot that anything other than American English Speaking People exist, the aliens have canceled world travel, or the host body never heard another language spoken. Because the souls are heavily influienced by the body they are in.

As in they basically become the person that owned the body before they got their shiny little tenticles on it.

The woman the soul now inhabits was a member of the human resistance. She was caught, she failed, she fought back--and violence is a totally alien concept to these things--and then she decided that since she'd rather die than have her body stolen from her, the girl threw herself out a window.

This is the peaceful, perfect soul's first experiance of humanity: battle and suicide.

On one hand, I find that to be a particularly offensive judgement on the part of S. Meyer, and I'm pretty sure she did it on purpose. On the other hand, I fucking love this unnamed human girl, because folks, I'd be right behind her. It's a powerful introduction to a character that is going to be very influiental in what is to come. This girl says, basically, "I would rather die and deny you monsters victory than surrender and be something worse than your slave."

But given S. Meyer's worship of self-sacrifice, liking it makes me feel more than a little dirty.

This is also the first time an e-book has been an improvement over the hard copy. In the paperback version I have, the human memories are indicated by a change in font--from a nice, readable serif font to a slightly larger, slightly smoother sans-serif font that reads like a migrane. In the e-book, they just change the size and shrink the paragraphs. Yay!

The elevator shaft the girl threw herself down wasn't high enough, and the Seekers were able to save her life and patch her back up. The soul--still no name for either soul or body yet--starts screaming at the memory, and the body explains what's going on. Which freaks the soul out further because the body isn't supposed to talk. The body doesn't say anything else and the remembering continues.

And now it's time to have the other defining trait of a S. Meyer novel: life revolves around guys. Specifically, one guy. The soul sees the face, the body says mine, and there is much waxing poetic about how pretty this remembered guy is. And I know that I am not one to talk, given that my main character in my primary novel series cannot get over her ex-husband, but folks? Guys define Stephenie Meyer's females.

And then voices interrupt the soul's new thoughts. And we don't get to find out if it is nurses, doctors, or the main character's body's schizophrenia, because the chapter ends.

Next Chapter: Raise your hand if you remember that fucking tent scene from Eclipse, because we're about to get a replay.

Narcissus in Chains chapter 56+57

So Anita is now on her own for saving Damian. She elects to be his first meal, everyone else calls bullshit and decides Zane will do it, because Anita would probably die. Anita is a little miffed at this, but she understands. Then she realizes that Zane and Cherry love each other. She feels guilty.

Damian, of course, freaks the fuck out immediately. He eats a large portion of Zane's throat, then moves on to Merle, and then jumps Anita. Only when he touches Anita he snaps out of it and asks her what's going on.

Uh...I'm guessing "You're trying to kill everybody in the room" is not an acceptable reply.

The magical connection between them comes to life, Anita kisses Damian, and the chapter ends.

Next chapter, Damian is in Anita's hot tub, with Anita. Apparently Jean Claude only has one hot bathtub, and the systemic shock vamps go into when they come out of the coffin apparenlty doesn't kick in for a couple hours. Damian has to say in contact with Anita, however, because he goes into convulsions and starts vomiting blood in case she tries to leave.

You know what I'm not thinking? I'm not thinking this chapter would be better if Anita has a medical crisis bigger than Damian's. I'm pretty certain you're not, either. But you know who is? Yeah, Anita gets heat stroke from sitting in the hot tub. They have to cut her clothes off. While she's still in the hot tub.

And then she vomits and passes out. Because nobody can be babied if Anita can't be babied, I guess.

I really hate this book.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Host--Overview and Chapter One

So I've decided, since we're so close to the end of NIC and ANYTHING, frankly, is a good pallate clenser at this point, that we're going to start doing The Host now.

I decided not to do Twilight on this blog, ever, because everything that I could possibly say about it has already been said, by people who are much better at it than I am. But The Host has not been bashed as thoroughly as Twilight because it's actually a good novel. For the most part.

The last little bit, though, makes everything worth it.

Stephenie Meyer and talent should never be mentioned in the same sentence. Stephen King has famously commented that the difference between S. Meyer and J.K. Rowling is "Rowling can write." He is not wrong. S. Meyer is the Micheal Bay of books. She has a good grasp of storytelling rules. No, no, don't roll your eyes. If she didn't understand what she was doing on an instinctive level you would not be able to finish the books. The problem is that her grasp IS entirely instinctive. Just like Micheal Bay, S. Meyer doesn't have a good filter on her brain. Her books are like the abstract artwork that sometimes shows up at local art shows. It's kind of interesting, but compared to somebody who actually knows how to paint it really is low-level garbage. She doesn't consider story theme, character development, or people who may not agree with her POV. In Twilight, marrige and sex are for life, choice is not a thing, gay people don't exist--it's not that she protests against them. They don't exist at all.--and brown people become white. This is not expressed in the movies, but it's definately there in the books. People want to call it a statement, but while I may not be the right person to go to for a perspective on People of Color or non-normative sexuality, I think I know what goes on in the mind of the privelaged white chick. S. Meyer doesn't discuss under-privelaged people in her work because under-privelaged people don't exist in her universe. She literally does not think about them at all.

Which is why The Host is very perplexing. There is a fucking gorgeous theme in it that I do not think Meyer intended to write at all, any more than she intended to make Twilight into Mormon propaganda. I've read it twice, and both times I found myself liking 75% of it. When Meyer sticks to her sci-fi universe, it's a good book. When she dips into gender roles, everything goes off the rails. I don't remember any gay people, which makes no sense for reasons that will soon become clear, but there are moments where the book becomes actively thoughtful and thought provoking and good.

But it all gets fucked over by the end of it. And don't worry. The text is often a trudge through uninspired paragraphs of pretty nasty human hate. S. Meyer calls herself an avowed "anti-humanist" writer and oh, dear GOD is that ever clear in her intentional writing. It makes me absolutely sure that the positive in this book is entirely unintentional, like discovering swill has turned into champagne.

This is also a bit of a branching out for me, to see if I can keep things entertaining when I'm not indulging in nerd rage. So. Shall we dive in?

We are immediately introduced to a Healer named Fords Deep Waters. And by "Immediately" I mean his name is the first sentence. That's how the names are in this book. You have "Gee, this is not a human" names like Fords Deep Waters, Wanderer, Petals Open to the Sky, and you have human names like Bob, Jane and Kate. It gets confusing, sometimes.

Fords is a "soul". Hey, you want to know how long it takes for S. Meyer to trigger Applebloom's gag reflex? This is half of the second sentence in the book:

by nature he was all things good: compassionate, patient, honest, virtuous, and full of love.
Gee, Stephenie, subtle much?
Fords is doing an "insertion" in front of a whole room full of medical students. He is irritated because he's in a human body and these emotion things are just SO HARD for a soul to deal with. The medical students are here because they're doing an insertion on a "wild human".

...please tell me S. Meyer's reading habits are better than I think they are. Please, oh please, oh, please don't hurt my childhood. Please...

The text calls "Wild humans" soulless. At no point does the text discuss WHY souls are calling themselves souls. And let me get this out of the way: I fucking love this concept. The antagonist force of the novel are creatures we would identify as morally good. The ONLY evil thing they do through the whole book is deny human beings a choice in things. It brings up many questions about the nature of choice, morality, and good and evil. Souls are world conquering pacifists, utterly against murder and yet capable of commiting mass xenocide. All because they deny the other creatures in space the right to choose their own fate.

This is written by Stephenie Meyer. I do not understand.

The girl was damaged somehow. Fords has healed her, and they are going to implant an exceptional soul in her body. Only now they refer to the body as the soul's body, not the host's. The soul has apparently traveled on almost every world the Souls have invaded. Fords hears the students gossiping about this and tells them all to shut up, and then he brings the soul out...and it's a glittery silver centipide, and I am going to just leave this here:

This was my childhood. Right here.

Fords spends time thinking about how he regrets what he's doing--apparently cutting open the neck to insert the soul "creates an injury" and he can't stand doing that. Folks, these guys must faint at the sight of blood--and how the "horror of this girl's end" will be the first thing the soul remembers.  He calls the new soul "wanderer", wishes her good luck, and the chapter ends.

Next chapter: We meet our main character, and we find out how xenocidal pacifists can actually be a thing.

Narcissus in Chains chapter 54+55

There is one thing that has gotten the worst of it in this novel. It's not Anita's men, though they've been treated rather savegely. It's not other women. It's not Richard. It's not Jean Claude or his many lovers.

Nope. It's the humble and gentle comma.

Unlike John Norman, who eventually understood that wholesale slaughter would drive the comma into extenction and moved on to the simi-colon, Laurel K Hamilton has continued a wholesale passenger-pidgeon level genocide through every page of this book. And it's never been more obvious than at the start of this chapter:

Jason would be the appetizer, oh, sorry, Gretchen’s first feeding.
"Jason would be Gretchen's first feeding." Or "Jason would be Gretchen's appetizer." Look at how nice and simple and not comma-killing those two examples are.

And yes. They're getting Gretchen out of her box first, because the best thing Anita can do is waste all our time.

Oh, and folks? I read ahead. I finished the book. You will be RAGING when we get to the ending. I know I am. But I have kind of sort of almost figured out the bullshit about morals and why LKH is pounding "COMPROMISE ON YOUR ETHICS" into the ground the way she is.

anyhoo, Jean Claude, who is very experianced in this stuff, tells them all where to stand. Also, he fed on Gretchen's life energy, and Anita is offended by this. Badly. Anita watched Obsidian Butterfly and her ilk do the same thing in the previous book--drain via long distance, and return what they took--and was horrified then. She's horrified now that Jean Claude would suck another vampire down into skin and bones, because somehow this is worse than being locked in a box to starve for years and years.

Isn't that a nice summery? It took me three read throughs of Anita's long, convoluted metaphysical remembering to understand what the FUCK I was reading. I am proud of being able to boil it down to a couple sentences. 

Jean Claude decides it's time to vent his rage, and in the process shed his thin veneer of good guy. Because he had no choice but to abuse his powers and position. Anita and Richard have "hemmed him in with rules" so that he can't feed his hungers properly or consolidate his power base. They are forcing him to be a monster:

And now because you and he had your moral high ground to keep you pure, you have forced me to be more practical than I have ever wanted to be.”
Oh BULL FUCKING SHIT, Laurel. I'm not pissed at Jean Claude for saying this because now I've got your end-game with this book, and it sucks like shit, and I know that he's a non-existant character you've lobotomized because you've got a precious cute little point you want to make.

First of all, nobody forces you to do anything. Your choices are yours. Jean Claude could have held out and found another work-around. He could have done the sane thing, understood that Anita didn't want him, and found another Servant. He could have done the halfway sane thing and contacted Anita when he started having problems. The problem is not that Richard and Anita put too many rules on him. It's that he wanted to do this, and he didn't care enough to find a better solution. And no. I don't buy that there wasn't one. This is fiction, and it's written by an author with a long history of breaking her rules to suit herself. Jean Claude does what he wants to do. Now he's been caught, and like any cheating husband or abusive piece of shit caught with their hands dirty, he's blaming everybody but himself. His wife won't have sex with him, so he has to go elsewhere. Spare the Rod, Spoil the Housewife. "You've put too many rules on me!"

Gag me.

But the bigger problem here is, this moral compromise thing. It's now totally obvious to me that, as much as I wanted to deny it, this book is about Hamilton's private issues. It's about her private issues because it sure as bloody fuck isn't about anything else. And this moral nonsense is woven through every thread. "You need to compromise on your morals to get things done!"

No. You don't. You don't compromise on your morals because when you do, you're a hypocrite. You don't compromise on your principles because then you might as well not have any. And when you and a partner set up bounderies, you don't break the bounderies. And if this includes cheating outside the relationship, don't fucking cheat. If you break the rules and your loving friends and family tell you you're being a hypocritical shit, it's not because they don't understand. It's not because they are insensitive to your needs and refuse to compromise on the moral ground. It's because you took a moral stand, and you abandoned that stand the second it got difficult.

Okay. Moving on.

So Jean Claude feeds Gretchen, it takes pages, and nothing bad happens. Damn. Now it's Damian's turn. Jean Claude leaves Anita so that he can go baby the vampire that tried to kill his favorite person ever. This is called passive-agressively punishing Anita for not blithely going along with his locking people in boxes. Now Anita has to handle Damian on her own. She faces the coffin and...yep, the chapter ends.

I hate this book.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Narcissus in Chains chapter 53

So. We are almost done with this book. So far, three people (Nathanial, Gregory, Damian) have been kidnapped and/or held in prison by a supernatural group's leader (Narcissus, Richard, Jean Claude) and Anita has had to have sex and/or preform a task to get her person back. Basically, this book is a nymphomaniac's D&D campaign.

In Gregory's case, Anita had to magically sense where Gregory was being kept via scent, something she failed at catastrophically.

In Damian's case, she goes down into the vampire prison and finds two coffins. And because she's supposed to be Damian's master, she has to magically sense which coffin has her boy in it. Only it's not Jean Claude requiring this. It's one of her body guards.

I can kind of understand repeating your plot twice in the same book, but this is the third time Anita has had to do this. 

She does it within a page, and discovers that, big surprise, Damian is monumantally fucked up. Folks, if vampires, who are not known for being members of PETA, decide that you are too homicidal for their company, you probably have issues. And Anita decides she wants to have mercy on whomever is locked up in the other coffin. Because she likes all of Jean Claude's vamps, and she doesn't any of them to get hurt.

This says one of two things:

-Either Jean Claude has a history of punishing people who haven't done anything wrong with the most atrocious punishments imaginable, thus totally negating Anita's trust in him as a person, but totally validating her desire to be kind to whomever is chained up in a coffin to hunger for all eternity.


-Anita is an idiot.

Seriously. IF Jean Claude is a good leader, whoever is locked in the coffin fucking deserves to be there. If Jean Claude is not a good leader and this dude doesn't deserve to be in there, YOU SHOULD NOT BE FUCKING JEAN CLAUDE. And what kind of person decides she wants to negate punishment on somebody just because she likes them? People LOVED Ted Bundy, and he didn't give a fuck. Jesus Christ, Anita, you are dating your own rapist. Your judgement of people SUCKS.


Jean Claude comes down before Anita can break the seal on the worst tupperware container, ever, and she grills him on who it might be. He says "Gretchen." Who is, apparently, a vampire that tried to kill Anita because she wanted Jean Claude all to herself.

She did this three fucking years ago, and she's been in the coffin ever sense.

We are all supposed to know who this is. Seriously. This is ten books into the series, I am assuming that "Gretchen" was a major character in a book five or six books back. Guys, this opens a very large, very nasty can of moral worms.

First off, it proves that Anita is an idiot. Somebody who tired to kill her is in the coffin. Do not have mercy on random coffins.

Second: Jean Claude is a bad leader too. He is not punishing Gretchen because she tried to kill A person, he's punishing her because she tried to kill his person. Anita. This is viewed as justifiable by the book, but I'm not buying. Jean Claude pitched a fit and locked this woman up in a coffin so she could starve and thirst for all eternity.

Folks, I know that we have *issues* with capitol punishment, but if you have somebody so bad the only punishment you can justify is locking them up to suffer for years on end, just kill the person. Fast kill is better than torment for all eternity.

Anita still wants to let Gretchen out of the coffin. She won't leave Damian in there any longer, either. She issues ultimatums to a dude who locks people up into coffins for years on end just because they nearly wiped out his fun.

I don't like any of these people anymore.

Anita demands that Jean Claude revive Gretchen, and then lend her Asher to revive Damian. And then she grills Jean Claude for pages and pages about whether or not Jean Claude and Asher would be lovers again if she got out of the way.

I think the answer is a big fat YES.

And then the chapter ends without resolving one fucking thing. BIG surprise, I know. I know. But there you have it.

Gag. Me .With. A. Spork.

Narcissus in Chains chapter 52

Business first, kids!

It took a week, multiple phone calls AND a house-wide search for a tax return (DO. NOT. ASK) BUT! My Pubit! account is finally functional. What does that mean to you guys?

You can now buy (some of) my books on Barnes and!

I'll be porting over Starbleached and Planet Bob in March, which is when my contract with KDP Select runs out. Planet Bob is over on Smashwords here, fyi.

It's not an earth-shaking thing, I know, but it took more than a couple hoops to get that damn account. I am VERY happy right now.

 Okay. On to sucky book.

Jean Claude is taking a bath. Micah is sitting on the couch naked. Anita has no idea how she feels about this, and goes on about it for a couple of pages.

I think I am finally absolutely burned out on being offended by this book. I'm just rolling on an ocean of WTF. It takes Jean Claude twenty minutes to wash the gore off. I actually think this is close to realistic, so kudos to getting one thing in this damn book right.

Also? Jean Claude is enjoying this:

The look on his face was all for Micah. It made me go up on one knee, my butt against the arm of the couch. I felt oddly possessive, almost jealous, as if I should be defending Micah’s honor. I’d never felt like this with Richard and Jean-Claude, but then, Jean-Claude had never looked at Richard in quite that way.
Anita, if you can't handle being involved with a man who has multiple partners, you are first of all a HUGE hypocrite, but we already knew that, and you should have ironed this out before you started fucking the bisexual polyamourus vampire. Because rules and bounderies are the kind of things that safe partners set up before they get too involved.

Anita is confused because Micah seems willing.. I get that LKH is trying to show us that Micah is better than Richard, but Anita is coming off as having this "how is babby formed?" level of ignorance re: bisexuality. The men are turned on by other men. It's not that hard to figure out, given that both guys are looking at each other and are naked.

Though I think Micah's really sending off "I have been abused before" flags. He's passive. Way too passive. "Do whatever you want to me" in bed play is a turn on. Outside of the bedroom, it's a warning sign. He's willing to do anything to keep Anita. She sleeps with other people? Cool. She needs to fuck somebody for dinner? Micah will provide. She needs Micah to offer himself to one of her other lovers as supper? His neck is ready. This is not devotion, kids. This is un-fucking-healthy co-dependency, and the role reversal is no healthier for a man than it would be for a woman.

And Jean Claude, boys and girls, is taking his goddamn time with this. Also? Micah likes it. A lot. And I am very glad that LKH does not describe exactly how happy he is in detail.

When he's done, Jean Claude does everything except ask, "Was it good for you?"

Meanwhile, Asher storms out of the room in a huff. I'd make a non-pc joke probably involving Bobby Trendy--seriously, that's how he's played in this book--but Jean Claude is Asher's long-term boyfriend, and he just fed on a very hot guy in front of Asher, and now it looks like Micah and probably Jean Claude are going to have sex with Anita. Something that Asher can't do because Anita will get miffed. I think Asher is justified in being huffy. In fact, I think Asher would be justified in blowing this popsicle stand entirely and shacking up with Dead Dave, and the only reason he won't blow is he has the self esteem of a flame-roasted turnip.

This is how Anita reacts to Asher expressing his displeasure:

Asher. “Look, I am so far over my comfort zone right now that I can’t think, but I’ll tell you one thing. I am not going to salve your male ego while the little voice in my brain is still screaming, run away, run away. So, put the attitude on ice, Asher, I can’t deal with it right now...Fuck you, Asher."

Asher reacts by getting into Anita's personal space. She divines that he doesn't want to hurt her physically, just damage her feelings a little bit. And he responds in kind:

“Don’t offer things you’re not willing to do, ma cherie, because that is annoying.”

And then he leaves.

Micah asks what that was about, Anita tells him to ask Jean Claude while she gets Damian, Jean Claude says he'll follow her, and there is not a lot of book left. Damn, there is not a lot of book at all. The chapter's over. I can think of several things that could go in there. Resolving the plot with the missing alphas, resolving the plot with the snake guys. Hell, I'll even endure Anita fucking Richard on that fake viking throne if it'll give this book an actual (sigh) climax. But I'm now very worried because there is not enough book left for a decent climax. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Narcissus in Chains chapter 51

There are a great many things I probably don't know about vampire cannon. Everything I know about vamps comes from Dracula, Frank Saberhagen's Drac fan fics, and my visceral reaction to Twilight.

I am still pretty confident that vampires cannot bleed to death.

JEAN -CLAUDE HALF FELL , half moved off of Micah. Blood sprayed in a red rain as he knelt on all fours, coughing, as if he were trying to clear his throat. It made the blood pump faster.
He's a vampire. He can probably heal it on his own as long as you stick something alive in front of him.

Ah, but it's an excuse for Anita and Richard and Jean Claude to open the marks between them while Micah screams "Nooo!" in the background. Not "No" boys and girls. "Nooo". It rhymes with "moo." It also works like this:

And then Jean Claude heals himself. Anita is amazed that the blood on his neck hasn't had time to dry. Folks, if you are bleeding from a vital artery and it takes until the blood dries for you to heal, you are probably the future past president of the Being Alive Club.

Then Anita smells roses and metaphysical...things...involving Belle Morte happen.

There is one thing that Laurel K. Hamilton fails at harder than writing sex scenes, and that's writing about magic or psychic phenominon. It's probably why the sex sucks as much as it does; they usually turn into these magic...things...that make about as much sense as The Room did. Apparently Bella Morte posessed Jean Claude and forced him to lose control of the ardeur and attack Micah.

The bodyguards stick their heads in the room and ask if the blood is Anita. Anita says no, so they shrug and say they won't leave her alone again. Nice.

Asher and Jean Claude discuss things, and figure out that Belle Morte wanted to destroy Jean Claude. Micah and Jean Claude talk about how ripping each other's throats out was totally justified, and that everything is okay and that they're kind of best buds. Anita reacts pretty much the same way I do, except I have a feeling she will eventually agree with them that this tit-for-tat shit is totally okay.

Anita says this:

“Jesus, only men could get a friendship out of something like this.”
Misandry is no cooler than misogyny, folks. There is no justification for either attitude. Ever.

Jean Claude says that Anita became friends with Edward after he tried to kill her, and Anita is all like "it's different".

I am trying really hard not to be totally creeped out by this, and I am failing badly. THIS IS NOT GOOD BEHAVIOR. FOR ANYTHING.

And then Anita says "kiss and make up" and then Jean Claude and Micah give each other a meaningful look and she's all like "I'M KIDDING I'M KIDDING," and I think that Anita does not understand WTF "Bi" actually means. It does not mean two men for one woman, folks.

Micah offers to let Jean Claude feed from him again, though this time he demands the bite be foreplay. At some point he shifted into half-leopard form, so he shifts back and somebody unidentified gasps at Micah's godly beauty. This is getting rubbed in a little much. Jean Claude is even so moved by Micah that he has to go take a bath first, because:

“Would I touch that for the first time covered in this?”
A couple promises of quick baths later, the chapter ends.

Folks, there are 422 "pages" in this e-book and I am on page 356. I do not know where the fuck we're going or how long it is going to rescue Anita Male Friend Number Three from Romantic Interest Number Two, but I do know that is not enough book for something awesome to develop. I don't know if I want this to be longer or shorter.

Narcissus in chains chapter 50

One chapter no matter how long it is, because I have to get back to editing soon.

Oh, right. Sex scene. This is going to take forever, isn't it?

WE KISSED , AND it was like melting from the mouth down.
It takes a very special kind of talent to make my gentalia try to climb back into my body on the very first sentence. I mean...EW. Seriously, your sex scene shouldn't make me think of I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream right out of the starting gate.

And then Micah starts grinding Anita, and Jean Claude...reacts. The text tries to imply that it's jealousy, but this is a hungry bi-sexual dude, and Micah has already been established as very pretty. I do not buy it, in other words. Also, when Jean Claude sinks teeth into Micah, he shifts his hands into claws and grabs Jean Claude's back, and then refuses to let go.

Meanwhile, Anita has her gun out.

And then Micah slits Jean Claude's throat and that's the end of the chapter.

Not kidding. This is not a rocks fall, everybody dies joke. Jean Claude opens Micah's throat in a feeding frenzy, Micah responds in kind, and the chapter closes with this sentence:

I was left standing there, watching them both bleed to death. Mother fucking son of a bitch.
Have I established how much this book sucks yet? Because this book sucks.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Narcissus in Chains chapter 48+49

So they walk down stairs that weren't made for people, following a person named Earnie who used to have a mullet.

he’d had one of those long hair cuts with the sides shaved.

AKA a mullet. Now he has a short haircut that he can "Gel into spikes", so basically we have a trend-follower who has no idea what he really wants to do with his hair.

Who the fuck is Ernie? Why couldn't it be Jason or Asher or one of the other nine thousand characters already introduced in this book?

Ernie is a human. Anita figures he's feeding vampires other than Jean Claude because Jean Claude can have lycanthrope for dinner. We find out that all the body guards fought over who would get to walk first and who would walk last, and that all the leopards are trailing behind Anita and Micah like lost little children. Anita worries about what she's going to do when she sees Jean Claude.

They keep walking down the stairs.

The chapter ends.

...I'm gonna have to do two again, aren't I?

So they go into Jean Claude's lair, and it looks like it was decorated by the laziest wedding planner on the face of the earth. There's drapes hanging in the middle of the room, it's all white and gold and silver and jewel box and fairly land and...hold on...

That's better. Hey, what's this description actually like?

it was everything a fireplace should have been, except it was painted white.

...what the fuck does that even mean?

Asher(s) ... gold hair in ringlets...his mustache and Vandyke beard a blond so dark it was almost brown.
The dot dot dots are descriptions of the painting Asher's in. Look, hair is either blond or brown. Pick one, stick with it. It's less frustrating for the rest of us.

And then Anita senses Jean Claude coming, and realizes all he wants to do is screw. She becomes scared. I have no idea why, the only thing of any concequence anybody in this fucking book has accomplished in a short amount of time has been fucking.

This is what Jean Claude is wearing:

He was wearing a silver frock coat with white edging, white buttons. His shirt was a spill of white froth, the pants, what I could see of them, were white, but the white leather boots covered almost all of his long legs. The leather looked soft, pettable, held in place with small silver buckles going from just above his ankles to his very upper thigh.
...yeah. When this review is done I'm going to go fire up my computer and play violent first person shooters just to get the taste of this out of my mouth. Seriously, white leather thigh high boots? You can walk in those, I guess,, you can't sit down comfortably, and two...why does he need to wear pants? How can Anita even see that he's wearing pants? And "pettable". Holy fuck, she's sexualizing inanimate objects, and she's critizing other people for having sexy thoughts?

And it turns out that Jean Claude hasn't fed his own ardeur yet, and because he hasn't fed "all his hungers" he's going to be useless for saving Damian, and oh fuck that means somebody's going to have sex, doesn't it? When sex is a plot roadblock, you need to stop putting it in your books.

And then Micah speaks up and the whole damn thing turns into a pissing contest. Micah somehow breaks Anita's control over her own ardeur. Both Anita and Jean Claude literally fall on their knees before Micah's godly beauty. Jean Claude, I shit you not, is vacant-eyed and drooling.

And then he touches Anita and catches the ardeur like it's a goddamned STD.

Asher tries to break things up. This happens:

I’d been afraid; now it was sheer terror. I looked up at Asher and saw him through a film of all the times we’d touched him, all that beauty, all the beauty that I still saw. I whispered, “Help us!”
Laurel. Please. Start making some goddamned sense. 

They waste several minutes trying to explain to Micah that Jean Claude needs to have an orgasm.

Micah still offers himself as food for Jean Claude because Anita won't be fed on. Anita, you just fucked over Richard for refusing to be food for you. Your highly vaulted morals aren't worth shit.

And then we get paragraphs of hot man on man action as Jean Claude climbs over Micah and...just...stands there. Seriously. It's like "They stare into each others eyes. They stare into each others eyes. They stare into each others eyes" for a couple pages. Then Anita somehow recovers from the unbearable ardeur, and then Micah jumps her and Jean Claude jumps her and the chapter ends, mercifully, just before they have sex.'s still not as fucked up as the Gap series.

Narcissus in Chains chapter 47

I am not perfect. Okay? I am not a good crusader for human rights, though if you ask me to I'll get in the trenches and fight for them with you.  I am a very poor feminist. Give me a good enough story, and I will ignore any objectionable and/or offensive material within said story because the writing is just that good. How much offensive stuff can I put up with?

One of my favorite sci-fi series is Donaldson's "Gap" saga.

This is like admitting to drowning kittens.

If Narcissus in Chains is a terrible book for subject matter alone, the Gap series is a crime against humanity. If you are at all familiar with the series, you just cringed and dove for the brain bleach. If you do not know what this series is, well, if you took Ghost and the latter half of the Anita Blake series, reduced them down to their sheer fucking wrongness, amputated the sense of humor and placed a several month long abduction and rape sequence in the core of the plot (it's the entire first book, folks. That's all it is) you'd have the Gap saga. Donaldson makes Ringo look like lobotomized Tolkien. He makes LKH look like a toddler.  It's that bad.

And if you asked me to rate the series on Amazon, it'd be one star for the first book, and then five stars for all the rest, flat across the board. 

The plot of that series...oh my God. The plot. I can never recommend this series to another soul (if you're morbidly curious, for the love of God skip the first book) and I feel very, VERY dirty every time I read it, but that series has, no shit, the best combination of military hardware and political plotting in any series I've read, ever, and the character development would be in textbooks if a primary story arc were not the redemption of the biggest piece of shit rapist in the history of writing. The offensive content makes it almost unreadable, but the story itself almost makes it a must-read. Also, yes, a horrible crime against a female character is what starts the whole plot rolling...but that crime is never treated as okay. There's nothing casual about the awful things that happen in the Gap series. Even the rapist eventually admits his own actions were irredeemable and awful.

He admits this right before he saves the world. Like I said: the series is very, very, very fucking wrong. 

(Interestingly, I still cannot finish the Thomas Covenant books. Mostly because at least the Gap series never pretended Angus was the good guy. Also, there's only so much "poor me, I'm a leper" I can take before I start rooting for Lord Foul, and Donaldson took care of that well before the end of the first chapter. I made it to the incest scene in the second book before my brain imploded.)

(...and I was also thirteen and stupid when I read the Gap series. My parents policed my TV habits something fierce, but my mother actually recommended I read Thomas Covenant when I was ten years old. I don't think she remembered Lord Foul's Bane as well as she thought she did)

Why do I bring this up? 

Because Anita is going to the Circus of the Damned and it took me forever to remember why. You can pull off a complex plot. Fuck, kids, a complex plot with political intrigue and shapeshifters will make me forgive a hell of a lot of wrong, as evidenced by my reading habits to date. But you cannot pull off a complex plot if you ignore critical parts of it for twenty fucking chapters.

We're rescuing Damian.

The vampire that Anita owns somehow, that she fucked over by going MIA for months and months when he needed her for some kind of mental support.

This is not a dropped plot thread, kids. This one just plain never existed.

It made me realize my biggest issue with this book isn't the content (Trust me, I have issues with the content) but with the writing itself. I can acknowledge wrongness and offensive material and keep right on trucking if the writing is good enough. But the writing here is just that fucking bad.

Seriously. What the fuck does Damian have to do with the ardeur, Richard, or the missing alphas? We went from having NO PLOT AT ALL to having sixty threads thrown at us all at once. You can't do that. You want a densely plotted novel? You don't take a twenty chapter break in the middle of it. I think the point of this is to put Jean Claude and Micah in the same room together, because sex I guess, but there are a million other ways this could have happened, starting with "Hey, Jean Claude, do you know anything about missing Alphas?"

Apparently the leopards have never been to the Circus of the Damned before. They comment on fanged clowns (...there's another kind?) and the zombie raisings, which Anita takes offense to because it's disrespectful towards the dead. Oh, wait, no, it's because she won't use her God-given talents for "Entertainment purposes". Fuck the dead, man. It's just not good for her talents. Anita goes off on a tirade about how she's turned down more money than she's accepted, and how people want zombies raised for a party and one person wanted Marilyn Monroe raised for one night, no questions asked, and one of the other were leopards says the dumbest thing I've read in fiction this year:

"You're deeply moral,"

Ah, but what makes Anita the good kind of moral is, she'll break her own moral code if someone she loves or she herself happens to be in danger. 

We have those kind of people IRL too, Laurel. We call them hypocrites. (like...uh...being offended by rape in books when you kind of sort of like the Gap series) But seriously. If you violate your moral code at all then you're not deeply moral. You're a hypocrite who expects other people to adhere to your rules when you yourself would not. 

And then...*Sporfle*

Alright, there are a few hair styles I hate. Mullets are number one (I find them funny, but I hate them on people). Another is what I call douchebag hair. I don't know why, I think it's because sleezebags from the 80's wore their hair like this. You have long curly 80s perm hair, and you put it into a pony tail wet. Half of it is slicked straight to your scalp and the other half looks like a brillo pad. It looks stupid, and it looks sleezy, and that's exactly how Micah is wearing his hair, so I think it's supposed to be exotic. 

...his hair lay like brown velvet on....HEY, I thought Micah was a blonde. I could have sworn the text said blond. Okay, whatever, Brown it is.

Anita stresses about introducing Micah to Jean Claude. Hey, Anita? If you're doing the polyamory thing it's a good idea to get it cleared with everybody BEFORE you agree to a new serious relationship. 

With your rapist.

...well, it's still not as fucked up as the Gap series. 

Micah asks her what's wrong. Anita says she's nervy about Jean Claude meeting Micah. Micah says he'll behave. Anita says this: 

“Don’t take this wrong, Micah, but I’ve been disappointed pretty badly recently by the men in my life. It’s a little hard to trust that anyone can pull it off.”
...I just realized that I am actively offended by a woman emotionally blackmailing her rapist into being a good little boy in front of her other rapist. 

Okay. This is almost as fucked up as the Gap series. 


We get new body guards. Anita does the "I don't need body guards just stay behind me" dance again. Anita, honey, let the bodyguards take your bullets. It's their job. Grandstanding because you're the bigger badass in your own mind isn't helping them at all. 

Description of clothing, description of weapons, more grandstanding, more discussion about who is screwing who. CAN WE GET TO THE RESCUE ALREADY? This is Nathanial and Gregory all over again.

And then it is implied that the weres present will be "entertaining" the vampires, the way the Sabine women entertained the Romans.

 And the chapter ends. 


That's all it is, folks.

And hey, bonus round: Comfort trash. I've brought up mine. What's yours? What goes against every principle you ever had, that you can't make yourself stop liking?