Monday, January 14, 2013

Narcissus in Chains chapter 39

I watched Speed today. I like Speed. It's kind of hard to believe it's not a Micheal Bay movie (for the record, it was by Jan de Bont) but it's very interesting. The problem comes after the bus explodes. Keanu Reeves kisses Sandra Bollock, which come.s off surprisingly like Sandra Bollock kissing a block of wood, and the movie is emphatically DONE, emotionally. Only it's going to go on for another thirty minutes, because nobody attached to the project understood that that kind of big finish means there IS NO MORE MOVIE.

My point? This book feels done to me. There are sixty plus chapters to this, but it's emotionally done at chapter 39. I do not know how LKH is going to pull another twenty plus chapters out of her ass, but she should have backloaded this book and used this chapter, plus an epilogue to finish things. It's done, folks. All major plot lines are resolved. We can retire now.

But that is not how things work.

Anita is asleep when someone wakes her up by licking her cheek. 


Why would this be alright? Why would this be romantic? What person--EVEN AN ANIMAL SHAPESHIFTER PERSON--would think that is acceptable behavior? EW. ew ew ew ew EWWW.

And it's Cherry. And she's naked, and so is everybody else in the bed. Which is more than five people. In one bed.

Leaving aside the "it's nonsexual" bullshit...wouldn't that get heavy? Anita keeps calling them "puppies" but they. are. not. puppies. They are human beings who, if they are healthy, weigh 130+ pounds each. Whoever is on the bottom of the pile is gonna have problems breathing.

Anita kicks everybody out, tells them to get some clothes on, and then she gets dressed herself. In nothing but black. She also puts on her guns, plural, so I guess they finally found a heart transplant for the plot, and as soon as the surgery is over it will be joining us.

Anita thinks about Richard, and how she's probably lost him now, and she hopes he still wants her to be the pack's designated killer because she can lose him, but she'd rather not lose the pack to his moral stupidity, which is less moral stupidity and just plain old bad leadership, but we've already had that rant.

And then this happens:

I huddled my weapons around me like comfort objects. If I’d been alone in the house, or if it had just been Nathaniel, I would have carried Sigmund, my stuffed toy penguin, around with me.
The thing I loved about Old Anita the most were her penguins. How her stuffed animals were her deep dark secret and how the cops, once they discovered this, began buying many stuffed penguins so that every time she visited their offices, the penguins would appear on every desk. More than the nine gazillion "Anita is a tough girl" statements in those early books, that, right there, told me how much the cops respected her. Also how much they loved her, because they discovered her penguins only after they had been destroyed by a zombie fight in her bedroom, and I believe eventually the cops gave Anita most of the penguins. Sigmund was one of the few original survivors.

Guns are not an acceptable character substitute. This is what psychopaths do.  Character wise, this is shedding one of Anita's few positive character traits--the "show" of her inner softness--for psychopathic un-reasoning and hardness. And it's probably intentional, and it's definitely stupid. I don't think Dolph or Zerbrowski are going to buy Anita cutesy Desert Eagles when her old ones get undead rotting brain goo on them.

I looked almost ethereal, like a wingless angel on a bad day. Alright, maybe a fallen angel, but the effect was still striking. I’d learned long ago that if you’re feeling unloved by the man in your life, the best revenge is to look good.

Hide your eyes, Applebloom. This is not the book for you.
Yeah. Somebody wrote that and was completely serious. Moving on.

We get full, long and loving descriptions of what everybody looks like and what everybody is wearing. In the latter case, it appears to be a combination of Hot Topic and Hillbilly Hobo, as filtered through the brain of Hugh Hefner. None of the men are wearing shirts.

Cannon fodder assembled, they go out of their way to tell us Gregory is no longer on the property, and neither are the other two "victims" Violet and Stephen. Nathanial, apparently, either doesn't count or Anita needs a damsel to distress for a while.

And then the doorbell rings. Nathanial ordered Chinese takeout. Anita has to tell us just how big a tip it takes to get people to deliver "way out here" when "way out here" has never been established. Caleb vollenteers to get the food. He does everything except say "I'll be right back" on his way to the door. Anita asks what his problem is. Several of the girls explain that he tried to get "friendly" with them. Anita asks why he isn't bleeding or bruised:

“It wasn’t necessary to hurt him,” Claudia said, “only to be very, very clear.” The tone in her voice and the look in her eyes made my own eyes go cold. I don’t know if I’d ever met a woman that had that effect on me. It made me feel sexist to say that it was more unnerving because she was a woman, but it was still true.

Ah, the voice of sanity. Also, Anita? YOU ARE SEXIST. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Also, Claudia is officially a bigger badass than Anita. She's doomed, folks.

Suddenly everyone stiffens up. Anita wonders what the hell is going on, and then smells snakes. A snake-man comes into the room with Caleb at gunpoint, he says threatening things, the chapter ends, and OMG yay, THE PLOT IS BACK! Oh Plot, how very very much we've missed you. Please make sure you take all your anti-rejection medications, because we really, really need you to be in top shape for the next little while.

Next chapter: Anita finally shoots a gun. 40 chapters into the book. Ah, for the days when undead terror zombies would try to eat her stuffed penguins. I weep.


  1. Once again the actual content of the story is too crapilicious for me to deal with, so I shall instead pick nits:

    "I huddled my weapons around me like comfort objects."

    "I looked almost ethereal, like a wingless angel on a bad day."

    People dressed all in black and armed to the teeth are not 'etherial'. Not at all. Not even remotely. Darth Vader is many things, but etherial is not among them.

    Oh, and the pizza boy walks into a room full of hot women in club clothes? A lot of my favourite movies start this way.

  2. "Anita keeps calling them "puppies" but they. are. not. puppies."

    I can't do it. I can't walk away from the awful contained in this. Why the fuck is she treating sentient beings as pets? Why does she refer to them as animals? This is awful on every conceivable level. In any sane series a character who treats shapeshifters as animals would be the villain.

    1. It's the casual awful that gets to me, too.

      That and the STUPIDLY sexist shit that gets passed off with a couple hand-waves. Two major characters have been raped in this book by other major characters, and both have handwaved it off as "I didn't make my no clear enough".

      Dehumanizing the weres should be an awful thing. I would imagine them having lots of issues re: their own humanity due to them being shapeshifters and stuffed full of instincts they didn't have before. But it's alright, because they like it. Anita was raped, but it's alright because she liked it afterwards. Richard was raped, but it's alright because he had an orgasm and he was an asshole anyway.

      It's AWFUL.

    2. "It's the casual awful that gets to me, too."

      I was looking for a phrase to sum up some of the crap in this story. 'Casual awful' is exactly right. It's not really part of the plot, it's not needed to advance any theme or deliberate characterization. It's just there, like background radiation.

      It's one thing to have an anti-hero or villain proteagonist. It's another thing to expect us to swallow a casually awful person like Anita Blake as a hero.

  3. - LOL, she really said that line about HERSELF? oh gawd. Self-esteem is great and I'll definitely take it over the endless amount of 'so pretty but doesn't know it!' annoying heroines out there, but that's just ridiculous.

    - In Skin Trade, she carries a small armory around with her and describes all her weapons multiple times. She ends up never using any of them and doesn't so much defeat the villain as distract with her boobs so that a bunch of weretigers come kill him. This was not her plan, by the way, the tigers were a surprise. Seriously, if you're just going to boob the villain out, why even MENTION all the weapons? I hope she at least uses these, and for things OTHER than shooting an unarmed, non-attacking woman like Elizabeth.

    - She emphasizes again and again how these "puppy piles" are not sexual and then makes them as sexual as possible. Also leopards should never want to be in piles on each other ever.

    1. Boobing a villian should only count if you are Jessica Rabbit and you've got a bear trap spring loaded and ready to go.

      I'd buy the "puppy piles" if they were werebunnies. Maybe, MAYBE wolves (MAYBE) or lions. But not animals that are historically loners. That's just completely stupid.

  4. "She ends up never using any of them and doesn't so much defeat the villain as distract with her boobs so that a bunch of weretigers come kill him."

    Wow. That's stupid.

    I mean, I like boobs. Boobs are cool. I've been distracted by nice boobs before and I'm sure it will happen again. But I've never been distracted enough to not notice a five-hundred-pound brightly coloured carnivore creeping up on me.