Sunday, February 3, 2013

Narcissus in Chains--Endgame

Anita goes back to the club with Zeke to rescue Cherry and Micah. Not to save everybody else. Just Cherry and Micah. The text goes out of its way to point this out. Anita doesn't care about anybody else.

This is the first time Anita has actively behaved like a sociopath. I'd say good job if LKH hadn't been so heavy handed with Anita's crazy through the rest of this story.

They go into the club and meet up with Chimera. He's wearing bondage gear so Anita can't see his face, so we all know Chimera is somebody we've encountered before in this book. He sends Gina to go get medical care, and then he and Anita sit down to have a fun chat.

The amount of fail we are about to hit, boys and girls, is truely, truely epic. No sex. We can be greatful for that much.

Anita notes that the snake-men worship Chimera, and that his voice is somewhat familiar.

Anita says free my leopards.

Chimera says No, and you might as well sleep with me now because I want you.

This goes back and forth for a while.

Eventually Chimera monologues about how he can only do this because the big boys (werewolves?) don't protect the little guys. Well, good point Mr. Crazyhat. Anita says, basically, Yeah, but you're doing it wrong, RTFM for being a human, jerk. At which point Chimera freaks out and rips off his mask, revealing that he is Orlando King.

It took three readthroughs of this chapter, and one quick fflip-through back to the start of the book for me to remember who the FUCK Orlando King was. To fill you in, way back in chapter twelve, he was the bounty hunter at the police office who went from "Kill all monsters" to "let's not kill monsters anymore, it's kind of boring now." Apparently he got infected with werewolf and decided he'd rather die than be a monster, it drove him insane, gave him Hollywood Disassociated Identity Disorder (as opposed to real DID) and somehow allowed him to be infected with every werewhatever EVER. He finally shifted in a tribe of South American weresnake people, who decided to worship him as a god.

So in one character we not only have good old fashioned -ism fail (ableism in this case) but we also have that age old "Dumb Natives Worship the White Man" trope. Yeah, it happened ONCE, but that was because Cortez had either the best or the worst timing in the world, depending on which color your skin was.

And then Orlando's other personality comes out, and you know what? LKH can't write crazy people. True crazy is not Nick Cage crazyeyes all the time. True crazy, of the sort she's trying for--ie scary and fucking dangerous--is either dopy and repressive, like the Green River Killer (I can't remember his name, but watching the interrogation video between GRK and the lead detective that got him is facinating. He looks and acts exactly like a rabbit) or it's flamboyant, charming and ruthless--Ted Bundy. Neither of these actively show their crazy until they're killing, and I would imagine even then, you can see something of the mask in the true son of a bitch. Orlando King should not function well enough to fill the roles LKH wants him to fill. The DID alone should be borderline incapacitating.

Also? Chimera is not Tyler Durden. Orlando King, if he has issues with what he is, should have turned his fucked-up ass over to the nearest set of cops and said "I'm criminally insane, I will testify against myself, this is where the bodies are buried."

Anyway, Chimera decides to show Anita just how fucked up he is and ushers her into the next room. The chapter ends.

Last chapter, sports fans.

Chimera took all his victims, put them onto hooks, and hung them from the ceiling as suspended meat curtains while they are still alive. He lets Anita into this room and then turns off the lights so she can go bump into his victims, cause them pain and freak herself out.

The image is creepy. I think, though, that this is a case of Your Milage May Vary, because I don't find it very effective. One, I have no attachment to the hanging meat curtains. I don't know their names or who they are. I don't care that they are in massive amounts of pain. Two...there are a LOT of bodies in this room. One person in pain and agony is bad. Two are worse. But for me, anything over five trips this weird overload circut. I OD'ed on Holocaust documentaries about a month ago (...Netflix) and I found that the big, sweeping pictures of dead bodies in piles didn't get to me at all. There was so much human misery that the image of limb on limb on limb just looked like so many dried logs. What got to me were two images: A single, skeletal holocaust victim being loaded into a truck, and a picture of the beds the Jews were forced to sleep on. They were simple things that my brain could easily latch onto, comprehend, and then extrapolate into the millions.

Hundreds of people being tortured by Chimera? I have no involvement. I had the same issue with Nathanial being pinned butterfly style by swords. The gore went through "burtal" and went right into "boring." My brain cannot comprehend this, and so I don't feel "EVIL SON OF A BITCH." What I fell is just...meh. Also a little "Aww, how sweet. You tried to scare me."

Sadistic evil is not Chimera torturing hundreds of men with meat hooks. Sadistic evil is Annie Wilkes saying "God I love you" right after she breaks Paul Sheldon's ankles. (...or cuts off his foot, depending on if it's the movie or the book).

But Anita finds herself steadied and calmed by the touch of blood. Specificially by finding a pool of blood on the floor of the room. She thinks about letting a man bleed out until he dies, and finds herself calmed and healed by this.

You remember what I said about sadistic evil, folks? Here we go. It does not work in a positive, hero-figure protagonist. And I know Anita may not have been that in a real long time, but LKH is still trying to sell her as a hero figure. 

And you know what? Given that these men have been up there for days? There should be less blood on that floor and more...uh...bathroom. If you get my drift.

Chimera enters the room, looking for Anita. Anita thinks that the smell of "blood, sweat and flesh" is hiding her scent. It's probably more the scent of urine and shit that she's currently rolling in. Even more so because the first thing to go when you die are the bowels.

Chimera begins torturing people, demanding Anita tell him why he should stop. Anita only says that "Orlando knows the answer". And while the image of hanging meat curtains hasn't gotten to me the description of single blood drops and the sudden chorus of "Answer him!" coming out of the dark is fucking creepy. It's like with a little bit of polishing I'd be less "meh" and more "mommy".

Another personality comes out, somebody we'll name Calm for this review, and directs Anita to Micah and Cherry. Cherry has been abused to within an inch of her life. Yeah. No gentle people are getting out of this shit-fest unscathed. I told you I didn't like the idea of a girl named "Cherry" in this fucking book. She's pretty much comatose. Micah is hanging in a way I can only describe as "Disemboweled Christ".

Anita demands that Cherry be released. Chimera, however, doesn't want to lose one of his only women, because Narcissus kept women out of his pack. Apparently the matriarchial heyenas cannot allow women into the pack, without the men losing their ability to lead.

This is gonna piss you off in about another few paragraphs.

LKH then tries to use Rape as a way to make Chimera scarier. Given the fact that Anita has been raped twice and has raped once, this is not going to work. At all.

And then we find out that

1. Orlando King is homophobic
 2. Orlando is secretly homosexual
 3. Chimera is manifestedly homosexual AND
4. Chimera would rather rape Micah in front of Anita, rather than the other way around.


And then we have a full on arguement between the individual personalities. Apparently they have massively strange co-consiousness. 

And then...WEREWOLVES! EVERYWHERE! Yes, Richard has come through and is invading Chimera's bunker because we've crammed an entire book's worth of plot into two chapters, and fuck if I know how to end it without pulling werewolves out of my ass.

Chimera accuses Anita of trying something. Well...duh. She attacks Chimera because she finally has to do something in this book, and of course the Ardeur raises its ugly head yet again. Anita starts acting sensual and sexy even though she's still in the room full of hanging men (...I really hope LKH never decides to have a Anitaverse themed tarot deck because that would be the worst Hanging Man arcana EVER) and Chimera becomes very afraid of female sex.

The power of female sexiness is beating back the emblem of male homosexuality. I cannot make this up, folks.

Anita then senses somehow that Orlando King really wants to die. He's now given her permission to end it so what follows won't technically be murder. And then Anita senses that Richard will soon be killed, so there must be an end to all this shit soon.

Chimera rips Micah open. He is compared to ripe fruit being dropped. Good simile, but overused. Next! 

And now it's time for Anita's stupid ongoing crusade against morality to suddenly make sense. Anita realizes she can use her magic to drain Chimera the way Jean Claude drained Gretchen. It's something she never wanted to be, but the only way to save her people is to become the monster she so feared and oh holy fuck I am so sick of this riff. LKH is trying to justify some life choice she hates through her  fiction, and it's sapped the whole story of its energy.

She drains Chimera down to dead bones, and then uses his life energy to save Micah and Richard and make Jean Claude ever-the-more fluffy. Anita's strong, empowered will rescues the werewolves from Richard's "broken will" and gives them all the power to live. Her love is strong, blog-readers. Strong enough for everyone. 

 It also makes her eyes glitter like stars because this is apparently magic she stole from Obsidian Butterfly in the previous book.

And then Richard tells Anita to fuck off because he "didn't want to live that badly."

Kids, I'm not even touching that one.

Jean Claude, of course, is shiny happy fun-times because he's got a shitload of power going through his veins. Looks like his investment in corrupting Anita sure had paid off big-time.

Richard's disgust is not that Anita killed somebody, it's that the process felt so damn good. So it's not disgusting practices prudes oppose, it's the pleasure itself. Right.

Richard runs off. Orlando dies. Micah comforts Anita. And then there is an implied orgy that Richard misses out on because he is a prude.

And now ladies and gentlemen, it is time for the BONUS ROUND.

See, there are always nine million loose ends LKH doesn't bother to tie up in the book itself, but she doesn't like having them dangle between books. So we have an Epilogue. And even when the book itself is good, the Epiloges are always multiple pages of WTF.

Richard makes Anita the pack's assigned killer. Then he dumps her. She's not sorry. Anita kills Jacob-Chimera's-ally, though Richard insists they keep Paris alive. Whatever.

Anita doesn't shapeshift. The entire conflict of this book is not a thing at all.

All the snakes die, all the other were-whatevers form an animal coalition to prevent nasty things like Chimera from happening again...and then they elect Anita as chairman, so I guess it didn't work after all.

Jean Claude and Micah the rapist-traitor are both proud of Anita for violating her dearest-held mortals and draining a closeted homosexual man to death through psychic rape-sex. This is a relationship that will live on through the ages.

I'm going to skip a paragraph and wrap the rest of it up, and then come back to the lone little gem in this epilogue. Anyway, Anita wakes up "pressed between Micah and Nathanial", Nate is her pomme-de-sang, everybody's in a happy little love nest that migrates between Anita's bed and Jean Claude's, there are lots of fang marks, and Antia's human friends are probably planning a massive intervention just as soon  as they decide rock bottom has been reached. 

And now are you ready? Are you ready for the biggest piece of WTF in the history of books?

We rescued Joseph, the lions’ Rex, and his wife is still pregnant, four months and counting— a record. 
 Congrats, Joe. I hope we find out in a later book that your wife kept the baby. Everybody deserves to be happy. Moving on:

Narcissus turned out to be a hermaphrodite,

Well, maybe he's just intersexed. That would be more than a little biologically compliant within the world of heyenas, and as much as I despise the character himself--he identifies as male, right?--it's...actually interesting. Surely LKH wouldn't introduce something this rarely used purely for shock--

and he’s pregnant, too. 
 Wow. Just...fucking wow. This is a throwaway sentence at the end of this shit-tastic book. I do not know why LKH thought this was a good idea. I don't know why she thought of this at all. Why is this in the book. Seriously. WHY IS THIS IN THE BOOK?

We will never know.

I’m not sure Narcissus should be breeding, especially knowing who the father is, but it’s not my choice.

Laurell, leaving aside that biology doesn't work that way, you've spent the entire book demonizing people who don't identify as straight cis-gendered ( i using that right?) Anita-lovers. DO NOT PRETEND TO BE PRO-CHOICE AT THIS POINT BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT. 

And maybe Narcissus is keeping the child because he was raped and he's taking it back now, thank you very much. Biology doesn't determine what the child will be like. (That said, I don't like the idea of Narcissus reproducing either, though it has  more to do with Narcissus being Narcissus. Even if he could protect his kid from his urges and provide the kid with a safe psychological platform upon which to grow, and I do not think he could do that, he failed to detect Chimera's fucked-uped-ness in time to keep his pack safe. I think that healthy people should get to have all the kids they want, and am pretty sure that GLBT people--I'm not limiting this to couples--can make for better parents than a lot of het people I know. But Narcissus is the last person on earth who should ever have a kid. )
 So there you go, folks. Narcissus in Chains. It's there. It's done. I never have to revisit this shit-fest ever again. Fuck this book. Fuck this book forever. Tie it to the railroad tracks, burn it in a fire, immortalize the trees that died to print this garbage as martyrs in the fight against climate change. Light  candles and hope shit like this goes away someday forever.

...I'm starting the second Merry Gentry book tomorrow. You're welcome. The only thing I can promise is, it's not going to be THAT bad.


  1. Yes, the ableism of “being mentally ill makes you evil!” is so common in these books that, I think I mentioned this already, only one person with a mental disorder hasn’t been shown as evil, and that was an agoraphobic guy who couldn’t leave his trailer. Because if a person has a mental illness and aren’t evil, then they’re completely dysfunctional, pitiful broken messes. Honestly, that bothers me a lot more about Chimera than the panwere thing, since it had an explanation I could buy (that he got infected with each strain BEFORE the next full moon). And ditto on the Dumb Natives Worshipping A White Guy thing.

    I always figured LKH made Narcissus “a hermaphrodite” as a reference to how it was once believed that hyenas as a species were hermaphroditic. But Narcissus does NOT need another minority status to mess up further (I can only remember two intersex characters I’ve seen on TV and film, and both were murderers), especially since intersexual conditions are not very well-known or well-understood in the general public, and intersex people have historically been regarded as freaks as it is. Not to mention that she clearly didn’t even both to look up that humans with ambiguous genitalia are called intersex, only animals and plants are called hermaphrodites. It’s actually considered OFFENSIVE to refer to a person with an intersex condition as a hermaphrodite because of the connotations of monstrosity that word historically has and because, again, it’s something you call animals, not humans. Not to mention that humans with intersex conditions generally cannot get pregnant. I’m sure there are some conditions (there are many types and I only know a few) where one can, but…yeah, no, she has no clue what she’s talking about.

    If you’re curious at all, she says in an interview that Narcissus miscarried the baby due to shifting. Apparently she seemed kind of baffled that fans couldn’t just automatically figure that one out for themselves when she gave no hints about it at all in any later books.

    Cisgender is actually more correct, not cisgendered/transgendered, since that turns it into a verb ("I've been cisgendered!") instead of an adjective. But you were close, and ugh, I shudder to think what LKH would do with a character who was transsexual. Probably what she did with an intersex one who identified as a crossdressing gay man.

    And yay! My book got picked! =D thank you!

    1. Additionally, the term 'hermaphrodite' isn't used anymore for humans because it just isn't right since it refers to having both sexual organs (and I think indicates that the organism can be fertilized and can fertilize). I can't think of reading of any case where that has true for humans, USUALLY it's a discrepancy between the gonads and genitals, but you can also exhibit a 'female' body type with 'male' chromosomes (and vice versa) and not necessarily know it, or even have something like XXY chromosomes or any mixture of the three.
      Don't even get me started on the B.S. names of male and female 'pseudohermaphrodes'

      In university, I did a lot of papers on Trans* and Intersexed issues as well as gender theory, can you tell? (Weird, considering I was a theater major...)

      As for the snark itself, wonderful as always- I just can't talk about the content. It makes me sigh so much I pass out as much as Anita.

    2. "Additionally, the term 'hermaphrodite' isn't used anymore for humans because it just isn't right since it refers to having both sexual organs (and I think indicates that the organism can be fertilized and can fertilize)."

      Yup, that too, it's biologically incorrect as well! Meant to mention that, but was in a hurry/on my way out.

      If you like AB snark, I've got an LJ where I'm doing the later books, if you're interested? *feels like a jerk for advertising on someone else's blog, but it's relevant!*

    3. I was introduced to the concept of intersexed people via the story of David...uh...I forgot his name. He was born male but a horrible circumcision lead to his parents raising him as a girl under the supervision of the most HORRIBLE HUMAN BEING ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET. I started reading other stories because it was interesting (...I was thirteen) and came up with a LOT of sympathy for intersexed kids. Call it the chink in my teenage stupidity.

      RF--Advertise away. I...uh...have kind of been reading your snark anyway. :D Is fun.

    4. I'm Mocha-latta on LJ.
      I feel like such a creep for some reason, replying on both of these blogs. It might be because I talk about them IRL to my boyfriend. Mostly to the tune of "They talk about how terrible Anita is and I just want to get tea with them and talk about depression, rape culture, writing our own books, and ratties, but not really, because outside is scary and so is meeting internet people."

    5. *grins and blushes*

      I do not find it creepy. Be welcome. :D

  2. "We rescued Joseph, the lions’ Rex, and his wife is still pregnant, four months and counting— a record."

    Is this the same family that Anita later orders killed? The family that she brings in a bunch of outside muscle to slaughter? The family that she has massacred because the father refused to help her solve a problem she was perfectly capable of solving on her own?

    I'm out of snark.

    1. Yes.

      "The family that she has massacred because the father refused to help her solve a problem she was perfectly capable of solving on her own?"

      Which he refused not just for kicks and giggles, but because "solving" it required sleeping with her, and he was a married man who didn't want to break his wedding vows. What a rotten guy, huh? Totally deserved to have to flee town with his family to avoid being killed by vicious mobster lions Anita let in when he refused her!

    2. If Anita were supposed to be a villain protagonist that would be fine. It would be like reading the adventures of evil supernatural Moriarty or something. But since our favourite darling Anita Sue can do no wrong, all these actions are presented as laudable and right and the only thing to do under the circumstances.

      This really does read like some fanfics over at FFN, where the wish fulfilment character is presented as always right and their opponents as always wrong, regardless of their actions.

    3. I STILL can't get over that. How in any stretch of the imagination can she be right in that situation?
      Ah, because the ardour/ardeur/rape powerz is ACTUALLY love, and love will always save the day, so Joseph is really some sort of evil man trying to keep love down.

  3. "If Anita were supposed to be a villain protagonist that would be fine. It would be like reading the adventures of evil supernatural Moriarty or something. But since our favourite darling Anita Sue can do no wrong, all these actions are presented as laudable and right and the only thing to do under the circumstances."

    Yup, that's exactly how I feel. I could be just fine reading about her doing horrible things as long as they were acknowledged as horrible, that that was the point. The fact that they're not and she's not is frustrating at best, frightening at worst.