Friday, January 10, 2014

Harlequin--chapter 14

It's official, boys and girls. Laurel K. Hamilton is allergic to plot.

I do not say this lightly. Having survived the plotless sea of writhing bodies that was Danse Macabre I was still willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she was just, you know, working through things. Maybe she vitally needed a porn book to make her life complete. There had to be some kind of reasoning behind chapter after chapter of frustratingly bad sex.

Nope. It's just plot allergy.

Also: By the end of this review Anita will be having almost-sex with Richard. Sorry to spoil it for you but there you go.

Anyhoo, the first biggest problem is that when Anita gives Soledad her inner't take. Somehow. Which means that even though the last chapter said she had a tiger, and she spent the entire chapter trying to keep her tiger from killing her, she doesn't actually have a tiger.

There are two things that LKH does consistently with her writing. We're not talking about the sex now, let's just ignore that. Laurel likes to choose the dumbest, most moronic plot twist imaginable. Case in point: Anita gets an inner tiger. For no reason other than to give Anita a tiger. It does absolutely nothing to the current plot, it violates the world rules even more than they've already been violated, and it gives Anita yet another fucking superpower when for fuck's sake, nothing short of a bank vault can stop the woman at this point. I can go on for hours about why the fucking tiger is a bad decision for the plot. WE DO. NOT NEED. TO GIVE. ANITA. ANOTHER THING. ANITA ALREADY HAS ALL THE THINGS. Including all the penis, but we're not talking about that right now.

So that's the first thing LKH does. If there is something that's gonna break the plot, pump up her characters, violate world rules and basically do absolutely fuck all other than sounding cool? She's gonna do that.

The second thing she does consistantly is take it back.

Anita does not have a tiger anymore. I'd be happy ONLY if Anita didn't get the fucking tiger in the first place. Same goes with the numerous lovers she picks and then doesn't pick (Motherfucking Haven) the numerous mistakes she does and does not make. See, the problem is by the time LKH realizes that this was a dumber-than-dogshit decision in terms of actual storytelling, the reader has already resigned themselves to the shitty plot choice being a thing. We're like "Fine. Get it the fuck over with and let's move on with the (snerk) story already." We're already staring to play out what this plot is going to look like. And all of a sudden there's a re-con that takes the shitty plot away. On the one hand, we don't have to endure the shitty plot. On the other...WHAT THE BLAZING FUCKING BLUE MOTHERFUCK LAUREL YOU DO NOT GET TO RETCON SHIT JUST BECAUSE YOU DON'T LIKE WHERE IT TAKES YOUR SHITTY PLOT. You made a bad choice. Fine. LIVE WITH IT. Plot it out, work with it, but don't just go "Hahaha it wasn't actually a thing" because that just makes the reader feel like they got conned. You basically give the reader blue balls/walls every time you pull this shit and we don't like it.

The baby plot last book. Oh dear Christ the motehrfucking baby plot. That was the dumbest move she could have made in terms of story (Specifically the sex romp story she wanted to tell) and everyone INCLUDING THE CHARACTERS knew it. But the absolute worst thing she could have possibly done with that plot is what she actually did. Because that was the ENTIRE PLOT for the ENTIRE BOOK and it might as well have not existed at all.

Same here. Two whole chapters dedicated to something that is Not A Thing. I can forgive the bad sex. Fuck, I'm a horrible person, I can almost forget the numerous rape scenes. But it's this shit right here that makes me really look at the series and try to understand why I'm so frustrated. LKH makes a lot of bad choices, a shitload of irresponsible choices, and about once a book drops a concept that, if followed, will get people KILLED, but that's not (entirely) what makes her a bad writer. What makes her a bad writer is that she treats her audience like we've got the attention span of a baby playing peek-a-boo, and that if she just closes her eyes tight enough we won't notice that she just RETCONNED TWO CHAPTERS INTO ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOTHING.


So they handwave the tiger thing away as "It's just the MOAD, no biggie" and then start talking about why Anita doesn't react to all of Chimera's forms. That's a good question. Why DOESN'T Anita have/shift into/react to all of Chimera's forms. Anybody? Micah? Nathanial? Jean Claude? Bueller?

No answer? Alright.

Anita starts having flashbacks about having sex with Asher. I Do finally remember that he put her in the hospital at the end of Danse Macabre, and that that was the (snerk) climax for the book. I think I blocked it out. Too many traumatic memories.

And then Anita realizes that she hasn't fed the ardeur yet and HEY THERE'S DAMIAN'S COFFIN TO GUILT US INTO SEX. Yeah, so not only is Anita not allowed to have sex because, you know, she wants to have sex, but she isn't even allowed to do it to feed her own needs. Nope. She has to fuck randomly because it'll kill DAMIAN if she doesn't.

ody says "NOT IT" real fast and that just leaves...FUCK...Richard.

I just want to lay this out for you lovely people. Just in case any of you have missed the layers of awful attached to this idea.

Anita got the ardeur in Narcissus in Chains. She and Richard had something like a reconciliation, given that she hadn't seen or spoken to him for six months. They have happy, consensual sex in her bedroom. Then, AFTER the consensual stuff, the ardeur wakes up and Anita needs to feed. Richard tells her his hard limit is that he does not act as food. Nobody feeds on him. Not JC, not her, not NOBODY. He is his own person with his boundaries...and Anita is all "Fuck that shit" and she feeds on him anyway, using sexual sensations that Richard not only did not want, that he specifically and verbally told her she was not to do. She raped him.

And now they're doing it again. Exactly the same circumstances. This time Richard is all go for it, and I'll give him credit for his resiliancy, but forgive me for being really, REALLY squicked about a RAPE VICTIM re-enacting their rape WITH THEIR RAPIST when not even a motherfucking year has passed.

They head for the bathroom. Of course they're gonna fuck in the tub. We haven't had a book since NIC that hasn't had Anita fucking in a bathtub or shower.

They paw at each other, and pant, and Richard subtly negs Anita for still being stuck in the "SHIT THIS SHIT HURTS" stage of shapeshifter development. (He's a shit too) and the chapter closes with...this.

I draped an arm around his neck and breathed in the scent of him. It loosened something tight and frightened in the center of my being. It felt a little like the rabbit was cuddling with the wolf, but if a lion can lie down with a lamb, why not?
One: The rapist is scared of her victim. Excuse me while I vomit.

Two: Twilight was published in 2005, coincidentally the same year this book is set in. Harlequin was published in 2007. You may draw your own conclusions. Given that LKH has NEVER used the lion/lamb imagry in the AB series that I know of...yeah.

Three: Lay off the Christian Symbolism, Laurel. You really don't know where to point it.

(ALSO FYI re: Twilight: The lion/lamb imagry is very, VERY huge in Mormonism. I can't find any easy references in the LDS imagry, but the lion/lamb thing is a part of the RLDS AKA Community of Christ seal. I know it's completely off topic but I thought you might find that kinda interesting.)



    I'm not exactly a Christian authority obviously, but I feel like people don't really get the lion/lamb thing at all? Like the lion lying down with the lamb is supposed to be a symbol of a time of like...peace and the end of suffering and things like that, right? But I only ever see it in attempts at 'clever' romantic references in very literal ways like this that have nothing to do with what that scenario/line is actually supposed to be about (and I'm not just talking about Twilight, as I haven't even read that and thus can't comment there)

    1. TLDR: You're exactly right.

      Long version: There are a lot of lion/lamb symbols in the Bible. The key verse, though, is Isaiah 6:11...and it's not exactly a lion and lamb.

      "And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them."

      That verse is smack dab in the middle of a big chunk of messianic prophesy. Most Christian scholars agree it refers to Jesus, but if you want to argue that OT scripture has nothing to do with Christ than it's either a reference to someone yet to come or it's a symbolic code for somebody Isaiah thinks is going to kick ass and take names in his lifetime. It starts with "an offshoot of the line of Jesse" which means whoever this dude is, he's gonna be one of King David's great-whatever grandkids (In bible prophesy anything "Jesse" means King David, because Jessie was David's dad) and that he's going to make all the laws work for the people instead of against them, and he's gonna be a good king, and wolf/lamb leopards/goats things are going to be so peaceful and plentiful even the predators are going to be sated and it'll be safe for little kids to be around the wild things. So yeah, it's not a romantic reference.

      The lion/lamb imagery came from this image floating around Mainstream Christianity (and it's the seal of the RLDS church. There's an overlap between Mormonism and mainstream Christianity, much as both groups would like to deny it, that makes it kind of difficult to sort who owns which fad picture ATM) that's a lion, a lamb, and a little boy in a cluster. If you're evangelical Christian in the 80s and 90s you grow up with this image EVERYWHERE. The artist probably chose the lion and the lamb instead of wolves and goats or whatever because lions and lambs are pretty loaded symbols elsewhere in the bible (IE both are Christ-symbols) and the artist figured he could say a lot more by putting the two together than he could if he followed Isaiah verbatim.

      It's interesting to me that LKH latched onto that image given that she's in Missouri. I HIGHLY doubt that she's connected to RLDS/Community of Christ, but there's a very very VERY VERY VERY large RLDS population in Missouri and there's a good chance local Christian bookshops (assuming LKH went to Christian bookshops when she was still a Christian) would have carried MANY lion/lamb/little boy images, statues, whatever. The only other author I've seen that latched onto the lion/lamb imagry AND applied it to a romantic context was Stephenie Meyer. Who is Mormon. A lot have done it after her but prior to "Lion fell in love with the lamb" I don't remember seeing it in a romantic context. Though I would like to know if Mormonism attaches romantic symbolism to the lion/lamb image. If so that'd explain a LOT about Twilight (and make it REALLY fucking creepy)