Jealous Haters Book Club: Apolonia chapter 18

Sorry for the lapse in recaps. I hope you found something just as boring and frustrating to read in the meantime. Shall we get right to it, then?

I found myself in Wonderland, a place where the impossible wasn’t pretend anymore. A time when death was temporary and believing that humans were the only intelligent beings was nothing less than arrogant. Secret government organizations and spaceships. The end of the world.

If only the reader had been likewise plunged into this fascinating new world. Alas, we’re still at the radio station.

When I peeled my eyes open, it was the first time that my dreams were more realistic than real life.

Your dream was literally everything happening in your real life.

Benji is doing the lay-all-over-the-heroine-like-a-blanket thing popular in so many NA novels these days, and the aliens are all up and working on getting the radio station going. Rory asks how things are progressing.

“Almost there,” Apolonia said, a trace of a smile on her face.

“Would you care? If we were blown to smithereens?” I asked and immediately regretted it. “Wow. I don’t even know why I said that.”

Janis from Mean Girls saying, "You're a mean girl! You're a bitch!"

That’s why.

Cy makes a remark to Apolonia about how Rory loves danger, and Apolonia says “clearly,” and they’re both smiling at each other about it, so like, they’re making run of Rory right in front of her and it’s about time Apolonia got to do that. Rory asks if everyone is in a better mood because they got coffee or something, and Tsavi says they’re in a better mood because they’ve been watching Rory and Benji cuddle on the floor.

So, first of all, weird. Second of all, they’re probably actually happier because Rory was unconscious for a few hours and they didn’t have to be around her.

My cheeks instantly set fire. “Glad we could entertain you.” Embarrassing, yes, but it was good to see Apolonia and Cy in a better place.

Is it, though? Is it really, Rory? This book seems to be narrated by one of those people who decides that they don’t like the past anymore and they don’t want to be held accountable for it, so they just pretend it never happened and think that will fool everyone else into forgetting, too. We have been here from page one, Rory. We know for a fact that you don’t want Apolonia and Cy to be in a “better place.”

Dr. Z wakes up and farts and Apolonia looks at him in disgust, but I can’t tell if it’s from the fart or because we’re going to find out that Dr. Z was part of the Majestic all along later or whatever. It seems like that foreshadowing is way too subtle for this book. They talk about transfiguring the signal to a microwave frequency or or something, but Rory is, as usual, not involved:

I had been sick and cold since we’d arrived at the radio station and hadn’t eaten any real food in almost twenty-four hours. I was happy to let them figure it out.

What happened to not needing food because of your eternal sadness? I thought stress made you not eat, and you’re under a hell of a lot of stress, or should be, by now.

Here’s a problem: the second more aliens were brought into the story, Rory became superfluous. What has she done, since Apolonia showed up? She’s hidden behind a desk, she’s blacked out and needed healing, she’s puked everywhere, now she’s too sick and tired and hungry to participate in the major plot elements. Rory needs to be able to do something, anything, to advance the plot. She needs some kind of ability the others don’t have, or at least be involved in what’s happening to make the action move forward. This is the girl who ran into an alien space ship under attack because she thought she could help. Now she’s like, “Eh, let them do it.” That doesn’t exactly make for compelling reading. So, Writing Tip: actually make your protagonist a part of the action. Don’t let them stand back while everyone else does the interesting things.

“The moods seem strangely upbeat,” Benji said quietly.

“Last night’s spooning likely satisfied the warrior princess that I wasn’t after her fiancé.”

“Oh. So, they’re engaged?”


She’s so glad to see them in a “better place” that she’s insinuating she has doubts as to their engagement.

Oprah saying "So what is the truth?"

She tries to change the subject by asking Benji for some water, and he hands it to her, pointing out that she does need people.

“It’s not a good thing.” I glanced at Cy. “As you can see, they just leave.”

What a shitty thing to say to Benji. First of all, Cy has done nothing for you, other than get you involved in this bullshit to begin with. He even withheld information that would have kept you and Dr. Z safe. Seriously, all Cy had to do was tell his long, drawn out alien parasite monologue to Dr. Z in the first place, and Dr. Z probably would have believed him. Cy caused this entire problem. Second, Benji has betrayed his own family and a scary government agency to protect you. You didn’t ask him to, but he did. You know how he feels about you and you’ve told him you return those feelings. And you’re still going to sit there and be like, oh, poor me, my space boyfriend is leaving me?

Oh my god, Benji is Mickey and they’re trapped in an eternal goodbye scene at Bad Wolf Bay.

Mickey from Doctor Who, saying, "Oh my god. I'm the tin dog."

Benji asks Rory if he’s earned a first date, and she says no, because she fucks on the first date. So, we’re back to “I’m too tough for you,” Rory, then? I need to put on a helmet if we’re going to whip back and forth like this.

Rory goes off to sulk about how shitty everything is for her, because we haven’t done that in a while:

Any moment, Cy and the professor would make the magic connection to allow Apolonia to make contact with her father. They would save the world without anyone knowing. Hamech would float down in his king-sized space module and pick them up. They would locate the rock and then dispose of it at the Bad Rock Disposal. Cy and Apolonia would be married quickly after that–however long it took them to get home–and they would have two-point-five beautiful and hostile alien babies.

Dr. Z would go back to campus and find something else to obsess about. Benji would go back to living alone at Charlie’s–unless he kept the cat–and I would keep being Dr. Z’s research assistant…and maybe even grow out my hair. Maybe.

Gosh, I hope we find out. So far, Rory’s indecision about her hair is the most fascinating thing happening in this chapter.

How could we experience something so life-changing, only to return to our mundane existence? Although, maybe it was more likely that the professor, Benji, and I would be arrested and sent to federal prison, but not before Apolonia’s daddy blows us all to hell.

Well, you wouldn’t have to worry about prison, then, would you?

For some strange reason, I was more okay with the latter. I glanced over at Benji. No, it wouldn’t be okay. Maybe it just made more sense for something bad to happen to me.

That. I vote for that ending.

Dr. Z gets the microphone working, and Cy starts speaking Ahnktesh into it, but that’s the exact moment a bomb or something goes off and suddenly soldiers are shooting at them.

Tsavi was already outside, using her strange weapon to take out the knees and shoulders of the soldiers shooting at us. She grabbed my arm and pulled me across the alleyway to the next building. It was still dark in the early hours of the morning.

Benji stayed behind, trading punches with a soldier and finally getting him on the ground. I glanced back, pulling away from Tsavi, to see Benji grab the soldier’s weapon and then run to catch up. By the time he joined us, the ringing in my ears was beginning to subside. Tsavi was barking orders at Benji, who was holding an AK–47 as if he’d held one since birth.

Have I complained about the guns in this book yet? I feel like this is something I would have complained about, if it had already been mentioned. The U.S. military doesn’t use AK-47s. I’m sure if someone went digging, they could find evidence of them being used at some point in time (I guess some soldiers had them in Vietnam), but we use M-16 and MK types.

Writing Tip: Now, let’s look at those last two sentences:

By the time he joined us, the ringing in my ears was beginning to subside. Tsavi was barking orders at Benji, who was holding an AK-47 as if he’d held one since birth.

This is something I have to keep a sharp eye out for when I’m editing my work. I tend to do the “ing” dance. Everything is happening. So, let’s rewrite this to make it read a little differently:

By the time he joined us, the ringing in my ears had begun to subside. Tsavi barked orders at Benji, who held an AK-47 as if he’d held one since birth.

Do you see the difference? In the first example, the actions take a backseat to the subjects of the sentences. This is a form of passive voice known as “past continuous”.  Passive voice isn’t necessarily evil (though a lot of writing tutorials will tell you differently), but it doesn’t have any place in an action scene. I don’t care what Tsavi was doing. I want to know what Tsavi did. Because what she was doing seems a lot less urgent compared to what she did.

I’m not a natural teacher, so let me try it this way. Imagine your friend calls you up, and she’s pissed off at someone at work. She starts the conversation all, “First of all, let me tell you what this bitch did.” Oh shit, that bitch did something. What did she do? What’s going to happen next? Is your friend going to get fired or possibly arrested? Should you make popcorn? Now let’s imagine your friend calls you up and says, “First of all, let me tell you what this bitch was doing.” Oh man, I still want to know what this bitch was doing, but since “was” has become involved, it sounds like the action has been at least partially resolved or has ceased, and some of the urgency has been removed, since the bitch is no longer doing it.

Hope that helps.

Benji, Tsavi, and Rory are separated from Dr. Z, and they have to make a run for it. Benji shoots a guard, and Rory thinks:

He looked less like the Benji I knew and more like the soldiers I saw in the Nayara.

Which originally made me think, “What? the soldiers you saw in the Nayara were dead in piles,” and then I was like, “Oh, you mean the soldiers who followed you onto the Nayara. Got it.”

Italics = underline, you know the drill.

“Your dad taught you how to shoot one of those?” I asked.

“He taught me to shoot a lot of things,” Benji said so quietly  that it was barely audible.

If you’re not a reader in the U.S., you probably won’t get how not-weird or suspicious it is that Benji’s dad taught him to shoot a rifle. And that’s what an AK-47 is, it’s a rifle. In theory, if you can aim and shoot any rifle, you can fire an AK-47. And a lot of us in the U.S. know how to shoot a rifle, and were taught by our parents. It is what it is, but I’m usually thrown off by how surprised characters in movies, books, and television shows are when they see that someone else knows how to shoot a gun. It’s a fairly common skill here. If Benji were able to clean, reassemble, and load an AK-47 blindfolded, I might be like, “Wow, something is fishy,” but it doesn’t strike me as something all that unusual if it’s just “I picked up this gun and shot it.”

“You didn’t bring us out here to kill us, did you?”

Benji stopped and looked down at me. “What?”

“We’re separated from the others. You could kill Tsavi and me, and you could tell them any story you wanted.”

Do it, Benji. For all of us.

“I’m sorry,” he said, frowning, “but what’s it going to take for me to dig up that seed that Cyrus planted? Do you honestly think I could ever hurt you? Kill you, Rory? Seriously? That hurts.”

I looked down at his rifle. “You’re carrying a huge, crazy-looking gun. You took out a highly trained soldier to get it. I don’t know what to think, except that there’s a whole side of you that I don’t really know at all.”

Oh my god, why are we doing this again? Okay, Rory. Let’s look at the facts:

FACT: I still don’t think you’ve told Benji about what happened to you and your family, so it’s not like he’s the only one hiding a past.
FACT: Cyrus was a frigging alien on a mission to steal your boss’s space rock, but you trust him unconditionally despite the fact that he’s put you in danger by withholding that information.
FACT: Benji has killed one soldier, while Apolonia has killed many, and you still trust the aliens more than you trust Benji.
FACT: In any other piece of media this formulaic and cliche-ridden, the killing of one of his father’s soldiers would be proof of loyalty to the audience and the other characters.

But don’t let that get in your way of hurling unnecessary drama into a flight sequence and bogging the whole goddamn thing down.

Benji searched my eyes for a moment and then touched my face gently. I opened my mouth to speak, but he put his mouth on mine, slow and tender. His mouth was warm and soft, exactly the way I remembered. He pulled away, touching his forehead to mine. “You know me. I’m the guy who’s been following you around, gladly taking your crap for two years. I’m not any different, except maybe not as pathetic as you thought.”

I shook my head, but the rest of my body was frozen. “I never thought you were pathetic. Too happy, yes.”

“Too happy?” he said, raising one eyebrow.

“Annoyingly so.”

He grinned. “Maybe it was just being around you.”

Tsavi sighed, clearly uncomfortable witnessing our exchange.

Alternate theory: Tsavi remembers the danger you’re all in and is just as frustrated as the reader that, once again, what should be a high-tension action scene has been interrupted so Rory and Benji can have a serious talk about their relationship and come to a resolution that will only last until the next time they have the same serious talk about their relationship.

Luckily, all the fighting happened while we were watching a repeat of The Rory Doesn’t Trust Benji Romantic Dramedy and Musical Variety Hour, so anything interesting is over and we’ve missed it. Tsavi tells them:

“Okay, you two. It’s time to circle back. I haven’t heard gunfire in a while, and I just saw a fleet of military Humvees driving east.”

Tsavi knows what a Humvee is? Also, Tsavi has a concept of direction on an alien planet as described by their magnetic poles? I thought she was a ship doctor. Their training must be really thorough.

They head back to the radio station:

More people were in the street, looking stunned and confused, pointing at the hole in the KIXR building.

Tsavi stopped and climbed into the backyard of a house sitting across from the radio station. There was no car in the drive, and the lights were dark.

Raise your hand if you thought this radio station was way out in the middle of nowhere, then went back and looked for a description of houses and things nearby it, only to come up empty. It’s in the middle of a neighborhood? They drove there in a bright orange Mustang that’s still parked there. Benji went out and got snacks. Did they think no one would notice they were there? I was thinking this was some radio station way outside of town in a field or something.

Benji goes to his car to check for GPS devices (should have done that earlier, genius) and bombs.

“I don’t believe it,” I said, seeing the ugly, smelly cat. It was rubbing against Benji’s green sneakers, which were poking out from under the Mustang as he searched the underbelly of his car.

“Wasn’t the cat inside when they blew up the front half?” Tsavi asked, bewildered.

I wasn’t even going to make a nine-lives reference. It was too easy.

Now, before you go, “WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT THE FUCKING CAT AGAIN!” like I was, Benji comes back to tell them:

“No explosives. I did find a tracer though. That could explain how they found us.”

Could?” It “could” explain how they found you?

Anyway, the cat actually does serve a purpose to the plot, as Benji also found some string and secured the tracer to the cat, instead. They meet Cy, Apolonia, and Dr. Z at the car, and Dr. Z is injured now. So, he’s old, he’s tired, and he’s injured. The liabilities on this guy keep stacking the fuck up. Let’s get rid of him already.

Dr. Z and Tsavi sat in the back. Apolonia sat on Tsavi’s lap, and I sat on Cy’s lap while Benji drove. Benji didn’t seem happy about the new seating arrangement at all, but Cy and Apolonia weren’t comfortable with the lap situation. Tsavi paled when we suggested she sit on Cy’s lap, and there was no way I was going to plant my ass on Apolonia’s thighs.


So, the radio station has been a bust (good thing we wasted a whole chapter there!) and the only other radio station is on campus.

Cy thought for a moment. “We are running out of time and options. We still don’t know where the specimen is, and Hamech could be heading toward the Nayara at any moment.”

…then why didn’t you leave someone to wait at the Nayara? Someone who can explain everything. Someone like, I don’t know, Tsavi and Dr. Z, who both have very little to contribute to the group?

Rory suggests they go to the warehouse where the soldiers took Cy, in the hopes that they’ll have equipment they can use to contact Hamech.

“What if you’re wrong?” Cy asked. “What if we get there, and they’ve gone? That’s not exactly a plan.”

What if you get there and they haven’t gone? So much of this plot hinges on the government agency being as stupid as the ragtag band of heroes. The entire military isn’t going to abandon a black ops site to go running after six people. They’re going to send some soldiers after them and leave the others to protect the warehouse. So I don’t know what, exactly, they plan on doing when they get there, but I do know (thanks to a reader email) that when they arrive there will be another beautiful woman for Rory to hate, so stay tuned.

82 thoughts on “Jealous Haters Book Club: Apolonia chapter 18

  1. My experience with guns is obviously limited, I’ve only ever lived in Massachusetts. My exposure to guns has been: seen on law-enforcement types, and that one time at my aunt’s house in Illinois. I’ve never fired one or even held one. The polls I’m finding online (latest I could find was from 2013) seem to indicate that gun ownership is less than 50% of the population. I’m sure this varies from region to region! You say that it’s a fairly common skill here, but I wonder *how* common because my first thought was “…it is?”

    1. I grew up in a family that didn’t own guns, and I don’t own one myself, however I have done target practice before with friends and I know how to shoot a rifle. So, in other words, the number of guns owners would not really = the number of people that can use them.

    2. It’s definitely a regional thing though. In Michigan, where I’m from (and Jenny as well, I believe) guns are huge. Mostly because of hunting, but people train their kids on them young, and they’re a big part of people’s lives. Like, the other day in the preschool class I teach multiple 4 year old started talking about how Santa brought them a gun this year.

      I’m pretty uncomfortable with weapons in generally, and particularly guns, which is why I do miss living in Massachusetts ;)

      1. It’s funny. Where I grew up, a lot of people hunted and lived on farms and guns were a pretty normal thing. But not in my family and I don’t think I had many close friends whose families had guns. I didn’t ever even touch one until this past Thanksgiving when I shot one for the first time, and I’m almost 40 years old now!

        So I knew they were around and I’m not surprised to know a lot of people own them and are comfortable with them, but they weren’t much of a direct part of my own life.

    3. haha. I’m from rural NH and so many of my neighbors had guns.Our town was pretty popular with people into hunting, fishing and other outdoor sports. In fact,people went hunting in my neighborhood. I’m not sure that was legal, but we were all used to seeing men in camouflage and orange getting out of pickup trucks parked by the side of the road and ambling off into the forest. One time, I had to pick my mom up at her house at around 6 a.m and as I was pulling into her driveway I heard a gunshot. Didn’t bat an eye. There are parts of the world, where, for two entirely opposite but equally dramatic reasons, that sound would be terrifying.

      So maybe it’s not a regional thing so much as a basically urban vs very very rural thing.

  2. >“Would you care? If we were blown to smithereens?” I asked and immediately regretted it. “Wow. I don’t even know why I said that.”

    Because the author wants to paint Apolonia as evil and the only way bad authors know how to do it, is by having the MC talk badly about another character because these kind of authors have no clue about unreliable narrators and think their word is Gospel.
    That’s why, Rory.

    >Tsavi says they’re in a better mood because they’ve been watching Rory and Benji cuddle on the floor

    This is a good example to mark the Mary Sue status of a character.
    They aren’t calmer and happier because they got sleep, which is the logical explenation since sleep deprivation and exhaustion can make a monster out of everyone.
    It’s not even that – partially also thanks to sleep – they feel less stressed and maybe had a nice chat before Rory woke up.
    No, it has to be Rory who makes them happy. This is such a recurring problem: every character and their whole life and well-being revolves around the MC to the point of absurdity. Authors who write like this don’t realise that every person is their own center of the world, which means that their own worries and well-being come first. Nobody would give a flying fuck about others cuddling. But in the world of Sues, the Sue is the center of the universe for everybody. Everything and everyone is tied to them so OF COURSE Rory and Benji cuddling makes them happy! Because the side characters don’t exist outside of Rory’s sphere.
    This is the moment you realise the characters don’t exist unless the Sue is present. I always imagine time stopping. They just stand around confused, waiting for their life to continue.
    Also, they’re running from the government and trying to save the world, you would think that the characters had more important things to think about than Rory cuddling.
    Authors who create this artificial situation need to realise this: nobody gives a fuck about you unless they’re your friends AND there aren’t more pressing matters, like…I don’t know, dying?

    1. “This is such a recurring problem: every character and their whole life and well-being revolves around the MC to the point of absurdity.”

      This is something I’ve always had a hard time stomaching when it occurs in the books I read. I lose all empathy and it completely takes me out of the story.

      But! This:
      “They just stand around confused, waiting for their life to continue.”
      Reminded me of the Doctor Who episode in the library when Donna Noble gets trapped in her virtual world and her kids express concern and fear to her about how they don’t seem to exist when she’s not around.

  3. I was really, really hoping that explosion would end everything, but alas, we’re still following this band of complete freaking morons. I also still can’t believe a story with aliens and government stuff is so boring. You have to be a pretty bad writer to pull something like that off.
    The sad thing is, since it’s full of paper-thin, whiny “characters”, unneeded drama and a quarter-assed “love story”, there’s a good chance this piece is gonna show up on the big screen. It really seems to be the only formula they’re looking at when it comes to book adaptations now. Unless you count comic books.

  4. Raise your hand if you thought this radio station was way out in the middle of nowhere, then went back and looked for a description of houses and things nearby it, only to come up empty.

    Well, no to the last part, but I definitely thought this was a radio tower out in the sticks. Didn’t we sit through a description of driving the car through the forest or an unpaved road?

    On the other hand, I just finished playing Until Dawn where some of the game takes place in an abandoned radio tower that really is in the middle of the forest, so that might have colored my imagination somewhat. But still, I’m 10000% with you. Describing settings doesn’t trash female characters who aren’t Rory, so I guess it had to fall by the wayside.

    1. I pictured the Until Dawn radio tower, too! But man, could you imagine how Rory would interact with those characters? So many stereotypes to play straight! So many interesting girls to call sluts! And you just KNOW she’d fall in love with a Wendigo and it’d turn on its kind to defend her…. And she’d be like Emily but without the intelligence or occasional badassery, and everyone would be in love with her, especially josh because he’s damaged and they can be emo together (though then she’d have to dump him because his actions would remind her of her parents dying, and also she’s the only one to have emotional drama. Oh, now I’m sad imagining him trying to share his grief and her making it all about her and blowing him off.)

      I’m sorry, I suddenly have a fanfic to write.

  5. “Sorry for the lapse in recaps. I hope you found something just as boring and frustrating to read in the meantime.”

    Your recaps aren’t boring. The book? The book is boring. And I don’t even have to read it to know!

    “So much of this plot hinges on the government agency being as stupid as the ragtag band of heroes. The entire military isn’t going to abandon a black ops site to go running after six people. They’re going to send some soldiers after them and leave the others to protect the warehouse.”

    The characters are only as smart as the person writing them.

  6. So, there’s explosions, gunfire, government agencies tracking down our main character, a giant spaceship that might destroy the world if they can’t get their message out in time…BUT IS RORY GOING TO GROW OUT HER HAIR!? IS SHE!?

  7. “They talk about transfiguring the signal to a microwave frequency or or something”

    Oh, sure, just drop your transmitted wavelength from 330m (AM 900 kHz) to microwave (1mm to 1m), why not? Can’t just adapt a microwave because that’s tuned to the frequency that is ABSORBED by water, so if you broadcast that to the sky all the water vapor would attenuate the signal and nothing would escape the atmosphere to get to Daddy’s ship.

    So you need to find a frequency that doesn’t get attenuated by oxygen or H2O, and then:

    1) change the oscillator to a cavity magnetron set at the proper wavelength, adapt it to generate 10 to 50 kW of transmit power, make a new microwave mixer to inject the desired signal on top of the new microwave carrier, change all the cables out to the antenna to waveguides the size of the new wavelength, and then change the antenna for the new smaller size. In 10 minutes.


    1. Thank you for the science behind that!
      I mean I suppose it’s a given at this point that the ‘science’ in this sci-fi book is complete nonsense but I love the peek into some actual facts behind this book’s baffling fantasy.

  8. I absolutely love your recaps! All of them! Absolutely brilliant :) Thank you so much for writing them!

    I have a question, though…which is basically not really important but…what exactly did you mean by “passive voice past continous”? Because I couldn’t see any passive in this part…only the progressive (or continous) tense (“…at Benji, who was holding an AK-47.” etc.). The progressive/continous expresses that something is happening right at that moment (it describes an action that is still in progress). In contrast to the “simple” forms which are the tenses you use when you (for exapmple) tell a story (duh…) and say that one thing happened/happens after another. See the difference in meaning: “They were laughing when I walked into the room.” (They were already in the process of laughing, so it had nothing to do with me) and “They laughed when I walked into the room.” (They started when I came into the room, so it might have something to do with me…maybe I forgot to put on pats?) Wouldn’t the passive for this be something like, “An AK-47 was (being) held by Benji.”?

    Again, it’s not really important. As I said, I love your reviews and was really happy when I saw there was a new one today. I was just wondering.

    Oh, and I am so happy that I now know that Rory might want to grow out her hair after all this is over…finally, I might be able to sleep again…

  9. If he could ‘clean, reassemble, and load an AK-47 blindfolded’ be suspicious. If he can do it in 20 seconds (not sure about the blindfold for the time test) he grew up in the USSR.

  10. I love your recaps, Jenny, but I am thoroughly sick of this book. NOTHING EVER HAPPENS. Even the stuff that happens feels boring.

  11. Two thoughts:
    “The lights were dark” bothers me. It might be -technically- correct (?), but I would rather that “the HOUSE was dark” or “the lights were OFF”.
    It’s probably just because of the line breaks in the recap, but when Benji touches her face gently and she opens her mouth to speak, “he puts his” gave me an immediate image of him stuffing one or more of his fingers/thumb in there lol. Because his hand is already right there. And maybe he wants her to speak even less than we do?
    Gods, this book is awful. But your recaps are awesome!

    1. The kiss fell into to “do you own a face” category for me. She opens her mouth and he presses his lips…to her open mouth? Weird.

  12. Can confirm — I learned how to shoot a gun when I was five. My dad taught me.

    That still doesn’t mean I think we need to go around all willy-nilly giving guns to everyone so they can wear them into every goddammed WalMart and Starbucks they visit. I have zero problem with strict regulation of our “armed militia,” as it states in the Second Amendment.

    Anyway, back to the book — if there was a “tracer” on Benji’s muscle car and he and Rory were curled up for hours spooning on the ground, why didn’t the government come and get them while they had literally hours to do so? This story makes no sense.

  13. I learned everything I need to know about the AK47 back in 1986 thanks to Clint Eastwood in Heartbreak Ridge. “This is the AK47 assault rifle. It is the preferred weapon of your enemy. It makes a very distinctive sound when fired at you.” Thanks to Clint, I knew it was an enemy soldier gun and not an American soldier gun. Heh.

    Incidentally, I did get to fire one in Las Vegas and it does, indeed, have a very distinctive sound. It was also ridiculously easy to pick up and shoot – like most guns. If you’ve ever fired any sort of gun before, it’s not that hard. Being consistent at hitting what you’re aiming for is more challenging, but just shooting it? Not hard.

    I never really think about how we Americans are about guns. I grew up in a family that hunted for food and we all learned gun safety at a very early age. When I talk to my friends from other countries, they’re always a bit aghast at the whole gun thing. It’s nice to get another perspective on things that you take for granted.

    Also? Does this book ever end? Or are we just going to flail around running from and to places we’ve already been doing nothing but pout about boys. I mean, seriously. The fact that all of the action takes place “off screen” as it were is agitating. I’m so sorry you have to read this for us, Jenny. Although I do really appreciate the writing lessons we get from you.

  14. Does this book ever end? Or do the characters just trundle around from poorly described location to poorly described location in a bright orange muscle car, while arguing about the seating arrangements?

    I vote: Apolonia and Cyrus sit on each other, Rory gets locked in the trunk again.

    1. That is exactly what I was thinking. If Apolonia and Cy are unhappy about the sitting arrangements, what’s stopping them sitting together? I feel like the author had a definite reason in her head but didn’t bother sharing it with us. Sadly that reason is probably “fake bullshit sexual tension between Cy and Rory.”

    2. Yeah, this confused me too, especially because the author painstakingly went through each possible seating arrangement to try to explain why it made the most sense for Rory to sit on Cy’s lap, except she completely ignored the most obvious one where the engaged couple sit with each other.

      1. I think it’s because the mysterious alien culture is very conservative when it comes to touching before marriage, or something.

        It pains me to admit that I know this because I bought and read this damn thing. I was reading these re-caps thinking that I *must* be missing something important in the bits of text that Jenny wasn’t putting on here, something that would make this story make the tiniest bit of sense. Not so much.

        1. Ok, but Tsavi is still touching Apolonia, so either it’s ok because they’re both women (At least I think Tsavi’s a female, but I honestly barely remember anymore) in which case she should be fine sitting on/having Rory sit on her lap, or it’s not ok and would still be not ok for the same reasons.

          It just really reads like a desperate attempt to set up Rory/Cy time

          1. WAIT! Tsavi is female? I never caught that, and have been picturing a tall, skinny guy with a black bowl cut, a puca shell necklace, and flowing kind of hemp/linen clothing this entire time. Not sure that’s why he looked like that in my mind’s eye.

        2. IIRC, wasn’t there a scene where Apolonia touched Cy’s face, or is that them already being too intimate and sitting on one’s lap is just plain scandalous? But really, would you care about customs when you’re in mortal peril? And why didn’t they think of this arrangement before or opt for someone in the trunk again? I know, I know, poor writing…To all who have read the actual book, thank you for your service.

  15. Just to Just because I cant let a ‘Nam comment slip by without commenting on it, I will share that yes, some soldiers in ‘Nam carried AK’s, but they were recovered from the enemy, never issued by the military. M-16s were the standards, plus the M-79 “blooper/thumper”.

  16. Possibly this is some alternative jargon use of the term ‘passive voice’? It confused me, at least, because as I understand it:

    The passive voice is a linguistic structure where the patient (the thing which is having something done to it) is the subject, made with ‘to be’ and the p-participle (usually *-ed). It contrasts with the active voice. (He holds the AK-47/the AK-47 is held by him).

    Past continuous is the combination of the past tense and continuous aspect (the past tense comes from ‘was’ instead of ‘is’ and the continuous aspect is the be +ING form). It can be either in the active voice (He was holding the AK-47) or the passive voice (The AK-47 was being held by him). So saying “… who was holding an AK-47″ is passive voice sounds really weird to me.

    1. You’re right; it isn’t passive voice. I think her point was that when past progressive is used instead of simple past, particularly in scenes with action, the result is a lack of urgency. It feels passive. Feeling passive, though, has nothing to do with the grammatical construction of passive voice, and making up a new grammatical term for that feeling using words that describe a particular syntax was probably not the best choice.

      I’ll forgive it so long as it doesn’t go viral and mess up my passive voice lessons in the same way Morisette messed up my irony lessons for years.

  17. I honestly have forgotten who the hell Tsavi is and when the hell she turned up. This is such a gripping and compelling tale, you guys.

      1. Boy, am I lost. I thought the Narya (or whatever) were the collective name of the inhabitants of this strange planet everyone keeps talking about. Also, I can’t remember the name of the planet.

    1. I am so confused, too, because I have no idea what Apolonia even *looks* like. So my head canon is that she looks like Roz from Monsters Inc, because imagination is a beautiful thing.

  18. Your recaps are never boring or frustrating. But I did, in fact, find a frustrating boring book to read while waiting on recaps. My sister in law convinced me to read Beautiful Disaster.

    I have regret.

    That aside, thank you as always for the reviews and helpful writing advice. But i’m confused about the cat. If the tracer is on the cat, and the cat follows Benji everywhere… why.

    1. I got “Walking Disaster,” which is a rewrite of “Beautiful Disaster” from the male lead’s perspective, and I almost immediately regretted it! I couldn’t finish it, but I thoroughly enjoyed the negative reviews on GoodReads and Amazon. I highly recommend them, although I probably should’ve read them before I bought the book…

      1. Walking Disaster (the Travis POV of Beautiful Disaster) was on the “new arrivals” list at my public library so I thought it might be worth checking out. (It really REALLY wasn’t and it being a library book was the only reason I didn’t repeatedly throw it at the wall).

    2. I agree, I had to read that bit twice wondering if I missed something. How does the tracer on the cat make any difference?

  19. I know that at this point we’re all just throwing our hands up and going, NOTHING IN THIS BOOK MAKES SENSE! Which is true. But guys, I’ve been trying to figure out the motivations of the bad guys and I just cannot parse them in the slightest. There is next-level nonsense going on here.

    This isn’t just a case of the bad guys being one-note, or being unrealistic compared to real people. Their actions and differing motivations (provided to us as a series of ~shocking reveals~) don’t make sense among themselves!

    (apologies for the wall of text, y’all)

    Okay, we’ve got this shadowy CIA entity called Majestic. Two major scientific players within Majestic are Dr. Tennison and Dr. Rendlesham (I’m actually not 100% sure that Tennison is with Majestic, but Rendlesham definitely is and he seems to be supporting Tennison sooo).

    Here’s the timeline, as far as I can piece it together:

    SOMETIME MORE THAN FOUR YEARS AGO: Majestic starts “keeping an eye on” Dr. Z and his now-disappeared friend Dr. Brahmberger (per chapter 11, since they started watching the scientists BEFORE Dr. Z and co had any inkling of the space rock) But why? Did they know about the space rock before Drs. Z & B knew about it? How? What were they expecting?

    ABOUT FOUR YEARS AGO: Dr. Brahmberger and Dr. Z become really obsessed with a weird signal coming from space and start researching it. (Rory says “for more than a year” in the present in chapter 13, but that makes literally no sense given the timeframe, so I am assuming she meant “for more than a year before my family was killed”)

    ABOUT THREE AND A HALF YEARS AGO: Rory’s father notices something weird about the signal and reaches out to Dr. Z and Dr. B. This displeases Majestic, as being aware of this weirdness would “take [Drs Z & B's research] in a different direction than what we had anticipated, ruining years of planning and work”. Therefore, Rendlesham orders the Riordans killed, to shut them up and to attempt to use his family’s death to get information (???) from daddy Riordan. (per chapter 11)

    So, Majestic knew about this anomaly, it sounds like? Because when it was brought up, they were not surprised but rather frustrated that it had been mentioned? In a better book, I’d consider this a major key to what’s going on. Majestic knew Something Was Up with the signal/specimen but wanted Drs. Z and B to continue their research without understanding the implications of the anomaly. But if Majestic understood the reason behind the anomaly, why did they need to torture Dr. Riordan to get information? Also, this point is mentioned once in chapter 11; it hadn’t come up before and hasn’t been alluded to at all since then. Which is a strike against it hinting at a major plot point.

    (I mean, if you want to get picky, I’m still astounding that it’s only here that we learn that Rory’s dad also apparently was interested or did some work on this space rock. This reveal retroactively makes Rory’s whining about how ~boring~ the rock is even more insufferable. She’s got so many Emotions about her family’s murders, you think she’d respect the rock research on that front alone!)

    (Rory also guesses that the fake-cult murders of her family were set up to allow Tennison to get CREDIT for her father’s/Drs. Z and B’s RESEARCH, which…WHAT? Aside from “that’s not how it works” and “would this constant monitoring be any LESS work than just doing the research yourself”, since when do employees of shadowy government organizations, who are researching alien parasite rocks, publish peer-reviewed papers on their findings?)

    AROUND THAT SAME TIME Dr. Brahmberg disappears.

    A FEW WEEKS OR MONTHS LATER Dr. Z sneaks into the Antarctic and steals or otherwise gets the space rock (I have to assume he steals it) which he knows/thinks/guesses was giving off the signal from space. He keeps the whole thing very quiet except for how he drops his Nobel Prize-worthy work on biochemistry in order to research said space rock. (per chapter 13)

    So…Majestic, I guess…allows this? For about three years? Because they had been monitoring Dr. Z for a while now, I cannot imagine they didn’t know he had the space rock.

    IN THE PRESENT Majestic has stolen back the space rock and given it to Dr. Tennison, presumably. This is bad because he might generate an artificial atmosphere that allows the parasite to escape. Why would he do that? I haven’t the slightest.

    Also, why did Majestic just take the rock back now? Because Cy showed up and he’s an alien? Even if that’s the case, it took them months after Cy came on the scene to actually show up and steal the damn thing. What is triggering this sudden action besides “Apolonia is about to show up and the author needs some artificial conflict to heighten the stakes”?

    Meanwhile, Rendlesham appears to know that Cy is an alien (in chapter 11 he talks about torturing Rory to get information from Cy?). He shows up at Apolonia’s ship and destroys the hell out of it for…some reason…killing almost the entire crew. Apolonia fights his men off and they retreat.

    So, why is Majestic still chasing our heroes? Are they afraid the aliens are going to try to do…something? And if they want to kill them off (no witnesses, etc.) why are they being so infernally lazy about it? As another commenter pointed out, they had that tracker on the car! The Apolonia Crew had been at that radio tower FOR 24 HOURS! Majestic’s base is only a few miles away? What exactly is the hold-up?

    1. I wish I had answers or at least a witty remark, but I mostly just wanted to say thank you for the research you’ve done on this. I love timelines (/motivation queries) that put stories into perspective!

    2. This is such a good summary of how this book fails on every level (and you didn’t even get into the love triangle bullshit). Thank you!

    3. I am really impressed by your ability to piece all of this together. I literally have no idea what’s going on in the plot with this book save for that there is an important space rock or something that everyone wants.

    4. Thank you for all the work that must have gone into researching the timelines for all these events. You’ve made it sound interesting and exciting, even the bits that don’t make sense. Maybe some one should write a book….

      Now that I completely understand what is (or isn’t) going on, I’m still baffled by one thing. What was Rory’s hair like four, three, two years ago? I mean, how short is it now that she’s thinking about growing it out? Does the signal from the space rock make it grow faster? Slower? Not at all? Do the microwaves or radio waves have any effect? I am truly surprised it was only mentioned the one time. Or maybe it’ll be like the cat and she’ll keep up apprised in the remaining chapters, because I almost no longer care about the ship or the rock or the soldiers or the aliens – just the length of her hair. I mean, what if Cy likes one length and Benji likes another length? Will she get an asymmetrical cut? If anyone has read ahead – no spoilers please!

          1. We know that! Something with her elbows. (I mean I forgot already, but you can certainly search for elbow on this page :D)

    5. I totally respect the amount of effort you’ve put into to piecing that together, but the only thing that really sticks out is that apparently the lead is called Rory Riordan. Somehow I missed that unique bit of naming.

      1. My pet theory is that Rory is actually a nickname for her last name and her real first name is something really girly that she doesn’t like (given her bad case of “not like other girls” syndrome). The reality is more likely that the author thought having a silly alliterative name sounded cool and edgy though. *sigh*

  20. Poor Benji. Though at this point, I am kind of convinced that he is an emotional masochist. Like, when he says that he was really happy because he was around Rory, all I could think was how?? It’s not like she has an effervescent personality or anything. So the only thing I can think of is that Benji gets off on emotional abuse, and man, has he found the lottery ticket with Rory.

  21. “I hope you found something just as boring and frustrating to read in the meantime.”

    Incidentally, I have! It’s called “Diary of a Lonely Demon,” and it may actually be worse than FSOG… 0_o

  22. Reading this I just get the impression Jaime McGuire’s never had real shit happen to her and therefore has nothing to base real conflict on. Even when Rory’s supposed to be hurting from intense emotional things, she’s just so damned petty. People in the midst of real struggles don’t whine and have the kind of stupid priorities Rory does.

  23. Since when is an AK-47 a “huge” or “weird-looking” gun? It’s a movie gun. It’s featured in movies a lot, and surely even Rory, tormented by memories and immortality or not-immortality or whatever the hell is going on with her, has seen a few action movies. I defy any American, male or female, to get through this vale of tears without seeing a few typical action movies. Good God.

    And what in the damn hell is going on in this book? I have no idea. Will we ever find out why it’s named “Apolonia” and not “Rory” or “Benji”? This is one of those “idiot” plots, isn’t it, where everyone is an idiot because otherwise the plot wouldn’t work? Wait, what is the plot? Finding out why Rory’s family was killed, and her best friend, too? Or why she’s immortal? Or what this space rock is doing? Or why these aliens are stumbling around like the Three Stooges? Or why this darn cat keeps showing up?

    1. Only tangentially related, but back in the early days of these recaps there was some talk of them possibly being based off of the author’s old Roswell fanfiction.

      The fact that Rory’s friend was inexplicably also murdered even though this doesn’t seem to be plot-relevant or come up very often is one of the biggest red flags supporting that theory, for me. The lead of Roswell, Liz (whom I hesitate to even call the “Rory” characters because she is the antithesis of Rory), has a best friend, Maria. Their friendship is a very important continuing plot point in the show, so Rory having a dead female friend has always pinged my radar as a possible artifact of Roswell roots, just because it’s so random and would make so much sense in an angsty AU Roswell fanfiction.

      There’s other overlap, too. This is all just off the top of my head, having only read these recaps and watched the show years and years ago:

      - Liz/Rory is the protagonist and romantic lead. Liz is shot, bleeds out, dies, and is supernaturally resurrected by an alien in the pilot. Liz is an aspiring scientist, in high school at the time of the show, but intending to pursue biology in college.

      - Maria/… did we ever get Rory’s friend’s name?: the best friend. (Liz and Maria’s mutual best friend Alex, and Maria’s alien boyfriend Michael have been omitted from the story. If this was a fanfiction at some point, I can only assume this is because “Rory” would not have any reason to bang or hate the resulting expy characters.)

      - Benji/Kyle Valenti: Kyle is Liz’s boyfriend. She breaks up with him to pursue a relationship with Max. Kyle is the son of the town’s sheriff, who gets swept up in the alien conspiracy and spends a period of time obsessed with proving the aliens are in fact aliens.

      - Cyrus/Max Evans: He’s Liz’s alien boyfriend. He’s the prince/heir apparent of the alien planet.

      - The Blonde Girl Rory hates? Becca? Becky? (Okay, I looked it up, it’s actually Ellie). She could be, if you really lean into slut-shaming and girl-hating tropes, Isabel Evans. Isabel is Max’s sister and also an alien – this didn’t carry over, clearly. But Isabel is also blonde, statuesque, gorgeous, standoffish to Liz, and occasionally romantically involved with Kyle.

      - Apolonia / Tess/Ava. Tess/Ava is Max’s fiancee from the alien world. She’s beautiful, not APPARENTLY evil/antagonistic upon first arriving (although Liz doesn’t ever like her), and the most skilled at using her alien powers. She shows up and generally disrupts Liz and Max’s relationship/causes trouble.

      - The Aliens were delivered to Earth in a pod/obelisk/artifact that was potentially dangerous and highly sought after. There is an antagonistic government shadow agency that is after the aliens and their magic dangerous rock/obelisk/thing.

      After looking back on the original discussion, it looks like MacGuire said her Roswell fanfiction was about the episode that involved time travel, so that’s less relevant. The TV show’s magic alien rock is what enabled the time travel, though, so if there’s eleventh hour time travel in this book I guess we’ll know.

      Either way I do think it’s strange that she brought up her old Roswell fanfiction in direct conjuncture with “Apolonia”, considering a few of the significant similarities. Even if it wasn’t ever a Roswell fanfiction, the Rory/Liz parallels are so specific, and the alien-guy-has-an-alien-fiancee thing was such a big deal in Roswell.

  24. Hey, Jenny, James Spader’s character in “Secretary” was named E. Edward Grey. Was EL James lightfingering that movie for her stupid books, do you think?

  25. And here you thought that stupid scene with the alley-cat had no relevance to the plot whatsoever…

    “Benji would go back to living alone at Charlie’s–UNLESS HE KEPT THE CAT–and I would keep being Dr. Z’s research assistant” (emphasis mine, all mine!)


    BUT WAIT! There's more, since I started writing too soon and I'm too lazy to change it now. I guess my sarcasm missed the mark. The cat, in what to me is now the most shocking twist in the entire story, IS RELEVANT!

    Writing tip: If you have a random cat that is actually plot-significant, use, like, foreshadowing or something. Use self-aware humor a la Joss Whedon. ANYTHING. Example:

    "Benji, stop petting that cat! We have to either flee for our lives or talk about our relationship, and that cat is useful for neither," I scolded.

    He stood and watched the cat leave. "Well, you never know what unlikely friends could come in handy later," he replied with a wry grin and a shrug.

    I rolled my eyes and wished I'd died back during the horrible tragedy that I couldn't stop not forgetting about. "Ugh, Benji, it's not like there's going to be a tracer we need to get rid of later or anything. Get with the program. Let's talk about our relationship–or should I say, lack thereof?" I finished pointedly before rolling my eyes again, this time so hard they fell out of my head and I had to go chase them down. Blindly.


    1. For added angst, the cat could bat Rory’s eyeballs around like they’re yarn for a bit. Then Rory can whine about how the cat toying with her eyes reminds her of the evil scientists toying with her parents before killing them.

  26. My confusion continues. “We’re separated from the others. You could kill Tsavi and me, and you could tell them any story you wanted.”

    No, Cy could not kill Rory. Does anyone remember that she’s immortal? Because that was dropped somewhere earlier in the book –I *think*– but a lot of the plot must be going over my head. There have been several times in the story where Rory insists she’s in dangerdangerdanger, and I flash back to this, every time. Now, if she is indeed immortal, and has some kind of weak spot (like an allergy to silver, wooden stake through the heart, beheading, for example), there would indeed be some moments where she could panic. However, we haven’t heard of any such thing. Did I miss a recap somewhere along the way? Somebody please explain this book to me.

  27. I swear that every time I read one of these recaps I have to go back to see if I’ve missed any. And I never have. I just can’t keep a single part of this “plot” straight. Please tell me it’s almost over!

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