I know you guys are due another Buffy recap, but the idea of just finishing this goddamn recap and wrapping it up once and for all is like, sunshine and rainbow farts to me. So that’s what I’m going to do, and then we can move ahead with our lives and forget this book, because ultimately it is forgettable. It’s not the worst book, it’s certainly not the best book, it’s not even a good book, but it’s not bad enough that we’ll remember it. I guess that’s the nicest thing you can say about it.
So, let’s do this, and then we can all go get our memories erased.
Chapter twenty-one starts with Apolonia trying to bust open the canister thing they found:
Apolonia swung again. “I! Am going! Home!” she said, grunting as her sword hit the metal.
Maybe this is why the book is named after her. She’s the only one who does helpful, proactive shit in situations that call for it.
The canister opens and lights everything up pink, while the parasites are spreading in the courtyard. The ship lowers and puts out a bridge to the roof.
A man in blue robes, massive and beautiful as his daughter, walked out.
Some of you guys hate when I point this out, because it’s too nit-picky, but I don’t care. I like the idea of Hamech having a beautiful, massive daughter to match his beautiful, massive blue robe. He runs out and grabs Apolonia, hugging her, and Rory thinks:
He didn’t look at all like someone who had just murdered thousands of innocent people.
But then, immediately following that statement:
I smiled, seeing how safe Apolonia looked in her father’s strong arms. I missed that feeling of security and surrender so much, and I was glad she still had it.
Like, this dude just killed everyone at the college and destroyed the only home you have. But what a good dad he is.
The soldiers who aren’t infected by parasites hit the underbelly of the ship with a missile, and shoot at the ship for as long as they can before they start turning into parasites, themselves.
Cy responded, his head slightly bowed, and then he looked back to me. “The ship’s weapon is no longer functional. It has been damaged by the missile, Rory. We must leave. I can’t leave you here to die. I won’t.”
Cy starts arguing with Hamech, and Apolonia translates:
“He is asking about your character,” Apolonia translated. “Cyrus had to reveal that Benji is Majestic.”
Couldn’t they tell just by looking at him? I’m sorry but “[name] is Majestic” has been cracking me up throughout this whole book.
Anyway, Benji can’t go.
Cy had sadness in his eyes. “You can come with us. Hamech has ordered that Benji be left behind.”
“You know I won’t leave him,” I said.
But Benji is like,
“There’s a reason you don’t need anyone here. Because you’re meant to go with them.”
So basically, “hey, your parents and best friend died and you’re left with no one, so go live with the aliens, it’s going to work out great for you.” Because when Cy said he wouldn’t leave Rory “here” to die, he doesn’t mean “here, on the rooftop.” He means “Here, on Earth.”
But Rory has a brilliant idea. She asks if they can use the glowing pink canister as a kind of bomb by overheating it, thereby killing the parasites and saving Earth.
Cy shook his head. “No. You wouldn’t be able to get out in time, Rory.”
I offered a small smile. “I’ve told you…I can’t die.”
Yes! You’re probably thinking. Yes, finally, we will have confirmation of Rory’s immortality! It’s going to be the one plot thread that isn’t discarded by the story!
Don’t get excited yet.
Apolonia let go of her father and walked over to me, cupping my shoulders with her elegant long fingers. “Are you sure you want to do this?” she asked.
“Apolonia, no,” Cy said, his voice low and stern.
“I’m sure,” I said without hesitation.
throughout this whole thing, Cy is like, desperate and screaming. No joke, the words “desperate” and “screamed” are in this section, so he’s like, out of his mind fighting for Rory to not destroy the parasites and save the Earth. This seems…wrong. The whole reason he came to the planet was to save Earth from the parasites, right? Because they a) didn’t want them getting out, and b) had helped Earth out before. So, if Rory sacrifices herself and saves the Earth, both goals are accomplished. And he’s been willing for Apolonia to put herself in harm’s way this entire time. Are we meant to think this means he loves Rory more? Is it more pushing of a love triangle that the reader has never felt, because all the people involved have zero chemistry with each other? It doesn’t make sense, and as Rory said, she’s possibly maybe immortal.
Apolonia turned to her father, speaking the beautiful words I had fallen in love with,
“Let this bitch die so we can go home,” I presume.
just as I had fallen in love with Cy and even Apolonia.
Writing Tip: Even if your character says something and believes it, that doesn’t necessarily make it true. In this case, we’ve seen nothing that would suggest Rory has even room-temperature feelings for Apolonia. Rory disliked Apolonia on sight, and since then there’s just been a long string of disparaging comments about how savage and heartless she is. So Rory tells the reader that she’s come to love Apolonia, but the author hasn’t shown the reader any proof of it at all, so it makes no sense.
Hamech looked toward the edge of the roof just above the courtyard from where the shrieking could be heard, even louder than the roaring flames that were now a hundred or so yards away. Then, his eyes settled on me, a fatherly look of pride on his face.
So, even Hamech, destroyer of worlds, agrees that this is a great point for that whole immortality thing to play out. But you know who doesn’t agree? I mean, besides Cyrus?
“Would you give him a lift?” I asked Apolonia, gesturing to Benji. “I know he didn’t want to take him back to Yun. But just take him far enough away to keep him safe.”
Apolonia nodded to her father’s men. Just before they grabbed Benji, he pulled the canister from my hands and then shoved me into the arms of one of the soldiers.
That’s right, dear reader! What the hell were you thinking? Rory doesn’t make things happen! Things happen to Rory! If she actually stayed behind and used her immortality trick, then she would have taken on a role in the story beyond “abused girl every man wants to protect”, and that would just be absurd. Of course Benji is going to be heroic (and certainly not stupid at all) by stepping in and needlessly dying.
Hamech’s guards hold her back as Benji prepares for his inevitable immolation:
Benji smiled at me with so much love in his eyes that it made me choke back tears. “You were right, Rory,” he said. “You can’t die because I won’t let you.”
He turned on his heels and ran for the elevator that led downstairs.
As opposed to the elevator that led up. From the roof. That this entire scene is taking place on. It’s crucial for the reader to know that the elevator also goes down, as so many rooftop elevators just shoot you the fuck into space.
“Benji!” I screamed so loud that my voice broke. “You promised you’d never leave me!”
Benji paused for just a moment, waiting for the elevator. He looked at me one last time and then stepped in. The doors closed in front of him.
This is like something you’d see in a movie that was parodying what happens in movies.
So, they wrangle her into the ship, and then…well, see if you can make anything out of this word salad, because I’ve read it several times, some of them out loud.
“At the edge of the open door, the ship moved away from the warehouse and then sped off, quickly leaving it behind.”
At the edge of the open door it moved away from the warehouse? At the edge of…what door? Now, you can get the book and look and see if I’ve somehow left something out, but the last time a door of any kind was mentioned was the closed elevator doors. I’ve spent the better part of the morning trying to figure out what the hell this was supposed to mean. At the edge of the open door. At the edge of the open door, the ship moved away from the warehouse and then sped off, quickly leaving it behind. Leaving the warehouse behind? Leaving the door behind? Did the elevator come back and that’s the door that’s being left behind? At the edge? The edge of the door? Or the door is at the edge of something?
Please. Someone please tell me I’m just reading this sentence wrong, that it makes perfect sense, and then please, please explain it to me.
The cold wind whipped around us, but I couldn’t feel it.
Because of the open door, maybe? Are you inside the ship when it’s flying, or outside? Are you still on the little gangway thing? Is that the door that’s open?
Within moments, the structure was engulfed in a huge ball of fire, dwarfing the inferno that was Helena.
Apolonia kneeled beside me, holding me, as we watched the warehouse burn.
“He died an honorable death,” Apolonia said, touching her cheek to mine. You were lucky to have him in your life.”
So, Apolonia has done a completely 180. Now she likes Rory, now she’s compassionate, they’ve grown to like each other. But…how? I feel like the editor dropped a note at the end of the book and went, “You know, I feel like Apolonia needs to be more of a buddy instead of competition,” and the author went, “Ugh, sure, I’ll cram it in there in the last two percent of the book.” Because we’re literally at 98% right now.
He was the one I needed,” I whispered. My lip quivered. “I should have known I would lose him.”
So, now we’re in chapter 22. And yes, I know they’re short chapters, but it’s the end of the book, where chapters generally start to get short, so that’s not really a thing we can criticize here. At least, I can’t, because I understand how weird the ends of books can sometimes be.
Hamech sets his ship down in a field, and Rory gets off.
A few days ago, my days consisted of being a bitchy, self-absorbed college student, whose worst problem was an overenthusiastic admirer.
No, Rory. Your worst problem was that your entire family was dead.
Now, more alone than ever, I was left mourning that boy. The one who I had once foolishly wished would leave me alone…had.
The one who you were ready to drop at a moment’s notice every time you perceived some kind of betrayal, even after he proved over and over again that he wasn’t betraying you.
Cy and Apolonia bid Rory goodbye. Apparently, she can’t get a lift off the planet anymore.
He hugged me back, kissing my hair. “You must know that they’ll be checking back here for the parasite. If they detect it–”
“They’ll blow us out of the sky? Now that I’m not sure I can survive.”
But you haven’t “survived” anything, Rory! Not once has the author bothered to put you in any real danger that you didn’t immediately and easily escape from. The one time you were hurt and might possibly have died, other people saved you. Nothing you did, nothing you have done, has had any real impact on this story at all. You were just there, watching events happen, and occasionally using bad ass combat skills to make people drop their weapons. That’s all. Our protagonist was just along for the ride in someone else’s story. If this book had been written from Cy’s POV, it could have been good, and Rory would have been a serviceable side character. But that’s all. Rory hasn’t “survived,” she’s tagged along.
Underlines = italics, standard disclaimer.
So, Cy tells her that he would come get her if they were going to blow up the planet, and he tells her that his first name is Osiris, which is so super important for us to know 99% into the book.
Cy’s face compressed.
“You wouldn’t give up two years ago, Rory. So, you can’t now.”
I lifted my chin, knowing why he was worried. He was leaving, and everyone else I cared about was dead. Everyone. “I couldn’t even if I wanted to. I think someone up there enjoys watching me suffer.”
So, again with the “I can’t die”. We are at 99% in the book. REPEAT WE ARE AT 99%. And we still don’t know if Rory is actually immortal. And if she is, it doesn’t matter, because IT HAS NEVER BEEN USEFUL OR INTEGRAL TO THE PLOT AT ALL.
Cyrus tells Rory that she could still come with them, but she declines, saying she needs to get Dr. Z and Benji’s stories out there, so people will know that they saved lives. Which, like…did the CIA just stop existing? The whole CIA? Because if someone knows that they’re out there doing secret shit involving aliens, that person is not going to last long. The wisest course of action would be for Rory to go with Cy, or keep her mouth shut and change her identity (she’s probably presumed dead anyway).
So, Cy leaves, and Rory goes back to the warehouse. They were ten miles from the warehouse when she left the ship, so somehow, after everything she’s just been through, she still has the strength to walk ten miles back to a burned out building.
I sat on a large piece of concrete about twenty-feet from where the warehouse once stood, touching my fingers to my hands.
Unless you’re fresh from some kind of horrible accident, your fingers are always touching your hands. There had to be a better way to word this, but who the fuck cares at this point. I’m just going to accept it, like the eventual Trump presidency.
Dr. Z was gone. Benji was gone. It was one thing to say I wouldn’t give up, but at the moment, I was likely the only living person left in Helena. The sole survivor. Again.
She goes picking through the wreckage of the warehouse, thinking she’s going to find Benji’s body. Um…what if those parasites are still around? What if you find a body that isn’t quite dead? I ask that, because that’s exactly what happens. Rory finds Benji, and he’s alive, having survived the immense explosion that was way bigger than the explosion that leveled an entire town. He’s not only alive, he’s conscious, and just has some broken ribs.
So…something could have survived the blast. The infected people could still be there.
They think they have no way out of their situation, since he has broken ribs and can’t really move, and she has no way to get him out of there.
You know it’s going to be convenient when “Just then” shows up.
a car engine caught my attention, and my head perked up. It was an orange Mustang with Bryn at the wheel.
Benji growled with every movement,
If your main character shares a name with a famous dog, this is a word choice you’re probably going to want to rethink.
Benji’s dad was in the front seat, still not quite conscious.
Benji’s dad. Who was hooked up to the rock. The rock with the deadly parasites. But he’s fine, and they’re going to go ahead and go to the hospital, where a lot of people are. Because an explosion = dead parasites, even if someone at the literal center of the blast survived with just broken ribs.
I mean, how the fuck can Benji hear or see anything? Why weren’t his eyeballs seared from the light? Why didn’t the explosion rupture his ear drums? Why didn’t the shockwave from the blast not liquify his internal organs? Because he ducked behind a door. That’s the only explanation given. He ducked. Behind. A door. How powerful was this explosion? It was supposed to “dwarf” the explosion that leveled the town. But he’s fine? Then how did it kill all the parasites? If concrete and rebar and doors and shit survived, the rock could have, too, right? The entire resolution of this book–we are at 100%–is just this one, giant plot hole. That’s all you get, after suffering through the entire book. Absolutely no promise that the enemy has been vanquished or anyone on Earth is safe.
Oh, silly me. That wasn’t the most important part of the book!
Benji lifted his hand to the back of my neck and pulled me the short distance to his lips. As he kissed me softly, slowly, and passionately, I knew that I finally had the unconditional love, safety, and security I’d been missing.
“Well, you’re the only guy left on the planet who knows me, guess you’re my goal as a heroine now.”
I looked at the road ahead. For the first time in a long time, it felt like good things were coming, and for the first time since I died, I felt alive.
Wouldn’t that be an awesome last sentence for a book that wasn’t this book?
So, things we didn’t find out at the resolution of this book:
- Whether or not Rory is immortal
- Whether or not Dr. Z is dead
- Whether or not the parasites have been destroyed
- If the characters are still in danger from the Majestic
- Why the book was called Apolonia in the first place
For fun, go back and reread my recap of the first chapter, and see how cautiously optimistic I was. And then imagine me in my room, swaddled in blankets, sobbing softly into pillow and whimpering, “It’s happened again! It’s happened again!”
Goodbye, Apolonia. If only you had been as compelling and competent as your namesake.