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Jealous Haters Book Club: Handbook For Mortals Chapter 5 The Emperor or “Dive And Blush And Blush And Dive And Blush And Blush And Blush.”

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The Lani Sarem “Sorry Not Sorry” tour has rolled right on into Vulture. Now, after the attack on readers and authors of color in YA that Vulture published earlier this year, I could give less than half a fart what they have to say about anything. But a lot of people who knew this story was being written promised it would be a good one. Writer Lila Shapiro doesn’t disappoint. Because the recap chapter this week is so short, allow me to pick out some choice quotes for you (although many of you have already skewered it in the comments on the last recap).

Her father died when she was a baby. She and her mother moved often, ten different states in Sarem’s first 19 years. Wherever they went, Sarem tried out for local theater productions and TV commercials, but all the best roles went to other girls. She realized that if she wanted to be a star, she’d have to write the script herself.

This explains so much, not just about the self-insert character she plans to play in the movie, but about her attitude toward other women who are performers. Women like Sofia prevented her from attaining the stardom she wanted, so they are obviously evil (as outlined in today’s chapter).

For about a decade, Sarem paid the bills by taking on entertainment gigs in Vegas and on the road. She worked at David Copperfield’s theater for a while.

So, for all those who’ve wondered in the comments, yes, she had practical experience working at a theater for a real live magic show. And somehow, none of that practical experience made it into her book.

“When I started writing, I really wanted all the things that I couldn’t have at that moment,” she said. “I wanted somebody’s love story to work out. I wanted this character to have all the things I was lacking, and then live vicariously through her.”

I suppose it’s refreshing to have someone admit that their character is 100% self-insert, rather than insisting everyone is reading too much into and they’re like, oh my gosh, so different. But this is more or less the same reason everyone writes fiction; they want to see something happen that didn’t happen, whether it’s a bullied high school girl using telekinesis to kill her classmates at the prom or a single-minded sea captain steering his whaling ship and crew to their doom. So, it’s not so much she wanted this stuff to happen to the character and she would live vicariously through the character. It’s that she wrote a wishful-thinking autobiography.

Thomas Ian Nicholas was also interviewed for this story:

Later, I spoke to Nicholas as well and asked what drew him to the script. He mostly spoke about himself, saying he was from Vegas and that his great-uncle was John Scarne, a Vegas magician who served as Paul Newman’s hand double in The Sting.

This more or less confirms, in my mind, that what we’re dealing with at the heart of this con job are two people who’ve lived in proximity to fame but never actually breached the barrier to it, thinking they have far more potential and cachet than they actually do.

The entire article is a gem and provides some dismayed chuckles from second-hand embarrassment as Sarem and Nicholas claim to have sold an impossible number of books at comic conventions, compare their scam to women’s suffrage (yes, really), state that three different editors worked on the manuscript, and insist that Nicholas’s star power has been the driving force behind the book’s overwhelming and totally valid success. But it all ends on a sour note; Wizard World has invited Sarem and Nicholas to all seventeen of their conventions in the coming year. Though they may have become infamous rather than famous, they’re still profiting, while legitimate authors couldn’t buy the type of welcome that’s being rolled out for them.

Unlike other chapters, we begin this one with the little triple moon symbol and italics that are ultimately meaningless. It opens at a bar off the strip where the cast and crew of the show are regulars. They’re there to celebrate the birthday of one of the crew members.

This usually happened if there was a birthday or any other celebratory event–as well as on the show’s “Friday” (which for the show has always been Tuesday night, since the show is dark on Wednesday and Thursday). I had learned that most shows don’t take their days off on the weekend because that’s when they sell the most tickes to shows and when Las Vegas, itself, is the busiest. So each show’s “dark days” are not usually Saturday and Sunday, and each show in town takes a different “weekend,” so no tourist will ever come to Vegas and find no one is doing a show.

Did you catch that? The shows don’t take the actual weekend off, so most of the shows don’t get Saturday and Sunday off. I’m glad she cleared that up for me, because when she said, “weekend,” I was like, “What part of the week is that? I’ve been in a coma since before man began to record time.” And please note, the “I.” This section set apart in italics begins in Lani’s first person POV.

McMullan’s is really where most of the cast and crew for all the major shows on the Strip go after work, because although it’s not on the Strip it’s easy to get to.

Again, I’m glad she reiterated that McMullan’s is the bar where everyone goes since in the opening paragraph of the chapter it’s described as “the spot frequented by everyone.”

They give drink specials after midnight just for those of us awesome enough to work in this so- called “entertainment business.”

Wow. You think super highly of your job there, Lanzi. I’m not sure if she phrased it that way because she genuinely doesn’t know what “so-called” implies or because she doesn’t find the show she’s in, or any of the shows on the Strip, entertaining.

Drew from the audio department for the show is a pretty good audio tech. He’s nice and sometimes awkward but still generally liked, so most everyone showed up to hang out. Mac was sitting at a small table by himself with an almost empty beer. He looked particularly tired and worn out from the long day. The conversation he had had the night before with Zade was still tossing around in his head.

This is a pretty damn impressive POV skew, if I do say so myself. We jump from first person to third person in the same paragraph. Also, here’s a writing tip: sometimes “had had” is unavoidable, and all writers everywhere hate it. However, this “had had” was avoidable, by making it “he’d had.” Whenever possible, avoid “had had,” if you can.

I don’t understand the point of these italicized sections. No, wait. I do get the point of them. Lani Sarem doesn’t get the point of them. If you’re going to set a different POV apart from the others with italics or little page ornaments, you can’t randomly make those sections share the main POV.

Sofia walked up with two glasses and slid one of the new beers in front of Mac right as he finished the last of the beer he had. She then placed her beer on the table directly in front of the empty chair next to Mac and, without asking if he minded, sat down next to him.

Keeping in mind that if Mac had the conversation with Sofia the night before, that means that a day after falling fifty feet and apparently going into cardiac arrest, Sofia is already coming to steal your man. Not even death can stop her vaginal hunger.

“Looked like you could use another one,” Sofia purred as she smiled sweetly and leaned in to him.

If you’d like to start ticking off boxes on your “slutty mean girl” bingo card, we’ve got “purring”.

“The bartender said it’s your favorite. One more won’t hurt, will it?” She batted her llong eyelashes and puckered her lips.

Sebastian the crab from The Little Mermaid, batting his eyelashes and puckering his lips. Because Disney crabs have lips.

 

“Guess not? Glad to see you are better already. That ws quite the spill you took last night. […]”

Quite the spill? She fell fifty-feet and stopped breathing.

He took a sip of the beer and tried to edge away from sitting too close to Sofia without being obvious that was what he was doing.

Fear not, gentle reader! Our virtuous hero would never think of touching such a foul creature as the slatternly bar wench thrusting her devious bosom near to his person!

He truly wanted to give her a really hard time about not wearing the harness–and how dangerous it was and how she truly almost died–but he knew she wouldn’t listen anyway, so why bother?

First of all, thank you, anyfuckingbody, for noting that she could have had a fatal accident. Second, Mac prides himself on the job he does keeping everybody on the show safe, but he doesn’t feel like it’s worth his time to keep Sofia safe? Granted, it would make Zadi’s life a lot easier if the mean bitch who dared trespass into her story would just up and fucking die already, but you can’t exactly write a character who’s Mr. Safety and have him just shrug and go, “meh,” when it comes to one particular performer. Especially when we’ve never seen him have any beef with Sofia to the extent that he wouldn’t care if she died.

I mean, how much do you have to hate a person to not mind filling out their death paperwork? Or have your career forever followed by the specter of a performer dying on your watch?

Sofia tells him:

“I’m a quick healer and I have good genes. . . […]”

Wolverine, from the X-Men cartoon from the '90s.

Not to completely distract from the recap, but has anyone else ever noticed how much the theme from the ’90s X-Men cartoon sounds like, “I’m Your Baby Tonight” by Whitney Houston?

Mac can’t figure out what Sofia is doing talking to him, so he asks her where Charles is. She tells him that Charles doesn’t like just hanging out, and Mac says he understands why. He says that what keeps Charles away from social gatherings is that he doesn’t know what to do with genuine human interaction, even though he’s really good at being in front of the press or performing.

His mind had drifted off to his own issues about genuine interaction with people and how much he couldn’t stop thinking about his conversation with Zade. He couldn’t remember the last time he had enjoyed being around anyone (male or female) in such a long time and that was scary to him.

So, now that we’ve established that Mac doesn’t like being around people…why is he at the bar? Also, what kind of sad, misanthropic life does this guy lead if the best time he’s had in a while is sitting on a loading dock, talking about Aimee Mann in the wake of a near-fatal work incident?

Sofia isn’t interested in anything Mac actually has to say because she is a succubus.

She then placed her hand over his hand lightly and began to rub it. The physical contact from Sofia jolted Mac out of his mental contemplation about Zade. He started to think that perhaps he was wrong; she didn’t seem to want a favor.

Who? Zade? Because that’s the last character with female pronouns mentioned in this paragraph.

Obviously, though, he means Sofia:

She seemed to be hitting on him and–if that were the case–well, he’d rather she had needed a favor. He decided he would still hold out hope that maybe she was trying to butter him up for whatever favor she needed. The other option was that she was hitting on him–and he felt very uneasy about that being a possibility.

She seemed to be hitting on him, but maybe she needed a favor, but the other option was that she was hitting on him. But maybe it’s a favor. But she could be hitting on him. But maybe it’s a favor. If she’s not hitting on him. She might just be asking a favor.

By the way, I actually skipped a huge paragraph that repeated all of this same “maybe she needs a favor” shit earlier in the scene. If you repeat the same concepts enough, you end up having a really nicely padded word count.

Mac thinks about how much trouble Sofia could make for him if he pisses her off by not responding the right way to her advances.

Sofia scooted her chair closer to Mac’s and looked longingly into his eyes. She started to play with his collar. “I bet you understand a lot of things,” she offered, breathing in deeply in the way a girl does to purposely draw attention to her cleavage.

The hussy.

What does that mean, “she offered“? What is she offering him in that sentence? Is she offering him the knowledge that he understands stuff?

Mac was finally sure that Sofia was hitting on him, and there appeared to be no favor she was trying to ask.

Glad we got that cleared up. Welcome to where the rest of us have been this entire time, Mac.

“Sofie, don’t hit on me. I don’t know if you are just flirting, or if you’re being serious–or a little bit of both–but it makes me uncomfortable,” he scolded.

We need to figure out this Sofie/a thing.  When characters say her name out loud, they say “Sofie.” But in the narrative, it’s “Sofia.” Is “Sofie” her nickname? If so, why? It’s not any shorter or easier to say than “Sofia”. Plus, everyone on the cast and crew have these nicknames that are three or four letters long, specifically because they like to use shorter names. So why not “Sof” instead?

Mac reminds Sofia that she’s dating his boss (and in that dialogue, he calls her “Sofia,” so even that isn’t consistent).

“Would it make a difference if I was single?” she coaxed.

Are you? Did David Copperfield break up with you? Because that’s the only reason I can think of to hit on Mac when you’ve got billions of dollars waiting at home. Unless, of course, she’s hitting on Mac because she’s seen this undeniable chemistry just roiling between Zade and Mac and she wants to get back at Zade. Even then, that’s pretty flimsy motivation to endanger your job and your potentially lucrative banging of a rich and famous magician.

“No, it wouldn’t. It would only make a difference in how long I would allow you to flirt. And before you ask whether it woudl make a difference if we didn’t work together–again, you’re beautiful, and many guys would kill to be with you, but we lead very different lives. You wouldn’t be happy with a guy like me, and deep down you know that.”

Deep down, all of us know that. Sofia has been set up as this spoiled brat who gets to be in the show because she’s riding that magic D to fame town. Cheating on C.S. means she not only loses the prestige (see what I did there, magic fans?) of being the girlfriend of a star, she loses her job, too, and her connections. There’s no motivation here for her to want to climb on Mac, other than to show us how evil she is, stealing a man’s focus away from Zade for a few minutes.

It almost seemed like it had been planned that, at that exact moment, Mel, another girl Mel, who worked for the show, walked around the corner with a large cake lit with candles.

I feel like if they had a cake and candles, yeah, they probably did plan it. That kind of thing takes some forethought. And thanks for letting us know that it’s “another girl Mel.” I was getting her confused with all the other girl Mels previously mentioned in this book, and then I was getting them confused with all the guy Mels.

(We have never met a character named Mel until now.)

Then everyone sings “Happy Birthday” and we move on with another of those triple goddess page ornaments.

I had been rehearsing my spot in the show where I get to show off that I can dive from sixty feet in the air into a small area of water.

Isn’t that your entire “illusion”? How many times per show are you jumping into the water? It’s such a lucky coincidence that there just happens to be a pool of water already built into the theater for you to impressively dive into and/or near.

I had just hurled myself off the platform and used my hands to break the water before allowing my body to fall into the pool.

Thank you for describing that, as nobody reading the book knows what a dive is. Of course, this wouldn’t give anyone much of an idea if they really didn’t know, because divers don’t just “hurl” themselves and you don’t really “allow” your body to “fall” into the pool. You don’t really have much of a choice about your body going into the water if you’ve just dived from sixty feet up.

The dive is actually my favorite part in the show for several reasons but mostly because I love diving and the water in general–especially in a theater where it is always a warm ninety degrees.

Is the theater always ninety degrees? Is the air conditioner broken? And if you’re talking about the pool, it’s actually dangerous to do strenuous exercise (like diving) in water that hot. In any case, we can tell that you love diving because it’s pretty much the only thing we ever see you do.

She gets out of the water because it’s time to go get ready for the show.

As I stood up and shook my hair lightly and watched the water droplets from my hair fall to the ground, I realized Mac was standing there, like aways, with his clipboard.

If he’s always there, why did you have to “realize” he was there? Wouldn’t it just be a given? Oh, wait, you meant “with his clipboard, like aways.”

Ever since the Sofia incident he had had stopped being mean to me. It went even beyond that: not only was he not mean, he had started being nice. It hadn’t been an overnight thing but over the past few weeks he seemed to have slowly become sweeter to me–it was almost as if we were friends. He didn’t seem to dread to see or talk to me anymore, and wasn’t always bolting in the opposite direction when I was headed his way. I wasn’t trying to avoid him, either, and was getting to the point where I just about looked forward to seeing him.

She goes on to describe how she gave him a package of Red Vines and how much she liked how happy it made him.

Along the way, he had stopped bringing up the need to know about my illusion, which was great too, because he just couldn’t know.

In case you forgot,  Lazdi has a big secret. But she does want to tell him. Kind of. But she can’t because reasons.

If she doesn’t tell him in the next chapter, I’ll be shocked.

Mac asks her if she likes the water, but she’s too “lost in his hazel eyes” to understand the question. He asks if she’s ever been scuba diving, and after a brief interruption by Tad, Mac tells Zani that the crew sometimes goes camping at Lake Mead to scuba dive on dark days.

“[…]It’s fun. You’ll have to come out with us sometime. . . eh. . . if you want.”

Whoa, slow down there, Mac. You’re way too enthusiastic.

I loved the term loved the term dark days as the way to talk about days off for shows.

Wanna know how I know this book didn’t have three editors?

As much as Lani loves having a new vocabulary since joining the show, she’s kind of stuck on whether or not Mac is asking her out, or asking her to go on a group outing. I guess this would be a perfectly acceptable thing to wonder if he hadn’t specifically framed the invite as an invitation to a group activity.

With both of them basically staring at me, I said the first thing I could think of. “Sure. Sounds like fun. What’s the depth of the lake like?” In retrospect, it was kind of a dumb question but I had been scrambling to say anything at that point. I had also never been out to the lake and truly was curious how good the diving was.

I’m truly curious how you learned to scuba dive in your one-horse-and-Sally-Beauty-Supply town. Then again, if you really did know how to scuba dive, you wouldn’t think, “how deep is it?” was a stupid question.

“A hundred feet, at least. Some places are even more than that.”

Like, say, five-hundred feet, which is how deep Lake Mead gets. Mac is super bad at estimation. This is like spilling a box of a hundred toothpicks on the ground and going, “Holy crap, there are at least three toothpicks on the ground!”

“Of course, I’m always willing to go deeper,” Mac said innocently. I blushed right away.

“Oh! Really?” I giggled and tried to hide my face, pretending to go back to drying my hair. I don’t think he meant it the way it could have been taken but, either way, it’s where my mind immediately went and what I thought when he said it. I couldn’t help but turn bright red.

She blushed because her mind went there and that’s what she thought when her mind went there and she blushed oh my god could the writing get a little more repetitive, please?

 I think Mac realized the other way his words could have been taken as well and must have noticed how red I turned. He too now looked embarrassed and started to blush, too.

That’s better, thank you. Anyway, she obviously ends up saying that she’ll go scuba diving with them, although if we follow the pattern already set in this book, we’ll probably never actually see any scuba diving. The diving isn’t what’s important, it’s the poorly manufactured tension that we’re supposed to be focused on here.

Another triple goddess thing and we’re back into…well, someone’s POV. It doesn’t really matter whose because once you’re in italics, all bets are off. This is the wild west, baby! Tad chides Mac for his accidental double entendre and teases him for liking Zade.

“Look. She’s okay, I guess. I’ll give it to you that she’s very attractive, but I don’t date performers, and she and I wouldn’t happen–even if she wasn’t a performer.”

“Rules are made to be broken,” Tad replied. “And why wouldn’t you date her if she wasn’t a performer?”

“Cause she’s–”

“As stubborn as you are?” Tad finished.

“She’s not my type.”

“What is your type? ‘Cause if she ain’t it, then I don’t know what is.” Tad’s lighthearted jabs had turned to confusion.

Beyonce in the "Deja Vu" video, dressed in black against a black background with fireworks or something glittery happening behind her, I don't have my glasses on. What's important is that the words across the bottom say "Baby I swear it's deja vu."

We’ve seen this conversation already, haven’t we? When they peeped on her in the dressing room? Or something? I mean, I’m almost positive we’ll see another iteration of this conversation again, but didn’t we just? Or is this ebook emitting fumes that confuse me?

Tad says he asked Lani if she’s single and says it’s a matter of time before she and Mac hook up.

Tad looked at Mac and scoffed, “I’ll bet you $100 you end up making out with her before the end of the year.” Tad put his hand out to shake Mac’s.

I bet they make out before the end of the next chapter. I just have a difficult time believing that a grown man would say “make out” instead of “bang” or something similar. Shouldn’t this be the part where Tad stands on a chair and vows that he and all of his friends are going to lose their virginities before they go to college or something?

Tad changes his mind and says that if they did go through with the bet, Mac would resist Landi’s assorted charms just to win, and that’s where this (very short) chapter ends.

I should note that this is the only chapter so far where the chapter heading really makes sense, since The Emperor and Mac are both all about strictly following procedure and such.

100 Comments

  1. River
    River

    Lani must have been pushed around lot in high school. Because this seems like it is also a “get back at mean girls, get the hot prom date” novel not simply just a “the mean girls always got the best parts so I’m writing my own.” Which rings so hollow, you can not write about high school in the setting of adults who are functioning high up in their profession. Honestly this would have made more sense if she’d just set it in high school. Then Sof’s being willing to blow off the jock she’s dating to ruin, Z’inna’s chance at love would make some sense. This is merely a smash up of every teen’s wishful dreaming…. And that’s probably doing teens a disservice.

    The repetitive writing is agonizing, no one edited this garbage because if they did it would be the shortest novella in the world.

    October 4, 2017
    |Reply
    • Jane Eyre
      Jane Eyre

      Same, like….if she’s such a gold-digging bitch why is she even interested in a guy who can give her nothing when she has David Copperfield for a boyfriend? This bit doesn’t fit the characterisation AT ALL, she’s supposed be one dimensional, shallow and calculating and shallow and calculating wouldn’t shoot herself in the foot like that.

      October 4, 2017
      |Reply
    • Cara
      Cara

      You’re totally right, everything about this would make more sense if it was set in high school. And maybe Zani left her hometown to go to a private school or something.

      October 4, 2017
      |Reply
  2. Anna
    Anna

    My god, Jenny how do you get through reading / writing these recaps? I admire your fortitude and dedication because I would have snapped my iPad in half trying to read this shit. I get bored just reading the bits you quote. Its soooo repetitive and juvenile. Uuugggghhhh.

    October 4, 2017
    |Reply
  3. Lynette
    Lynette

    Terrible catty theory: Zade is the girl Lani wishes she could have been…but Sofia is the girl she actually was.

    October 4, 2017
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      No, she was really “Lillianne, but she had told me in her first breath to call her Lil” (AKA her name was McGill, but she called herself Lil, but everyone knew her as Nancy), the Wardrobe Girl. The person people pretend to listen to but don’t.

      October 4, 2017
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      • Dove
        Dove

        The person people pretend to listen to but don’t.

        Lani Sarem doesn’t strike me as the sort who would chat up everyone, even if it was really boring stuff about her life. She’d only pick the people who mattered for her latest scheme and ignore the rest. The others would be her inner circle, which would include people who are in on it, and the compassionate fools willing to suffer her presence in an effort to make her life better, because she convinced them that she’s the underdog, instead of a con artist.

        I think anyone who’s around her long enough would become uncomfortable, because their bullshit radar would be going crazy. Lani seems like she’d tell you about her alien abduction, if she thought you’d believe her, and while such people tend to be boring, no one tunes them out unless they’re a friend or family, and most people wouldn’t know Lani personally.

        Besides, talking takes effort, and it could reveal a lie if carried on for too long. (She’ll deny everything, with hardly any justice received, but she doesn’t like getting caught. It implies that she’s not as clever as she thinks she is.)

        Then again, I haven’t watched any videos of her; I’m just making some assumptions.

        October 4, 2017
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        • JoanOfBark
          JoanOfBark

          I once knew someone who seems remarkably similar to Sarem, and your analysis is spot on.

          October 16, 2017
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  4. Stormy
    Stormy

    Now that I know she wrote this as a screenplay first, it’s REALLY obvious. That whole beginning section describing the bar, Mac, his beer, and his disposition screams it, with a few sentences thrown in here and there to make it somewhat distinguishable from a script’s set description/setting/blocking.

    October 4, 2017
    |Reply
  5. mydogspa
    mydogspa

    Hmm, the only way I can see how this could be a success as a movie is to shoot the 15 minute version with Lani as the lead, then use that movie as the movie-within-the-movie where our heroes in the marketing department are told to make a success with this awful film that the producer’s mistress had made. Our heroes think of MST3000 and other stories revolving around the ‘bad’ inner film, but then decide to produce a documentary on why it’s important to not write ‘bad’ movies and even break the 4th wall and tell the audience “Don’t do this shit–it’s crappy writing!”

    October 4, 2017
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    • Bookjunk
      Bookjunk

      Or something like The Disaster Artist. Except here the main character and “writer” and director isn’t just clueless, but also a dickhead.

      October 4, 2017
      |Reply
  6. Michael
    Michael

    Also be wary of “had had”‘s foul sibling, “that that.”

    October 4, 2017
    |Reply
  7. Michael
    Michael

    Also, if we’re talking cartoon theme songs that sound like famous songs, compare “Unskinny Bop” with the Yo! Yogi! theme.

    October 4, 2017
    |Reply
  8. All the “best parts” went to girls that weren’t me, too. I accepted early on that I’m not the romantic lead, I’m a character actor. Never Juliet, always the Nurse.

    And I steal the fucking show every time, so “best parts” are what you make them. Only small actors, as they say.

    October 4, 2017
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    • Bookjunk
      Bookjunk

      Sarem’s story just doesn’t work. It doesn’t come across as ‘they didn’t recognise my talent’ but as ‘I have no talent.’

      October 4, 2017
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      • Erin C
        Erin C

        It sounds really entitled. Instead of working harder, taking more classes, developing her skills, or maybe accepting that this isn’t the career path for her, she’ll write her own lead role. Besides those other girls only got the parts because they were mean hoors, not because they did better in the audition.

        October 4, 2017
        |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          I follow a professional voice actor on tumblr, and someone asked him how it feels to be “typecast” for a particular character. He responded that actors prefer the term, “wheelhouse”, meaning they play to their strengths. Of course this actor would LOVE to get main roles, but until he can improve himself, he’s content in playing within his wheelhouse because he has a steady job and he’s good at it.

          Another actor I follow is not only a professional voice actor, but he also does small plays in his local town and is involved in a small theatre troupe. This man is always working to be better.

          Let’s take a look at Lani Sarem’s acting career. Besides one or two movie cameos, what other acting jobs has she done? What is her wheelhouse? I bet she doesn’t even know, because Lani is so determined to be a *star* she’s not willing to take anything else.

          October 4, 2017
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          • Dove
            Dove

            I bet she doesn’t even know, because Lani is so determined to be a *star* she’s not willing to take anything else.

            Yeah, Lani Sarem doesn’t care about acting at all. She just wants to be a famous celebrity without doing much work, from the sound of it. I don’t understand why she hasn’t tried reality TV, unless she did and they still didn’t want her.

            October 4, 2017
      • Indigo
        Indigo

        On the one hand, you can be a very talented, capable person and not be a successful actor for a variety of factors including, yes, horrifying sexism if you happen to be a woman. Lots of hopefuls do their time, work very hard and have to give up when they can’t make ends meet. And I can’t fault someone for feeling like they’re getting nowhere and deciding to try an alternate route. Lateral moves can and do work out for a lot of people.
        On the other hand, Sarem’s choice feels a bit like saying, “Huh. I can’t get into medical school. I’ll try for law school and then sue them into letting me in!” when she’s got a GPA of 0. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to her that writing fiction might be *just as hard* as acting.

        October 5, 2017
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    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      Many Bells:
      Similar career arc here. Bianca instead of Kate the Shrew, Dainty June instead of Louise/Gypsy, etc. I’m short and, before the pill in midlife, was relatively boobless; now it’s pushy matrons (Lady Bracknell) and snotty serving wenches (pick your Moliere play).
      To be honest, I preferred character parts. I played a few ingenues, but I could never sink my teeth into them the way I could with all those bratty younger sisters.

      October 5, 2017
      |Reply
  9. “Sofia walked up with two glasses and slid one of the new beers in front of Mac right as he finished the last of the beer he had. She then placed her beer on the table directly in front of the empty chair next to Mac and, without asking if he minded, sat down next to him.”

    Mac, you’ve come out on a work outing to apparently celebrate a colleague’s birthday and you’ve decided to sit by yourself away from the rest of the team. But she’s rude for sitting next to you? I’d assume she’s trying to distract from your ignorant arse and pull you into the group before the cake arrives and you look like the arsehole who doesn’t want to spend time with the others but just showed up for free cake.

    “You wouldn’t be happy with a guy like me, and deep down you know that”

    Mate, she’s flirting with you in a bar, not looking to pick out curtains. Pet hate I see this a lot in books; someone decides to dramatically declare “we just can’t work! ALAS! Our love is dooooomed!” when it’s really early in their interactions. Slow your roll guys – not every flirtation involves sizing up wedding rings

    ” I just have a difficult time believing that a grown man would say “make out” instead of “bang” or something similar.”

    I am bemused by grown men who think getting to first base is the end goal…

    October 4, 2017
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      I’m more bemused that *anybody* talks like this. Does anybody CURSE in this book?

      October 4, 2017
      |Reply
  10. RadiantSeraphina
    RadiantSeraphina

    I wonder if the screenplay looked better. Not fabulous, I don’t think, but acceptable. Because part of Sarem’s problem is that she doesn’t know how to write a novel. The weird POV changes wouldn’t be as jarring in cinema. Zade probably wouldn’t seem as obnoxious if we weren’t stuck in her head and listening to her internal monologue…

    Although the treatment of Sofia just bothers me, and that probably didn’t change.

    I guess Zade’s love of diving might be feasible. Tennessee has some good lakes, but as far as I’m aware, they’re all over an hour away from Centertown. So I doubt they would be a place Sade would get to go to enough to get really good. But then, in spite of the narrative hinting that Zade’s mother is a control freak, I really have no idea how she raised Zade or what Zade’s childhood was like. Was her mother the sort to take Zade out to dive at lakes? Did Zade have any friends? Did Zade go to public school? I have no idea if Zade was Rapunzel or if her mother was just a really bad helicopter parent.

    October 4, 2017
    |Reply
    • I’m pretty sure that Jackson wasn’t even in the original screenplay, which is why he’s such an afterthought. I would also bet that after getting TIN to play Tad, that role was beefed up a little bit.

      I’ve spent way too much time thinking about this

      October 4, 2017
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I wonder if the screenplay looked better.

      The best coherent sections of the book, that aren’t filler, mostly stick with third person, and definitely came from the screenplay, are towards the end. Zade is unconscious and off-screen during all of this (but remains the annoying narrator), so the book definitely improves whenever Zade isn’t around. It’s still bad, because of some very unfortunate implications and laughable plot points, but it’s not as jarringly grotesque.

      Although the treatment of Sofia just bothers me, and that probably didn’t change.

      Lani Sarem has a lot of internalized misogyny, which becomes increasingly evident as the book goes on.

      I guess Zade’s love of diving might be feasible. Tennessee has some good lakes, but as far as I’m aware, they’re all over an hour away from Centertown. So I doubt they would be a place Sade would get to go to enough to get really good. But then, in spite of the narrative hinting that Zade’s mother is a control freak, I really have no idea how she raised Zade or what Zade’s childhood was like. Was her mother the sort to take Zade out to dive at lakes? Did Zade have any friends? Did Zade go to public school? I have no idea if Zade was Rapunzel or if her mother was just a really bad helicopter parent.

      I never really thought about that, but you raise a very good point! Who even taught Zade how to swim? Her mother, or did she sign up for classes somewhere? Alas, this is all character development, for Zade and Dela, that’s too interesting to appear in this shitty novel.

      Also, there are always public pools with diving boards? That might require traveling outside Centertown too… As would scuba diving certification.

      October 4, 2017
      |Reply
    • Mike
      Mike

      This adds to the discussions on previous chapters of people saying in more capable hands this story could have been good. Because you’re definitely right that without her terrible inner voice clogging everything up she would be a more tolerable character. Though sadly, no, it probably wasn’t a passable script either.

      You could never get away with things like the massive build up to telling her secret to Charles and then just cutting to the next day. Not in a film. There’s too much build up that lacks pay off in general, and that’s a lot harder to ignore when you can’t put it down between chapters. You’d come out of the theatre wondering if there was a lot of scenes that accidentally got deleted. And that’s based off the version that’s literally 10 times longer than the screenplay, so I can only imagine how much worse it was originally.

      Not to mention that most things are just straight up told to the reader through narration, which doesn’t translate well to film. We learn that her mother is a fortune teller, that she doesn’t know her dad, that she ‘has a secret’, her history of preventing people from getting hurt through her visions, her entire motivation as a character, why she’s so defensive to Mac at first, etc, all through narration, so all of that is lost in adaptation. Most of that information would be easy enough to convey on film, but she doesn’t do it in this book in any way that would translate without sounding like heavy handed exposition, so I have to assume it wasn’t in the original screenplay. So while I’m sure you could make a passable screenplay out of it, the chance of her original version working without an editor that would change things so much they’d get a ‘written by’ credit is virtually non-existent.

      Also, pro-tip for any aspiring screenwriters, a lot of the time producers reading spec scripts will skip straight to certain pages to make sure the story is hitting certain beats, checking if the writer understands pacing before bothering to read the whole thing. Considering one of the most important is around the 60 page/minute mark, the original 45 page screenplay for this would fail the test before they even looked at page 1. Not to mention so very many more technical reasons that producers would look at it and toss it in the bin without reading past the first few pages.

      October 5, 2017
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        You are so right. Instead of all that stuff about destiny and her perfectly cut bangs and the way her shirt billowed, the book could have had her heading out of town, overhearing every neighbor she passed snipe about how weird she was, how she didn’t know who her father was, then she could have used her precog to prevent a small accident to a puppy or a toddler, and crossed the city limits while hearing them mutter that they still didn’t like her anyway. Sets up who she is, gets her some audience sympathy, and give her a motive to get out of Dodge, all in One Swell Foop.

        October 5, 2017
        |Reply
        • Mike
          Mike

          Oh but come on, we need to know her bangs are perfect so we know she’s pretty, and we need to hear about the destiny stuff so we know she’s deeeeeep. It’s CRUCIAL to the world building!

          Yeah, actually SEEING the townspeople being mean to her would do a lot to make her more sympathetic and make her decisions make much more sense. As it is she goes on at length about how judgemental and cruel the people are but the only examples of interactions she gives are all incredibly positive where everyone thinks she’s super smart and awesome. So having her walking around town, or stopping for gas, and overhearing assholes talking about her behind her back would be both very effective and depressingly true to small town life. You could even just open the movie with her getting a vision and then acting to save the puppy/toddler, and then have her overhear people saying it’s creepy how she can do that and she’s ‘just like her mom’, and talk about how they wish she’d just go away because she disturbs them. Cold open, starts the movie with an immediate hook, as you say it gives her instant sympathy and motive, and it’s instantly improved because we don’t hear her complaining that she’s not pretty enough even though literally even people who hate her call her pretty.

          October 5, 2017
          |Reply
      • mydogspa
        mydogspa

        “Considering one of the most important is around the 60 page/minute mark, the original 45 page screenplay for this would fail the test before they even looked at page 1.”

        Nevermind page 60, what’s page 90? Everyone discovers she uses maggik? So what? What are the ramifications if they do? (Seems like that’s the real page 60) Other than a perpetual catfight, what’s the worst that could happen to Zadie—she gets fired? The production is forced to permanently shut down? So what?

        ” Not to mention so very many more technical reasons that producers would look at it and toss it in the bin without reading past the first few pages.”

        Producers wouldn’t even see it. They don’t have time for all the crap. The readers would immediately notice there’s no hook by page 2, get turned off instantly byt he bad writing, and plow their way through it (because it’s their job) but give it a huge thumbs down because structure, characterization, and stakes are incredibly weak across the board.

        October 5, 2017
        |Reply
        • Mike
          Mike

          I went with the 60 mark because technically a feature length movie can be less than 90 minutes and still both be shown in theatres and up for an Oscar (not that this would ever be up for an Oscar, but still). Since the original screenplay was so short I was trying to give it the benefit of the doubt that it would fall at the shorter end, which would affect how you would read it. Though you are correct that for most movies that would be the much more key point and that even if you stretched its original 45 pages into a proper feature length it still wouldn’t matter, it just doesn’t hit those beats. Even being generous to this story I can’t make it work. As you say, there’s just no hook, no stakes, no consequences… I haven’t read ahead but I can’t imagine the climax will be terribly satisfying either.

          As for the producers vs readers, eh, again you are correct, I was just drawing from my experiences in the industry, working for companies too small to have readers. The PA’s would generally see that stuff first, but they were glorified interns and depending on who hired them, they would vary in skill level from ‘decently educated but no practical experience’ to ‘barely qualified to fetch coffee’, and were thus not to be trusted with the task of deciding whether or not a script was worth looking at. Though I suppose in those cases this script may have been so obvious it still wouldn’t have made it past the PA.

          October 5, 2017
          |Reply
      • WS
        WS

        Would you be willing to share more of those certain pages that producers skip to, Mike? I find it very interesting that they go to such specific points in any given script to get an idea of the beats it hits and would love to read more about it.

        October 6, 2017
        |Reply
        • Mike
          Mike

          It’s very specific because it’s been tested over and over and over again and the vast majority of the time if a movie doesn’t hit key elements at a set time in the story they feel it was paced badly and leave unhappy, even if the movie is otherwise fantastic. It’s weird how that works out, but it holds true in nearly every incidence.

          The opening and closing shots (so your very first and very last page) are incredibly important, as a good opening grabs the audience right away and makes them more engaged and a bad closing can kill the momentum. This is why it’s incredibly common for movies to start with some kind of cold open, where you’re thrown right into some kind of action or dramatic scene with no context. Grabs your attention right away. And the very last shot is generally something that conveys the tone of the ending. Happy endings will usually end with a pan up to look at a bright sky or a cloudless sunset, broody hero movies usually end with the hero looking broody, Inception ended leaving on a visual that left you confused about what is and isn’t reality, etc.

          The first 5-10 pages in general you should be aware of who your main character is, their general personality, the setting, and have a rough idea of what the story is about. There’s usually an ‘inciting incident’ either in these pages or IMMEDIATELY at the start of the movie. Some kind of initial conflict that sets up the story, such as ViolettaD’s suggestion of having her save the puppy with her vision but getting hated on by onlookers. In 50 Shades of Suck it’s where she trips into Grey’s office.

          Around the 25-30 page mark there should be a bit of a lull in the action, a slow down to give the watcher a breather to take in the story and connect with the characters. These are usually pure character scenes, where two people will just be sitting talking, getting to know each other. As terrible as the movie is, the first example that comes to mind is the scene in Transformers 4 after the big battle in the farm house, where they’re all in a bar just talking. Marky Mark is angry but it’s a LOT less adrenaline than the action set piece that came before it. By this point you should know all, or at least most, of your characters and the driving motivation for the plot, that will likely not change much if at all from this point forward. Act 1 should wrap up between page 10 and 15, ideally.

          Around the 55-60 minute mark in an action movie you’d expect to see a major action scene, in a drama there’s probably going to be a fight, something that either gets the adrenaline or the feels going and usually throws a wrench into everything. Back to the transformers movie, this is around the point the girl and Optimus get abducted by that other transformer. Got those movies suck… I have no idea why it keeps coming to mind. I’ve only watched it once, years ago… but whatever, it works as an example.

          From here it gets harder to pin down set pages because scripts can vary in length pretty drastically. Generally though a spec script is not looked at favourably if it’s shorter than 90 pages or longer than 120. Let’s air on the longer side and assume we’re working with a 120 page script. Page 60 and earlier though are pretty consistent even for the shorter end. Though scripts that are for movies 2.5-3 hours may stretch things out a *little* bit more, and movies less than 80 minutes long will usually speed things up a bit after the 30 page beat.

          Around the 85-90 page mark should wrap up act 2. Generally one major plot point is wrapped up but the main conflict is still there and the focus will shift towards dealing with that. *sigh* once again, in T4, this would be where they get Optimus and the daughter (I seriously only remember Optimus and Bumblebee’s names…) back from the space ship and Optimus decides to go looking for the dinobots to stop the macguffin of the week from destroying the planet. (I am aware that the timeframes for this movie do not perfectly line up with the pages I’m listing, making it not the best example, but it is honestly just somehow the only thing coming to my mind for some reason. Probably because those movies are so formulaic that the plot beats are so obvious it’s just a really easy example)

          And then around the 110-115 the story should feel like it’s wrapped up at this point but then there’s usually some last minute twist (‘THE KILLER IS STILL ALIVE OH NO!!!’ ‘Oh I was going to get on this plane and forget about you, but I just CAN’T *rushes out of the airport to go confess their love*’ ‘Oh no, the macguffin isn’t working! Ah, I’ve forgotten that it needs the power of love to work!’) and then the story wraps up in the last few pages.

          It’s not so tight that they will literally just look at page 60 and be like ‘there’s no action set piece at the 60 minute mark? REJECTED!’ but it definitely does need to have a very set, fairly strict pace to it. And it’s definitely true, when you see a movie that doesn’t hit these marks at or near these points, it tends to feel either too slow or too fast.

          Some tips to increasing your odds of getting a spec script chosen for production include writing a strong lead that bigger name actors will want to play (‘actor bait’), and make it a story that could be made relatively cheap.

          October 6, 2017
          |Reply
          • WS
            WS

            Thank you so much for the detailed reply! I really appreciate it. This is all completely fascinating to me, even/especially with a terrible movie as an example for the beats, lol. Of course something abjectly stupid is what came to mind – look at the work we’re all discussing.

            October 8, 2017
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Wow. I have learned so much from reading this.

            October 8, 2017
          • Mike
            Mike

            I’m glad you both found it interesting! I love talking about this stuff so I don’t mind!

            October 8, 2017
          • mydogspa
            mydogspa

            From my Spousal Unit who went to UCLA film school for screenwriting: (You never watch a movie the same way again after you learn this)

            Typical story structure follows these guidelines, and only the best scripts use differently:

            Page 1-2, the HOOK. Gets the audience involved immediately into the story so they’re not bored. This starts Act I:

            Pages 1-30, ACT I. We learn who these characters are, both protagonist and antagonist. The two haven’t directly engaged in their conflict yet. This is where the protagonist may be shown to be sympathetic even if they’re flawed (“Pet the dog scene”). The Protagonist may follow Campbell ‘Hero’s Journey’ and decline to go on the journey.

            Page 17 (heavily emphasized by UCLA) is the key idea or concept that will form the major conflict that we will see between protagonist and antagonist.

            Page 30,is where Act II starts. The hero is now on the journey whether they want to or not. The antagonist and protagonist, while they may or may not be engaged directly with each other, are at opposing sides of their conflict and start to ‘do battle’ over their issues as told to us on page 17.

            Page 30 to page 60, first half of ACT II. Here the protagonist is reactive and not proactive in their battle with the antagonist. They may be merely struggling to be alive, but haven’t yet ‘clicked into gear’ in their opposition.

            Page 45 has sometimes been used to be the “first reflection of the 17 minute point” where the there’s another setpiece or further setback based on what was learned before in Act I about the story’s primary conflict.

            Page 60 starts the second half of ACT II. Here there’s a reversal of the protagonist’s mindset and they go on the offensive against the antagonist. Previously the protagonist has been passive, now they’re starting to kick ass and take the battle to what hurts the antagonist.

            Page 75 is another reflection on the 17 minute mark, and can be used to define the ‘false ending’ where as a result of the action the protagonist has dished out, the antagonist has seemingly backed off and is (thought to be) out for the count. But then the antagonist roars back and causes:

            Page 90, the ‘low point’ of the movie where the protagonist loses everything they fought for up until now as a result of something the antagonist has done. This ends Act II.

            Page 90 +, Act III, the final conflict(s) between protagonist and antagonist. This is often the mano-a-mano between the two and results in protagonist winning (most movies) or antagonist winning (horror movie)

            So, for 1986 “ALIENS” Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is woken out of cryosleep with Jonesey the cat and is repatriated to base. We learn all about her.

            Page 10 I think is where she learns from Burke and Gorman the planet where the aliens are has been colonized. She flat out refuses to go back.

            Page 17, she agrees to go back with the marines.

            Page 18 through 30, she meets the marines on the Sulaco and we learn all about them (Sergeant Apone and Vasquez and all) and how she hates Bishop the android.

            Page 30 they go down to the planet and find an empty atmosphere processing station that’s been overrun and evidence of the aliens (facehuggers) in the med bay. Newt is found about page 45 and Ripley assures her she’ll be safer with the marines who have lots of weapons. To Newt, “It won’t make any difference.”

            The team goes to the heat exchangers (where the rest of the colonists are) and the marines get their butts kicked, losing a few of the marines. Gorman, the officer, who up to now is weak, completely loses control in the melee.

            Page 60, Ripley gets the survivors out of the heat exchangers by driving the APC away as Gorman is knocked out and the other marines flail.
            Ripley wants to nuke the facility from orbit but Burke objects because of the cost invested in it. The first dropship is overrun by aliens and crashes, but Bishop is devises a backup plan to radio for the backup dropship to be sent down from the mother ship (Sulaco).
            They go back to the processing facility and shore up their defenses, but the aliens attack with a vengeance. Burke, trying to save the facility from getting nuked, plants a facehugger next to the sleeping Ripley and Newt and manages to lock them in med bay. The alien warriors attack en-masse and the automatic unmanned guns have blasted enough that they stop their assault (Page 75) not realizing the guns are almost out of ammo. The aliens resume their attack, chasing the marines and, as Bishop manages to get the second dropship sent down that can save them, until:

            Page 90, Newt is separated from Ripley and captured by the aliens.

            (Note: Ripley, since finding Newt, has promised to protect her, and she has failed at this point.)

            Newt’s tracking device shows she’s been taken back to the heat exchanger, and Ripley goes back and kicks alien ass to get Newt back as Ripley and the Queen Alien get their first face-to-face encounter.

            Bishop gets Newt, Ripley, and Hicks up to the Sulaco only to discover Queen Alien has hitched a ride with them. As Bishop gets cut in half, Ripley and the Queen have their final mano-a-mano and Ripley kicks the Queen out the airlock.

            Half-of-Bishop, Newt, Hickt, and Ripley return.

            End.

            See? Structure is simple. And vital. Sarem knows nothing about this and it shows.

            October 9, 2017
  11. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    Where’s the Vulture article about YA books for/by people of color? I’d like to know what they find so objectionable.

    October 4, 2017
    |Reply
  12. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    “Mel, another girl Mel, who worked for the show, walked around the corner with a large cake lit with candles.”

    Mel B and Mel C?

    October 4, 2017
    |Reply
    • Cat
      Cat

      Both. It was Mel and another girl Mel, this one who worked for the show, walked around the corner…

      October 4, 2017
      |Reply
    • Fer
      Fer

      He doesn`t want to remember the time they all sang “Wannabe” XD.

      October 4, 2017
      |Reply
  13. Bookjunk
    Bookjunk

    I’m so confused. So now it’s no longer some sort of vanishing act, but she just dives into the pool and doesn’t die? That’s it? Lame. The Sofia/Sofie hybrid can do that and she was neither prepared nor magical.

    October 4, 2017
    |Reply
    • Erin C
      Erin C

      Yes, I’m so confused by that too. She just dives into the pool now?

      October 6, 2017
      |Reply
  14. Jo
    Jo

    Holy hell, the entitlement of this woman. “The other girls stole MY parts and MY men, so I made an avatar of them in the scriptnovel for which I’M TOTALLY GONNA GET A MOVIE DEAL and I cast myself as the main character so everyone can see how awesome I am.”

    Couldn’t she… deal with her delusions of grandeur in therapy instead of inflicting them on the world in the form of this “book”?

    Also I’m complaining about Lani because this book is so tedious I’m surprised Jenny hasn’t had a stroke caused by the sheer boredom of having to read it.

    October 4, 2017
    |Reply
    • Jane Eyre
      Jane Eyre

      Yeah, like I was bullied a lot at school, I didn’t know my father at all but never in any of my fanfics across the year, even ones I wrote as a teenager did I treat other women like this. I never had ‘mean’ counterpart for my original characters to battle, characters that would behave as mean as Sophia. I never felt I needed to demean other women, actually when I was a teenager? I wanted to be friends with other girls, maybe because I grew up on Sailor Moon and W.I.T.C.H and Xena the Warrior Princess and I wanted to have a friend like Gabriela or a team of girls like in W.I.T.C.H and Sailor Moon. That was my fantasy, which I still sort of hold on to, looking at what I work my characters always have a female friend or two, who are like sisters. I really don’t understand this whole hate on other girls thing. True, some women can be mean and petty or abusive like every person in the world, I have met some in my own life and tbh Sarem is one of those petty girls because she’s angry some girl or other got the part she wanted. So? A lot of times I wanted something but it’s rarely other people’s fault they got the thing.

      October 4, 2017
      |Reply
  15. Given Lanie’s love for outdated 90s references, the two Mels MUST be Mel. B and Mel C from the Spice Girls. No one one can convince me otherwise.

    October 4, 2017
    |Reply
    • Ilex
      Ilex

      They were who I immediately thought of / pictured, as well!

      October 5, 2017
      |Reply
  16. Ilex
    Ilex

    So if Sofia is a fast healer and has “good genes”, does that mean she’s magical too, and we’ll get to see a big showdown between her and Zani at some point?

    I hate to think that Zani is wasting so much jealous energy on someone perfectly normal.

    October 4, 2017
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Unless Book 2 reveals something amazing, aside from her portrayal as a snotty slut, Sofia is shockingly normal. She does her best to play along with Zade, and then she tries to quietly escape the plot, such as it is. But then again, everyone aside from Mac, Tad, Charles, and Dela are desperate to slink out of this stinker, and they’re all problematic in their own way.

      October 4, 2017
      |Reply
      • What do you mean by book 2?!

        October 5, 2017
        |Reply
      • Ilex
        Ilex

        Darn. 🙁

        October 5, 2017
        |Reply
  17. Ilex
    Ilex

    Argh. More words that mean nothing. I assumed that when Mac said “I’m always willing to go deeper” innocently, it meant he was fully aware of his double entendre and playing at innocence. It’s a good thing I’m not trying to read this book, because I think I’d have to read each page three times to figure out what on earth the author is really trying to say.

    October 4, 2017
    |Reply
    • Jane Eyre
      Jane Eyre

      If he’s that innocent and according to a character later in the book Zani’s magic is what draws men to her and makes them love her(sort of like a siren call?) then this raises a lot of concern about whenever their relationship is consensual because her magic is what makes him fall for her and want to kiss her and all that jazz. This book would have been a bit dark but much more interesting if Mac was just a weak minded guy who is being mind-controlled and hypnotized by an evil-siren Zani. It would make for a good horror story

      October 4, 2017
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        The whole book would be strongly improved if Zade, Charles, and Dela were genuinely portrayed as evil people. Jackson’s portrayal seems similar to Zani’s siren call btw, so then that gets super weird… especially if Jackson is actually Charles wearing a glamour.

        There’s a lot ways this novel could work if only it wasn’t so lazy and ignorant of it’s own potential.

        October 4, 2017
        |Reply
  18. Xebi
    Xebi

    That article by Lila Shapiro is certainly eye-opening. Was anyone else fucking offended by Sarem saying she would probably have killed herself if all this had happened to her when she was 18? Not just the flippant reference to suicide but also the implication that only young and foolish people do it, or whatever. Not to mention the rest of that shit show.

    October 4, 2017
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I’m betting Lani Sarem has never felt suicidal in her life, or at least doesn’t understand depression. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s a narcissist or BPD though. She’s extremely self-serving and only concerned about herself at any rate. And while that can be a trait of depression, since it involves a downward spiral of self-loathing and despair, depressed people aren’t calculating. Whatever her true feelings are, I don’t think LS handles it in the same manner. She seems way too spiteful for that.

      October 4, 2017
      |Reply
      • BitterAlmonds
        BitterAlmonds

        I don’t know, I don’t think anyone wins by playing Internet psychiatrist on this one. There’s plenty of ways to be fucked up and awful to people without being mentally ill. The spectrum of neurotypical human behavior is wider than a lot of people give it credit for, and being shitty is not something unique to being sick. So is it possible that Lani Sarem is mentally ill? Yes. Is it possible that she’s not and is just an incredible jackass with no perspective or empathy? Also yes.

        October 5, 2017
        |Reply
  19. Fer
    Fer

    Sarem is not good enough to catch that in her tries to make Sofia the evil mean bitch, she actually create the plot she was waiting for:

    The dialogue isn`t clear enough and one can think that this is not the first time Sofia filrts with Mac, so this conflict can have some time and has nothing to do with Zade, at least for a moment.

    Maybe Sofia cast normally in the show, at first, and has a crush with Mac, but (and this on the case you want Charles as the bad guy) Charles with his magik woo her and that`s why she is also so mean with Zade, part jealouse under spell, part protect her from him. But far from him, she can be herself again and her filrt is a calling for Mac to help her, but he is now into Zani in the same way she is with Charles that can`t hear her.

    If Charlie isn`t the bad, then he was more open to Sofia. But she still has a thing for Mac. And maybe he has fellings for her too, but afraid to do anything let her go and even now has that regret. He rejects her for that and because he is into Zani, and that is a good thing for Mac to be later jealous of Charles, afraid that he might steals his girl again.

    Sadly we are talking about Sarem here and focus on the plot and not her the whole time isn`t her thing.

    Whatever, I am now and forever imagine two girls singing Wannabe to torture Mac. God bless the comments XD.

    October 4, 2017
    |Reply
    • Wouldn’t it be funny if both Mels merged and “2 become 1”?

      Okay, now I hate myself. DAMN YOU LANIE!

      October 4, 2017
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        If you wannabe my lover, you gotta get with my friends.
        Don’t worry, I’ll combine them 😉

        October 4, 2017
        |Reply
        • Fer
          Fer

          I said it then and I said it again: God bless the comments.

          I was about to ask if is posible to do jokes with every hit but I love the Spice Girls enough for not to do it… too much.

          October 6, 2017
          |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Maybe Sofia cast normally in the show, at first, and has a crush with Mac, but (and this on the case you want Charles as the bad guy) Charles with his magik woo her and that`s why she is also so mean with Zade, part jealouse under spell, part protect her from him. But far from him, she can be herself again and her filrt is a calling for Mac to help her, but he is now into Zani in the same way she is with Charles that can`t hear her.

      If Charlie isn`t the bad, then he was more open to Sofia. But she still has a thing for Mac. And maybe he has fellings for her too, but afraid to do anything let her go and even now has that regret. He rejects her for that and because he is into Zani, and that is a good thing for Mac to be later jealous of Charles, afraid that he might steals his girl again.

      Yeah, the whole thing about Mac and Sofia goes nowhere, sadly.

      It’s implied that Charles sleeps with a lot of young women, without ever loving them, and Sofia either thought she could change him, or she decided to play with fire. (Or like you said, she was enchanted with magic, but I like to think Sofia simply made a mistake.) Either way, she’s starved for actual love, but she’s in too deep to easily break up with Charles on her own, so she tries to have an affair with Mac, testing the waters to see if he’d respond well. I think you’re right and it’s probable that Sofia had been eyeing Mac for awhile, before she decided to take a chance with her boss. Mac is a jerk, even beyond Zade’s compelling nature, so it’s for the best that Sofia didn’t manage to hook him and reel him in. Sofia would’ve been bitterly disappointed that she ended up in the same situation again, only she’d lose her career, most likely, after Charles found out about it.

      In case you’re curious, there’s a theory that Jackson, the other man in Zade’s love triangle, is actually Charles. (The essays are at the bottom of the page.) Lots of spoilers, so don’t read these if you’d rather wait for Jenny Trout’s reviews to find out more about the book.

      Sadly we are talking about Sarem here and focus on the plot and not her the whole time isn`t her thing.

      Yeah, this sort of thing happens over and over again. Several intentional plot hooks, and some really great but unintentional plot hooks, are completely ignored or lost, because Sarem doesn’t care and she doesn’t know how to write decent conflict.

      October 4, 2017
      |Reply
      • Fer
        Fer

        That`s interesting, and also a thing could work if for heaven`s sake a ball hit her head and decide that maybe try to rescue her shit is more important that stardoom. She could try to take serious her book or hire a ghost writer.

        And fits too well, clearly Zani didn` told Charles that she is a witch, however he could feel it and also see that, despite trying to look strong, she is still a naive girl from a provincial town. Without the advantage of his magikal attraction Charles might try another way to seduce her and what better that with an illusion of a dream perfect boy? And also this is why Mac (and anybody else for what a see) isn`t jealous of Jackson or even notice him.

        As for Mac being an idiot, yes but not the confident son of a bitch like is the jerk of Grey. I think that somthing happend that, and we will never know because #Sarem, makes him hate himself. He wants to be alone in the same way that the idiot of Ana does, but just because is a man tries to be hard and that nobody notice, no matter how painfully obvious is.

        October 6, 2017
        |Reply
      • Athena
        Athena

        I think I prefer Sofia knowing Charles’s reputation and deciding to just go along for the ride. It got her a great spot in one of the biggest acts in Vegas after all. She could still be starved for affection, but this scenario gives her a little more agency of her own. I also like the idea that maybe she was hitting on Mac to get back at Charles for knocking her act, not to Zade for replacing her. There’s absolutely nothing about the exchange that implies she’s after Mac to get back at Zade. It makes more sense for her to try to make time with one of Charles’s longtime (and younger) friends to give him a taste of his own medicine. Of course, that only works if Charles is either a) actually harboring feelings for her, or b) a jealous guy that doesn’t like being the one dumped. I’m leaning towards the latter.

        Speaking of which, Charles is openly depicted as a philandering chauvinist (especially later in the book) and it’s barely considered a character flaw, while any woman who displays the least bit of sexual agency is nothing but a cheap hussy who doesn’t deserve to be loved. How can it be 2017 and this still be the status quo for acceptable portrayals of sexually active characters?

        October 6, 2017
        |Reply
        • Alicee
          Alicee

          It would also makes sense if Sofia wanted to get back at Charles for not bothering to go see her at the hospital, not taking any care of her after the accident etc.

          October 6, 2017
          |Reply
          • Lily
            Lily

            I’m way more interested in Sofia. Wolverine’s healing ability? An act forever unknown to the reader? Hell, I died and was revived once, and I spent the next couple of days and nights confined to bed, not flirting in a bar, and I never even had an act to be cut…

            October 6, 2017
  20. Erin C
    Erin C

    I could buy that she sent it to three editors, she just rejected everything they said.

    I concur with the idea that we’ll never see the scuba diving. There will probably be another time jump and she’ll mention it in some off hand way, but contradict what she said later.

    So does she just dive into the pool directly now? Otherwise how does the crew not realize that something strange is going on? She may not have to tell them how she does it, but just setting up the other tricks shouldn’t they notice that there is no trap door and that the pool doesn’t extend? Her trick was supposed to be so cool that they bumped Sofia’s whole thing, but diving wouldn’t impress anyone.

    I’ve been going back and reading the other Jealous Hater Book club entries, and holy hell is Apolonia terrible.

    October 4, 2017
    |Reply
    • I could buy that she sent it to three editors, she just rejected everything they said.

      You know, that never occurred to me until now. I just assumed that she’d lied about it going to an editor, but sending it to one (or more) and just ignoring it sounds on brand based on what we know of her personality. How dare anyone suggest she isn’t writing perfectly straight out of the gate.

      October 5, 2017
      |Reply
      • Athena
        Athena

        If she was paying freelance editors instead of working for an actual publisher who wouldn’t publish without her listening to their editors, I could definitely see her cherry-picking what they said about the book. There’s also the possibility that she showed it three friends of hers who were also “editors.”

        October 6, 2017
        |Reply
  21. Zia
    Zia

    “… Mac would resist Landi’s assorted charms just to win.” This is hilarious to me because ‘landi’ in Tagalog means ‘flirt’.

    Excellent recap as always, Jenny! 🙂

    October 4, 2017
    |Reply
  22. Amy
    Amy

    Why is Sofia drinking when she almost *died* the other day? Shouldn’t she be on bed rest? Taking pills for that huge bump in the back of her head? Holding an ice pack?

    What about just emotional trauma of it all? Reevaluating her life, her choices? Is she considering a will? Get in contact with friends and family? If Sofia was sent to the hospital, who is her emergency contact?

    As Sofia, I would be pissed that I almost died the other day and nobody seemed to care. Where’s all the get well cards? The flowers?

    Why hasn’t Mac or Charles made an official statement yet? A veteran actress of their troupe nearly died and I bet not a single email was sent out to cast and crew.

    The girl hate in this book is so disgusting.

    October 4, 2017
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Why is Sofia drinking when she almost *died* the other day? Shouldn’t she be on bed rest? Taking pills for that huge bump in the back of her head? Holding an ice pack?

      The Handbook for Mortals uses cartoon physics. There’s literally an upcoming scene that reads like a Loony Tunes gag. The only person who ever gets seriously hurt is Zade, and then it’s for dubiously magickal whitchka reasons.

      As Sofia, I would be pissed that I almost died the other day and nobody seemed to care. Where’s all the get well cards? The flowers?

      I’m assuming that’s why she’s drinking and hitting on Mac. She’s desperate for love, because Charles won’t give it to her, but she’s looking in all the wrong places. These people are assholes. The only good people are Zeb, Cameron, Mel, and Lily. Also, presumably Charles is Sofia’s emergency contact, but who really knows? Lani Sarem refused to research anything beyond a really rare disease, so Zade could lie about her condition when she fucks up her magic.

      The girl hate in this book is so disgusting.

      Absolutely. Just wait until the camping trip by Lake Mead, where Sofia and Mel are slandered, and then Dela’s triumphant return towards the end, which I won’t ruin, but it’s dripping with misogyny.

      October 4, 2017
      |Reply
      • Amy
        Amy

        Y’know, i was expecting the usual girl hate. Sofia is “the slut” and has no point in the book beyond being the slut to show off how virginal and pure Zade is. (Five dollars says Zade is in fact a virgin and Lani will put her virginity up on a pedestal) I expected Sofia to only show up once, and then never be mentioned again.

        But emphasizing that *nobody* cares about Sofia, about her safety, about her mental and physical welfare, about her emotional state, is much, much worse than ignoring her outright.

        Besides being “the slut”, what has Sofia done wrong to deserve such hatred? Hell, why is she labeled “the slut” when the ONLY person she’s openly been with is Charles? For goodness sakes, having Mac spy on Zade while she’s dressing is a million times more creepy and rapey than Sofia GENTLY TOUCHING MAC’S HAND.

        UGH,

        October 5, 2017
        |Reply
    • Alicee
      Alicee

      All of this! Even if we accept that she magically had only stitches and bruises, those would hurt. She wouldn’t be able to move like usual.

      October 6, 2017
      |Reply
      • Lily
        Lily

        Yeah, my near-death experience sent me on a slow spiritual journey (and also I was in pain for days). Sofia? Slutting at the bar, 100 percent fine, no enlightenment.

        October 6, 2017
        |Reply
  23. Someone on ontd predicted that she’d probably become an actual bestseller after all this fame/notoriety and I hate that they were probably correct

    I still refuse to believe this is a real book written by someone my age and not some elaborate trolling attempt or social experiment

    October 4, 2017
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Someone on ontd predicted that she’d probably become an actual bestseller after all this fame/notoriety and I hate that they were probably correct

      She’s not selling enough books to become a bestseller. If she’d created a quality product, it would’ve helped, but no one wants her book, unless they’re as masochistic as we are.

      It’s possible she’ll succeed if she writes a better Book 2, and tries to do the same NYT list trick, but more subtly.

      I still refuse to believe this is a real book written by someone my age and not some elaborate trolling attempt or social experiment

      Nah, I’ve read some horrible, sincere fiction. It has nothing to do with age, just writing experience and imagination. I’m pretty positive Lani Sarem is for real. I just wonder if she had at least one ghost writer, who decided to write some interesting implications. There’s some unintentional stuff in this book that boggles my mind, but it makes perfect sense if it’s written with cheeky self-awareness and an unreliable narrator.

      However, it’s also possible her lazy Frankenstein of a first draft created all sorts of unfortunate revelations. She cut every corner, never edited herself, almost never did any research, and dumped a crap ton of filler into the middle of the original plot, which didn’t originally have Jackson in it.

      October 4, 2017
      |Reply
    • When I read this book, there were legitimately moments where I was *positive* that LS was a troll. I mean, that bit where Zade thinks that the story of Scheherazade is “romantic and sweet?” That’s got to be commentary on people thinking stuff like 50 Shades is relationship goals, right? That bit where Zade rewrote history to include Sofia being even meaner and ungrateful? Who could write that without noticing that it never happened? In chapter 3, when Zade decides to tune out Lil in order to focus on her own reflection? Even then, my trolldar was going off like mad.

      But then I remember that Lani Sarem is a real person who has actually worked with bands who basically call her manipulative and delusional, and the only answer is that it is 100% serious.

      October 4, 2017
      |Reply
  24. Sofia is the bitchy cheerleader in every teen 80s movie ever. Unfortunately so is Zade.
    What this book lacks is a Molly Ringwald.

    October 4, 2017
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Yeah, Zade thinks she’s the blonde from Clueless, but she’s barely that.

      October 4, 2017
      |Reply
  25. Is anyone else having a problem remembering all of these one-syllable characters? That’s just… bizarre. I can see having a couple people, but it feels like all of the characters except Sofie/a and her mother have these short names/nicknames.

    October 5, 2017
    |Reply
  26. Mike
    Mike

    I just feel like pointing out that the very first quoted paragraph uses the word ‘show’ or ‘shows’ 8 times. 8 times. In one paragraph.

    I have nothing witty to say about this, I just can’t get over how painfully repetitive Sarem’s writing is.

    October 5, 2017
    |Reply
  27. Crystal
    Crystal

    “Sofie” is a legit short form of “Sofia.” It chops off the last phoneme and one whole syllable, turning “so-FEE-a” into “SO-fee.” “Sof” would look weird, and I’d be tempted to rhyme it with “off.” My accent is BBC English if anyone cares, though I don’t think it should make a difference to this one?

    I don’t mean to be critical or annoying, I just thought I had an answer to that question. I love these reviews, thanks for writing them 🙂

    October 5, 2017
    |Reply
    • Maril
      Maril

      Thank you for pointing this out XD My niece’s name is Sophia, and it’s super common for everyone to go back and forth between calling her Sophia and Sophie (pronounced as you say) at random. But I didn’t want to say anything because I thought maybe this was really uncommon and therefore bad form in writing? But since you know it too it’s probably just that Lani also knows a Sofia who people do this with and carried it into her writing.

      And I am a Canadian living in England, so I’ve heard both versions of my niece’s name from multiple people and you’re right, your accent doesn’t make a difference in this case.

      October 5, 2017
      |Reply
      • Amy
        Amy

        Considering Lani has already set up that name pronouncing is super important to her, you’d think she be consistant with all names. I too have heard people switch between Sofie and Sofia, but the way Lani writes it is not consistant, not in dialogue form or narrative, so as a result it comes off as jarring when to read it.

        For the sake of a steady flow in sentence structure, you gotta keep things simplistic, which Lani does not do.

        October 5, 2017
        |Reply
        • Crystal
          Crystal

          Oh em gee! I bet it’s another deliberate little bit of spite to the Sofias of the world!

          “My name is Lani, here’s a paragraph about how you pronounce it. My self-insert main character is called Zade, let me explain to you how to say that name correctly. Over there is some bitch called Sofia, or Sofie, whatevs. “

          October 5, 2017
          |Reply
  28. I really just want some of those mysterious cheese dumplings. (Is that really just ravioli? Come on. It’s ravioli, isn’t it? You cheeky monkey.)

    October 5, 2017
    |Reply
    • RedHandedJill
      RedHandedJill

      That was such a bizarre aside. There are so many dumplings with cheese in them, pierogi, empanadas, gnocchi, knish, croquettes… I mean the list is close to endless. They probably are something super obvious like ravioli or mozzarella sticks.

      October 10, 2017
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        Maybe they don’t have tortellini or mezzaluna in Mayberry.

        October 10, 2017
        |Reply
  29. Ilex
    Ilex

    I’m feeling a bit mystified by how this is supposed to be Young Adult lit. Everyone in this book is adults earning a living, right? It’s not the only so-called YA I can think of, since if the publisher markets it as YA then apparently that makes it so, but this whole set-up seems like it would work better as an adult urban fantasy .

    (I mean “work better” fairly loosely, of course.)

    October 5, 2017
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      According to what I heard, Lani put it in YA because when people hear ‘new adult’ they automatically think the book is erotic. Which… I kinda get. (I would love to see how Lani writes sex. I bet is freakin’ hilarious.)

      But the bigger reason I think Lani labeled it as YA is to bank on all that sweet YA money, which grows faster and garners more attention than new adult. Which is still boggling because there’s a lot of dumb but popular YA novels out there that’ll never become movies. I mean, had Lani taken the time to polish this novel a bit more, I think it would’ve made a decent amount of sales of which she could’ve lived off of comfortably. But alas, as I keep repeating, Lani wants to be star and will not settle for anything less.

      October 5, 2017
      |Reply
    • Keaalu
      Keaalu

      I think they only mislabelled it as young adult because they thought it’d be easier to score a “bestseller” – looking at the figures people have quoted, you have to buy fewer of your own books to hit the top of the YA charts, compared to adult fiction.

      October 6, 2017
      |Reply
    • Erin C
      Erin C

      They all act more like middle schoolers than people pushing 30, so maybe thats why.

      October 6, 2017
      |Reply
  30. BitterAlmonds
    BitterAlmonds

    Creepiest part of this chapter: Sofie/a is theoretically based on a real person. So Lani totally wrote, as a plot point, that this real person who she has almost definitely met nearly died and then went around trying to seduce men to get at Lani. And also nobody cared that this real person went into cardiac arrest. My deepest regrets for Gosselin on this one.

    October 5, 2017
    |Reply
  31. Perlite
    Perlite

    If Mac is so good at his job and is “Mr. Safety”, he should just stipulate that Sophia can’t be in the show until she complies (like every good safety manager should do). I doubt Charles would raise an objection is she complains to him, unless he actual does want her to get killed. Sad thing is, since he is almost definitely Zade’s dad, he’ll probably dump Sophia and get back together with Zade’s mom because “biological parents = twu wuv”.
    Also, I never got why the young girlfriend of an older man is always demonized. Personally, I’d be side-eyeing the guy who’s dating pool consists of women young enough to be his daughter.

    October 5, 2017
    |Reply
  32. RodeoBob
    RodeoBob

    Ever since the Sofia incident he had had stopped being mean to me.

    What? Ever since an incident where a performer was badly injured due to stage safety issues, the *safety manager* has stopped being mean to the other performers? How’s that work? Are we supposed to see this as a good thing?

    Along the way, he had stopped bringing up the need to know about my illusion, which was great too, because he just couldn’t know.

    Again, the person in charge of performer safety just had a major, life-threatening accident occur on his stage, and following that, said manager is no longer even asking questions about the other acts and their safety protocols. And they’re sitting alone in a bar, drinking, and rejecting company, which just screams “my job is other people’s safety”. But to our POV character that “was great too!”

    Huh?

    I mean, Mac’s behavior kind of fits the “I screwed up at my job and nearly got someone killed” sort of moping you’d expect, but our POV character seems instead to interpret Mac’s shutting down and not doing his job as a positive thing.

    I could completely buy a scene where Sophia came onto Mac with a “I nearly died, it’s made me re-think some things, and I know you were just doing your job but you’ve always cared about making sure people don’t get hurt and that’s kind of attractive”, I mean, she could still be be all “Hey Mac, wanna see me try to touch my elbows behind my back, while I’m wearing this tight tank top?” but it would at least be plausible.

    Likewise, Mac could absolutely brush off the idea of having a relationship with a performer for professional reasons. “I took my eye off the stage to watch a pretty girl, and someone nearly died. I don’t date crew members, not while the show is running.”

    But no, that’s not what’s going on. The obstacle to the Mac/Zade love story can’t be Mac’s professionalism about safety, or that Sophie can appreciate something about Mac that other people gloss over. Nope. gotta have evil harlot girl pushing her boobs at dumb guy who just won’t have it.

    October 9, 2017
    |Reply
    • mydogspa
      mydogspa

      Back in 2013 Sarah Guyard-Guillot fell 94+ feet off of the “Ka” stage after the wire supporting her was sheared away in a pulley. (I suspect there’d been so many performances up to that point no one had checked the wear on the pulleys and the guides designed to keep the wires in the pulley grooves. The wire somehow came out of the groove and was instead rubbing against the frame of the pulley, resulting in a stress concentration that eventually wore out the wire)

      http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/30/us/nevada-cirque-death-investigation/index.html

      She was fully latched into her harness, however, it did her no good when the wire broke. Production was shut down for nearly 2 weeks.

      This is serious stuff. A show can’t ignore it like Sarem thinks she can.

      October 10, 2017
      |Reply
  33. Cody Cromarty
    Cody Cromarty

    So after doing my own Let’s Read of this book for the Something Awful forums, I did some Googling. McMullan’s is actually a real Irish pub in Vegas. In fact, almost all of the action in this book (except for the Holden house in Tennessee, which for all I know could be a real house that Lani saw in Centertown once) takes place in real locations! Much like the constant name-dropping of products, songs, and movies, this would be a hell of a movie to get the necessary rights for filming.

    The exceedingly long “thank yous” at the end of the book also specifically mention people that Lani couldn’t put in this book but would put in the next one, so I think a lot of the minor characters are actually inserts of people Lani and Thomas know in real life. That’s probably why Drew gets such a long description despite having no lines or story purpose.

    November 2, 2017
    |Reply
  34. Anon
    Anon

    This book should have been called, “The Art of Beating Readers Over the Head with Obvious Details.”

    November 27, 2017
    |Reply

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