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Jealous Haters Book Club: Beautiful Disaster Chapter Two, “Pig,” or “Yes, still incredibly accurate.”

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The super nice thing about these recaps is that there’s no news to frantically keep up on. Except for news that happens in the comments. It seems a fair number of you are building an elaborate conspiracy theory in which this is Lady and The Tramp human AU fanfic. I don’t know how I’ll ever recover from typing that sentence.

I’ll add a disclaimer here that if I don’t point out a specific typo or error in a quoted passage, it’s not in the actual text. It’s just my butterfingers and I’ve overlooked it in the spellcheck.

Familiar faces filled the seats of our favorite lunch table.

Then everyone is sitting wrong.

America sat on one side of me, Finch on the other, and the rest of the spaces were picked off by Shepley and his Sigma Tau brothers.

So, the scene is set. We’re going to meet some of Shepley’s other friends, like…

“Hey, Brazil,” Shepley said, greeting the man sitting in front of me. His olive skin and chocolate eyes offset the white Eastern Football hat pulled low on his forehead.

Okay. First of all, my assumption is that his name is Brazil because he’s from Brazil. From his description, we can guess that he’s a person of color. Not just from his dark eyes and brown skin, but from the fact that his physical features are described using food references and a comparison to the color white.

Now, moving on from that, let’s talk about the fact that this book sounds like an Army movie. America, Brazil, Shepley, Mad Dog…it sounds like they’re going to team up to fight the fucking Predator.

“You’re sittin’ in my chair, Brazil.”

Brazil turned to see Travis standing behind him, and then looked to me, surprised. “Oh, is she one of your girls, Trav?”

“Absolutely not,” I said, shaking my head.

Brazil looked to Travis, who stared at him expectantly. Brazil shrugged and then took his tray to the end of the table.

Are we supposed to be swooning over Travis’s lack of manners here? My assumption is that I’m supposed to be turned on and impressed by his toughness, but he just keeps coming off as childish.

“What is that?” I asked, unable to look away from his tray. The mystery food on his plate looked like a wax display.

Travis laughed and took a drink from his water glass. “The cafeteria ladies scare me. I’m not about to critique their cooking skills.”

Wanna know how I know this was originally set in high school?

The thing that gets me is, if you look up the author’s bio, she went to like three different colleges. It’s not like she has no idea about the college experience.

Of course, everyone notices that Travis is paying attention to Abby.

Travis’s behavior piqued their curiosity, and I subdued a smile at being the only girl they had seen him insist on sitting with.

I promise you’ll never, ever get tired of hearing about how differently Travis treats Abby.

But I’m a notorious liar.

There’s a biology test after lunch, but America says she hasn’t had time to study because she spent all her time telling Shepley that Abby wouldn’t sleep with Travis.

The football players seated at the end of our table stopped their obnoxious laughter to listen more closely, making the other students take notice.

HEY EVERYONE LOOK HOW INTERESTING ABBY IS! LOOK! SHE’S SOOOOOOOO INTERESTING!

There’s a brief conversation about how Abby is definitely never going to sleep with Travis and imperil America’s relationship with Shepley, and then Travis asks Abby if she studied for the biology test.

“No amount of studying is going to help me with Biology. It’s just not something I can wrap my head around.”

Travis stood up. “C’mon.”

“What?”

“Let’s go get your notes. I’m going to help you study.”

“Travis…”

“Get your ass up, Pidge. You’re gonna ace that test.”

I’m so happy this passage is in here because it gives me a chance to talk about one of my favorite things: things that seem nice but are actually super controlling. This happened all through the Fifty Shades of Grey series and I’m going out on a limb and guessing it happens all through this book. Since both of them are super popular, they inspired countless other authors who wrote the same tropes, either knowingly or unknowingly. Basically, these authors liked what they read, wanted more, and wrote it. So, a certain pattern of character behavior emerges in all of them: heroes who don’t just think they know what’s best for the heroines. They know they know what’s best for the heroines. The heroines, for their parts, tacitly accept this. They might grumble and protest but ultimately they give in and then later are grateful to the heroes for bossing them around in the first place. And readers are expected to understand that the hero really does know what’s best for the heroine and that the heroine really doesn’t have a clue how to do anything on her own. It plays into the fantasy of having a man solve all of a woman’s problems. That’s all it is, just magnified under the type of microscope NASA would be responsible for building.

In this case, we’ve got Abby. She’s having lunch and chatting with her friends. Travis decides that she’s done doing that now because he’s going to make a grand gesture. And, of course, Abby goes along with it. Because he’s doing something that will help her, we’re meant to think of him as generous and caring toward her, when in reality he just told her he was going to help her, rather than asking if she even wanted his help in the first place.

They go back to her room and he quizzes her over the study guide.

“…and somatic cells use mitosis to reproduce. That’s when you have the phases. They sound sort of like a woman’s name: Prometa Anatela.”

A woman in this book, maybe.

I’m going to enter “bonding over mitosis” into the evidence that this might have been a Twilight fanfic. Although, unlike Travis and Christian Grey, when Bella told Edward not to call her Isabella, he actually listened and corrected other people, too.

Travis walks Abby to her class and she asks him how he plans to tutor her and train for his fights at the same time.

“I don’t train for my fights. Adam calls me, tells me where the fight is, and I go.”

“I’m just naturally violent,” isn’t exactly what you want to hear from the love interest of a book. Unless you’re one of the millions of people whose bells ring until the clangers break at the merest whiff of toxic masculinity. In which case, I got nothing for ya.

At the classroom, they run into a new character:

“Parker,” Travis nodded.

Writing Tip: You can’t nod dialogue. There needs to be a period after Parker.

Parker’s eyes brightened a bit when he looked to me, and he smiled. “Hi, Abby.”

“Hi,” I said, surprised that he knew my name. I had seen him in class, but we’d never met.

Travis tells her that Parker is one of his frat brothers, and the revelation that Travis is in a frat surprises Abby. For some reason. That makes no sense.

“Sigma Tau, same as Shep. I thought you knew that,” he said, looking beyond me to Parker.

Yeah, I would assume that she knew that, too. Since she eats lunch with the Sigma Tau guys and hangs out with the one her boyfriend is dating. So, here’s another thing that Abby somehow missed, despite her close proximity to Travis’s circle of friends and his fame around campus.

“Well…you don’t seem the…fraternity type,” I said, eyeing the tattoos on his forearms.

Maybe not at Liberty or Brigham Young, but I can walk into a frat house today, throw a dart, and hit a guy with a tattoo. And it’s going to be a super douchey one, too.

Turns out, Travis’s dad and his brothers are all Sigma Tau members, so it was a legacy type of deal. I’m not sure why we need to know this, at this time, because the conversation abruptly ends with Abby going into the class and America catching up to her. America asks how things went with Travis, and we get some serious characterization inconsistency. WHEE!

I shrugged. “He’s a good tutor.”

“Just a tutor?”

“He’s a good friend, too.”

She seemed disappointed, and I giggled at the fallen expression on her face.

It had always been a dream of America’s for us to date friends, and roommates-slash-cousins, for her, was hitting the jackpot.

 

According to America, she just spent her entire evening promising her boyfriend that Abby wouldn’t fall for Travis, because the way Travis treats women results in the destruction of Shepley’s relationships. America is also aware of Travis’s fuck-and-run hobby, to the point that she told Abby it would be easier to sleep with Travis so he would leave her alone forever. Now, America thinks they’re going to start dating? And she’s rooting for this to happen? This is…not a good friend.

Travis’s healthy interest in me had surpassed her ideas.

There is nothing healthy about Travis or his interests.

They take the test and Abby feels like she did great, while America is bummed out because she’s sure she failed. Abby suggests America get Travis to tutor her, as well, and they walk back to their dorm.

One section break and a week pass, during which Travis continues to tutor Abby in both history and biology. When the test grades are posted, Abby did really well:

“Third-highest test grade in the class! Nice, Pidge!” he said, squeezing me. His eyes were bright with excitement and pride, and an awkward feeling made me take a step back.

“Thanks, Trav. Couldn’t have done it without you,” I said, pulling on his T-shirt.

She’s so totally not into him. They’re just friends. Super platonic.

One of the reasons I feel like I could never connect to Jamie McGuire’s writing is that, like the other heavy hitters of the Jealous Haters Book Club, she pays the same attention to detail to deeply important stuff as she does to things that don’t matter at all. This is meant to show the first moment that Abby is starting to have some romantic chemistry with Travis. But what we get is a vague “awkward feeling” and a tug on his shirt. Writing like this feels lazy. It’s like saying to the reader, “Look, you know what to expect in this book. You know what you came here to see. So, you know that this is sexual tension. Why waste our time describing it in further detail?

Well. Because that’s what a story is.

What is it about Travis’s pride and excitement that makes Abby feel awkward? Does she have a hard time handling praise, or is this the first time he’s let his tough-guy mask slip and expressed genuine emotion toward her? When she grabs his shirt, does she feel a zing from the contact? Does it disturb her enough to quickly let go? She doesn’t question her “awkward feeling” or why she’s feeling it. These are details that could have given the scene the weight it’s clearly supposed to have.

He tossed me over his shoulder, making his way through the crowd behind us. “Make way! Move it, people! Let’s make room for this poor woman’s hideously disfigured, enormous brain! She’s a fucking genius!”

I giggled at the amused and curious expressions of my classmates.

Section break to:

As the days went by, we fielded the persistent rumors about a relationship.

GOSH I WONDER WHY ANYONE WOULD THINK YOU WERE IN A RELATIONSHIP THAT’S SO WEIRD IT’S NOT LIKE HE JUST PICKED YOU UP AND THREW YOUR GIGGLING ASS OVER HIS SHOULDER OR ANYTHING. WHY WON’T THE GOSSIP MONGERS LET YOU BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE?!

Travis’s reputation helped to quiet the gossip. He had never been known to stay with one girl longer than a night, so the more times we were seen together, the more people understood our platonic relationship for what it was. Even with the constant questions about our involvement,

Pause, please. Everyone thinks you’re in a relationship even though they know he doesn’t do relationships but they’re constantly questioning whether you’re in a relationship even though everyone knows he wouldn’t be in a relationship? Does your order look correct on the screen here? Because it sure as hell is missing a few burgers on mine.

the stream of attention Travis received from his coeds didn’t recede.

It’s important for the reader to know that even if Travis did get into a relationship, women would still throw themselves at him shamelessly. I don’t know why, but it’s super important.

It didn’t take long to realize I had been wrong about him, even finding myself defensive toward those who didn’t know Travis the way that I did.

When? This is a huge problem in this book so far, and we’re only chapter two. We’re either getting only showing with no telling (like the t-shirt pull above) or all telling and no showing. You have to have a balance of both, otherwise, there’s no context for either. Abby is our POV character. We’re in her head for the entire book. But we don’t see any of her thoughts evolving. What we get is a recitation of the physical things that are happening. Travis helped me study. Travis walked me to class. Travis said this. We don’t ever find out how she feels about these things while they’re happening. Events are just listed off until she finally goes, hey, my thinking about this guy has totally changed. It doesn’t help that we’ve skipped all the parts that would explain why her thinking has changed. What has Travis done or said during these unseen study sessions that’s made her think he’s different? We don’t get a single scene of that, just a super vague time jump: “As days went by.” As days went by, what? You saw him save some baby ducks from a storm drain? Did he confess to feeling peer pressure to keep up his sexy bad boy charade? What happened in those days that would result in you realizing you’re wrong about him, Abby?

We’re not experiencing the story through Abby. We’re just watching the events through her eyes while she fails to examine them.

In the cafeteria, Travis brings Abby a can of orange juice, which Brazil views as a sign of total, humiliating submission:

“Did she turn you into a cabana boy, Travis? What’s next, fanning her with a palm tree leaf, wearing a Speedo?”

Travis shot him a murderous glare, and I jumped to his defense. “You couldn’t fill a Speedo, Brazil. Shut the hell up.”

The way that sentence is worded, Abby is jumping to Brazil’s defense by mocking his penis and telling him to shut up.

Travis is shocked:

“Now I’ve seen it all. I was just defended by a girl,” he said, standing up. Before he left with his tray, he offered one more warning glare to Brazil, and then walked outside to stand with a small group of fellow smokers outside the building.

If he smokes, you know he’s a bad boy.

So, this is an interesting passage. Someone jokes about how ridiculous it would be for Travis to do something for a woman. Abby defends him from so degrading an allegation. How? By mocking his manhood, as if to say, “Oh yeah? You think Travis is submissive and weak? At least he would have a big penis while doing it.” Then, in response, Travis points out how outlandish it is for a woman to defend him. I can’t even begin to unravel all the toxic masculinity here. This scene would read so differently if, instead of glaring at Brazil for suggesting he would be nice to a girl and making a snarky comment about a girl being nice to him, Travis had just high-fived Abby while they had a laugh. We would see that he respects Abby as an equal and get a sense of their friendship and why she would want to be around him.

I mean, if we don’t know what it is about Travis that makes him such a great friend, we might assume Abby really is like those other girls. And she’s Not Like Other Girls™. Especially not the girls who are mobbing him outside. America has thoughts about them, let me tell ya.

“They’re so obvious. Look at the redhead. She’s run her fingers through her hair as many times as she’s blinked. I wonder if Travis gets tired of that.”

Shepley nodded. “He does. Everyone thinks he’s this asshole, but if they only knew how much patience he has dealing with every girl that thinks she can tame him…He can’t go anywhere without them bugging him. Trust me; he’s much more polite than I would be.”

Imagine writing this section. And then not being too ashamed of yourself to show it to anyone. Seriously. We’re supposed to feel sorry for Travis because too many women flirt with him. While he publically revels in his womanizer reputation and takes advantage of it at every opportunity. And we’re supposed to feel angry at those girls for wanting his attention, despite the fact that he prides himself on being able to fuck and discard as many of them as possible. Then, we’re supposed to admire him for having the patience of a saint because he’s not as aggressive toward them as another male character would be?

I’m not buying it.

I’m also not buying that if this guy has the reputation he has, that every woman on campus would still aggressively pursue him. Sure, some would, but we have yet to see any female characters besides Abby, America, and Kara do anything other than stalk and fawn over Travis. Does McGuire have any female friends? Is she unaware of how women talk to each other about exactly this subject? That there is always a whisper network wherein girls go, “No, no, no, do not fuck that guy?” If this college is as small as it’s been made out to be, how has he not run through every last female student and burned all those bridges yet?

As Abby leaves for her next class, Travis stops her and offers to walk with her. She tells him she can get there by herself.

Travis was easily sidetracked by a girl with long black hair and a short skirt. She walked by, smiling at him. He followed her with his eyes and nodded in the girl’s direction, throwing down his cigarette.

Oh no. Poor Travis. That girl walked by and smiled at him. How he must suffer. I mean, sure, he followed her, but she’s clearly bewitched him, the hussy! If only he were less patient and noble and kind. Then he could choose not to go introduce himself, ask her back to his place, fuck her, and never speak to her again. Alas, he must. Woe. Woe, dear reader, and anguish.

Travis’s seat remained empty during class, and I found myself a bit irritated with him for missing over a girl he didn’t know.

I haven’t read the whole book yet, but knowing this author’s M.O., I guarantee there will be a scene where they skip class to fuck and it’s the most totally okayest and cute thing ever. If it doesn’t come up, I’ll…well, I’ll do nothing. Because I’m not that invested. But if I was going to do something, it would be drastic and unnecessary, as are all things in my life.

After class, we get introduced…to the guy we met in an earlier scene?

Parker jogged across the grass to walk beside me. “I don’t think we’ve officially met,” he said, holding out his hand. “Parker Hayes.”

I took his hand and smiled. “Abby Abernathy.”

He…knows already? He said your name when you…met? Already?

Unfortunately, Parker’s name means I’m imagining him as Stupid Fucking Douchebag from Buffy. So, even if he turns out to be a swell guy that Abby should end up with instead of Travis and only doesn’t because our culture has fucked up straight women so badly that a huge number of them fantasize about being treated like dog shit by men who aren’t required to meet even the lowest bar for human decency, I’ll still not like him.

Anyway, he congratulates her on getting a good grade on her test, then assumes she and Travis are dating, again, despite all the groundwork the author has laid to make it clear that everyone knows that Travis doesn’t date, and then he tells her there’s a party at the Sigma Tau house that weekend.

“I’ll talk to America. I don’t think we have any plans.”

“Are you a package deal?”

“We made a pact this summer. No parties solo.”

“Smart.” He nodded in approval.

Actually, yes. Smart.

“She met Shep at orientation, so I haven’t really had to tag along with her much. This will be the first time I’ve needed to ask her, so I’m sure she’ll be happy to come.” I inwardly cringed. Not only was I babbling, I’d made it obvious that I didn’t get asked to parties.

This paragraph alone establishes more romantic and sexual tension than we’ve seen between Abby and Travis for the book so far. Why? Because for once, Abby’s thoughts comment on her action and reaction, rather than on what other people are doing. Instead of trying to establish tension via looking at other girls and commenting on how much they desire Travis, we’ve got Abby having a conversation with Parker and thinking about how uncool she must seem to him. Meaning, it’s important to her that he find her desirable.

He flashed his perfect Banana Republic-model smile with his square jaw and naturally tan skin, turning to walk across campus.

I watched him walk away; he was tall, clean-shaven, with a pressed pin-striped dress shirt and jeans. His wavy dark-blond hair bounced when he walked.

Most of this stuff is detail a reader could use when the character is either first introduced, or before an interaction like this. I don’t know that we would need this full description the first time we met Parker, but the square jaw, clean-shaven face, and hair are all things that could have been described in the beginning of their interaction. At the very least, this description could have been broken up and sprinkled through their conversation. Just something to think about if you’re writing stories of your own.

I bit my lip, flattered by his invitation.

Again, not entirely sure this isn’t Twilight college AU fanfic where they’re all humans. Because while I love Kristen Stewart, fuck her entirely for biting her god damn lip so much. It’s so bad that if my characters bite their lips for any reason, I immediately think of Fifty Shades and Twilight and now it’s going to be this book, too, and my confidence as a writer will be utterly shattered. Again.

Finch sees Abby talking to Parker and they talk about how attractive he is because Finch is apparently the gay bestie of the piece. He also mentions that the boilers are broken at the dorm and there’s no hot water. Abby goes to her room, where Kara also tells her that the dorm has no hot water.

I’m going to imagine Kara as a video game NPC who is always in the exact same spot, dispensing information on whatever Abby’s current quest is.

America walked in and plopped onto my bed, arms crossed. “Can you believe this shit? How much are we paying and we can’t even take a hot shower?”

Kara sighed. “Stop whining. Why don’t you just stay with your boyfriend? Haven’t you been staying with him, anyway?”

America’s eyes darted in Kara’s direction. “Good idea, Kara. The fact that you’re a total bitch comes in handy sometimes.”

So, what’s this deal with Kara? Why is she a total bitch? Is it just because she’s Abby’s roommate, which America wanted to be? I have yet to see any behavior from Kara that I would consider rude. Twice now, America has shown up at Kara and America’s shared dorm room acting super dramatic and loud about something while Kara is apparently trying to study. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for Kara to be annoyed at that. #TeamKara, to be perfectly frank.

How much would it suck to be roommates with the heroine of a New Adult novel? No matter what you might really be like, you’re a total bitch by default.

America tells Abby that they’re going to go stay at Shep and Travis’s apartment, since they have two bathrooms and hot water (keep the two bathrooms thing in mind. It’s coming up later, probably on a tide of my lunch). Abby says no, but America argues that Abby can sleep on the couch if Travis “isn’t using it” (also something that will be making a return appearance, opening for my lunch), in which case Abby can platonically sleep in his bed.

You guys. Come the fuck on. There is no way this wasn’t originally fanfic of something. “And there was only one bed,” is the oldest fanfic trope in the book.

Remember what I said before about how it’s okay for Abby to want Travis to desire her as long as her words and actions make it clear she doesn’t want him to desire her?

“Don’t be such a baby, Abby. You guys are friends, right? If he hasn’t tried anything by now, I don’t think he will.”

Her words made my open mouth snap shut. Travis had been around me in one way or another every night for weeks. I had been so occupied with making sure everyone knew we were just friends, it hadn’t occurred to me that he really was interested only in friendship. I wasn’t sure why, but I felt insulted.

This “I don’t want him to want me/hey, why doesn’t he want me” dance is pretty common in fiction, but it’s usually a slower burn than this. If you establish that the tension here is the heroine not wanting the hero to like her, but then in chapter two it’s like, oh, I feel so insulted that he doesn’t like me, then congratulations. You’ve wrapped up the only conflict you’ve established so far. By chapter two.

Even Kara is aware of Travis’s reputation. She’s just as shocked as everyone else that he hasn’t tried to sleep with Abby, who reiterates again that they’re just friends.

“I know, but he hasn’t even tried? He’s slept with everyone.”

“Except us,” America said, looking her over. “And you.”

Kara shrugged. “Well, I’ve never met him. I’ve just heard.”

“Exactly,” I snapped. “You don’t even know him.”

Abby had the same impression of Travis when they met, based on his reputation. She didn’t even want to speak to him, lest her panties lept from her body unbidden and she spread herself like a feast before him. Her interactions with him throughout the previous chapter were firmly rooted in the belief that he’s a disgusting person who treats women like crap. But it’s only okay if Abby thinks like that.

Abby and America pack up and go to the apartment, where Shepley makes a comment about the heaviness of America’s suitcase. Then they go inside and:

America and I froze when a woman emerged from the bathroom, buttoning her blouse.

“Hi,” she said, surprised. Her mascara-smeared eyes examined us before settling on our luggage. I recognized her as the leggy brunette Travis had followed from the cafeteria.

Minor nitpick: You can tighten this up pretty easily. “American and I froze when the leggy brunette from the cafeteria emerged from the bathroom, buttoning her blouse.” Not necessarily bad or terrible that it was written this way. Just tightens it up a little. Just in case you want to file that away as an example for the next time you’re editing, writers of Trout Nation.

America glares at Shepley, who says the girl is with Travis. Honestly, why is America not jumping to that conclusion automatically, based on what she knows about Travis already? In fact, if Shepley ever wants to cheat, he could do so super easily by claiming any girl coming out of the apartment was fucking Travis and not him. However, Shepley is so concerned about Travis ruining his relationship it seems unlikely that he’d do something to potentially sabotage it himself.

Travis rounded the corner in a pair of boxer shorts and yawned. He looked at his guest and then patted her backside. “My company’s here. You’d better go.”

She smiled and wrapped her arms around him, kissing his neck. “I’ll leave my number on the counter.”

“Eh…don’t worry about it,” Travis said in a casual tone.

Obviously, she’s offended at his dismissal. Which is all her fault, according to America:

“Every time!” America said. She looked at the woman. “How are you surprised by this? He’s Travis Fucking Maddox! He is famous for this very thing, and every time they’re surprised!” she said, turning to Shepley. He put his arm around her, gesturing for her to calm down.

Of course, Abby jumps to his defense, right? Because there’s so much more to Travis than his reputation, and she’s been getting hostile with anyone who argues otherwise all day long? Ha ha, no. Of course not.

Hey, Abby, here’s a tip: if you’re the only one defending someone’s bad behavior and you’re also the only one that person treats with respect? They’re using you as an unpaid PR consultant.

The girl leaves in a huff and America and Shepley head to his bedroom with her luggage.

I collapsed against the recliner and sighed, wondering if I was crazy for agreeing to come. I didn’t realize Shepley’s apartment was a revolving door for clueless bimbos.

…yes, you did. It’s why you didn’t want to go over there the first time. Because you thought you were being invited over so Travis could seduce you. This happened in the first chapter. We’re on the second chapter. How have you forgotten this?

Also, I like how it’s Shepley’s apartment and not Travis’s apartment in this statement. Travis lives there, too. Travis is the one behaving badly. But it’s Shepley’s apartment and the apartment is the problem. Not Travis’s actions.

Then, there’s the “clueless bimbo” remark. We’ve had Abby running all over campus, defending Travis, saying he’s not really like the womanizing trash hole he seems to be, but when a girl goes back to his apartment, well. She got what she deserved for being stupid.

You. Can’t. Have. It. Both. Ways. But you’re sure as fuck going to try, just like you’re going to try my patience.

To her credit, Abby does call out Travis for the way he treated this woman, but it’s so at odds with her internal reaction of stupid-bimbo-should-have-known-better. She asks Travis why he wouldn’t take the girl’s number, to which Travis asks why he should have when he had no intention of calling her. What I really want Abby to ask is if he sets clear boundaries with these women before he has sex with them. Does he make it clear that he’s only interested in having sex with them, and that he’s only interested in having sex with them this one time and plans never to contact them again? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with living your life that way, so long as you’re clear about your intentions to these partners and they’re entering into the sexual encounter with that understanding. But we also saw the way Travis pursued Abby, through pet names and teasing, insisting he wanted to get to know her better, and trying to “charm” her (though nothing he did was charming). If he’s using this approach with all these other women he plans to throw in the dumpster, then no, he’s not being clear about his intentions and these women have every right to be insulted when they find out that what had appeared to be genuine interest wasn’t. The attitude displayed by Abby and America and Shepley has repeated over and over again in real life, and it enables society in the policing of women’s sexuality and the forgiveness it extends towards men who disrespect women. Oh, Travis runs through women the way other people run through water while brushing their teeth with the tap on? Stupid women. They shouldn’t let him treat them this way.

And women, including fans and authors of books like these, are more than happy to advance this narrative of sexy bad boy, dirty slut over and over again because it reassures them of their own goodness and worth. It’s what the entire world promotes as attractive behavior. The more I read Beautiful Disaster and other books of its ilk, the more I find myself asking, “Are straight women okay? Is there something we need to be doing to fix them?” Come on. You deserve better. Every time I write a recap, I feel like I’m staging an intervention in the abusive and toxic relationship between women and the pop culture produced by and for them.

“I don’t promise anyone anything, Pidge. She didn’t stipulate a relationship before she spread-eagled on my couch.”

See, this is the kind of remark that leads me to believe that Travis is not upfront with these women before they have sex with him. It sounds like he’s letting himself off on a technicality. She didn’t set the boundaries, it’s her fault.

I stared at the couch with revulsion. “She’s someone’s daughter, Travis.

She’s a person and deserves to be treated as such on that merit alone, Abby.

What if, down the line, someone trreats your daughter like that?”

“My daughter better not drop her panties for some jackass she just met, let’s put it that way.”

Again, it’s the women’s fault. If they had just been smarter, better, less slutty women, Travis wouldn’t have to treat them the way he does. It’s not his fault. He’s so patient with them.

“I’m saying that I was honest with her. She’s an adult, it was consensual…she was a little too eager about it, if you want to know the truth. You act like I commited a crime.”

“She didn’t seem as clear about your intentions, Travis.”

“Women usually justify their actions with whatever they make up in their heads.

Wanna know how I know that Travis has definitely raped women before? It’s the real subtle clues like, “[…] it was consensual…she was a little too eager about it, if you want to know the truth,” and “Women usually justify their actions with whatever they make up in their heads.” How often is a woman’s “eagerness,” cited in court? How often do we hear that women only accuse men of raping them after they regret consensual sex? This is directly from a criminal defense lawyer’s handbook. I’m not saying he raped the woman on the couch. I’m just saying that the excuses rapists give seem to roll right the fuck off his tongue like they were fully lubed and gliding on steel ball bearings.

She didn’t tell me up front that she expected a relationship any more than I told her I expected sex with no strings. How is it any different?”

So, here’s our confirmation that he’s not setting boundaries with the women he’s basically leading on. You know why he’s not? Because he wouldn’t get laid as often if he were honest. Anything. For. The. Sex.

I stared at the couch, the cushions still askew and bunched up from its recent use. I recoiled at the thought of how many women had given themselves away against the fabric. Itchy fabric at that.

There is no way Jamie McGuire has never worn a purity ring. Gave themselves away? They lose value, no, destroy their value by having sex with Travis, but Travis still has value? Would they be less disgusting if the upholstery were of a higher quality?

Abby makes a comment about how she’ll sleep in the recliner, to which Travis tells her no, she’s going to sleep in his bed with him. She balks at that, figuring he’s had more sex on the bed than on the couch.

“There’s never been anyone in my bed but me.”

I rolled my eyes. “Give me a break!”

“I’m absolutely serious. I bag ’em on the couch. I don’t let them in my room.”

Nicole Kidman flossing her teeth and saying, "What a charming boy." I have no idea what movie it's from.

But, again…I’m not so sure this wasn’t copied from Master of The Universe on some level. The whole thing where his bed is sacred and these slutty women aren’t allowed in it was an Edward thing in that story. And excuse me, Travis, but you have a roommate who was apparently home the whole time. 

Kim Kardashian saying, "So rude."

Abby asks why she’s allowed in his bed, and Travis says it’s because she’s not having sex with him. So, in Travis’s eyes, women who have sex with him are lesser than women who won’t have sex with him. There’s some USDA Certified Grade A Black Angus self-esteem if I’ve ever seen it, boy howdy.

He orders her to go take her hot shower so they can study bio together, but Abby is like, no, there is no way I’m staying here in this apartment. Friendship off.

No, obviously not. She goes and takes the damn shower and drops her argument about not sleeping in his bed with him because things happen to Abby, Abby can’t make anything happen for herself.

I walk a real fine line in these recaps between insisting that women are victimized by the patriarchy and blaming them for their part in their own victimization. I want to be able to sit here and go, “I think that no matter what, Abby is the victim of a society that has trained her to be a doormat and nothing that happens as a result of her action or, more likely, inaction is her fault.” But it’s so, so hard to read a heroine have a conversation with the hero where he’s straight up telling her that he knows he treats women like garbage, doesn’t hold himself responsible, and doesn’t care, anyway, and then to have her be like, ugh, guess I have to sleep in his bed with him. The showers are broken at her dorm. Not her room. Not her bed. There’s no reason that at this point if she’s as disgusted with him as she claims, she should even remain friends with him, let alone sleep in his bed.

If you really want to convince me that she has no other choice, have the dorm treated for bed bugs, forcing the students to stay in temporary housing in a gym or something. Have Abby think to herself that she’s better off there than on a cot in a disaster-shelter scenario. Because right now, what I’m reading is, “This guy is so gross and horrible but we’re friends so I guess I have to sleep in his bed with him,” and it’s not flying with me.

While she’s in the shower, Travis just strolls on into the bathroom. She tells him to get out, and obviously, he doesn’t because it’s clearly so hot and sexy that he’s invading her privacy.

“You forgot a towel and I brought you clothes, and your toothbrush, and some weird face cream I found in your bag.”

“You went through my stuff?” I shrieked. He didn’t answer. Instead, I heard the faucet turn on and the sound of his toothbrush against his teeth.

So, again, we’ve got Travis trampling boundaries, but he’s doing it to be nice. She forgot her towel, so he had to go through her bag. He had to. Now, he could have knocked on the door and said, “You forgot your towel.” But that wouldn’t be as squeeful and sexy as a man just barging in while a woman is showering. Tee hee, they had to be in this intimate situation! Isn’t this total disregard for personal space so zany and cute?

I peeked out of the plastic curtain, holding it against my chest. “Get out, Travis.”

He looked up at me, his lips covered in suds from his toothpaste. “I can’t go to bed without brushing my teeth.”

Hey, remember what I said about the two bathrooms thing and how it would come up later?

Why isn’t he using the other bathroom?

Or the kitchen sink?

Or just waiting until the bathroom isn’t occupied?

#NoExcuses

He swears he won’t peak, so that is the predictable end of it. And if you thought she was going to continue to be (rightfully) mad about his invasion of her privacy, this is what she thinks when he finally leaves and she gets out of the shower:

The night moisturizer Travis had brought caught my eye, and I couldn’t help but smile. He was thoughtful and almost nice when he wanted to be.

I can’t believe I have to write this sentence, but it isn’t “thoughtful” or “nice” to rifle through someone’s bag, then bust in on them in the shower.

And then he opens the door without knocking again, by the way. Because he’s so “thoughtful” and “nice.”

So, on Abby’s way to Travis’s bedroom, America says goodnight “from the darkness,” indicating that they’re going to bed and it’s night.

Let’s rewind.

Earlier in the chapter, in a passage I didn’t excerpt, Abby says she has to meet Finch at three to give him some notes for another class. Then she goes directly to her dorm and has the interaction with America. Let’s slap a half-hour on for that for generosity’s sake. There’s a part where Abby says that a half hour after that, they were headed to Shepley’s apartment. So, we’ll say they left at four. Hell, four-thirty, even. Abby describes America as driving super fast and almost blowing stop signs, but I’m even willing to give them an hour for the drive. Assuming that the interaction between Abby and Travis after the girl leaves takes a full half-hour, that would put Abby in the shower at six. Then she gets out and America and Shepley are going to bed for the night.

How long a shower did Abby take?!

Abby goes to Travis’s room and knocks on his door because she has manners. Here’s how his room is described:

He pulled the door open and I walked in, seeing his black iron-rod bed parallel to the line of windows on the far side of the room. The walls were bare except for a lone sombrero above his headboard.

¿..que? ¿Y…porque?

I half expected his room to be covered in posters of barely clothed women, but I didn’t even see an advertisement for a beer brand. His bed was black, his carpet gray; everything else in the room was white. It looked as if he’d just moved in.

So, now the scene is set. They get their books and get ready to study on the bed, but Abby needs a pen. He tells her to get one from the top drawer of his nightstand.

I reached across the bed and pulled open the drawer, finding three pens, a pencil, a tube of K-Y Jelly, and a clear glass bowl overflowing with packages of different brands of condoms. Revolted, I grabbed a pen and shoved the drawer shut.

Why is the fact that he has condoms revolting? It’s a fucking miracle that he has condoms. He has so little regard for his sexual partners, why would he give a shit about protecting them? And I think someone pointed out in the comments on the first recap that his pattern of reckless behavior would almost naturally lead to sexually risky behavior, as well.

 I pulled the cap off the pen, unable to keep the sickened expression from my face. “Your lifetime supply of condoms.”

“Better safe than sorry, right?”

I rolled my eyes.

Ugh, yeah, safe sex and not getting STDs and STIs is so gross.

An hour after they start studying, Abby is too tired to keep her eyes open. She gets in bed and Travis goes to the shower. When he comes back, this happens:

He strolled across the room with a towel wrapped around his hips. He had tattoos on opposite sides of his chest, and black tribal art covering each of his bulging shoulders.

OMFG, of course, he does. Why wouldn’t he?

On his right arm, the black lines and symbols spanned from his shoulder to his wrist; the left, the tattoos stopped at his elbow, with one single line of script on the underside of his forearm. I intentionally kept my back to him while he stood in front of his dresser and dropped his towel to slip on a pair of boxers.

If your back is to him, how do you know he dropped the towel and put on boxers?

But yeah, so, about those boundaries. Abby has made it clear that she finds sex disgusting. And that’s fine. People can be sex-averse all day long. But if someone has displayed pretty clearly that they’re not interested in sex and anything having to do with sex makes them uncomfortable…don’t get naked in front of them.

Then he gets into bed, because of course, he does.

“You’re sleeping here, too?” I asked, turning to look at him. The full moon outside the windows cast shadows across his face. “Well, yeah. This is my bed.”

It’s your bed, Abby? See, this is why dialogue tags and paragraph breaks are important. Also, the moon would cast light across his face, not shadows.

“I know, but I…” I paused. My only other options were the couch or the recliner.

Or your own room back at the dorm. Just saying.

Travis grinned and shook his head. “Don’t you trust me by now? I’ll be on my best behavior, I swear,” he said, holding up fingers that I was sure the Boy Scouts of America had never considered using.

I…did he flip her off? Flash the shocker? Does she mean they would never have considered using them to swear about something like this? What is that sentence supposed to mean? Also, how is she supposed to trust a guy who went through her stuff and busted in on her in the shower twice?

Anyway, because she has no choice (and is absolved from anything that could be perceived as “slutty” due to her total passivity and helplessness), she stays in bed with him.

“Goodnight, Pigeon,” he whispered into my ear. I could feel his minty breath on my cheek, giving rise to goose bumps on every inch of my flesh. Thank God it was dark enough that he coudln’t see my embarrassing reaction or the flush of my cheeks that followed.

But it’s okay for her to be mildly turned on here because, as we all know, she has absolutely no other choice but to sleep in his bed with him. Also, she can feel the smell of mint, I guess. But hey, he’s brushed his teeth a second time. Meaning he didn’t need to brush his teeth at all the first time, if he wasn’t intending to do so until he was ready for sleep. Meaning he was in the bathroom just to make Abby uncomfortable for his own amusement.

After a section break, Abby wakes up to the sound of the alarm and is horrified when she accidentally touches Travis’s skin reaching across him. He pretends to be asleep so she has to crawl over him to turn off the alarm–has to, remember because she would never touch him otherwise. He teases her about laying on him and she gets out of bed to go get ready for class.

Travis stretched, and then walked over to me, still in his boxers. “Are you always so temperamental, or will that taper off once you believe I’m not just creating some elaborate scheme to get into your pants?” His hands cupped my shoulders, and I felt his thumbs caress my skin in unison.

Yeah, Abby. When will you start trusting the guy who admitted to omitting crucial information about boundaries and expectations before entering into sexual encounters, who busted in on you in the shower twice, who went through your personal items, and who then insisted on sleeping with you nearly nude even when it clearly made you uncomfortable? What’s not to trust, you stick-in-the-mud?

He leaned in close and whispered in my ear. “I don’t want to sleep with you, Pidge. I like you too much.”

Oh, swoon. He only sleeps with women he doesn’t like.

Travis Maddox slept with everyone; I couldn’t help but feel deficient in some way, knowing he had no desire to even try to sleep with me.

Okay, Abby, let’s review.

  • You were disgusted by the idea that he might want to sleep with you.
  • You made it very clear to him that you weren’t going to sleep with him and would remain friends only.
  • You have objected to any suggestion that you might ever sleep with him.
  • Now you feel bad about yourself because he won’t sleep with you.

I’m sorry, but I seem to have misplaced my jar of sympathy. Especially since we’ve spent two chapters so far hearing about how skanky it is for women to want to sleep with him.

Because this chapter will never fucking end, we have a little scene with America and Abby where America implies that Abby and Travis slept together and Abby denies it and then America has a “knowing smile”. The reader doesn’t need an explanation for it because we already know what America is thinking based on the thick coating of misogynistic slime dripping off every page like ectoplasm on the card catalog at the beginning of Ghostbusters. If Travis doesn’t want to fuck her, that means she’s special. He recognizes that she’s Not Like Other Girls™ and is clearly falling in love with her.

In the kitchen, Shepley and America argue about a party happening at the frat next month and how Shep wants her to go but America isn’t feeling it. She won’t know anyone there and wants to avoid “sorority bitches”. Fucking a frat guy, has a problem with sororities. Checks out. America says she’ll go if they can find someone who’ll take Abby. Like Travis. But Shepley argues that Travis can’t take her to the party because he doesn’t date people.

Travis crossed his arms and leaned against the sink. “I didn’t say I didn’t want to go. I think it would be fun if the four of us went,” he shrugged.

Of course, Abby doesn’t want to go to the party at all. She says they should hang out at the apartment, instead, but Shepley argues that as a freshman–

Holy shit. We have confirmation. They’re freshmen. They’re all freshmen, because Abby, Shep, and America met at orientation. So, I don’t know if Travis is a freshman, but at least those three are. Heads up for people not in the U.S.: freshmen in college coming straight from high school are usually eighteen years old.

Anyway, they peer pressure Abby into agreeing to go to the party with Travis and that’s the end of the chapter.

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218 Comments

  1. Jaycie
    Jaycie

    I never get tired of New Adult heroines having to be corralled into going to parties. Except, of all people, Ana, who WANTED to go out to the bar with her friends.

    Seriously, fuck everyone in this book. There is absolutely nobody to like.

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
  2. Paige
    Paige

    Lord, it’s amazing how unrealistic this book is about college life, which is something I barely paid attention to then thanks to the thick miasma of bullshit throughout the book. I read it my first semester of college and hated it. Now having been through and graduated college, I’m even more struck by how wrong it is about life in college! My 15,000-attendee university was considered small–too small to even have a football team–and the entire university didn’t know a single person’s business until they got arrested and it was in the school paper. Smaller specialized groups of a few hundred people like the honors program or the engineering college, though? Those groups were more like the way McGuire writes the entirety of Eastern University.

    Tl;dr McGuire writes her book’s college like it has less than 2,000 attendees and yet is also a sizable university big enough to support a football program, which ain’t cheap. WHICH IS IT, JAMIE???

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
    • 2Ragu4Pooh
      2Ragu4Pooh

      I went to a university where our biggest freshman class put us at like, 3k students (not a tech school/Bible School. Just a small school. You could have classes of 7 people. It was nice) and I didn’t know who anyone was outside of the friends I had. The only time I ever witnessed a group collectively know of a guy was a baseball player named Luke who had a reputation for cheating and was, and I quote “dumber than a box of rocks.” But we were in all in the same program and this was a small, upper level class and you tended to know the people in your program by then. And we only knew him because he was just the worst (my experience was watching him OPENLY use his phone to cheat and then being furious when called out on it.)
      If anyone had a sexy reputation, even among the small group of us, it didn’t get around. So I’m doubly calling bullshit

      December 13, 2018
      |Reply
    • Not disagreeing with your experience, I just find it interesting that your school was considered too small for a football team. I went to a really small Catholic college that maybe had 2,000 students, and it had a (pretty bad) football team that played teams from equally small schools.

      But yeah, I follow another blog that read this book a few years ago when I was still in college, and it drove me nuts just how wildly inaccurate it was. Why does no one seem to eat anywhere but the cafeteria? Why are all these people in the same classes? It really does feel like it was written by a fourteen year old who had no idea what college was really like.

      December 13, 2018
      |Reply
      • Xebi
        Xebi

        I went to a British university and have no real idea of what American college is like, but would someone at college really be having biology tests that they dreaded because they couldn’t “wrap their head” around that entire subject field?

        December 14, 2018
        |Reply
        • Reynard
          Reynard

          I want to tell you no but about twelve hours ago I was face down over a cryptography test so. Students at all stages of schooling turn up woefully underprepared for tests.

          Not sure she’d make it to a college class, even an introductory one, without learning about mitosis though.

          December 14, 2018
          |Reply
        • Anon
          Anon

          @Xebi — yes, it’s possible. As a freshman, you’re required to take certain credit hours. I had to have 6 credit hours of science and I freaking suck at science in general. I majored in English lit, if that gives you an idea of how much science was not part of my strengths! lol

          I took botany and astronomy. I actually did OK with astronomy, but I had a really rough time with botany and barely passed. I pretty much wanted the credits without having to dissect any animals, too, so that limited my choices.

          Now, if she were a junior and a bio major, that would be far-fetched.

          December 14, 2018
          |Reply
          • Xebi
            Xebi

            Thanks, that’s really interesting! I got to take some other subjects at my university but they had to be sort of related to my major (e.g. psychology with philisophy) and actually my university was considered pretty unusual. It’s cool to learn about how it works over the pond

            December 14, 2018
        • There’s still certain pre-recquisites you have to pass. I have a journalism degree from a College of Liberal Arts but I still had to take a math class (literally called Math for Liberal Arts Majors, focusing on practical knowledge) and two science credits: one lab, one classroom. Required two gym classes, too (which is why I have a C in Hiking!) All in the name of creating ‘well-rounded adults’

          So, at the British universities, you pick a field of study and only focus on that? There’s no one class that EVERYONE must take?

          December 16, 2018
          |Reply
          • Keaalu
            Keaalu

            “So, at the British universities, you pick a field of study and only focus on that? There’s no one class that EVERYONE must take?”

            Short answer: yes.

            I went to Uni to study pharmacy, and that’s all I studied. I could choose some of my modules IN that degree, and there were some modules that everyone took, but that was as far as it went.

            Until recently, I still thought college in the USA was a mid-point between high school and university, especially after seeing people talk about having a major and the need to also study other unrelated things. I assumed it was more like some sort of vocational teaching, or perhaps like 6th form (we have 6th form colleges in the UK for I think ages 17-18?).

            December 16, 2018
    • Anon
      Anon

      My ex played football for Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY. There aren’t even 2,000 students enrolled there. So smaller colleges CAN have football teams. They aren’t going to be the ones you see on TV, but they have them.

      I don’t know a whole lot about what campus life was like there, though. I went to a huge state school. I knew the people in my major, but that was about it. Even though it was a large campus with a lot of students, all my classes once I was in my major were in the same building. One semester, I had three classes in the same room and the fourth in a room across the hall!

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
  3. Sushi
    Sushi

    “Did he confess to feeling peer pressure to keep up his sexy bad boy charade?”

    OK this line jumped out at me because I’ve just remembered I read a book in which there was a guy who was rumoured to have slept with every women he met so our heroine flatly refused to date him even though he was actually very nice (really) and she did genuinely fancy him. And then it turned out it really was a baseless rumour. And when women dated him and he didn’t sleep with them, they thought they’d done something was wrong and so they’d lie and tell their friends oh yeah we totally did the do, and then if he was asked, he went along with it because he didn’t want to hurt their feelings even more and it had just all been miscommunication and once it was all cleared up, they lived happily ever after.

    But I’m going to guess that isn’t going to be the case here.

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
    • Raven
      Raven

      What book is that? It sounds familiar.

      December 13, 2018
      |Reply
      • Larissa
        Larissa

        Sounds like a 400k word Naruto fanfiction I once slogged through. 275k words before they kissed. Uuuuuugh

        December 13, 2018
        |Reply
    • RaccoonMama
      RaccoonMama

      I think there’s a British chick-lt book with that plot I’ve read. Maybe Katie Fforde or Jill Mansell?

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • Sushi
        Sushi

        Correct, I went hunting and it’s a Jill Mansell one called Rumour Has It. I now remember it was also the one where a girl was constantly getting teased about a guy in her class she hated (as in, “aww you like him really”) right up until she punched the other kid and it turned out he’d been bullying her about her gay dad and she’d been serious all along about hating him. I remember being quite pleasantly surprised to see that trope get called out.

        December 20, 2018
        |Reply
  4. Ray
    Ray

    Honestly the only interpretation I can come up with for the scene where Abby “saves” Brazil by insulting him is that she was hoping the shock of her saying that would lessen travis’s Anger so he wouldn’t hurt the other guy.

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
    • Oh, c’mon, we all know it’s so Travis can be revealed to have the Biggest! Cock! EVER! And he can smile smugly after the big reveal about how HE could totally fill up a Speedo, and isn’t Abbers lucky?

      December 13, 2018
      |Reply
      • Ariel
        Ariel

        Yeah…and after Mad Doggie Dog reveals his Biggus Dickus, Pure Abby (TM) will gasp with shock and wonder how it will fit. He’ll smirk at her with mild condescension and say:

        “Don’t worry, Pidgeon, it’s meant to fit. It might hurt a bit, since my peen is so big and mean, but your tiny bird’s pussy will adjust to it.”

        Abby will say:

        “My…my tiny bird’s pussy..? Wha…what do you mean by that?”

        Then Travissimo will reply:

        “Well, yeah, the only way I can have sex with a girl is to imagine she’s actually a bird. Why do you think i’ve been calling you ‘Pidge’ this whole time? Birds are not. They’re all…feathery…and beaky… It’s a fetish, ok? Don’t be weird about this. Also, can you wear this Big Bird costume while we fuck?”

        …ok, this whole scenario got away from me…

        December 14, 2018
        |Reply
        • Ariel
          Ariel

          *Birds are hot.

          Ugh.

          December 14, 2018
          |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          And then we find out that Travis is secretly a dinosaur this whole time.

          December 14, 2018
          |Reply
          • Ariel
            Ariel

            https://goo.gl/images/AuFfos

            “Hey girl,

            no other girl has ever been able to resist me.

            Want to hang out?

            P.S. I can only consume raw meat and will have…trouble reaching your boobs with my tiny hands.”

            December 15, 2018
        • ShifterCat
          ShifterCat

          Just wait until he finds out it’s called a cloaca.

          December 15, 2018
          |Reply
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          Someone posted about this sketch. Don’t know if a link was provided. Starts at :20.

          December 17, 2018
          |Reply
  5. Team No One
    Team No One

    “Make way! Move it, people! Let’s make room for this poor woman’s hideously disfigured, enormous brain! She’s a fucking genius!”

    Literally the only good thing this choad has done is refer to Abby as a woman here and not a “girl.” Appreciate. And then back to a HARD CRINGE for the rest of the passage.

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
  6. You know, I’ve read a few characters who sleep around a lot but have some idiosyncratic boundary (no sex in their bed, no dating, etc) and the characters were likable, because they weren’t keeping that boundary out of apparent hatred and disgust for the people they had sex with.

    Travis screams predator, even aside from the creepy talk about the brunette on the couch. He complains to Shep about all of these sluts throwing themselves at him, but actually pursues them. He says he doesn’t have sex with people he likes, implying he has neutral to negative feelings about everyone he does have sex with. He tests boundaries (calling Abby by the wrong name the first time they met) and then continues to push them a little further every time (pushing her to let him tutor her, bursting into the bathroom on her, getting into bed mostly naked with her). If it was revealed in the next chapter that he has a woman’s head in his freezer I wouldn’t even be shocked. Just… agh.

    I had to stop reading this recap about halfway through and play around with my cards before I could finish it because he’s just so. damn. creepy.

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
    • taylor
      taylor

      yeah, you can portray a “hey, i’m strictly a hookup person” without automatically making them a travis, but i think that requires a way better writer than mcguire.

      i’m currently voting for kara to pull a carrie and kill EVERYBODY else off, too bad having read travis’ POV means i know that doesn’t happen.

      December 13, 2018
      |Reply
    • Ariel
      Ariel

      “Travis screams predator, even aside from the creepy talk about the brunette on the couch. He complains to Shep about all of these sluts throwing themselves at him, but actually pursues them. He says he doesn’t have sex with people he likes, implying he has neutral to negative feelings about everyone he does have sex with.”

      Yup. Misogyny and contempt for women just ooze out of him like acid saliva dripping from Alien’s sharp-toothed jaws.

      Creeeeeepyyyyy.

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
    • Mike
      Mike

      It comes off super predatory ‘cuz it’s a common predator tactic. He is constantly introducing sex into the conversation. He is constantly hinting at sex. He is essentially priming her non-stop. Getting her used to him just being there all the time, invading her boundaries, talks about how much he toooootally isn’t going to try and sleep with her while half naked and touching her and getting in close enough for her to smell his breath… He’s making her feel special because she’s a challenge. If it turned out that he’d been dared to try and make her sleep with him or just legit was trying to fuck with Shep’s relationship again I wouldn’t be surprised at all.

      Make her feel special, make her associate you with sex, constantly be as physically close as possible, wear down emotional and physical boundaries as much as possible. When they finally have sex, he’ll probably have it set up so it looks like it was totally her idea.

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
  7. Lily
    Lily

    Freshman/first-year students are generally not allowed to live off-campus or to join frats. Even attending frat parties is monitored. This must be some special campus where even the athletes care about some idiot in a “secret” fight club, the women except for Abby and her long-suffering roomie are from a lame 1980s’ college comedy, and all the classes stop at the same time for lunch. Also, a key benefit for joining a frat is the fact your house hires its own cooking staff, so Travis wouldn’t be eating lunch with the plebs in the cafeteria.

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amber
      Amber

      That sounds like a region specific thing. We didn’t have any of that kind of restriction at our university, and the frat didn’t have it’s own house or staff. The other branches didn’t seem to have any restrictions either from what I heard.

      December 13, 2018
      |Reply
    • Sraf
      Sraf

      This is another thing that I find fascinating about American universities. People living on campus. How does that work? Is rent part of your tuition, or do you have to pay extra? Especially in the case of students not being allowed to live anywhere else (what’s with that? Where I’m from the university didn’t give a damn where students lived or what they did with their lives outside of class).

      Not to mention the fraternities and sororities – and the football thing! Universities have their football teams?… Why ?

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • Xebi
        Xebi

        Not American but we do have a lot of first year students living on campuses in the UK. They pay rent on top of tuition but it’s usually quite heavily subsidised. I can’t remember if we *had* to live on campus but we all did because it was cheap and handy for classes etc. I can kind of see why it would be a rule if they previously had a problem with a bunch of teenagers away from home for the first time living in town and going absolutely wild. I could see that happening…

        December 14, 2018
        |Reply
      • Anon
        Anon

        I think the requirement for freshmen is twofold. One is that they do pay room and board and it’s generally more than what it would cost off-campus, so the schools make money. Second is that freshmen aren’t allowed to have vehicles on campus because parking is at a premium and most US universities aren’t in area with easy, close off-campus parking. So it’s logistic and based on wanting money.

        However, if you grew up in the city where you go to college and you live with your parents or something, you aren’t required to live on campus and are allowed to drive and park. It’s within a certain number of miles. Or if you’re married or have kids, you can of course live off campus.

        As for the football teams, why not? Different doesn’t mean wrong. All of our schools from middle school on have their own sports teams. Athletics are a good thing for young people to be involved in. And if you’re good enough in high school, you can get a scholarship to college and not have to pay tuition.

        I do think with some of the bigger athletic programs, there’s far too much pressure and interest. I live where Florida State is and people here are ridiculous. My school had a football team, but it wasn’t as big of a deal.

        December 14, 2018
        |Reply
        • Anon
          Anon

          Also, most universities do allow frat and sorority pledging freshman year. I never heard of one that didn’t.

          December 14, 2018
          |Reply
  8. Lily
    Lily

    Oh, and I felt safe at the frat I little-sistered at, because none of the guys would have been jerkass enough to barge in the bathroom when a woman was in there, let alone twice.

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
  9. Sam
    Sam

    I am increasingly annoyed by the obviously high school setting. When I went to college, I grabbed a meal whenever my schedule allowed, not some communal lunchtime. I almost never spotted my friends unless we shared a class right beforehand or lived together and popped out for an 8pm ice cream. I don’t recall ANYONE being campus-famous. And I never took “History.” I took, like, Women in Medieval Spain, or Film and the Holocaust. Bah. Bah I say!!

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amber
      Amber

      Yeah, “history” is too vague for university. I took Japanese History, History of Pop Music, and a sort of history class specifically related to religion.

      December 13, 2018
      |Reply
    • Xebi
      Xebi

      And at that level of education, if she is studying history then why the hell does she have to take a biology test? Why do she and Travis both study history AND biology? This is obviously school but framed as “college” so everyone can fuck and live away from their parents. It’s so stupid.

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dvärghundspossen
        Dvärghundspossen

        Yeah I wondered if this was a difference between the US and Sweden (where I live), because here, at college/university level, it’s rare to mix humanities and natural sciences in a degree. It happens, but it’s rare, and it seemed weird that a whole bunch of people did it. But yeah I guess just another example of “this is actually high school”.

        Also, that mitosis thing made me think of Sabrina the teenage witch (the 90:s comedy). There’s an ep where she and her boyfriend Harvey tries to study for a biology test, but they keep getting interrupted, so they never get further than reading the two first words of the first sentences of the chapter, which are “mitosis is…”; they never get around to what it actually is.

        December 14, 2018
        |Reply
        • Raven
          Raven

          At my college (and I think at most American colleges) even if you’re in a History major, you’re still expected to take at least one math and/or science class to be “well-rounded”

          December 14, 2018
          |Reply
      • Anon
        Anon

        Xebi — I think I responded adequately above, but a freshman would take both bio and history in an American college. They’re gen-ed. Generally, you don’t declare a major and then narrow your class subjects until your third year. And even then, every major requires electives, which are credits outside your major, usually. That’s entirely realistic.

        December 14, 2018
        |Reply
    • Liza
      Liza

      The whole lunch scenario doesn’t really bother me the way it seems to bother some. My freshman year, since we were required to live on campus and there were only two dining halls, I always a) made a point of seeing who was free for lunch at the same time as me (because who wants to eat alone, really?); b) often saw people I knew, even if I didn’t specifically go with my friends, because it was a really small campus with only two dining halls; and c) we typically sat at the same tables (because creatures of habit). So of all the things that make this feel like a high school story plopped on a college campus, this one really doesn’t bother me in the least.

      December 17, 2018
      |Reply
  10. Duchess
    Duchess

    This book. Fuck. Only chapter 2 and I’m already enraged. The whole scene with Travis refusing to take that woman’s phone number makes my skin crawl. He’s just SO VILE. Sleeps with a woman, doesn’t make it clear that he’s only interested in a one-time thing, humiliates her in front of his friends (like, just let her leave her fucking phone number), and then talks about what a slutty slut slut she is once she leaves. THIS IS REPULSIVE. Also why was America so upset about the woman trying to leave her number that Shepley had to put his arm around her to calm her down? Why? Why.

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Yeah, if Travis was at least polite without being the best person, he’d just accept her number and never call her or maybe text her that he enjoyed their afternoon but isn’t looking for a relationship right now. Shepley is a fucking liar.

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
    • MamaLich
      MamaLich

      GOD, I KNOW. You’d think America would flip out ON Travis because SHE KNOWS that he’s set his sights on her best friend (who she’s known, since high school, and is the modest ‘shy’ girl who’s all about dressing up like a Suburban Mom), and yet there’s Travis fucking other girls left-and-right in front of Abby. Travis’s act was not only inappropriate but it’s ESPECIALLY shitty to play on a person like that.

      Plus, Travis looks like he’s really doing the, “Don’t want me? FINE, I get TONS of pussy anyway!” act. He knows that Abby’s resisting his (ugh) charms, but here he’s not even trying to downplay his ‘one-hit-wonder’ habit in order to make his relationship with Abby successful (also: did Shepley not tell Travis that they’re getting company? Did he deliberately take the girl home just to rub it in Abby’s face that he’s the sexiest alpha male that ever lived? It looks awfully convenient that Shep and co. had only JUST walked in when Travis and the Brunette were done and dressed). A normal person would’ve chewed Travis out for not only playing around THEIR friend, but also for ruining their attempt in convincing Abby that they could be staying over at Shep’s home. America JUST got Abby to go along with her plan, and now they’ve arrived at a home that’s messed up and probably full of post-coital stank.

      Travis is basically That Douchebag Roommate that people talk about on AskReddit or Jezebel. It’s amazing that somehow the Brunette’s at fault despite that she didn’t know there’d be company, it’s not her responsibility not to present an awkward scene to Shep and Co., and she’s not the one that’s trying to perv on Abby while rubbing her ‘sexiness’ all over her face.

      December 18, 2018
      |Reply
      • Agent_Z
        Agent_Z

        “and she’s not the one that’s trying to perv on Abby while rubbing her ‘sexiness’ all over her face.

        If she was I doubt the book would at all be sympathetic to her. In a way, it’s a good thing if this book doesn’t have any gay or bisexual women thus far. If if this is how it treats the heterosexual women, can you imagine how much worse it would be to LGBT women?

        December 20, 2018
        |Reply
  11. FOR FUCK’S SAKE. IT IS 2018, NOT 1958. FEMALE STUDENTS ARE NOT “COEDS”!

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
    • Nanani
      Nanani

      This jumped out at me too. I had to take a second to remember what “coed” even meant, and then I got angry.

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
    • Agent_Z
      Agent_Z

      To be pedantic, this book was published in 2011 but yeah your point very much stands.

      December 20, 2018
      |Reply
    • Agent_Z
      Agent_Z

      To be pedantic, this book was published in 2011 but yeah your point very much stands.

      Forget the characters’ ages, I want to know how old the author is if she’s still using such an outdated term.

      December 20, 2018
      |Reply
  12. yamikuronue
    yamikuronue

    Clearly the first time he brushed his teeth it was with her toothbrush. He’s a serial boundary-violator and he’d just mentioned having her toothbrush in hand.

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
    • Xebi
      Xebi

      Also, he went and took a shower after Abby got into bed. So why didn’t he brush his teeth then? WHY did he absolutely have to barge into the bathroom she was in while she showered to do it there and then? Oh yeah, it’s because the author has no idea how to build a sense of intimacy in a relationship so she just grabs the characters and smushes them together like a kid with a pair of dolls.

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        It also strikes me that there wasn’t a lot of editing going on for consistency or common sense. I’d absolutely believe this started life as fanfiction, of any sort, which was spruced up only a little bit for publication, much like H4M except that McGuire tapped the 50 Shades crowd and made bank.

        December 14, 2018
        |Reply
  13. I’m going to have a permanent eye twitch by the time this book is over, and I’m not even reading the whole thing.

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
  14. EAG46
    EAG46

    I am a fat woman. I had/still have self-esteem issues about my appearance, despite being in a relationship with a man that still me I’m sexy after 20+ years together. I was so freaking horny in college, a back rub was like sex to me. [Thank the heavens I discovered I was a geek.] BUT if some dude had treated me the way this Travis jerk treats Abby? I would have laughed in his face and maybe slapped him. I don’t know what offends me more, the poor writing or the ignoring of 50 years of feminism.

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
    • MamaLich
      MamaLich

      I had MASSIVE self-esteem issues when I went to college (I was practically invisible to boys in high school—plus I had huge mother issues at home which meant that I had to be told how ugly/stupid/lazy I was on a daily basis). I was also aching for intimacy and romance when I went to college— and even I wouldn’t go near the meatheaded asshats that lived on campus (I still remember crushing on this one guy (‘James’. He could pull off the Californian ‘Surfer Dude’ look despite being from Newcastle, UK. He was also the first guy (4 months into my Freshman year) to actually care enough to talk to me). He really made me feel at peace because I was also being bullied at my dorm (had a girl decide to hate my guts, proceeded to make my life miserable for a full year), so we wound up eating together at the mess hall and hanging out as friends. Then, one night when I was leaving his room (after watching the Lost Boys with him), I admitted that I had a crush on him. I then asked if he was in a relationship.

      His response: “Oh yeah! I do have a girlfriend. But maybe we can work something out later.”

      To quote the Greaseman: “And then I said to myself,”My god.””

      So yeah—he may not be so muscular and ‘alpha male’ like Travis. But my feelings for James instantly shrivelled up and died right there on his doorstep in the year of our lord 2008. I cut off all contact with him 24 hours later, found some new friends, and never spoke to him for a full year. And he didn’t even try to parade his fuckability in front of me.

      December 18, 2018
      |Reply
  15. Raven
    Raven

    It bugs me so much that the main character’s name is Abby Abernathy. Sure, there are parents out there who do things like that to their kids, but no-one in the book ever treats it like it’s weird. Considering the main character of Apolonia was called Rory Riordan, I think Jamie McGuire is just one of those people who names their kid ridiculous things completely unironically.

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
    • RodeoBob
      RodeoBob

      >It bugs me so much that the main character’s name is Abby Abernathy.

      It’s weirder than that, though, because the main character’s full name would be Abigail Abernathy. Setting aside parental naming decisions, “Abigail” can be shortened to either Abby or to Gail. Which means she’s not so much “named” Abby Abernathy as much as that’s the name she prefers to go by!

      And I can see that as a quirk for a quirky character. (“Abby Abernathy. You know, like Peter Parker or Bruce Banner? My parents were really into comic books…”) I could see it being used to show a particular character. (“Yes, that’s really my name; I could change it, but it’s fun to watch the looks on people’s faces when they say it for the first time. It makes the first day of classes each semester a little more entertaining.”)

      Buuuut that’s not the book we’re reading, is it?

      December 13, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        It’s possible for her parents to go with Abby instead of Abigail; I don’t know how likely that is, however.

        I think I know the true reason her name doesn’t work. The whole thing should really be three syllables if it’s meant to follow the Marvel theme; Abernathy makes it five which stops it from being truly punchy. She could get away with four but five is right out. Honestly, Abigail Abernathy sounds better because it makes her sound prissy or hoity-toity and then if she demanded to be called Abigail, no nicknames please, it’d work better. But again, that’s more quirky personality than the author knows how to write. XD

        December 14, 2018
        |Reply
    • GS
      GS

      Well, there was a German minister of transport in the 70s named Lauritz Lauritzen, so… 😀

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • Xebi
        Xebi

        Not forgetting the late, great Magnus Magnusson

        December 14, 2018
        |Reply
        • Michael
          Michael

          Or Swedish bestseller Jonas Jonasson.

          December 16, 2018
          |Reply
          • Sushi
            Sushi

            Also Stefán Karl Stefánsson

            December 20, 2018
          • SEA
            SEA

            And Neville Neville. (father of English footballers Gary and Phil Neville)

            December 21, 2018
    • Ilex
      Ilex

      Yeah, I wondered in a comment for Chapter 1 whether “Abby” is a nickname based on “Abernathy” and her first name is really either something she hates, or something unpronounceable in American English.

      December 17, 2018
      |Reply
    • SYD
      SYD

      I actually did go to school with a girl named Abby Abernathy, which makes reading this book kind of weird.

      December 20, 2018
      |Reply
  16. Michael
    Michael

    “Familiar faces filled…” Unintentional alliteration in a novel. Good? Bad? Neither? Please discuss.

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
    • Xebi
      Xebi

      Well, in the context…since it isn’t the faces that we’d expect to fill the seats, I’m now trying to think of a synonym for “backsides” that begins with an F sound.

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • Corbeau
        Corbeau

        Familiar Fuckers’ Fartholes Filled Food-court Furniture. — That has a lot of F. Sounds disgusting, though.

        December 14, 2018
        |Reply
        • Xebi
          Xebi

          …thank you. “Familiar fartholes filled the seats of our favorite lunch table.” Much better.

          December 14, 2018
          |Reply
      • Squim
        Squim

        Don’t Americans call bums fannies? Familiar fannies filled…

        December 14, 2018
        |Reply
        • Person
          Person

          Fanny is among the cutesiest possible ways to refer to butts here, so quite the contrast with the farthole suggestion, lmao.

          December 15, 2018
          |Reply
  17. Smacy
    Smacy

    I’m slowly remembering why I left a long screed on goodreads about this shitty book. And I know this gets so much worse later. Somehow it actually gets even more misogynistic.

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
    • Ariel
      Ariel

      Ooh.

      Care to link to your review? I’d love to read yet another take down of this pile of decomposing entrails.

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Same. XD

        December 14, 2018
        |Reply
  18. DovRenee
    DovRenee

    My nitpick with this chapter was the discussion about Biology class. I want to assume this takes place close to the beginning of the semester. Mitosis is never discussed until close to the end. I know its a minor thing and mitosis is something everyone should have a passing understanding about but it wouldnt be that difficult to look up a college intro bio Syllabus.

    And yes, the author loves having same letter full names or same letter siblings.

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
    • Sheila
      Sheila

      More proof this used to be set in high school. Like the recap mentioned, she might be trying to reference Twilight there but…I’ve also seen the “mitosis” joke on like two tv shows, both involving characters in high school. Doesn’t matter if the topic is actually covered at that level of science class but it points to the author ripping off that joke from stories about high schoolers.

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
    • Bunny
      Bunny

      Also, if Abby can’t remember that mitosis is for somatic cells, she’s in serious trouble. That’s, like, the first thing I learned about mitosis in my freshman year of HIGH SCHOOL biology. It’s mitosis 101. By the time you get to college it’s something you should just /know/, not something you have to study.

      We actually went over it pretty early in the year, though, if I remember correctly. So maybe that varies from school to school, or it’s different in college. Meiosis was the thing we went over later.

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
  19. taylor
    taylor

    i read “”walking disaster” and the only thing that stopped me from doing permanent damage to it was that it was a library copy. totally unsurprised that abby’s POV is just as awful.

    (also, k-y sucks as lube for most folks with vaginas, there’s a SHITLOAD of toxic or at least potentially allergenic ingredients in it.)

    frat boy in YA=”yep, you’re a rapist/sex offender and you probably voted for cheeto voldemort”.

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
    • NavigatorBR
      NavigatorBR

      Is it worth listening too?

      I know it’s garbage, I listened to this one, but does the reversed perspective give us insight in Travis’ character?

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
    • ShifterCat
      ShifterCat

      I used to work in a sex shop, and some customers were surprised that we didn’t sell K-Y Jelly. I got used to explaining over and over that K-Y is a medical lubricant, which means it’s not intended for a lot of friction and motion, and will get sticky and gloppy.

      (I also got used to asking “Do you have a good water-based lube for that?” every time someone bought a butt toy, much the way fast-food workers get used to asking about fries.)

      Also: with this supposedly firm “I don’t fuck girls in my room” boundary, why are the condoms and lube in his room? Either he has to go awkwardly into his room every time he has a “conquest” on the couch, or Travis is lying.

      December 15, 2018
      |Reply
      • K
        K

        I’ve learned that ky sucks ass. It dries up at the snap of your fingers. It’s God awful! Water base is the way to go.

        December 19, 2018
        |Reply
  20. 2Ragu4Pooh
    2Ragu4Pooh

    I think what frustrates me the most is knowing that when they do fuck, he’s going to tell her something that highlights how truly heinous he is when it comes to sex (that’s the first time I ever tried to get a woman off/kissed her during sex/made eye contact/didn’t try to strangle her) and it’ll be a compliment to Abby without acknowledging of AWFUL of a human Travis is.

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
    • Agent_Z
      Agent_Z

      I don’t know if Abby’s a virgin but if she is, I’m willing to bet that will also be used as proof she’s better than the other girls Travis has slept with.

      December 20, 2018
      |Reply
  21. Amber
    Amber

    Well. I disliked our sorority, and I was fucking a frat guy. The dudes were cool. The girls were… not my kind? They were so different from me it was like interacting with an alien species.

    Anyways, random reminiscing aside, I was a mess in university, my self esteem was non-existent, I was terrified of men and shy as shit… and I still didn’t put up with anything, so I’m having a hard time understanding why a chick who doesn’t appear to have all those problems would be such a limp noodle of a person.

    Also, having first hand experienced the form of “kindness” that is dudes thinking they know what’s best and bossing me around… that shit isn’t sexy. It’s horrible. I felt like a five year old, which wasn’t really putting me in a booty mood, if you get what I mean. It was humiliating and I was furious.

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
  22. RodeoBob
    RodeoBob

    I kept reading the recap, thinking about this skeevy, semi-athletic dude-bro that scores with all the ladies, and has a place he shares with a kinda nebbish roommate, and how he’s all cocky arrogant (please don’t sue Faleena!) and it kept reminding me of something, but I couldn’t quite figure it out. Then it hit me.

    Charlie Harper.

    The character played by Charlie Sheen. The “handsome” “rakish” “bad boy” who sleeps with dozens of “floozies”. So if there’s a pool going, put me down for “originally a 2-and-a-half-men fanfic” for $5, OK?

    >“I don’t train for my fights. Adam calls me, tells me where the fight is, and I go.”

    Fun fighting trivia: Adam appears to be what we’d call a “fixer” in the fight business. Not in the sense that he arranges fights (though he obviously does) but that he probably pairs up fighters with the intention of maximizing how much money the bookies can make on betting. In the real world Adam would have been setting up Travis with a series of easy fights, against unskilled opponents, or even paying off his opponents to go down quickly. This is not done out of love or kindness for Travis, but to run up the betting odds on him, so that at a later fight that Adam arranges, Travis can get royally beat down and the bookies can clean up. Sadly, Travis is too stupid to see the set-up coming, so when Adam tells him to take a dive, he won’t, and his opponent (a fighter who does train and has real skill) will take him apart.

    Sadly, the scene where Travis gets completely crushed in the ring likely does not appear in this book.

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
    • Preakness Everdeen
      Preakness Everdeen

      I was firmly in the “possibly Lady and the Tramp Fanfic” team but you’re Two and Half Men revelation has me considering that as a possibility too.

      I wish your fixed fight idea was part of the actual plot. That would maybe make Travis, and this whole thing around the secret, but not secret, fight club more interesting.

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • RodeoBob
        RodeoBob

        About the whole “fight club” thing… this is one of those areas where the author simply didn’t do their research.

        “Fight clubs” are, well, clubs. It’s a bunch of people who want to get together and brawl, but with rules for safety. Most of the people who show up are there to fight, and it’s an activity based on the shared experience of the fight. It’s sort of a by-meatheads-for-meatheads type deal. If any money changes hands, it’s for a collection from everyone for any medical or ER expenses for the night. Otherwise, there’s no charge to attend, no prize money for winning or fighting, just the love of the activity.

        Fighting “rings” or “underground fighting matches” are a different species. They’re typically run by organized crime at some level, and are about an opportunity for spectators to wager on fighters. Spectators pay an admission fee, gambling is prevalent, and fighters get paid.

        Fight clubs are for rank amateurs to brawl in. Underground fighting rings are for people who have skills, but can’t compete in a professional, legitimate venue for one reason or another.

        Travis fighting in a fight club makes him a meathead, signals that he’s the kind of messed-up person who likes wailing on other human beings, but that doesn’t make him bad or awful, just someone who doesn’t fit in to society’s standards.

        Travis fighting in an underground fighting ring means he can’t or won’t use his skills in a safe, legal venue where all competitors (including himself!) are somewhat protected. At best, it means he’s looking the other way while very bad people make money from him hurting folks, and at worst, he’s aware of what he’s fully involved in. This could be a character with a tragic backstory, but it mostly feels like another red flag.

        December 14, 2018
        |Reply
        • Miimers
          Miimers

          There needs to be a fanfic that’s just about Travis’s Last Fight where that not-training, not-caring-for-regulations comes crashing down on him

          December 16, 2018
          |Reply
  23. Paheli
    Paheli

    Will there be more fights? The Dothraki wedding in the previous chapter was a dull affair.

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
    • Ariel
      Ariel

      Bwahaha!

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
  24. NavigatorBR
    NavigatorBR

    I’m on team Kara and Finch, easily the best two characters in the book.

    December 13, 2018
    |Reply
  25. Crystal M
    Crystal M

    With the way women throw themselves at Travis, you’d think he’s actually a big celebrity like Orlando Bloom. That is the only way it even starts to make sense.

    The college setting is so ridiculous and unrealistic. It reads like a middle schooler’s fantasy of college. I went to a school so small that we didn’t have a cafeteria or a sports team, and everyone didn’t know everyone and every minute detail of others’ lives. I knew the people in my major, and that was it. Nobody sat around gossiping about who had sex with who. There were no “stars” that everyone admired like Travis.

    The excuse the author gave for getting Abby into bed with Travis was so flimsy, contrived, and juvenile. Again, it’s like a middle schooler’s writing.

    I can’t even wrap my head around the author’s sexism. Travis having sex with a woman is disrespecting her, but not having sex is respecting her? This sounds like Baptist purity culture stuff.

    And if a man threw me over his shoulder and started yelling about me, I would be enraged and embarrassed and kick him in the balls.

    December 14, 2018
    |Reply
    • Sheila
      Sheila

      The campus should have multiple public bathrooms they could use if they needed to brush their teeth/wash their faces but there should also be a gym with locker rooms. Don’t they know anyone who could get them into the locker room? Or don’t they have friends in other dorms who could …sigh.

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • Riea
        Riea

        The showers arent broken there just isnt any hot water. So like they could suck it up and take a cold shower(It wouldn’t kill them). Also, Abby could just take a shower at Travis’s place and thrn go back t9 her dorm if its that deep.

        December 19, 2018
        |Reply
        • Riea
          Riea

          *isn’t, *then, *to, *it’s

          December 19, 2018
          |Reply
    • Camelia
      Camelia

      You are so right, this does sounds like a middle schooler’s idea of what college is like. Even high school students know better. Since this chapter confirmed that the characters are freshmen, Travis’ reputation makes even less sense. Why would so many women in this university be fawning over a freshman? There are older men all over campus who have to be a lot more alluring than this douche. When I was a freshman in college I was crushing on the older students, my TAs, and even my professors. Sorority girls are probably going to be more interested on the senior members of the frats that the new pledges. Travis might have been the “prom king” in high school, but going to college is a humbling experience. Even the prom king realizes that nobody gives a shit about that in college.

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
    • Agent_Z
      Agent_Z

      Abby can’t be the only girl he’s done that too given how casually he did it.

      December 20, 2018
      |Reply
  26. Teri B.
    Teri B.

    Good God this book is boring. And Pigeon is such a hideous name. I wish it was a shortened version of their name like Anastasia/Ana or Isabella/Bella.

    And by the way “…based on the thick coating of misogynistic slime dripping off every page like ectoplasm on the card catalog at the beginning of Ghostbusters.” LOVED this reference.

    December 14, 2018
    |Reply
  27. Bunny
    Bunny

    “America, Brazil, Shepley, Mad Dog…it sounds like they’re going to team up to fight the fucking Predator.”

    Yes, please. I think we can all agree that Arnold Schwarzenegger and a killer alien would make this ten thousand times superior. The sooner Travis’s head is torn off, the better.

    December 14, 2018
    |Reply
  28. Corbeau
    Corbeau

    Eastern-European here. Do you really have that wide variety of classes at college/uni? Like Biology and History when she wishes to major in Accounting? I studied Foreign Affairs and every class, except for the electables, were closely related to my field of study. I did not have, say Biology or Physics. I know this shit is not realistic representation of college life, so I can’t tell for sure if it’s just another sign of this being aged-up High School or actually somewhat accurate.

    December 14, 2018
    |Reply
    • Person
      Person

      American here, and the way it’s represented is both extremely inaccurate in other ways and actually fitting in this one – the majority of your classes will be for your major, but we have General Education requirements that need to be met, generally gotten out of the way in the first couple of years, and the occasional elective if your schedule has room. What doesn’t make sense is that they’re just Biology or whatever. Like another commenter mentioned above, college classes are not big vague Entire Subject deals – they’ll be things like Microbiology and Immunology or Vertebrate Biology or something.

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • Person
        Person

        Also, I just need to scream this somewhere: THE CAFETERIA LADIES? THE CAFETERIA LADIES??????? AND I’M SUPPOSED TO BUY THIS IS A COLLEGE?!?!?!?! OMFG

        December 14, 2018
        |Reply
        • DovRenee
          DovRenee

          Maybe those heinous cafeteria ladies unionized, grew their army and took over this totally legit college campus. “What does this college need?”
          “An old trope that disney channel shows like to keep alive!”
          “And shall we actually demonstrate we have the necessary skill set to work in a kitchen?”
          “No! Barely edible food for these college frats paying $1000’s in tuition! They fritter their time away in the cafeteria anyway!”

          December 14, 2018
          |Reply
        • Raven
          Raven

          Eh…my (American) college had a buffet style cafeteria as the main dining hall, so this doesn’t seem entirely crazy. What gets me is that the food is the sort of unrecognizable garbage that is a cliche of *high school* cafeterias. Colleges usually have decent to excellent food; it’s a way to woo potential students.

          December 14, 2018
          |Reply
        • Riea
          Riea

          Right! Like none of that made sense

          December 19, 2018
          |Reply
      • Arlene
        Arlene

        I went to a relatively small university (5,000 people) and some of the general studies courses were pretty basic, depending on your major. I was an art major and was required to take two science classes: Biology and Astronomy. This was required of non-science-related majors. At least that’s my memory of it. Biology may have been more specific than that, but I slept through a good portion of it so, who knows.

        December 14, 2018
        |Reply
      • Jessica
        Jessica

        My 101 level science classes weren’t specific branches of Bio or Chem– they were just Biology and Chemistry. Higher levels of sciences were more specific, but for the general education requirements, you usually only had to take the basic level. This was the case in two different community colleges I attended in California.

        December 14, 2018
        |Reply
      • Riea
        Riea

        Carribbean person here who studied at a Carribean college, As a law and Crim major I took Intro to Bio as a Gen Ed requirement. It wasnt called just Bio though(General Biology I think). Also the stuff they’re studying seems like high school level so unless they are taking college prep bio this makes no sense. Basically you’re right

        December 19, 2018
        |Reply
    • Amber Rose
      Amber Rose

      History, no. Biology, Chemistry and Physics were all first year courses, but nobody would choose to take them if they weren’t majoring in one of them. It was widely understood at my university that those three 101 sciences were harder than the courses that came after, because they were trying to weed out anyone who wasn’t suited. I flunked out of chem, it was brutally difficult.

      There were any number of science-classed “easy” courses for satisfying the general education requirement. I took philosophy of physics. No math required, just the ability to space out and question whether anything is really real.

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • Anon
        Anon

        I was an English lit major, but for gen-ed requirements, I took botany and astronomy and we were required to complete through a certain level of a foreign language. It wasn’t a number of credits requirement, but a fluency requirement. I didn’t need to speak Spanish to read Moby Dick, but I had to take the class to graduate.

        At least when I was in college, you didn’t formally choose a major until your third year, so the first two were gen-ed so you could get a feel for everything and decide what spoke to you and where you wanted to focus. Plus, it’s just considered a good idea to have some knowledge of many different things, even if you weren’t an expert in all of them.

        December 14, 2018
        |Reply
        • Person
          Person

          I think we’ve all learned that our country is so huge that none of us can make the sweeping statements about the college experience that we thought we could! This book still gets it wrong enough that it pings all of our “this is an aged up high school” radars, though, which is kind of impressive when you consider all of that regional variation

          December 15, 2018
          |Reply
          • Corbeau
            Corbeau

            Funny thing but I’m almost grateful this book was written because I have learned so much about education in the US by reading the comments. Makes me think of an old saying, that every good man has a fault and even a wicked man can be useful sometimes. Just replace “man” with “book”.

            December 16, 2018
      • Riea
        Riea

        As a law and crim major I took Environmental Science as a science elective. Loved that class

        December 19, 2018
        |Reply
  29. Obelia
    Obelia

    I can only imagine hot water plumbing is better in the US than here in the UK, because from here, alongside the privacy violation, what kind of ass comes in and turns on the faucet while someone is in the shower?

    December 14, 2018
    |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      Newer houses usually don’t have the problem of affecting the shower temp if you flush or turn on a faucet. The houses I’ve lived in the last 20 years or so haven’t had that issue, but I have lived in houses where it was a problem.

      So, it’s not so much American plumbing as it is WHEN that plumbing was installed!

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
  30. Xebi
    Xebi

    I didn’t think a book like this could disgust me with its misogyny even more than 50SoG but here we are.

    As an aside, this is a good example of why I hate the phrase “slept with” as a euphemism for “had sex.” Because now Abby is arguing that she didn’t sleep with Travis just after waking up in his bed that he was also sleeping in and it gives me silly giggles. She didn’t sleep with him, she just slept with him!

    December 14, 2018
    |Reply
  31. Jessica
    Jessica

    When Abby pulled on his shirt, I thought it meant she was putting it on, so I thought it was post-coitus or something.

    How’s that for chemistry? They just did it on the quad. XD

    December 14, 2018
    |Reply
    • Xebi
      Xebi

      That’s exactly what I thought! So ridiculously ambiguous and so easy to fix by replacing “pulled on” with “tugged at” or something.

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • Xebi
        Xebi

        Or even just “tugged.”

        December 14, 2018
        |Reply
  32. Eclairmaiden
    Eclairmaiden

    Abby could go and sleep anywhere but there, and I’m pretty sure she could bear to skip shower for one day. If an author wants to absolve the heroine of all responsibility, the situation really has to offer just one option.

    I’ve only read fantasy YA, and even that’s rare, but this is exactly what I expect non-fantasy YA novels all to be like. Abby is an idiot and Travis is a douche, but I’m still not seeing what makes this stand out from every other YA novel that this deserves to be recapped over all those others. It’s not even so bad it’s funny.

    December 14, 2018
    |Reply
    • Jessica
      Jessica

      I agree, this story is lacking in story so much. It better offer something new real soon or else I might skip the rest. :/

      I was really hoping for the Tyra Banks one; she’s such a mess and that story is supposed to be ridiculous.

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • Eclairmaiden
        Eclairmaiden

        I was looking for that one too. Maybe that will be the next recap, at least, or the next truly big disaster of a book will be published by then.

        December 14, 2018
        |Reply
      • Riea
        Riea

        Wait, which one is this?

        December 19, 2018
        |Reply
    • Rebecca
      Rebecca

      Right?? “UGH THE SHOWER IS OUT” Okay? Then…maybe don’t have one right now?

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • Riea
        Riea

        The shower is not even out. The hot water is out. Take a cold shower and call it over. There’s no real reason for them to go the boys apartment.

        December 19, 2018
        |Reply
    • Laina
      Laina

      That’s… really insulting to all other non-fantasy YA like The Hate U Give…

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • Person
        Person

        Yeah, there is plenty of really awesome YA that is nothing like the shitty romances you’ve described, and isn’t this book New Adult anyway? Which also isn’t nothing but a cesspool of bad writing

        December 15, 2018
        |Reply
    • Riea
      Riea

      Technically this is New Adult not YA. However there are plenty of good non-fantasy YA(and possibly New Adult) novels, this just isn’t one of them.

      December 19, 2018
      |Reply
  33. Anon
    Anon

    “‘Familiar faces filled the seats of our favorite lunch table.’

    “Then everyone is sitting wrong.”

    I read these at work. You are going to get me in trouble with hilarious lines like this. The visual!!!

    So, I understand that “America” is a real name people have in real life, but reading through these, I think it was a bad choice for a novel character’s name. It’s jarring to read in this context. Maybe it’s easier for people not in the US? Though I think if she’d been named “Britain” or “France,” I’d feel the same.

    And then I read the next line and there’s someone possibly named Brazil and I want to flip tables now.

    Fraternity brothers are sniping chairs now? The seats were “picked off”? That phrase means shot …

    “Maybe not at Liberty or Brigham Young, but I can walk into a frat house today, throw a dart, and hit a guy with a tattoo. And it’s going to be a super douchey one, too.”

    My ex graduated college in I want to say 1996 or 1997 and was in a frat. I didn’t know him until a couple years later, but his frat was particularly heavy on alumni involvement, so I spent some time at his old frat house and met all his old frat brothers and Travis sounds very much like someone in a frat. McGuire is an idiot.

    “It had always been a dream of America’s for us to date friends, and roommates-slash-cousins, for her, was hitting the jackpot.”

    Ummm … Ana and Kate? That particular trope stuck out to me in that book because it’s such a 10-year-old fantasy and I always felt like James was writing at about the emotional level of a 10-year-old. I think you’re right that McGuire copied 50.

    “Does McGuire have any female friends? Is she unaware of how women talk to each other about exactly this subject?”

    I’m not convinced she has ever met another human.

    I’m expecting this Parker to be similar to Buffy Parker. He’s probably going to come off all super nice, then try to harm Abby in some way and Travis will save her and we’ll all swoon, of course. Not that books like these are at all predictable or cliche.

    “‘And there was only one bed,’ is the oldest fanfic trope in the book.”

    Semi-related. Years ago, I was visiting my best friend and her fiance shortly before Christmas and the fiance’s father was visiting. They only had one guest bedroom, so the dad (who looked exactly like Santa Claus — bowl full of jelly and all) was staying in the guest room and I was sleeping on the couch.

    Apparently Santa fancied me because he kept making a point of flirting and then informed me that I was welcome to share the guest bed with him and promised not to try anything. Because apparently he thought I was really dumb or something. Friend and fiance split up a couple months later, so thankfully I never had to see Santa again.

    I’ve been a bit immersed in learning about evangelical culture and have actually been a little surprised at how much society has embraced the ideas of that particular cult, specifically when it comes to how people view and treat women. All this Not Like Other Girls™ stuff seems rooted firmly in purity culture where a woman’s chastity and “innocence” is the only valuable thing about her and getting married (landing a man) is the only goal any woman should have. And since there are only so many men, women are forced to compete with each other and friendships between women are discouraged.

    I just finished reading another blogger’s page-by-page critique of Debi Pearl’s “Created to Be His Help Meet” and that was basically the gist of it. It could be summed up as, “Woman without her man is useless.” She tells women that any relationships or activities outside of their marriages are sinful — and apparently we’re all just on the brink of becoming lesbians if we even look at another woman and don’t immediately hate her or something.

    Debi Pearl is married to Michael Pearl, and they are the superstars of the evangelical movement. And the purity culture really took off in the 1990s, so shortly before books like this started becoming popular.

    I definitely see the connection (and I also think the current US administration is a result of it). The blog is called Love, Joy, Feminism if anyone is interested, and the critique is here: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2015/12/created-to-be-his-help-meet-a-compilation-of-posts.html

    TW: there is a LOT of stuff about abuse in the book she critiques, things like saying if the woman is being abused, it’s her fault for not submitting enough and other things. It also touches on molestation and marital rape (but excused by Pearl as just “do as you’re told”). It’s a disturbing read. And a book evangelical women gift each other upon marriage.

    And a really great book on the purity culture — specifically on its influence over women — is “Pure” by Linda Kay Klein (https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/1501124811/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1). Both Klein and the blogger grew up in and eventually rejected evangelicalism, so the perspectives are good ones.

    December 14, 2018
    |Reply
    • HeidiAphrodite
      HeidiAphrodite

      Ew about Santa.

      And I’ve read quite a bit of the Love, Joy, Feminism blog and really enjoyed (is that the right word?) it. She’s very good.

      December 15, 2018
      |Reply
  34. Thais
    Thais

    “Did she turn you into a cabana boy, Travis? What’s next, fanning her with a palm tree leaf, wearing a Speedo?”

    I’m Brazilian, and I find it hard to believe that a Brazilian would say this sort of thing. It’s a stereotypical depiction of Brazil, so I’m sure this guy is tired of having to explain that he lived in an actual city with roads and no, he’s never been to the Amazon, to make a statement that would bring about those types of comments.

    December 14, 2018
    |Reply
  35. L
    L

    Oh my god, whenever you do these recaps I think “this is it, there is no way anything can be worse than this” and somehow the next book is always so. Much. Worse. I’m so sorry jenny, you don’t deserve this… anyway, abby’s (and other similar heroines) attitude to sex seriously remind me of that scene in mean girls “Don’t have sex, you’ll get pregnant and die!” Which makes me worried that this is actually what sex-ed classes in America looks like

    December 14, 2018
    |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      The ones with abstinence-only pushed by evangelicals probably do look like that. Thankfully, that was not my experience!

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • Arlene
        Arlene

        I grew up in a conservative Christian home and went to a conservative Christian university, and yes, all the problematic attitudes in mainstream society (double standards around who is allowed to be sexual with no consequences, etc) is a hundred times worse in evangelical christian circles. All the slut shaming by both men and women, sexually active men disparaging the very women they have sex with while simultaneously valuing “sexual purity” in women, and the plausible deniability women feel they need to uphold in sexual situations in order to not fall into “slut” category by merely having and acting on sexual feelings just bring me back, and not in a good way. This book may not be set in a Christian university (doesn’t feel much like a university at all, as everyone has mentioned) but the attitudes are oh, so familiar.

        December 14, 2018
        |Reply
    • Bunny
      Bunny

      It might be in some places, but it certainly wasn’t for me. When we were talking about birth control and the fail rates for condoms, someone asked whether there was a 100% guarantee on any of the options, and my teacher said, “Well, there’s abstinence, but let’s be honest, almost nobody wants that.” Which I think is the right mentality.

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dvärghundspossen
        Dvärghundspossen

        I’ve seen Americans say that the failure rate for ”typical use” of abstinence should be shown as well, when you’re shown how safe, e.g., condoms are for ”typical use”.
        ”Typical use” of condoms has a pretty high failure rate because the typical user forgets and goes without from time to time. Likewise, the typical abstinence user actually falls for temptation and has sex (likely unprotected because it wasn’t planned for) on occasion. So for a fair comparison of, e.g., condoms and abstinence, the latter fact should be factored in.

        December 15, 2018
        |Reply
  36. Preakness Everdeen
    Preakness Everdeen

    Why didn’t America bring Abby the things she forgot to bring to the shower. There could have been a small scene of America getting the things out of Abby’s bag for her and Travis (who could already be on his way to bringing her a towel) could just add it to the shower delivery. He could still barge into the bathroom like the kool-aid man but at least he could kinda sorta seem like he was over eager to be a helpful friendly friend or something?

    Also for how he’s treated women I’m surprised Travis was able to get the right moisturizer from Abby’s bag? Usually guys with his M.O. would just bring the whole bag “cuz all that chic stuff is confusing”. But he “just happened” to get the right “weird face cream”. Maybe it was dumb luck, or she packed light. But my bets are on he was investigating what was in her things. Pretending to be clueless so his boundary violations always end up seeming so conveniently thoughtful?

    So, chapter 2 confirms they’re freshman but chapter 1 they went out to eat and had a meal that included beer? So are they late start freshman, or Travis drank 2 beers, or there’s a restaurant that’s ok with not checking ids and serving alcohol to underage people?

    December 14, 2018
    |Reply
    • Corbeau
      Corbeau

      I’m not from the US, but I’m pretty sure if I was I could find a bar near a university campus that served alcohol for people under 21. Simply because there would be people under the age 21 who’d want to drink. Supply follows demand.

      December 18, 2018
      |Reply
      • Ethyl
        Ethyl

        Ehhhhh maybe when I was in college in the 1990s, but it seems like lately bars (under pressure from the local universities mostly) are getting a lot stricter.

        December 18, 2018
        |Reply
  37. Dvärghundspossen
    Dvärghundspossen

    It’s SO WEIRD that this Travis guy has scores of women who wants to DATE him, when he ONLY sleeps around, NEVER dates, and treats the women he sleeps with like absolute crap.
    Sure, people can sleep around, but normally you’d also be in a relationship once in while, at least go on dates once in a while, right? Even if we buy the ludicrous premise that everyone at this entire university knows about Travis’ sex life and are super impressed that he sleeps with so many women, wouldn’t word get around that he treats them horribly AND wouldn’t people find it WEIRD that he NEVER dates or is in a relationship? Like, assume that there must be something really off about him from the latter fact alone?

    On a related note: I’m reading a sci-fi novel now where the heroine early on meets this super hot super rich guy who’s the heir to this enormously wealthy and influential capitalist’s company. (A really weird thing is that she early on thinks to herself that she’s heard that he’s such a sexual predator, but I get the impression the authors doesn’t really know what this means; they seem to think it just means “guy who has lots of one-night-stands”.) He’s never seriously dated or anything but just had causal sex with tons of women.

    For various reasons the heroine and him start to hang out a lot. He’s always nice, although comes off as pretty passive, sort of going-along-with-whatever-people-suggest, and just a little… off. Then they have sex (on the heroine’s initiative), THEN she discovers that his evil abusive capitalist dad put a brain implant in him that was supposed to prevent him from being rebellious or acquiring any passions that could compete with working for his dad. They manage to shut off the implant, and suddenly he’s super emotional and cries all the time and falls super hard in love with the heroine.

    It’s not a super book, although pretty interesting, but it’s a waaaaaaaaay better spin on “the heroine’s love interest was only into causal sex until he met her and fell in love”.

    December 14, 2018
    |Reply
    • Eclairmaiden
      Eclairmaiden

      Could you tell me the names of the book and the author?

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dvärghundspossen
        Dvärghundspossen

        It’s The light if other days, by Stephen Baxter and Arthur C Clarke.

        December 14, 2018
        |Reply
    • Miimers
      Miimers

      Buffering brain transplant sure would be a twist in this no one saw coming!

      December 16, 2018
      |Reply
    • Riea
      Riea

      I think its playing on the trope that every woman goes after this guy cause they think they can be the one to tame him. However given Travis’s rep, there might be some girls into that, I feel like there are a lot who would be like nope. Also, it would be cool if she had girls who just slept with Travis cause they wanted to but didn’t expect anything. Or just wanted to see what the big deal was.

      December 19, 2018
      |Reply
  38. Skemono
    Skemono

    I subdued a smile at being the only girl they had seen him insist on sitting with.

    But… you can’t be “the only girl”, since Brazil instantly knew that Travis wanted to sit next to you, and from this concluded that you were just “one of [his] girls”. This happened just a few seconds ago, Abby, do you not remember it? Maybe that’s why you’re so bad at biology.

    This is meant to show the first moment that Abby is starting to have some romantic chemistry with Travis.

    Is that the point of the scene? Because just looking at what you’ve transcribed, it reads to me like a man using an excuse to impose physical contact on a woman he’s sexually interested in but who has explicitly said she’s not interested in him. But she feels pressured to reciprocate in some way so she does something physical that doesn’t involve actually touching him, like tugging on his shirt. Or she’s trying to get him to stop squeezing her. Or something.

    If he hasn’t tried anything by now, I don’t think he will.

    But he has tried? Repeatedly? America, you were the one who told Abby she should just let it happen because he was so interested? I’m thinking no-one in this book has any memories of anything that happened more than a paragraph prior.

    “I know, but he hasn’t even tried? He’s slept with everyone.”

    “Except us,” America said, looking her over. “And you.”

    Kara shrugged. “Well, I’ve never met him. I’ve just heard.”

    “Exactly,” I snapped. “You don’t even know him.”

    I would assume the point of this scene is that Kara is being unfairly judgmental, leaping to conclusions about a person based only on rumors and reputation, as opposed to Abby who actually knows about this person. It further cements Kara as the bitchy roommate and Abby as the sound-minded protagonist who is Not Like Other Girls™. But then the very next scene affirms that no, Kara is entirely correct about Travis’s casual sex. And hell, the previous scene also confirmed that, because Abby saw Travis wander off with the brunette and skip class to have sex. You definitely know this is true, Abby, why are you insisting it’s not??

    This happened in the first chapter. We’re on the second chapter. How have you forgotten this?

    They can’t remember things from the previous page, let alone a previous chapter. I’m genuinely worried about their memories.

    a tube of K-Y Jelly, and a clear glass bowl overflowing with packages of different brands of condoms.

    Why are your sex supplies in the bedroom if you never have sex there!? That’s just going to ruin the mood. “Hey baby, stay here a minute while I grab a condom from my bedroom. What? No, you’re not allowed in there, only girls I like can come in my bedroom.”

    December 14, 2018
    |Reply
    • Preakness Everdeen
      Preakness Everdeen

      Maybe he puts the bowl of condoms, with the lube, on a coffee table like its bowl of popcorn.

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
  39. swanna
    swanna

    I get so exhausted every time books try to demonstrate how a female character is a strong woman(tm) by writing her calling out a male character on something, but then not following it up with any significant (even if temporary) change in their relationship.

    Abby sort-of calls him out on his treatment of other women (even if it’s with eye-roll inducing statements like “She’s someone’s daughter”), and mentally notes that his behavior repulses her, but then she just lets herself get dragged along again and he gets everything he wanted out of their day together.
    You’d think she’d let him experience consequences for behaving in a way she disapproves of so clearly.

    Hate-to-love stories only work if you allow the characters to show enough spine to confront the roadblocks in their relationship.
    How is “Character A learns to put up with Character B’s awful personality” something to swoon over? I’ve yet to be shown a single trait of Travis’ that explains to me why Abby would consider enduring his jackassitude even just for the time being. Normally with these types of character arcs you’re shown something, anything, that makes the reader understand why the heroine wants to give the guy a chance.
    All we’ve seen so far is that Travis is uh… supposedly he’s hot, I guess.
    But Abby’s already told us that she’s not in it for sex with the hot guy. So what, exactly, is his appeal?

    December 14, 2018
    |Reply
  40. Dvärghundspossen
    Dvärghundspossen

    Also, Travis fighting skills are hilarious! It was established in chapter 1 that he almost never gets punched, because if someone tries to punch him, he DODGES! Now, in this chapter, it’s established that he doesn’t even need to train in order to win all the time. I’m gonna assume it’s because just like no other fighter in this universe has figured out how to dodge, nobody else has figured out that you should aim for your opponent either. Everyone else just wave their fists around at random.

    December 14, 2018
    |Reply
    • Preakness Everdeen
      Preakness Everdeen

      This just makes me believe that RodeoBob’s earlier comment about the fights being fixed seem more believable. Travis doesn’t train and all he does is dodge. If the fights arn’t fixed then, I guess they fight like turn-based video game.

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
      • Agent_Z
        Agent_Z

        It comes across like Travis treats his fights like playground scraps. Dodge and hit might work for school bullies but not for more ruthless underground fighters.

        December 20, 2018
        |Reply
  41. Cooper
    Cooper

    I’ve not even finished this recap yet, but I want to say how much I appreciate passages like the following:

    “What is it about Travis’s pride and excitement that makes Abby feel awkward? Does she have a hard time handling praise, or is this the first time he’s let his tough-guy mask slip and expressed genuine emotion toward her? When she grabs his shirt, does she feel a zing from the contact? Does it disturb her enough to quickly let go? She doesn’t question her “awkward feeling” or why she’s feeling it. These are details that could have given the scene the weight it’s clearly supposed to have.”

    I won’t lie. I discovered this site for entertainment (Buffy recaps!) purposes, but I also learn SO MUCH reading your criticisms on bad writing. Sincerely. Thank you!

    December 14, 2018
    |Reply
  42. Kyerin
    Kyerin

    When they talk about mitosis, is anyone else picturing the episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch where Sabrina and Harvey are supposed to be studying biology, but due to making out and magical shenanigans, they never get any further than ‘Mitosis is…’?

    No? Just me? 🙂

    December 14, 2018
    |Reply
    • Camelia
      Camelia

      I was picturing the exact same thing! It was the reason the scene felt out of place in a college setting. I

      December 17, 2018
      |Reply
  43. Q
    Q

    I thought this started as Twilight fanfiction. Am I not remembering that right?

    December 14, 2018
    |Reply
    • Tez Miller
      Tez Miller

      At the same time that Twifi P2P came out, so did the New Adult age category for books, and self-publishing. So BD wasn’t Twific, but it was self-published NA.

      I think. I’m not good at remembering what happened when, so if anyone knows for sure let us know.

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
  44. Drea
    Drea

    Okay…so the hot water doesn’t work and they have to STAY OVER at the boyfriend’s apartment? Why? She could have slept in her own bed. If America wanted to stay over, she still could have driven back and then picked her up in the morning.

    Also, that one dorm didn’t have hot water so, none of the other dorms did? Since they make such a big deal about co-eds I’m betting that there is a boy’s dorm somewhere.

    Is the apartment so far away that they couldn’t make it back to the dorms? Why would anyone stay in an apartment that far from their school?

    December 14, 2018
    |Reply
  45. Amanda
    Amanda

    Hot water shower
    Shower and go back?

    He’s gross

    Storyline short leaving room for multiple break ups

    America enabler

    A couple things about this so-called “college”:
    How has Shepley rushed already? From my understanding, this is the beginning-ish of the year? If he’s a freshman, how could he possibly be a full-fledged member of Sigma whatever the hell already without going through the entire process?

    I lived in the dorms for 2 years and they would never, I mean NEVER allow the students to go without hot water. Not even for a night, let alone DAYS. No fuckin way. They’d have someone out there right meow fixing it. Like, these students pay way too fucking much for these dorms to have to find another place to shower. And, if they abso-fuckin-lutely couldn’t get the hot water fixed, they’d make arrangements with another building to allow the students to use those showers. Fuck that.

    Also, why can’t they just use the boys’ shower and go back? LIke why does Abby have to sleep with this fucking guy? I mean, do they need the hot water to take a piss in the middle of the night?

    Ok, so I’m not the type of person to judge someone for their sexual history. You’ve slept with a lot of people? Whatever. You’ve slept with one? None? Who cares? But, right here, Travis has walked off campus in the middle of the day, middle of the week with this random woman to go back to his apartment and have sex. He obviously has no qualms about hooking up with random woman anytime. Everybody says he’s a one and done kind of man, never slept with the same woman more than once (although we met a woman earlier in the book that he has slept with more than once so what-the-fuck-ever). We’ve also established that he’s a sophomore so he’s been doing this already for an entire year (maybe more). So it’s pretty heavily implied that Travis has slept with a couple hundred women or so.
    I mean… that’s just fucking gross. Like, he could put the condom around his entire body and I still wouldn’t touch him. The STDs probably just ooze out around the condom because they’ve now evolved to the point where they can think for themselves and no condom is going to stop them from breeding a new population of their own kind.
    Another thing, who actually finds that sexy? Maybe, miraculously, he hasn’t contracted any diseases or have any children, but is the fact that he’s so loose with his body actually a turn on? “Oh well, he doesn’t think very highly of them. He only likes meeeeeee”… Ok, that’s even worse.

    I feel like I went off a bit there, my point is that I can be a pretty open-minded person but there is a certain point when it just becomes gross and super pathetic. Have you no standards at all, Travis?

    I also wanted to add that you were talking about her resolving the “she likes him/doesn’t like him” storyline in the second chapter. 50 shades was a trilogy so they had time to draw out all this garbage. This is one book so Jamie McGuire had to compact all the trash into one dumpster. She had to fit in that conflict then the multiple breaks ups and make ups, outrageous plotlines, fights, sex, jealousies, misunderstandings, and love triangles (probably) into one big trash fire.

    America and Shepley are fucking enablers. If Abby was addicted to meth, they would happily tell her how bad it is for her whilst pushing it on her. And America is the only other female in the “book” that isn’t a big slutty slut face. So don’t be surprised when the whole America flip flopping comes up again and again.

    December 14, 2018
    |Reply
  46. Jenny (but not Jenny Trout
    Jenny (but not Jenny Trout

    “ a tube of K-Y Jelly, and a clear glass bowl overflowing with packages of different brands of condoms. Revolted, I grabbed a pen and shoved the drawer shut.”

    I find KY revolting. So gross. The one time I tried it, it stung so bad. Get Sliquid – any of them. Of course he’s too cheap to get the good stuff. And I’m surprised he has lube. Aren’t girls creaming all over themselves to jump on his dick? If he’s using it’s for anal, I really hope someone pegs his ass with th KY so he can see how much fun cheap lube isn’t. I find it weird that he doesn’t have a favorite brand of condoms. I bet he’s grabbing a handful everytime he goes to the health clinic. The cheap part concerning, not the condoms themselves. If he were a broke student, then fine. But why can’t Mr Fight Club buy his one stuff? Maybe it’s just me, but Flying Rat have condoms, st home if not in her purse. I carried them with me before I had sex, just in case. And it that makes me a slut, then it makes me a responsible slut who wasn’t ready to have a baby and and didn’t want an STI.

    Why can’t we ever have a book where someone other than the FMC hooked up with the MMC because he’s cute and nice (and he’s actually nice) because they wanted to, not because they thought it would lead to A RELATIONSHIP? Can’t any of the girls have sex because they like to have sex? Ugh. This is what got me into gay romance. It’s okay if the MCs have had sex with other guys and it’s usually not “OMFG he’s such a slut!” The stuff I tend to be more along the lines of “I like sex and I like you and I would like to have sex with you.” This whole “I only fuck people I don’t respect” makes me see red. So. Much. Bullshit.

    Fuck this book. I don’t know how you haven’t lit something on fire while reading it.

    December 14, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I find it weird that he doesn’t have a favorite brand of condoms.

      Yeah, they generally affect the man’s sensation more than the woman’s so you’d think he’d have tried a bunch and picked a favorite by now. I guess he could have some variety if he was concerned about allergic reactions, but since he doesn’t have a variety of lubes… well, I doubt that’s why. Your guess sounds pretty likely.

      December 14, 2018
      |Reply
    • <>

      This is why I started writing Romance, specifically. I’m so fucking sick of being presented with a checklist of abusive behaviors and being told IT’S ROMAAAAAANCE and that I’m frigid and anti-woman if I’m not on board with the hotness of, say, a stranger grabbing me and throwing me up against the wall for a hot make-out sesh.

      Epic romances can start of with non-abusive behavior, too, you know.

      December 15, 2018
      |Reply
    • Emily
      Emily

      Sliquid for the win.
      Wrongly or rightly, when the lube in a story is K-Y, it always makes me think the author is old. Like calling margarine “oleo” or saying a pet needs to go through heat before being spayed. It reads outdated to me. But maybe that’s just cheek and I’ll 23 skidoo and go soak my head.

      December 16, 2018
      |Reply
    • Riea
      Riea

      That’s what I ssid up above, like this is supposedly college, people are randomly fucking all over the place. Why aren’t there girls who are having sex just for the fun?

      December 19, 2018
      |Reply
  47. Maril
    Maril

    I just want to say that, while I know it’s really common to try and get people to empathize, I REALLY hate it when people say ‘what if it was your daughter/mother/sister?!’ to get guys to care about women being mistreated. If you can only care about something based on its relation, and therefore reflection, to you, then you’re a shitty person. I don’t need to imagine something horrible happening to a family member in order to not want something horrible to happen to people. It bothers me.

    I really struggle with the misogyny in this book. I mean, if he does have a reputation for being a rampant slut who never sleeps with the same person twice, and EVERYONE knows that, then, yeah, there’s not a whole lot of room for all of these women to constantly expect him to see them again. But at the same time his behaviour is so predatory that I have a really hard time genuinely believing he doesn’t intentionally lead them on. He’s been priming Abby so far hardcore, and I dunno, it seems really intentional considering the author seems to think he’s not an asshole? That’s really troubling actually… that level of predatory behaviour shouldn’t be so ingrained that you can include it in a book by accident…

    December 14, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I don’t need to imagine something horrible happening to a family member in order to not want something horrible to happen to people. It bothers me.

      It basically implies they’re like a pet because you can’t exactly understand what the animal is going through (although you could still sympathize anyway, on a fundamental level of pain and suffering) but you can definitely understand what the pet owner is dealing with if you’ve ever had a pet who died or was otherwise in a horrible situation. Maybe if people said “She’s somebody’s friend” they’d get the disconnect but probably not. “She’s a person; she deserves respect” should be the thing that gets said but I have a feeling assholes like this don’t care.

      That’s really troubling actually… that level of predatory behaviour shouldn’t be so ingrained that you can include it in a book by accident…

      People who are abused by parents often seek a partner who reminds them of their parents. I have a feeling this isn’t accidental so much as feeding that desire and/or as others have noted, using without fully understanding or otherwise caring about some common tropes that have equally problematic origins.

      But I also wonder if the evangelical subset of women just identify with the man for the freedom they so desire, but might not be bi so they don’t enjoy his capers as much, while identifying with the woman simply because she’s their obvious insert and what they know, in spite of not giving a shit about her any more than he does? That’s what it feels like to me since the men are always deeply glorified and traditionally desired the way the woman wants to be before the “reveal” that the guy loves and desires the insert.

      December 15, 2018
      |Reply
      • Maril
        Maril

        I recognize that a lot of it is definitely conservative women who feel it’s ‘taboo’ to want the bad boy. They simultaneously want to indulge the taboo fantasy while still maintaining their more traditionally acceptable outward appearance. And that can lead to some weird and unhealthy dynamics just to get the plot going in those cases. But Travis’ behaviour here is very deliberate. This is calculated priming. He is grooming Abby. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re right about the abuse, because this is… blatant. And distressing, as I’ve been on the receiving end of this kind of behaviour and it’s insidious.

        It’s been a few weeks and he has her thinking about sex and him at the same time all the time, and defending him to the point of anger despite his constant abuse of her boundaries. And on top of that, I know everyone is going on and on about how she easily could have and should have refused to share a bed with him, but I’ve been in her shoes in that situation. Even if you legit want to say no and you’re not SCARED, you still feel like you don’t have a choice? I have a hard time explaining that to people who haven’t been through it, but it really does feel like you HAVE to. And the fact that he then makes her touch him to turn off the alarm, makes her get the pen from the place he keeps sex supplies (which he would have known full well was there and easily could have gotten the pen himself) and makes fun of her for being on top of him to turn off the alarm, he’s prepping her to feel like she’s the one who made the choice to sleep with him when in reality it will be 100% because he has been playing a long con to coerce her.

        I think this story might end up being really triggering for me, way more than 50 Shades ever was, because it feels TOO real…

        December 15, 2018
        |Reply
        • Riea
          Riea

          I th8nk everyones issue was the unrealistic idea that cause the hot water wasnt eorking in their dorm they had to not only go to the dudes apartment but also sleep there. Not that she was f9rced to sleep in his bed

          December 19, 2018
          |Reply
          • Riea
            Riea

            *think , *wasn’t, working, forced

            December 19, 2018
    • Nocturnal Queen
      Nocturnal Queen

      It really shows how even though women don’t legally belong to their male relatives/partners we are still treated as though we do.

      Our value changes depending on who we are perceived as belonging too. A woman with a rich dad is going to be treated better than a woman with a poor dad. A woman with a bad husband is going to get her reputation ruined by being associated with him.

      And how many women haven’t experienced men coming on to them even when they’ve repeatedly said no but they don’t back off until the woman mentions her male partner?

      It’s also one of the reasons why rape by a non-partner is considered more “real rape” and worse than rape commited by a male partner. In the first case someone takes a woman who society considers as already belonging to someone else (her father or significant other) while in the second, a man is doing things to someone who belongs to him.

      Also, all the men who suddenly become “feminists” after having a daughter or having a long term relationship with a woman. A lot of them didn’t really have a sudden realization of how the patriarchy fucks over women. They just don’t want other men to treat the women they perceive as their’s the way they themselves have treated women.

      December 15, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        It’s also one of the reasons why rape by a non-partner is considered more “real rape” and worse than rape commited by a male partner. In the first case someone takes a woman who society considers as already belonging to someone else (her father or significant other) while in the second, a man is doing things to someone who belongs to him.

        Yes. Or they just don’t believe a man could do such a thing to his own family, but if he does see them as dehumanized, especially in this way, then, of course, he could. And people who buy into the “boys will be boys” trope feed into that since they’ll excuse anything as natural behavior when it’s all a choice.

        They just don’t want other men to treat the women they perceive as their’s the way they themselves have treated women.

        Ugh… yeah. So gross. 🙁

        December 24, 2018
        |Reply
    • Ilex
      Ilex

      I just want to say that, while I know it’s really common to try and get people to empathize, I REALLY hate it when people say ‘what if it was your daughter/mother/sister?!’ to get guys to care about women being mistreated. If you can only care about something based on its relation, and therefore reflection, to you, then you’re a shitty person.

      I think the fear here is, if men can relate to women as people, and not just as daughters/sisters/mothers/whatever, then it makes men into women. Because if you can understand women, you must BE a woman. No, it doesn’t really make any sense, but I think it’s a common foundation of misogyny.

      December 17, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Or if men can understand women, then it all breaks down because women don’t need their specific man to run interference for them. Conservative Christianity is a lot like conservative Islam in that respect.

        December 24, 2018
        |Reply
  48. Abby is our POV character. We’re in her head for the entire book. But we don’t see any of her thoughts evolving. What we get is a recitation of the physical things that are happening. Travis helped me study. Travis walked me to class. Travis said this. We don’t ever find out how she feels about these things while they’re happening. Events are just listed off until she finally goes, hey, my thinking about this guy has totally changed. It doesn’t help that we’ve skipped all the parts that would explain why her thinking has changed.

    This might actually be the key to the appeal of this kind of book. It provides an emotional vacuum that allows readers to project their own feels, without needing to empathize with a different being. It’s analogous to omitting a physical description so readers can picture themselves in the story. It’s lazy. It’s hollow. Just like the audience. People should want better things. But, here we are.

    December 15, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I think you’re on to something but then again, some of it might be about how they’ve glamorized the heroine being passive… Abby can’t be wrong if she’s just going along with the narrative without any introspection! And examining how she got there might give her too much initiative? It’s kind of bizarre because most writing advice will tell you to make the main character the one with the motivation and the nerve to take action, at least eventually!

      But that might be giving the author too much credit because pushing Abby around like a finger puppet is definitely the easiest and laziest way of writing this thing. I also think the author probably knows about abusive people and omitting the emotions makes it easier to glorify the abuser and downplay the negative impact on the victim. 🙁

      December 15, 2018
      |Reply
  49. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    “I’m also not buying that if this guy has the reputation he has, that every woman on campus would still aggressively pursue him.”

    They wouldn’t. We had one of those in my dorm. He was reasonably cute, but once news of his STD got to the women in the dorm, it didn’t matter how much penicillin he had taken. No one wanted to share a #2 pencil with him, let alone anything more intimate.

    By the way, it was the guys who spread the news. “Did you hear about so-and-so?” (Followed by single clap.)

    December 15, 2018
    |Reply
  50. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    ‘“And there was only one bed,” is the oldest fanfic trope in the book.’

    Funny thing, that. When a bunch of us went to Cons, one person put the mattress on the floor and another took the box spring. Scary how many people we could squeeze into a budget motel room.

    December 15, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      And that’s not even counting the ones who brought sleeping bags.

      December 15, 2018
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      And to be completely honest, if it was a choice between the couch or the bed, it’d be better to choose the couch and just lay a sheet over it, in the hope that Travis might associate you with the couch and back-off. Or, you know, choose the floor, possibly in Shep’s bedroom so he could fucking see that Travis was already getting between him and America (because I seriously doubt she’d be DTF with her best friend sleeping on the floor.) You wouldn’t even need to break down the bed or bring a sleeping bag! (But yeah, totes amazing how many people can fit for just a few nights if you’re all kind of broke or on a major budget.) XD

      Also, the one bed would work way better if there was some legit sexual tension and it turned into actual sex. Then we’d have some character growth of any sort. Instead, they shared a bed and nothing has changed… Supposedly, Abby’s rethinking her lack of hots for Travis or he’s rethinking it for her but we already know they want to bone and the only thing keeping them apart is that they’re both garbage.

      December 15, 2018
      |Reply
  51. ShifterCat
    ShifterCat

    Ah, the one certain mark of a Mary Sue/Gary Stu: every other character is obsessed with them. In Twilight, the entire school shows up at the hospital Bella’s at. In this thing, nobody can go more than two minutes without talking about Travis.

    Even if we take the idiotic “campus celebrity” thing seriously, there is no way the entire fucking football team has no other interests. They don’t ever talk about music, classes, movies, local events… or, hell, football?

    December 15, 2018
    |Reply
  52. Maybe after this book you can read something you might actually like. Books don’t have to be this bad to get a chapter-by-chapter Jenny treatment.

    You deserve better

    December 16, 2018
    |Reply
    • Fluffy
      Fluffy

      I agree!! I’d love the book version of your Buffy recaps. Maybe Bertrice Small’s books?

      December 16, 2018
      |Reply
  53. Miimers
    Miimers

    Thanks. I hate this.
    There doesn’t seem to be a single sympathetic character and frankly, Travis is a sexual predator. He’s doing the grooming and gaslighting and those are described as “charismatic” features?! He reads more and more like a 35+ yo right wing YouTube celeb fantasy fullfilment.

    “holding up fingers that I was sure the Boy Scouts of America had never considered using.”
    I refuse to read this any other way than it had never occurred to Boy Scouts to rip Travis’s fingers off to use them for saluting.

    December 16, 2018
    |Reply
    • ShifterCat
      ShifterCat

      Those Boy Scouts would be doing a public service, though.

      December 16, 2018
      |Reply
    • Tez Miller
      Tez Miller

      Yep. If Travis was on Twitter, in his profile he’d call himself an “alpha”, and there’d be “#Liftwaffe”.

      December 16, 2018
      |Reply
      • Tez Miller
        Tez Miller

        Abby would be “waifu”, Travis would call every other woman “thot”.

        December 16, 2018
        |Reply
  54. Izzy
    Izzy

    I will forgive this book all its sins if they fight the Predator. But only if the Predator and Kara team up and kill them all.

    December 16, 2018
    |Reply
    • NavigatorBR
      NavigatorBR

      My friend refused to believe police exist in this story’s world, based off me texting her various events that occurred where no cops showed.

      Then I told her that I wanted a Kara/Finch spin off since they’re easily the best characters and her idea was they team up and “fight to establish an actual police force in that hellverse”.

      December 17, 2018
      |Reply
    • MamaLich
      MamaLich

      ‘But only if the Predator and Kara team up and kill them all.’ Agree, Travis comes off like a dumber version of Quinn McKenna. I just can’t stand arrogant meatheads that think they’re God’s gift to women.

      December 18, 2018
      |Reply
      • Agent_Z
        Agent_Z

        Travis is the exact type of character who would be killed off in a Predator movie. The first film was very much a deconstruction of the type of Hollywood machismo Travis displays.

        December 20, 2018
        |Reply
  55. Rhoda
    Rhoda

    This book manages to be both cliched and offensive. At least a fantasy would have the redeeming feature of; how does this author do werewolves?

    On the lack of hot showers- Couldn’t you just have protagonist takes up swimming or new sporting activity to use showers. Meets love interest there. Misunderstandings ensue.

    December 17, 2018
    |Reply
  56. Peridontal
    Peridontal

    Has anyone suggested that the lad calls Abby a pigeon because he’s really really into that 90s song No Pigeons by Sporty Thievz ?

    December 17, 2018
    |Reply
  57. Ilex
    Ilex

    Unfortunately, Parker’s name means I’m imagining him as Stupid Fucking Douchebag from Buffy.

    Just before reading this sentence, I was just picturing Travis as Stupid Fucking Douchebag and wondering if this book is some kind of twisted Buffy fanfic showing how Buffy could have “won” SFD if she’d played it right/tried hard enough/failed to find a shred of self-respect, or whatever it would have taken.

    December 17, 2018
    |Reply
  58. Ilex
    Ilex

    Also, I don’t get this whole “the showers are broken” thing. Are the showers broken everywhere on campus? Because if the boiler is only out at your dorm, most colleges have this thing called a gym where there are also showers. And it’s generally open to all paying students, imagine that! But I guess Abby and America would find it distasteful to have to walk across campus and shower there, so obviously the only choice is Plot Device Apartment.

    December 17, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      I actually did use the showers at the campus gym when the landlord was working on the bathroom. But should we be surprised the plot devices in this creation are as silly as everything else in it?

      December 17, 2018
      |Reply
  59. Small jar of fireflies
    Small jar of fireflies

    Ok. So. He never takes his single-time partners into his bed, his private sanctum. That’s only for Good And Pure Women, disposables get the couch.

    Where he keeps the lube and condoms? In easy reach, of course! Directly beside his bed.

    I’m doing the little sing-song “somebody’s a liar.”

    December 17, 2018
    |Reply
  60. Mary
    Mary

    Jesus Christ.

    December 17, 2018
    |Reply
  61. K R
    K R

    I went to a very small, private collage, and even then I don’t think anyone stood out that much or we even knew who we were outside of our own classmates. Then again, even my high school didn’t have the central “queen bee” everyone deferred to or the” ultimate jock”.
    Anyhow, Abby is so sloppily written. There are instances where she is almost likable and you feel like she’s on the right path of blowing off Travis, then nope, she still goes along with it.
    I’m very touch-averse so a lot of the scenes make me cringe.

    December 17, 2018
    |Reply
  62. MyDog'sPA
    MyDog'sPA

    Travis stretched, and then walked over to me, still in his boxers. “Are you always so temperamental, or will that taper off once you believe I’m not just creating some elaborate scheme to get into your pants?” His hands cupped my shoulders, and I felt his thumbs caress my skin in unison.

    Uhhh, but his morning boner would be popping through the boxers and they’d be having a very different conversation at that point. (Think Sandra Bullock in The Proposal)

    Actually, if his morning boner wasn’t there, that’s an indication there’s something wrong with his penis and all the boasting about all that sex is just deflection from his impotence. But our Abbey isn’t smart enough to figure that one out, is she?

    December 18, 2018
    |Reply
  63. MamaLich
    MamaLich

    “I don’t train for my fights. Adam calls me, tells me where the fight is, and I go.”

    See, I can imagine this would be okay…if we’re talking about a historical romance book set in the 1700s (where Travis is a dumb bare-knuckled boxer who WISHES he could be like Tom Cribb, couldn’t afford a trainer and spends his life in traveling shows). Professional boxing was STILL in its nascent stage back then, and very few people understood how a person should train for a specific sport (though there were boxers like Tom Molineux, who partied hard and actually rejected the training/guidance which were offered to him by more experienced athletes (and guess what? He wound up brutally defeated in a humiliating fight which ended his career).

    But since this is a modern setting…Travis would’ve been laughed out of a tournament if he admitted this. According to reviews on GoodReads, Travis later on decides to make a professional career out of cage-fighting. But he refuses to train (in the post-Mohamed Ali era!) because apparently he doesn’t need to develop his own skills in order to combat MMAs (like grapplers, people trained in judo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, western boxing, shoot fighting (yeah, that’s a thing), etc) let alone learn how to minimize potential long-lasting damage on his own body (since professional fighting is HELL on the human body). Even if he’s going to do fixed fights that are managed by criminal families, he’ll be walking into a cage-fight with fighters that have trained extensively for the job (I mean, you can’t BE an untrained brawler and win convincingly against someone that uses the same training regimen as Helio Gracie and Gene Lebell).

    Plus, removing any training scenes also takes away a good romantic setup from the plot. We could’ve had scenes of Abby deciding to pick up Travis from the gym (or a MMA school) to start her tutoring (or maybe she’d go to see what the training’s all about), and it would’ve given us a chance to see Travis working hard with a trainer (which also would help us see, through Abby’s eyes, that he was serious about fighting—and also has a passion and drive to work hard in SOMETHING. It would also show us if he is actually disciplined, and it would enable readers to understand and respect his dream to be a cage-fighter). Plus who wouldn’t want scenes where a heroine gradually realises how incredible the LI looks during a workout? We could’ve gotten a mesmerising (as mesmerising like the American Dragons scene with young Michael Biehn) description of Travis fighting with a personal trainer—instead of just watching him pester Abby, prance around in shorts (while MacGuire’s oddly reticent on his ‘hawtness’) and chasing after random girls ‘out of politeness’ (that part also bothers me. It sounds so much like an excuse MacGuire’s heard on why a certain dude’s a manwhore).

    December 18, 2018
    |Reply
  64. melancthe
    melancthe

    Honestly, I’d love the “Travis is not a sexual predator and also they’re an elite commando squad”!AU. Travis never sleeps with the same woman twice because he’s traveling the world, doing elite … military things! They’re all lovely, but he can’t talk about 80% of his life with them because it’s classified. Abby is his squadmate who he pines over but you don’t sleep with coworkers so it can never be! “Pidgeon” is some weird codename or whatever! Also the predator shows up! If there’s internalized misogyny it is worked through as part of character development and addressed by the author!

    Look I won’t deny it needs work but I’d rather read it over this. But I might as well wish for a pony while I’m at it.

    December 18, 2018
    |Reply
  65. Barb S
    Barb S

    I feel like the “legacy” detailis meant as a classist clue. Legacy assholes come from money so that’s making them rich and more desirable cuz it’s a score for their inevitable MRS. degree at the happy ending.

    December 19, 2018
    |Reply
    • SYD
      SYD

      I would normally agree with you about the connotations with the word legacy. But for fraternities all you need to be a legacy is to have other family members in the organization. I think it would be more classist if the use of legacy were about him being admitted to an expensive school. Frats aren’t cheap, but there are a number of middle class families that have frat legacies.

      That being said I do think the book has an … “interesting” response to class. On one hand Travis seems very well off. He has tattoos, he has own place as a freshman, he has a motorcycle. All things I consider expensive and or luxury items. On the other hand the author seems to take pains to dress him up in a sort of blue collar drag. He does things stereotypically associated with working class people. He fights for money, he cusses, and he seems to exude a more primal masculinity than is typically depicted in relation to upper class characters.

      I think the author wants to have her cake and eat it too. Give Travis all of the resources and refinement of being wealthy, but put him in working class drag so he doesn’t come across as overly effete or snobbish.

      December 20, 2018
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  66. SYD
    SYD

    I see a lot of people complaining about how unrealistic the college is in this story, but it’s actually not too far off from my own college experiences so I thought I would share my perspective real quick.

    I went to school in Iowa where there are tons of small liberal arts colleges (henceforth referred to as slac), so there were enough schools to support a couple of sports teams including football, track, and softball.

    We had frats, but the school (approximately 1,300 students) was too small for actual frat houses so the frats were granted designated wings in the existing student dorms. You were allowed to join frats as a freshman, but you wouldn’t become a full member until near the end of semester, so it’s highly weird to me the Travis is already a full member even if he is a legacy.

    Pretty much everyone ate in the cafeteria because the dorm kitchens were old and run down. Also since it was a small school with a simple schedule it was possible to see a couple of friends during your meal times. Also since the campus was small actually getting to the cafeteria was not much of a hassle. You would even see staff eat in there sometimes.

    Since it was a liberal arts school there were ‘general education’ requirements. Which means in order to qualify to graduate I needed to take a minimum number of science courses, language arts courses, and humanities courses. A normal semester for me would be about 3 classes related to my major, and another entry level class related to a general education credit. Since Travis and Abby are freshmen, I wouldn’t be surprised if their history and biology classes are either introductory classes or survey classes.

    We did have a couple of ‘campus celebrities’ but they were students heavily involved in student life at our school, and often had big presences because they did a lot of social media stuff.

    The one glaring difference between the story and my college experiences is that Travis has a place off campus. Small schools like mine are often called ‘residential’ because with special exceptions students are required to live on campus. The fact that Travis lives off campus, and it seems to be somewhat of a commute seems entirely implausible to me. Especially because he is a freshman. The only freshman I knew who didn’t live on campus either lived at home with their parents, or were non-traditional students (aka people who did not start college right out of high school). Some people I knew got waivers to live off campus during junior or senior year, and they had to fight tooth and nail to get them.

    December 19, 2018
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  67. Small jar of fireflies
    Small jar of fireflies

    Also, I didn’t see anyone take a dive into it, so apologies if I’m retreading ground. But the tutoring scene is really squandered.

    My initial reaction to his response wasn’t annoyance. It was hope.

    Picture a scene where the heroine says “I don’t see why my music appreciation class has a section on rap. I never listen to it and I don’t see why it’s a college thing.” So her love interest is shocked and hauls her off to show her clips from Hamilton and talk about flow and wordplay. That kind of reaction happens when something people care about is disparaged by someone they value. It’s a chance to show what character B is like when they’re passionate about something. It’s a chance to build chemistry as she loans him her time and interest because she’s intrigued by his reaction and wants to know what moves him that she’s missing.

    Its a chance for character depth to be filled in. For this braggart fighter to reveal he really wanted to go into medicine but can’t afford that many years, or that he keenly cares about the biology department’s bee monitoring project, or whatever.

    Its just all wasted. He reads memorization stuff off a list, and then she remembers things. Both characters feel shallower than before as a result.

    December 19, 2018
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    • Eclairmaiden
      Eclairmaiden

      That would have been so good.

      December 20, 2018
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  68. […] so he leaps at the chance to announce that he’ll help her study. As Jenny pointed out in her recap of this scene, this would be a lot nicer if he offered instead of just stating that he’s going to help her […]

    December 25, 2018
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  69. […] review of the equivalent scenes in ‘Beautiful Disaster’, her review of Chapter Two is here. I’ll try to get the next chapter of ‘Walking’ done as soon as I […]

    December 26, 2018
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  70. Sigyn
    Sigyn

    Honestly, I’m also pissed off by women, especially fictional, who are complicit in their own lack of agency. That’s just setting a bad example for the real young women reading these books. If there was something in there about how she was unquestioningly obedient due to struggling to obtain affection from her parents when she was younger, or she didn’t feel she had a choice because it didn’t occur to her to just say “No,” or whatever, there would be a *reason* in-story.

    And I can turn that slut shaming right back onto Travis. Shame on him – doesn’t he know the value of his penis depreciates with every new woman he sleeps with? What woman wants to buy a hog when she can get sausage for free? No respectable woman is going to marry him if he okay I got bored with that, and besides, it sounds absolutely ridiculous. Either everyone has value after casual sex or no-one does. And why is casual sex so stigmatized anyway?

    Isn’t this total disregard for personal space so zany and cute?
    ^ it’s a real good way to get a shampoo bottle thrown at you

    He has so little regard for his sexual partners, why would he give a shit about protecting them?
    ^ maybe they’re just to protect his own junk

    Tribal art on his shoulders and a sombrero above his bed. SOMEONE’S trying too hard to be all ~worldly and cultural~. *cough* pendejo *cough*

    (Sorry if this posts multiple times – my phone is being a jerk)

    December 29, 2018
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  71. WHO TAKES DATES TO FRAT PARTIES???

    Okay, when I was in school, you just…WENT. You didn’t ask people on dates to frat parties. You might get invited to come to the party by a brother but unless it was a big event – the frat’s formal, or maaaaybe homecoming – it doesn’t work like this…. Am I just weird? Is that not how it is?

    January 2, 2019
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  72. ‘So, again, we’ve got Travis trampling boundaries, but he’s doing it to be nice.’

    I’m currently reviewing ‘Walking Disaster’ on my blog, and… you nailed it. That is exactly what he thinks to himself. And, yes, it is complete with whiney attitude and insult towards Abby for daring to question his actions.

    (tattoos scene)

    In Travis’s description, she’s facing away from him with her eyes closed. I guess she must have seen the tattoos via psychic remote viewing.

    ‘I…did he flip her off? Flash the shocker?’

    It was the shocker, yeah. (And I had to go look it up, and now I wish I hadn’t.)

    January 5, 2019
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  73. Oh… also, I read the beginning of the Shepley-and-America spinoff novel, and, from that, Travis is a year older than Shepley. So he’s a sophomore. Also, Shepley and America have been dating for a couple of months, so that’s how far into the college year they are. Hope that helps.

    January 5, 2019
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  74. Taz
    Taz

    I’m just. Jenny. I’m in awe at your dedication. Twice I had to stop and take a deep breath after reading those excerpts. When she praised him as thoughtful for going through her things… I facepalmed. I literally facepalmed.
    Also, have I read too much good fanfic? Do characters really have such sudden changes of heart for no reason? There was one scene where they actually had some interaction, and it was dry and did nothing. And a few descriptions later she likes him? This would’ve been 7-8 chapters of interactions in my fanfic, if not the entire fic. What the heck?
    Jenny. You’re too cool and patient and we don’t deserve you.

    January 8, 2019
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