Skip to content

Jealous Haters Book Club: Beautiful Disaster Chapter Three, “Cheap Shot” or “It Doesn’t Stand For Students Against Drunk Dancing, You Irresponsible Fucks”

Posted in Uncategorized

A quick note before I start the recap proper: I notice that a lot of people in the comments will say stuff about how terrible it is that I’m enduring this book. Please, don’t worry about that. Nobody has a gun to my head forcing me to write these recaps (although sometimes I’d get them done faster if that were the case). The Fifty Shades of Grey series really did take a toll on my mental health, culminating in me noping the fuck out of Grey. But there were a lot of factors at play at that moment in my life, in my industry, and in pop culture overall that contributed to that. When I blogged Fifty, it was inescapable. So, I’d put in eight hours on a recap, go get on social media and everyone was discussing it, try to watch TV and there were ads for it, interviews with the “author”, eventually there were movie trailers, and if I opened my inbox there would usually be forty to fifty emails about whatever piece of breaking news had developed about it. Fifty Shades of Grey wasn’t just in the zeitgeist, it was the zeitgeist, and it was the inescapability coupled with the mindless proselytizing about how it was going to fix women’s sexuality forever that drove me into the ground.

Beautiful Disaster was never, and will never be, as relentlessly famous as Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s steeped in misogyny, the plot is unbelievable, the writing is atrocious and the characters are intolerable, but that’s all this experience really has in common with Fifty Shades.

Plus, this isn’t a four-year undertaking. I’m sure as hell not going to read all the other Beautiful books.

So, chins up, everyone, don’t worry about this taking any kind of mental toll on me. I’m actually really having fun on this one, just because it’s riding the line of hilariously bad/infuriatingly stupid that makes it easy to mock.

That said, this “fun” recap has all sorts of rape discussion in it. Heads up.

We open the chapter with Finch and Abby sitting outside the dorm, talking about his weekend conquest, whom he’s just using for free drinks. Finch being the only gay character in the book, I can’t quite tell if I should be offended at the stereotype of the gay man who dates shallowly or grudgingly admit that I’ve had exactly the same conversation with my friends, both gay, queer, straight, or otherwise. This actually makes me like Finch a lot. He seems like the most real character in the book, for who among us hasn’t let a person we’re not super interested in take us out for a night of partying we can’t afford?

Not just me and my vapid, horrible friends, right?

Travis walks up and asks America if she needs a ride.

“I was just going in,” I said, grinning up at him through my sunglasses.

Your sunglasses go on your eyes, Abby.

Travis asks if Abby is staying with him that night. And she says yes, but she has to grab her razor and Travis says he’s glad because her scratchy legs have been bothering him.

Finch’s eyes bulged as he gave me a quick once-over, and I made a face at Travis. “That’s how rumors get started!” I looked at Finch and shook my head. “I’m sleeping in his bed…just sleeping.”

Um.

How long has this whole thing been happening? I’m having difficulty with the timeline. First of all, if Finch is talking about the weekend, is that a signal that a weekend has passed? What about the party that Parker said was that weekend? Did Abby go to that?

Second, it sounds like Abby has spent more than one night with Travis. How long have the boilers been broken? And, as everyone pointed out in the comments last week, why the hell can’t Abby stay home and shower in the gym or another dorm? This college presumably charges for residency. That’s pretty standard across the entire country. There would be some very angry students and parents making phone calls that could heat the water themselves if the boilers were broken for a week and no other accommodations had been made.

But Abby has to stay with Travis.

She has to.

Let’s point out that yet again, Travis is crossing a major boundary. He knows that Abby doesn’t like people to think they’re together. Yet there he is, making a comment to someone else that implies that they are. He tells her not to be mad because he’s just kidding. I think I’ve made my stance on “just kidding” pretty clear before: it’s not “just kidding” if what you’re saying is hurtful or intentionally manipulative in a way that you know crosses boundaries. See also, that horrible friend I had who’d mock people to their faces about being fat, then tack on, “Just kidding!” so they felt as though they couldn’t stick up for themselves. That’s exactly what Travis is doing. He’s crossed a boundary with Abby, he’s done something he knows she doesn’t want him to do, then he tries to make her out to be humorless and terrible for sticking up for herself. Case in point:

“Everyone already assumes we’re having sex. You’re making it worse.”

“Who cares what they think?”

“I do, Travis! I do!”

The only thing we can really conclude from this is that while Abby doesn’t want people to think they’re having sex, Travis clearly does. Why? Because we’ve already seen how dismissive and disdainful he is of women. He doesn’t want anyone to think he treats them like people. If he’s friends with Abby and not fucking her, he considers her a human being. That damages his reputation.

Of course, this entire conversation takes place as Abby brings Travis to her dorm room, packs an overnight bag, and leaves with him carrying it for her. So like, can we discuss your careful avoidance of the rumor mill, Abbeline?

“It’s not funny. Do you want the whole school to think I’m one of your sluts?”

Interesting. Abby doesn’t want people to think of her the way she thinks of literally every other woman in the story. I mean, maybe she doesn’t think that about America, but we’re only in chapter three. I’m sure there’s gonna be something that makes America a cheap tramp before the end of the book.

Travis frowned. “No one thinks that. And if they do, they better hope I don’t hear about it.”

You literally. Just. Implied. That the two of you. Were having. Sex. You wanted Abby’s friend to think you were sleeping together.

And let’s just point out yet again the way that Travis and Abby discuss the women Travis sleeps with. Abby has so much open derision for them, but not for Travis, who is engaging in the same consensual sexual activity that they are. And Travis does, as well. Moreso, even. He apparently hates the women he sleeps with. So…why is he sleeping with them?

You wanna know who isn’t going to become clingy, Travis? You wanna know who isn’t going to try to leave a number or tame you? A Fleshlight, that’s who.

Travis holds the door for Abby, but she stops suddenly and he walks into her.

I flipped around.

This is just a fucking bizarre way to imply turning, whirling, or facing someone. Flipped is what you do end-over-end in gymnastics. Flip is what you do to a card or to your buddy who’s the President of The United States and you gotta get your ass out of some jail time. Flip is just not the word to use when you mean “turn around.”

“Oh my God! People probably think we’re together and you’re shamelessly continuing your…lifestyle. I must look pathetic!” I said, coming to the realization as I spoke. “I don’t think I should stay with you anymore. We should just stay away from each other in general for a while.”

Again…how long has she been staying at this place?!

I took my bag from him, and he snatched it back.

“No one thinks we’re together, Pidge. You don’t have to quit talking to me to prove a point.”

We engaged in a tug-of-war with the tote, and when he refused to let go, I growled loudly in frustration.

A scene from Les Miserables where Enjolras plants a giant red flag atop the barricade.

Let me consult my red flag checklist here…oh, there it is! Controlling someone’s money/possessions in order to control them. I even highlighted it. Whaddayaknow?

He walked to the parking lot, holding my effects hostage.

So, once again, we’re reading a book in which the heroine is describing a behavior with negative words that indicate an abusive situation or action, but doesn’t apparently feel the behavior is abusive? I learned from Fifty Shades of Grey that this is an indication that the author doesn’t consider it abusive, either. Just frustrating, in a sexy banter kind of way, like when Christian refused to let Ana decide when and what to eat. The heroine finds it annoying, but ultimately not so annoying that she would label it as toxic. Which, you know. It is. The litmus test for these authors as to what is and is not abuse seems to be whether or not the heroine ultimately gives up.

“I’ll fix this, okay? I don’t want anyone thinking less of you because of me,” he said with a troubled expression.

Those other sluts, I don’t care about. But you, Abby “Abracadabra” Abernathy…you’re magical.

This is an interesting line, though. It suggests that Travis feels he’s the one causing the women he sleeps with to lose value, while Abby continues to insist that they had no value, to begin with.

Travis’s idea for “fixing” any misconception that Abby is sleeping with him is to go out to a bar with her.

“Think about it. Me, drunk, in a room full of scantily clad women? It won’t take long for people to figure out we’re not a couple.”

Except for the part where what she expressed worry over was people thinking you were a couple and you’re openly running around on her.

I rolled my eyes and climbed onto the seat, wrapping my arms around his middle. “Some random girl is going to follow us home from the bar? That’s how you’re going to make it up to me?”

“You’re not jealous, are you, Pigeon?”

“Jealous of what? The STD-infested imbecile you’re going to piss off in the morning?”

First of all, there is nothing dirty or shameful about having a fucking disease, no matter how you got it. A disease is a disease, not an indication of morality. This is something our culture has a really difficult time grasping because we spend so much time in death denial. But if Abby is so convinced that any woman who has casual, consensual sex is riddled with Whore Pox…why doesn’t her derision extend to Travis? His sexual policy seems to be “as much as possible, with as many partners as possible, no repeats.” She knows this about him. She has no idea how much sex the women are having. Just that they’ve had sex with Travis.

I can’t get my head around it. Having sex with Travis is an indicator of low morals and bad health, but Travis himself is moral and healthy?

Travis laughed, then started his Harley. He flew toward his apartment at twice the speed limit, and I closed my eyes to block out the trees and cars we left behind.

That’s it. I asked my pseudo-brother if I can share pictures of the injuries he sustained in a motorcycle accident he had while driving at a safe and responsible speed, wearing personal protection equipment, and he’s going to send some of his favorites for a later recap. There has yet to be any mention of helmets in this book, let alone gloves or any leather gear. We’re supposed to find this cool and sexy, but there is nothing sexy about what happens when you hit that pavement, even at a “safe” speed.

Thank god the author finally lets a character remark on how seriously irresponsible this behavior is:

After climbing off his bike, I smacked his shoulder. “Did you forget I was with you? Are you trying to get me killed?”

…in order to set up a clumsy sex joke:

“It’s hard to forget you’re behind me when your thighs are squeezing the life out of me.” A smirk came with his next thought. “I couldn’t think of a better way to die, actually.”

It’s funny because they both could have actually been killed. Oh, no, wait, I mean, it’s funny because he swore that he’s only interested in her as a friend and he wasn’t ever going to pressure her to have sex, but now he’s making it clear that sex is still very much on the table whether she’s comfortable with that or not.

At the apartment, America and Shepley’s plans kind of merge with Abby and Travis’s plans, so they’re all going to go out together.

I was the last one in the shower, so Shepley, America, and Travis were impatiently standing by the door when I stepped out of the bathroom in a black dress and hot pink heels.

Yes. You read that correctly. Three people stood outside the bathroom door and waited for this big reveal.

America whistled. “Hot damn, Mama!”

And then the whole bus clapped.

I smiled in appreciation, and Travis held out his hand. “Nice legs.”

He said, like how a male friend would say to a female friend he’s not interested in having sex with ever. You know. That way. The way that respects the boundaries of the female friend who has said she doesn’t appreciate those comments.

We were far too loud and obnoxious in the sushi bar, and had already had a night’s worth to drink before we stepped foot in the Red Door. Shepley pulled into the parking lot, taking time to find a space.

And now we’re driving super drunk! That’s awesome!

I want to take a minute here to address a comment someone made on a previous recap about it being believable that a restaurant would serve alcohol to underage people because I can see where it would seem like something that happens often. So, obviously, I can’t speak to every single bar or restaurant in the country, but I did go to high school in a city that had three colleges. Alcohol was on extreme lockdown. No business wanted to risk losing their liquor license or incurring fines that could potentially force their closure. Establishments that were noted for their popularity among the college crowd were scrutinized especially closely. As I said, I can’t vouch for everywhere, but I find it unbelievable that a restaurant in a college town would take that big a risk.

But it doesn’t matter because Abby “Cashmere and Goodness” Abernathy has a fake ID. Travis compliments her and America on how great the fakes are, and Abby makes a weird comment:

“Yeah, we’ve had them for a while. It was necessary…in Wichita,” I said.

What’s with that suspicious pause?

The Coneheads from Saturday Night Live saying, "The name is Conehead. We come from France."

America then makes a comment about having connections and Abby having old friends, which Abby quickly shuts down. So, we’re suffering from first person POV “big secret” syndrome, just like in Apolonia. Abby can have a “big secret” and that big secret can absolutely be kept from the reader. But it doesn’t make sense for her not to immediately think of why she doesn’t want America to continue going on about her connections. If you want a character to keep a big secret, write them in third-person; if we’re riding around in the character’s head, we know what the characters know. Abby isn’t going to vaguely shut the whole conversation down without having a reason and thinking about that reason.

Plus, in a story as convoluted as this, knowing Abby’s motivation would probably make her slightly more likable. She’s completely unlikable, don’t get me wrong. But if there’s past trauma or something and she’s had to remake her life in the image of a judgmental little brat, can we at least know why?

Then again, it didn’t work for Apolonia.

Inside the club, they do more drinking and then America and Abby dance before even more drinking. Remember, they’re already drunk from dinner when they show up to the club and start doing shots.

An excessively voluptuous platinum blonde was already at Travis’s side, and America’s face screwed into revulsion.

“It’s going to be like this all night, Mare. Just ignore them,” Shepley said, nodding to a small group of girls standing a few feet away. They eyed the blonde, waiting for their turn.

“It looks like Vegas threw up on a flock of vultures,” America sneered.

Jesus Herbert Walker Kristofferson. Why is America so pissed off about the presence of other women in the story, now? It’s bad enough we’ve got Abby playing the body police about the “overly voluptuous” woman, but America has to throw her two cents in? No wonder she and Abby get along so well. They both hate every other woman on the planet.

Travis lit a cigarette as he ordered two more beers, and the blonde bit her puffy, glossed lip and smiled. The bartender popped the tops open and slid the bottles to Travis. The blonde picked up one of the beers, but Travis pulled it from her hand.

“Uh…not yours,” he said to her, handing it to me.

Is this really the fantasy? Watching a man treat other women like shit to emphasize how special you are? This is so fucked up. “My worth can only be measured in how much another man will shun other, less worthy females.” The Evangelical Christianity growing on this like mold is just…my god.

Of course, Maguire has been caught favoriting rightwing tweets–including one about not believing Dr. Ford during the Kavanaugh hearings–so I’m so fucking shocked about all of this bullshit.

My initial thought was to toss the bottle in the trash, but the woman looked so offended, I smiled and took a drink. She walked off in a huff, and I chuckled that Travis didn’t seem to notice.

She almost threw a perfectly good beer in the trash because a woman touched the bottle. That is level of misogyny we’re at. Women can’t touch the packaging of a beverage she’s going to consume.

“Like I would buy a beer for some chick at a bar,” he said, shaking his head. I held up my beer, and he pulled up one side of his mouth into a half smile. “You’re different.”

Yeah. You’re Not Like Other Girls™, Abby. We know this because it’s pointed out at least once on every page.

Abby raises a toast to “being the only girl a guy with no standards” wouldn’t sleep with. Remember, she doesn’t want to sleep with him and she doesn’t want him to think of her as anything other than a friend, but she does desperately want him to want to fuck her and his constant sexual comments and open invitations just aren’t enough to satisfy her ego.

This heroine isn’t infuriating at all.

Luckily, Travis sets the record straight.

“First of all…I have standards. I’ve never been with an ugly woman. Ever.

Not according to Abby. Every single one of the she-demons who has seduced you into the ravenous maw of her plague-ridden vagina has been “too” something instead of the beautifully “cashmered” Pentecostal ideal.

Second of all, I wanted to sleep with you. I thought about throwing you over my couch fifty different ways, but I haven’t because I don’t see you that way anymore. It’s not that I’m not attracted to you, I just think you’re better than that.”

I’m imagining him literally throwing her over the couch, into the crack between the back and the wall.

Stay there, Abby.

This entire book so far has been one giant parade of Travis constantly telling Abby that she’s better than every other person, while Abby has offered up like two lukewarm defenses of him to people who don’t seem to really matter to her in the narrative. It’s almost hilarious how one-sided the worship here is. We’re supposed to believe that Abby is slowly falling for Travis (as slowly as she can in three chapters) because she sees that he’s really a wonderful person underneath his shitty behavior. Instead, we’re reading about Abby slowly falling for Travis because he uses that shitty behavior to make her feel superior to other women in a way that soothes her aching lack of self-esteem. This is going to be the most co-dependent, toxic, fucked up relationship in history: one partner needs to be reassured that she’s the best, the other wants to bask in the glow of a person he’s sure he doesn’t deserve.

Travis gets Abby onto the dance floor and they start grinding on each other in a totally platonic way.

Travis had me in a near panic with the way he pressed against me. If he used any of those moves on the couch, I could see why so many girls chanced humiliation in the morning.

Beavis and Butthead on their couch. Beavis is kind of combination twerking/air humping the back of the couch.

He cinched his hands around my hips, and I noticed that his expression was different, almost serious. I ran my hands over his flawless chest and six-pack as they stretched and tensed under his tight shirt to the music. I turned my back to him, smiling when he wrapped his arms around my waist. Coupled with the alcohol in my system, when he pulled my body against his, things came to mind that were anything but friendly.

It was such a good idea to go out to the club to prove to everyone that you have no sexual interest in each other. You’re pulling this off, for sure.

So, while they’re dancing and doing more groping, Travis does this:

When I felt his lips and then his tongue against my neck, I pulled away from him.

Abby storms off and gets another beer. Remember, she showed up to the club already super wasted, did shots, now this is beer number two within two songs of each other. That’s the time period specified: One beer, two songs, another beer. That she slams half of before the following conversation, by the way. We’re reaching Anastasia Rose Steele levels of alcohol tolerance.

“You think that this is going to change anyone’s mind about us?” I said, pulling my hair to the side, covering the spot he kissed.

He laughed once. “I don’t give a damn what they think about us.”

Okay, but she does. You’ve already had this conversation numerous times, and the entire point of going out was supposed to be to prove to the world that you’re just friends. Right now, it seems pretty clear that Travis went out with Abby in the hopes that she’d get drunk and give in.

I pulled away from him. “Don’t. I could never get drunk enough to let you get me on that couch.”

Guess you don’t have to worry about being friends anymore. Damn. It is so hard to recap a book when you hate both the main characters. Like, Fifty Shades Of Grey made me at least feel kind of protective of Ana sometimes? Like, I would read it and go, okay, she’s obnoxious but at least she’s not as bad as him. These people are equally bad. They hate women exactly the same amount, they’re deceptive about their intentions toward other people, and neither of them can figure out if they want to fuck the other one or just be friends. That’s it. They’re the same damn character, expressing their awfulness in different ways.

You know what hasn’t happened in a while? Misogyny. Were you afraid it wouldn’t show up again? Worry not!

His face twisted in anger, but before he could say anything, a dark-haired stunner with pouty lips, enormous blue eyes, and far too much cleavage approached him.

Cashmere Magoo whipped out a ruler and measured, damn. Ma’am, I’m sorry, that’s far too much cleavage. It’s not up to code. I’ll have the fire marshall breathing down my neck if you’re walking around like that.

This book has a minimum of two slutty slut slutskis per chapter for Abby to sneer at. The most present fantasy element in this book is pleasure derived from devaluing other women.

This won a Goodreads reader poll for best YA of the year when it was published.

“Well, if it isn’t Travis Maddox,” she said, bouncing in all the right places.

He took a drink, and then his eyes locked on mine. “Hey, Megan.”

No, her name is Abby.

“Introduce me to your girlfriend,” she smiled.

You can’t smile a sentence.

Travis tipped his head back to finish his beer, and then slid his empty bottle down the bar. Everyone waiting to order watched it until it fell into the trash can at the end.

And then the whole bar clapped. Honestly, I do hope they make this into a movie, so we can see this scene, specifically. I cannot wait to hear the unintended laughs at how cliche and stupid it is.

“She’s not my girlfriend.”

He grabbed Megan’s hand, and she happily traipsed behind him to the dance floor. He all but mauled her for one song, then another, and another. They were causing a scene with the way she let him grope her, and when he bent her over I turned my back to them.

There isn’t just a lack of self-awareness on the part of the character here, there’s a lack of authorial awareness of the narrative. Just paragraphs ago we had Abby and Travis on the dancefloor doing the exact same thing, but Abby never acknowledges this. It’s okay for characters to have thoughts and actions that are a little hypocritical. You just have to examine them, and Maguire never does. We don’t get any of Abby’s thoughts regarding the fact that she knows what it’s like to get caught up dancing with him or wondering if that’s how she was acting, herself. And yeah, those lines of thinking can (and in this book, would almost certainly) veer into piles of internalized misogyny, but the fact that there’s no comparison of the two situations at all is just lazy writing. It’s almost as though the author and the character both expect us to be on Abby’s side by default and no further effort was required.

Both have really overestimated their skill.

A man comes up and talks to Abby, asking if she’s watching her boyfriend grinding up on this other chick. Which, remember, was the exact opposite of what Abby wanted to happen. It was, in fact, the specific thing she was trying to avoid. She’s finishing off another beer:

I barely tasted the last two I had put away, and my teeth were numb.

It’s been a few songs, so are those an additional two? Are we up to shots and four beers after arriving at the club already drunk?

But the guy, Ethan, offers to buy Abby another one, and she says yes. They talk about the fact that Ethan just graduated from “State,” which is an hour away, but his sister goes to Eastern.

I pulled the gloss out of my pocket and smeared it across my lips, using the mirror lining the wall behind the bar.

Topanga from Boy Meets World drawing a huge circle around her face in lipstick, then drawing lines through the circle.
This is what happens when you try to put on lipstick in a far away mirror when you have alcohol poisoning.

Now, let’s discuss the fact that lip gloss has already been coded slutty in this chapter. But again, Abby does it, it’s okay. Because even though she’s doing the same things the other girls are doing, she’s Not Like Other Girls™.

“That’s a nice shade,” he said, watching me press my lips together.

I smiled, feeling the anger at Travis and the heaviness of the alcohol. “Maybe you can try it on later.”

Right then, Travis shows up and steps between them, asking Abby if she’s ready to go. When she pushes him away and says no because she’s talking to someone he asks if she knows the guy. She introduces them.

“Travis Maddox,” he said, staring at Ethan’s hand as if he wanted to rip it off.

Ethan’s eyes grew wide, and he awkwardly pulled back his hand. “Travis Maddox? Eastern’s Travis Maddox?”

Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids saying "Are you FUCKING kidding me?"
Bringing back a recap classic.

Travis isn’t just the star of Eastern, but his legend has passed to another college an hour away?

“I saw you fight Shawn Smith last year, man. I thought I was about to witness someone’s death!”

IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE A SECRET FIGHT CLUB! SECRET! WE’VE HEARD ABOUT HOW SECRET IT IS! HOW ONLY THE FRATS KNOW ABOUT IT AND THEY KEEP EVERYTHING SO SUPER DUPER MOTHER FUCKING CHOCOLATE COATED DONKEY STABBING SECRET! BUT THIS DUDE FROM A COLLEGE AN HOUR AWAY HAS NOT ONLY HEARD OF TRAVIS, BUT HE’S ACTUALLY BEEN TO ONE OF THESE SUPER EXCLUSIVE FIGHTS NOGODDAMNBODY KNOWS AGODDAMNBOUT?

Travis glowered down at him. “You wanna see it again?”

And then Ethan gets scared and leaves.

We followed America and Shepley to the car,

For more drunk driving, presumably.

and when Travis tried to grab my hand to lead me across the parking lot, I yanked it away. He wheeled around and I jerked to a stop, leaning back when he came within a few inches of my face.

“I should just kiss you and get it over with!” he yelled. “You’re being ridiculous! I kissed your neck, so what?”

Yeah, Pidge! He only badgered you into going out to a club, got you drunk, kissed you without permission, got humpy with a girl to make you jealous when you rejected him, threatened to murder a guy for talking to you, then grabbed at you and shouted in your face that he should kiss you without your permission again. Get over it.

Abby reminds him that she’s not his fuck buddy and he says:

“I never said you were! You’re around me 24-7, you sleep in my bed, but half the time you act like you don’t want to be seen with me!”

“I came here with you!”

“I have never treated you with anything but respect, Pidge.”

*deep breath*

Brace yourself, guys.

*taking another deep breath, I center my being and link to the vastness of the cosmos, mysterious fount of the universal consciousness that binds us all. I am one with all of being. I am eternal. I am prepared.*

This guy.

This fucking guy.

Just like with that last fucking guy, Travis’s behavior isn’t about his male ego taking a hit. No, obviously not that. It’s about Abby’s safety.

“Do you know who Ethan is?” he asked. When I shook my head, he leaned in closer. “I do. He was arrested last year for sexual battery, but the charges were dropped.”

So, are you in the bar, letting the bartender know? There were a lot of other women in there, assuming they haven’t mindlessly followed you into the parking lot like the cousins on Katamari Damacy when you hold down the square button.

I crossed my arms. “Oh, so you have something in common?”

There’s a clean shot, right there.

Travis’s eyes narrowed, and the muscles in his jaws twitched under his skin. “Are you calling me a rapist?” he said in a cold, low tone.

I pressed my lips together, even angrier that he was right. I had taken it too far.

He kissed you and licked your neck without permission, then grabbed you and yelled in your face that he intended to do it again. Now, he’s displaying signs of barely controlled violence at the suggestion that his actions violated consent.

A scene from Les Miserables where Enjolras plants a giant red flag atop the barricade.

You didn’t take it too far. Travis Maddox has 100% raped someone before.

“I’ve been drinking, all right? Your skin was three inches from my face, and you’re beautiful, and you smell fucking awesome when you sweat. I kissed you! I’m sorry! Get over yourself!”

That’s a lot of extraneous words to say, “You were asking for it.”

You may have fallen off a ladder, hit your head, and come back to this recap with no memory of what you just read, so if you’re thinking that Abby is going to continue being mad at Travis, let me just warn you.

She does not.

His excuse made the corners of my mouth turn up. “You think I’m beautiful?”

A blonde woman smashing a laptop with a sledgehammer

So, she laughs while he yells and glares at her and calls her a pain in the ass and says she’s making him crazy. But they laugh about it together, so it’s sexy. You know. How it’s sexy when a guy yells at you after doing all that other shit but he makes it okay because he thinks you’re pretty. It’s sexy in that way.

They drive drunk to the apartment (all of them are described as “stumbling” by the time they get back), and Abby showers for the second time that day. This book should be called THE SHOWERING. Then she wears Travis’s shirt and boxers to bed.

I crashed into the bed and sighed, still smiling at what he’d said in the parking lot.

The part about how you should get over non-consensual touching, or the part he shouted in your face about how he should do it again because you asked for it?

Travis stared at me for a moment, and I felt a twinge in my chest. I had an almost ravenous urge to grab his face and plant my mouth on his, but I fought against the alcohol and hormones raging through my bloodstream.

Wow. How can you resist him? When he’s so hot. And sexy. And treats you with such respect.

“I know I’m drunk, and we just got into a ginormous fight over this, but…”

“I’m not having sex with you, so quit asking,” he said, his back still turned to me.

But that’s not what she’s asking for, and she’s horrified at the suggestion. She just wants to snuggle with him.

He relaxed one hand against my back, and the other on my wet hair, and then pressed his lips to my forehead. “You are the most confusing woman I’ve ever met.”

It just dawned on me how often “you’re confusing” is used in romance novels. I’d bet money I’ve used it before. But reading it here, my reaction was, “She’s not confusing. You just don’t listen.” And really, that’s probably the case in every single romance novel that has used that line as a compliment. Including mine, if I’ve done it.

So, Travis tells her that she should be thankful to him that he saved her from a potential rapist and that she needs to be more careful so she doesn’t get raped in the future. Because the guy who just rationalized why it was okay for him to violate her physical boundaries is definitely the dude who should be running an impromptu class on sexual violence awareness. Abby asks him to hold her until she falls asleep.

“I should say no to prove a point,” he said, his eyebrows pulling together. “But I would hate myself later if I said no and you never asked me again.”

I absolutely hate that this good line is in this shitty book.

There’s a section break and Abby wakes up to find Travis clinging to her. Much in the way Bella woke up to Edward holding her in Master Of The Universe, but again, I have no proof this was inspired by that.

The lines were becoming blurred, and it was my fault.

No shit?

Shepley is the only other person up, and he decides to have a heart-to-heart with Abby about Travis:

“I don’t know what’s going on with you and Travis, but I know that he’s going to do something stupid to piss you off.

He said, after an entire chapter of Travis doing stupid shit that pisses Abby off. Detective Shepley is on the case.

It’s a tic he has. He doesn’t get close with anyone very often, and for whatever reason he’s let you in. But you have to overlook his demons. It’s the only way he’ll know.”

“Know what?” I asked, raising an eyebrow at his melodramatic speech.

“If you’ll climb over the wall,” he answered simply.

What wall? This metaphor only makes sense if you start out with it. Like, if you said he puts up walls. You’ve jumped from “demons” to “wall” so fast, this could be a conservative political rally.

Travis gets up and mentions to Abby that he knows her birthday is coming up and it’s the “last stand” of being a teenager. Oh my god. We might get an actual age.

Just not in this chapter.

Travis reveals that his birthday is on April Fool’s Day, which makes sense because he’s a fucking joke, then they work out who’s driving Abby to campus and the chapter is over.

So, the end of this chapter is fully not necessary, but I think what’s happened is that Maguire has taken the classic, “Don’t end a chapter with people going to bed” advice and run too far with it. It’s perfectly okay to end a chapter with people going to sleep or starting one with characters just waking up. You just can’t do it with every single chapter. In this case, the ending of the chapter would have actually been stronger if it had been with Travis agreeing to hold Abby while she slept. The waking up and talking about mundane shit like birthdays undercuts the tone the author was trying for. And Shepley’s little speech about Travis’s demon wall? That could have come at another point.

Not that it would have made the book any better, but still. Any improvement. At this point, I’ll take anything.

Did you enjoy this post?

Trout Nation content is always free, but you can help keep things going by making a small donation via Ko-fi!

Or, consider becoming a Patreon patron!

153 Comments

  1. Jaycie
    Jaycie

    “STD-infested imbecile”! I don’t know if that’s better or worse than “cum-burping gutter slut.”

    December 20, 2018
    |Reply
    • Vivacia K. Ahwen
      Vivacia K. Ahwen

      SAME! At least J.M.’s narrators have a “brand.”

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I think cum-burping is worse. That part is the most memorable because it always throws me off a bit. Cum is a visual cue and burping is an auditory cue so that’s why I have some trouble wrapping my head around it. I’ve had acid come back up before, although that’s more like throwing up a little by accident and you can’t even see that, other than an uncomfortable expression or spitting it back out if there was enough of it. To describe someone as burping cum, they have to burp for some random reason after swallowing. And I know how to burp on purpose, quite loudly, but it’s all about controlling your air flow, not your fluids. So in my mind, the two don’t go together naturally unless you’re burping some milky bubbles which would be a feat in and of itself, really, although that makes me think of a baby… But I get the feeling she’s trying to suggest swallowing so much cum that it makes you gassy from a big meal? There are better ways to imply that which make more sense, I guess.

      And to top it all off, it flows just as well as cum-guzzling gutter slut, which makes more sense and is probably a more common insult. Maybe she just thought burping looked better on the page since it’s visually more distinct from gutter than guzzling is. XD

      STD-infested imbecile flows about as well (you could stumble when saying it) but it has the same visual issue as burping versus guzzling beside gutter. Maybe she could’ve gone for STD-riddled imbecile for best word-flow and visual composition? Either way, it’s less confusing.

      December 24, 2018
      |Reply
    • Corbeau
      Corbeau

      I think cum-burping gutter slut sounds more like an insult. It just rolls off your tounge with certain force, because of the “t”s and “r”s. It’s absolutely disgusting as an image, too. STD-infested imbecile is much softer with all of the “s” sounds. Also slut is something you become by actively doing something “slutty” while imbecile suggests a fault in your mental capacities you didn’t ask for. So being a slut is your sin, and being retarded is not.

      December 24, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Yeah, but as I said, cum-guzzling gutter slut makes more sense all-around. 😉

        December 24, 2018
        |Reply
      • Person
        Person

        Hey Corbeau, just letting you know that the third to last word in your comment here is a really nasty ableist slur in English and shouldn’t be used. And good analysis of sounds 🙂

        December 26, 2018
        |Reply
        • Corbeau
          Corbeau

          Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to offend. English is not my native language and sometimes I don’t realize the taste of a word. How do you say when someone’s mental capacities are way below average in a polite way?

          December 26, 2018
          |Reply
          • Person
            Person

            Heh, none are exactly polite, but we have quite a few! There are nouns like dumbass, idiot, moron or nincompoop, adjectives like the classic just plain stupid, dim-witted, moronic, idiotic, pea-brained, the “one ___ short of a ____” phrasing, as in “one fry short of a happy meal” (does McDonald’s make those elsewhere?), etc. This has turned into a really fun comment thread.

            December 28, 2018
          • Small jar of fireflies
            Small jar of fireflies

            I’d suggest “living with cognitive impairment” if it has to be described.

            The problem is that any kind hearted medical term drifts quickly into pejorative use. “Retard” just means “slow” and was used because “moron” was the clinical term but cruel. Its becoming viewed as a slur now, although that can depend on context.

            December 28, 2018
    • Camille
      Camille

      “You’ve jumped from “demons” to “wall” so fast, this could be a conservative political rally.” That’s the best thing I’ve heard in a long while. Your recaps are a blessing. They bring some much-needed sanity in a world I’d sometimes sweat is absolutely done for. Thank you, Jenny.

      December 27, 2018
      |Reply
  2. Emerald
    Emerald

    HOW ONLY THE FRATS KNOW ABOUT IT AND THEY KEEP EVERYTHING SO SUPER DUPER MOTHER FUCKING CHOCOLATE COATED DONKEY STABBING SECRET!
    ^^best sentence ever! Thank you for that. Also the amount of drunk driving in this chapter is truly disturbing.

    December 20, 2018
    |Reply
  3. Ash
    Ash

    Soooo she’s on the back of a Harley and simply MUST wrap her arms and her legs all the way around him? She’s going to wind up with pipe burns, and that’s totally how you sit a bike with a friend who you have no sexual interest in and don’t want to be seen as desiring at all. And also you wear their clothes to bed with them.

    100% platonic!

    And numb teeth? Are you sure you didn’t leave out any trips to the bathroom for bumps?

    December 20, 2018
    |Reply
  4. Hill
    Hill

    I have a lot of problems with the sliding beer bottle. If the distance between where Travis slides the bottle and the trash is long enough to be in the sightline of several people, that empty bottle is gonna tip over. or at the very least lose momentum if it’s bottom-heavy. Like someone would’ve had to grease up that bar prior to Travis’ slide. And fucking put your empty in the recycle bin, you dick.

    December 20, 2018
    |Reply
    • Xebi
      Xebi

      Also the top of a bar in a place that busy is going to be clear enough for him to do that? No customers leaning on it? No drinks, empty bottles, mats or drip trays in the way? Yeah, whatever…

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
      • Ilex
        Ilex

        @ Xebi: That’s what I was thinking!

        December 21, 2018
        |Reply
        • Xebi
          Xebi

          Hey, your name is almost my name backwards!

          December 22, 2018
          |Reply
  5. Jess Lynch
    Jess Lynch

    Cashmere Magoo killed me

    December 20, 2018
    |Reply
  6. Larissa
    Larissa

    The 4-yo was reading over my shoulder, and at the Bevis and Buttead gif asked, “What is that weird Human doing to that couch?”

    I don’t get this author’s perception of what college is. It should be a seething mass of strangers. Why is Travis so well-known? It’s not just the women who know him, but the
    men too. He’s a freshmann, right? Is he only known via this supersecret(TM) fight club? Why would a graduate from an hour away know about him? And Travis know him by name?

    I bet they have a supersuperdupersecret(TM) fight club for rapists.

    December 20, 2018
    |Reply
    • Preakness Everdeen
      Preakness Everdeen

      I’m also wondering how he became so well known. Freshman or not, people from neighboring colleges/universities rarely know of each other (and by name) outside of maybe being rival sports teams, maybe if the graduate was a TA at the other school and they and a student really hit it off as friends, or if it’s a professor who teaches at multiple locations. The possibilities are very tiny.

      Then again Ethan did mention he thought he was going to watch some die the last time he saw Travis at the ultrasuperduperextremelysecret fight club. So Travis must have a reputation of almost murdering his opponents.

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
      • Vivacia K. Ahwen
        Vivacia K. Ahwen

        Agreed. Think that’s one of many giveaways that this book initially took place in a high school setting. Everyone knew about who the “cool kids” were in neighboring towns, and it was super-cool to date someone “mature” from another school. I never read Pretty Little Liars or Gossip Girl, but watched [some of] the series….and the interactions are similar. This is not a university.

        December 21, 2018
        |Reply
  7. Medli
    Medli

    The only time I’ve seen someone successfully pull off the “first person POV with a big secret from the reader” thing is in The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner. And Jamie McGuire is… no Megan Whalen Turner, let’s just leave it at that.

    Also the Beavis and Butthead gif fucking decimated me.

    December 20, 2018
    |Reply
    • Mana
      Mana

      I agree. Gen is really good at shutting down his thoughts, and his inner monologue admits to the mistakes when he slipsand nearly gives it away.

      December 20, 2018
      |Reply
  8. Mike
    Mike

    This chapter is so full of misogyny and hate it’s disgusting. It’s only chapter three. How is this book so bad?

    There’s a guy in a class I’m taking who regularly talks about how guys charged with rape are almost all actually innocent, it’s the women who are the rapists, and feminists are ruining the world. Me and one other person in the class are the only people who are willing to shout him down (and we do, much to the frustration of the teacher who would like us all to just shut up so she can teach…), but I just get the feeling that he’d probably enjoy this book. And that inherently makes me want to find a copy so I can light it on fire.

    December 20, 2018
    |Reply
    • Ilex
      Ilex

      Thank you for shouting him down. Guys like that are flat-out terrifying. And they need other men to tell them how misguided they are, since they sure don’t listen to women.

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
    • ShifterCat
      ShifterCat

      Yikes. Can you and the other person talk to the teacher about this guy? “I need you to stop starting fights in class, and also the stuff you’re saying is bullshit” is probably the only thing that would shut him up.

      December 25, 2018
      |Reply
      • Mike
        Mike

        UGH, the teacher. No. It’s a work skills course with a focus on marketing yourself to become an entrepreneur, and the teacher is a woman who did start her own business, but that business is as a counselor specializing in conflict resolution. So when I *do* bring it up she turns on this tone I find INCREDIBLY condescending and tries to make us see his perspective. She will occasionally add to my arguments about why women aren’t the root of all evil but mostly she tries to be understanding and give equal weight to both sides as though both sides have equal value. It’s so goddamn frustrating.

        The worst part is that the person sitting next to this guy in the class happens to be a woman who very openly discusses how she’s trying to pull herself out of literal homelessness because of a rapist ex. He had gotten her addicted to crack to force her to become a prostitute he could make money off of. She lost her kids, she lost her home, her health got fucked and it took her YEARS to get clean and she’s still dealing with the trauma. But because the guy in class knows ONE man who was ‘legitimately’ (he claims to know this for certain, but given that he also believes climate change isn’t a thing I find this dubious at best. But I don’t know the case so I can’t say he’s wrong with any authority) falsely accused by a woman who he says actually raped the guy (he was drunk, she wasn’t) and he went to jail, that means that MOST men accused of rape are actually victims. And he will go on about how women being in charge of Iceland is ruining that country and sending it towards bankruptcy, and that all feminists are man haters or white knights… And he’s a Gamergater… it’s… one of these days I think I might deck the bastard. Thankfully I only have one more month of the class.

        December 25, 2018
        |Reply
        • Jess
          Jess

          I hate saying this because I don’t want to discredit anyone who was raped while they were intoxicated regardless of gender, but speaking as someone who had a blackout drunk man become sexually aggressive with me while I was stone cold sober (and is to this day telling people *I* took advantage of them in their inebriated state), even dude’s explanation of “he was drunk, she wasn’t” does not hold water with me. You classmate just sounds like an all around dick.

          December 31, 2018
          |Reply
          • Mike
            Mike

            First off, I’m really sorry that happened to you. Secondly, while I DO know a guy who genuinely was raped while he was intoxicated (girl knew he didn’t want to have sex due to religious reasons, intentionally got him wasted and then slept with him AFTER he passed out, and flat out admitted to it ‘cuz she was proud of herself for having gotten him to sleep with her… was fucking twisted…) I also know that just being wasted doesn’t in and of itself mean that the person who wasn’t was in control. But I don’t know the specifics of the case the guy keeps bringing up, so I can’t say one way or another. But I have a sneaking suspicion that since the dude got convicted for it, it wasn’t just a case of ‘guy drunk, girl not, had sex.’

            But even if the guy legitimately WAS innocent, and even raped himself, that DOES NOT mean that MOST cases are like that! The fact that that’s the ONLY story he can point to where he ‘knows’ that’s what happened compared to COUNTLESS women who were raped, most of whom never went to court for it, one sitting right goddamn beside him in the classroom, is goddamn infuriating. One would think that when you were faced with a real person whose experiences you can’t deny, that you would maybe start to change your mind a little? Or at least keep your goddamn trap shut ‘cuz no one wants to hear you rant about how women are oppressing men?

            December 31, 2018
  9. A. Noyd
    A. Noyd

    I’m about as unfeminine and antisocial as it gets, so I wouldn’t know for sure, but it seems like a really bad idea to get dressed up for a night out in a bathroom you just took a shower in.

    December 20, 2018
    |Reply
    • Xebi
      Xebi

      I was wondering how she got her hair dry if she was still in the bathroom. You wouldn’t want to plug something in if the room was full of steam. Plus the mirrors would all be misted up…

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
  10. Paheli
    Paheli

    Ah, the classic set up of the “Silly woman, the man is always right”. Guy does something harsh or problematic, but there was a good reason for it and isn’t the woman sorry for thinking ill of the man’s actions. So tired of this cliche.

    December 20, 2018
    |Reply
  11. Raven
    Raven

    You might be on to something with your Master of the Universe theory. McGuire is definitely a big fan of E L James at the very least since she’s one of the people thanked in the acknowledgments for “[her] overwhelming support love and advice.”

    December 20, 2018
    |Reply
  12. Chip Otle
    Chip Otle

    In the next chapter, Abbey is going to meet someone from Australia who says “g’day, mate, isn’t that Travis Maddox, winner of the local secret fight club?”

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • Emily
      Emily

      OMG I laughed out loud at this!

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
  13. small jar of fireflies
    small jar of fireflies

    Well, peak misogyny: hating a woman for having a body that’s literally too womanly. It does remind me of evangelical culture, where a shirt was okay on one woman but banned on anyone more curvy. The only proper body is the main character’s body, because we can experience that she’s properly insecure… even after the MC literally showed her outfit to an appreciative audience.

    If the woman were just standing there, minding her own business, I think the MC would have nothing to vent about. She’d just explode into a frothing slurry of bile and jealousy, like a microwaved Gremlin.

    I like that she’s acknowledged the fact that living with a non-stop string of reckless, occasionally drunken hookups will result in a plethora of opportunistic infection, but I’m baffled at Travis’ apparent immunity, since he won’t say no to any woman in the room. He might have condoms with a 100% never fail/never break ability, but if he’s just having the same PIV method over and over, how does that make him intriguingly experienced? Does he give himself decimal points for sex toys? Is he interacting with actual women because he has to throw each toy away when finished, and he can’t afford to do that and pay rent?

    The main character distances herself from womanhood so much it’s messing with my reading. I keep thinking of two gay men, one in denial. The second one is expressing his interest through homoerotically showing off how many women he can attract. At least that explains why he can’t emotionally connect with a single one of them.

    Does she think the female body generates STDs? Or promiscuity in females creates some sort of fertile condition in their body for STDs to sprout from air-driven spores, and then they careen around like zombies infecting defenseless men who can’t control themselves?

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • Agent_Z
      Agent_Z

      Your analogy about two gay men, one in denial reminds me of a theory that was proposed in the 50 shades recaps comments. That was a closeted gay woman and her constant jealousy and shaming of other women was really her expressing attraction to them in a toxic, confused way.

      Maybe it’s the similarities between the two books, but I’m having the same theory on Abby and America. Abby policing women’s bodies can be read as attraction masked by hostility and just look at America’s reaction to Abby’s outfit.

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
      • Xebi
        Xebi

        The 50SoG recaps seem a long time ago now but didn’t Jenny have a running joke about Ana and Kate being attracted to each other?

        December 21, 2018
        |Reply
        • Agent_Z
          Agent_Z

          No I don’t remember that. I do know that Jenny did semi-ship Ana and Taylor for a bit before Ana started getting really insufferable. Kate, Taylor and Mrs Jones were the only characters she liked not surprisingly.

          December 21, 2018
          |Reply
    • Corbeau
      Corbeau

      When you suck at creating chemistry between your characters in a hetero romance so much that the readers seriously start to discuss whether they are closeted homosexuals, that’s some next level wiritng fail.

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
      • Corbeau
        Corbeau

        *writing

        December 21, 2018
        |Reply
        • Xebi
          Xebi

          I like the irony of you failing to write “writing fail” but it still made more sense than the crap we’re discussing.

          December 22, 2018
          |Reply
  14. Emily
    Emily

    “I absolutely hate that this good line is in this shitty book.”

    SAME REACTION. I did a double-take (double-read?) at that line! Like finding a pretty little gemstone in a mountain of shit??

    I am so so glad the JHBC is back again and you’re having fun with it!

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
  15. Corbeau
    Corbeau

    I find it so weird that the drinking age in the US is 21. In my country it’s 18 but nobody even waits that long to get drunk. And here it’s not very hard to get into some underage drinking either: shops usually ask for an ID but pubs and taverns don’t. I was a problem child, I was a regular at the local pub by the time I was fifteen and nobody ever asked me for an ID.
    Driving under the influence, on the other hand, is treated rather seriously, and I completely agree with that. You can kill not just yourself but someone innocent as well. It’s not sexy dangerous. Risking your own neck can be a sign of bravery but risking others’ without their consent is just being a huge asshole.

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • RodeoBob
      RodeoBob

      >I find it so weird that the drinking age in the US is 21.

      >Driving under the influence, on the other hand, is treated rather seriously, and I completely agree with that.

      Those two things are strongly related in the US. America has a “car culture”; cities and towns are designed around most people having cars. There are very few areas that are built around not driving, so in the US, most people drive most of the time to most places. Since driving can be tricky, the idea is to give young drivers with the least experience a few years of learning how to drive safely before throwing alcohol into the mix.

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
  16. Emily
    Emily

    I know two people who died in motorcycle accidents, both driving lawfully and helmeted. And I don’t know that many people.

    I stand with Ned and Alice Wakefield. The streets are simply not safe for motorcyclists.

    And Abby is awful. At least Travis is such a cliche that he’s probably performing masculinity in response to some dire abuse or trauma tied to gender norms, but damn, Abby is more toxic about other women than society even expects her to be. Does she think about anything else, or is she a highly specific slut-shaming robot designed by the military?

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • I love you for your Ned and Alice Wakefield comment. Poor, poor Rexy.

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
  17. Agent_Z
    Agent_Z

    So does anyone get the feeling Travis was lying about Ethan’s sexual battery charge? Like, it’s way too much of a coincidence.

    Also 50 Shades also had a male character named Ethan whom the male lead expressed hostility and jealousy towards so add that to the “This was definitely inspired by E.L James’ work” pile.

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • Athena
      Athena

      I just assumed it was a lame Jack Hyde inclusion. Even though he wasn’t introduced until the second book, Christian is immediately warning Ana to not get close to him, more so than his usual possessive nature.

      December 22, 2018
      |Reply
    • ShifterCat
      ShifterCat

      I had the same thought. Travis realizes that his target is justifiably annoyed with him for scaring off the guy with whom she was having a pleasant conversation, so what pops into his mind is a typical manipulative asshole combination of projection + “accuse your enemy of whatever you would do or are already doing”.

      December 25, 2018
      |Reply
  18. Jordan Bell
    Jordan Bell

    Where does that amazing lipstick gif come from? Is that the girl from Full House?

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • Liza
      Liza

      That’s Topanga from Boy Meets World. If I remember the episode correctly, she’s using performance art to make a point about global warming.

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
  19. Anastasia
    Anastasia

    “You’ve jumped from “demons” to “wall” so fast, this could be a conservative political rally.”

    I am extremely grateful to you for that line.

    Also, I found this fan made “trailer” online and there is a lot of angsty showering in it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvCMwPfo44s

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      That trailer is so painfully cringey.

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
      • CadmiumYellow
        CadmiumYellow

        I do love that one thirteen year old in the comments complaining about accuracy.

        December 25, 2018
        |Reply
  20. Ilex
    Ilex

    Let’s just point out yet again the way that Travis and Abby discuss the women Travis sleeps with. Abby has so much open derision for them, but not for Travis, who is engaging in the same consensual sexual activity that they are. And Travis does, as well. Moreso, even. He apparently hates the women he sleeps with.

    Wow, this reminds me of some of the guys I went to college with — but that was back in the early 80’s, and I really hoped things had changed by now. One guy I had to spend a lot of time with* was constantly talking about the many women he’d had sex with, and saying “It was so gross!” and other such summaries of the experience. It made me wonder why he kept sleeping with women at all when it was apparently always awful (and somehow that was always their fault). So far as I can tell, he never slept with the same woman twice, and he always framed it as being his choice, not theirs. Yuck.

    (* We were on the swimming team together; the men’s and women’s teams practiced together; and he and I swam the stroke, so he was unavoidable.)

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      … Given all of these details, I have a feeling that guy was also a homosexual in denial. Or asexual but he didn’t know that was an option.

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
      • Athena
        Athena

        Or just was terrible at sex and blamed it on the women to keep his soap bubble fragile ego safe.

        December 22, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          That too, absolutely, but describing it as “gross” is what makes me think it’s more than just that. Gross implies something to be squeamish about. If those are his exact words, I get the feeling that he was deeply uncomfortable if he actually did the deed.

          He could just have some awkward hang-ups, like maybe, for example, he hated oral sex, receiving and/or giving it, but went through with it anyway out of some expectation that he should love it and then not understanding why it wasn’t great… Even so, if he described everything like that… Clearly, something didn’t add up for him.

          Or he could’ve just been really disturbed by bodily fluids. There’s no telling without more detail (which I don’t necessarily want, I’m just pointing that out.)

          December 24, 2018
          |Reply
  21. EMP
    EMP

    Your commentary is doing an admirable job making me laugh along but just based on what’s actually happening in the book it seems less funny-bad and more irredeemably boring. It’s like the low bar common denominator of bad-boy-good-girl YA fiction.

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
  22. Mel
    Mel

    Jamie Maguire seems to have this uncanny ability to write in a way that nothing happens and it seems to take forever to get there. Like, we’re three chapters in and I feel like you’ve been reading this for way longer even though nothing happens outside of “guy hot” “girl is not like other girls” “all other women are sluts and whores” lather rinse repeat.

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • Ilex
      Ilex

      Seriously. This book should be over by Chapter 5, since it feels like it’s been going on forever. How many more chapters of this can there be?

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
    • Tez Miller
      Tez Miller

      Reminds me of Laurell K. Hamilton books. Treats readers as if we need every little thing explained to us. Why their hair length, why they wear what they wear, why they’re touching, how others feel about their touching, what’s everyone’s beef with everyone else… CAN SOMETHING JUST HAPPEN ALREADY INSTEAD OF THIS MINUTIA BORING SHIT?!

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
      • Kat
        Kat

        Yes. This. But here, there’s no Edward to make the plot go forward.

        December 22, 2018
        |Reply
        • Rebecca
          Rebecca

          Seriously going to buy only the Edward books from here on out. I’d given up on her entirely, and then you reminded me of the series’ one redeeming character.

          But also secretly holding out for the book where Edward gets fed up with all the drama and nopes the fuck out of helping her.

          December 24, 2018
          |Reply
          • Kitt
            Kitt

            Or recognizes what a danger she is and kills her. What a redeeming end to the series, tbh. RIP Anita Blake and may all your victims get they help they deserve.

            December 29, 2018
  23. I had to pause my reading to scroll down and comment about the motorcycle thing because it was THAT infuriating.

    No gear at all. No gloves, helmet, nothing. What about their eyes? Is he just squinting into the wind? Know how impossible it is to SEE with no eye protection while riding a motorcycle at low speeds?

    I hate them both.

    And the worst part is that the author easily could’ve turned this around to show how “different” he (supposedly) treats the protagonist. Negging and dehumanizing and everything else aside, let’s just go with that bit about her sleeping in his bed being different from what he does with other girls. Maybe she could’ve been the first girl on the back of his motorcycle. “Here’s my old leather jacket from high school, and this helmet is usually for when my little brother visits so it might fit you. Do you have boots?” It could’ve been really cute and sweet and he could’ve even done his controlling bullshit by INSISTING that he will not ride with a passenger that isn’t geared up.

    Ugh. Waste.

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • Lani B Goode
      Lani B Goode

      Around where I live, a lot of people ride during the summer, and I can count on one hand the number of people I’ve seen wearing helmets. Mostly they wear jeans and tee shirts, and usually sunglasses of some kind, but that’s it. Although the people in question are overwhelmingly men 40+ so

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
      • Ilex
        Ilex

        Hopefully all these people checked the “Organ Donor” box on their licenses.

        December 21, 2018
        |Reply
        • Xebi
          Xebi

          Hopefully there will be enough left to donate.

          December 22, 2018
          |Reply
  24. Nanani
    Nanani

    “She’s not confusing. You just don’t listen.” And really, that’s probably the case in every single romance novel ”

    Yeep. And in non-romance, and in non-novels, including IRL.

    Any time a woman is called “confusing” (or “moody”, or compared to the weather in a way that means “weird and unpredictable”) it’s a complaint that she’s not acting like an object doing only whatever the man wants her to do, but instead insists on being a PERSON with thoughts of her own and maybe sometimes expressing a will that isn’t 100% in line with what the nearest male wants right that second.

    thank you for coming to my TED talk

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
  25. Preakness Everdeen
    Preakness Everdeen

    Honestly my first thought of a demon wall was from a video game a la’ ffxiv ( http://en.ff14housing.com/itemview.php?id=34297fd175e ) and I thought that would be interesting to see Abby try to rock climb up that. Or going with a few others Predator idea, they gotta kill it…

    Also, if treating Abby is how he treats people who he likes or wants to become close with maybe, he’s doing the one night stand STD with boobs out to here ladies a kindness. Actually if he wasn’t written as a predator, it could have maybe been spun that he knows he’s a shit person and, has a hard time with changing bad habits. So he just accepts his role as the campus bicycle and leans into being “the bad boy”. That however would require some self awareness and him wanting to change because being around Abby makes him want to be a better person.

    Buuuut, since they’re both equally awful people they just bring out the worst in each other and are attracted to it.

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
  26. swanna
    swanna

    Getting alcohol in America definitely seemed harder to me than it is over here. When I was in Massachusetts last year I couldn’t even get a drink with my ID. Had to show them my passport because they couldn’t accept foreign IDs.
    Was asked for it every single time despite looking my age, while back at home I rarely get asked at all.

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
  27. RodeoBob
    RodeoBob

    Travis’s eyes narrowed, and the muscles in his jaws twitched under his skin. “Are you calling me a rapist?” he said in a cold, low tone.

    Can we talk about this for a second? Because this is super-duper rape-culture stuff right here, and I haven’t quite figured out how to disarm it.

    Because it really seems like some dudes loudly insist that rape is the worst thing ever, anywhere, and that because it’s so awful, that accusing someone of being a rapist is, well, it’s the worst possible accusation that could ever be made, thus accusing someone is so terrible and horrible that no one, anywhere, should ever accuse anyone of sexual assault without 100% ironclad proof.

    Also, if we assume that Ethan actually was accused of sexual assault, (versus Travis just making shit up) and if we assume that Travis actually was being protective because he views alleged sexual assailants as dangerous and harmful, why didn’t he bring that up while he was talking to Ethan, rather than acting all “grrr Imma beat you up for talking to my girl”?

    Like, if he really found Ethan’s past so distasteful, why didn’t the exchange go something like this?

    > Ethan’s eyes grew wide, and he awkwardly pulled back his hand. “Travis Maddox? Eastern’s Travis Maddox?”

    >“I saw you fight Shawn Smith last year, man. I thought I was about to witness someone’s death!”

    “Ethan Vandersnooch, right? You were suspended for, like, a month because you roughed up some girl, wasn’t it? Rape? Sexual assault? Your dad must have a lot of pull at the university to get that swept under the rug so fast!”

    Like, if him being a sexual predator is actually bad in Travis’ eyes, why didn’t he call him out for it on the spot? You know, when Ethan is talking to an obviously drunk girl at a bar? Wouldn’t that be a really good time for it? I mean, sure Ethan might take a swing at Travis, but isn’t Travis supposed to be really good at dodging?

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • Perlite
      Perlite

      Seems like another page taken from 50SoG where the hero just so “happens” to know that nearly every male that shows interest in the main protag is a predator but doesn’t warn her until he’s given an opportunity to show how “protective and moral” he is to her… in private. Instead of warning her, and every other woman in the bar, in public. Cuz, bro code still stands, right? Just as long as it’s not with “his girl”.

      Also, another checkpoint for the male lead plying the main love interest with alcohol to lower her inhibitions, while knowing that it is morally repugnant.

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
    • the-great-dragon
      the-great-dragon

      I really like your rewrite of the scene. That would have been such a better scene!!!

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
    • small jar of fireflies
      small jar of fireflies

      Hell, you’re right. Ethan says right there that he thought Travis was a possible murderer, and that gets no reaction.

      If he was supposed to be a villain, why not have Travis hold eye contact and say: “yeah, I remember that fight. You’re that douchebag who was crowding into the ring at the end. You were cheering.”

      Instead, yeah, it looks like an amateur fighter in an illegal venue might be beating someone to death, that’s cool.

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
      • RodeoBob
        RodeoBob

        >Hell, you’re right. Ethan says right there that he thought Travis was a possible murderer, and that gets no reaction.

        Yeah, but when Abby suggests he might be a rapist, the text makes it sound like he wants to at least hit her, with the ‘clenched jaw” and “cold, low tone”.

        “Are you calling me a rapist? Because I will beat you senseless if you dare suggest that I would use force against a woman! I mean, except for when they suggest I use force against other women. I mean…”

        December 21, 2018
        |Reply
    • Ariel
      Ariel

      Good observation on the “you should never accuse men of rape unless you have video footage” thing.

      It drives me batguano crazy when I hear some “worried soul” decry false rape accusations, because they often don’t understand that victim testimony IS part of the evidence. Or rather, they don’t WANT to consider it evidence. There always has to be something more for them to even consider believing the victim. Clearly we should all start wearing body cams, just in case.

      “Why didn’t he bring it up while he was talking to Ethan (…)”

      I had th same exact thought.

      If sexual assault is so reprehensible to Travis and he wants to protect women from falling into this abuser’s grasp, then it would logically follow, that he’d want to shame him for it publicly while also letting any potential victim in the vicinity know of the danger.

      But nope, the threat of rape is used here (yet again) as something that’s supposed to make our hero (gag) look all protective and manly while also making him look better than his momentary romantic rival.

      Basically, Christian Grey is to Travis what Jack Hyde is to Ethan. It’s such a tired trope.

      And now I segue artfully into thanking Jenny for these recaps.
      Seriously, Jenny, each week I await a new installment in the Jealous Hater Book Club with impatience and each week I get a lovely, delicious shot of snark-flavoured goodness right into my brain. Not only that, but you’ve also helped me look at the books I consume with a more analytical eye and for that, I will be forever grateful.

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        If sexual assault is so reprehensible to Travis and he wants to protect women from falling into this abuser’s grasp, then it would logically follow, that he’d want to shame him for it publicly while also letting any potential victim in the vicinity know of the danger.

        MamaLich: THANK YOU. The way MacGuire wrote this, it sounds an awful lot like Travis was lying through his teeth about Ethan (or doing the human equivalent of the ‘male Grant’s Gazelle’ (Grant’s Gazelle are known for making false calls of alarm just to frighten females into sticking with them)).

        Yeah, either Travis lied to her or Travis is 100% a rapist who doesn’t give a fuck about women, but he just didn’t want Ethan to get to Abby first. Or McGuire was just writing shit as it came to her mind, she had nothing on Ethan until that very moment, and it struck her that some excuse needed to be given as Abby questioned Travis so McGuire burped up that answer. Which is really lame and weird since unless it had been in the paper before the charges were dropped… also lol-worthy because if the charges were dropped why isn’t Travis shrugging the whole thing off unless he has some reason to believe Ethan did rape someone? Or does Travis frequently visit ANOTHER college? There’s absolutely no reason to think that Travis would know anything about this guy. Unless maybe, for some inexplicable reason, he got to know Ethan during multiple fight club matches in the many hundreds of basements on Eastern’s campus? Which would require Ethan to go there a lot and try to grab his attention as much as the “sluts” do to have that conversation in person? Except Ethan acted as if he’d never really met Travis in person so it’d have to be a ruse to cover up their connection. Basically, a lot of convolution but we’re already so convulsed all up in here, it’s not much of a stretch to think the author is stupid wait, I mean really into conspiracy theories.

        Another reason to suspect this was someone’s editor note, even if it was just a mental one she hit right at that moment. :p

        December 24, 2018
        |Reply
    • MamaLich
      MamaLich

      ‘why didn’t he bring that up while he was talking to Ethan, rather than acting all “grrr Imma beat you up for talking to my girl”?’

      THANK YOU. The way MacGuire wrote this, it sounds an awful lot like Travis was lying through his teeth about Ethan (or doing the human equivalent of the ‘male Grant’s Gazelle’ (Grant’s Gazelle are known for making false calls of alarm just to frighten females into sticking with them)). I just can’t wait for the next ‘sequel’ where we’re all in Travis’s head and it turns out that he was absolutely right about Ethan and was REALLY SO CONCERNED for Abby.

      December 22, 2018
      |Reply
    • Another Amy
      Another Amy

      This also happens when pointing out racism. There are some conservative websites that call racist/racism “the R word,” because being called a racist when you do or say racist stuff is apparently just as horrifically insulting and out of line as being called the N word. It’s part of their reverse-victimization, “reverse-racism,” “reverse-sexism” world view they’re living in where straight, white, men have it the worst and are constantly being undermined, thwarted, and victimized just because they’re straight, white, men.

      December 23, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        This too. Everyone is a little bit racist, some more than others. No one is immune, especially not those straight, white, men who love to knock everyone else down. If it destroys their egos to be called racist, maybe they should try being better people? I mean yeah, we all get mad if someone misreads honest intentions, but the best intentions pave the road to hell and if it happens a lot, then some self-reflection would be good for the soul. Although I’m not sure who is worse: the racists who openly accept being racist, as if it’s a badge of honor because they just don’t give a shit about hiding it anymore or the ones who have to hide behind this “R-word” bullshit because they think they’re some unique and special snowflake.

        Btw, I never thought of that catch-all term, reverse-victimization. It’s a good word to know. It describes a lot of terrible stuff.

        December 24, 2018
        |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Can we talk about this for a second? Because this is super-duper rape-culture stuff right here, and I haven’t quite figured out how to disarm it.

      Because it really seems like some dudes loudly insist that rape is the worst thing ever, anywhere, and that because it’s so awful, that accusing someone of being a rapist is, well, it’s the worst possible accusation that could ever be made, thus accusing someone is so terrible and horrible that no one, anywhere, should ever accuse anyone of sexual assault without 100% ironclad proof.

      I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I don’t have an easy answer. On the one hand, there probably are some people who were falsely accused because they made the mistake of trusting a Cathy. BUT while those people aren’t uncommon and the only way to sort things out is to know that the accuser is a Cathy, which, for the record, is still awkward. It’s not impossible for such an evil person to be assaulted… which means you need to know all of the details and both people very well and even then you might not suspect unless said person gave you a creepy vibe at any point.

      Since rape culture is rather prominent and misinformation is rampant, rapists are seen as vile devils who could never be human. As you said, they’re seen as just too evil and no one can recover from that. On the other hand, I guarantee there are plenty of men out there who have strongly pressured a sexual partner and it could be dubious consent if the other person is somewhat reluctant but gives in. I don’t think they get the power dynamic though or else maybe they realize they’d do the same shit if they had a lot of public power to “do what they want.” I don’t know. But I think enough men get worried or recognize some potential problems in how they act (if they aren’t outright cognizant abusers trying to rationalize their horribleness) and several in power have let it go to their head, so they find it in their best interest to spin the yarn that rapists are too horrible to be human.

      Of course, rapists are just random assholes who took advantage of a situation that they either contrived or found themselves in. Yes, it requires being an asshole in the first place. I want to think that most people wouldn’t be rapists, just as I want to think most people wouldn’t be murderers, but we all have murderous thoughts at times. If we don’t act on them, we’re ok. I’m sure there are people who have thoughts of rape that don’t go through with them too. But in the end, an asshole is an asshole and everyone has been a jerk at some point. There is nothing pushing anyone over that edge (I mean, we can argue self-defense in the case of murder but then they aren’t a murderer.) But an asshole had a semi-ordinary bad thought and followed through with it. If they’re a serial asshole then they got away with it, liked that feeling of power and control, and continued being an asshole in the future. But that’s why they could seem normal outside of that; most assholes aren’t assholes 24/7 and they aren’t necessarily assholes to every single person, although you can usually tell who’s a bigger and more frequent asshole unless they try to cover it up. But they’re still an asshole and they did something only an asshole would do to another person. And the worst thing of all is if they don’t understand or care that they were an asshole. So it’s important if we can call them out for being an asshole just so we can get into the process of at least punishing assholes, even if we can’t stop them entirely by spreading awareness.

      And rapists are just another form of asshole. They aren’t special, other than whatever makes them decide that they don’t care about another person, but that’s really not hard to do. It’s easy to dehumanize. We teach soldiers how to do that so they can fight other people. Blaming the victim and refusing to believe them continues the dehumanization process. Making it hard for the victim to bring forth a case and get some justice, at least a goddamn slap on the wrist for the asshole who did it if nothing else, continues to dehumanize them. It makes it easier for the asshole to continue being an asshole because society agrees with them.

      But also, we need way better forensics and better police-work in general (especially when it comes to caring about their community compared to an easy quota.) And “fear of the wrong accusation” doesn’t just stem from what I’ve already listed since there are cases of men falsely going to jail for rape (although this is usually in conjunction with murder because people have to die for there to be any hard evidence amirite lol) but this is a problem with our police overall. I think in this case it’s also racially charged: more black men are probably worried about the false accusations which inadvertently helps out the white assholes in power that do get away with rape. And unfortunately, this triple-screws any person of color, especially women… There is more incentive to keep quiet and less ability to get justice. Also, African Americans, Middle Easterners, Asians, and Latino’s are also just as primed for potential toxic masculinity, especially if they have really conservative roots. None of them are automatically immune or excluded from TM, and TM feeds into rape culture.

      I think the real problem is most people don’t want to analyze it because it’s messy and it isn’t easy to solve; it’s going to take a lot of effort to change things. After saying all of this, I’m not even sure what the actual answer to your question is… how do you shut down the guys who get super defensive? I think the only thing I’ve come up with is information, but I’m not sure what part would help or even how to distill it since I obviously typed up a whole bunch of stuff just now.

      But I think understanding is really the key to most things. We’re starting to see mental health and a lot of situations in a new light. Destigmatizing them is hard though… And we want rape to be understood as a crime of course so destigmatizing it isn’t exactly the goal, just like we don’t want to destigmatize pedophilia (although that too needs more information circulated…) And of course, when it involves families, in both cases, that’s where it gets super messy because people never really want to think about just how dysfunctional things can get.

      Phew… I hope some of that made sense. I’ve been thinking over some of these comments for a while but I’ve been busy and haven’t had the chance to reply until now.

      December 24, 2018
      |Reply
      • Saint_Sithney
        Saint_Sithney

        I think part of it is having both Alfred Kinsey AND Puritanism/Victorianism rampant.

        Alfred Kinsey testified before the Supreme Court that the only difference between a rape and a good time was whether the girl’s parents were awake when she got home. He firmly believed that rape and pedophilia were part of normal sexual behavior (in part because he got most of his statistics from felons, many of whom had histories of sexual violence). He also took the data on ravishment fantasies and extrapolated that all women (who are not asexual, because asexuals are barely human weirdos and the real perverts) secretly want to be raped, because rape allows them sexual agency.

        The Puritans and the Victorians were obsessed with sexual violence and sex crimes, and euphemistically referred to rape as the “fate worse than death”. Being raped was so monstrous that death was your only out – in part, because it might make a woman addicted to sex, so that she had no choice but to become a prostitute (because THAT DICK IS SO GOOD, amirite?), or because being touched by such a monstrous evil made life intolerable. Only monsters rape and it is the worst thing that can happen. Ever.

        So we have these two conflicting ideas that rape is a normal sexual behavior that everyone would indulge in if they felt they could get away with it, and that it is the most odious of crimes that only Satan could devise. Both. All the time. Therefore, it is unlikely that whatever person HAS been raped, because I totally met that guy once, and he didn’t have hooves, so she probably enjoyed it.

        It takes a lot of cognitive dissonance, but it’s definitely there. I know the guy that raped me and at least one other woman never thought of it as rape. I know I didn’t think of it as rape until almost 2 years after the fact, where I realized my screaming no and having a goddamn seizure should have been taken as a withdrawal of consent by any moral person.

        December 24, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          I think part of it is having both Alfred Kinsey AND Puritanism/Victorianism rampant.

          Yes, absolutely! And it also goes as far back as Ancient Rome too, which in part strongly influenced much of Europe throughout the middle-ages. There weren’t many jobs for women (although some chose prostitution because, ya know, some women just want to have more sex! And do what you love… even if that turns sex into a job, which can make it a bit less fun sometimes.) But prostitutes were looked down on, regardless of their situation, while their bodies and movements were policed by their local governments.

          I actually found a detailed account in a non-fiction book on Google but I recently got a new computer and accidentally lost the vast majority of my bookmarks because I forgot to sync this browser up. The author extrapolated from the government records of a few cities in Italy, I think it was. Of course, some prostitutes rebelled against this, particularly since they were expected to live in ghettos/houses set apart specifically for them, for the government to get a cut even though these women had no say in legislation and less protection from their clients, and interestingly enough, there were cases for some being married, even though the government would try to charge their husbands for being pimps and still slap the women with reprimands since prostitutes were expected to dress a little differently and make it very clear what profession they were in. In Ancient Rome they were also similarly policed so these are some very old, wonky standards.

          secretly want to be raped, because rape allows them sexual agency.

          Ugh, I do hate Kinsey for that. Dominance and submission is the actual fantasy, which I’m not sure they understood back then but nonetheless, meh. But yeah, gaining sexual agency had something to do with it, just not exactly like that. Also, I seriously believe misogyny can become a fetish since it’s so deeply ingrained in some cultures, to the point of becoming subliminal, perhaps. At the very least, shame can definitely be a kink.

          So we have these two conflicting ideas that rape is normal sexual behavior that everyone would indulge in if they felt they could get away with it, and that it is the most odious of crimes that only Satan could devise. Both. All the time. Therefore, it is unlikely that whatever person HAS been raped, because I totally met that guy once, and he didn’t have hooves, so she probably enjoyed it.

          This. Of course, having such strict double-standards probably lead to some women pleading rape, even in a consensual situation, after word got out and she needed to repair her sullied name to be accepted back into society. But more often, since “good” women are expected to say no, it muddies the waters when they feel a need to be coy and it also gives men false expectations when a woman genuinely isn’t interested… if they just keep asking, she’ll eventually say yes! That said, it’s not hard to be clear and consistent about an outright dismissal so I’m sure plenty of rapists simply rationalized it all after the fact.

          And those double-standards are also how we get this bullshit dance where Abby and Travis can’t tell each other that they want to fuck. I mean, yes, he’s absolutely a predator and she’s an enabling bitch, but whatever her super secret and deeply problematic past is going to be, they won’t fuck because she’s a waifu now and he’s only banging other women to prove his virility. Yuck.

          I know I didn’t think of it as rape until almost 2 years after the fact, where I realized my screaming no and having a goddamn seizure should have been taken as a withdrawal of consent by any moral person.

          I remember that discussion and you have my sympathy. He was a grade-A asshole, no doubt about that. 🙁

          December 24, 2018
          |Reply
          • Dove
            Dove

            Oops meant to clarify, the book in question focused on the middle ages but I know this stuff was also around as far back as Ancient Rome because I have researched that too.

            December 24, 2018
      • Maril
        Maril

        I’m actually working on a documentary right now on the impact dehumanizing language has on people (3 guesses what the main focus is and the first 2 don’t count). I can’t give it the scope that I want right now ‘cuz I have a budget of about 6 cents, but one of the things I very much want to get the budget to explore (being able to license footage and go see experts that I can’t drive to on a single tank of gas…) is specifically the impact of dehumanizing CRIMINALS. When people view criminals (and dictators) as ‘monsters’ instead of people, it makes it a lot harder to recognize something someone you know as being criminal behaviour.

        Only a monster commits rape, therefore what you did couldn’t have been rape, because you are not a monster. Refusing to acknowledge that bad people are still PEOPLE is why people have so much pity for ‘normal’ looking criminals and are so quick to pretend they didn’t do anything wrong. It’s why when someone who seems otherwise to have fit the mold of ‘normal’ commits murder people are utterly terrified, because the majority seem to have this idea that bad guys are all monsters, and therefore LOOK like ‘criminals’. That’s why Gaston in Beauty and the Beast still has so much impact to this day.

        That’s a big part of the fuel behind why some people react so badly to being accused of rape. It’s something they aren’t entirely certain they didn’t do. BUT only monsters are rapists, and they’re not a monster! Right? It makes them question things. Idiots don’t like questioning things. That might involve having self-awareness and a recognition that the world isn’t black and white. That might involve having to re-examine their entire world as they know it. Their existence is being challenged, so they get defensive. And most of them just stick with the default ‘rapists are monsters, I’m not a monster, therefore, I am not a rapist, so don’t call me a monster.’

        December 25, 2018
        |Reply
  28. Anon
    Anon

    I also grew up in a college town and I wasn’t really a drinker, well, ever. But plenty of people I knew were and those people knew where to go to get served under age. I know people who were walking in, ordering and getting served without being asked for ID when they were 14 years old — and they did not look older than 14. That was in the early 1990s. I personally got served underage a couple times without anyone asking for ID and like I said — I wasn’t even much of a drinker and I’m still not. Certain places just didn’t care. If they’re looking to drink underage, then they know where to go. I don’t know why the cops wouldn’t scrutinize those places, but they just don’t.

    It’s probably more strict now, but there was a time it was pretty easy to do. This book came out in 2012, though, so she’s probably thinking about her own days of being young (she’s about my age).

    And ugh, there they go again with the animal references. “Mare” (a horse) for America. Abby is a bird and the EVIL WIMINS are vultures.

    “IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE A SECRET FIGHT CLUB! SECRET!”

    Someone forgot to tell them the first rule.

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
  29. Amber Rose
    Amber Rose

    Here’s the thing. Restaurants and bars? Good fucking luck getting alcohol without valid ID. They are crazy paranoid about selling to minors. The bars even have scanners for driver’s licenses now. I got fucking carded at my company Xmas party. (I am still salty about that.)

    Liquor stores though? Sure. I knew a dude who’s fake ID was a photocopy of someone else’s ID printed on some cardboard. He left it in his wallet behind the little plastic screen and nobody ever called him on it or asked him to take it out.

    Anyways, that’s what I’m focusing on here, because the other stuff makes me angry and I don’t wanna be angry during the holidays.

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • Why do people get mad when they’re carded? I’ve never understood that. Just… show your ID.

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        I\m assuming in this instance that the entire company was there and they had a section to themselves so Amber Rose was with her coworkers, the bar staff probably knew they were from some company, and she still got checked even though any place that throws a company Christmas party at a bar, for the permanent staff members only, probably doesn’t hire people under the drinking age. (And if she got carded at the office, by her co-workers, that’s even worse, but I’m assuming this was at a bar by the bartender or at a restaurant by the waiter/waitress.)

        Irritation usually depends on the circumstances. I get what you’re saying, it’s definitely easy to pull out an ID, but you’re also talking about emotions and sometimes anger is irrational (regardless of whether it’s justified.)

        December 21, 2018
        |Reply
      • Amber
        Amber

        The company party was in a hotel where we had a group rate. Since the party was downstairs from our room, and there’s no reason to believe there are any minors working for our company, and I’ve never been carded at a company event before, I left my ID in the room. I didn’t wanna carry my damn purse. I had to go all the way back up and get it.

        Which would have been annoying but fine, but I don’t look particularly young, several of my coworkers appear to be between the ages of 12 and 15, and yet I was the ONLY one carded all night.

        Such a pain in the ass.

        December 21, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          They didn’t want to risk carding one of the 12-year-olds in case they turned out to be an actual 12-year-old! So they picked the only safe target, just to fake show they were double-checking in case anybody asked later, and then when it turned out you didn’t have your ID, they felt stupid if they didn’t insist. That’s the only way I can fathom that making sense… but it still sucks that you had to go back upstairs just to fetch it! I feel you on not wanting to carry your purse sometimes and most nice lady’s clothes don’t have good pockets so if there’s even a single decent pocket available, then that’s where your phone goes, especially if you don’t need your wallet.

          December 24, 2018
          |Reply
      • Jenny (But not Jenny Trout)
        Jenny (But not Jenny Trout)

        Mad? IDK but I thought it was hilarious when sis and I got carded when we went to see Fifty Shades of Crazy after each drinking two ginormous margaritas – we figured tipsy was the only way to have fun at that train wreck. We were both late thirties and didn’t get carded for the drinks. I’ve always looked young for my age, but there is no way I could be mistaken for 16. So. Funny.

        I think it’s a case of people getting annoyed that someone thinks they look too young to be drinking. But if they are older, then it’s “you think I look like I might be twenty? I’m flattered and here’s a tip.”

        December 27, 2018
        |Reply
  30. Perlite
    Perlite

    Looks like Travis “toxic masculinity, calls Abby confusing even though he never listens and continues to breach established boundaries, calls the women he sleeps with sluts even though he probably has a higher count than there are people at Uni, has definitely sexually assaulted someone at least once” Maddox is projecting a bit here.
    Then again, Abby “Rural Juror, slut-shames other women even though she exhibits the same behavior they do, says that she’s not into Travis even though they share a bed, is upset that he doesn’t want to sleep with her, gets jealous, excuses his abusive behavior towards everyone” Abernathy is not much better off.

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • Ariel
      Ariel

      “Abby ‘Rural Juror’ Abernathy” cracked me UP. How very apt. 😀

      Also, I just realized that Travis’ initials mirror the acronym of toxic masculinity. T.M. Coincidence?!

      Yeah, most probably. But wouldn’t it be funny, if years down the line Maguire realized that it was the very rape culture she inadvertently camptioned in her books that made her subconsciously choose her main characters initials?

      Ah, to dream.

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
  31. Lily
    Lily

    About 100 years ago, I hung out with hair metal bands in L. A. In the clubs, a very few women would behave like the hordes of women in this book do, and some of those guys were actual rock stars. Travis the freshman has more groupies than I ever saw around Nikki Sixx. And Nikki, a genuine bad boy of rock, behaved more graciously towards them than this boorish lout Travis Daterapist. Wow.

    Yo, Abby, I know a woman who crashed her bike. She broke her neck. Medical haloes and various casts ain’t real pretty.

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
  32. Bunny
    Bunny

    Disgusting. This book. I just can’t. I can’t. We’re only three chapters in and I already feel like I need to wash my hands after every single excerpt. And then use disinfectant and mouthwash and suppress my gag reflex. Honestly.

    And yeah, their relationship is absolutely just friends. Like, indubitably. Totally platonic, Abby. So far, you’ve:

    -Slept in his bed for no reason
    -Showered in his bathroom for no reason
    -Grinded (ground?) on him and enjoyed it
    -Gotten jealous when he dared to dance with a slatternly bar hoor
    -Asked him to snuggle you
    -Admired the view of his hot bod (from his bed)
    -Acted aggressive towards any female who comes near him
    -Literally thought about how great it would be to have sex with him
    -Stuck around him even though he’s made innumerable innuendos and sexual jokes involving you and him

    But I guess since they’re both humongous a-holes, it’s a good match? Ughhhh. Toxic, toxic, toxic. Someone call the Predator already, please, and deal with this ungodly mess.

    I also noticed : we’ve even got in an “in all the right places.” Knew it was coming. But it makes no sense! The bar lady (who is, remember, excessively horribly terribly immorally unethically puffily illegally Geneva-convention-breakingly cleavage-d, how dare she) “bounced” . . . what, she shook her chest at him? She wiggled her hips? Waved? Stood on the balls of her feet? I can’t picture this at all. Bad description.

    Jenny, can I make a request? Can you make a video destroying a copy of this book in the most violent and graphic ways possible? I think that’d be cathartic for everyone.

    Only chapter three. God.

    And still no word on the appropriate number of cardigans one should have in one’s wardrobe. This book is such a liar.

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • Izzy
      Izzy

      The bouncing this bothers me too. It made me think of the bouncing that takes place when I run for the bus. Decidedly unsexy and uncomfortable to boot. I just can’t picture what this girl, who by all accounts just walked up to Travis and started talking to him, would be doing to be “bouncing in all the right places”.

      December 21, 2018
      |Reply
      • Athena
        Athena

        She has a case of anime boob physics. If you listen closely, you can hear the sound effects.

        December 24, 2018
        |Reply
    • Arlene
      Arlene

      The descriptions of “voluptuous” women as automatically super duper slutty so rampant in this book was also in Apollonia. Curvier women/girls get a lot more harassment in schools/establishments that have a dress code meant to predominantly police their bodies. I went to a Christian high school and girls with big boobs or particularly round asses were the ones who got in trouble for wearing too tight shirts or pants and they also got harassed by the boys and slut-shamed by the girls for merely existing in curvy bodies. One of my best friends was petite and happened to have particularly large breasts for someone otherwise so small and the rumors around her “slutty” behavior were rampant. Not that it actually was anyone’s business, but I happened to know she was a virgin who’d only done a little making out with people she was actually dating. Point being, she wasn’t even doing anything that might be considered “slutty” by our slut-shaming culture, even in conservative circles. She was just a pretty girl with big boobs.

      December 22, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        She might have been a victim of the joking adage that “a slut is a woman who’ll put out for someone else but not for you.” I’m sure of the boys who spread those rumors, it was because they couldn’t date her, or if it was some boy she dated, then he wanted to sound more “awesome” so he implied that he’d had sex with her when he hadn’t and she has those big ol’ tiddies so of course, people assumed that she’d put out.

        Anyway, I hope things got better after she graduated. 😛

        December 24, 2018
        |Reply
        • Arlene
          Arlene

          Yes, she was definitely one of the most sought-after girls in high school so you’re probably right about the whole “she’s a slut because she’s not doing stuff with me” double standard. Things did eventually get better for her once we graduated.

          December 24, 2018
          |Reply
      • Saint_Sithney
        Saint_Sithney

        I was the first girl to really “blossom” in my grade. I had the biggest breasts in the school by 8th grade (I wasn’t wearing proper bras because I was so embarrassed, but based on past photographs, I was at least a solid 32DD by the time I was 12 – by age 16, I was a 38J). That started the rumor that I was the sluttiest slut to ever slut, which started waves of sexual harassment. And I’m asexual, and was sex-repulsed until age 19.

        You just can’t win.

        December 26, 2018
        |Reply
  33. Black Knight
    Black Knight

    Jenny commented, “I’m sure there’s gonna be something that makes America a cheap tramp before the end of the book.”

    You know, I wonder if maybe an editor that has SOME qualms about Maguire (I mean, surely editors can see this awful misogyny, right? Even if they go along with putting such books out for sale) “suggested” that Maguire name Abby’s one female friend America.

    Jenny’s pointed out how this book is drenched in the attitudes of evangelical Christianity, and an author like that is going to hesitate to characterize a female character named *America* as a cheap tramp like the rest of the non-Abby female characters.

    Instead, she’ll write America as mini-Abby (as we see in this chapter). You know, of the two available characterizations for women in Maguire’s world, I think I’d probably rather be written as a cheap tramp than as the complete misogynistic asshole Abby is. But that’s not how Maguire thinks.

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
  34. RaccoonMama
    RaccoonMama

    Currently in vet school, left my undergraduate school a few years ago.
    I went to undergrad in a touristy town and if you went to a bar that was likely to have lots of tourists and not just locals/college students, they definitely checked all IDs at the door, lots of them had scanners or the big books of every state ID to check.
    Now if you went to a couple grungier bars with less of a crowd, they still checked IDs at the door but were more likely to turn a blind eye to fakes.

    Where I go now-the whole town is built around the university. So every bar checks IDs. For some reason the don’t have a scanner and actually bend the IDs to check if they are fake and both my friend and I (who are in or mid 20s) have been quizzed in the info on what’s on the card AND one time they actually broke my friends real ID from bending too hard.
    So, I don’t know, but it could depend on the town etc for underage kids getting in. I know one bar in my undergrad was particularly awful to go to as it was mostly 18 yo old girls and 35 yr old men trying to feel young by mackin on the 18 yr olds.

    Honestly the more unbelievable thing to me is the drunk driving- to me college towns are usually well equipped with safe rides/uber/someone is the DD. I’ve never gone out with friends and not had a plan for getting home safely. M friends would go out of their way to walk with me or get me an uber or take my car keys if they thought I was really drunk and would be stupid about it.

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • Athena
      Athena

      Your mention of uber made me realise that there’s been a suspicious lack of cellphone usage by these supposed college freshmen. Even if Abby is Not Like Other Girls, shouldn’t the ones throwing themselves at Travis be selfieing up a storm? Or at least trying to? I’m surprised Mcguire passed up the chance to show how different Abby is ’cause she doesn’t have an Instagram like all those other girls.

      December 24, 2018
      |Reply
  35. Steady Oak
    Steady Oak

    I really think this started out as Twilight fanfiction. I used to read some of it and there were plenty of stories reimagining Edward as a fighter and, even just three chapters in, the plots all esssentially hit the same notes as this book. My guess is that the author may have known EL through being a fellow fan fiction writer at the same time, hence the acknowledgment in 50SOG.

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
  36. Izzy
    Izzy

    There’s so much misogyny and rape culture to unpack in this unholy mess of a book I could go on about it until judgement day. Instead I’ll just comment on something inoffensive (except to coherent storytelling) but still irritating for me and that’s the timeline.
    It’s actually worse than 50SoG. Ana and Christian’s relationship may have moved at twice the goddamn speed of light but at least you could say “this is when these two horrible people met and this is when these two horrible people got their undeserved HEA and this is roughly how much time passed between these two unfortunate events”
    This book, I don’t even know how old these characters are. I don’t know how long Abtastic the Wonder Pidgeon and Toxic Masculinity have known each other, how long they’ve been “friends”, how long Abby has been living with Travis and HOW LONG HAS THAT FUCKING BOILER BEEN BROKEN!?

    December 21, 2018
    |Reply
  37. SYD
    SYD

    Small detail that really bothered me, how is Abby supposed to know if she’s talking to a possible rapist/sexual assaulter? Is she expected to memorize or constantly refer to some kind of registry? That particular detail about this chapter really pissed me off for some reason. Like how dare Travis, and in effect the author shame women for not magically knowing if a stranger is dangerous? It’s impossible to know for sure. Should women just stay at home and never talk to anyone just to be safe?

    In a similar vein, I think one reason Mcguire and other authors like her never acknowledge abusive behavior is because in doing so they acknowledge that women can be vulnerable and can be victims. For some people being a victim is the worst thing you can be because you weren’t good enough by some metric to not be a victim.

    December 22, 2018
    |Reply
    • Corbeau
      Corbeau

      That pissed me off too. Ethan didn’t say anything untoward to Abby. And Abby was just flirting with him a bit, while being in the company of her friends, what should be a safe enough situation, except Travis at this point doesn’t sound any safer than Ethan. So what should Abby do differently next time? Never talk to a man again? Become a nun? A hermit in a mountain cave?
      Also, we get to learn that the charges against Ethan were dropped. He might have not committed sexual battery at all, for all we know. I’m not trying to save any rapists, not even fictional ones, but Travis’ story about his alleged sexual crime is so lacking in details that it makes me question if the whole thing even happened.

      December 25, 2018
      |Reply
  38. Eclairmaiden
    Eclairmaiden

    I’d conclude they’re together now and call it a day. The author’s misogyny is obvious by now, but her blindness to it still lacks in entertainment value.

    I have a really low opinion on YA, and that’s because in my head YA is linked so closely with poor romance novels that I sometimes forget not all YA is romance themed. I’m sure there are many great YA novels out there, but I was wondering, could anyone point me to a genuinely good YA or NA romance novel? Both fantasy and non-fantasy examples are welcomed.

    December 22, 2018
    |Reply
    • Athena
      Athena

      Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series is a YA paranormal steampunk mystery series that has a romance subplot in the later books. In it at least the love triangle feels more plausible. Does the heroine choose the man who excites her and would elevate her station, or does she throw away all propriety and her good name to be with a man so far beneath her in social standing?

      My problem with a lot of romance, especially YA, novels is that if the main plot isn’t the romance, then it feels like it gets derailed by the romance. This was such a problem for me in mid to late 2000’s. I’d find what looked like an interesting paranormal book, then read a bit and find out it was just a standard bodice ripper with a vampire or werewolf thrown in because that was what was cool at the time. (I feel like I’ve probably voiced this annoyance on this blog before, my apologies if you’ve already read this.) I started reading a lot of YA simply because at the time it was easier to find the stories I wanted to read that way. Then Twilight covered the land and all hope was lost.

      I don’t have a problem with romance novels but so many authors seem to have trouble integrating the romance into the plot when that isn’t supposed to be the main focus. Or at least that’s been my experience.

      December 24, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        I don’t have a problem with romance novels but so many authors seem to have trouble integrating the romance into the plot when that isn’t supposed to be the main focus. Or at least that’s been my experience.

        I feel like a lot of authors will try to shoe-horn in a romance subplot because they think it’s obligatory rather than because it felt right or the idea intrigued them. (This also holds true for the ubiquitous love triangle.) And since the romance is just for checking off the list, they don’t put as much effort into it overall.

        Having it take a major back-seat to the main plot is actually okay but sometimes they’ll parade it out at the wrong time because they don’t want people to forget about it?

        December 24, 2018
        |Reply
        • Athena
          Athena

          Exactly! I was honestly thinking my best example of this is the Bourne Identity verses Knight & Day. I know one is an action thriller and the other leans more towards comedy, but I’m focusing in on the romance subplot.

          In BI this girl is being dragged around, nearly killed because of Bourne a hundred times, but yet halfway through the movie they just decide to stop and have sex? To me there was no buildup, no chemistry, no cause for this except, “Shit, I may die, I want sex.” Which is fine, I guess, but with the guy who’s the reason you’re probably gonna get killed?

          Now in Knight & Day (my personal dislike for Tom Cruise as a person not withstanding) the two character are given time to build a relationship, chemistry, and in the end it’s left ambiguous enough to be just a platonic buddy adventure or the beginnings of a romance, and I like that so much better.

          December 25, 2018
          |Reply
      • Aurelia
        Aurelia

        YES! The Finishing School series is WONDERFUL!

        I’ve also just finished ‘The Rest of Us Just Live Here’, which was a good read. (more YA than I usually bother with, but still good)

        January 13, 2019
        |Reply
    • Marit
      Marit

      I love Easy by Tammara Webber. It actually has a likable main character and a respectful love interest. It does use attempted rape to furter the plot, which isn’t ideal, but it doesn’t ruin the book for me and I stille recommend it.

      December 24, 2018
      |Reply
      • Eclairmaiden
        Eclairmaiden

        Thanks for the suggestions. I wrote them down and will get to the bottom of them once I’ve finished the books I got for Christmas.

        December 29, 2018
        |Reply
        • Saint_Sithney
          Saint_Sithney

          There’s a classic example I really enjoy, and you might too, especially if you liked “Anne of Green Gables”. “Betsy~Tacy” by Maud Hart Lovelace starts as a children’s series, and the first four books take place at age 5, 7, 10, and 12. Following that are the high school books, which take place a little after the turn of the century (the main girls are in the class of 1910), and the adult books.

          These books have an occasionally dated reference, as they were written in 1950 about 1900 (at age 12, all the girls go to a minstrel show and don’t realize how racist it is), but the characters are eminently likable and surprisingly modern. Probably the best in the series is “Emily of Deep Valley”, which does have some sweet romance in it, but is primarily the story of a young lady’s struggle to find a life purpose when she feels the rest of her set is outgrowing her. One thing she discovers is social work for the women and children of a nearby Syrian/Lebanese immigrant colony.

          There’s nothing supernatural in any of the books, but to me, they’re a series rather like a cozy pair of slippers and a cup of hot cocoa.

          December 29, 2018
          |Reply
          • Eclairmaiden
            Eclairmaiden

            Thanks, I’ll check this out.

            December 30, 2018
  39. Nocturnal Queen
    Nocturnal Queen

    Is it just me who kind of suspect that some of these misogynistic books are written and loved by people who perhaps weren’t the most popular girls in school and now feel the need to put down the girls who were to feel better about themselves? Like “Sure, Tracy from High School had big boobs and revealing outfits and all the guys wanted her but that was only because they wanted sex and they totally didn’t respect her but they respect me because I am not a slutty slut! I’m girlfriend material and Tracy is not! Hear that, Tracy!? They just want to fuck you while they want to wife me! I am winning!”

    December 22, 2018
    |Reply
    • Miimers
      Miimers

      Probably.
      Which conveniently overlooks how Tracy might’ve been a super nice person and in a loving relationship and those guys who just wanna have the sex will absolutely pull that shit on everyone regardless of how they dress.

      December 27, 2018
      |Reply
  40. Rin
    Rin

    So Travis can treat Abby like literal shit the whole time, as long as he can pull out romantic one-liners and sprinkle some compliments on top.

    Riiiiight.

    December 22, 2018
    |Reply
    • Chris
      Chris

      Of course! Bookmarked. I love a good taking down of a bad book in the morning.

      December 24, 2018
      |Reply
    • Black Knight
      Black Knight

      Aaaack. I read through what you’ve posted so far, and as annoying as Abby’s POV is, Travis’s is toxic. You’re doing a great job, but I don’t know how you’re going to endure an entire book of his thoughts!

      December 24, 2018
      |Reply
    • NavigatorBR
      NavigatorBR

      *Claps*
      I’m enjoying your review, and much like why I found “Grey” fascinating, we’re just seeing how much of a scumbag Travis is… These reversed POV books easily make the male lead look so much worse than the original book does.

      Also, I tried my best to explain the US college meal plan system on your , based on my experiences with it.

      Also, the food isn’t that great, it’s at best fine.
      The daily specials tended to be more hit and miss than the staples like hamburgers and pizza, but even those could go south from time to time.

      December 27, 2018
      |Reply
      • Person
        Person

        The food at my college was a huge draw to the campus! My relatives and friends who went to other schools would always be super eager to visit so they could have some. It really depends on the school.

        December 28, 2018
        |Reply
    • MackyDN
      MackyDN

      Thank you for this link, so far i am enjoying your reviews.

      Pity the books didn’t get any better.

      As with Grey, the male character comes off even worse once we can see into his head.

      January 5, 2019
      |Reply
  41. ShifterCat
    ShifterCat

    The Super Sekrit Underground Fight Club that’s famous for miles around reminds me of this. (I hope I can get the link to work:)

    December 25, 2018
    |Reply
  42. Now I’m looking forward to getting to that point in ‘Walking Disaster’ so that I can find out what Travis actually thinks. I’ll let you know. Although McGuire is actually skipping over quite a bit of dialogue in ‘Walking’, so it wouldn’t surprise me if she skipped saying anything about whether this was actually true or not.

    December 25, 2018
    |Reply
  43. […] keeping up with Jenny Trout’s snark-reviews of ‘Beautiful Disaster’, she now has Chapter Three up. That book isn’t getting any better either, but, as always, Jenny’s comments on it […]

    December 25, 2018
    |Reply
  44. MyDog'sPA
    MyDog'sPA

    Good Grief. College was over 40 years ago for me and McGuire remembers less of what she learned in college than I do. (and that’s even less of what one learns in Father Guido Sarducci’s Five Minute University https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO8x8eoU3L4 [in this version, though, he doesn’t include the line that the first two minutes are for registration])

    So I can’t relate with any of these characters.

    But on a happy note, my wife just released her self-published steampunk novel with its amazing (expensive) cover and it’s getting good reviews. Sadly not as much reads and attention as JHBC, but that goes with the territory of actually writing something better than 50SOG. Sigh. I only wish there was a way we can get Jenny and the gang to actually support good up and coming writers . . . . But, be that as it may, on to the next novel (a trilogy, actually) and hopefully that will glean some more attention for her.

    Good luck, all! I’d go nuts after reading this (or become a worse writer)

    December 26, 2018
    |Reply
    • MyDog'sPA
      MyDog'sPA

      Only if Jenny will give me permission for my selfless self-promotion on her website, because, after all, this is her website and not mine or my spousal-unit’s.

      December 26, 2018
      |Reply
      • MyDog'sPA
        MyDog'sPA

        Sorry, I meant shameless self promotion.

        That.

        Obviously I’m not the writer of the family . . . . .

        December 26, 2018
        |Reply
  45. Smacy
    Smacy

    “I can’t get my head around it. Having sex with Travis is an indicator of low morals and bad health, but Travis himself is moral and healthy?”

    Our misogynistic global mindset about men and women, condensed into one line.

    December 27, 2018
    |Reply
  46. Miimers
    Miimers

    I haven’t hated characters this much since I read that travel diary from a local author who labels himself a feminist then makes a career writing about himself oggling and measuring women’s breasts through their clothes and describing how this makes his crotch feel. So congrats on believably writing asshole middle-aged people, I guess?

    Is this all this book is? Cabbage Patch Abby hates women, Travernathy is a sexual predator but no one actually has a life where they need to do stuff to survive this world? Is the pivotal plot twist here a miscommunication between the authors two woman-hating sides? No wait, since the motorcycle has been mentioned twice now, Trampis is going to inadvertently mangle Babby with it and then we get some sort of a tearful “oh it wasn’t your fault” hospital scene and then these 2 middle-aged teens get married?

    December 27, 2018
    |Reply
  47. Smacy
    Smacy

    ‘It just dawned on me how often “you’re confusing” is used in romance novels. I’d bet money I’ve used it before. But reading it here, my reaction was, “She’s not confusing. You just don’t listen.” ‘

    Yeah, men do that in real life. In the moment it makes you feel complex and mysterious. It’s a bit of benevolent sexism. Then when the relationship ends you realize he only ever said that because, as you said above, he wasn’t listening to you. And he never considered your wants and needs. You were “confusing” because you weren’t giving him the exact response he wanted when he wanted it.

    December 27, 2018
    |Reply
  48. Small jar of fireflies
    Small jar of fireflies

    It wasn’t until the re-read that this jumped out: “I could see why so many girls chanced humiliation in the morning.”

    No. They’re not chancing it. They’re guaranteed it. It’s made so clear to them that Travis himself says they loathe him afterward. (But only afterward.) That’s the whole point. If a woman he’s interested in isn’t interested in him, she’s pursued, and if she’s interested in him for more than sex, she’s deceived.

    This thing puts so much weight on the raising and dropping of value of humans due to their sexual experiences that its less a romance and more a study on the Puritan stock exchange.

    December 27, 2018
    |Reply
    • Liza
      Liza

      “If a woman he’s interested in isn’t interested in him, she’s pursued, and if she’s interested in him for more than sex, she’s deceived.”

      And if she’s just interested in him for sex, then she’s a slut. There’s literally no winning as a woman in McGuire’s world. How on earth is she labeled a romance author? There is nothing at all the least bit romantic about her portrayal of women in even the tiniest most minuscule way.

      December 27, 2018
      |Reply
  49. small jar of fireflies
    small jar of fireflies

    Why this mess requires toxic masculinity, misogyny, and gender roles: Beautiful Disaster, Ch. 1, Pt. 1.

    “Godammit, Trav! You drank my beer! And you had sex on the couch in the common room!!”

    “Doesn’t matter! You’ll never see her again! She was just a cheap lay like all the others! There’s nothing to respect about a girl like that.”

    “I don’t know what’s wrong with you, but this isn’t okay. You’re violent and you have serious issues with-”

    “They have issues! They’re just skanks who sleep with anyone! I’d never let them in my bed!”

    Everyone kind of stared at Trav, who stared back, her chest heaving. She slammed into her room and slept it off. Nobody knew what she was talking about, and nobody dared try to untangle that mess. Her housemate was beyond sick of her shit. She transferred out shortly after.

    Fin.

    December 27, 2018
    |Reply
  50. Rakka
    Rakka

    What I don’t get is how utterly boring and horrible these people are. I was worried at first that Travis would be too close to my now retired text RPG character who, in both his fantasy and real world setting could be described like Travis in the blurp (except no tattoos for Spider, Luukas on the other hand, all the ink yes plz). But the fucker has less depth than our goddamn NPCs! These two un-selfaware paper dolls that are bashed together on these pages are without any sort of reasons why they are like they are, and boring and small-minded and horrible to boot.

    That said, when we did the “haha hey these character archetypes would fit in any setting, how’d they be in real world” spinoff, the broad strokes what made Spider’s personality develop the way it did changed the same, but the world didn’t. So Luukas is pretty different in some ways from Spider. He has the same avoidant, mistrustful streak plus some culturally instilled misogyny that holds women are somehow different than men. He could be as bad as Travis, if he had the building-sized ego T has. So I can understand how a character could be like that… what I don’t understand how badly the whole mess is executed, and how the hell this crap manages to be popular. There are loads of better characterization and more interesting plots out there, and this is what people buy?

    December 28, 2018
    |Reply
    • Rakka
      Rakka

      Actually, my mind started playing with the idea of how Spider would fit in here.

      It was illegal as hell, of course, but it beat playing puma bait. College was expensive, and he’d rather get fucked than get in debt for it, and he didn’t have the face for that line of work. He was the first in his family to go to college. The side he knew, anyway, and the other side could go hang. The money was good, and even though he hated the crowd, the roar of useless shitstains who wanted to see blood but would never had the guts to come down and play… that fell away from his mind when the fight started.

      Shadow knew he didn’t look like much. It had helped him a lot. Take their measure, stay cool, then get absolutely vicious. Even in a fight ring, people rarely really expected it. Letting go was as good as sex. Make them regret the condescending looks, make them eat their teeth, kick where it hurt. The faces blurred. Maybe it wasn’t the opponent who’d been this day’s “whatever you’re supposed to be” or getting all smug about having money and he didn’t, but it was the one who paid for every slight, every little and not so little jab the world threw at people like him. The crowd had fallen silent, Shadow realized, and his fixer was doing that semi-nervous, giddy look that meant he’d gotten carried away. Shit. Still, it was sweet, it was always sweet to see the bigger guy not so big anymore, bleeding on the ground. He look at the crowd, grinned. Some pigeon-brained rich bitch had thought pearls and expensive-looking jumper were the thing to wear for a slumming night. She’d have a big cleaning bill. He hoped she’d get charged extra. No way someone that stupid knew how to get blood off clothes easily.

      Then he realized the moron was actually with Spark and his current girlfriend. Shit.

      … but I just can’t make even Shadow as nastily, relentlessly misogynistic while hitting on bird-brain there. The whole thing would have to be rewritten to make Abby actually likeable and it would be whole different book…

      January 10, 2019
      |Reply
  51. Erm, all of those are rude, not polite. (I mean, they’re generally seen as more mildly rude, but they still don’t fit the ‘polite’ description.)

    ‘Learning disabled’ is probably the best term. As small jar of fireflies said, ‘cognitively impaired’ is also a possibility.

    December 28, 2018
    |Reply
    • Person
      Person

      I said they weren’t polite before I started listing them. I read the question as how to express an extremely dim view of someone’s intelligence, not as asking about how to refer to someone with a learning disability, because it wouldn’t make sense to talk about the learning disabled in that sentence. “Polite” in this case would just mean “usable in polite society/not a slur.” If somebody had used “learning disabled” in that sentence, it would be pretty fucked up, IMO.

      December 29, 2018
      |Reply
  52. Sigyn
    Sigyn

    who among us hasn’t let a person we’re not super interested in take us out for a night of partying we can’t afford?
    ^ Free food is free food, heeeeyyy

    Travis says he’s glad because her scratchy legs have been bothering him.
    ^ That is an incredibly fucking rude thing to say. I hate Travis.

    he considers her a human being. That damages his reputation.
    ^ that’s stupid. He’s stupid.

    He apparently hates the women he sleeps with. So…why is he sleeping with them?
    ^ for the ego boost? “Hey look how much pussy I can score! I’m such a stud.” Alternatively, hatesex is hawt?

    You wanna know who isn’t going to become clingy, Travis? You wanna know who isn’t going to try to leave a number or tame you? A Fleshlight, that’s who.
    ^ yeah but then he can’t get his rocks off by hurting other people. Travis is the worst.

    I’ll have to disagree slightly about the diseases bit, because I have a phobia of viruses (all kinds) and as an individual, I do everything within my power to avoid contracting them. Part of growing up like that has made me judgmental of people who do not do their utmost to stay healthy themselves (because limited empathy), but again, that is just my mindset as an individual. Stigmatizing people due to illness is Not Good.

    Actually, it sounds like Abby is stigmatizing women for daring to be born female. Wtf is with that trend?

    “An excessively voluptuous platinum blonde”
    ^ *bumps Abby out of the way with my enormous Gag Boobs* Excuse you, Miss Priss.

    To be entirely fair, I was a judgmental little twit when i was 18 too. It took …a while… for me to grow out of the internalized misogyny and homophobia from the environment in which I was raised. But since we know nothing about Abby’s backstory, I’m inclined to see her as an authorial mouthpiece.

    Is this really the fantasy? Watching a man treat other women like shit to emphasize how special you are?
    ^ nnnno. I’m pretty sure even bratty college-age me would have been appalled at Travis’s behavior.

    She almost threw a perfectly good beer in the trash because a woman touched the bottle.
    ^ what, is she afraid she’s going to catch Like the Other Girls cooties?
    (I might have tossed it away and stormed off just because I don’t like Travis’s behavior.)

    Abby raises a toast to “being the only girl a guy with no standards” wouldn’t sleep with.
    ^ …abby what.

    “I’ve never been with an ugly woman. Ever.”
    ^ you know what’s ugly? is your shallow attitude.

    This is going to be the most co-dependent, toxic, fucked up relationship in history: one partner needs to be reassured that she’s the best, the other wants to bask in the glow of a person he’s sure he doesn’t deserve.
    ^ I assume you don’t watch Rick and Morty (I don’t think you’d like it), but the dynamic between Morty’s parents is exactly this, and lampshaded several times in-universe.

    seems pretty clear that Travis went out with Abby in the hopes that she’d get drunk and give in.
    ^ another thing to add to the increasing suspicion that he’s raped people before.

    “bouncing in all the right places.”
    ^ new headcanon: mega-cleavage Megan (of course her name is Megan) bounced up to them on a medicine ball.

    “when he came within a few inches of my face.

    “I should just kiss you and get it over with!” he yelled. “You’re being ridiculous! I kissed your neck, so what?””
    ^ HOLY FUCKING SHIT BACK YOUR SHIT UP DUDE
    That is …if not scary, at least intimidating, and completely inappropriate.

    “Are you calling me a rapist?” he said in a cold, low tone.
    ^ why, does it hurt your insignificant feelings? You haven’t respected Abby’s boundaries once in this entire book. Why shouldn’t she imply that you might be a rapist?

    “and you smell fucking awesome when you sweat.”
    ^ That is really fucking gross.
    (says the woman who just spent two hours writing a script wherein several female characters argue over who gets to sniff the king’s underpants this week)
    (at least mine was intended humorously and had the king playing along)

    His excuse made the corners of my mouth turn up. “You think I’m beautiful?”
    ^ *SCREAMS EXTERNALLY AND THROWS MY PHONE safely onto a soft mattress*
    THROW THE ENTIRE CAST IN THE BIN AND START OVER

    ‘I like your skin and the smell of your sweat so I HAD to sexually assault you, stop making such a big deal’ SHUT THE FUCK UP AND GO DIAF

    But reading it here, my reaction was, “She’s not confusing. You just don’t listen.”
    ^ She’s not telling me what I want to hear. I’M SO CONFUUUUSED

    A smart protagonist would have snapped back, “I’m not confusing, you’re just intentionally dense.”

    “I know that he’s going to do something stupid to piss you off. It’s a tic he has”
    ^ Yeah hi McGuire, that’s not what tics are or how they work.
    Sidenote: my ex-husband has the same bad habit (MIL refers to it as “triggering every button you have” and she’s not far off) and it’s basically manipulative bullshit to keep you off balance.
    “oh but you should just NOT LET HIM PUSH YOH AWAY” NO fuck you that is bullshit and this kind of stuff harms real women.

    AND AFTER ALL, HE’S GOT A DEMON WAAAAALLL

    December 29, 2018
    |Reply
  53. EdgePatrol
    EdgePatrol

    Am I crazy or did the summary/synopsis of this story say that Abby doesn’t drink or swear?

    January 3, 2019
    |Reply
  54. […] here is that he has genuine concerns over something Ethan has done in the past. (From reading Jenny Trout’s account of this scene in ‘Beautiful’, I know that Travis tells Abby, when she raises the issue, that Ethan was previously arrested on a […]

    January 17, 2019
    |Reply
  55. […] girls race off, and that, if you’re interested (or even if you’re not), is where Chapter Three of ‘Beautiful Disaster’ ends. Which also happens to be where – at this point – Jenny Trout’s recaps of […]

    January 21, 2019
    |Reply
  56. […] is called ‘Shots’ which sounds as though it’s going to cover at least some of Chapter Three in Beautiful, so maybe we will finally be catching up. My brain […]

    January 22, 2019
    |Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *