Jenny Reads After, chapters 1 – 3, or “The Best Girl Ever”

Hi, this is Jen’s snark voice! Did you miss me?! I missed you. I missed you so much that I decided to scrap my earlier secret plans for a read-a-long of Beautiful Disaster in the fall in order to start this recap of Anna Todd’s After right now.

A few things are going to be different this time around. I will probably not be as hateful and mentally destroyed, for a few reasons:

  1. I believe there is a difference between RPF and fanfic, a difference we’ll discuss at length throughout these recaps.
  2. Ms. Todd isn’t as obnoxious as E.L. “worship my expertise in shit I know nothing about” James.
  3. I’ll be listening to One Direction exclusively while working on these recaps, and they’re pretty good, right? Everybody likes them, so what could go wrong?

Now, before we get started, you need to understand the author’s warning:

This book contains detailed sexual scenes and tons of explicit language. If that isn’t your thing, you shouldn’t continue on, but if it is then you’ll enjoy. :)

This book is being touted as “the next 50 Shades” by a lot of people, so keep that in mind when considering the words “detailed sexual scenes.” We probably don’t have any problem with the explicit language, right? So we should be good.

Also, yes there are loads and loads of typos, be easy on me, this was an amazing and fun time for me and no one was reading it, I am fully aware of all the mistakes :) Thank you for reading :)

Don’t thank me just yet, Ms. Todd. Because as a long time fanfic devotee, I have a real issue with the “this was just for fun” defense. If it was just for fun, it would still be on your hard drive. And a lot of activities that are fun require some amount of attention to detail– go karting, tennis, rock climbing, trap shooting, that knife-between-the-fingers game pirates play when they’re bored, I guess– so that isn’t an excuse for not putting your fic’s best face out to the world. I am probably the least demanding person when it comes to typos and stuff like that, because I’m dyslexic and I understand. But if there are enough, I say nay. And this author has admitted to not editing her work for fear of ruining it. So we’ll see how this goes.

The good news is, this will give me more of a chance to point out to you guys stuff that will help you in your own writing. So everything here is paved with good intentions! I don’t remember how that saying goes, but I’m pretty sure it meant great stuff would happen.

So, let’s do this!

abbi adrenaline

CHAPTER 1.

After opens like a YA, with the heroine waking up:

“Tessa!!” I hear my mom’s voice call from downstairs.

Time for a writing tip? Already? That’s the first line. Okay, first off, gotta ding the “!!” for anyone who isn’t aware that “!!” isn’t cool to do. But the biggest thing about this line? “I hear my mom’s voice call from downstairs.” It’s so… removed. Tessa isn’t telling you what’s happening in the moment, she’s telling you how she experienced it. Try this:

“Tessa!” Mom calls from downstairs.

Granted, this isn’t the strongest opening line ever, but it’s pretty standard for a fanfic, so we can ease up.

Tessa gets up and makes her bed, thinking that it’s the last time she’s going to be doing this for months. And I’m like, okay, she must be having her hands amputated or she’s getting a hand transplant or something, right? But that’s not it.

Brace yourselves, dear reader:

I spent the last few years nervously anticipating college. My weekends were spent studying and preparing for this day while my peers were out getting drunk, wasting their time and jeopardizing their futures. The day my acceptance letter to Washington State University came I was thrilled, I expected it but that didn’t take any of the excitement away.

I spent the last week nervously anticipating this recap. My weekend was spent studying and preparing for this project, and I kept reading all these glowing reviews comparing it to 50 Shades of Grey. And now I’m getting… more nervous.

First of all, I have a message for Washington:

I'm sorry I'm so sorry

Why do people keep doing this to you guys? First, vampires invaded and sparkled your shit up. Then you were plagued by the most dysfunctional, annoying fictional couple of all time. And now, Tessa is on her way, being a judgmental bitch right out of the gate. It isn’t enough to know that she got into college, we need to know that no one in her peer group has her dedication. Also, this seems like shorthand for Anastasia Rose Steele already; too much studying, not enough life. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great when these heroines are academically driven, but they don’t have to look down on plebs to get that point across. Also, she’s talking pretty good game for someone who’s going to a state university. It’s not like she got into Yale.

I had once considered leaving Washington for college but eventually decided against it.. I like familiarity and routines just like my mother.

You know who else likes familiarity and routine? The Twilight/50 Shades of Grey/This readers.

The hot water loosens my strained muscles, how long have I been in here?

She just got up and she’s this tense? I hope the sex scenes get here fast, for her sake.

We learn that Tessa has a boyfriend, Noah, who is equally brilliant, but a senior in high school. The plan is that he’ll go to WSU and they can be together. Awww. I had a high school boyfriend I planned to do that with. Then graduation was approaching, I fucked a college guy I met at the WMU open house and broke up with the poor kid on Valentine’s day. I have a feeling Noah is in for some of the same.

There’s a cast list for this book, by the way, and Noah will be played by this kid right here:

noah

It should definitely be noted that the role of Tessa is left uncast. If you did the 50 Shades read-a-long, you know what that means. You’re meant to put yourself– or the author– into the role.

Tessa gets out of the shower and apparently gets dressed, though we never see that happen so I just assume she comes downstairs to have breakfast with her mom and boyfriend in the towel she wrapped up in. Noah goes to put Tessa’s bags in the car, and Tessa’s critical mother tells her to go fix her hair:

I make my way to the mirror in the hallway and nod, she is right. My hair needs to be presentable for today, and of course she did not hesitate to remind me. She never does.

I’m actually shocked that this is a fanfic and the heroine is standing in front of a mirror and not describing her you-don’t-know-you’re-beautiful-that’s-what-makes-you-beautiful looks. But earlier in the chapter, she describes herself as having dirty blonde hair, so we know that, at least.

All right. At the end of chapter one, let’s tally up our 50 Shades/Twilight similarities:

  1. Set in Washington
  2. Heroine’s hair is unruly
  3. Single parent
  4. Heroine’s name phonetically similar to Ana/Bella.

Random reader comment from this chapter:

just saying, good luck to the first time readers. Once your in, their is no going out. You will be addicted. Good luck ;) #rereading

CHAPTER 2.

Tessa arrives at WSU, and we get a description of the place that’s vague-ish and seemingly based entirely on the website. Then, it’s orientation time!

The orientation is short and I sit alone, my usual forte.

Sitting alone is your forte? I hope you put that in your admission essay. Don’t hide your light under a bushel, Tessa. But I draw the line at a description of a college orientation being “short.” That requires too much suspension of disbelief.

Tessa’s mom wants to see the dorm, and she has some motherly wisdom to impart:

“Now, just be sure you remember everything I told you, you don’t want to do anything to ruin your future,” she checks the time on her watch, a watch that she certainly couldn’t afford but purchased anyway.

Is it just me, or is Tessa’s mom starting to sound a little like Renee and whatever Ana’s mom was named. Carla? I can’t remember. I tried to have that book Eternal Sunshined from my mind, but it didn’t totally take. Fucking Jim Carrey, am I right?

But no pressure, Tessa. If you just do everything your mom says, there is no way you’re going to ruin your future. Listen to the woman who can’t afford to buy a fucking watch.

In the dorm room, Tessa, her mother, and Noah meet Tessa’s new roommate:

The room is small, with two tiny beds and two desks. My eyes travel to the reason of my mother’s surprise. One side of the room is covered in music posters, mostly bands I have never heard of, the faces on them covered in piercings and tattoos. The girl laying across the bed has bright red hair, eyes lined with what looks like inches of black liner, and her arms are covered in tattoos.

“Hey,” the stranger says, offering a smile. Her smile is quite intriguing, much to my surprise. “I’m Steph,” she says and sits up on her elbows.

I like that it surprises Tessa that her roommate is intriguing. This tells us that she was rolling in with the assumption that whoever she was sharing this room with was going to be boring as fuck. But I’m confused. Usually the young character who has accrued a chronologically improbable selection of tattoos is the Mary Sue, not the Mary Sue’s best friend.

Can we discuss for a minute the fact that this chick is sitting on her elbows?

“Welcome to WSU, where the dorms are tiny and the parties are huge,” the crimson haired girl grins. Her head falls back into a fit of laughter.

Just her head, though.

A knock sounds at the door as Noah drops my bags onto the floor and I can’t help but hope that this is all some sort of sick joke.

“Come in!” My new roommate yells, the door opens and two boys walk inside before she finishes her greeting.

Boys inside the female dorms on the first day? Maybe Washington State was a bad decision. I assume by the pained expression covering my mother’s face, she is thinking the same. The poor woman looks like she may pass out any moment. I wouldn’t blame her.

Okay, here is the weird thing. The author of this story is twenty-five. Twenty-five! That’s so close to college she should still have the bitter aftertaste at spending four hundred bucks on a virtual text book. Even when I was college-age, men in the women’s dorm wasn’t that big a deal. Actually, most of my friends went to colleges with co-ed dorms. It’s really not that big a deal. Also… isn’t Tessa’s boyfriend, a dude, standing right there? A guy in the girl’s dorms that she brought in?

“Hey, you Steph’s roomie?” The blonde boy asks. He doesn’t have as many tattoos as the other boy, but he has them.

This would be a totally relevant description, if we had any idea how many tattoos the other boy has. The blond guy is Niall, aka, this Niall dude from 1D:

Niall-Horan-2012-one-direction-32676643-1600-1198

I’m gonna call you “Baby Draco”

IS THIS WHAT COLLEGE GUYS LOOK LIKE NOW?! IS THIS WHAT THEY LOOKED LIKE WHEN I WAS THAT AGE?

I have never felt so cripplingly old as I do right at this moment.

Contributing to that feeling of oldness, “Best Song Ever” just came on, and I was like, “Hey, isn’t that ‘Baba O’Riley’ in the background there?”

old-person

Pictured: Jenny Trout on April 23, 2014

“You’ll love it here,” his smile is warm and inviting despite his harsh appearance.” 

Niall-Horan-2012-one-direction-32676643-1600-1198

Pictured: A harsh appearance?

My eyes shift to the tall brown haired boy leaning against the wall. His hair is a mop of waves on his head, pushed back off of his forehead and he has metal in his eyebrow and lip. My eyes travel down his black t-shirt to his arms which are covered in tattoos as well, not an inch of untouched skin is seen. I expect him to introduce himself but he doesn’t, instead he rolls his eyes in annoyance and pulls a cellphone from the pocket of his tight, black jeans. He definitely isn’t as friendly as his blonde friend.

Where are these college kids getting the money for these tattoos? Tattoos– at least good ones– are expensive. And they take a long time to accrue, both in the actual studio time and in the healing between. How old are these college kids, that they’ve had this kind of time?

Anyway, since this is basically New Adult, the guy who is being super rude and has a bunch of body mods is clearly the hero. Even though he hasn’t introduced himself yet, I’m going to assume he’s:

harry styles

I’m gonna call you “The Bad Boy Who Lived”

Baby Draco and The Bad Boy Who Lived take off with Steph, and Tessa’s mom pops a rivet. She tells Tessa that she’s going to move to a different dorm. You know, that mythical college dorm where students of different genders never mingle. Tessa tries to calm her down by suggesting that Steph isn’t even going to be there that much, which is a shame, because so far she’s the most interesting character in this story. But momma bear ain’t having it:

“Absolutely not, we are going to switch now,” her long blonde hair is flipped to one shoulder, “you will not be in a room with someone who allows males into her room, those punks at that!” She shrieks.

Pictured: Tessa and her mom.

Pictured: Tessa and her mom.

But Tessa is like, let’s see how this whole thing plays out, and her mom finally agrees.

“Fine.” she spits, much to my surprise.

I’d be surprised if my mom just randomly spit on the floor of my dorm room, too.

50 Shades/Twilight similarities:

  1. Set in Washington
  2. Heroine’s hair is unruly
  3. Single parent
  4. Heroine’s name phonetically similar to Ana/Bella.
  5. Alice/Mia character

Random reader comment from this chapter:

New readers are like ” who’s Steph ?! ”

Steph is your worst enemy :)

That all I can tell you ;)

Chapter 3.

After an hour of my mother warning me against parties and boys, she finally makes her move to leave.

Tessa’s mom is the reason colleges have to force parents to leave after orientation.

With a Carol Young-style quick hug and kiss, she exits the dorm room, informing Noah that she will wait for him in the car.

Is her mom’s name Carol Young? Or is Carol Young someone I should know from pop culture or something? At this point, I’m just surprised that Margaret White is going to let Noah say goodbye to Tessa without a double chain-link fence and razor wire between them.

Noah and Tessa have a tender parting, promising they will talk every day. Sorry, Noah, but her heart already belongs to The Bad Boy Who Lived. Then mom and Noah leave, and Tessa is all alone.

Loneliness is already creeping its way into me and it doesn’t help that my roommate is gone, no matter how uncomfortable her friends make me. I have a feeling she will be gone a lot, or worse, she may have company over too often.

Nothing Steph will do in the course of this story will be “right” for Tessa. Brace yourselves; internalized misogyny is coming.

Tessa organizes her supplies and stuff, thinks about how shitty college is already, and goes to sleep. When she wakes up:

The next morning Steph is not in her bed. I would like to get to know her but I might as well not if she is the type of person that stays out all night.

See what I said about the internalized misogyny? I guarantee that when Tessa inevitably bones The Bad Boy Who Lived and stays out all night, there will be some special circumstance that makes her not at all like that slut, Steph.

One of my least favorite things about dorm life so far is the showers, why can’t each room have it’s own instead of a community shower room? It’s awkward and I’m praying they aren’t co-ed. My hopes are squashed when I reach the door. Sure enough there are two stick figures printed on the sign, one male and one female. Ugh. Having males in the same shower room is sure to be very uncomfortable and  extremely awkward.

What is this, Ally McBeal?

old-person

 

If you’re reading this and thinking, “co-ed showering isn’t a thing, it’s a convenient plot device for later when they bone in the shower,” it’s actually a real thing colleges do in order to create a gender-neutral campus. This is totally cool and I can get behind that sentiment, except in the cases of dorms were the only bathing accommodation available to students is co-ed. Because that’s bullshit. Female nudity, both cis and transgender, is always going to be sexualized and fetishized, and women shouldn’t be forced to bare themselves physically and emotionally to the kind of bullshit harassment that this kind of shit can lead to.

But anyway, the real issue of plausibility here is… why is there a co-ed shower in the women’s dorm?

Tessa clumsily knocks her clothes to the floor in the shower stall– why did she take her clothes into the stall with her?– and has to walk back to her room in just her towel. And of course:

I reach my room and shove the key in, instantly relaxing until I turn around to see the brown haired boy sprawled across Steph’s bed.

50 Shades/Twilight similarities:

  1. Set in Washington
  2. Heroine’s hair is unruly
  3. Single parent
  4. Heroine’s name phonetically similar to Ana/Bella.
  5. Alice/Mia character
  6. Clumsy heroine
  7. Encouragement of internalized misogyny/slut shaming

Random reader comment from this chapter:

Steph is so ratchet

All right. That’s what we’ve got this time around. Catch you on the flip side.

 

118 thoughts on “Jenny Reads After, chapters 1 – 3, or “The Best Girl Ever”

  1. OMG! I didn’t realize how much I missed your recaps until I started reading this. I was just thankful I was home alone so no one could hear my hysterical laughing.

    Glad to know that I wasn’t the only one lost with the Carol Young reference either. I’m usually pretty up on popular culture, I don’t have a fucking clue who she is!

      1. It’s so good to have you back Jen! Even though I hated the fsog books with a passion your recaps were the silver lining to that miserable cloud. I haven’t read “After” but I’m more than happy to just go off your recaps. OT I was also wondering if you ever watched the HBO show “girls” and if you would ever new interested in doing recaps on it….if so I would love to read those

  2. Damn, I already hate Tessa.

    And I’m betting that similarities list is going to get a looooot longer as we progress.

    But anyway, I missed your snark, Jen. I’m glad we have it back.

  3. You’re going to do Beautiful Disaster too? It’s like Christmas! :)

    I can’t wait to hear the rest of this. Those reader comments are very… illuminating.

  4. I actually have to admit that I chose my dorms in undergrad largely based on the fact that they were suite style and had shared bathrooms between two rooms, instead of communal showers for each floor. I’ve just never really been into communal showering; even when my parents were redoing the bathroom with the only shower in our house, I would arrange to shower at friends’ houses rather than go to the community center with the rest of the family. Just body shyness, I guess.

    I do like the idea of gender neutral showers though, with the agreement that people should have the option for spaces where they feel can safe as well.

    1. I don’t understand why colleges seem to feel it’s such an integral part of the growing up experience. I know it’s cheaper for them, but this is the 21st century, for christ’s sake.

    2. The dorm I stayed at was regular communal for the first year; and while the shower situation didn’t bother me, I’m very shit-shy so I hated it anyway. Summer between freshman and sophomore years* they redid the bathrooms into eight individual (gender neutral since it was a co-ed dorm) bathrooms with their own sink, shower, and toilet. SO. MUCH. BETTER. I honestly think that’s the way to go for college bathrooms if the ‘share a private one between rooms’ deal isn’t a viable option. It’s gender neutral and safe at the same time. But ladies, look before sit. Toilet seats are left up frequently!

      *Yeah I’m the weirdo who stayed in the dorms the whole time. I had a single room and the complex was really conveniently located, and it was about the same expense-wise as an apartment would have been.

    3. There was a co-ed bathroom in the dorm my first year, but there were also separate bathrooms for boys and girls. I always used the girl’s one unless I just had to pee and the other one was closer, lol. I’m just weirdly shy about bathroom stuff, I guess.

  5. I heard of After just as you said you were going to do recaps and because of those recaps I started reading…I’m 3/4 through and getting to the point that I wanna bash my head against the wall but I have to keep reminding myself, chanting really, nearly rocking myself in the fetal position, “It’ll all be worth it when Jen starts recaps.” No spoilers, but I will say there’s a moment or two where Harry does the opposite of what Christian would do, much to my relief.

    I don’t know a lot about fan fiction and RPF aside from the fact that they’re seen as a new source of revenue by film companies and publishers, so I’m excited to hear what you have to say about it. And I can totally get writing something just for fun, but when you think you don’t have to EDIT it, for typos or style or plot or anything, and then the thing gets optioned for a film… :(. I suppose I’m more dismayed by the fans who are totally cool with the awful writing.

    I lost it at Baby Draco, btw.

    1. I KNOW! I almost didn’t include them, because I was like, I didn’t want people to think I was mocking these people just for leaving comments on a 1D fanfic. But then I was like, well, no, it’s ALL fanfic that get these comments. These just happen to be particularly hilarious.

  6. As much as I appreciate the fanfic authoring blithely telling me to ignore the typos that she refuses to correct, her consistent insistence on using commas instead of periods is already driving me crazy. And that’s only based on the few quotes that Jenny showed us! It actually hurts my brain to see bad grammar, so I thank you for reading this crap so that I don’t have to do it myself!

    I was wondering who Carol Young was too. It makes even less sense if it’s Tessa’s mom’s name. Like would you ever describe Jenny Trout as doing something in Jenny Trout style?

    I was shocked to see that the author is 25 because so far this reads like it was written by a 12 year old girl.

    1. I looked up Carol Young on Wikipedia just now and found 2 people, one of them is a Paralympic swimmer and the other one is a musician who looks pretty hippie-ish , I don’t know how well known she is in the US but she doesn’t really seem like someone you would describe as having a certain style of hug and kiss? ;) I am only reading this because Jenny’s recaps are so entertaining, I am far too old to be into 1Direction.

  7. That the author says “I know all about the mistakes” and didn’t bother to, you know, edit her own work, says volumes.

    Jenny, nothing to say about the “her watch, a watch” ? That shit pisses me right off when authors do that.

    “The girl laying across the bed has bright red hair, eyes lined with what looks like inches of black liner, and her arms are covered in tattoos.” This is absolutely terrible writing. The part after “and” should also be something that goes with “has”.

    “That’s so close to college she should still have the bitter aftertaste at spending four hundred bucks on a virtual text book.” Hahaha win *snort*

    “why did she take her clothes into the stall with her?” because she’s too shy to get nekked in front of other people of either gender. I’m ashamed to say I do that when I go to take a shower at the gym.

    Thanks for recapping this and tearing it to shreds so that I don’t have to waste my time doing the same :) You rock!

    1. I’m only going for some select errors, because otherwise these recaps will be a thousand pages long. And I’m sure she’ll keep making the same mistakes over and over again, so we can hit them up next time, LOL.

  8. Gender-free bathrooms are probably a godsend for folks who are non-binary. Plus safer in general for a lot of people, if we’re being truthful.

    Also maybe we shouldn’t assume people have gone to college? I’m 21 and I haven’t. Maybe the author’s only experience with college is Buffy and Gilmore Girls. Buffy’s dorm has co-ed showers!

    1. I don’t have a problem with gender free bathrooms existing, I just have a problem when gender free communal showering is all that’s offered, especially if there aren’t adequate concessions made for individual privacy. Even though we can say, well, showering isn’t a sexual activity, so the nudity is different, men in America have grown up being told that women’s bodies are always sexual and they’re always entitled to look/touch/comment.

      Actually, to fix the whole situation, maybe they should make cis hetero male only showering facilities, and everyone else uses the other one. Just sort of confine the rape culture to its own little area.

      But the biggest problem I still have is… and maybe this is because I didn’t go to college, either… why is she in a women’s dorm and there’s a co-ed shower set up?

      1. It doesn’t make sense to me. My friend were in a girl’s only dorm for the first few years they went to a state college and it while I am fairly sure it was thus women’s only you had to have a key card to get in and stuff.

      2. I went to Vassar, which had gender-free bathrooms. In my experience, they were pretty non-sexualized spaces–although I’m a guy, so it’s entirely possible I overlooked it. But none of my woman friends mentioned having an issue with it, and there was never any movement on the (fairly politically active) campus to have additional woman-only bathrooms, so… yeah. I get your concerns, but at least in my experience, gender-free bathrooms were non-sexual. Y’know, barring people who decided to shower together.

        …also, in terms of privacy, every shower stall had a small changing area, so you could change in privacy easily. Which I mention since you said communal showering, and just wanted to make sure we were all on the same page that it wasn’t like prison showers where everyone’s out showering together in the open…

        Also, we had one woman-only dorm. The bathrooms there were woman-only. So yeah, the setup in Anna’s dorm is straight nonsense.

      3. “Actually, to fix the whole situation, maybe they should make cis hetero male only showering facilities, and everyone else uses the other one. Just sort of confine the rape culture to its own little area.”

        Erm, someone may have commented on this already, but, well, while I understand where you’re coming from and I don’t wish to derail your point, but women can and do rape or harass other women.

  9. I’m only partially though chapter 2, but I had to comment to say that it is a good thing she didn’t ruin this beautiful piece of writing — up there with the best F. Scott Fitzgerald prose! — with editing.

    /sarcasm (in case that was unclear)

      1. I get that she didn’t want to over think everything, so she didn’t proof read. However, you would think that this broad has never heard of a Beta. Then she wouldn’t have the hassle of over editing or whatever.

  10. Yay, more recaps! I don’t even care what you’re recapping, although this seems like a worthwhile train wreck.

    “If you just do everything your mom says, there is no way you’re going to ruin your future. Listen to the woman who can’t afford to buy a fucking watch.” I LOLed.

    “But anyway, the real issue of plausibility here is… why is there a co-ed shower in the women’s dorm?” Seriously, why? This makes no sense whatsoever.

  11. OK. Done now. I live in the land of FSU and we have been to a few baseball games lately. Also, I have a college-aged daughter with a 23-year-old boyfriend. Yes, college boys really do look that young. Oy.

  12. I was going to read this, because I couldn’t care less about 1D. I loved your 50 Shades recaps though, and I enjoy both reading and writing fanfiction, so I gave it a shot…and howled all the way through. Omg…so truly awful.

  13. You know what’s really funny though? Quick googling says Washington State only has 3 explicitly women-only dorms. This could happen is if she was in a co-ed hall with a women-only WING… but yeah, research fail there.

    1. The fact that there are three boggles my mind. I though co-ed was the standard. When I was college age and hanging out at the occasional dorm, they were all co-ed or divided up by floor.

      1. There were like a dozen different dorms on top of that, though. Also three male-only. There was something in the descriptions but I mostly ignored it because wow stereotyping. Washington State apparently has like 15 dorms or something and like 6 or 7 apartments.

        Googling really helps with this kind of thing, huh? :P

    1. OMG yes, I agree. The Coffee People post is the best ever.

      But these recaps are going to be epic I can already feel it.

  14. This girl’s mother would probably die of disbelief if I told her that most of my friends in college were male. We were in each others rooms at all hours, I got drunk with them, stayed out all night with them, we slept in each others beds. I never fucked any of them and I graduated just fine.

  15. Thank you x 10 * (pick an exponent)
    Ive missed your recaps so much ive been re reading your 50 shades.
    I like how tessa’s mother , “males,”
    Not “boys” or “men.” Is it just me or does ‘males’ sound more Derogotory?
    (Did i spell that word right? The more i stare at it, the more wrong it looks)

    1. I think it’s ‘derogatory’. And you’re right – ‘males’ or ‘females’ always sounds to me like something out of a nature documentary. There’s something vaguely insulting about it.

  16. I realize that the boyfriend is only there for the purpose of love triangle tension, but the fact that he’s so close to Tessa and her mom while Margaret White (win right there!) has a conniption fit over boys in the girls’ dorm makes exactly fuck-all sense to me. A little bit of ‘stranger danger’ anxiety would have been one thing, but that kind of over-the-top reaction fits more with the kinds of parents that would raise hell if their delicate little snowflake got a significant other. It just seems like conflicting characterization to me.

    Disclaimer: While I’m planning to follow the recaps since I love your snark to pieces, I cannot bring myself to drudge through the original fic. I may be missing details that would make the whole arrangement seem less odd. Though considering the writing excerpts so far I’m not betting on it…

    1. I am almost through reading this godawful fic. There are no details that make this arrangement seem less odd.

      Seriously, it’s so bad.

  17. This is just delightful. Loving the snark.
    Tessa reminds me so much of Ana. I’m sure she’s going to be best friends with Steph in no time and wearing her clothes; all the while internally commenting on how slutty and annoying Steph is. Just like Kate! And we’ve only had one appearance of Harry so far, but I already hate him. Just like Christian! Jesus, isn’t he the rudest jerk ever (aside from Christian)? Is that supposed to be hot? This whole schtick where he treats everyone like shit: is that supposed to be a turn on?
    Thank God I don’t have to read this. Well, thank Jenny that I don’t have to read this. You’re the best!

  18. Tessa is concerned about boys in her dorm. I can’t wait to see how she’ll react when they’re in her classes, too. Oh! Or in the cafeteria! Or–wait–the parking lot.

    But honestly? If this is that big of a deal, why didn’t Mother Dearest have her apply to a bunch of women’s colleges? Or do on-line classes, so she doesn’t risk being pulled in by bad boys with tattoos?

    (Seriously, can’t I have one fictional man who has tattoos because he likes them, rather than them being a symbol of how bad he is?)

    In other news, as a college student, I’d like to point out that orientation takes for ever, and (at my university, at least) parents weren’t allowed at all. Also, freshman orientation typically happens the summer before you move in, so Tessa wouldn’t move in and then attend orientation. She’d have attended orientation in June/July because that’s when freshman register for classes, declare majors, etc., and then, she’d have moved in a few days before the term began.

    It also doesn’t make sense for Tessa to be in such a hurry; moving in is usually a couple days long, and there’s not really a certain time you have to be there.

      1. And can it be something really ‘traditionally feminine’ like a big sleeve of cherry blossom or something geeky like a bunch of molecular diagrams? :D

    1. (Seriously, can’t I have one fictional man who has tattoos because he likes them, rather than them being a symbol of how bad he is?)

      Well, there’s always Newt from Pacific Rim, with his kaiju tattoos… though admittedly they’re really only mentioned once in the movie.

  19. The part that made me laugh the most was picturing Red Haired Girl With Tattoos doing some weird kind of yoga where your whole body is raised up on your elbows and your head is bent back at an alarming angle while you laugh…

  20. Eh, I’m male and I’ve showered in and used co-ed bathrooms in a women’s dorm. If women are going to have their boyfriends spend the night, somewhere to shower is helpful, and somewhere to use the toilet is necessary. The showers were all in individual stalls with two heavy, opaque curtains, one to keep the water in the shower, but the other to make a small, private, dry changing area.

  21. SO I saw an article about this mess on Jezebel and was like meh. However, now that your recapping this, I might go read it, I doubt it though. I also hate how fanfic authors explain that their work has typos cause it was just for fun etc… blah, blah, blah. Now if it’s for a legitimate reason then that’s fine, but the “just for fun” thing reeks of laziness.

  22. The role of Tessa has been casted! According to wattpad, Tessa looks like Indiana Evans.

    Right now I’m on Chapter 52, but all I’m doing since Chapter 1 is shaking my head at the screen.

  23. Thank you for doing this wonderful recap! I love your recaps. The are entertaining and fun to read! I hadn’t gotten to reading any of the original story myself and after reading this, I will not bother. This is so much more fun. I feel reading After would actually be a total waste of my time. The snippets you posted made me shutter. I would have left the story entirely after the first chapter. But this I will enjoy! Thank you.

  24. As an inhabitant of the city of Seattle, I cannot with this Washington stuff anymore.

    Why do alllll these girls go to WSU (and not UW, which is actually in Seattle, and kind of a better school)? Why ON EARTH did Ana never see Kate again after the start of FSD, when that apartment “above Pike Place Market” should be, at maximum, a fifteen-minute walk from the Escala? It’s great to try to write outside your personal bubble of experience, but a brief Google search will tell you all this information.

    (Also, yay recaps! I can already tell that Tessa will have a special, extra-crispy place in my blackened heart.)

  25. When I read your 50shades recaps, I had actually read the series. I enjoyed finding out if the shit that drove me crazy grated on your nerves as well. The things you pointed out that I hadn’t even noticed was just extra awesome-sauce. But given that I can’t bring myself to read this train wreck of a trilogy, I was a bit concerned about being able to follow along. I’m happy to report that this is not an issue. Your hilarious snarkisms more than make up for any irrelevant details I may be missing. I’m so happy to be reading your recaps again!

  26. I lived in one of the female dorms on that campus back in the day, and I can for certain day that there were never male showers, let alone male bathrooms in the communal bathroom and shower areas. (May have changed but doubt it.) The code was that if your guy couldn’t make it to the unisex bathroom, you checked to make sure no ladies were using it and then stood outside to warn them to wait. Of course, this code was not always followed, which was why I ended up showering next to my neighbor and her boyfriend. Luckily I finished my shower before they started having sex.

    Oh, and WSU has tried to clean it up, but it’s always had a rep as a oral party school. This author is going to bug the crap out of me. I should write a fanfic and include my horny neighbor’s exploits like playing Strawberry Wine full blast when she was getting laid. Very nice person, though, so I didn’t throw a fit.

  27. Wow!
    I’m bored already. Not at your writing just the concept of this whole story. It’s so cliche. But I will enjoy reading your recaps cause it’s so lol worthy.

    I laughed out loud internally (I’m at work) at the elbow description. Like what?

    Also as an Aussie the whole co-ed shower thing really baffles me. Didn’t even know that was a thing. I don’t understand.

  28. SO excited to see another recap!! While I was very pleased when 50 Shades ended (Really, I was ready to strangle Ana/Bella, while Chedward watched, strung up and having every single hair on his body painfully pulled out) I was thrilled to see a new recap and the snark that I knew would ensue!!

    So I read the first two books over the 3 days since the recap post, and I have to say, the first book isn’t bad. Not terribly good, but not bad. My biggest problem (aside from things like the dorms, because WTF- it’s POSTED IN THE PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL for EVERY SCHOOL that the dorms are co-ed, or whatever, and she obviously wasn’t paying attention to what she was looking at) is that 1D and The Bad Boy Who Lived are 20 years old. Since I will be 40 the week after Memorial Day, I feel like a Dirty Old Woman reading this story (insert picture of the Duchess of Alva in her bathing suit here) and it actually set off an almost-mid-life crisis.

    Her mother is truly grotesque. She sent her daughter to a state school, not a nunnery, and she is surprised at what she finds?? And her daughter, the brilliant, wonderful student, who reads all this post-grad-level literature, hasn’t read the damn promotional materials for the school to find out about where she will be living?? Oooookay. Now mind you, I attended a very conservative Bible school for my freshman year of college, but I had read every damn word about the school, the dorm life, and what to expect. I thought I’d love it, until I met my roommate, who went into fits the day I played the first cassette of “Phantom of the Opera” (Original London Cast), and would argue with me about my “secular” music, because Chicago from the 80s is definite devil worship. When I transferred to a junior college and then on to the university, I again read the damn promotional material, and made choices based on what I knew (from experience at the Bible school) would NOT work for me, and commuted from home.

    Sorry- I’m still bitter…

    Soooooo….TessaBella is worried about the roommate and the tattoos, and secretly fighting off her attraction to the Bad Boy Who Lived. Sounds exciting to me!!

    Can’t wait for more snark!! You’ll be posting more tomorrow, right???

  29. I lived in a co-ed dorm in college that had co-ed bathrooms, and this was about 12 years ago. Honestly the shower situation wasn’t an issue because people weren’t stripping down in front of everyone else, most people put on a bathrobe or towel in their room then went to take a shower. Of course this was a small liberal arts college in Vermont, might be less successful in other settings.

  30. I read a few chapters into the story and had to give up. I might nearly hate Tessa more than Ana because at least Ana was too much of a wet mop to be such an out and out bitch. Why anyone gives that openly snotty, judgmental preppy the time of day is beyond me. Also I had to stop because the author’s weird refusal to abbreviate anything really got to me. Real people don’t talk to each other like ‘I am so sorry’, ‘I am going home now’ etc. My internal reading voice for the characters was getting so robotic I had to stop before they broke the prime directive.

    1. Her almost total lack of contractions is bizarre. I can’t get past it… oh wait, sorry, I cannot get past it.

  31. I go to Washington State, so I have to just say…fuck these authors for dragging us into this mess. Also, if this is set in Vancouver like 50 Shades, there aren’t even dorms on this campus much less co-ed showers.

  32. So, I’m skimming the second book at this point, because it’s gotten so damn bad that those typos, grammar mistakes and just basic lack of anything redeeming about this nonsense, and frankly, Jenny, I’m concerned for your mental health. Hell, I’m not even writing recaps and it’s driving me bat shit crazy.

  33. LOL man, there is no way I’m reading this mess. Props to you, Jenny, for taking one for the team. I love these recaps. I feel like I read these books without actually reading them, plus the humor makes it far more enjoyable!

  34. Maybe this is a country difference (I don’t live in the US), but both having gendered student living accommodation/bathrooms seems odd to me. I’m pretty sure the vast, vast majority of student accommodation here is co-ed. Possibly there is some single gender stuff available, but it’s definitely not the norm.

    With the bathrooms, nudity was not a problem because people didn’t wander around naked in the bathrooms. That would be weird, since it’s a shared space. Do people do that in gendered halls? The shower stalls had doors, so I guess you could have taken clothes in with you if you wanted, but most people just wandered back to their room in their bathrobe/towel. There was one bathroom per floor in my hostel, which had about 8 toilets and showers for a floor of about 30 people.

    (Also having a room-mate is unusual here. I know someone who did, but, again, definitely not the norm. Most people have their own room.)

  35. Does it say which half of Washington Tessa is from? Because if she’s from Western Washington, moving to Eastern Washington would make for a HUGE change in terms of both climate and culture.

    Also, Jenny, you need an avatar!

    1. I think this is supposed to take place at the Vancouver campus (in one of the later chapters, there’s a reference to a Vancouver Mall). Yet another detail ripped off from 50 Shades, I guess.

    2. That’s a good point! I grew up on the West side and moved to Eastern WA for a few months when I was 18. There was some pretty serious culture shock once I crossed Snoqualmie pass.

  36. I read about 6 chapters of this before I gave up. I cannot stand the grammar errors, the complete inability to use contractions (Honestly, these people talk like robots. It drove me crazy.), and the constant misspelling of the word “yeah”. Another issue of which I can’t let go is the constant misuse of commas and periods. I just can not read this book. That being said, I know I am going love these recaps. You’re just freaking hilarious!

  37. Hi Jenny-
    Thanks for the laugh this morning, I needed it.
    Baby Draco made me feel old too.

    And btw thanks for the 50 Shades reviews too – they were amazingly funny, and informative.

  38. Yay you’re recapping again! :D
    The author later mentioned that she pictured Indiana Evans as Tessa. Also this Tessa doesn’t have an eating disorder this time round.

  39. That disclaimer at the beginning is not only familiar, but also taken with a truckload of salt. I can’t count how many fanfics have started with a warning about “explicit sexual content–LIKE REALLY BAD YOU GUYS IT’S SUPER LEMON” and then they maybe have super vanilla, missionary sex once, off-screen. I dunno if I’m the only one who finds that frustrating, but it does really gets on my nerves. So I’m most interested in whether this lives up to the usual fanfiction standard, or is one of the ones who follow through. Those are always a nice surprise, even if I don’t particularly like the sex scenes because of poor writing, unbelievable situations, etc.

  40. I kind of feel for Tessa, having grown up in a house like that. The person I disliked the most after these chapters was her mother. Then again, Tessa is like proudly showing off the damaging effects of having been raised by a woman like that.

  41. I’m currently living in college dorms. All we have are co-ed bathrooms in every floor – we can close the doors from the inside, so we can have privacy, which inevitably ends up with annoyed college students standing there in their bathrobes/towels, waiting for the current person inside to finish.
    Eh, I’m used to it. So I think that’s why the co-ed bathrooms didn’t phase me.
    The rest of it already looks like a trainwreck, though.

  42. Excellent I am so going to enjoy this, even if reading the book is going to be like sticking pins into my own eyeballs, only not as nice.

    A couple of years AD when I was at university you just took pot luck with dorms. The idea of being able to choose your own is pure luxury. There is the odd man or woman hall or college left but most universities have mixed accommodation but single sex showers.

    The heroine is super unlikeable. Nice.

    Cheers

    MTM

  43. I am de-lurking after reading your blog(s) for two years. You are awesome.
    I started reading your recap out of morbid curiosity, not a fan of One Direction.

    1. I know someone very well named Steph. She is not at all like this character Steph, and it is quite jarring.

    2. What is it with WSU? It’s not -that- fancy of a school (says the Seattle-proper native). One thing 50 Shades could have done, and this story, since WSU was mentioned a fair amount in the beginning, would have been to call it what we do in Washington State: Wazzu. Or a reference could have been made to the old joke, “Huskies subsist entirely on cougar meat,” a reference to the intense rivalry between the University of Washington football team and Wazzu’s. AND okay. 50 Shades digression: Ana moved to Seattle. She -could- have made a reference here or there to being near the UW, or teased Chedward if he mispronounced the acronym (it’s “You Dub” here, not “You Double You”). Or something.

    In any case, I wonder what this story will do, and I am looking forward to the recap.

  44. Soooo….she spent high school avoiding the kids that drank, but she’s going to the school most known in the state for drinking? The entire culture at WSU is based around drinking! (Source: WA native, many friends and family members went to WSU. Go Cougs!)

  45. I’m unreasonably annoyed about the tattoos. Are these all 18-year old freshman? ‘Cause I just checked to make sure it wasn’t just California, but Washington also has a misdemeanor law prohibiting artists from tattooing anyone under age 18. That means these are either shitty tattoos from unscrupulous shops, or these kids got themselves covered in tattoos between their birthdays and the end of the school year. Who paid for all that??

  46. I can’t comment on the number of tattoos and you are correct about the laws. However, kids who want them seem to be able to find a way to get them, even underage. I’ve seen some beautiful (and multiple) tattoos on people who were well under 18. It’s just one of those things kids seem to find a way to do when they want it done.

  47. I completely hate the trope of “college roommate with ‘alternative’ style, must be obnoxious and evil.” It always plays out in a way where the girl with the crazy hair or whatever is perfectly nice, and the “normal” girl is horrified because she just exists.

    …guess which rommate I was my first semester of college.

  48. “Maybe the author’s only experience with college is Buffy and Gilmore Girls.”

    Yep! This is a fantasy of what college-life would be like if only she had been accepted. Poor thing.

    The “tiny beds” are still cracking me up!

    So, unlike normal educational institutions, which provide their students with a twin bed, even if the twin bed might be a bit longer than your usual twin bed, which usually results in shopping for the extra-long twin sheets, or developing really good wresting muscles…

    WSU, that enlightened bastion of higher education is ahead of the curve. They provide their students with tiny toddler beds!

  49. Can’t you get a tattoo earlier if you have your parents’ permission? I don’t know how this works in the US, but I got a tattoo when I was fourteen because my parents gave consent. (They both also got a tattoo at the same time, presumably to make sure I wasn’t getting one just because it was ‘cool.’ Because at fourteen everything your parents do is the exact opposite of cool.)

    Not that this changes anything about how ridiculous the stupid tattoos in this stupid story are. I bet my parents would have reacted a bit different if I’d suggested getting multiple highly visible tattoos.

    1. I think that used to be true but I think the law has changed. Either way, the people I know who did it before 18 didn’t have parental consent. They just found a place that didn’t ask for ID.

  50. Good luck on that whole, “not being totally bitter” thing. I decided to read After; I’m halfway through the second book and I want to burn absolutely everything to the ground. I would read 50 Shades a thousand times and be grateful, if it gave me a reprieve from this fucking mess. Aside from the truly hideous writing and grammatical errors, the characters are just The Worst. THE WORST, Jenny.

    I have a tremendous amount of misanthropy coursing through my veins at the moment, and it’s entirely due to this POS.

    1. Hi, honest question here! I read all of fifty shades because i felt like i couldn’t criticize it if i hadn’t read it – well i had to do so much skipping over because it was just horrifyingly bad and christian grey was blatantly abusive. I couldn’t even finish Grey. I agree that After is also really really bad, but i actually felt like it wasn’t as horrible as fifty shades. I can understand the argument that both are equally as horrible – I’m in the middle-ish of the second book of After – but why do you say After is worse than fifty shades?

  51. Okay, yeah. Warning: I do not think you will be less upset about this than Fifty Shades. I read about a fourth of the way through the second book before having a complete meltdown. I was in an abusive relationship in high school, and this fic was way WAY more triggering for me than Fifty Shades was. Be warned, you’re headed towards serious psychological fuckery.

    1. Agreed. Since my comment last night, I am now about a third of the way through the third book, and it is… I don’t even know what to say. This book is ten times worse than 50 Shades. The “Harry POV” sections will be hugely triggering to anyone who’s lived through an abusive relationship. It’s extremely upsetting. I wonder if the author is aware of what a stunningly accurate portrait of an abuser she’s painted.

  52. It’s military speak. Sometimes they say “male/female type person.”

    It sounds really odd to civilian ears and it’s even odder in a novel that isn’t about military people.

  53. Ok, may I just say, I had totally forgotten how fun your recaps were. I loved the nicknames you picked for the guys and your “harsh appearance” joke. Yeah, Niall, harsh appearance, definitely! xD I love 1D and I have a tiny crush in Harry (I am the same age as him, I’m allowed to xD) so it will be fun picturing him as the hero – better than 50 shades, anyway, where I had no face for Christian, because he was just a abusive douchenozzle. I mean unless the Bad Boy Who Lived turns out to be an abusive douchnozzle as well. In which case I’ll be sad.

    1. Oh, and by the way, I am studying in university in the UK right now, where the student dorms are basically big flats and I live in a mixed-gender flat. A lot of flats are mixed-gender and even if you live in a same-sex flat, there are boys on the floor and other boys certainly come over all the time (not even just for parties). There are people coming over to our flat all the time. It’s pretty normal in college (well, we call it uni in the UK). Tessa’s mom is just being ridiculous. If she didn’t want her daughter to socialize that much she’d wouldn’t send her to college.

  54. Lol …. The Bad Boy Who Lived and Baby Draco…. I think I haemorrhaged something, I laughed so hard!!
    As a brit, who is perforce subjected to this POS boy-band’s every movement (damn the media), I can say without a doubt that I won’t be going and seeking out this fan-fic.
    However I am glad to have you tearing another dreadful POS piece of writing to shreds
    :D It may be something wrong in me, but I always wind up laughing myself sick :D

    I understood what Tessa was saying about Steph reclining on her fore-arms, but it does sound like a completely weird yoga pose when you read what she actually wrote, lol!

    Also, co-ed bathrooms in the women’s dorm?? This is why you’re supposed to get your work beta-ed and do at least one re-write!!

  55. Urgh, fanfic in which the writer already admits to not having it edited and knowing there are a million mistakes… I usually skip these immediately. But hey, your snark makes everything better!

    “It looks just as great in person as it did in the brochures and online, I’m impressed.”
    That’s where my line of “suspension of disbelief” was drawn; seriously, she spent all this time preparing, but she didn’t spent one day actually walking on campus and getting a feel of the place, or visited an open day? Yeah, right.

    I love your excerpts from the reader comments! :D So hilarious.

  56. “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”, is that the saying you couldn’t remember? What could go wrong indeed…

  57. I didn’t even know about this disaster until you started doing the recaps. Now I’m cracking up at how ridiculous it is.

  58. Oh god, the comma splices.

    I was in college ten years ago and our dorms were segregated by floor. We agreed that the group bathroom on each floor was for that gender, but the accessible bathroom, which was a single, could be co-ed. My mother was surprised and unhappy that men could wander around the women’s space at will, but I wasn’t. It seemed normal to me.

    Also, can I just say that fanfic about real people seems super creepy to me? You want to write about Snape and Hermione getting it on, cool, whatever, they’re fictional. But you’re writing about what these actual people (not even actors playing fictional characters, but ACTUAL PEOPLE) do? CREEPY!

  59. DAMNIT, MAN! I didn’t know After or Wattpad even existed, but now I am weeping for humanity. Why is the woman who wrote this 25? I’m so happy for your recaps on stuff like this, because I need to know at least some people can tell this is horrible.

  60. I know I’m really late to the party here, but a) yaaaay for new recaps and b) I knew this existed, but I had no idea that the protag was named Tessa. Yesssssss. Cue me reading this entire mess aloud to my baby sister Tessa, who is starting college in the fall, while Tess cries bitterly and asks me to stop.

  61. Hi! I’m a huge fan of your blog (Especially your fifty shades recaps which I’m still reading) so here I salute you looking up from beneath my lashes.

  62. I downloaded After on my Wattpad app and started reading it this weekend because I was sick, and OMG, it’s terrible! Like I was seriously laughing at it, it was so terrible. And don’t even get me started on the heroine’s bad fashion sense…

  63. Not referring to any USA universities/colleges specifically, but getting into uni isn’t that big of a deal.

    There are tonnes of drop kicks who spend all of high school partying and still manage to get in

    Heck, they still do well even while there despite the partying never ending for them

  64. okay tbh I don’t like the name Steph because it’s the name of one of hubbu’s formers, who didn’t treat him right, but still, that’s no way to treat the nice lady with pretty red hair >_>

  65. So I know I am super late to the game but, I am SO SO excited that you’ve recapped this book. I first heard of this entire “After” craze a week or so ago when I read an article on how movie rights for this story were just bought. Found out after some google searches that its a 4 part published series (by the same notable publishing house for Stephan King novels) that came from an internet fanfic sensation that garnered over 1 Billion Wattpad views. So I read the first book online .. and have never been more embarrassed or worried for the future generation. THIS BOOK IS SO TERRIBLE I STRUGGLE TO FIND THE WORDS. Which makes me even more happy that you’ve already recapped it lol! Please tell me you plan to recap the remaining books in the series!

  66. Even though I am years late to this festival, I had to share something I never noticed until this post. The hidden message in Anastasia Rose Steele’s name lies in her initials: ARS(e)! (Ms. James added an “e” to “steel” to strengthen her heroine, so I’ll add an “e” as well.) It doesn’t work as smoothly with Christian Trevelyan Grey (yes, I had to Google that), but for the more flexible and liberal-minded among us… If we drop the surname (assumed at adoption) and focus on his given names, with a slight emphasis on the repetition of their finishing phonetics, we could get the following: C(un)T. Like Ana’s persistent side-characters, perhaps Ms. James’s subconscious was trying to tell her (and us) something.

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