Jealous Hater’s Book Club: Apolonia, chapter two

A blogger contacted me about the possibility that Apolonia could be a Roswell fanfic (the blogger who contacted me is not affiliated with the link). Having never watched Roswell myself, I wouldn’t know. I’m also not familiar enough with McGuire’s background to know whether or not she has published fanfic in the past, though I have heard that allegation leveled at her before. I haven’t seen any kind of obvious trail, like with E.L. James and Fifty Shades of Grey. If you’re familiar with Roswell and notice anything, feel free to discuss it in the comments.

Chapter two opens in Dr. Zoidberg’s lab:

Water? Check. Muffin? Check. Even handsomer in his black-rimmed glasses, the spot-stealer sitting at the table to my left, working his ass off?

Heads up, the underlines are my attempt at representing italics, since the default font for quotes in this WordPress theme seems to be italics, and I don’t know how to change something like that.

So, Cyrus, who was only okay-looking in the last chapter, is clearly starting to grow on Rory. They’ve been working on the “boring rock,” the one that’s made of some totally unknown mineral that no one on earth has ever seen before. Rory bemoans the fact that she can’t type and look through the microscope at the same time. Many of you who are actual scientists and not just an author/blogger who occasionally dabbles with water, pepper, and soap just to see the if the same thing still happens. The science types have informed us that a rock made of a totally unknown substance from space would a) not bore someone who was into science, and b) not be entrusted to a professor at a small college, let alone a student researcher. And probably not one who can’t multitask.

Cyrus and Rory have a Twilight moment, complete with microscope and golden eyes:

Just once, I’d caught him glancing at me. His golden eyes returned to the microscope so quickly that I thought it was my imagination.

I will now be on the lookout for descriptions of Cyrus’s eyes that include the words “ochre” or “butterscotch.”

Oh, shut up. Like you haven’t read Twilight.

I chewed off another hangnail, spit it on the cement floor, and then took a bite of my pathetic dinner.

Okay, so, I’m not a scientist, but I’m pretty sure some of you are going to point out that she’s not only eating in a lab, but she’s putting her fingers in her mouth and spitting on the floor. Anyone who’s taken a high school chemistry class knows that all three of those things are probably not okay. I mean, the last one alone is just manners.

Whatever science Rory and Cyrus are doing involves looking into microscopes and recording numbers, and Rory is racing Cyrus. He finally packs it in at midnight, and Rory is delighted because she can tell Dr. Zoidberg that she’s the better research assistant. You may remember that in the previous chapter, Dr. Zoidberg made it clear that he wasn’t interested in firing Rory, but Rory refuses to let go of her fear that she’ll be fired by her long-time family friend.

Rory leaves work at one in the morning:

There was an elevator with a set of stairs on each side, which I preferred. I had an aversion to elevators, especially alone and at night. That was where I’d met my killers.

After climbing the stairs and pushing through both sets of glass doors out to the front of the building, I noticed a group of students walking and then another group. Scanning the area, I saw that many students were heading in the same destination, and feeling like a lemming, I joined the line.

Writing Tip: Exposition can be hard to pull off. You have to know exactly how much detail to give, and when to give it. This is not one of McGuire’s strong suits in this book. “I had an aversion to elevators, especially alone and at night,” would be fine here. Later, when there’s time to explore the killers thing, the reader would remember, either consciously or subconsciously, that she’d mentioned this, and it would be perceived as foreshadowing. Or, if the author wanted to include this information right now, there should have been more than just, “Oh, by the way, my killers.” We get this huge piece of information, and then immediately move on. What we move on to isn’t more interesting than learning about her killers. The next paragraph is all “the students do this, the students do that.” We just learned in a brief aside something about the people who tried to murder you and your family. We don’t care about walking. Either don’t tell us about the killers, or expand upon them.

Rory follows the lemming line for five blocks. Like, she literally just goes along with them, doesn’t break off or go to her place or anything. She follows them into a house and shit:

The group led me five blocks off campus to an old building, down the stairs, and through a door.

Wait a minute, Rory. You won’t get on an elevator alone and at night, but you’ll blindly join a group of students you don’t know at one in the morning and go into some strange basement?

Come on now.

It was a rave, the fake kind with sorority girls and wannabe think-tank members. In the two years since I’d moved east to Kempton, I’d stayed far away from raves, parties, rallies, underground fights, and people in general.

I think it’s hilarious that she’s avoided all these places where literally every New Adult book seems to end up in by the end of the first chapter.

Yet here I was, for no particular reason, breathing in heavy smoke, stepping in sticky god-knows-what, and allowing the Top 40 to violate my eardrums.

Someone has a case of the Anastasia Steeles here. This is yet another heroine who doesn’t. Like. Anything. To the point that it’s super ridiculous; she’s crashing a party in a strange place that she hasn’t been invited into, she got there just by following strangers, and now she’s complaining about the music? WHY DID YOU GO IN THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE?

She tries to leave, but accidentally shoves the door into Benji’s face. He gets a nosebleed, so Rory takes matters into her own hands and cuts him to the front of the bathroom line.

“Hey!” a girl whined. “You can’t cut!”

“Deal with it,” I said before closing the door in her face.


Rory tends to Benji’s wounds, and he admits that he only came into the party because he saw her going in there. Why was Benji out this late? Was he following her or something? Shouldn’t almost-got-murdered Rory be more cautious about this? Why doesn’t she have that thought?

Benji’s smile was sheepish and annoyingly charming.

*adds “sheepish, charming smiles” to lists of things Rory dislikes*

His short sandy-brown hair was parted and feathered back just so, and his almond-shaped brown eyes disappeared behind a curtain of long eyelashes that any woman would pay good money for. Teeth an orthodontist would be proud of along with a strong jawline would score him any number of nice young ladies.

Wait. He’s kind of sounding like he looks like actual Benji, doesn’t he?


I hated to admit it,

Of course you do. You hate everything.

but I was maybe just a tiny bit attracted to Benji. But he was nice. Too nice. And I didn’t want nice. I didn’t want anyone.

I don’t know, the constant emphasis on how hot Benji is in the first chapter, plus the fact that you’re the heroine in an NA book, leads me to believe that this is not the case. However, Benji is the first male love interest we’re meeting, and he’s not the one with the gold eyes, so I’m guessing he’s not going to be the guy ring-a-ding-dinging your bell by the time we hit the halfway point.

Benji wants to walk Rory home, but Rory walks him home instead, because of all the blood loss. But when they get here, he’s pretty persistent about wanting to walk her home. Again, he just happened to bump into Rory at one in the morning at this party neither of them had known about, that he’d just happened to see her go into. My prediction is that he’s either secretly evil, or following her to protect her.

As she tries to leave, he grabs her wrist:

Out of pure instinct, I grabbed his wrist with my free hand and pulled him over my shoulder, slamming him on the ground. He grunted as the air got knocked out of him when he hit the cement.

Now, wait. Isn’t she like, emaciated from never eating anything? Didn’t we cover that in the first chapter? She said she’d been steadily losing weight for two years because she doesn’t like to eat. That doesn’t sound like someone who’s going to have the strength to flip a grown man over her shoulder and slam him into the ground. I realize there are all kinds of self-dense courses that teach these kinds of moves where you use your opponent’s weight against them and blah blah blah, but I’m not buying the super strength if it doesn’t come up as a huge plot point later.

Rory is embarrassed that she’s done this and she feels annoyed that she has to stay there and be nice to him. Which I get, because she was just trying to leave, and he grabbed at her. She should have just left him on the ground and been like, “Do not touch people without their prior consent!” But she feels awkward, so she sticks around while he continues to try to pressure her into letting him walk her home, into going on a food run, and he even grabs her wrist again when she tries to leave. He says:

“You broke my nose. You can’t give me five minutes of sympathy conversation?”

This all makes me think he’s a villain, but then again, this is a New Adult novel, and a lot of them feature romantic heroes who act just like this, creating obligations to force their way past the heroine’s boundaries.

Benji asks Rory why she went to the party, and instead of telling him she was just wandering along, she says she needed to get out. He suggests going to the gym to burn off excess energy, and invites her to come with him. Finally, he lets Rory leave and she heads back to her dorm.

Huh. She’s a junior living in the dorms? Didn’t we have a conversation about this in the After recaps?

As Rory passes the elevators:

My mother’s eyes flashed through my mind. I’d seen the line between her brows and the strange look in her gaze just before she died. My father always said she was tough. She was, even as she took her last breath. her eyes held so much sadness–for being helpless to save me and for the life she thought I would miss out on. She didn’t think about herself in those last moments. She was asking me for forgiveness with her eyes, and through the dirty rag tied around my mouth, I gave it to her. I just couldn’t forgive myself.

This is GREAT! This is such a great piece of exposition! She’s triggered by the sight of the elevator, and she’s relieving this horrible moment that is full of micro-events that will later be a piece of the fully revealed puzzle, I assume. This is fantastic. However, Writing Tip: This would have been so much better before the party. If she’d seen the elevators and, instead of thinking about her killers, she thought about her mother. And she had this little scene, and suddenly, whoa, she’s at the party. It would have been super effective in establishing that this girl has PTSD, and she’s just going on autopilot and it explain why someone as cautious as Rory is would have gone into that party in the first place.

The pieces are all here, they’re just not in the most effective order.

As it stands, she does have a moment where she realizes she can’t remember getting to her room, and then boom, she’s there. She flops down on her bed and:

A groan escaped from my throat, loud enough for my neighbor Ellie, the bossy, bitchy beauty of the campus to hear. She loved to tell me that my crappy music was too loud, my clothes were too black, and my social life was too sad. It was okay though because I was proud of the fact that I didn’t listen to cheesy pop songs or let everyone see my tits in one of four hundred too-tight V-neck sweaters, and I wasn’t a slutty, whorish whore.


Just when I was like, “Gosh, there isn’t as much over-the-top girl-hate as I would have expected in a New Adult novel, ” the Nuh-Uh train just came crashing into My Last Nerve station. I don’t care if she does follow that up with:

Okay, that was harsh.

It’s still some shitty, slut-shaming nonsense right there (and you all know I do not fall for that “just playin’” nonsense. If I say, “just playin,” it’s because I’m making it known that I just talked some shit about you and I don’t regret it). It’s not like Rory goes, “Okay, that was harsh, I should know better than to hurl misogynist insults at a fellow student who is just trying to be a woman in college, which is super fucking dangerous.” She’s like, “Okay, that was harsh.”:

But in our four semesters at Kempton, she’d had the dicks of at least three professors in at least one of her orifices–and those were only the ones she’d bragged about.

Does it matter? If she’s sleeping with a professor, even if she instigated it, the professor is the one doing wrong here. If she’s bragging about it, she’s clearly not planning on getting a good grade or anything, because she’s going to be disciplined and probably kicked out and the professor is probably going to get a slap on the wrist. And it really doesn’t matter because it doesn’t have any bearing on Rory’s life at all. In fact, none of this is necessary. We’re reading a story about a girl who a) was nearly the final death in a grisly, possibly cult-related mass-murder, and b) has access to a space rock. She doesn’t need a stereotypical hot-for-teacher female to bitch about.

Also, it makes Rory sound immature, more like a teenager than an adult in college.

Without any transition at all, Rory thinks:

I turned onto my side, hoping, praying that I would fall asleep before the memories came too fast and hard to block out.

Hey, look at that. The scathing indictment against slutty, whoreish whores has split the emotional conflict in a weird place. It’s like a game of Duck, Duck, Goose, only this time it’s Murder, Murder, Whore, Murder. Jumping from Rory’s emotional trauma to slut-shaming and back to Rory’s emotional trauma makes this scene disjointed and jarring. It’s almost as thought the aside about Ellie-the-slut was unnecessary and hampers the narrative flow, and the book would have been better without it.

Fancy that.

Rory sees feet blocking the light coming in under the door. She decides to get the jump on whatever is out there, and surprise, it’s the love triangle, delivered in thirty-minutes or less. It’s Cyrus, and he tells Rory that he’s been listening outside her door.

Cy held out his palms, walking into my room.

Well, come right in, then, jeez.

“No, no, please. It’s not as salacious as it appears. I was just making sure you were home. Safe.”

Oh. Well, then that makes total sense, that you should come by at like two in the morning to check on her, Edward.

Rory says she doesn’t need anyone checking up on her, and Cyrus (Cy to his friends) says:

“I apologize for the intrusion. I couldn’t help myself. I told myself many times that I shouldn’t.”

“So, why did you?”


That’s not what he says, he just says he doesn’t know, and leaves. But we know that Edward was in his heart, and that’s all we need.

So, despite being aggressively stalked by two dudes in one night and suffering PTSD flashbacks about the night her entire family died in front of her, Rory ends the chapter like this:

I shut the door and locked it, my anger and confusion quickly doused with an uncontrollable smile.

Oh. Okay.



79 thoughts on “Jealous Hater’s Book Club: Apolonia, chapter two

  1. What the absolute fuck is going on with this story? I mean, it would be so. much. better. without all the unnecessary drama, love triangle bullshit and girl-on-girl hate. Seriously. A story about a girl who almost got murdered in some sort of cult killing spree (that, incidentally killed her whole family) AND who gets to study some crazy new space rock is already interesting enough (well, it would be, if the author ever got around to it). It DOES NOT NEED a love triangle tacked on. At this point, Benji could be completely cut out of the narrative and it would be fine (unless he turns out to be a villain liked you guessed. Which would be really cool; he could be a member of the cult that killed her family, trying to finish the job. But right now I don’t have faith in the author to pull something like that off).

    Why didn’t an editor cut out all this unnecessary crap?

  2. I haven’t watched Roswell or read this book, so I have no idea. It seems there are a lot of awfully coincidental parallels these days, though. I swear Gone Girl is a retelling of Rebecca.

    But then again, one of the novels I’ve been working on writing turns out to be incredibly close (at least the basic plot) of the new Nicholas Sparks book-based movie and I can’t stand Sparks and have never read the book the movie’s based on. I had an, “Oh crap!” moment, though, when I saw the movie trailer. So I guess it can happen by accident.

    1. So now I’ve read the rest of the recap. I’m now thoroughly convinced that there is exactly one person writing books these days and using several different names. But it is only one writer. There are no others. It isn’t possible that so many people write EXACTLY.THE.SAME.BOOK. in EXACTLY.THE.SAME.VOICE.

      1. I was thinking the same thing… It doesn’t make sense to me that there are SO MANY books out there about a hate filled, young, skinny, female protagonist who thinks she’s ugly and hates everyone and everything but somehow gets the attention of every hot guy around her and everyone thinks she’s a genius and amazing. Are there really that many women out there that are so mean spirited? Or do they just all decide to become authors for some reason? And why the hell do they sell so well? Why do people seem to enjoy reading about someone so bitchy getting everything she wants?

        I will give this book some props for at least having a more engaging premise than a lot of the other books, but it’s wasted by having Rory just be another alternate universe Bella Swan. She could have been a strong woman dealing with an extremely traumatic history and trying to stop her PTSD from interfering with the future she knows her parents would have wanted for her and that the last person she has left who she trusts has done so much to help her work towards. The book could show her struggling to make friends for the first time since the incident and her struggles with trusting people. And while that’s happening, foreshadowing of the alien rock creeps in getting more and more plot relevant as the focus shifts from her character development of an alien invasion tying back to the murder of her family because the cultists had been trying to summon them and in an epic climax of her reclaiming her personal power by kicking the aliens asses!

        Instead she’s going to spend the book whining about how much she hates everyone and stopping the alien invasion by being the alien’s love interest. Whoo.

        1. It isn’t just similar plot and the same characters over and over. The writing style, turns of phrase, all of it is exactly the same. It’s the same book over and over with a slightly different plot twist. Even After followed this formula.

      2. It almost seems like the flashbacks are written by a different person, to me. Those bits are compelling and well-written. The rest of it is peppered with weird word choices and that tired old special snowflake stuff.

      3. There are computer writing programs that will examine texts for repeated words and patterns and then generate stories/scripts from it. Tbh, I really want to enter all these books into one just to see what comes out. I feel like it wouldn’t be that much different.

      1. Nah. totally Rebecca. Except she actually is pregnant and she doesn’t actually die. Even the characters are the same, but slightly different. Just enough that it isn’t complete plagiarism.

    2. I swear Gone Girl is a retelling of Rebecca.

      I had no intention of ever reading Gone Girl, but now I’m tempted to try it from this angle.

        1. What I really enjoyed about Gone Girl was the use of the unreliable narrator. I simultaneously felt sympathy and loathing for Nick.

          1. I honestly couldn’t bring myself to care about any of the characters one way or the other. And since I guessed the twist so early I knew he was (SPOILER!!!!)

            telling the truth, anyway.

  3. This book sounds a lot like a Lifetime movie with some sci-fi bits lazily peppered in. But like, less entertaining because it’s not quite hammy enough.

    Also, why do so many works of fiction (in all mediums, it seems) have these really interesting ideas in them that get passed over for boring drama bullshit we can see literally anywhere? Whyyyyyyy???

  4. I love it. Who knew the cure to reliving your parents’ grisly deaths was the smile of golden boy over there?

    What is it with NA heroines and creepy boys? They seem attract them like flies.

  5. So many Chedrry/AnaBessa allusions here- it’s starting to read like the beginning of a bad dream that you’ve dreamed several times in one night.

    On the other hand, I am forced to remember that guy in Seinfeld, looking at Kramer’s painting- It’s horrible, but I can’t look away!

    Really looking forward to the next installment! I might even go find this and read it, just for kicks!

  6. McGuire could have written the bit about the roommate as Rory’s concern over potentially having to deal with someone she doesn’t like while feeling emotionally vulnerable. It wouldn’t have needed the hate or slut-shaming. Even people you adore can be a burden when you’re feeling raw. But it seems McGuire is determined to give Rory the emotional intelligence of a rabid possum.

  7. Okay Jenny I totally think you should check out Roswell. IT’S ABOUT ALIENS IN HIGH SCHOOL IT IS SO COOL!

    The premise: aliens really DID land in Roswell New Mexico in 1947, but they CONVENIENTLY gestated in pods for fifty years so that when they finally emerged (as human looking children) they would be just the right age to go to high school in 2000! The show focuses on the teenage aliens attempts to fit in and hide their weird alien powers, but at the same time they want to know about their past because they don’t know who they are, where they came from, or why they are on earth. I can’t say any more without spoiling anything, but it’s a fun show that does not take itself too seriously. I really enjoyed it.

    (Worth nothing that as I’ve grown older I can recognize that the relationship between the two romantic leads is super co-dependent and unhealthy, but that might be good research for you to understand this Apolonia book!)

  8. That Benji comment was hilarious. I read these recaps in my iphone and had just read your paragraph about the real Benji and thought: the only benji i know is the dog movie that made me cry, she must be talking about something else.
    But nope! Scroll down and there is dog benji looking just like the description. Eyes and teeth.

  9. I’m still confused in what year Rory’s is in college. After the first chapter, I would have said she’s a freshman. One thing I thought was weird in this chapter, is when Benji suggests the gym because it’s capitalized “The Gym”. I honestly thought it was a super cool nightclub or something and had to reread to figure out exactly what he’s talking about.

  10. From now on, I’m picturing Benji as an actual dog. I don’t care how weird that will make this story.

    At this point, I’m thinking the fact he’s a dog can only make it better.

  11. I lived in the same dorm all four of my college years, so I don’t have any problem with Rory living on campus as a junior.

    But I’m really confused by Cyrus just appearing outside her dorm room. When I was in school (30 years ago), you could not enter the residence area of any dormitory you didn’t live in (you needed a key or an escort), and even the front doors of the dorms with central desks were locked after 10 or 11 PM. So does Cyrus live in the same dorm as Rory? Otherwise, either security at colleges has gotten really lax since I left school, or this college really needs to up its security. I hope my goddaughter isn’t living in a dorm this easy to get into.

    1. At my college (seven years ago), you could get into any dorm as an on-campus student (our IDs doubled as magnetic key cards) until…I wanna say 11 pm? Midnight? At which point you could only get into your own dorm. Given that Rory got back at stupid o’ clock in the morning, Cyrus shouldn’t have been able to get in.

    2. I’m about 90% certain he just kind of…beamed in. (because that’s what aliens do, right?) I hope your goddaughter isn’t going to school with aliens.

    3. Actually, I think it depends on the school (and probably how small it is). I go to a tiny school (~1500 students), and the living situation described here is basically the same as ours. The dorms just require a school ID card to get in, and people come and go as they please.

      Of course, we’re in a small town in the middle of nowhere, so we have an excuse for our lax security. I’m not sure that’s the case in the book…

  12. There was not nearly enough Zoidberg in this chapter, I’m just sayin.

    Also I will admit I don’t read much NA/YA (don’t really understand the difference?) but is this love triangle, where one dude is super friendly and adorable, one is dark n’ stormy (I assume that is why the heroines all jump after that one because that’s a good drink) a thing in all the NA/YA books? Because I have only a vague understanding of Twilight, and then knowledge from your recaps of Fifty and After, and I am already tired of this trope.

    I think the trope is particularly annoying because of the adorable, super-attractive boy always being in love with the heroine for no apparent reason. Like, the heroine is always really obviously not into them, constantly rebuffs their advances, and the dude is just like, “it’s cool, I’m still totes into you anyway!” I end up just feeling a ton of second-hand embarrassment for these dudes, and more often than not my disbelief suspenders are completely snapped.

  13. I want to know where she’s being educated where you have to actively avoid underground fights. Does she walk around campus and have to take alternate routes because, darn it, another underground fight in the way!

    Am I supposed to find this character edgy and interesting? I honestly don’t see the attraction of a character who hates everything and everyone and everything is annoying.

    Slutty whorish whore? Really? Couldn’t she throw in “hussy” as well and be done with it? That’s almost parody. And she didn’t even sleep with a professor – she slept with three. Why not throw in the football team and a passing orang utan and have done with it? It’s ridiculous – and her urge to slut shame is so strong it even overrules her emotional trauma. Should she ever have a flashback or a panic attack you can snap her out of it with a scantly clad woman – she will leap to her feet yelling “JEZEBEL!”

    And did both love interests just randomly decide to stalk her? And is being stalked the only thing in the entire world she doesn’t hate?

    1. Ellie is very attractive and feels no shame about her sexuality. So far she is more interesting to me than Rory (and by the way, yeah, if you play your music too loud, I’m going to ask you to turn it down as well). But I guess independent, sexually aware and unabashed women are all just a bunch strumpets and trollops to these authors.

      And I am with everyone else who is tired of “slut shaming”.

  14. Hi Jenny, I’m actually a scientist, so I can try an address some of the science stuff here. I found her disinterest in the space rock really unbelievable. If such a rock were found, it certainly would be studied in a National Lab at the minimum. And not by an undergrad. No offense to the undergrads out there, but as far as research goes, I highly doubt some groundbreaking research on a super cool new type of material is being handled by an undergrad. It would go to a senior grad students/postdoc, at least. (btw, I’m Canadian, we call people at this stage in their education undergrads, not sure what the equivalent US term is.)

    The structure of the lab, and how she was threatened by Cyrus joining it seemed very bizarre to me. The whole science set-up is a little flimsy, to be honest, in my Canadian professional opinion. That being said, I didn’t find the eating in the lab all that weird. If it were a chemistry lab, absolutely, no food, no questions asked. Other science labs, however, depending on the school, and what type of measurements are done, you could get away with it. I would covertly eat in my lab all the time, in certain areas. Not where the fumehood and chemicals were, but around the microscope? For sure.

    1. I’m an American scientist and thought your assessment was spot on. (And yes, we call them undergrads here too.) I am a biologist so there are a few more restrictions on where we are allowed to eat and drink, not that we always follow them. Sorry OSHA. If something novel like a space rock were to show up I can’t imagine not being super excited about it. The other thing is that science is primarily a collaborative sport. So the more brains on things, especially in your own lab, the better. Sometimes there is some competition between people but not so much that people are fearing for their jobs. At least, that is the norm. There are labs out there that do pit people against each other but those are terrible places to work and Zoidberg seems like a good guy PI.

    2. I’m an American, and working on my PhD in geology. I completely agree with your assessment of the situation. No way an undergrad is working on a novel rock. It would be at a top university or a national lab, with, at a minimum, upper level graduates and post-docs on the team. Also, her complete disinterest in the rock is extremely annoying because (1) she’s supposed to be sciency, so this should be exciting to her- heck, I get excited when I see rocks that I’ve seen many times if it’s a good specimen and (2) even if she doesn’t want to pursue science, this is her job temporarily and someone elses career. Try to at least be happy someone is helping you through college and keep the eye-rolls and bored looks to a minimum!

      Never felt threatened by a colleague. We all sort of work on different things. If it’s the same project, we work on different aspects. I’m currently on a project with several people, but we aren’t all doing the same thing and all are needed for it. Science is largely collaborative, and often it would take forever and a huge variety of skills for one person to do an entire project on their own, even ignoring the fact that it’s good to have a team to bounce ideas off of.

      And I eat by my microscope, but not in the lab because I use some nasty stuff in there! I have been in some labs where they aren’t doing anything too nasty and we could eat or have coffee, though. Generally, your not supposed to.

      On another note, I lived in dorms all through undergrad, but in my case, they were cheaper, more convenient, and I could get a single room the last two years, so it worked out.

      1. I’m definitely not a PhD in geology but I do have a master’s and I’m having trouble imagining what kind of observations they are making through the microscope that involves writing down numbers that they are racing at, considering this is a novel space rock. Counting diatoms makes sense, or zircons in a crushed sample (spent a delightful summer doing that in undergrad, ughhhhhh). But neither of those makes sense in context. Thoughts?

        1. …I love diatoms. Also, as a disclaimer, I am not a hard-rock geologist (I don’t spend much time with rocks and tend more towards paleontology and recent deposits).

          Petrologists might look at a thin sections of a novel rock with a microscope to identify minerals and/or structures within it. I suppose they could also be looking for evidence of organisms. I have no idea which of these she imagines they are racing to count, though. Also, didn’t they just begin studying the rock yesterday? Fastest prep work ever! I’m thinking the author was trying to connect her job to the new guy in her life (assuming he’s an alien, maybe the space rock is from his home planet), knows they use ‘scopes in science, and otherwise has no geologic (or possibly scientific) background knowledge.

          In my opinion, the book should focus more on the rock, less on Rory…

          1. Yeah I’ve made thin sections and it’s several days of work. I just can’t imagine what they would race to count though. I also can’t imagine why I’m spending so much brain power on this.

  15. If this is typical NA, I won’t be reading any more of it, I can tell you that. Give me some plot, please. And no, boys stalking you isn’t really plot. Not unless it’s suspense. I’m willing to deal with stalking if it’s dangerous, and not just ~~giggle~~*dangerous*~~giggle.

    Also, some of her word choices are just – bad. Like, “escaping from my mouth” or whatever it was. Yeah. Generally, things escape from other things. There are so many “you didn’t need that extra word” instances that stop me cold, I wonder if she gave any thought to the flow of the prose at all.

    TL;DR: She’s made aliens boring. This thing better pick up soon, or I won’t be reading along – and I’ll be looking to get my $4.99 back, too.

  16. ‘But in our four semesters at Kempton, she’d had the dicks of at least three professors in at least one of her orifices–and those were only the ones she’d bragged about.’

    I had to pause in the middle just to come down here and say that is some MRA-level crap right there.

    What’s worse is how often on GoodReads I see OTHER WOMEN complimenting these kinds of passages.

  17. I love Roswell how dare someone compare this shit stack to it. Seriously Roswell is amazing they even have it on Netflix if you want to watch some.

  18. Rory’s such a little shitstick. I really love the alternative structure you set up, where Rory sees the elevator and has her flashback then finds herself at the rave. That would have been a really great sequence.

    Another thing I noticed about Rory’s Anastasia Steele Syndrome is how she says the students ‘led’ her to the rave when in reality she followed them (like a lemming.) It’s not big on it’s own, but when she acts victimized afterwards because the rave is too ‘fake’ for her (even though she hasn’t been to one in two years or whatever) it just reminds me of what you said about Ana constantly finding ways to blame other people for her actions and act helpless to her circumstances. Like, Rory didn’t follow them, they ‘led her.’ And her neighbor isn’t legitimately complaining about Rory blasting her music (even though, hello, dorm room code of conduct,) she’s targeting Rory because she’s a stoopid prep who can’t handle the power of Rory’s tru goffikness.

    1. Maybe because I’m not reading along and I missed something in translation, but I’m really having a hard time figuring out why she even had to have that scene in the book. What did it accomplish? She went, saw The Boy and then went home. Nothing really happened. She could have simply run into him on her walk back to her dorm.

      1. Me, too, Renee! I finished this recap wondering, “Did this chapter even move this story forward one little bit?”

        But then I thought, “Maybe I’m just being cranky and over-critical because of having to start edits for my book.”

        1. I just don’t understand how writers like this make the best-seller lists. It boggles my mind and makes me think the general public is stupid.

          I’m not saying this to flatter because I don’t do that. I’m a harsh critic and I’m honest. I respect language and books too much to do otherwise. But Jenny is a million times better at writing (both the language itself and the plotting) than 90% of what’s being published and selling well today. What Jenny writes is not necessarily the kind of thing I like reading so I haven’t read anything except The Boss, but while it wasn’t my kind of book, it was incredibly well-written, paced, plotted, everything.

          And yet, this sells like crazy and Jenny languishes on the sidelines (along with probably thousands of other talented writers). Jenny deserves this success far more than Jamie McGuire does, based on nothing more than quality.

          This is why I’m so angry about 50 Shades and After and their ilk. They suck. They are badly written in every way possible. It isn’t jealousy or I’d rail against JK Rowling, George RR Martin, Stephen King or many, many other successful writers. I don’t, though, because their writing is quality and they deserve their success.

          This formulaic drivel doesn’t deserve it.

          1. I am also a little mystified by the demand for these badly-written books. I guess they’re really easy to read, on account of all sounding the same and following pretty much the same plot with the decorations changed. (The space rock here definitely seems to be mere decoration.:))

            I’ve read Jenny’s American Vampire, and yes — it’s tightly plotted and well-paced, without extraneous scenes or words (and the words mean what you think they do, which also helps. Some of these straight-from-Wattpad books don’t seem to get much editing).

            When Jenny gives writing advice here, I can see her experience with ten years of professional writing and editing. And I’m glad to get to benefit from that!

          2. I find them incredibly difficult to read. That’s one way I can tell it’s terribly written. Good writing doesn’t make you feel like you’re working for anything. It flows easily, like a lazy river or something. This stuff is so bad I have to really work to get through it. It’s like wading through mud.

          3. I think this stuff is easy to read for people who don’t have an Inner Editor leaping to work — the mention-every-single-that-happens-everything-the-heroine-thinks rambling style seems to be some kind of awesomesauce.

            If my agented novel doesn’t sell, I might try posting the very first draft on Wattpad and seeing what happens, because it reads just like that. Which means it was a serious mess!

        2. Ilex, Renee – SAME! I just don’t understand what the scene was for. And to be totally honest, I was very confused by a lot of the excerpts. It’s like, there’s a lot going on, but very little of it has enough substance to really stick or make sense. I don’t get why any of these characters are drawn to each other or why they’re doing any of the things they’re doing.

          Like, Rory clearly doesn’t like science, so why’s she doing it? Why would Cyrus check up on her if she’s been nothing but unpleasant? Benji’s after her like a dog with a bone and the only special bond between them is that they share a class, so I don’t get it.

          And Rory keeps talking about almost getting murdered and it’s like “Okay, what about it” because clearly this story isn’t intent on centering around it in an effective way, because it would rather stick Rory in nonsensical, hollow scenes where we can hear more of her delightful whining. Like, I’d rather have Rory just sitting in her apartment, studying and contemplating how her trauma has brought her to the brink of almost complete isolation from her fellow students. I want to see her looking at pictures of her deceased family members or visiting their graves. I want to see her striving to make the best of her circumstances while simultaneously struggling with social anxiety and PTSD. She doesn’t have to hate her neighbor and think everyone’s terrible. She could just find herself uncomfortable and antsy every time Ellie tries to come over and talk to her. She could marvel at Ellie’s confidence and contrast it with her own withdrawn tendencies. She could be put off by Benji’s advances, not because he isn’t attractive or because he’s ‘not good enough’ for little miss princess, but because even if he is attractive, he arrived in her life at a time she couldn’t even begin contemplating a relationship, so she associates him with the fear and anxiety that’s been with her since her attack. But Cyrus is new and exciting and he’s showed up around a time she’s maybe, sort of getting ready to start engaging with other people (but she just doesn’t know how, but Cyrus makes it easy for her, because they’re thrown together anyway and he’s actually really funny and personable and she feels drawn to him.)

          Ugh, this is long but I’m just so angry at this book, because it could have been so much more. This book doesn’t need shortcuts and overused clichés, it just needs to spend time on developing Rory in a sincere, realistic, genuine way. It needs to build HER voice, not the voices of all her horrible predecessors.

          I feel like a lot of writers are so worried about making their story too boring and slow that they never give it the proper attention it deserves and speed things along in a confusing, unrealistic, tired way. I would rather read an entire book of Rory hiding in her dorm having nightmares and flashbacks than the sporadic, inconsistent jumble that was these last two chapters.

          And considering all the bullying conflict that’s surrounded these recaps, I just want to say – I don’t think McGuire’s horrible for this. I’m not trying to bash the book, I’m trying to say that I think McGuire (and any other writer) has it in her to do better. As much as I understand the hard work that went into this book, I think that a lot of cowardice went into it too. I like to imagine that McGuire WANTED to write a genuine story about a dimensional character with a harrowing background, and I see attempts at that, but every time it gets a little too real the story steps back and suddenly it’s ‘Oh look, love triangle. Oh look at how special Rory is because she’s a goff. Oh look at the bitchy-bitch slut slut next door.’ These are distractions from the real story.

          Honestly, I think that’s why the rave scene was included. It’s unnecessary and serves no point except to fall back on NA cliché and bring the reader’s attention away from Rory’s trauma.

          Tl;Dr – This book’s neglecting the parts that make it original and focusing too much on tired tropes and superficial drama.

          1. THIS x’s 1000. My pet peeve with stories like this is that they skirt tough issues, but then dance away whenever things get too dark or emotionally charged. If you’re going to go there, go there. Don’t tease the reader with an endless parade of almost-but-not quite emotional honesty.

          2. Hey, Great Dragon.

            Are you reading the whole book or just the recaps here?

            You make some really good points and ask really good questions. Do you ever do any beta/critique reading? Whenever I get my latest book into a condition where I’m willing to let someone else read it, I’d love to see you apply this same kind of analysis to it, especially the bits where you see some cowardice and avoidance — because I’m pretty sure that’s where I need to hear someone say, “Hey, you can do better than this!” I suspect all of us writers do, because it’s natural to want to dodge the stuff that scares you.

            This won’t be for ages since I have to fix up Book One, but please keep it in mind.


          3. @Ilex, I’m just reading the recaps here. I don’t think I could handle the book ;)

            I do actually beta/critique read. I’ve only really done it with intent for fanfic writers, but I’m confident enough to say I could do it for you too. If that’s something you want, I’m up for it!

    2. Rory is The Worst. She’s too good for everyone and everything, can’t take any responsibility for her actions, and sounds like a miserable person to be around. I find it kind of a shame, because girl-meets-alien is right up my alley and if she were either tolerable or the book recognized that she had some huge character flaws and called her on them, I’d probably like this book.

  19. While reading ‘The Host’ (which is AWFUL btw) I figured that people found it to be an ‘easy read’ because almost every chapter ends part way through a scene rather than at a more natural ending point. This causes people to keep reading to finish the scene, so people read it for longer and are more likely to pick it back up after they stop for the night or whatever so they can finish the scene they were in the middle of. Where as with a book that ends chapters at places a chapter should actually end, they are more likely to put it down sooner and not pick it back up as soon.

    Most of the reviews I’ve seen for books like these start with ‘I’m not a ready, but…’ and usually include ‘I read the whole thing in a weekend!’ So I think that this formula hacks into people’s need for completion. They HAVE to keep reading. And because they have less frame of reference they kind of take ‘I couldn’t stop reading’ as meaning ‘it was genuinely well written and compelling’.

    That’s my explanation for it anyway. It’s the only answer I can come up with that doesn’t include ‘that many people can identify with a character who hates EVERYTHING.’

    1. I hope so. I still think people are just dumb. lol But I’m a bit cynical.

      I find books with shorter scenes keep me reading longer, but they still end the scene at the right place. They’re also well-written so I really want to know what’s going to happen and I’m so into the story, I don’t want to stop.

      I also imagine there are a lot of young readers out there. Books I loved when I was in my late teens and early 20s, I’m finding I don’t think are as good now when I re-read them.

      I have less patience for older readers who should know better and have a larger frame of reference.

    2. Ending halfway through a scene — THAT’s the secret to keeping people reading? I’ve seen other people mention it, but always as a bug. But maybe you’re right and it’s a great feature.

    3. I liked the Host, heh XD I mean, it wasn’t perfect, but it was easy to read. I thought the voice was much better than THIS most of the time. Could use more editing, probably definitely. I mean, the concept is basically the same as Animorphs, but I liked it XD

      1. I wasn’t done that comment, overzealous clicking finger…

        Ah, yeah. I liked it. Had problems, but it was somewhat interesting, which is more than I can say for this. I had more but then I forgot it when this went through.

        Oh, and I did read it in a day, but I haven’t run into a book that took me longer than about 100 pages every hour, hour and a half, in YEARS. Some of us are naturally fast readers. If I say something took me two or three days, that’s not a good sign for it XD

  20. There are some chapters in The Host that damn near cut it off mid SENTENCE. And it’s always made to seem like a cliffhanger, so you keep reading to find out what happened to poor little Jaimie! Oh he just went for lunch, okay. It pisses me off to no end, but all the positive reviews are always ‘I couldn’t put it down!’ 50 Shades generally ends with Ana going to sleep, but it’s usually with some kind of ‘but will he beat her in the morning?!’ soap opera style cliffhanger. You want to keep reading to know what happens in the first few seconds of the next chapter and then keep reading the rest of the chapter because it’s a chapter, you can’t stop mid chapter, and then there’s another ‘tense’ ending to the chapter that is resolved in the first page of the next one and the cycle repeats.

    So I guess this style of book is for people who enjoy soap opera’s…

  21. I move that we all start picturing Cyrus as Bakura from Yu-gi-oh!
    He’s Egyptian, speaks with an English accent, stalks the main character and is clearly evil.

  22. I would read the alt versions of this book that everyone is describing, they all sound so much better!

    Also, is it just me, or have these first two chapters pretty much followed the first two chapters of “After?” Im like “oh, you willingly went to a party even though you hate them and you had a terrible time? Gee, that sounds familiar…”

  23. I’ll confess to skipping ahead and finishing the book already. I was hoping maybe Jenny might be glossing over some bits because it was so weirdly written in the retelling. I can attest to the fact that it really is written this badly. Truely puzzling how these can be popular.
    I don’t read YA really and the few NA that I’ve read just got thrown away in frustration with the ‘voice’style that seems to be so common so I’m no expert.. so is this normal? If I was a teen reading this I think I’d still be jacked off with the same things, the sloppy writing, the crappy plotlines and tropes.
    I feel like there’s no real plot (despite the many that are squished in together). It’s like it’s written by multiple authors, like everyone gets to write 100 wds each and pass it along- there’s no consistency, big things are mentioned then never explained or explored, none of these relationships seem real or believable. And Apolonia… really? Why?? The title just makes no sense with the actual story. I’m disappointed for the children of the world if they are forced to believe this is what to expect from a good book. That was several hours I will never get back. For the people reading along just wait.. I can’t even…

  24. I can’t help comparing this with the Shakespeare murder mystery series, and the heroine Lily Bard, who is a similarly traumatised character. Right down to the wandering at night and the taking up of marshal arts. Charlaine Harris managed to make Lily a believable, messed up, prickly, yet sympathetic character and all without having to call another woman a whore.

    Off topic: Jenny, I came for 50 Shades and stayed for the awesome. Without you to read in the wee small hours, I don’t know how I would have made it through the first year after having my son.

  25. I was really a dedicated fan of Roswell back and the day and honestly, this doesn’t sound much like it. If it were a fanfic, it’d be an extremely ooc and au fanfic; if it were a ripoff…well, maybe it is a ripoff, I don’t know.

    Roswell was a lot different in a number of ways. To begin with, the main character Liz was just ordinary until the alien, Max, saved her after she was shot. The only similarity between Liz and Rory is that they both like science, but that’s about it. Liz is popular and friendly and she begins by dating the high school quarterback, although there really isn’t much of a love triangle in Roswell: once Liz meets Max, that’s it – no one else can compete with him. There are a lot of external complications to their relationship (with the introduction of one character that *could* be seen as creating a love triangle but idk) but a love triangle isn’t a huge plot point – the question isn’t who she or he will choose, but how long it will take for them to have their happy ending (three years, it appears).

    And while Roswell wasn’t the most diverse show, it didn’t have any of the weird exoticizing crap that this book does re: Cyrus, the “Egyptian.” Max, while extremely whitebread, isn’t portrayed as “foreign” because he’s an alien.

    Maybe it’s because I was eleven when I first started watching Roswell, but it was a great application of a sci-fi premise to a young adult setting. The characters were interesting and lively, and while romance formed about 60% of the show, it was sweetly “forbidden” and very character-centric: essentially, Roswell was a very modern bildungsroman. The sci-fi story is compelling and interesting, with dual questions regarding the aliens’ origin and their future on earth (there’s a lot of running from the fbi).

    Roswell also had a great small town, midwestern feeling that characterized the show; you could just feel that everything was coated in dust.

    Anyway, fangirling over. I don’t want to defend McGuire in any way, but this doesn’t sound like a plagiarism case instead of a case of poor unoriginality. In fact, a comparison to Roswell just shows how completely shallow McGuire’s writing is, particularly in comparison to a WB show.

    I really need to go rewatch Roswell now.

    (Great recap btw, as always. Reading your recaps has actually helped me improve my writing; you have a great eye for stripping down all the excess details the author insists on adding because it fits in her head to just what is necessary for the book itself. Thank you!)

    1. Damn, I wish we could edit comments. *Back in the day and a “southwestern” feeling, because I’m a person who doesn’t get much sleep anymore and really needs an IV of coffee.

  26. Here’s where I ducked out of this book, seriously. It sucks, but boring sucks. What is with YA/NA authors thinking “extremely unpleasant” is an endearing character trait dudes can’t help but be compelled by?

  27. Creating heroines hating everything and everyone but being loved by the hot guys probably tells more about the authors than their characters. Social frustration issues?? Low self esteem, i don’t know. But it’s toxic to think like that, and young girls think this is cool. It’s cool to pretend wanting to be alone, because ‘someone’ any moment will fall for you without you doing nothing. It’s a passive attitude, and it’s not at all, a possitive role model :(

  28. Sigyn: We love that you refer to Dr. Zorba as Dr. Zoidberg.
    Loki: it makes the story much more interesting.

    Sigyn: I keep getting distracted by Loki playing Binding of Isaac. Also, I bet Apolonia is the name of the new rock.

    I chewed off another hangnail, spit it on the cement floor, and then took a bite of my pathetic dinner.
    ^ Sigyn: how very graceful and ladylike. Also, that should say “spat”, not “spit”.

    Rory is delighted because she can tell Dr. Zoidberg that she’s the better research assistant. You may remember that in the previous chapter, Dr. Zoidberg made it clear that he wasn’t interested in firing Rory, but Rory refuses to let go of her fear that she’ll be fired by her long-time family friend.
    ^ Sigyn: I read it more as that she just doesn’t want to be outdone by anybody regardless of the circumstance. Even if she wasn’t afraid of being fired, she would want to outdo Cyrus for the sake of outdoing him and being ~different~ and ~special~.

    Loki: What I don’t like about this book is that things are portrayed randomly, like the exposition you mentioned, and inaccurately, like the scientists. It’s really annoying how inaccurate it is.
    Sigyn: and that’s why we keep getting distracted by The Binding of Isaac.

    It was a rave, the fake kind with sorority girls and wannabe think-tank members.
    Sigyn: This girl is almost as snide as I am!
    Loki: Wannabe think tank members? LIKE HER? :D
    Sigyn: If if that’s the fake kind of rave, then what would be the real kind of rave? Don’t they all contain young, carefree and/or pseudointellectual people?

     I’d stayed far away from raves, parties, rallies, underground fights, and people in general.
    ^ Loki: *bursts out laughing* “Underground fights”? Hipsters beating each other up?
    Sigyn: No, she wouldn’t have been able to avoid that. This girl is as hipster as Cin, the parody hipster in my show.
    Loki: She really just sounds generic, honestly. She doesn’t sound intelligent at all; she just sounds like a whiny bitch. I would expect a “scientist” to be more scientific, like your RP Vexen.
    Sigyn: When I’m calling her a hipster, I’m referring to the fact that she basically disdains everyone and everything and makes a big deal to the audience about how ~alternative~ she is and how she doesn’t care to fit in, and she mocks other students for “trying too hard” to fit in. Hipster~~~
    Loki: A really bland hipster.

    she’s crashing a party in a strange place that she hasn’t been invited into, she got there just by following strangers, and now she’s complaining about the music? WHY DID YOU GO IN THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE?
    ^ Loki: That’s like a burglar complaining that you need to unclog your toilet so he can use it–
    Sigyn: and then complaining about the flushing mechanism!
    Loki: This seems like a Plot Convenience Situation™. The author had no creativity and decided, HEY, let’s put her in here for no reason at all! We’re not even going to make up a reason! We’re just going to randomly put her in this place because reasons! I half-expect her to get assaulted or something ~dramatic~ like that.
    Sigyn: And of course it will be handled with all the sensitivity of a charging rhinoceros.

    “Hey!” a girl whined. “You can’t cut!”

    “Deal with it,” I said before closing the door in her face.

    ^ Loki: sO hArDcOrE~

    *both hiss at the fact that Benji has the same type of eyes we do* THIS IS TRULY OFFENSIVE!!!

    She said she’d been steadily losing weight for two years because she doesn’t like to eat. That doesn’t sound like someone who’s going to have the strength to flip a grown man over her shoulder and slam him into the ground. 
    ^ Sigyn: When I don’t eat enough for a week, I don’t have the strength to peel an orange. I reject Rory’s strength as the plot demands!

    romantic heroes who act just like this, creating obligations to force their way past the heroine’s boundaries
    ^ That’s really gross.

    I was proud of the fact that I didn’t listen to cheesy pop songs or let everyone see my tits in one of four hundred too-tight V-neck sweaters, and I wasn’t a slutty, whorish whore.
    ^ Sigyn: Slut shame harder. Other than that and bitching about Ellie’s clothing choices, I have to admit that Rory sounds just like me– proud to not be mainstream with bad taste in music– but that just cements the fact that she’s obviously a generic hipster. Like… When I was at Job Corps, I was really proud of the fact that I didn’t like the same music as everyone else and that I had a steady boyfriend while most gals flitted around from guy to guy; unlike them, I had a dependable partner and we were faithful to each other. And I would be annoyed if some girl was incessantly making negative comments about my life, but honestly, Rory, lighten up a bit. Can’t you think of one nice thing to say about this person? Just one? It sounds like the author is trying to make Rory sound ~different~ and ~special~ by making her not like anything that normies like, but at some point, it’s just too much.

  29. Making your character not like anything mainstream doesn’t make them unique or special. It makes them a hater, and while some people might want to read about a bitter girl who hates everything, many prefer a Belldandy to a Buttercup.

    And yeah, I agree, it really does sound immature that she hates everyone and everything. Ellie could just be an overly nosy girl who’s concerned that her dormmate isn’t fitting in, like Galinda in the Wicked play, and she could have been introduced later. And I’m getting reaaal sick of the “zOMG ALL THE GUYS WANT ME, WHY DID SATAN MAKE ME SO BEAUTIFUL, IT’S A FUCKING CURSE!!!!1ONE” thing. This girl is not likable and I don’t understand why two men are fawning on her.

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