Jealous Hater’s Book Club: Apolonia chapter 4

One time, I was hanging out with one of my editor friends, and she was working on an author’s manuscript. She was complaining about how the revisions process with this particular author was driving her crazy, and she said, “At some point will there be sex in your erotic novel?” It made me laugh so hard, because I was thinking, wow, that’s something, an erotic novel with no sex. Stuff like that just tickles me. Anyway, I guess what I’m asking here is, “At some point will there be science fiction in your New Adult Sci-Fi novel?” Because if there is, it’s not in chapter four. It is now two weeks after last we were last with Rory and Benji, and Benji is trying to bribe Rory into going to the gym with him:

“Just once. Come with me once, and I’ll never ask you to go again. I’ll throw in a freebie dinner, one you don’t have to study with me for.” “What am I? A food whore? I said, no.”

(Again, the underline is not present in the text, I’m putting them here because I can’t do italics in quotes for some reason and I don’t want to misrepresent the text.) No, Rory. Of course you’re not a food whore. You don’t enjoy your food. Just like you’re not a sex whore, because you didn’t really enjoy all that sad, wounded sex you had. I bet Ellie loooooooves food. The whore.

I’m sick and tired of Benji pestering Rory until she gives him what he wants. That’s some bullshit, especially since he’s one leg of a rickety-ass love sawhorse. Because after that quote up there, we directly roll into:

Thirty minutes later, we were at The Gym.

First of all, why is that capitalized. Is it the gym? Second, if Rory is such a hard ass who doesn’t need anyone, why doesn’t she just tell Benji off, or at least stop letting him wear her down until she does what he wants?

I was in a loose-fitting Rolling Stones tee,

Ooh, rebellious 1960′s teen!

black leggings, and high-top converse, poking buttons on a treadmill and fantasizing about where I would eat my freebie dinner.

Fantasizing about dinner? You whore.

Rory starts thinking about how she’s out of shape, because she’d been an athlete in high school, and how different things were then:

I even had friends, and they would beg the heavens for my thick, shiny brown hair and perfectly peach skin. Boys had just begun to notice me. Then, I died and came back an angry, shaven and pierced pale hermit who gasped for air after slowly jogging for two minutes.

Yes, reader, this is the real tragedy. Rory’s family was horribly murdered, possibly sacrificed, and it made her ugly.

sarah that's not fair

Why is this the thing she’s focusing on? She talks about how she was so in shape when she played volleyball and she was beautiful and boys noticed her, but she devotes less than half a sentence to the friends and the life she lost. The most important thing, dear reader, is that we know that while Rory is not beautiful right now, she has the potential to be totally hot.

Woe-is-me-out-of-shape Rory goes to get a drink, and wouldn’t you know who’s there?

“You must be lost,” Ellie said behind me.

Oh good. I don’t think we got our fill of ridiculous girl hate in the last chapter. I’m really hoping that whatever rivalry this is, it goes all Legally Blonde at the end and they’re good friends.

Her perky D-cup breasts perfectly filled out a perfect racerback top, as did her ass in the capri yoga pants. It was almost as if the gods had made a point to sculpt the perfect body and then were too tired to provide a decent personality.

Perky D-cups? Now I know McGuire was a fanfic writer.

Benji comes over and Ellie sees him, and learns that he and Rory are there together:

 “Seriously? You’re trying to make me jealous? With…that?” Ellie said, laughing once without humor.

Benji acts like he has no idea what Ellie is talking about. Now, Rory doesn’t go, “Hey, maybe he’s fooling around with Ellie and didn’t tell me,” which, why should he if they’re not going out, but in any case, she doesn’t assume Benji is trying to cover his ass here. She thinks:

From the corner of my eye, I could see the beginnings of a grin on Ellie’s face. Was she really so horrible that she would pretend to have dated Benji to ruin one of the only friendships I had?

Listen. If your friend’s dating past is going to cause you to seriously rethink your friendship? You’re not the good friends you think you are.

Luckily, Rory is a mature individual who definitely does not behave like they’re in an episode of bad a teen drama:

I grabbed Benji’s cheeks and planted my lips on his. Benji’s entire body tensed, and then he relaxed, pulling my body against his. His mouth parted, and what was suppose to be a quick, hard peck turned into a long, deep kiss with a lot of tongue and a lot of pressure from Benji’s fingertips into my skin.

I pulled away and we looked at each other. “I bet she’s jealous now,” I said, stealing a side-glance at Ellie.

“Who cares?” Benji said, unable to look away from me. Although he hadn’t been breathing hard on the treadmill, he was certainly breathing hard now.

Ellie’s mouth fell open, and then she walked away, tossing her hair as she turned.

And then confetti came down from the ceiling and then everyone clapped and then someone wheeled in a cake covered with lit sparklers and the frosting spelled out, “You’re the prettiest, Rory!” and then my dead parents rose from the dead and then they hugged me and said, “We’re so proud of you, Rory, for defeating that slut,” and I smiled and smiled until I got a nosebleed and then I died, the end.

Seriously, what did this scene add to the story? What does Ellie add to the story? There is a space rock! There is a space rock in this New Adult Sci-Fi and it’s sitting in some basement lab doing nothing interesting while we have to watch Rory act out a scene from every single overwrought 90′s Fox drama for teens. If this was on Saved By The Bell, this would be the part where the audience would go, “WooOOOOooooOOOoo.” Writing Tip: You don’t want the Saved By The Bell audience to go “WoooOOOOooooOOOoo” in your manuscript. You also don’t want to use “and then” as much as it’s being used in this chapter. Some people say to never use it. I like it, in small doses, and I try to avoid it when I can. Sometimes, it feels natural, and you just have to go with your gut instinct. Other times, it sounds like a six-year-old trying to tell you about a field trip.

Benji helps Rory work out on a weight machine, and Rory explains that even though she knows he’s all persistent with the “I wanna date you,” signals, kissing him was only about making Ellie jealous, so he shouldn’t make anything of it. But then she says they can go to the gym together every Saturday, and is sad when he looks disappointed. They’re about to leave when this happens:

Just then, I felt a searing pain in my backside accompanied by a loud slapping noise that echoed throughout The Gym.

A guy almost a head taller than Benji passed me, smirking. “It’s about time you brought a piece of ass,” he said.

Benji immediately grabbed him and slammed him to the floor. Benji’s elbow stretched back, high into the air, and his hand was balled into a shaking tight fist. Before he threw the punch, Benji pushed away from the guy and stood up.

Where do these people live? Seriously, I want to know where this magical land of 1980′s teen movie cliches is. Right now, I just imagined James Spader as Steff McKee at The Gym.

They leave The Gym and when Benji drops Rory off, he apologizes to her for snapping and almost pummeling the dude. But Rory is fine with it:

I’d seen a completely different side of him. Before, I was struggling with returning the affections of a semi-annoying nerd. Suddenly, he was a badass. I’d wanted to kiss him again the second we stopped. Now, I was building up the nerve to do it again.

I wasn’t attracted to you before, when you were just an annoying guy, but now that I know you’re a violent annoying guy, I can’t keep my hands off you.


Look, I’m never going to argue in favor of the guy getting the girl just because he’s nice and persistent and should be rewarded for both of those traits. I hate Nice Guys as much as anyone. But how fucked up is it that this guy, who she couldn’t stand, who made her uncomfortable with his relentless pursuit, is suddenly super hot because he lost his temper and almost hit someone? I get it, he was defending her. But his reaction was so extreme, so quickly… why is a short, violent temper something to be attracted to? And this obviously isn’t the first book in recent memory where this happened (50SoG, I’m looking at you here). Why on earth is violence supposed to be an admirable trait in men?

But their romantic kiss of thanks-for-almost-punching-that-guy never happens:

His phone buzzed, and the display lit up. Both of our bodies relaxed, and I looked down. The name above the number made my stomach turn. In bold white letters, it read, Ellie. My eyes snapped back up to Benji’s. His expression immediately turned desperate.

“I can explain–”

“Liar,” I hissed, grabbing my backpack and slamming the door behind me.

Writing Tip: You can’t hiss a word that doesn’t have any sibilant consonants.

So, Rory is all pissed off when she goes into the lab, and Cy notices. He asks her if she’s okay, because something seems off about her. Rory appreciates his concern, and asks him if he’ll sit next to her in class the next day, presumably because she doesn’t want to sit next to Benji. The she starts working on data, and nothing happens with the science or the space rock.

After a section break (which is marked with a biohazard symbol that I assume is warning us about the contents of Rory’s personality), Rory is in class. As promised, Cy is sitting next to her when Benji comes in.

Benji passed Cy and then me before taking the seat on my left side.

Didn’t really think this one through, huh Rory? Curses! Foiled once again by having a right and a left.

Benji tells Rory that he tried to call her, and even came by the dorm. He wants to talk about what happened, but Rory gives him the silent treatment.

Cy leaned forward. “I don’t believe she’s ready to discuss your issue just yet. Maybe another time outside of class.”

Benji sighed and leaned back.

Cy spoke again, “Since there appears to be something upsetting going on between the two of you, it would be polite to find another seat so that Rory can concentrate on her notes.”

Okay, wait a tick. I think I see what the author (hopefully) is doing. Rory is attracted to Benji, but she’ll obviously end up with Cy, so the whole “wow, you’re so hot because you’re violent,” thing isn’t going to pay off for Benji. It’s still troubling that his violence is what made Rory reconsider her feelings for him, but we can give the book the benefit of the doubt here that we’re heading into territory where we’ll see that Benji’s behavior isn’t appropriate. My guess is that at some point, Benji will become violent toward Rory, and that’s when we’ll see this all go down.

It’s still annoying that Rory, for all her alleged toughness, can’t just tell Benji to bug off when he sits next to her, and instead plays the distressed damsel and let’s Cy stick up for her. Why can she hurl “cum-burping gutter slut” at Ellie, but she can’t tell Benji, “I don’t want to talk to you, please move, you’re making me uncomfortable?”

Well, we all know why. It’s easier to be openly hateful to a woman than it is to stick up for yourself to a man, and that’s not unrealistic for a woman Rory’s age. Some of us take a while to figure that out. Still, if this character is supposed to be this bad ass bitch who doesn’t give a shit about anything, maybe she shouldn’t be passed off as a wilting Southern belle when it comes to these guys.

Dr. Z comes in and starts his lecture, and the chapter ends without anything science-fiction-y happening. Again.

107 thoughts on “Jealous Hater’s Book Club: Apolonia chapter 4

  1. “It was almost as if the gods had made a point to sculpt the perfect body …”

    She’s at the gym. I don’t think “the gods” had as much to do with it as, oh I don’t know, dedicated exercise?

    And amen to the “perky D cups.” Mine were C’s when they grew in when I was 9 and they have NEVER been perky!

    1. OK. Done reading now. When does the story start? I mean, we’re in chapter 4 and all we’ve seen is “Boy 1, Girl Fight, Boy 2, Boys 1 and 2 together, Rory is annoyed by but also attracted to Boys, REPEAT AD NAUSEUM.”

      I’m so glad I decided not to read along.

      1. I know a few people who were 300 pounds at one point who now look like she describes Ellie.

        Some people get lucky, but if she’s at the gym it’s probably as much to do with hard work as genes.

        1. And I know the plural of “anecdote” is not “data”. Data says that weight loss fails 95% of the time, overwhelmingly.

          I’m pretty sure Olympic athletes do more “hard work” than a gym bunny Some of them are still fat! It’s almost like genetics says that some people will carry more weight than others no matter how much they excercise! Never heard of that person who could eat a horse a day and never gain a pound? It works the other way, too, a lot.

          1. I think you’re fighting the good fight. You’re just doing it in the wrong place. Yeah, occasionally some trolls happen upon this blog and they spout their venom, but overall this is a very supportive community. We’re here because we thinks Jenny (who happens to be overweight) is awesome and we agree with a lot of her opinions. Most of us don’t think that people who are overweight are weak, lazy slobs who deserve mockery or derision, so you’re kind of preaching to the choir.

            The thing that bothers me the most about your message is that you don’t acknowledge that people can live a super healthy lifestyle while being overweight and that this extra weight they’re carrying around is STILL unhealthy. It’s as if you think that the health risks that come with being overweight are bullshit.

          2. Alaina, you linked to a blog that links to another blog that links to studies that don’t actually say what the blog claims they say.

            So, yeah, science. :-)

            Also, one of the studies that I read says about 20% of people who lose weight maintain the loss. Not 5% as you claim.

            So, again, science.

            Still, none of this has anything whatsoever to do with my original comment or the discussion of the book and Rory as a wholly unlikable character and her unfair criticisms of Ellie.

      2. Why did you feel the need to add this? She didn’t say that “imperfect” people couldn’t exercise as much as thinner ones. She didn’t say genetics has nothing to do with body type, either. She simply stated that to achieve a certain “perky” looking posterior exercise is more necessary than divine intervention. Because it is. If you lie in bed all day you aren’t going to have the muscle mass necessary for a perky bum. That’s a simple fact. And, there is a reason for pointing it out. In this books typical fashion, it is trying to credit building muscle to an act of God rather than personal effort because obviously evil Ellie can’t be allowed to have even one merit, like being a dedicated athlete. There’s a reason for Renee to point that line of logic out. Yet there is no reason for you to come along and warp what she said into size discrimination other than a desire to hop up on your rickety pedestal and give an unrequested sermon.

        Now, I’m sure some people are reading this and thinking it’s an over reaction to your comment, but I have been following Jen for years and while I don’t participate I do frequently read her comments section because most of her followers are equally as witty and forward thinking as she is. You are one of the few users I know by name, because it’s always the same maddening thing from you. You find someone saying something relatively innocent, then straw man some point about weight onto them so you can take satisfaction in burning down the effigy you sought out to build. It’s negative, nasty and unnecessary. It goes against the whole supportive vibe of this community. It’s not entirely different than Rory seeking out evil traits in Ellie so she can “win” by being better than her, or FSOG’s Anna constantly ripping down evil slutty blonds she imagines making eyes at Christian in order to push her own Pollyanna status forward. You’re nipping at other women, in order to assuage your own insecurities.

        Honestly, if you really see persecution in someone saying what amounts to fit people exercise, you need to examine your world view. It’s toxic, not just to you but also to the people around you.

        1. Thank you, Green. Very well said. :-)

          My point in its entirety was that Ellie is in a gym, presumably exercising and Rory can’t even give her that little bit of credit. It’s just luck.

          Also, calling people who are dedicated to working out regularly “gym bunnies” isn’t very nice and kind of screams insecure.

          1. I tend to agree with Green here.

            So because a clothing line is named ‘gym bunnies’ then it’s ok to use that term? C’mon really? I thought people on this blog would be more enlighted than that, certainly yourself Laina. I often come here to read on Jenny’s blog and I’m not a frequent commentator here but I often like to read through the comments because this kind of blog attracts a deverse range of opinions and has changed my view point on a number of things, including issues that you have brought up yourself -and I respect that.
            But I think there is a time and place to pick your battles and I think this wasn’t one of those times. Renee was just pointing out a very obvious fact that had nothing to do with the aforementioned comment you posted.

        2. Jesus Christ you just wrote 400 words including personal attacks because I pointed out that fat people sometimes excercise without losing weight.

          Yeah. A culture where it’s assumed that fit = skinny, that all skinny people excercise, that fat people don’t excercise, and skinny people have “perfect” bodies is totally not toxic, and there’s no reason we should speak up when people casually add to that culture! There is absolutely no reason to examine how we speak and ask ourselves “is this a harmful stereotype”!

          Yeah. No reason at all.

          1. I’m not going to have a big fight with you about fit and skinny or “perfect bodies.” I just wanted to point out the huge cognitive dissonance I often see in you reading Jen’s indictments of authors who pit women against each other, then seeking to pit yourself against other women in her comments section. I figured you would straw man me and move along with your negative attitude like you always do…. and that’s exactly what you did here:

            > Jesus Christ you just wrote 400 words including personal attacks because I pointed out that fat people sometimes excercise without losing weight.

            No, I didn’t. I very clearly said…

            > Now, I’m sure some people are reading this and thinking it’s an over reaction to your comment, but I have been following Jen for years and while I don’t participate I do frequently read her comments section… You are one of the few users I know by name, because it’s always the same maddening thing from you.

            … then I pointed out a consistent pattern of behavior that I have witnessed from you for a very long time.

            Again, I didn’t do this to be nasty, but rather to shine a light on the negativity I feel you bring to an otherwise positive community so that perhaps, if you feel so inclined, you might find a way to promote your (admirable) body acceptance beliefs without nipping at others.

            Jen has a surprisingly low number of trolls here in Trout Nation. It is fairly safe to assume that those of us who come here support the things she does. A lot of those things are about size acceptance and body love. You can somewhat safely assume most of us support or are even vocal activists for those things too… So why you feel the need to come here and hunt around for fat shaming within her comments section is beyond me. Unless you are simply looking for other women to put down to elevate yourself. That’s what I wanted to point out. If it resonates with you in some way, great. Maybe you can use it to find a way to support your beliefs without needing to put other people down. If not, move on. Who cares what I think.

          2. Pointing out harmful language and stereotyping is not straw manning. A culture where thin bodies are “perfect” bodies is toxic. Pointing out that fit people can be fat is not toxic. Pointing out the science that 95% of weight loss fails is not toxic, nasty, or negative. Those are facts.

            “You’re nipping at other women, in order to assuage your own insecurities.”

            Nope, not a personal insult, assuming I’m insecure. I’m not, but thanks for playing! *salute*

            Why do you think it’s nasty and negative to point out that people who excercise might be fat, and that science has proven that somewhere around 80% of weight likelihood is genetic? Why do you think that’s an putdown? Why do you have a problem with me protesting language that is based in stereotypes and is actually a microaggression? (You don’t have to answer, I don’t really care.)

            Also citation on my “consistent pattern of behaviour” please. If you’re going to make a statement like that, then provide some data! Like the number of comments I’ve made and the number of my “negative” comments. Go ahead.

          3. Two other users agreed that they’d seen the same pattern of behavior, but clearly you are not ready to. And that’s OK. I just hope this candid discussion of it will perhaps make someone else feel better the next time they come under your criticism.

          4. Where in the world did anyone say fit=skinny in these comments (other than you)? Please point out where anyone said that. And please, please, please, PLEASE explain to me what your tirade has to do with what occurred in the scene in question.

            This is going to be long, but it all needs to be said, so buckle up and hold on:

            In the context of the SCENE in question, Rory is on the treadmill lamenting her former “great body” that she acquired due to (wait for it) REGULAR EXERCISE and being an athlete in high school. A few minutes later, she encounters The Evil Ellie, who IS IN A GYM EXERCISING and Rory attributes Ellie’s “great body” not to the exercise that gave Rory a “great body,” but simply to genetics.

            I used to be one of those genetically blessed people and my best friend and her family are all naturally thin people. But you know what? Not one of them has a perky ANYTHING because they don’t work out. You don’t get a perky butt if you don’t do something to get it. You get a flabby, saggy butt that might look good in the right pair of jeans. I have seen my best friend’s ass in various stages of undress regularly for the last 35 years. And I know what my own ass looked like when I was “genetically blessed.” I was a size 3 but I didn’t have a six pack. Why? because I didn’t work to get one.

            On the other hand, somewhere in the last 5-10 years or so I developed Hashimoto’s. I didn’t have a diagnosis until last month. The last five years I have been gaining weight no matter what I did. Since I didn’t know it was medical, I thought adding weight lifting to my routine might help. In February, I rejoined the gym and hired a trainer. I continued gaining weight, my pants were getting tighter and I was pretty frustrated. Despite all of that, you know what happened? My ASS got perkier and tighter. Nothing else change, but my ass looked pretty awesome. FROM THE EXERCISE. Do you want to tell me it was just genetics? That I didn’t earn that perky ass?

            Now let’s talk about your 9% statistic that you keep throwing out (which has absolutely nothing to do with anything anyone else has said because we aren’t talking about someone who previously lost weight, only someone who happened to be in a gym and look good in the gym). If 95% of people gain their weight back but 5% don’t, why would that be? I can think of two reasons. The first is really a compilation of many things, but we’ll throw it under the heading “health.”

            “Health” can mean physical or mental and it can refer to the person who lost the weight’s health or the health of someone the person cares for. Whatever the reason, either it’s something like Hashimoto’s, which causes weight gain despite exercise and healthy eating habits or it can just be something that causes the person to go back to old habits due to stress or exhaustion or medication or any number of things. Not genetics, just an inability to maintain the lifestyle that allowed that person to lose (and possibly maintain that loss) weight in the first place. In other words: The person is consuming more calories than his or her body is burning.

            The second reason is probably more common — at least that has been what I’ve witnessed with people I know personally. That is that they have done some fad diet, lost weight pretty quickly and then went right back to what they were doing before they lost the weight. If you get skinny and then start overeating and not moving again, you’re going to regain weight. Do genetics play a part in one’s ability to gain weight? Certainly. But they don’t control habits.

            So let me tell you a couple stories:

            I know a woman who once weighed 400 pounds. She is in her 40s now and a size 2 competitive weight lifter. She has been a size 2 for several years. Why? Because she continued eating healthy and exercising once she reached her goal and now maintains that goal.

            Second, I was in the gym one day and there were two women in the same area where I was. It’s pretty small, so you can’t help overhearing conversations. One of the women has that lovely perky ass that Ellie apparently has. She’s very muscular and looks pretty awesome (I think, anyway). I’d seen her in there every time I went on Saturday morning and hadn’t thought much about her except that I thought maybe I should follow her around and do what she does. So, anyway, the other woman was doing something with a barbell and Perky Butt woman walked over to offer a correction on the woman’s form. They started talking and it turns out Perky Butt woman used to weight more than 300 pounds. Now she’s about 150 (she’s also pretty tall).

            You, Alaina, would walk into the gym and see these two women and dismiss their bodies as “genetically blessed” and give them no credit for working damn hard to achieve and maintain their look.

            But I’m the one in the wrong here?

            I read some meme once about people who just sit around all day looking for reasons to be offended. I believe wholeheartedly you are one of those people.

            If that validates you somehow, then keep it up. To me, it would be a pretty miserable existence.

        3. Belatedly … thank you, Green and Renee, for pushing back about this. I’m an ED survivor, and I have long found the manner in which Laina attacks any form of exercise/weight loss to make me feel unwelcome and hesitant to share my perspective, even at times when it seems it might be relevant.

          I know these are complex issues and I never want to shout anyone down, or co-opt somebody’s space. But I also believe there’s a way to respectfully share stories and find areas of overlap and common ground. Thanks again.

    1. It’s weird, because I became a D-cup only in the last few years when I put on weight. They still don’t seem that big to me. I think my mental image of myself is still those perky little Bs. Sometimes I look down and I’m surprised by the amount of cleavage.

      1. Cup size is relative to band size. Technically a 40D is about 2 cups larger than a 32D, say. For every band size you go up, you gain about a half cup. That’s why there are things called sister sizes, where two different cup/band sizes can fit very similiarly.

        Bras are so much fun.

        1. I’m a reasonably perky D at the moment, but only because I’m a) pretty small all over so a D isn’t that big, and b) pregnant. I’m usually a B.

        2. Haha, yeah, I am technically a 28D, but my boobs are still small! They are definitely not what someone thinks of when they hear “D cups.” Barely a handful.

      2. Same here. I was a 34 B for most of my bra wearing years. In my head, the fact that my bra size is now 34DDD is some how inaccurate. But, there they are.

    2. I have been fortunate to be somewhat perky despite being larger. I am a DDD, but genetics have played a huge role in that. Breasts come in all different shapes and sizes, however I think she wrote it that way to imply that they might not be natural because to a tremendadouche like Rory anyone who has fake ones is probably the sluttiest slut who ever sloot.

      1. I’m 34, a natural DD and so far my boobs are still pretty good. I could easily go braless back in the day and they looked awesome. I *can*, however, see the start of a slow heading south, eventually they’ll be pointing forward beautifully somewhere around my waist.

        In this novel I think the big breasts are also a comment on the slutty sluttiness that is Ellie. Like she has all those sexy bits! So she has to use them constantly!

    3. Haha! Amen to that.

      Also, side note – sports bras are supposed to strap us DOWN so that we can exercise comfortably. If your breasts look “perky” in a sports bra, especially if you’re a D cup, it’s probably not a sports bra you should be exercising in. Unless you really like running while desperately clutching your breasts to stop the painful momentum.

      Or is that just me?

      1. There are different kinds of sports bras and some can make you look perky while still holding everything in place.

        And even the ones that strap you down still hold you up so your boobs are up at your pectorals rather than at your belly button. lol And I seem to have perma-nip at the gym so that probably adds to the “they’re perky” look. Also, they’re big so no amount of strapping down will make them flat! :-)

  2. “I even had friends, and they would beg the heavens for my thick, shiny brown hair and perfectly peach skin. ”

    Bitch, please. #TeamEllie

  3. Liar should have been “LIESSSSSS” and performed by Madame La Laurie from American horror Story because that will always be gold

    She’s angry because he received a text? Really?

    And we have guy 1) who is hot because he nearly decked a guy (for Rory’s honour, bless) then we have guy 2) who is hot because he decided to insert himself in an totally private discussion between her and another guy and play white knight.


    1. Yeah. For me to have found him hot, he’d have had to give me the opportunity to defend myself first. If some guy slaps me on the rear or invades my personal space, I want to give him a piece of my mind not have another man dive in to reinforce the idea that women are both defenceless and property.

    2. No, no, she’s angry because he HAD HER NUMBER SAVED IN HIS PHONE, GASP! Which obviously proves they’ve been having sweaty monkey sex, and not, y’know, that they’d taken a class together and worked on a group project, or gotten homework from each other, or any other mundane explanation. No, it’s monkey sex, which proves…something. Whores, I guess? We’ll go with whores.

  4. Gods I know Rory had been through a lot of shit and maybe that’s why she’s attracted to a violent guy because the event she’s been in might’ve snapped something in her head and she might be attracted to all kinds of dangers, like heavy drugs, unprotected sex with random people, getting pass out drunk and violent guys but in this all what bothers me is that she seems to be more concerned about her looks than about her dead friends and family. People grief in different ways, but really? The thoughts she gives to her looks so far overshadow the ones about her family. Idk maybe it’s my taste but for me it would be a little more realistic if her mentions of her looks were very few, and with little accompaniment to how “hot” she was and how “guys ogled her”.

  5. I almost couldn’t make it past half of this review. Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ the cliches were making me react violently (and loudly) back here! I confess to having written similar sequences in my own stories before, but that was like fifteen years ago, when I was still in high school. I JUST. I can’t. I love your reviews but somehow I’m dreading the next chapter of this godawful book, because at this point I’ve lost hope in it ever making sense again.

    Also, how the hell did this author imagine D cups being perky? How is that even possible? Maybe the sci-fi element is in Ellie’s bewbs and how they can defy gravity JFC.

  6. A book blog I follow on Facebook just reviewed this…with 4.5 stars (out of 5). I raced right over to see if another chapter were up, because I couldn’t handle it.

    Thank you for salvaging the morning.

  7. I think the science fiction bit of this book is that at the end, we’ll learn it’s set on another planet and all the characters are aliens. At least that would explain why no one behaves like anyone I’ve ever met.

    I get that girl-hate is a real and common thing, but why would Ellie be so upset over seeing Rory and Benji at The Gym? Benji hangs out with Rory almost every day. It shouldn’t be a surprise to Ellie. And why would Rory draw so many conclusions from Ellie knowing Benji’s phone number? It’s a small college. We’ve established they know each other. That doesn’t mean they’re dating. Cy’s the only person who seems even reasonably normal out of this bunch.

    1. OH yes! It’s an alien training facility, they train sleepers to infiltrate Earth. Sadly, all their data on human behaver comes from 90′ romantic comedies/teen drama!
      From now on, this will be canon, no matter what the author says ;-)

    2. Apart from the fact that he says stuff like “there appears to be something upsetting going on between the two of you.” Who talks like that?!

      1. Some people actually do talk like that. People who have English as a second language sometimes break out in big words or strange, outdated phrases. Sometimes I do it too, but only after reading Lord of the Rings :)

  8. “Perfectly peach skin” is not at all descriptive, and reminds me of Crayola. (I always wondered how Crayola came up with “peach” as code for “white person skin color”.)

  9. Oh, my God, how do you manage not to die from boredom?

    It really frustrates me when this happens: an authors promises a novel about aliens or vampires, and then they spend fifteen chapters or so building up completely unnecesary drama and love triangles before anything supernatural or sci-ficy happens. I hate that. It makes me want to hiss “LIESSSSSSSS” in the face of those writers.

  10. not gonna lie… she really appreciated ellie’s body. so i’m gonna sit here in the “she hates on ellie for not wanting her ‘i’m a badass’ vag” camp and ship them forever. she’ll apologize for being a bitch, and say it was because she couldn’t come to terms with her feelings, and then say that it was wrong for her to take it out on ellie and she was sorry. and then ellie would say “well, i don’t forgive you, because seriously? you were terrible! but maybe if you prove you’ve stopped thinking that way i could.” and then they become tentative friends! and then months later they get drunk and SMOOCHY SMOOCHY!

    and they live happily ever after.

    and pave the walkway of their new house with that super lame space rock.

    1. I’m feeling internal confetti and happy unicorns about this ending. This is how the book should go. It would be amazing.

  11. Why can she hurl “cum-burping gutter slut” at Ellie, but she can’t tell Benji, “I don’t want to talk to you, please move, you’re making me uncomfortable?”

    Because it’s okay to be terrible to other women — we’re equals. But males have Status, so you can’t mess with that. >:-(

  12. “You also don’t want to use “and then” as much as it’s being used in this chapter. Some people say to never use it. I like it, in small doses, and I try to avoid it when I can. Sometimes, it feels natural, and you just have to go with your gut instinct. Other times, it sounds like a six-year-old trying to tell you about a field trip.”

    Agreed, Jenny! All I can hear is:

    Chinese Food Lady: And then?
    Jesse: No “and then”!
    Chinese Food Lady: And then!

    - Dude, Where’s My Car.

  13. This book is like a weird sociology text showing everything that’s wrong with how comfortable, educated white women are taught to see ourselves and our place/value in the world. Except it’s serious, and not a satire.

  14. Just then, I felt a searing pain in my backside accompanied by a loud slapping noise that echoed throughout The Gym.”

    I legit thought she farted.

    1. NEW HEADCANON: she totally did, and Benji attacked some random guy in a truly chivalrous attempt to cover up for her. You know what, Rory, you *should* give that guy a kiss.

    2. I firmly believe that’s exactly what happened. And then Benji was like “no, twas not a fart, twas that scoundrel who slapped my fair maiden’s derriere” but we all know it was flatulence.

  15. There’s a lot about this book that I’m having a hard time getting over, but right now the biggest one is: how gross is it that every time she mopes about her happy past, it’s *entirely about Rory?* She used to be popular, she used to be pretty, she had a great life, she was going somewhere! Right, and I get that the losses there are not insignificant, but has she *once* just outright missed her parents? Wished she had a home to go back to, or missed any of the people who dropped out of her life because they couldn’t handle her trauma? Do we even know her folks’ names, or exactly how many people were killed in this horrifying event, or what kind of relationship Rory had with her family before they all died? Even a little, tiny hint of the human connections that she’s lost would go a long way toward humanizing her. But no, the inner narrative has been all about her staggering pain and how unlike anyone else she is because of it. That’s not how regular people think about their losses, I’m pretty sure.

    1. Absolutely! Which leads to the conclusion that Rory is a sociopath and therefore an unreliable narrator, so nothing she says can be trusted. I’m gonna join the headcanon she hates Ellie so much because she wants to get with her.

    2. it makes me think of this tweet whenever i read it.

      her whole backstory is basically fridging everyone she ever knew so she could have feels. and not even in a way that resonates with the audience at all, either. it’s like it’s all made up by rory for sympathy. who asks “oh? what were their names?” when you say “my parents are dead” to end a conversation or whatever. since no one (in world) ever asks, then it’s obviously not important to think up!

  16. Thank you for the “Saved By The Bell” references, otherwise I might have died from boredom. Oh wait, only Rory is allowed to die, right?

  17. Everyone else has done a great job of pointing out all the problematic bullshit (WHERE IS MY GODDAMN SPACE ROCK), so I’m just going to say that “rickety-ass love sawhorse” is my new favorite phrase. It makes me imagine some kind of terrible carpentry supply/DIY sex furniture shop.

  18. I love that you used sibilant consonant. Makes me excited.

    I hated this chapter. Rory was horrible and Benji was a jerk who just can’t take no for an answer. This is the fourth time hes asked her to go to the gym. Its annoying.

  19. You know why she cares more about her looks than her dead family and friends? Because they don’t matter. The only point of their deaths is so that the author can give this character an excuse to be an utterly miserable, shitty, unlikeable person, but we’re supposed to root for her anyway. In fact, I don’t actually like anyone in this book so far. I’m enjoying your snark, Jenny, but unless there’s some improvement, I will be happy to never buy or read this book.

  20. What I mostly don’t get is how the author thought it would be a good idea to have Rory first fondly reminisce about the perfect body she used to have, thanks to sports, then totally hate on Ellie in the very next thought for precisely the same thing.
    Apparently, it was great that Rory was very much into sports and had a rocking body a couple of years ago, while it’s somehow an insult to all womankind, and Rory in particular, that Ellie is like that right now. It’s awesome that boys noticed Rory back in the day, and it’s disgusting that Ellie attracts men now. Bah!!
    The sad part is that this actually had potential. The scene could have been used to give Rory a more relatable personality, by allowing her to honestly explore her rage at Ellie and realize how she irrationally hates on her because she’s what Rory could have been had tragedy not struck her the way it had. And it would have also been a good spot in which to throw in some more details about this whole death mistery and some honest feelings for the loss of her former life and her family on Rory’s part.
    Bit girl-on-girl hate and slut-shaming apparently make for a better read nowadays.

  21. Natural D cup breasts can totally be perky, I say this from personal experience. Admittedly mine are 32D/DD, but they sit where they are meant to sit. No drooping.

  22. I would like to say that I managed a student gym at a very large state school for my college job (I graduated last December, so this is recent) and Benji’s behavior would have had us covering him in cops and we would have banned him for the rest of the year. Also, about the gym thing (this is really bothering me since this was my life for four years), no one acts like this in gyms. People come in groups, stay in their groups, and leave in their groups. There is no inter-group interaction. And as Dude-Bro as college gyms could be, I never saw any one slap an ass. See above about the cops and banning.

    1. Thank you, Jenny! Because all this gym stuff is bugging me, too.

      I’ve spent years hanging around a few different gyms, and even back when I was in college (where we also had a staff attendant always present), and later at a teeny neighborhood gym where everyone knew everything about each other, I still don’t think anyone would ever say “Bout time you brought a piece of ass” to someone else. Generally people come in, do their own workout, and go. I’m assuming this guy was supposed to be implying he thought Benji was gay or something, but the whole exchange is just jarringly unreal.

      1. Even if he’s implying Benji’s gay no one at a gym pays *that* much attention to anyone else. And we had scads of openly gay people and a transgender locker room and none of these issues. It just smacks of “I’ve never been in one, but I’m pretty sure this is how it works…..?” Or, like everyone else was saying, more slut shaming. Wouldn’t want to let an opportunity for that fly by.

  23. Well, this made me nauseous with all the awful (and also cum burping gutter slut legit makes me feel pukey, it sounds so gross), so i’m going to share an amusing boob anecdote! Everyone likes those.

    I wear a 36 G/H depending on brand, but I’ve got this corset I wear to conventions for two reasons: cosplay is fun as hell, and for three or four blessed days I get proper support and no back pain.

    But I can’t drive during this time. “Perky” G cup breasts mean that when I try to steer, I get in my own way. I can’t make sharp turns because going hand over hand is just impossible. Also if I hit a bump I run the risk of giving myself a fat lip.

    When I mentioned this to a friend of mine, he broke for 15 solid minutes.

  24. She grabs Benji “by the cheeks” to kiss him? Like… a movie grandma who pinches the grandkid’s cheeks every time he sees him? All I can picture is his cheeks getting all stretched out as she goes for the kiss.

  25. To the people on Goodreads whose reviews included, “I’ve never read science fiction before,” I would like to say: you still haven’t.

    Science fiction is more than a romance book that throws in some microscopes, space rocks, and, presumably, an alien or two. Where are the deep issues either dealing with hard science or ethics?

    I’m not saying that there can’t be romance in sci-fi — heck, even Winston has a girlfriend in 1984. But that relationship serves a purpose to further our understanding of that society. Here? The relationships are the point, and all the author did was dress up a romance with a space rock. This is a NA book through and through, and I’m baffled by the reviews that praise McGuire’s “versatility” as an author.

    If I put tinsel on my dining chair and call it a Christmas tree… it’s still a dining chair. Just mentioning science or space doesn’t make a book sci-fi.

    Ugh. I need to read some Phillip K. Dick to clear out the garbage from this book.

    1. Seriously, this. I’ve only recently been getting into sci-fi (tv mostly tbh) but I was surprised by the depth of it. Sci-fi isn’t just like ‘oh, look, science and aliens and stuff.” Like, it’s actually really developed and in-depth. The stories can be incredibly intricate and there’s always a theme of exploring humanity and human struggles in this very well constructed environment. And, like you said, ethics.

      And Sci-fi actually cares about the world it creates. This is just a Rory wankfest. It’s like the book already gave up on the plot, so it’s hard to really care.

  26. I am on board the hate-is actually-love train for Ellie and Rory. When male main characters hates each other, a good portion of the audience decides it’s sexual tension. Maybe people need to start doing it for girl-hate too. Just add “I realized I was staring at her” to the end of the “Ellie has a perfect body” passage, and the following scene kinda completely changes.

  27. None of the articles under the heading ‘Isn’t fat unhealthy?’ even claim to present evidence that fat isn’t unhealthy. They just point out that fat is less unhealthy than previous studies have shown.

  28. Sorry if I’m double posting, but my comment isn’t showing up.

    None of the studies under the heading ‘Isn’t fat unhealthy?’ even claim to provide evidence that fat isn’t unhealthy. They just point out that fat is less unhealthy than previous studies have shown.

    1. There’s one where the headline claims the study says that living a healthy lifestyle (healthy diet, exercise, no smoking and moderate-to-no alcohol) causes life expectancy for an obese person to be the same as a healthy weight person following the same lifestyle. The study ACTUALLY says that if you take two people of similar BMI and one follows a healthy lifestyle and the other doesn’t, the one following the healthy lifestyle will live longer than the other one. It doesn’t compare life expectancy for people of differing BMIs at all.

      I’m not saying you can’t be obese and healthy or obese and live a long life. But I do know that the people I know who have been obese for a long time can barely walk now. Visiting my 32-year-old friend who used to be active all the time and seeing that she couldn’t walk the length of a city block without trouble was so sad for me. I hate that she is in that place because it sucks. It limits what you can do. Even if she lives to 100, she is still suffering terrible consequences. My mother’s knees have been shot for years because of her weight. My aunt’s knees and hips are a mess because of her weight. My best friend’s stepfather has all sorts of muscular and joint issues due to his weight. These are people I love dearly and I wish that they weren’t in pain.

      1. Yes, that’s one very specific example of a health risk that comes with being overweight: due to the extra weight your joints wear out quicker.

        I lot of this boils down to a sort of down-the-rabbit-hole opinion that part of society has about people with overweight. Clearly, it’s relatively easy to not be overweight (eat healthy, exercise regularly) and so everyone who is overweight is lazy and/or stupid, therefore overweight people should be shamed, disrespected etc. Which is not what the majority here thinks AT ALL. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t acknowledge that being overweight does carry health risks.

        1. Oh I definitely don’t think the people I know who are overweight are lazy or stupid! And, really, most of them eat healthy foods. They just eat a LOT of healthy foods. And as someone who has lost weight herself, I know it isn’t easy to do. Everyone has something they’re motivated to do but it isn’t always the same thing. Not everyone wants to or can spend the time exercising and when you’re hungry, you’re hungry. Not to mention the emotional and psychological things that go into some people’s relationships with food. I grew up seeing it and was lucky my mother didn’t pass those things on to me.

  29. I am really enjoying these recaps, they make up for the discontinuation of the One Direction crapfest novel.

    As I am somewhat of a newbie, could someone fill me in on the difference between Young Adult and New Adult literature? Is the NA genre supposed to comprise cliched, badly written, rip-offs of rip-offs of Twilight and its ilk? That’s the feeling I’m getting.

    1. Speaking of After, does anyone know how it’s doing now it’s been officially published (or at least the first volume)? It’s sure not on the NYT Bestseller list or anything.

      @ Tracy: The biggest differences between YA and NA are:

      Young Adult lit is aimed at readers 12 to 18, and the characters are usually 14 to 18 years old. Once your characters are over 18 or out of high school-type surroundings (depending on what kind of world your novel is set in), the characters are getting into what is technically New Adult territory. It’s not set in stone — a number of novels with “old” characters have been marketed as YA (Gayle Forman’s Where She Went and Just One Year and Lish McBride’s Hold Me Closer, Necromancer series both feature young men in their early 20′s, for instance). Young Adult literature is an age category, not a genre, and it encompasses every genre adult books do: mysteries, romances, light silly stuff, deep dark stuff, high fantasy, urban fantasy, contemporary, and anything else you can think of.

      New Adult technically should also be a category rather than a genre, but at the moment it seems to be code for “books about virgin college-age girls getting introduced to sex,” and they tend to be much, much more explicit than a Young Adult book is allowed to be. So at the moment it seems to me to be more of a niche than a full category of literature.

      1. Unless its paperback sales are doing better than its ebook sales, After isn’t earning out its advance. But I have no idea about paperback sales. I do know that one of my books that has been out for a year has a higher Amazon sales rank, and I know how much money that book makes me per month.

      2. It looks like on Amazon and B&N After is doing pretty good in paperback. But still not the billion sales people were hyping it to receive. I think it was on the USA Today list.

  30. Thanks Ilex. I still can’t believe how this McGuire person got published, if all her books are like Apolonia. It’s like all the author knows about real life for a young adult came from crappy, sensationalistic teen sitcoms and reality shows.

  31. Didn’t she say something about her hair being black in the first chapter? Since then it’s been brown.

    Should’ve done a better job editing, McGuire. :/

  32. I really, really love your Jealous Hater Book Club. Just so you know, “wh*re” is a slur that contributes to discrimination/violence against sex workers.

  33. “Perky D-cups? Now I know McGuire was a fanfic writer.”

    In case you didn’t know yet: Beautiful Disaster was originally a Twilight fanfic. Like a lot of things seem to be these days.

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