Jealous Hater’s Book Club: Apolonia Chapter 6

FLASHY GIF WARNING: There is a flashy gif in here. It’s not so flashy that it triggered any events for me, but you know your stuff better than I know your stuff, so heads up, there’s a picture with blinky text on it. It’s David Tennant, and it comes after two pictures of me looking alternately hopeful, then angry.

This book was a finalist in the GoodReads Reader’s Choice awards this year.

For best science fiction.



The chapter opens four weeks from chapter five, and Rory and Benji have been eating together every day. Her grades are getting better, and she hasn’t seen Ellie as much. Shit is looking up in Rory-land.

Well, except for one thing:

Spending time with Benji seemed to take up my days, and being ignored by Cy took up my nights. We would sit across from each other, barely speaking, barely making eye contact.

So, Cy is pulling an Edward Cullen, is what’s happening here. No matter what Rory does, she can’t get Cy to talk to her other than a few words at a time.

I pretended not to notice, but I wanted to punch him for pulling me into that amazing hug as if he gave a shit and then spending nearly a month making me feel as if I were invisible.

I keep feeling like some of these time jumps are really odd. I don’t mind when a book jumps over sections of unimportant, boring stuff–like when Bella and Edward broke up and there were just blank pages–but this is actually important information. Rory is just telling us, “Yeah, I started hanging out with Benji more, and I’m happy about it,” and “Cy is ignoring me and it’s making me feel this way,” but wouldn’t it be more interesting to see that going on?

Well, no, probably not, but it should be there, anyway. If it’s going to exist, and it’s going to be an integral part of the characterization and plot, we kind of need to see it happen. The stuff that isn’t going to figure into the plot at all is the stuff you can just ignore.

Like the science fiction element.

Halloween night, while everyone was dressing up and attending parties, Cy and I were in the basement, punching numbers.

Hang on, do we finally know when we are? Her first day of class was in chapter one. In chapter three, it’s been two weeks since that. Chapter four was another two weeks, so it’s been a month since the first day of class. Chapter five starts two weeks after that, on the first day of October. And chapter six starts four weeks after that. So, wait… okay, I finally have a feel for when we are in this book’s leaping timeline.

But we still have no clue what numbers they’re punching or why.

Cy cleared his throat, and for the first time in weeks, he spoke to me first, “I can talk to Dr. Zorba about a space

Photo on 12-7-14 at 9.00 PM #4


Photo on 12-7-14 at 9.02 PM

“He’ll never go for it,” I said, wiping my lips with the cuff of my sweater. “He wouldn’t risk a fire or a significant temperature change affecting the specimen.”

“It won’t affect the specimen. It came from space.”


“Exactly. Where it’s cold.”


No. No, no. It’s not “cold” in space. It’s not anything in space. That’s why it’s space. Temperature in space is relative to whatever is floating around out there. If there’s a golf ball floating past the sun, that is going to be a hot fucking golf ball. But not because space is hot. Because the sun is hot. And when that golf ball floats away, it’s going to be less hot. It might even go so far away that it’s totally frozen. But it’s the golf ball that’s cold. Not outer space.

Plus, let’s just wrap our heads around the concept that while this space rock was found in the arctic tundra, it did have to plummet through our atmosphere to get there, and that kind of event tends to generate heat that can be described as “slightly above room temperature.”

“Who says that planet it originated from wasn’t able to retain higher temperatures?”

“Like Venus?”

“Exactly like Venus. I mean… I’m sure that it’s possible. I’ll look into a space heater.”

Oh, well, now that you put it in those vaguely sciencey sounding terms, of course!

Look, I’m not Bill Nye or anything, but I’m almost 100% sure that Dr. Zoidberg would already know what kind of environment this thing should be kept in, right? Like, wouldn’t that be one of the very first science tests? “It’s okay in the cold… what happens if we move it into a slightly warmer room?” Is this basement room they’re working in as cold as the arctic? Then what is the issue here?

This science.

This fucking science.

There’s some forced quip about Uranus jokes, then Rory catches Cy looking at her:


“You’re much more attractive when you smile, and your laugh is lovely.”

And then Rory, rebel that she is, is all, “I don’t need you to tell me I’m attractive! I’m alternative and cool and not like the other girls! Don’t be interested in me, I think I don’t deserve love!”

Nah, she tells him thank you, and then he says:

“I just want you to… I don’t know what I want.”

He stared at me for a few moments more and then continued with his work. My face caught fire as the blood pooled under my cheeks. My fingers wouldn’t work after that, and I couldn’t concentrate on the numbers.

WHAT NUMBERS?! For the love of fuck just tell us what these numbers are and what they’re referring to! We hear about “the numbers” more than we hear about this highly improbable space rock, can we at least know what they mean?

I feel like the research that went into the science side of this story was like, the author looking for stock photos of scientists and going, “Wow, there are numbers on the blackboards behind them in almost every single one.” And that’s it. Science = numbers. End of story.

Cy gives Rory a candy bar, because it’s Halloween, and he wants to know why she isn’t at a Halloween party:

“Fake blood. Dead people. Slutty costumes. None of it screams fun to me.”

Once again, I must point out that the limits of my ability with this blogging stuff is that I don’t know how else to indicate there were italics in the quote function. The underline is italics.

This is a really good bit of characterization for Rory here, that honestly, some authors wouldn’t have thought of. It’s really easy to focus on the macro bits of characterization, like horrible murders and dead parents, and forget the micro pieces, like, “This could cause her to really dislike this holiday everyone else loves.”

But does the “slutty” part have to be in there? Were her parents murdered by sluts? That would explain so much about Rory’s aversion to sluts and slut-related paraphernalia? Or is it just that seemingly ever-present vibe of internalized misogyny we’re so craving in our New Adult books?

Cy wants to walk Rory home, and she’s like, “why?”

He blinked a few times and then cleared his throat. “I think that maybe my insistence not to form attachments here was incorrect. We spend a lot of time together in this lab, and I’d like to get to know you better. As much as one can in the time I have left.”

Don’t worry, he’s not dying. He’s just going home soon.

“So that’s why you’ve been ignoring me? Because you know you’re leaving?”

He hesitated. “In part, yes.”

“What’s the other part?”

He squirmed in his chair. “You…intrigue me.”

I feel like maybe he’s not real clear on the meaning of the word “intrigue.” If you’re ignoring something you find intriguing, you probably don’t find it that intriguing.

Despite the difficulty I had focusing, I forced myself to get through the pages of data on my desk. My mind kept wandering off, questioning why I felt so drawn to him. Cy wasn’t my type. He was leaving. His lack of concert tees told me that we likely had nothing in common.

I feel like if your criteria for whether or not you have something in common with someone should extend just slightly past whether or not they wear concert t-shirts. And we’ve already heard that Benji doesn’t wear concert t-shirts, he dresses like an on-duty Best Buy employee, and she hangs out with him all the time.

But even then, i had a strong feeling that there was a reason life had thrown us together.

Because there is a greater being directing the events of your life. That greater being is also responsible for you being a future scientist who is paradoxically uninterested in a space rock.

Cy offers Rory his coat for the walk home, and she declines. I don’t know, maybe it’s not that she’s so smart that she can’t remember to wear a coat. Maybe she just doesn’t like coats, and she’s not being honest with herself or others?

Cy asks Rory what her major is, and she says:

“I’m considering Bio Med. I have a thing for Astrobiology though, and Dr. Z and my father…” I began, but got lost in the thought.

Hang on. Rory is a junior. I realize people can and do change their majors all the time, and some people don’t choose a major for a while, but it seems like if she’s going into a field like science, wouldn’t she need to choose a major earlier than her junior year? And Astrobiology is kind of a broad term. Like, can you even major in that? Wouldn’t you just major in one of the areas of the subject, like chemistry or physics or something? I’m not a guidance counsellor, but if you’re trying to get into a grad school situation, science wise, isn’t it better to keep your major kind of vague?

Discuss in the comments, I’m interested to hear thoughts on this.

“Were astrobiologists? Nothing wrong with having similar interests as a parent. It’s quite honorable where I’m from.”


Okay, I’m pretty sure we’re all on the same page about Cy being a potential alien, right? So if he’s saying, “it’s honorable on my planet,” then okay, whatever. But here’s the thing: the author has presented him as being Egyptian. So here we have this person from another culture making a comment about honor, and it makes me distinctly uncomfortable. It just feels icky in a modern perspective. Are there places where honor as a concept is valued? Sure. Probably. But it’s just so cliche to show someone from a “foreign” culture talking about honor.

Maybe that’s just me.

Rory tells Cy that she’s not sure if she wants to be an astrobiologist, because something about it just doesn’t feel right to her. When Cy says that he gets it, she says:

“No, you don’t,” I said. It wasn’t the right thing to say or even remotely polite, but I became weirdly defensive when it came to my pain and memories.

Well, if you endure the horrific murder of your entire family and nearly die yourself, I can understand how that might make you a tad defensive. But Cy isn’t saying, “I understand how you feel about your dead family.” He’s saying that he understands how she feels about not wanting to go into her dad’s field. He might actually understand that, so don’t jump the gun. He has no idea that your family is dead.

No one got anything about me, not even Dr. Z, and they didn’t get to say they did. If they understood or related to me, it meant I had to share something that belonged only to me.

Again, Rory, you’re isolating yourself, understandably (NO YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND ME, JENNY!), due to your trauma. But so far, for this entire book, I haven’t seen a single character behave toward you as though they had superior knowledge about your experience. Cy is just saying that he understands not wanting to go into your dad’s profession, and he’s saying this after he just mentioned about his honor and shit. For all he knows, he does understand, and he thinks you’re on mutual footing. Not everything is about your dead parents, especially when you admittedly don’t tell people about them.

But Cy apologizes and Rory changes the subject by asking what his major is:

“Interplanetary Culture.”


Called it.

Rory is all, uh, they don’t have that class here, and Cy is like, no, but they do back home, and by the way, if you couldn’t tell by those clues that I’m an alien, when I came here and started studying this mysterious space rock, then I don’t know what the fuck to tell you.

Or maybe just that first part.

Cy and Rory banter, and they actually display some chemistry towards each other, albeit in a very forced, very predictable teen television drama kind of way. He makes her laugh, which we know is like, mission fucking impossible.

And then this happens:

“This is me. Thanks for walking me home and for asking this time.”

He ignored my mention of him showing up at my door.

“You’re never going to explain that, are you?” I asked.

“I don’t think I need to.”

“So, my hypothesis that you followed me after the lab is correct?”

Cy didn’t answer.


“I’ve already told you. I wanted to make sure you were okay.”

Edward Checks Out

“That’s all?”

“That’s all, and for some reason, I needed to see you.”


“Why must you ask so many questions, Rory?”


Yeah, Rory. Why don’t you stop asking so many questions about stuff like why a total stranger would follow you to your home the very first day that you met. God.

No, but seriously, why isn’t Rory more cautious about this? She was almost murdered. Her whole family was murdered. She doesn’t trust the guy who’s basically her best friend enough to tell him what happened to her, and she broke his nose when he put his hand on her wrist. So… why isn’t she more wary about a guy who showed up at her door after following her home the day they met? Why isn’t she more concerned about his creepy display of unwarranted affection, and the way he shut her out after? None of this is ringing any sort of danger bell for you, Rory?

“Weren’t you just defending the right to learn while in college?”

Cy lowered his eyes and took a breath. “And just like college, some things we must wait to learn.”

Like, learning that the guy you have a crush on is an alien, for example.

He managed a small smile and then fidgeted for a bit before reaching for me. He pulled me against him, and my entire body stiffened.

He held his warm cheek against mine and whispered in my ear, “No one knows everything.”

He let me go and walked away quickly, his hands in his pockets.

And then she body slams him into the concrete. No, no, wait. She’s totally fine with this grabby behavior, even though she’s so deeply traumatized and isolated that her PTSD is triggered almost daily.

Look. I get that sometimes people are going to write about mental illness and they’re not going to get everything absolutely right. But I’m pretty fucking sure that PTSD can’t be cured by alien love, and I have this really sick, pit of my stomach feeling that this is the avenue we’re heading down. Introducing a character and showing us that they are psychologically vulnerable, alright, you’re taking a risk. But you have to see that characterization through. You can’t just show us stereotypical alternateen behavior, say it’s caused by this huge trauma, and then drop any pretense of it when it’s time to jump on the trope train to love triangle town. At least tell us why this is different. Let us inside Rory’s head–we’re in first person, for crispy sake!–so that we know why this is a realistic, true to character reaction. Either aversion to touch is a feature of Rory’s PTSD, or it’s not. Fucking pick one and stick to it.

In class the next day, Benji sits next to Rory and is talking to her.

I opened my laptop, ignoring him for the most part and thinking about the night before. It was nice to walk with Cy and to talk about classes and my major instead of the rock.


And how shitty is it that she sits there and ignores Benji the moment she’s distracted by Cy? I’m sorry, Benji, but you’re the Kate Kavanaugh of this book. Don’t let Rory borrow your plum polo shirt.

I thought about how soft and warm his skin was against my cheek and how good he smelled.

Benji prattled on, oblivious to the fact that I was clearly preoccupied, and then Cy walked in.

She’s done with you, Benji, go away. She’ll summon you when she needs you.

Before I did anything stupid, like wave, Cy’s eyes drifted to Benji, and Cy’s entire face tightened. Benji noticed it, too, and they traded strained glances.


Benji kind of gets the vibe between the two of them, and he suspects something’s up:

His playful expression faded. “I saw him walking you home this morning. Are you guys…”

“That was at two o’clock. Why were you hanging around my dorm at two in the morning?”

Benji puffed out a laugh. “I wasn’t hanging around your dorm. I was running.”

Edward Checks Out

Benji tells her that it’s cool by him if she likes someone else:

My eyes met Benji’s. He looked wounded. “I never asked you to like me.”

He shook his head. “No, I know. I just… I will always be your friend. It doesn’t matter if you reciprocate those feelings or not. I don’t need you to love me to love you.”

I should point out here that this exchange is happening during Dr. Zoidberg’s lecture. Rory is freaked out about the fact that Benji said he loves her. But she doesn’t even entertain the thought that Benji might mean “love” in a friendship sense.

Benji feeling hurt was beginning to affect me in ways I didn’t like or appreciate. I wanted us to go back to being friends, as we were before, but it was becoming clear that we couldn’t I never asked him to be my friend in the first place or to love me or however he felt about me.

Yeah, she never asked Benji to have a non-platonic relationship with her. Like, when she kissed him. The fact that she’s known from the very beginning of this book that he had a crush on her–it’s been referenced plenty of times–and she threw a jealous fit at the thought that he might have had some kind of relationship with the girl she hates, there’s no reason at all for him to think that she was interested in him.

Rory is literally the girl that every Nice Guy, trilby wearing MRA fuck bitches about on Reddit.

Why should I have to take on this guilt when I tried to keep a respectable difference from the beginning?

oprah is not buying it

I think we’ve already covered the part where she did not, in fact, remain “a respectable distance,” up to and including expressing her feelings of personal betrayal when she thought he’d dated Ellie.

It wasn’t my fault. He was the one who was being dishonest. It ruined everything, and now, Cy was finally coming around.

Hold up. Your friend, the only fucking friend you have in the entire world, says they don’t need you to love them in the same way they love you, is some how being dishonest? And they should have kept this sentiment to themselves, because it’s complicating a relationship you don’t have and an attraction that you haven’t admitted to in the first place?

I truly get the feeling that Benji is trying to gracefully save their friendship and reassure her that he’ll still be there for her even if she ends up dating another guy. And while he may seem disappointed, he’s not pulling a Xander and  yelling at her. He’s said his piece and he’s finished talking about it.

Speaking of which, they do an awful fucking lot of talking in the middle of this lecture. How uncomfortable must Cy be if he can hear this?

I could feel Benji’s disappointment radiating from his perfectly ironed peach oxford. What self-respecting guy wears peach–even if the color does look amazing with his skin and eyes–or feathers his hair since 1991, for that matter?

She’s trying to make herself angry at Benji, so she decides to judge him on his clothing choices–while reminding readers that a super hot guy is interested in her, thus validating her as a woman–so she can feel better about rejecting him (even though he was totally cool about that rejection and didn’t pressure her).

Class dismissed, and I took my things and darted past Benji, not even saying good-bye. I wasn’t sure if he tried. I refused to look.

Rory decides that rather than eat lunch, she’s going to go to the lab to set up samples for Cy to use later that night. Because I guess these college students are just carving up a space rock now. But Cy is already there.

I walked over to his desk where he had petri dishes and small square stickers marked with consecutive numbers.

“I guess you don’t need me at all,” I teased.

“Oh, I need you. Make no mistake about that.”

I was standing a bit behind him, so I watched, hoping he would turn around and wink or smile or somehow indicate that what he said meant more.

Rory asks him what he meant by that, and he plays it cool, and she’s like:

“Good to know. Just wanted to be clear that you didn’t mean something else.”

I know you care

Then Cy aks to walk her to her next class–holy shit, she goes to other classes?–and they do more banter. They stop at a food truck, and she orders a falafel, which Cy has never heard of:

“It’s a Middle Easter dish,” I said, confused by his confusion.

“Just because it’s Middle Eastern doesn’t mean I must have heard of it. Are you familiar with all Canadian dishes because Canada is also located in North America?”

No, you fucking extraterrestrial, but I know for a fact that if you’re going to college in a city in Egypt, there’s someone selling falafel somewhere. Because that’s how cities work. There’s all sorts of people and food in them. You fucking Mork.

Rory teases him, asking if he wants to walk her to her next class, too, and babysit her while she’s cutting her hair that night.

I wasn’t expecting him to say yes. “It’s kind of ritualistic. I should probably just be alone.”

“You don’t have to be. I can be there with you.”

Rory is totally cool with him intruding on her ritualistic haircut, so they make plans to meet up later that night.

WTF is a ritualistic haircut, anyway? Does she put on dark robes and inscribe a pentagram in raven blood on her forehead? Are there candles? Are dark forces conjured?

Benji is in this class with Rory, too, and he makes a comment about how all the time she spends in the lab is cutting into his “Rory time,” which is kind of a douchey thing to say. My friends and I say that, but we’re also not making sad love-from-afar eyes at each other when we’re saying it.

But it doesn’t bother Rory, she just teases him.

Is what I am feeling a… good mood? Do I even remember what that feels like? Whatever it was, it was completely fine with me if it stuck around a while. But then it occurred to me that I hadn’t thought about my family all morning, and my good mood immediately dissipated. It felt like a betrayal, disrespectful to go a day without thinking about them. They deserved better from me.

See, this is where I get so furious at Rory’s characterization. Right there, the survivor’s guilt? It’s totally believable. So the author is showing that she’s perfectly capable of doing this characterization right. But it’s like she gets to these points in the story where she wants to put romance in, so she drops the realism completely. It’s so god damn frustrating.

When Benji tries to smile at her during class, she ignores him, and when she goes outside:

I pulled at my sweater sleeves, covering my fists with the wool to try to ward off the cold.

Hey Rory, you know what’s good for that? A coat.

I looked down at the bottom of the steps, and there stood Cy. And involuntary smile touched my lips.

“What are you doing here?” I said, descending the ten or so steps down to him.

“I decided to take you up on your invitation to walk you to your next class.”

And Rory is all, “I was just joking, and this is kind of creepy behavior coming from a guy who wouldn’t even speak to me two days ago.”

Just kidding.

Without thinking, I threw my arms around him. Cy wasn’t fazed. He pulled me more tightly against him, crossing his arms across my back and pressing his chin gently into my shoulder. I buried my face into his neck. He smelled so good. I couldn’t get enough of it. It wasn’t even cologne. It was just him. His skin was as warm and soft as it looked. He let me get as close to him as I needed, and then he let me let go of him when I needed to.

He didn’t ask me what was wrong or if I was okay. He just walked with me in silence to my next class.

Okay, finally we’re starting to get a sense that Rory is reacting differently to Cy because he’s not all up in her business, and she feels comfortable with him because of that. But come on now. A few paragraphs ago you were all, “Oh my god, I’ve betrayed my family by not constantly thinking about them,” and now it’s, “Ooh, boy smell good. Me likey.”

When I stopped in the doorway, he finally spoke, “I’ll wait for you.”

This fool is literally going to wait for her to come out of her class. Doesn’t he have any other classes? Any place to be, or anything to do? And again, why is this behavior something Rory is okay with?

There was no use in pretending that I didn’t want or need him around more, so I nodded and went inside, relieved to know Cy would be there when class was over.

And that’s it. Literally nothing important about the space rock. Nothing that would indicate that it has anything to do with the story except for be an excuse to throw Rory and Cy together. Six chapters of relationship drama, not even particularly interesting relationship drama, leading up to the big, “I know what you are/say it” Twilight moment that we all know is coming.

This is bullshit, y’all.

102 thoughts on “Jealous Hater’s Book Club: Apolonia Chapter 6

  1. “Is this basement room they’re working in as cold as the arctic?”

    My regular business (non-sciency) office in Florida is that cold pretty much all the time, so it’s possible. ;-)

    1. “Hang on. Rory is a junior. I realize people can and do change their majors all the time, and some people don’t choose a major for a while …”

      I’m 95% (this may be different in some US institutions) that students MUST declare a major at the ends of their sophomore years. That doesn’t mean you won’t change it (I changed mine after my first semester of my junior year), but you have to be in a major. The first two years are gen-ed stuff that pretty much everyone has to take. Then you have to have a specific number of credits in the 300 and 400 class range in order to graduate and if you don’t declare early enough, you won’t graduate in a reasonable amount of time. Luckily, the art history and anthropology credits I had from that semester counted toward my electives when I switched to English, so it didn’t add time for me.

      “And Astrobiology is kind of a broad term.”

      And also makes me think she might actually be interested in a rock that came from space. I don’t know enough about the different sciences as fields of study to comment on whether that’s a major or broad or whatever. I know that Raj on The Big Bang Theory is an astrophysicist, though. lol

      “I’m sorry, Benji, but you’re the Kate Kavanaugh of this book.”

      I just finished a Jennifer Weiner book published before 50 Shades and there was a Katherine Cavanaugh in it. I can’t help wondering if that was another thing EL stole …

      And maybe Ellie killed her family!

      Also, I think this may be the most boring book ever written.

      1. Yeah. My husband has a degree in astrophysics. Astrobiology doesn’t seem broad to me, especially since there’s not a huge amount we know about it.

        1. To be honest, “Astrobiology” sounds kind of made up to me. I mean, I’m sure there are scientists who are interested in extra-terrestrial life, but it can’t be that big of a field… can it? We know next to nothing about life forms no from earth. Also, since it’s gotta be fairly obscure I find it hard to believe that astrobiology is a major at anything less than an Ivy League school that has hella amounts of funding (maybe even only as a graduate option…like there might be an astrobiology class offered every other semester or something to undergrads). But it is kind of hard to get a handle on what kind of university Rory’s at because that would be too much work for the author to research.

          1. Astrobiology is an actual course you can take and there is a field of study related to it (a lot of theory, a lot of studying life in the more desolate parts of Earth to see what it could be like on planets with similar environments) however, I’m pretty damn certain you can’t major in it. Not directly.

            If you’re interested though you can take it for free online on, it’s taught by University of Edinburgh.

          2. I’m a little late to the party with my comment, but astrobiology is a legitimate, albeit new, degree program. The physics department I worked for began offering it recently at the undergrad, grad and postdoc level. Its mainly a astrophysics degree with a heavy dose of some organic chemistry and biology. It’s not exactly geared at understanding life on other planets, more like what are the conditions on other planets from a bio-chemical perspective, and perhaps how might these conditions be conducive to molecular or early life.

            But that being said, if this is her interest, why the hell isn’t she more pumped up about the space rock????

    1. Actually, I know many college students (mostly males, in fact) who iron their clothes. Granted, many of them are not American but some are. Not everyone is as sloppy as your average Joe freshman ;)

  2. Jenny, I feel terrible for laughing as hard as I did at your suggestion that maybe Rory’s family was murdered by sluts (or S.L.U.T.S.? Maybe an organization for keeping aliens from visiting earth? And she’s over-generalized the acronym as part of her trauma?) Because at least that really would explain these constant nasty outbursts.

  3. It’s the finalist for sci-fi? Does that mean there’s actually going to be sci-fi here? At some point? Ever? Maybe?

    These time leaps are avoiding character development – she can now just SAY if she’s closer or if someone’s pushing her away rather than presenting it – it also relies on Rory being an infallible narrator which she has proved she most certainly isn’t.

    The science in this book is hilarious, though I doubt it’s meant to be. And now I have mental images of a gang of Serial Killer Sluts. “Interplanetary culture” the question for this isn’t “we don’t have a class for that” but “that isn’t actually a thing.”

    Sometimes this book seems to get Rory’s trauma right – then becomes the guy’s her Designated Love Interest all of those well established triggers and issues go out the window because they’re awkward. I hate this not just in this book but in fiction in general – where something (societal prejudice, a disability, a mental illness) will just be SWITCHED OFF because it’s not convenient for the plot for it to be there

    1. Yaaa, that was my reaction re Interplanetary Culture. I mean… that straight up implies “alien.” Since we don’t have aliens, how can there be majors on their cultures…? Anywhere on Earth?

  4. I wouldn’t mind Cy’s inexplicable interest in her if it turned out he was there as a galactic foreign exchange student studying alien cultures and was latching onto her as an extreme example of cultural tropes and morays and was writing his dissertation on her. So he’s not in love with her, she just makes a fascinating research study for a sociology or anthropology class. Following her around to observe her behaviour, trying to keep a distance at first so as to limit affecting his study and invalidating his results, but then realizing that he can’t study her behaviour from afar properly and has to get closer to her to finish his paper… Alas, that’s not how this will go.

    It still bugs the crap out of me that she seems to hate the rock. The fucking rock should be goddamn fascinating.

    Part of me feels bad for Benji because she was very much leading him on from what you’ve described, but the other part of me thinks he’s an idiot for liking someone as hateful as her in the first place so my sympathy for the sucker is limited.

    Speaking as someone who’s lived in a home where we needed an alarm system that alerted every cop within a 2 hour drive if we hit the panic button because of threat of brutal murder (growing up the child of a cop who investigates major crimes/organized crime is fun) I can say it is entirely possible to simultaneously suspect everyone around you of being out to kill you and not really being afraid of that fact. Not a terribly common reaction though. I can’t really imagine someone who has displayed PTSD behaviours around being followed and touched just ‘getting over it’ because the person doing it is ‘cute’. In fact, I know a few people with PTSD who really liked some people who had a bad habit of accidentally triggering their PTSD. ‘Love’ does not instantly cure anxiety disorders, phobia’s, or trauma. Nor does lust. Though you could argue that maybe Cy releases some kind of alien stress relieving hormone. Like a walking talking lavender plant. She does say she likes his smell. Maybe that’s how there will finally be some sci-fi in this sci-fi novel.

    1. I would be so into the idea of Cy writing a research paper on Rory. Like, no wonder he’s interested in her ritualistic haircut.

      “The earth subject, whom I will refer to as Gigatron for anonymity, seems to practice a sacred ritual of something called ‘haircutting’ wherein they slice off the fur helmet growing out of their bulbous cranium. I have yet to discover why this is.’

      ‘I held Gigatron’s body close to mine in order to ascertain their body temperature – 97 degrees farenheit (aka 47 trigons.) I have tried to dress them in a coat to study the affects of temperature increase, but they refused. Will try again tomorrow.’

      ‘The subject invited me on what they refer to as a ‘date.’ We consumed organic matter together. What this had to do with the date in question, I have yet to gather, but it is November 11th and we had ‘spaghetti.’ The meal looked remarkably like ‘hair’ but it was not made from the same material. Further research is required.’

      ‘Gigatron grabbed my hand and held onto it while we walked. I have yet to gather what this means, but I wore gloves to as to make sure we did not mate accidentally. I still have 40 moon cycles before I am ready for offspring.’

      Okay, I’ll stop writing these. But like, imagine if Cy isn’t actually jealous of Benji, but he’s trying to study Benji and Rory’s mating habits and he doesn’t realize he’s accidentally insterted himself in a love triangle, because he’s not even interested in Rory at all.

        1. That is so much better than the actual book. I love it. I hope you keep going because I will definitely keep reading. There’s already more science fiction in your few entries based on the first chapter than there is in the entire book up to this point!

          1. Thank you! I am definitely going to keep going (actually uploaded chapter 2.) I’m having a lot of fun with the sci-fi actually. I wasn’t sure I could include any, but I think it’s going to be mostly sci-fi (I’m actually having more trouble including Rory than I am weird alien stuff.)

            And it’s your idea that sparked the whole thing! Which is great, because now I’m really excited about these recaps. (I love Jenny and everything she says, but this book is just…ugh, you know?)

    2. It still bugs the crap out of me that she seems to hate the rock. The fucking rock should be goddamn fascinating.

      I just read an article in Science magazine this past weekend about meteorites and people who hunt them and collect them. It was more human interest than science, really, but it made me keep wondering “How on earth can Rory be finding a meteorite boring? These are all beautiful and amazing.” It’s almost as if the author didn’t even bother opening Google images, much less try any other research into meteorites.

      1. She probably just looked at images of a full meteorite, which tend to be just a lumpy mass of black rock. But given all the ‘counting’ they do with it and prepping slides, they’re looking at cut up samples of it, not the thing as a whole, which makes sense, but also makes them look considerably more fascinating even to the average layperson.

        Speaking of numbers though, I’ve been trying to think what numbers they could be calculating, but then I realized that they’re in an ASTROBIOLOGY class, not a geology class. All the things I can think of that you would be counting in a meteorite have more to do with geology than biology. They should be searching the slide for signs of microbial life or fossils. Which, unless they’re finding a LOT (which *definitely* shouldn’t be boring) counting really isn’t a part of… Dear authors; please at least do SOME research into science before you write about it. If you’re not willing to learn what astrobiology even IS, please don’t write about it. It would actually be even MORE believable for the alien to be in a sociology class, since he’s there learning about Earth culture.

    3. “I wouldn’t mind Cy’s inexplicable interest in her if it turned out he was there as a galactic foreign exchange student studying alien cultures and was latching onto her as an extreme example of cultural tropes and morays and was writing his dissertation on her. So he’s not in love with her, she just makes a fascinating research study for a sociology or anthropology class. Following her around to observe her behaviour, trying to keep a distance at first so as to limit affecting his study and invalidating his results, but then realizing that he can’t study her behaviour from afar properly and has to get closer to her to finish his paper… Alas, that’s not how this will go.”

      Omg where is this novel because that sounds adorable. If it there isn’t one I’d be more than happy to steal that idea for a novella or a short story.

  5. “You’re much more attractive when you smile…”

    I realize this line is not very important to the chapter, but it bothers me nonetheless. I’m actually surprised that Rory didn’t snap back at Cy for saying this. I suffer from a bad case of R.B.F (Resting Bitch Face), and I absolutely HATE it when people tell me to smile. I am actually a very internally cheerful person, but something about my face when it’s neutral puts people off, like I look very angry to them. I don’t know how many variations I’ve had over the years of people (mostly men, if I’m honest…) saying to me “You should smile more!”, “Smile! It can’t be that bad!”, “You’d be prettier if you smiled”, etc. What, am I supposed to walk around with a big, insipid smile on my face, because it would be more pleasant for you to look at? Maybe my dog just died, and I’m not feeling so cheerful, did you ever think of that? Anyway. Nit picked.

    So, are we every going to see anything actually, you know, HAPPEN in this book? We are on chapter 6 now, and the only noteworthy things were either hammered into our heads (My parents died, I’m broken, you’re slutty, no one can possibly understand my pain) or skipped over entirely (A extraterrestrial space rock with no identifiable earthly components? BOR-ring).

    1. The “smile” thing jumped out at me too. If Rory’s walking around feeling sad and hopeless all the time, and she’s got that whole “beautiful without trying, or even observing basic hygiene guidelines” YA thing happening, she hears “smile” a lot. She’s probably over it, since she’s over most things, like human interaction, space rocks, and coats.

      Also, this video is for you and all my Bitchy Resting Face sisters.

    2. Totally with you, Steph. I have RBF too, and smiling takes an effort. Sometimes it’s worth that effort, but I prefer to do it naturally, which takes none whatsoever.

    3. Yeah, that line about being more attractive when you smile really ticked me off, too. Is it really supposed to be a compliment?

      1. Same here. Apparently I look sad when I’m resting my face (There’s a guy at my work who regularly asks me ‘what’s wrong? You look upset’ despite my having repeatedly explained that this is just what my face looks like in neutral mode) and going around with a fixed grin all the time is actually pretty tiring and uncomfortable. I’m not going to go around smiling all the time just because some rando thinks it would make me look prettier.

        1. Yes! So much yes! That literally happens to me on the daily. And the more you say “No, really, I’m fine!”, the more defensive you seem. And then they think you’re a brave little soldier, hiding your inner pain. Or just a bitch.

  6. Also:

    “What self-respecting guy wears peach–even if the color does look amazing with his skin and eyes…”

    Um…he’s probably wearing peach because of the very reasons you just said? The color looks amazing with his skin and eyes. The guy has enough self-respect that he isn’t put off by pre-conceived notions of what colors his gender should or shouldn’t wear.

    1. That part bugged me. It was like “lololol, he’s wearing pink. What kind of guy does that?” Like, um, wow. What’s wrong with a guy wearing peach? Rory’s so terrible.

    2. Yeah, very ‘heteronormative’ of you, Rory.
      Like, if Benji was extremely pale–I can imagine someone telling him, “Honey, that color just makes you look washed out”. But Benji can wear whatever he pleases (hell, he can dress up like David Bowie from the Ziggy Stardust days for all I care). And ‘pink-based’ colors are only gendered as female after the 1920s. Benji doesn’t need to conform to gender-based ideas that are still pretty damn young in human culture.

  7. I forget where, but I remember coming across the ‘time skip’ trick before. It’s really common when authors are either too lazy to spend time on their character’s life or they just literally don’t know what to do with the plot. Like, they know they want X and X and X in the book, but they don’t know what to do in between these scenes or how to tie them together effectively, so they just skip ahead weeks and months until they can write the next important scene.

    1. I am actually doing this right now *embarrassed* but then, it’s just something fun to practice my writing, I don’t plan to publish it.
      I still struggle with my writing, and there is this: don’t write scenes that don’t move the plot. So, right now, I just skip a few weeks here and there.
      And don’t want it to become hundreds of pages fantasy epic, it is set so span over 7 month, so writing about every day would make it way to long… (it starts late fall and character A wants to leave the country in spring)

      1. I think there’s a place for time skips in stories, but you definitely have to know how to do it and it really has to fit the novel. I think it’s awesome that you’re practicing it too. I don’t mean to say that frequent time skips are bad, but in the case of this book (where we’re supposed to see Rory’s developing relationships, her PTSD, exploring her tragic backstory, and learning about a space rock, skipping over weeks and months is kind of bizarre.)

        I think time skips are one of those things writers have to be comfortable with too. If you’re not, then stuff like 50 Shades happens, where you spend every second with the character because the author wasn’t willing to do transitions. So yeah, it’s a tossup and I’m sorry if my comment made you feel bad, because there’s nothing wrong with going ahead. It’s just in the case of this book, and a lot of books where it’s like “Character A did this, then, 3 months later, they did this, then, 2 weeks after that, they did this, then….” such as with this novel, it usually stems from the author being lazy or not knowing what to do, which is different than a novel where it’s better to get glimpses of a characters life rather than an epic play-by-play. Just my thoughts.

        1. Time skips can definitely work. In this case they are just weird. Nothing of substance is happening in the scenes she writes about, but she seems to reflect back at all this important stuff that happened during the weeks we don’t see. That’s why it doesn’t work in this case.

          1. Yes, I see what you mean. You skip the boring passages and only tell the parts, where something interesting is happening.
            While she seems to skip the interesting parts and lingers on the boring stuff…

        2. Oh, don’t worry, you just said what’s going on in my mind for a while now ;-)
          You know, always finding flaws in your writing, so many flaws…

          For now, I just concentrate on the love story. Developing the story further would mean more research and plotting. But, I enjoy this much more than I expected, so I just might do this, after finishing the first draft. Who thought the old “The prince and his (sex-) slave”-trope would make so much fun ;-)

  8. As someone who double-majored in two types of biology at an American university: 1) yes, she should have a major by now if she’s considering a post-graduate degree in hard science. Especially if she’s considering a relatively specialized field like astrobiology or astrophysics. She’ll need to start taking major-specifc courses if she wants to graduate on time. 2) WTF is bio med? Biomed is a pharma company. Biomedical Sciences is sometimes used as an umbrella term for specilized areas of biology that have medical applications (like molecular biology, immunology, microbiology). Biological Medicine is alternative medical practices like homeopathy. None of these are things you get a major in.

    Also, every single scene where she’s in a lab is appalling. Every. Single. One. Her technique is clearly terrible, her data collection practices are shoddy, and there is no way in hell something this significant would be left up to two undergraduate lab techs. MAYBE she’d be working on it, but that place would be hopping with doctoral and masters students doing the real work and Dr. Zoidberg would be directing the research. And they’d all be excited because, FUCKING SPACE ROCK.

    God Speed to you Jenny, I have a headache just reading the recaps.

    1. When I was in college (years ago) I knew people who would have answered, “What’s your major?” with “Biomed,” but even then that wasn’t their major. Their major was “biomedical engineering.” For some reason, even though all the other engineering majors just left off “engineering” if they thought it was obvious, the biomedical engineering majors shortened it to “biomed.”

      Why, I don’t know.

  9. Is it weird that I prefer 50 shades to this? The treatment of Benji makes me extremely uncomfortable and I’m honestly cringing at the Cy/Rory interaction.

    Additionally, as someone who has had PTSD, Rory’s portrayal kind of devastates me. It didn’t bug me so much at first, but this chapter was very upsetting. What’s happening with her and Cy is so inappropriate and so disheartening, because everything Cy’s doing would have been such a huge trigger for me, and I just can’t imagine Rory, given what we see with her, being even close to okay with it either. Regardless of how attractive he is. I really do understand the appeal of the overbearing worrywart guy (mostly in a kind of Daddy dom type capacity, because I get the kink there) but this is honestly ridiculous.

  10. Waffling about any science major during junior year is ridiculous. I decided to declare Chemistry during my second semester of FRESHMAN year, and I was already off-track. I had to make up a course over the summer.

  11. His lack of concert tees told me that we likely had nothing in common.

    Clearly I’ve been basing my choice of life partner and friends on entirely the wrong criteria. Things like sense of humor, empathy, and shared ideals/interests are all wrong. I should simply have insisted on vetoing them based entirely on their wardrobe choices! Doh silly me. Is there a value system? Like one original Bowie tee wins over five One Direction shirts? I mean if we’re choosing which people to disregard based on their concert tees we need to know this stuff.

    1. I also wondered how she knew he didn’t have any concert tees. Surely she hasn’t met him enough times to have seen his entire wardrobe.

    2. I know right? Especially when you need to compare real concert tees with bootleg concert tees which you can find on the ‘net! Like, do I need to make sure that my BF’s System of Down shirt is ‘authentic’ before dating him?

      I knew as much creeps who identify as metal-heads as I knew creeps who dress in Banana Republic/Abercrombie and Fitch style. You still need to know who to trust and who respects you back (plus, poor, stupid Rory–there are plenty of history/anthropology books on the 70s-80s punk wave and how misogynistic punks STILL were towards female punks and lgbtqa punks. There’s even an oral history book on women who joined anarchist punks in the 80s, only to feel betrayed when they wound up molested/raped and were disbelieved and slut-shamed by their own anarchist community. Just because a person ‘likes a band’ or has ‘alternative’ interests doesn’t mean he/she is automatically a ‘cool’ and trustworthy person).
      It’s one of the reasons why I buy black metal magazines like the Terrorizer. I can’t stand to listen to black metal unless it’s one song from Immortal, but I respect a magazine that ‘names and shames’ any BM musicians for being violent, rapey and/or murderous (which other music magazines don’t do).

    3. Even when I was going to concerts on a very regular basis (and going to hear smaller bands at least once a week, usually more), I rarely wore concert t-shirts out in public. I wore them to sleep in, if I even bought them; I didn’t, a lot of the time, because that was money I could use to buy more concert tickets.

      So Rory would have hated me, even though I’ve seen the Ramones in concert (because I am Old).

  12. I’m seriously feeling sorry for Benji. And normally I don’t care about anyone. He’s actually half-decent so far.

    Also “It’s a Middle Easter dish,” I said, confused by his confusion.

    Confused me for a minute too XD

  13. The “science” in this book is so facepalm. First off, I love that she’s somehow doing an undergrad in an extremely specialized field of ‘astrobiology’. Astrobiology programs exist (there’s one at UPenn), but they are Ph.D programs and extremely, extremely competitive dual-degrees with some other focus like molecular biology, organic chemistry, or astrophysics. I mean, astro*biology* would require actual biological samples….from space. Funding nightmare.

    And secondly, I love that despite being a biologist, there is absolutely no mention of work with any sort of actual living organisms (like the space bacteria NASA discovered last year), or traces of living organisms (like some sort of metabolic product or a genetic component) that could somehow survive entry into the atmosphere or survive enough that there is some charred remnant of organic material distinctly different from Earth-based life.

    To be fair, most sci-fi books aren’t about correct lab technique or analysis. They don’t need to be. But they should have some sort of creative component based, somewhat, in science and this book utterly fails by that metric as well.

  14. …don’t you need science fiction to be a finalist in it?

    Also, I changed majors a few times. The problem is credit hours required to get into specific programs. My friend had to take remedial bio and chemistry courses to get into med school becasue her major was psychology. And then you’ve got weirdos like me that just take extra classes until they find themselves with three summers’ worth of extra courses and a third major.


    this is coming from a person who used to think that Twilight is romantic and a good read. (I was young. I was naive and gullible and under the stress of medschool, forgive me.)

    Seriously, we’re just at chapter 6 and I’m already DNF-ing the fuck out of this, even if I’m just reading these recaps and not the actual book. Jenny deserves a reward for suffering through the actual reading and then making an entertaining/enlightening recap afterwards.

    I personally think this is worse than 50SOG, because at least in that crap fest, there were points that needed to be made and important issues to discuss. This one is just pure boredom.

    1. I’m torn. Fifty Shades of Grey is a vastly more offensive book, but you’re right that it wasn’t nearly as boring. At least with that mess, I could amuse myself by mocking the inner goddess and the subconscious. This book isn’t even entertaining in a hate read way.

  16. I’m more peeved by the lack of actual “science” in this book, even though we’re supposed to believe that Rory loves science (which she obviously doesn’t). Obviously the author doesn’t know a damn thing about science, and is counting on her readers to not know or care, either.

    It’s legit that Rory could be doing research–I’m in an undergrad biology program right now and it’s been beaten into our heads that there’s a slim to none chance that a graduate program will even consider you without having some sort of research experience. But she would be supervised. There would be grad students overseeing the project and making sure Rory and Cy don’t fuck everything up.

    Even if they do somehow have full and exclusive access as undergrads, why aren’t they doing any actual science? Where are the numbers coming from? Are they monitoring the rock’s heart rate or something? Why haven’t they performed any chemical tests on the rock? If certain chemical reactions took place, it could give some insight into the chemical structure of the rock.

    As someone said above, the science doesn’t need to be perfect or accurate, but this handwavey numbers thing just irks me.

  17. Just to be contrary, I’ve decided that Benji must be an alien, while Cyrus will turn out to be a genuine badly-used Egyptian character.

    1. haha! I like this idea.

      My money is still on Benji being part of the cult that killed her family, because it explains why he’s so damn persistence on being friends with such a terrible human being–gotta tie up the loose ends (but unfortunately, I think I’m giving the author too much credit on this one).

  18. I couldn’t declare my major until I was in my Junior year but it definitely wasn’t a major that would require tons of introductory courses in say math and science nor was it super popular. Probably because there aren’t any clear jobs attached to it. When I tell people what I majored in they usually give me this look like “Oh was majoring in Completely Fucking Useless not an option?” And ask me what one does with a degree in my major. Then I shrug and drink away the pain of my crippling debt.

    Yeah if anyone told me they were studying “interplanetary culture” with any sincerity I would be backing away from them very slowly because obviously they are an alien and if Hollywood has taught me one thing about aliens it’s that they hate the Statue of Liberty. Also they never have warm fuzzy intentions towards humanity. So no. Just no.

  19. Rory is a jerk, both the love interests are creepy stalkers, but what’s bothering me even more is that Interplanetary Culture is not a college major. Not anywhere. And, since I’m ranting about that, why would an alien from somewhere that’s apparently advanced enough to travel outside their solar system and disguise themselves as native life forms want to spend his days doing grunt level science research into a rock he surely already knows everything about? If I were Cy, I’d be at the Halloween party checking out what the wacky Earthlings did to celebrate their holiday, or at least trying to catch up enough with their culture to know what a falafel is.

      1. Being rounded characters with traits beyond “mysterious Egyptian/alien/love interest” will tend to do that!

        Now I’m annoyed at how much better the alien college student concept could have been pulled off if the author had bothered to give Cy a personality.

  20. When my friend’s brother was in college, his frat had a dog named Trevor – a big, goofy, fluffy Newfoundland. (I know all about Trevor because he later came to live with my friend after he *allegedly* bit a mailman.)

    Anyhoo, the guys liked to take Trevor with them everywhere, because he was awesome, and also because he was really well trained. So a guy could bring him to class and Trevor would wait outside the lecture hall until the class was done and the guy came to get him.

    When I learned about this, I couldn’t help feeling that it was kind of weird and sad that the would leave the dog outside, but I guess it was just for an hour at a time and then the dog wouldn’t be locked up at home all day.

    The point is, the end of this recap reminded me of Trevor, and I loved Trevor more than I have ever loved anything that came out of a frat, or probably ever will. So thank you for the fond memories.

    So the book ain’t all that bad, right?


    1. One of my college friends had a super well-trained German Shepherd mix who would come to class with her sometimes. Because one of our professors in particular gave zero fucks about anything, the dog would actually come into the classroom and lay down and nap during the lecture.

      I am now also experiencing fond dog memories.

      1. my dog, Buster (he was a mutt), was the sweetest munchkin. I lived just ten minutes away from school (I was in highschool then) and usually just walked, and Buster would walk with me until I got to the school and he’d go back home. One day for some reason he followed me right into my classroom, and because pets weren’t allowed in my school my friend and I had to carry him back home (he wouldn’t budge!).

        God I miss Buster now.

  21. I read the recap again and I have a theory.
    Maybe, Rory and Cy are drawn to each other because she is part alien. It could be her mother being an alien spy, falling for her target, or due to an experiment with alien DNA, like in Species.
    It could also explain why she survived, maybe she has superior healing.
    And it could be considered a science fiction element, I suppose.

  22. Dear journal,

    It has been six chapters since the voyage began, and we have yet to come across a plot. The men are growing restless, and I am beginning to lose all hope. Worse yet, the rum’s gone.

  23. This comment thread totally had me lol-ing. This site has some of the most clever readers…kudos to all of you snarky smartasses

  24. So this is the nittiest nit to ever be picked, but when Rory says that Cy “managed” a small smile, that feels like skewed POV to me. Rory doesn’t know how he’s feeling, so how does she know he’s overcoming some non-happy feeling to “manage” a small smile? “Gave” is a better verb there, methinks.
    Great commentary from Jenny as usual, and yes the commenters here are the very best! :D

  25. WTF is punching numbers? I worked in various accounting positions over the years and it was always “crunching” numbers. Or is this a new term I’m unfamiliar with?

    God bless you Jenny for continuing with this. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t think it was possible to find something worse than 50SOG or After, but this author has succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.

    1. I’ve heard “punching numbers” used with respect to those index cards that librarians used to use to keep track of which books had been checked out back before they had computers. Maybe they’re actually using punchcards to do science?

  26. U of M has over 200 majors. Astrobiology isn’t one of them, but I suppose it could be. But the titles of majors that aren’t your old school English, History, Chemistry, Economics, etc. are usually a sentence long and referred to by acronym. If McGuire really wanted to be realistic about college these days, Rory would be thinking about majoring in “InterStellar Lifeforms and UltraTerrestrials” but she would say, “I’m thinking about being an iSLUT… but I think I would have to take a spring semester if I wanted to graduate on time. I wish I could do a minor, but you know how it is with iSLUT? ‘Go big or go home.’ And I already have most of the credits I need to do CMB:BME or just EEB. I actually declared AACS as my major at the beginning of my sophomore year – yeah, I know, and that was after I talked myself out of doing an English major – so I have to change that.”

  27. “Does she put on dark robes and inscribe a pentagram in raven blood on her forehead?”

    Look, man, my long layers have to be just so and I’m willing to put in the extra effort.

  28. This book was a finalist in the GoodReads Reader’s Choice awards this year.

    For best science fiction.

    Loki: please, stop torturing me with this! How inferior and absolutely terrible it is! I pretty much intentionally died (in Skyrim) because of my reaction to how ridiculous that statement is. Come on, someone actually gets a reward for writing a shitty story like that?

    Sigyn: Well, Twilight and Fifty Shades. Need I say more? Hell, my troll story about Agnes and Damo will probably win an award if people have such bad taste.

    Sigyn: re: that hug: I bet he’s embarrassed about randomly hugging her in class like that.

    This is a really bad science fiction book. The science isn’t scientific and there are forced Uranus jokes.
    Loki: Yeah, come on, people!

    Loki: what’s going on with that rock? It is literally the most interesting part of the story.

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