Jealous Hater Book Club: Apolonia, chapter 12

So, Rory and Cyrus have just escaped a government facility, and they’ve got to go find Dr. Z. Rory is soaking wet and she’s wearing Cyrus’s sweater, and also her elbow is apparently flayed down to the muscle.

My toes were almost frozen and ached with every step. Cy’s pullover was warmer than my sweater, and keeping up with his pace was keeping my body temperature even.

This might be the only optimism we’ve ever seen Rory express.  Yeah, we’re on the run from the government, and my elbow is ripped open, and I’ve got frostbite, but at least the rest of me is warm.

Cy details how they’re going to run from building to building in order to avoid being seen by the helicopters, but first, there’s romantic subplot to deal with!

Cy checked his watch. After remember it was broken, he looked away, grumbling something sounding like Arabic under his breath.

She knows what Arabic sounds like, but she can’t say for certain that the guy from the Arabic-speaking country is speaking it.

“Was it a gift? From her?”

“Sort of.”

“Can you just give me a straight answer?”

Yes, Cy! Right this minute, as you’re running from the government, tell me if that watch is a gift from your fianceé!

Cy tells her they have to go like, right that second:

“Okay, but when we get to where we’re going, you’re going to explain a few things. And I want straight answers. Promise me.” I knew this probably wasn’t the best time to be difficult,

You think?

but this also wasn’t the best time for him to turn me down. I wanted the truth, and I was determined to get it.

Now, some readers might be thinking, “Ah, finally! She is determined to get some answers!” You may not have noticed, but this particular pattern of Rory asking Cy for answers, not getting them, and then insisting that she will get answers from him no matter what, has been a maddening motif throughout the book so far. It’s been subtle, I know.

They get to Dr. Z’s house, where they decide to look for clues as to where the doctor might have gone, and to use the first aid kid. He butterflies and wraps Rory’s wound, and mentions that it should have stitches. They obviously can’t go to the hospital, because government.

Rory asks Cy where he thinks the “clue” to Dr. Zoidberg’s whereabouts is:

“Try the easiest path first,” Cy said, knocking his fist four times on the doorjamb–twice quickly, the next two slower.

The same knock came back.

Dr. Z was hiding in the ceiling the whole time.

Cy helped Dr. Z climb down, and I grabbed him.

“You’re okay!” I said, hugging him. From the corner of my eye, I saw Cy helping someone else from the attic. Before I even saw her face, I knew who it was and recoiled. “What is she doing here?”

“I could ask the same of you, ” she said, brushing off her tight sweater.

It’s Ellie, just in case anyone didn’t get that from the fact that there is only one other female character in this book and Rory hates her. Dr. Z says that Ellie came over with questions about her final, and she was there when Dr. Z was forced to hide from the Majestic.

Speaking of which…why wouldn’t highly trained CIA operatives check to see if there’s an attic in the house they’re sweeping?

Now, when things are life and death, when you’ve got a shadowy government organization out to get you, that’s no time for petty concerns like girl-on-girl hate, right? This is the part where Ellie and Rory have to work together to save their necks, right?

Only in some other book.

I narrowed my eyes at Ellie. I trusted Dr. Z, but with her deep V-neck sweater revealing at least three inches of cleavage, I knew she was after more than just help with finals.

When Ellie is first introduced as a character, Rory says the only tops Ellie wears reveal cleavage, so maybe she really was looking for help on her exams. She just wore exactly what she always wears.

“Stop staring at me, Rory,” she snapped in her Southern drawl. “It’s weird.”

You know what else is weird? How Ellie didn’t have a Southern drawl until chapter twelve.

“Whore,” I hissed.

“Whore” isn’t sibilant. You can’t “hiss” a word without sibilant consonants.

“Rory!” Dr. Z said in a loud whisper.

“It’s okay.” Ellie grinned. “She just wishes she had breasts.”

Her comment forced Dr. Z and Cy to glance down at the pitiful barely B cups on my chest and then at each other, both wishing they hadn’t.

I wish they hadn’t, either. Because this is fucking gross. The characters are in just about as bad a situation as a set of characters can be in. Dr. Z knows the CIA is after him. Cy knows…I don’t know, Cy knows everything. Ellie knows that she’s blundered into something dangerous, otherwise she wouldn’t have hidden in an attic all day. And Rory, above everyone else, knows how fragile life is and how much these agents who are after them will do to get what they want.

But let’s all stop for a girl-fight and poorly executed boob joke.

Cy asks Dr. Z for the flash drive, and Dr. Z refuses, because it’s the only thing record he has.

“It’s important, Argus,” Cy said. “Please.”

Dr. Z’s eyebrows pulled in, forming a deep crease between them. “Argus is my first name, and no one calls me Argus but my mother. How did yo know that name?”

It’s probably on the staff directory. You don’t get to just waltz into a college and become a tenured professor without ever giving anyone your first name.

I looked to Cy, wondering how he knew half of what he did. Part of me wondered what side he was on. He had helped Dr. Zorba, but then he was going to steal the specimen from him. To anyone else, Cy would seem like the enemy, but something inside me told me he wasn’t.

Something inside her has to tell her that, because so far, Cy hasn’t been developed beyond “mysterious wise foreign guy.” If we knew at this point that he was an alien (I mean, we know that, but if Rory knew that), we would be able to go, okay, I understand why she feels Cy can be trusted, when two chapters ago she had doubts about who he was and why he wanted the research. Instead, suddenly and without any further information, she’s  just like, “Eh, I trust him.”

The professor’s eyes bounced back and forth between Cy and me, and then he let out a sigh in surrender. “I don’t suppose you’re both working for Tennison?”

Okay, that first sentence made me laugh. That kind of phrasing, where something can be taken as horribly literal, doesn’t generally bother me the way it does other people. Like, I understand that Dr. Z’s eyes don’t actually leave his head and bounce back and forth. But for some reason, stuff like that drives some readers crazy. This one, just because of the phrasing, made me laugh, because I couldn’t help imagining it.

So, Dr. Z thinks his whole operation has been infiltrated. Ellie says it “wouldn’t surprise” her if Rory is a turncoat:

“You know all of zero about this, Ellie, so shut the hell up,” I hissed.

“We’ve spent all day in this house and in the attic. I know quite a bit actually.”

Dr. Zoidberg tells them that he didn’t tell Ellie anything important, but they ran out of things to talk about. You know, I would think any situation in which you were explaining to someone why they’re hiding in your attic from soldiers would be perfectly reasonable.

Cy and Dr. Zoidberg go away, leaving Ellie and Rory alone. Just so we can get in another good, solid dose internalized misogyny.

“Is that who spent the night in your room?” she asked, nodding to Cy.

I could tell she was goading me, so I said nothing. I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction.

She laughed once. What am I saying? He is way out of your league.”

My eyes targeted her. “At least I don’t have to fuck geriatrics for grades.”

Ellie smiled, clearly amused she’d gotten under my skin. “Oh, Rory,” she lilted and then circled slowly around me, “I could smile at them and get the grades. I don’t have to fuck anyone. I’m just attracted to intelligence, which is why I find nothing appealing about you at all.”

Then they started having passionate hate sex all over the everywhere.

Reminder: that underline indicates italics in the text.

Cy and the professor come back, and Cy says:

“I have it, Rory. I’m afraid it’s time for me to go.” He glanced at his broken watch. “I must be at the remaining foundation of that old gas station next to the Old River Bridge at a very specific time. If I’m not, I don’t know what will happen.”

E.T.'s spaceship leaving him behind

I know what will happen to him.

Ellie leaned down. At first, it didn’t occur to me to react. Even when she pulled a small pistol from her boot and pointed it at Cy, it took me a second to register what was happening.

Dr. Z’s eyes widened. “Ellie, what on earth–”

Ellie kept her gun on Cy. “Before you scoot along, handsome, how about you give me that flash drive?”

Cy was disturbingly calm. “I knew Tennison had to have a contact on campus.”

OF COURSE! Of course it’s absolutely okay that Rory has thrown some really hard misogynist insults at Ellie. Like “whore” and ” “cum-burping gutter slut” and “slutty, whorish whore.” She’s the villain! And even though Rory didn’t know that until right this moment, all of her past hatred toward Ellie is completely justified.

Ellie laughed, and then suddenly her Southern accent disappeared.

As quickly as it appeared.

Anyway, as I was saying, Rory doesn’t have a misogynist bone in her entire–

I kept thinking that she must have been sleeping with this Tennison and got pulled into this somehow.

Even as a villain, Ellie can’t be anything other than the “cum-burping gutter slut” Rory labelled her as in the beginning of the book.

“Rory, really. For someone who watched her mother and best friend get raped and murdered right in front of her eyes, you’re so naive.”

I need someone who remembers the story better than I do to verify whether or not Rory’s mother and friend were raped. I don’t remember that ever being mentioned. I remember them mutilating them, but I don’t remember anything about rape. I searched the book for “rape” and found numerous instances of “scraped” and “draped,” but only two mentions of rape, here and near the end of the book.

So, Ellie says she wants the flash drive, or she’s going to kill Cy. I know this is how stories are supposed to go, but I think if I’m ever in charge of pointing a gun at someone to get what I want, I’ll just shoot them and all the witnesses and take the thing I was supposed to get. I think I’m like 100% more efficient than any of the bad guys on TV.

So, yeah, Ellie is going to shoot Cy, but Rory stands between them and tells her not to shoot, and Ellie laughs at her.

“You really are thick, aren’t you? Get out of my way before I shoot you in your fucking face.” She looked around me. “I’m going to kill your little girlfriend, Cyrus. How is that going to sit with your council?”

The Gallifreyan high council from Doctor Who

I don’t know, guys, how do you feel about Rory getting shot in the face?

Cy tells Ellie that she can have the flash drive if she promises that the Majestic won’t ever bother her again.

She chuckled. “you know I can’t make that promise. There’s at least one jackass in our department who can’t stay away from her.”

“Benji,” Cy said.

I looked at Cy and then at Ellie. “You’ve wanted to believe he couldn’t be trusted from day one. That doesn’t make sense anyway. Benji’s not even twenty, and you immediately assume that he is working for the CIA?”

Okay, so, totally believable that Ellie the “cum-burping gutter slut” could be working for the CIA, but not Benji. Not the person Ellie had sex with. That would be ridiculous. So ridiculous that we’re going to keep arguing about it for like a page:

“Someone else is out there, watching us, and you’re so set on Benji being the bad guy that your’e going to overlook clues to who it really is!”

Because it makes a lot more sense that the guy with a room full of computer technology, who has doggedly pursued you without any apparent reason to do so, and who had Ellie’s number in his phone, would be not at all connected to her or the organization that she works for.

“How old is Ellie? They could be recruiting out of high school for all you know,” Cy said.

“Yes,” Ellie sneered. “Because there’s no way I could be older and just be posing as a college student. How did any of you make it into KIT without being able to add two and two?”


Rory might not be able to add two and two, but she’s good at hardcore misogyny:

“She’s full of shit for once instead of geriatrics.”


“You might work for Majestic, but they pimped you out. You’re a legit whore after all.”

This is the chapter where I seriously considered DNFing this, then I remembered I was recapping it.

So, for about a page now, Ellie has had a gun aimed at Rory’s head, and for some reason, she never fires it. I wish she would have, because:

Before Ellie could mouth off again, I reached for her gun, pulled it out of her hands, and flipped the barrel so that it was facing her. I cupped the grip of the gun in my hand, getting a feel for it. The move felt as if it all happened in slow motion, but in reality, it was about two seconds.

“Last time I checked, they didn’t teach that in self-defense class,” Ellie said, clearly surprised.

“I took an advanced class.”

It wasn’t a total lie. Sydney’s older brother, Sam, had picked up a lot of useful things during his time in Afghanistan.

And then she goes on to explain, once again, that Sam taught her how to defend herself to get over the pain of his sister’s death, which I guarantee would be a 1,000,000% more interesting story than the one we’re reading now.

Now that Rory has the gun, she points it at Ellie. Cy yells, “don’t!” and Ellie runs out. Cy asks Dr. Z for the flash drive, revealing that he never had it at all:

“I had to provoke her. Something wasn’t right.”

Ellie is just such an evil female that he could smell the evil on her.

Dr. Z tells them he’ll give them the flash drive, if they tell him the truth. Well, good luck, Dr. Z, because every chapter for the past five chapters have been one character saying they need to know the truth, and the other one saying they’ll tell them if, and then absolutely no exposition at all happening. Looks like the same thing is going to happen now, because Cy says they don’t have much time, etc.

“Then give me the short version,” Dr. Z said simply.

Cy thought about this for a moment and then nodded. “Okay. You might want to sit down, Professor.”

I’m on the edge of my seat. I can only hope Cy is an alien from the Planet Of The Super Whores and Rory will be consumed in a molten ball of hatred for her own gender and the whole book will be over.

65 thoughts on “Jealous Hater Book Club: Apolonia, chapter 12

  1. You know, the Majestic in this book it’s the best contender for Most Useless Shadowy Goverment Agency Ever.

    And seriously, if Ellie is as vile as Rory thinks she is, then why didn’t she just shoot them all and be done with it?

    And seriously, what a wasted opportunity for Rory and Ellie to overcome their differences and start working together, and for Rory to realize all her slut-shaming and bad opinion of Ellie was wrong. But that would actually show some character growth and make Rory more sympathetic, and obviously, we can’t have that.

    Also, yes, I’m pretty sure this is the first time rape has been mentioned regarding the murders. I’m tempted to say Rory has been repressing it because of how horrific that was and in the next few minutes, she’s going to go into shock when the memories come flooding back to her. But I don’t believe McGuire has the ability to pull that off.

  2. Okay, what I find really interesting is how transparent that exchange about their respective racks is, in terms of what the word “whore” means to the author and people like her. It means a woman who *looks sexual* — who has obvious boobs and/or other secondary-sec characteristics. It has very fucking little to do with actual sexual behavior.

    Really read that bit of conversation! As written, it’s a non-sequitor: “I disapprove of your sexual choices!” “That is because you wish you were as pretty as I am!” I mean, we get what they’re saying, we’ve all heard it before. But literally speaking, the one doesn’t really follow from the other. At best, it’s Ellie deflecting the criticism by reframing the conversation to a subject where she feels she holds the stronger ground, but it’s definitely a deflection — if you take the words as meaning what the words say.

    But the thing is, those words *don’t* mean what the words say. When Rory says slut and whore, *she already is talking about Ellie’s body.* She is saying, “Your tits are too prominent, and that’s bad.” So Ellie’s response is, “False: your tits are not prominent enough, and *that’s* bad.” It’s not about sex. Between these two young women who have *both had casual sex,* these words have practically nothing to do with actual sex, and everything to do with shaming women for “making” people think about sex when they look at them.

    It’s both retrograde and insanely immature. This is how sixth-graders behave, singling out their bustiest classmate and labeling her a slut because BOOBS, and BOOBS mean WOMAN and woman always and forever means SEXSEXSEX. Slut-shaming is body policing largely before we ever get to a point of having sexual histories to be criticized at all. Because slut doesn’t really mean promiscuous. Slut really means obviously a woman/member of the sex class. Nice girls may be women, but they don’t make a *fuss* about it. They cover that shit up so it doesn’t bother anyone else.

    It’s possible to write rivalries between female characters, or female characters who don’t like each other or see eye-to-eye, without it being misogynist. This ain’t that. This is 1000% about heaping shame on women for being female and lauding women who take on responsibility for minimizing and apologizing for their femaleness.

    1. Bra-fucking-vo!

      *claps heartily*

      You nailed exactly what makes me uncomfortable about the whole body shaming/sexual history crap. There are no winners. Someone is always too fat/too skinny/too plain/too sexy basically if you’re a woman, you lose. It’s disgusting and it needs to stop.

    2. I love this comment.

      I’m quite busty and when I was younger I sometimes would wear cute things that actually fit my chest and my waist. But when I did I nearly always regretted it. Twice I had guys grope my breasts (once was in the fucking grocery store!) and when I jerked back or looked affronted, both of them said something to the effect of “please! If you didn’t love the attention, they wouldn’t be so big!”
      I also got called a slut by one of my bosses because he found out I had dated a guy that was newly hired and because I wore my uniform “too tight” while looking at my chest. He was completely ignoring that I’d dated the guy before we’d worked together and that the reason my shirt was so tight was because he repeatedly told me the company was out of the next size up.

      Basically, if a woman “looks like a slut” by having any sort of curvy figure or doing things that are attractive to men, she’s a whore and a slut and deserving of being harassed, insulted, assaulted and raped.

      I’ve dealt with this bullshit ever since I was in 3rd grade and had breasts big enough to need a bra. I’m 32 now and so. fucking. sick of it!

      1. Annie, I am so sorry that happened (happens?) to you. That really sucks, and our bodies are not public property to be groped. Bodies happen. They just do. Harassment and rape should not.

        1. It doesn’t really happen now that I’m a middle aged mom. That is something about getting older that I don’t mind much. I still get me staring at my chest or looking me up and down like I’m an object, which does stress me out and is creepy, but I stopped having an issue with assholes touching or grabbing me.
          Some of it also might be that I stopped being the sweet, acquiescent girl and wasn’t afraid to give people the glare or, if need be, tell someone off.

    3. This is a glorious comment.

      My two cents: Personally, I think we as a society need to realise that other people’s shagging is none of our business and stop slut-shaming people because TEE HEE SECKS. Also, girls without that kind of history are still called sluts and that’s not okay, because 1. bodies are a thing that happen and 2. shagging is a thing that happens.

  3. Oh for fuck’s sake.

    I have nothing more to say – “oh for fuck’s sake” can sum up everything I feel about this book.

  4. This is, like…badly-written Harry Potter fanfic from the 00s. Is that what it started out as? All those awkward insults obviously intended to be clever gave me sudden intense flashbacks to middle school.

  5. Speaking of which…why wouldn’t highly trained CIA operatives check to see if there’s an attic in the house they’re sweeping?

    OR THERMAL IMAGING?! My phone from 4 years ago had a fucking thermal mode on the camera.

  6. Well…that was completely out of nowhere and idiotic. Ellie is a bad guy, seriously? That is some clumsy ass justification for Rory hating her so much and still with the “whore” insults? Come on, now. How did a woman write this crap? Is this a new thing where women hate their own gender?

    And how is Rory too stupid to put two and two together and admit that it makes sense for Benji to be the bad guy too? I mean, the guy had like four laptops for no reason and could lift super human amounts of weights repeatedly and had Ellie’s number in his phone. He’s clearly partnered with Ellie and a part of this moronic Majestic thing.

    But, since Rory is always right (Ellie being a whore being justified) I’m calling it now, Benji has fallen in lurve with Rory for reals and is going to switch to their team. Because this is the most predictable, melodramatic drivel I’ve ever had the displeasure to read about. It’s like a 13 year old girl wrote this.

    1. Co-sign on Benji falling in love with Rory for real, but I think he’s going to sacrifice himself for her in the end. Because NO WAY does the guy she used to have feelings for get to keep on living, just exuding existential threat to the monogamous purity of Rory and Cy’s love.

    2. Women hating their own gender isn’t a new thing, and it’s annoying. I’m also annoyed that “this girl I don’t like is a \/illain” = “she’s totally a whore”, because??? that shouldn’t be justification for name-calling and slut-shaming.

      also, I wrote better stories than this when I was 13, but didn’t publish any of them because I thought they weren’t good enough in an adult world. Wow. Maybe I should dig them up.

  7. I’m afraid ‘cum-burping gutter slut’ has entered the lexicon of my household. Once read, never forgotten.
    For those of you who would like to read a non-brainmelting version of this ‘story’, may I reccomend Scottish Whovian author Jenny Colgan. She is primarily a romance novelist who writes a little for Dr. Who and has written a charming alien on earth novel called ‘Resistance is Futile’.

    For those of you who love cake, and don’t we all, her mainstream romances are often food-based and contain recipies.

  8. I’ve got no defense for the rest of it, but that “you can only hiss a sibilant thing”–I’ve heard it before, and I’m not sure I buy it.

    I mean, if by “hissed” you’re describing a character who literally talks like a snake, then yes, (or: yesssss), you can only hiss a sibilant. But when characters other than, say, Voldemort “hiss” their dialogue, my sense is that it’s come to mean something like “whispered loudly” or “whispered sharply” and in that case, I don’t see why sibilants are relevant. I tested it just now–it’s not hard at all.

    (Here’s the entry for “hiss” at
    : to produce a sound like a long “s” : to make a hiss
    : to show that you dislike or disapprove of someone (such as a performer or speaker) by making a hiss
    : to say (something) in a loud or angry whisper

    I’d argue that hiss as a dialogue tag tends to mean the third one.)

    If a scene goes:

    I crept forward from our hiding place.
    “Get back here!” hissed Jane.

    that seems completely reasonable to me. Obviously people shouldn’t be hissing their dialogue *often,* but in that handful of cases, it seems to me like the best word for the job. What else should it say? “Whispered” implies something softer than what happened. “Whispered loudly” or “whispered sharply” or “whispered urgently” are clunky, and “said” conveys neither the urgency nor the attempt to be quiet. In that (hopefully sparing) handful of cases, is “hissed” really so bad?

    …At the same time, I’ve heard the “no sibilant” objection enough that maybe this is throwing people out of books constantly, so maybe that ruins the usefulness of the word enough that writers had best stay away from it? In that case, “whispered urgently” is probably the next best, to my mind.

    1. I agree, though I’m no expert. To me “hissed” always implied some outrage or anger (or even fear) behind it without being overly loud.

    2. I am one that gets pulled out of a story if a character hisses something without sibilants (apparently I’ve been dyslexia-ing that word for as long as I can remember. I thought it was “silibant” until just this moment.). I get it. The character said it harshly, probably through his/her teeth or at least with her/his jaw tightened. I just think it’s better to opt for “she spat” or “he said through gritted teeth” when there are no sibilants. The word hiss implies s-sounds.

  9. “This is the chapter where I seriously considered DNFing this, then I remembered I was recapping it.”

    Dude. I mean, I’m sure we all would have DNFed this garbage way before now, but I feel you on this.

  10. “You don’t get to just waltz into a college and become a tenured professor without ever giving anyone your first name.”

    After you become a tenured professor, though, I’m pretty sure you have free license to become a non-first-name-giving, waltzing alien crab-squid thing. That’s Dr. Z’s life now, and these days most classes he teaches are just PowerPoint + cat videos. #headcanon

    Anyway, I’m glad you do these recaps, because they remind me that as many errors as I’m probably making in the novel I’m working on, it can never be…this. Boohoo me, I missed a diversity point because I accidentally don’t specifically have any young African-American men characters? Well, at least it’s not Apolonia. At least I didn’t just start a new chapter, then sh** misogyny all over it until the pages were filled.

    P.S. They who die with the most diversity points win. I’m pretty sure this is true.

    P.P.S. Google’s Deep Dream called. Their AI analyzed Apolonia, and now it creates YA novels that read, in part and/or entirety, “‘You cum-burping burping burping gutter slut boobs cleavage cleavage slut!’ I say while two sexy handsome sexy sexy men vie for me love triangle.”

  11. DAMMIT. I was so hoping that through these wacky coincidences, Ellie would be forced to work with the others and the girl-on-girl hate would get subverted.

    That was obviously way too much to hope for. Ellie has to be my favorite character now, though.

  12. ["Horse," i hissed. ]
    Perhaps Rory was really trying to insult ellie by calling her a farm animal but never learned the real word for the equine species.

  13. ‘Before Ellie could mouth off again, I reached for her gun, pulled it out of her hands, and flipped the barrel so that it was facing her. I cupped the grip of the gun in my hand, getting a feel for it. The move felt as if it all happened in slow motion, but in reality, it was about two seconds.’

    Wow this is terrible. This whole thing feels like she just casually grabs the gun. “I reached” thanks for adding time to an action that should be instant. Don’t use a strong verb there. Yes, thank you for telling us you pointed the gun back at her. I was afraid you kept it pointed at yourself. No way I, as the reader, would have assumed the best in that situation. Jeez. /rant

  14. Argus. Zorba. Admittedly, it is an improvement over what I misread it as, at first, which was “Angus”.

    The only person who uses his first name is his mother? His lovers, friends and his coworkers all call him “Dr. Z”? That would just be too weird.

    Ellie must be the worst agent in the history of the world to be disarmed that easily.

      1. It makes me think of Argus Filch from Harry Potter :-) (Who is, of course, very appropriately named as he has eyes everywhere.)

        Incidentally, how on earth does one snap and drawl at the same time?

    1. Angus Zorba would have been waaaay better. There’d be this awesome back story about his obscure scottish ancestry (his mother of course hailing from a mysterious highland clan). Of course he would be related to that guy Mel Gibson played, you know with the face paint.

    2. I thought it was Angus too. I was sitting here going “wait. Angus Zorba? Angus. Zorba. He’s Greek but also quite Scottish? That’s different.”

      Instead he’s just very, very Greek, yet somehow not in a very realistic way. Argus Zorba just does not sound like a real person’s name.
      And as someone else mentioned, it was a very fitting name for Argus Filch. He really was like some mythical watchman with eyes everywhere.
      I’m a mega name-nerd, so maybe I’m going out on a limb here, but if you’re going to give someone an unusual name, whether for the culture the character is in or for the time, etc, give a reason for it. Rowling is VERY good at this. Most of her characters with unusual names have the name fit them very well. Sirius is the Dog Star and the character can turn in to a dog. Remus was raised a baby raised by a she-wolf and the character is a werewolf.

      Or for a less direct meaning-behind-the-name in the Outlander series the character Brianna is born late-1940′s England (or maybe America? I can’t recall if they moved before Brianna was born or when she was a baby. Either way, she had very English parents growing up.). This name was semi-common in the 1980s and incredibly common in the 1990s. But it was practically unheard of in the 1940s and 50s. But Brianna’s birth fathers (ostensibly) last wish was for the baby to be named after his father Brian. Brianna is, naturally, the feminine form of Brian.

      Just a word of advice from a name nerd, if you want your character to have an unusual or notable or anachronistic name *give a reason for it*! And a reason beyond “his/her mom liked the name.” A believable reason or go the Rowling route (ha! That’s fun to say “Rowling route.”) and make the name foreshadowy (if going from the time of the child’s birth).

      1. In my criticism of the name Argus Zorba, I forgot that this is coming from an author that thought Rory Riordan was a awesome name for a main character.

      2. Hey, fellow name nerd. Don’t forget that Remus’ last name is just as appropriate. Lupin. Lupine = wolflike :-)

        I would totally discuss names with you over tea and cake for, like, forever. Especially Rowling ones. Malfoy = bad faith. Voldemort = flight of death. And so on.

      3. Yay, name nerds! I adored most of Rowling’s name choices because they were so well-thought-out. (Fenrir was not one of the ones that I personally liked, because of his characterisation, but I appreciate Rowling’s cleverness and intelligence.)

        I have a character in a show I’m helping write named “Sigyn Eponine des Lunes” and it is VERY MEANINGFUL AND CONSISTENT WITH HER CHARACTER. She’s insanely devoted to her various lovers, ends up getting burned for it quite a lot, and in one proposed plotline, goes a bit mad at the end of it and, well, dies. Other characters in the show have similarly meaningful names, like my sister’s Averna and a character for a later plotline whose name is literally “Magenta Stilted Exposition”. (It’s an internet cartoon show, so… hopefully we get a pass for that? :P)

        Anyway. I love your advice and couldn’t help burbling at you, so sorry about that if it bothered you.

    1. That’s my new head canon. There is no way an adult veteran writer of any gender is writing this disconnected, ridiculous, immature drivel. By the time I was in college most of this kind of prudish slut shaming and girl hating was behind me, because I had come to terms with and experienced my own sexuality. And considering that she’s been using men for sex for the last few years to distract herself from her own emotions (or lack thereof) makes her kind of a hypocrite for thinking she is better than someone who just enjoys sex. (I’m not making a judgement on either behavior, just saying that her criticism feels a little disingenuous.)

  15. And the gun grab. Wouldn’t Ellie try to hold onto the gun? I mean, even in really dumb movies and tv shows, when one person reaches for another’s gun, they struggle for it. (And it usually goes off, and one of them dies, which would be too much to hope for in this book, I guess.) Actually, this thing with words and pages reminds me of a bad Russian video game.

  16. “Yes,” Ellie sneered. “Because there’s no way I could be older and just be posing as a college student. How did any of you make it into KIT without being able to add two and two?”

    I have to say it b/c I’ve been watching too many of the videos lately…. “Ellie would be excellent at CinemaSins.” (assuming this fail-book was a movie and this line got to stay in said movie) *quote attribution to Jeremy Scott from CinemaSins on YouTube. (google and get sucked in at your own peril XD)

  17. i read this hoping to feel better about the crappy manuscript I’m working on, and it worked brilliantly. Props for sticking with this book as long as you did, Jenny.

    Like a few other commenters I also thought that Ellie would get dragged into the plot and join the team, but then I realized that was probably giving this book way too much credit.

  18. I have just watched Gone with the wind and I’m amazed how come that even in 1930s someone wrote such a wonderful story with such a strong female lead while even in 2015 we still struggle to understand feminism.

  19. “The move felt as if it all happened in slow motion, but in reality, it was about two seconds.”

    Think about that line. Count it out, if you have to (in “Mississippi”s or “alligator”s or whatever you were taught in grade school).

    In reality, if it took you TWO FULL SECONDS to rip a gun out of an attacker’s hand, you would more than likely be shot dead long before you finished that first “Mississippi”.

    I hate to nit-pick over such a trivial detail, but as someone who has been passionately involved in martial arts/self defense training for half of my life, disarming someone of a hand gun in two seconds WOULD be slow-motion. If you know how to disarm someone of a handgun (and how to do it well enough to avoid getting shot), it should take a very small fraction of a second.

    I had a similar problem in chapter 2 when the author claimed that our skinny, barely-trained heroine “shoulder-tossed” someone larger than herself without ever having practiced that move before. Don’t get me wrong, shoulder-tosses are great self-defense moves, especially when used against a larger attacker than yourself…BUT they are moves which must be PRACTICED in order to execute correctly.

    Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe I missed the part where Rory took thousands of hours of Krav Maga lessons. Or maybe this author is completely clueless about martial arts and self defense, and only wrote these parts into her book because she thought they would make her character look like a “strong, cool, female heroine”. But so far, I’m not happy with the way that martial arts have been misrepresented in this book.

  20. As the owner of two barely-A-cups, I object very strongly to Rory being termed flat chested for having B cups. I want to shout, “at least you don’t have to shop in the kids’ section!”

    1. Hi, I’m a D-cup, and I am mildly, playfully jealous of your A-cup because I would like to cosplay male characters without a binder. I would also like to not have to fuss over what kind of bra offers the most support and go for style over function. And I would like to shop in the kids’ section because I am a womanchild and kids’ clothes are cute.

      I object strongly to Rory slut-shaming Ellie. I object strongly to Ellie body-shaming Rory. These women are college age and older; they should know better.

      1. I’ll admit to being jealous. I’m an H+ cup. I’d love to be able to buy bras in a department store or at Target or something. Just once I’d like to be able to wear a button-down blouse and not have to choose between can’t-button-the-top-half-of-the-shirt or everything-below-the-chest-looks-like-a-circus-tent.

        I have a lot of physical issues and likely wouldn’t be able to handle the surgery, otherwise I’d have had them surgically reduced a very, very long time ago.

        1. *raises hand*

          It’ll depend on where you live, but around here, a lot of people do sewing out of their home, and most alterations cost under 20 dollars. You could see about buying the shirt that fits your chest, and then having the side seams taken in. It’s a little extra cost, obviously, but there are situations where it could be well worth it.

  21. The whole “whore as an insult” thing reminds me of a story I overheard the other day:
    “So I came inside the building and this neighbour was there and he went all red and made an awful face and started complaining how I bring these men over and I’m a whore and should be ashamed and they don’t want that kind of woman in the building. So I look’s right at him and I say: ‘You haven’t had it in a while, have you? You miss it, that’s the problem?’ and he went livid started shouting and now his family isn’t allowed to talk to me either, even his adult sons and I just laughed it off, you get all sorts.”

    Never seen slut shaming so roundly trounced..

    1. Pretty much all the slut-shaming I did as a teenager and young adult (I was a REALLY bad offender in high school) was in fact some twisted kind of jealousy. I was the ugly girl, shy and bullied, and I was jealous of girls who were pretty or who could be confident with boys they liked.


    Unnecessary romantic and ladyhate subplots are really grating. I still say Apolonia is basically Twilight, but self-published and in a different genre so it wouldn’t be completely overshadowed by Twilight.


    and ewww ew ew ew at the adult professor looking at the student’s breasts. I’m not entirely appro\/ing or disappro\/ing of Ellie’s cattiness, since at least she isn’t losing her temper like I would do if someone was constantly talking shit to me.

    Ellie, no, you don’t need to just smile at people to get grades. You need to work for your grades like e\/eryone else. Can you do that, please? I want to like you.

    … oh. Oh, the promiscuous woman is the \/illain. Why? Why does she ha\/e to be a \/illain? Why can’t she just be the promiscuous girl that the protagonist doesn’t like, but who isn’t really a bad person? Does the AUTHOR ha\/e a problem with promiscuous women? Because it’s really hard for me not to read a character like Rory as a wish-fulfillment self-insert. On behalf of slutty-whorey-slut-whores e\/erwhere (myself included), I am offended.


    props to Ellie for looking young enough to pose as a college student! I think I can pass for a high school student if I try, but only because of the rampant Dawson casting on the telly. Also, I like that, while she’s doing the college thing, she’s also shagging like a rock star, because who says you can’t have fun on the job?

    Rory is not only misogynistic, she’s ageist as fuck. LOL ELLIE SHAGS OLD PEOPLE, EWWW
    yeah okay, tmi alert but one of my former lo\/ers recently turned 50, and in no way is he “geriatric”.

    you know what would ha\/e been awesome? Ellie shoots the gun, kills Rory, and the rest of the book is told from Ellie’s perspecti\/e… with Ellie lampshading e\/erything that’s been wrong with it so far.

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