To recap: Cyrus is an alien, his alien girlfriend is on her way with a space war ship, Ellie the cum burping gutter slut is an agent of the Majestic and apparently so is Benji, and space stuff is finally happening.
Some vehicles are coming down the street, so Cy, Rory, and Dr. Zorba go running out the back door, headed for the rendez-vous point with Cy’s space girlfriend.
The Old River Bridge was on the outskirts of town and at least a half hour drive. Traveling on foot and hiding in the shadows meant it would take us half the night.
I looked at my watch. “What time are you supposed to meet her?”
“By sunrise,” Cy said. “Without my sola I can’t be sure.”
The underline is italics in the actual book. A kind soul emailed me to tell me how I could fix my italics problem in the style sheet, but I’m so afraid, because I know for a fact that there have been times I’ve accidentally italicized something when I shouldn’t have, then thought, “Fuck it,” because I didn’t care because I knew you guys couldn’t see it. I’m a bit nervous about changing it, but I have held onto the email in case I decide to in the future.
Anyway, back to the recap. Dr. Z asks Cy if he has a car, which is a big negatory, good buddy. Dr. Z asks about his moped. Regardless of the impression Macklemore’s latest video might have given you, there’s no way all three of them are fitting on one moped. At least, not if they want the damn thing to move.
It doesn’t matter, anyway, because Rory left it in a ditch full of water. She tries to tell Dr. Zoidberg, but Cy tells them they can talk about it later. Maybe if he hadn’t spent so much time monologuing in the last chapter, Rory would have the chance to tell Dr. Z, in a single sentence, “Hey, your moped is not an option.”
They decide they’re going to sneak to this bridge. I still can’t figure out if it’s a bridge over a river called “Old River” or if it’s the old river bridge as in there’s a new river bridge and this is the old one. The reason I can’t tell is because of the random capitalization of “The Gym” in earlier chapters.
My socks were marinating in cold rainwater, and my skin felt soggy and raw. Only the knees of my jeans were wet, but the puddle of rainwater was traveling up the backs of the denim, and soon, my pant legs would be completely saturated.
I have to hand it to Maguire here. This passage really made me cringe, because cold, wet pants and socks are the worst. And she did a good job with it.
Aliens, Xena, fringe departments of the CIA I could handle, but nothing was worse than wet clothes.
Well, we’ll see how well you handle things when “Xena” actually shows up.
Rory points out that Benji was supposed to meet her at seven, and she’s worried that he’s been taken.
Cy turned. “How can you be so naive, Rory? He’s with them. You heard Ellie.”
“She was lying. She does that.”
Yeah. She lied about not being a CIA operative. And Cy is saying that Benji is lying about the same thing.
“Why won’t you see him for what he is?”
“How did he make Majestic, Cy? Did they recruit him in middle school?”
Okay, but…Ellie is also in the Majestic, and she’s the same age. I’m really confused about this whole “How did he make Majestic” phrasing. It implies that they know that there’s some involved process to getting on the team, when they don’t really know how it all works. It’s not like, “How did he become president at age thirty.” And they already mentioned that it was possible that Ellie was recruited in high school.
They keep walking, and the professor needs to rest. Which gives Cy time to tell us how old he really is:
“Our cycle is different. But if I calculated my age in twelve-month cycles, I will turn seventy-five this year.”
OH SHIT RORY! Maybe you want to back off about Ellie and her “geriatric” habit now, huh?
Rory won’t accept it, though, saying that it isn’t funny anymore (because it was hilarious when you were just being chased by the CIA and Cy wasn’t an alien?) and again, demands answers.
This book should been called “The Big Book Of Why”.
They keep on walking and hiding from cars, and Rory asks Cy what will happen if they get to the bridge and Apolonia is waiting for him. And he says that he’ll go with her. Rory asks if he’ll say goodbye.
We walked in silence for a few minutes. It occurred to me to prod him for an answer, but I just couldn’t. It seemed trivial with everything else going on. But when Cy stopped, turned, and pulled me into his arms, I was glad I had given him the time he needed. I was melting in his arms while he held me exactly the way he had at the bottom of the steps the day I didn’t know I needed him–the first day he walked me to class. Back then, that embrace was letting me know that he was there. Now, it was an apology that he couldn’t always be.
This would have been 100% more poignant if literally any time had been taken to believably develop the alleged feelings between Cy and Rory. All we saw was him puking up pizza, her hating him for not stealing her job, him hugging her because she was late to work, a party scene in which he defended her from a guy after someone else had already defended her, and him creepily following her to her dorm the first night they met. That was it. The whole time. We’re supposed to be looking at this as a romance for the ages or something, but it’s not written in the book. We’re just told that they love each other very much.
Now let’s take a look at this sentence:
I was melting in his arms while he held me exactly the way he had at the bottom of the steps the day I didn’t know I needed him–the first day he walked me to class.
What even is going on there? Who didn’t look at that and go, “This is wonky, it needs restructuring?” It would have been so easy to do. Instead of “I was doing this while he did this like he did this other thing that one time,” it could have easily been broken into a few different sentences:
I melted in his arms. He held me exactly the way he had at the bottom of the steps the first day he’d walked me to class. The day I didn’t know I needed him.
Writing Tip: If you have a lot to say, you could always use punctuation.
Cy says goodbye, and Rory isn’t satisfied with that answer:
“Even though your story is the craziest load of crap I’ve ever heard, I’m out here, walking around in the dark, through the mud, with you. I came for you, Cy. We’re all probably going to prison. You’re just going to get on that ship…and what? Wave and say, ‘Thanks for risking your lives for me.'”
Okay, but Rory? You’re not out there because of Cy. You’re out there because your father and Dr. Zoidberg got you involved in some shit even they couldn’t handle. You’re out there because you’re hiding from the CIA, so you don’t really have a choice. Yeah, you went and tried to save Cy, but you were always going to be taken in. Besides:
“You don’t even believe in that ship.”
Good point, Cy. If this is all a load of bullshit, why is Rory following Cy? Couldn’t he also be with the Majestic? Couldn’t this be a trap? If you don’t believe his story, you’re putting yourself in danger because you’ve got a crush on him? Writing Tip: Don’t let your protagonist doubt another character’s motivations, yet continue to trust that character’s motivations at the same time, without reassuring the reader that your protagonist sees all the possibilities for how this could go wrong. At the moment, Rory is acting like she’s certain of everything.
“I believe in you.”
“this is not easy for me, if that’s what you think.”
“Then…let’s make it easy.” I shrugged, forcing a hopeful smile. “I just don’t want to miss anyone else. I know what it’s like. It’s too hard.”
You know what else is probably hard? Being away from your home planet and not seeing another one of your kind for the rest of your life. But he should definitely stay on Earth with you, since he’s known you for a whole couple of months and you have a crush.
“I don’t need you to love me to love you,” I said, remember Benji’s words and, for the first time, understanding what they meant. There were so many different kinds of love. I didn’t have to love him romantically. I could love him enough to see him home, wherever that was. “You’re still my friend. I care about what happens to you, and I’m still going to see this through to the very end.”
Again, we haven’t seen evidence of this friendship at all. The entire relationship between Rory and Cy has seemed to be her hating him for stealing a job he wasn’t stealing, and him randomly hugging her when there seems to be no connection at all between them besides the one the author repeatedly assures us is there.
This whole conversation and passionate embrace thing, by the way, happens with Dr. Z still with them. He’s just not mentioned for the entire duration of the conversation, so I assume he’s just an awkward, silent witness to this.
Rory hears a car engine and recognizes that it’s Benji’s Mustang, because she can recognize the sound of one car on the road from every other car in town. Hey, maybe she can. Maybe Benji has some terrible car problem he hasn’t fixed the whole time they’ve been at school.
A broad smile spanned across my face.
Spanned? Is that the word we’re going with? Okay. It’s your life, Rory.
“It’s Benji!” I said, running toward the road. Relief rushed over me. They hadn’t taken him. He was okay.
Right. They haven’t taken him. And you’ve now had two people, one of whom you profess to love and trust, one of whom is actually in the Majestic, tell you that Benji is in the Majestic. But run right up there and reveal your position after you’ve spent all night hiking through the woods and shit to stay safe.
Luckily, Cy grabs her and holds her back, telling her that he doesn’t trust Benji.
The Mustang passed slowly. Cy and the professor ducked when they realized Benji had a flashlight and was shining it into the woods.
“Rory!” Benji called in a loud whisper from his orange Mustang.
So now Benji is out searching for her…how does he know where to look? Why wouldn’t he assume that she just blew him off for their dinner plan? You know, unless he had a hunch they would go to the Old River Bridge. And why would he assume that unless he was in the Majestic and already knew about the aliens?
And by the way, Writing Tip: We already know it’s his orange Mustang. We already know he owns it. Saying “the Mustang” or even, “the car” would have worked to eliminate repetition here.
Rory figures that since Benji has a car, and they still have a long way to go, she should totally give away their position. But Cy won’t let her. Probably because he has some sense.
I wanted to run after Benji, to ask for his help. My gut said that he could be trusted and that he would do anything he could to help.
Your gut tells you he’s okay, but two other people who know more about the situation than you do have told you that he works for the people who want to find and probably torture and kill you. Why would you take that chance, just to snag a ride?
Cy tells Rory that Benji will only hurt her, and she angrily replies that Cy is just threatened by him and doesn’t know anything. Cy says that she’s attracted to danger, and if she wasn’t, she’d be able to see that Benji is on the wrong side.
They walk the rest of the night, and Dr. Z is having a hard time keeping up.
When the sky began to show the first signs of daybreak, Cy’s encouragements were louder, and he sounded more like a drill sergeant. “We must hurry. No more breaks! It’s just over the hill!”
I sighed. The hill was five miles away. “We’ve got to get on the road, Cy! It will be so much faster.”
Okay, let’s stop and talk for a minute about distance. If the hill is five miles away, how can Rory know which hill he’s talking about? It’s not like she can see it, it’s five miles away. If the Earth were really, really flat, and there were absolutely no obstacles in your line of sight, your eyes can see a long way. We can see stars. Think about how far away those are, and we can still perceive their light with the naked eye. But Rory isn’t gazing up in to the boundless cosmos, she’s looking down a road that apparently runs through the woods. There must be no curves at all on it, no low-hanging branches, and no horizon. So in this area in the eastern part of the country (Rory described “moving east” to go KIT earlier in the chapter), I am to believe that there are five miles of total straightaway before the next hill, and places where you can see for a literal mile from ground-level?
I was going to be snarky by putting in a picture of the rolling hills in Virginia, because I thought that was where this book was taking place. But when I went back to search “Virginia”, there were no matches. So out of curiosity, I searched for “KIT” and “Kempton”, figuring there would be some mention of where they were located. Nada. Finally, as an experiment, I searched for every one of the fifty states, even the ones the setting descriptions didn’t fit, like Hawaii or California. Not a single one was mentioned in the entire novel. At least, not that the search function could find. Writing Tip: The United States is a big place. Just saying “east” and “it’s cold in November” doesn’t really cut it. Please name which state your story takes place in, even if the town and university is fictional. EDIT: We got an answer on this, she’s in Indiana. Kindle desktop app search function, you’re a worthless POS.
Anyway, back to distance. Earlier, there’s mention of Dr. Z “[…]wheezing for the last five or so miles.” So they’ve already gone over five miles, at least, plus all the time they’re walking that distance isn’t accounted for, and there’s another five miles. Rory said that the bridge is on the outskirts of town, a twenty minute drive away. If we substitute 55 mph, a common speed for country or “outskirts” roads in the U.S. to take care of the speed variable, a twenty minute drive is going to be about eighteen miles. I say “about” because I’m estimating, I’m not going to do the whole equation. I’m going to suggest that it’s a tad unlikely that Dr. Z, who is described as “geriatric” and who needed a break after twenty minutes of walking at the beginning of the trip, is physically capable of going this far.
And now let’s also discuss what it means to be walking down a road for five miles. They couldn’t be on the road before because they might be spotted walking in the dark. Now it’s starting to get light out, and they’re going to walk down the road. For five miles. That’s going to be like an hour and a half, I would assume, given the fact that they’ve already been walking all night and are probably stumbling around. So they’ve got a greater chance now of being caught, and that’s when they decide to go up to the road.
SURE WHY NOT
Cy was a good quarter mile in front of me, and Dr. Z was farther behind me than that.
Writing Tip: You might not need to measure literally every distance in miles.
A low, throbbing sound came from the other side of the hill. Cy seemed to recognize it and took off in a sprint, more than a sprint. He seemed to have switched on the nitro and surged ahead. A few moments later, he disappeared over the hill.
Exactly how long does the author believe a single mile is? How long does the author believe five miles is? Because they’re already at the hill.
I picked up the pace, afraid that he would see Apolonia and leave before I could see him one last time.
It’s so important that she see Cy one last time, she straight up ditches Dr. Z.
Just before I reached the peak of the hill, Benji’s Mustang appeared from the other direction, stopping abruptly the second he saw me.
How convenient, that Benji, who is definitely not working for the Majestic, just happens to know where the spaceship is going to be. He embraces Rory and tells her how worried he was about her. He’s still worried, because she’s cold, and he gives her his coat.
I had two fistfuls of his shirt, burying my face in his chest.
I feel like Rory is just content to cling to whichever guy happens to be nearest at the time.
Rory asks Benji how he knew where she was.
Benji glanced at the hill and then back at me. “Because that’s where everyone else is.”
Again, not suspicious at all. He just happened to be on the outskirts of town, miles and miles away from everyone, where all the military vehicles and the space ship are hanging out:
Military vehicles were surrounding a large craft, every curve of it hull smooth but not shiny. Strange symbols spanned a quarter of its length, and the light coming from its underbelly seemed to glow from its casing. It was hovering just a couple of feet off the ground over the remnant foundation of the old gas station on the far side of the bridge.
So yeah. Total coincidence that Benji stumbled upon this.
The Nayara had come to take Cy away. He would board her, and I’d never see him again.
So she’s standing right there with Benji, lamenting that the guy she loved is going to go back to his home planet, but when Benji says he thought she might have been with Cy, she’s insulted:
I turned to him, a little offended. “Seriously? You thought I’d just hop off your floor and get into Cy’s bed?”
Why not? You’re so in love with Cy that you actually want him to forsake his home planet so he can stay with you. Why wouldn’t you have had sex with him? Also, so what if you did? I get that you’re the slut police and all, Rory, but having sex with two dudes in a short span of time isn’t really that big a deal. And why do you think this is the time to have a conversation about your relationship, when there’s a spaceship right there?
So, how did Benji just happen upon the spaceship?
“I couldn’t sleep, so I went for a run to blow off some steam. It passed right over me, and then I saw the Humvees heading this way. I ran back to my car and drove this way, thinking there would be a roadblock or a checkpoint or something.”
Note: in the first sentence, the steam Benji is blowing off passes right over him. The ship hasn’t been mentioned for two paragraphs.
“Benji,” I said, looking up at him, “can I trust you? I mean, really trust you?”
His eyebrows pulled in. “Of course you can.”
I hugged him tightly. “Thank you,” I whispered, just as Dr. Z jogged the rest of the way to where we stood.
Well, as long as he says you can trust him. Untrustworthy people rarely lie about their trustworthiness. Glad we got this misunderstanding cleared up.
So, there’s a roadblock and soldiers surrounding the ship. The roadblock is, inexplicably, within sight of the spaceship. You’d think they would have put up a road block (and more than just orange barrels, as Benji describes it) further away, so that the general public didn’t learn that, you know, aliens exist or whatever.
I glanced down, looking for Cy. I didn’t see him, but I did see the man with the crocodile boots standing in the middle of it all. No gun. No camera. Just staring at the ship with his hands on his hips.
If Benji and Rory can see them, it seems like they would be able to see Benji and Rory, too, right? They’re standing in the middle of the road at the top of the hill. It’s super convenient that the spaceship is distracting them.
The ship was lifting slowly into the air, and an LED-like glow lit up the edges of the ship.
Writing Tip: I know I’ve mentioned this one before, but as I’m currently working on edits for my own book and I’m super guilty of doing this all the time, it’s worth pointing out that “The ship was lifting” should be written as “The ship lifted” to make the action more immediate.
Also, try to not use the same word for a noun twice in one sentence. In fact, the sentence could have ended with “edges,” because the only other noun present is “air” and air doesn’t have edges, so there wouldn’t be confusion.
Another sound, this one familiar, was muffled by the ship. Cy was running toward the huge craft, waving his arms, screaming “Apolonia! Stop! Apolonia!”
Whatever you do, Cy, don’t draw attention to yourself so that the military dudes get you. Stay stealth.
Just as he said her name the second time, the ship pulsed for just a second, like the breath taken before a scream. In the next moment, gun-like barrels fired from the ship at the vehicles and soldiers. The sound and heat penetrated my bones, even a quarter of a mile away.
I am beyond finished reading about how far away everything is. This hill is a quarter mile tall/long apparently? Okay. Fine. Fuck it. Whatever.
Bullets weren’t coming from the gun-like barrels protruding from the front and sides of the ship. They looked more like fire in gel capsules. The capsules exploded on contact, but they also spread, igniting everything they touched. The fluid didn’t splatter though. It jumped.
So Cy is still standing there waving his arms, there’s a gun/fire battle between the ship and the military, and Rory says:
“C’mon!” I yelled, pushing out of Benji’s arms. “Take me across the bridge, Benji!”
“Rory, that’s crazy! You’ll get yourself killed!”
I opened the passenger door. “Cy is going to die if we don’t, and if he dies, we’ll all die.”
You’re all going to die anyway, dipshit. You’re going to try to drive a Ford Mustang through a fire fight between alien forces and heavily armed military while everything is blowing up and on fire. And on a bridge, which is historically the worst place to have any kind of battle.
But of course, they get into the car and speed down to where the action is happening, because everyone in this book is stupid.
She was blowing up everything. The surrounding trees were ablaze, and almost all the military vehicles were incinerated. He was right. Apolonia was emotional. He hadn’t shown up at the correct time, so she was going to punish those who had come in his place.
Pff. Women, am I right? It’s a good thing Rory never gets emotional.
Rory jumps out of the car to try to save Cy, but Cy sees that Apolonia is about to fire on the Jeep where the crocodile boots guy is hiding.
Cy saw what was about to happen and ran to stand between Crocodile’s vehicle and the Nayara.
“Apolonia! I’m here! Stop this!” Cy said. He took another deep breath and yelled something long and beautiful in what had to be his native language.
No, Rory, he’s just speaking French or some shit, because he got the urge.
So, it seems to me, the untrained reader who’s wandering through a plot that doesn’t make any sense at all, that if Crocodile Boots dies, their problems are basically over. I mean, he’s the one who’s looking for Rory and Dr. Z, right? Why does he need to be saved? If they kill him, won’t that keep him from going through with the nefarious plan to awaken the parasite by accident or something?
The Nayara lands again, and Cy gets on.
The man in the crocodile boots stepped out of the Jeep, took off his belt, and threw it into the Nayara. It wasn’t until it disappeared that I realized what it was–a grenade belt.
The Nayara‘s whole front end explodes, and the ship crashes with a big hole in it. It rips up the earth and stops just short of Rory and Crocodile Boots, whose name, we learn, is Dr. Rendlesham. He orders the remaining soldiers into the ship to grab Cy and kill everyone else–because that makes sense. When you get a bunch of aliens who know what to do with the space rock you’ve got, you should definitely murder them all.
Finally, he threw me to the ground and straddled my hips. He gripped my wrists and held them against the dirt. A piece of steel was lying beneath my left arm, and it dug into my skin.
Unable to move, feeling sharp metal slicing through my skin, I was in our hotel room again. Sydney was crying in the bathroom, and my mother’s eyes were staring into mine. They were bloodshot, and the skin around them was wet and smeared with mascara. Blood was dripping from the wounds in her skull where they’d nearly beaten her to death with the telephone.
I thought they’d killed everybody with knives, and carved strange symbols into their arms and shit? Why do we keep getting new, random information about this murder? She also mentions that she was gagged with a dirty rag, which I don’t remember being a part of any other flashback.
Rendlesham’s disgusting voice brought me back to the present. “You’re quite the pain in the ass, Rory. More than one little girl should be.”
That’s because Rory is Not Like Other Girls™.
Benji tackles Rendlesham and tells Rory to run:
Conflicted, I took a step toward Benji. He was going to get himself killed.
You better rush right over and make sure his sacrifice is totally in vain.
Luckily, Rory decides that she probably should get out of there. So where does she run?
STRAIGHT INTO THE SPACESHIP FULL OF SOLDIERS.
It was my first instinct to find someplace safe to hide, but hiding wouldn’t help me find Cy. If he was still alive, he was probably critically injured and needed help. I had to keep going until I found him.
HOW? HOW ARE YOU GOING TO FIND HIM? HAVE YOU BEEN ON A SPACESHIP BEFORE? YOU’LL JUST KNOW WHERE TO GO?
“Cy?” I half-whispered, half-yelled.
So, you just talked in a normal tone.
I crawled on my hands and knees, feeling in front of me, hoping to come across the door Cy entered. He couldn’t be far from it. “Cyrus!”
Within moments, I was in a narrow corridor. My hand landed in something cold and slimy. Hard bits rolled around on my fingers. I reached out farther, and I felt a sharp edge and then a nose and a chin.
“Oh Christ. Please, no,” I said, my hands trembling.
And that’s the chapter. I cannot even begin to tell you how incredibly frustrating this book continues to be. There are plenty of examples that suggest the author really could be good at prose. But the structure of the book sucks, the entire plot is inconsistent, and everything is so needlessly convoluted that it’s impossible to follow. Besides falling into a few of the problematic tropes that a lot of New Adult novels fall into, this book doesn’t even have anything to be outraged over. It’s just a boring, bad book. And 73% of reviews on Amazon are positive. 50% of those are glowing with praise. It doesn’t seem possible.
It’s pretty clear to basically anyone who’s been following this blog since last year that I’m doing this recap because I straight up do not like Jamie Maguire as a person. It’s the only recap I’ve ever done because an author’s shitty behavior tipped me over the edge. But now that I’m over halfway done with this disaster, I wonder if this was even necessary. Honestly, I believe that for all the crappy stuff she’s done to bloggers, all the celebrating of author misfortune she’s done, being forever known as the author of Apolonia might be punishment enough.