(Links to all recaps here: So I shall recap and comment on after by Anna Todd)
Yeah, yeah. it’s been a few weeks. I’ve been busy doing stuff that pays bills, like making a wedding gown (on less that two weeks’ notice), a gown for someone’s upcoming trip to England, and a few corsets.
Because this is something I do.
And I also thought it might be fun to gouge by eyeballs out as an excuse to not ever have to read back stuff again. Alas, I like being able to see good stuff. I’m tempted to crack open a bottle of African wine that I bought in Amsterdam, but then I might get drunk on top of angry, and that’s not good times.
Well, here we go. Tess, Noah, and her unnamed mother, who I’ll just call Ma, are having breakfast. Tess tells the she wants a job in publishing or writing. Because she’s Ana Steele. Duh.
As I put my fork into my mouth, the metal reminds me of Hardin’s lip ring. And I pause for a moment. Noah catches this, too, and looks at me with questioning eyes.
Is that supposed to be sexy? It’s not. And what the hell kind of face was she making if Noah would be able to notice?
More of details no one cares about…do we really need to be told that Noah really wears loafers? I mean, I was a nerdy kid in high school. I did math for fun, and wasn’t trendy at all. You could tell I was a nerd from half a block away. I was known for always having a journal with me and for snapping at anyone who even tried to touch it. When I accidentally left it in the cafeteria. no one touched it. Instead a bunch of people ran to find me. I was that much of a nerd that it was unquestioned and damned near respected. Nothing about me was trendy. And I liked it that way. But damn, she’s making Noah out to be a loser with his finger and his thumb in the shape of an L on his forehead…. Yeah, I went there.
She just neeeeeeds him to kiss her, and he’s all kinds of shy about even a small kiss because people might see, and that would be scandalous!
Her mo takes her to get her hair trimmed with more detail than we need, she gets back to her dorm, falls asleep, and…that’s the end of chapter 21.
How are these chapters? They’re so short!!!
“Before heading to my first class, I stop to grab my usual at the coffeehouse, where Landon is waiting for me with a smile. After our hellos, we’re interrupted by a girl asking for intricate directions, and so we don’t get the chance to catch up until we’re walking to our last class of the day. The class that all day I have been dreading, but anticipating.”
Filler. This book is mostly nitrates and horse meat or whatever they use as filler in bologna and non-kosher hot dogs. (Not Jewish, I just don’t trust hot dogs that aren’t kosher, like Hebrew National, even though they’re ridiculously expensive.)
A better way to do that would be to have her meet up with him, and when a girl asks for directions, Tess makes some comparison to how Landon is treating her when she asks for directions to how Hardin treated her. That would be relevant to the plot. PRO-TIP: If it’s not relevant and can’t be made relevant, CUT IT.
Anna manages to do that in the next bit, where Ana…Tessa, and I’m leaving that typo in, asks Landon about his girlfriend, and he lights up when he talks about her, which results in Tessa wondering if Noah is like that about her. There’s still a bit of padding, but not as much.
They get to class, Hard-on isn’t there, and they read Pride and Prejudice, which Anna Todd tells us through Tessa that everyone should read. $10 says she herself hasn’t read it critically, and only perused a bit of it because it’s trendy right now.
After class, Landon and Tess run into Harry, I mean, Hardin (I feel so bad for Harry Styles), and it’s quickly revealed that Harry’s dad and Landon’s mom are dating. Tess is confused since she thought Hardin’s British, and it didn’t occur to her that PEOPLE MOVE. Yeah, Hardin moved from London, and so did his dad.
In a totally out-of-place place and with a wall o’ text, Anna thinks about the night her dad left, when she was in “the greenhouse” (what greenhouse?) and she heard plates shattering in the kitchen, and when it stopped, footsteps that she thought was her father, but it was Noah. Not really relevant here, but okay. I don’t feel any sense of distress or fear that she tells us she had. It should be easy to get me to feel that. I grew up in a house with alcoholics, and am not going to get into it right now. But let’s just say I have a box of Budweiser-battered cod in my freezer, and I won’t be making it unless my husband is home in case they smell like beer, which would kinda be a hard thing for me. I don’t taste beer in battered things that are cooked, but if I can smell it, that’s not gonna be good. So it should be VERY easy to get me to feel the feelings of someone who is supposed to be the child of an alcoholic.
She lays down for a quick nap, which Hardin interrupts, and she decides to study, and how did all of this crap take up so many pages? Hardin does what Hardin does best, and is an asshole. He grabs all her notes and starts throwing them around. She gets upset, understandably, and he shoves her against a wall and pins her arms and is inches from her. I guess this is supposed to be sexy? But when they hate each other and he has no consent, this isn’t okay.
“For a second, I think he might slap me. But his hand moves up to my cheekbone and then he gently tucks my hair behind my ear. I swear I can hear his pulse as he brings his lips to mine—and the fire crackles under my skin.
This is what I have been longing for since Saturday night. If I could only feel one thing for the rest of my life, this would be it.”
I might need some wine. She’s afraid…that he might hit her. But he kisses her with nothing at all to lead him to think it was okay.
They end up in a bit of bland foreplay that does make me wonder what’s really going on between her and Noah if they’ve never done more than light kissing, yet she’s so willing to have sex with Hardin already, and yes, that’s where it was heading until Steph walked in.
Spoiler: Hardin has a bet with one of his asshole buddies about who can take Tessa’s virginity. Just telling you now so you won’t scream when you find out later with another piece of info that is going to piss you off.
Steph asks what happened after Hardin stormed out, and a page and a half is wasted as Tess recaps what we just had to read. Steph lets her know Hardin has basically fucked his way across the US and back. Steph says Hardin doesn’t date (hello, Christian), and that it could end bad for Tess. It’s going to end up with marriage and some kids, but no better than now. Yes. They end up married with kids. Someone call CPS. Those kids are going to grow up with an abusive-as-hell father. Hardin is a violent drunk who sexually assaults and thinks he’s owed it.
This is 19 pages. On the one hand, enough happens that it could have been stretched out more, and well, in the hands of someone capable. On the other, Anna Todd told us little enough that it could be condensed easily.
First page is wasted with a bunch of telling about meeting up with Landon to study, but there’s nothing relevant to anything. It could be cut entirely.
Follow this with a handful of pages of Anna Todd demonstrating not understanding Pride and Prejudice nor the era. You are really going to miss vital information if you don’t know about the era. They aren’t able to be separated. I have the entire works of Jane Austen about two feet from me. I know this stuff backward and forward, but picking apart why the argument between Tess and Hardin, in class, is wrong would take up far more time than I want to dedicate. Stuff like, “If Darcy really loved her, he wouldn’t have been a jerk.” It was an era where men were expected to be assertive to the point of being asses because of social norms, and breeching those norms could cost not only you, but your children and grandchildren, all respect from society, which would have disastrous consequences.
Tess calls Hardin a “manwhore,” and I swear I’d originally written “Steph lets her know Hardin has basically fucked his way across the US and back,” I had “Steph told her she’s a man-whore,” then explained that I’ve got no problem with people having a lot of sex partners as long as there’s consent on all sides, and that I was using verbiage I though Tess/Anna would use, but then deleted it since Tess is supposed to be so purely virginal that the word “sexy” turns her on. Well, lo and behold. She said it in class, and everyone can tell that she and Hardin are arguing about themselves, and people are snickering. Embarrassed, Tessa runs form the room, and Hardin follows, and won’t leave her alone.
I get outside and am crossing the green lawn, about to reach the corner of the block, when he grabs my arm and I jerk away.
“Why do you always touch me like that? Grab my arm again and I will slap you!” I scream. I surprise myself at my harsh words, but I’ve had enough of his crap.
He grabs my arm again, but I can’t manage to follow through on my promise.
This is followed closely with
A small crowd has gathered around us, and I want to curl into a ball and disappear. But I have to know what he will say next.
Why can’t I stay away from him? I know he’s dangerous and toxic. I have never been as mean to someone as I am to him. He deserves it, I know, but I don’t really like being mean to anyone.
Hardin grabs my arm yet again and pulls me into a small alleyway between two buildings, away from the crowd.
This literally makes my heart hurt. Literally. This is what is being spoon-fed to young women as good and desirable. We’ve got a sexual predator for a president and a potential candidate who has inappropriately touched women but who has been excused because he’s old and “hasn’t kept up with the times,” and then women blamed for not telling him “No” over the decades. Grabbing women by the shoulders and kissing the backs of their necks isn’t okay, and neither is victim-shaming, and neither is any of this. We should be expecting people to meet high standards, not to sink down and say, “Well, at least A isn’t a bad as B.” We’re paving the road to hell. And how are young women supposed to be able to see this stuff is wrong when grabbing women and scaring them and being toxic is romantic? Remember, this book is a ROMANCE. Not really, but that’s where it’s categorized.
Hardin starts insisting he turns her on, which he does, but she outwardly denies it and tries to back away, and he keeps stepping closer without regard for her trying to escape. But she admits she likes it. He’s toxic and mean and assaultive and she likes it. He refers to her nether regions as “down there” because “You’re thinking about me and have that feeling” just wouldn’t be complete without “down there.” Another pro-tip: “Down there” is so juvenile that you really need to either stop before saying it, or get more creative.
He shoves her against a wall while she’s trying to get away…romance?…and tries justifying it by saying she made the first move…when she was DRUNK and he was sober. Somehow that makes all of this okay? NO.
He convinces her that they’ll be friends and demands they’ll meet the next day after school, and she gets, in her own word, “dreamy,” and then gets a feeling she walked into a trap. Ya think?
Blah blah blah, shower, irrelevancy, a note from Steph that she’s out to dinner with Tess.
I like Tristan; he seems really nice despite his overuse of eyeliner.
Can’t say something almost-nice without something overtly judgmental.
In class, Hardin mentions their “date” in front of Landon, and Landon tells her to be careful. Landon’s decent. He’s genuinely concerned. Hardin is an ass because that’s all he does, and Tess tells him to be nice since they’re “practically brothers.” Oh, snap. That’s not gonna go well.
Hardin cancels the “date.” Okay, that’s ending well. Because he should end his involvement with her, and Anna Todd needs to be slapped for using “bipolar” as an insult.
Tess gets back to her dorm, and Steph, Tristan, and Zed are on Steph’s bed, and the four of them have a really cute time talking about “weird professors.” It’s fine, and really is nice. Something unspecified in the way Tristan looks at Steph shows he is really interested in her.
So Anna Todd either can write good stuff and doesn’t, or else is the saying about a million monkeys at a million typewriters.
Hardin walks in.
Geez, man, you could at least knock for once,” Steph scolds him and he shrugs. “I could have been naked or something.” She laughs, obviously not angry at his lack of manners.
“Nothing I haven’t seen before,” he jokes, and Tristan’s face falls while the other three chuckle. I can’t find the humor, either; I hate thinking about Steph and Hardin together.
I feel bad for Tristan. Also, I love the name Tristan, and used it in the first trilogy I wrote.
Zed invites Tess to the movies with him and Steph and Tristan.
Before I can answer, Hardin speaks up quickly. “Actually, Tessa and I have plans.” There is a strange edge to his voice.
That’s because the bet is with Zed.
Hardin shoves her out the door (her word), and into his car. He says Zed “doesn’t have the best intentions.”
He won’t tell her where they’re going.
For my sanity, I’m finishing this post after this chapter. It’s 29 pages, and I don’t want to keep killing brain cells.
He turns onto a gravel road, and Tess is nervous. He quips that he’s not going to kill her. She’s less scared of being murdered than of what else he might do. I have a headache. For real.
The plan is swimming in a creek. Since she didn’t know, of course she didn’t bring a bathing suit and he orders her to go in her underwear. Since she won’t, he offers to answer any question she wants, but only one, and she can wear his t-shirt.
They’re in northern Washington, and the creek is supposed to be warm. Creeks aren’t warm in the fall. The creeks are melted snow from the previous winter. I live here. On hot days, the creeks are still cold, and that makes them refreshing. They aren’t warm. This isn’t California. Also, creeks don’t have a sudden edge, and then you’re in them, like a pool.
She gets in and they seem to hav fun splashing each other. He’s manipulating her, and she’s falling for it. For her question, she asks who he loves most in the world, to which he answers honestly. Himself. But that won’t count. So she asks, “What about your parents?” and that pisses him off. She grovels, and reminds him he did say he’d answer a question. He throws her in the water again, and Tess is back to stupidly happy. She wraps her legs around him, and it’s back to boners and near-boinking.
He “begs” her to let him have his way with her. I guess a point for actually asking. She’s not under pressure at the moment to say yes, and is just stupid. She can say no, but she’s saying yes to someone she knows is a jerk. And he’s an asshole because he’s only doing this to win a bet.
They get out of the water and he asks there or his room. She wants to do it there so she won’t have time to rethink it and realize she’s making a mistake.
“Do you have a condom?” I ask him, trying to remember the few things I know about sex.
“A condom?” He chuckles. “I’m not going to have sex with you,” he says and I begin to panic.
Even when being stupid, I won’t knock mention of condoms. EL James got this right as well, at least until Christian ordered a doctor to his place and spring it on Ana that she was getting birth control so he didn’t have to use them.
So on to foreplay. He kisses her, slips his hands in her undies, and asks her if it feels better than when she does it to herself. Is anyone surprised that she has never touched herself? What is it with books putting virginity on such a pedestal that even touching oneself is somehow ruining it?
“You’re so responsive to me, so wet,” he says, and she thinks about how “filthy” those words are.
She has her first orgasm, and he quickly gets up to get dressed. She thought he’d want her to…ellipses. She doesn’t know because she’s never seen anything aside from textbook drawings. She thinks that she wouldn’t be able to stand if if he started treating her badly again.
Things start to get “weird” between them, “distant,” she says. And she “feels used.” Hardin IS using her, but tells her that using her would mean getting something out of it. Oh, he is. Money.
She cries. He fake-consoles her, says they’ll get dinner instead of just dropping her off.
My feelings for Hardin are so confusing. I hate him one minute and want to kiss him the next. He makes me feel things I never knew I could, and not just sexually. He makes me laugh and cry, yell and scream, but most of all he makes me feel alive.
Chapter 25 ends there, and I have this ball in the pit of my stomach. This reminds me a lot of an ex of mine who used me, and it’s upsetting to me, truly upsetting, that this is going to end in marriage and kids.
At this point, fans are rooting for them to get together. There’s nothing to recommend this as a relationship that should happen. Tess isn’t a good person. She’s judgmental and all too willing to cheat on her boyfriend. But she still doesn’t deserve what Hardin’s doing to her. We find out Ana is a bitch at heart in Fifty Shades, but she doesn’t deserve what Christian does. NO ONE deserves this. Yet it’s on a pedestal as #relationshipgoals
A relationship that leaves someone in tears and where there is fear should NEVER be a goal. She’s been afraid he’ll hit her. She’s cried many times. She’s been outright scared, scared that what he’ll do to her could be worse than being murdered.
A relationship should make you happy, and the other person happy. There should be security, not fear. Being nice most of the time doesn’t buy someone points to be abusive “just sometimes.” Took me five years to learn that one, back when rape within relationships wasn’t seen as rape since a relationship implied consent. If there’s ever fear of harm, get out. If you know someone who is afraid, don’t encourage that person to stay or encourage her (or him) to get with the person causing the fear. Relationship goals shouldn’t make a person feel like that.
Relationship goals should be like…
No matter what’s going on, they’re there for each other, love each other, try to make each other happy, see each other as equals and partners. They respect each other, and are passionate and dedicated and actively work on showing each other their love. When it comes to their children, they unquestioningly support them and are proud of them and are very open about it. They respect others, even when those others, like Tully and Dr. Pendershlass, are not nice to them. They embody everything we should look for in relationships. Watch either of the movies with Angelica Houston and Raoul Julia for the clearest, most obvious depictions of this. The original TV show (which was based on a comic strip where they had no names) showed it as well, but the movies are the most enjoyable.
Relationships like Tessa’s and Hardin’s should never, EVER be treated as good. EVER. And every time young people hear that it is, and that it’s romantic and just so wonderful, the more they’ll believe that this is what is okay in relationships. This sets young people up to accept abuse. It’s part of why I stayed in an abusive relationship so long and only got out when I tried killing myself. Who would help when I had a relationship that was everything society told me was good? Forced sex just meant he wanted me, getting physical meant he was so passionate he couldn’t control himself. So who would help? Who would think I wasn’t a failure if I left? I didn’t have black and blue marks all over me, so it wouldn’t be abuse, it couldn’t be bad. Because that’s what we were told. And now, Christian forcing Ana is seen as consent because she realized trying to leave was futile when her mother and her best friend encouraged her to stay with Christian despite him making her cry and stalking her, which they witnessed. His force is seen as he just wants her so much. His and Edward’s physicality has been excused as passion. They just love their targets so much that they can’t control themselves. We’re seeing that with Tessa and Hardin already. Already fear of physical abuse, and Hardin’s plan for sex is through manipulation to win a bet. WE SHOULD NOT BE CALLING THIS GOALS.
Look at a young person in your life. Have a 10-year-old daughter? A 9-year-old cousin? A 6-year-old nephew? An 18-year-old sister? Ask yourself if you want them to be in Tessa’s position, scared and being physically shoved against walls, more afraid of death than what Hardin might do? IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT FOR THEM? If it’s not, you need to stop holding shit like this up as goals because they hear it. And they’ll believe it. And when it happens to them and you wonder how they could have missed the signs, it’ll be on you for holding this stuff up as goals. It’ll be on everyone who does since hearing it over and over and OVER again will cause them to internalize it, believe it, accept it, and, when they want to get out, they won’t. Their relationship is like Christian and Ana, or Hardin and Tessa, and those relationships are just so awesome and romantic. So who would help them?
Please, think critically about the relationships in books that you call romantic, and picture someone you love in Tessa’s or Ana’s position. Don’t bother thinking about yourself since you’ll look at the money or the orgasms. Picture someone else there, getting hit or being scared of being hit, and crying. Still romantic? Still goals? Is it? Is this book? Is Fifty Shades? Hm?
I may intersperse recaps of this book with recaps of After. We’ll see. I’m not sure I can mentally handle it, but I might try. “Might” is the operative word.
Just what we’ve been waiting for! What can be more romantic than Christian Grey abusing a virgin he stalks and terrified into submission? Why, a story about a rich British earl who decides to bed his housekeeper, a 23-year-old sex trafficking escapee undocumented immigrant who is dealing with trauma and is very ignorant of the world and who hardly speaks English! Oooh, baby, an extreme imbalance in power where the one in power has the power to return a trauma victim to the people who sex-trafficked her! EL James delivers all that “romance” and less in “The Mister.”
Here’s something suuuuuper romantic: Alessia wakes from a nightmare where she was reliving trauma of being throw in a truck by sex traffickers, and woke up screaming in terror. Max tells her to go sleep with him in his bed, and promises, “’I won’t touch you. This is just sleep—so the next time you scream, I’ll be right there.’” That would be bad enough (he’s her boss, remember, and it’s not like she’s in a position to tell him “no” when she’s not in the country legally). But he then tells us, “Of course, I’d like to make her scream in a different way.”
Also, since EL James loves making an idol of virginity, she wants to have her cake and eat it too. Alessia not only was se trafficked, but is also a virgin. So when Max gets to stick his stick into her, she’s that pure, tight virgin. But, y’know. She was also sex-trafficked. And traumatized. It sounds more like she’s a “born-again virgin” with trauma-induced vaginismus. Sexy, baby. Sexy.
Want something super hot? If you think her trauma is every properly dealt with and that Max learns to keep his hands off of her, you’ll be thrilled to know the answer is…”NO! Of course not! Do you really think EL James is competent?”
My heart being crushed more at sex trafficking being the lasted “romance” is just the way I wanted my week to continue after the barbecue at Notre Dame. Fantastic week….
Go here and get a free audible subscription, and listen to it for free. It’s easier than trying to read it. I’m not responsible for any alcohol you may need to imbibe to stop crying.
At this point in the game, I usually ignore readers who complain about e-book prices being “too high” at $4.99, or even lower, since it’s seen as “easy money” for writers. But it’s gotten harder with some things I’ve been watching and reading lately, including YouTube videos lamenting authors not releasing a book and then forgetting about it since it’s seen as something that belongs to the readers post-release, as well as about authors who aren’t on social medial while also complaining about authors who start getting political. There are only so many times authors can use #amwriting or say “today I’m editing” before it’s just so dull that we wish social media would dive into the dumpster fire that is the current industry. Many authors don’t want to share much about their private lives, so resort to entertainment, which often runs in with politics these days. You’re damned if you post, damned if you don’t, damned if you don’t let readers nearly literally own your book as if the rights are theirs, damned if you insist on maintaining some control.
But what’s got me frustrated right now is exclusivity mandates and how those harm authors, especially when readers want books for less and less money when we’re already being pressured by Amazon to go lower and lower, and readers want more and more of them, resorting in many authors pumping out low-quality books that they know aren’t up to par, because the punishment for not is to be considered irrelevant. Grab a glass of wine and settle in for this month’s edition of Alys Rants because I have thoughts to think and fingers to type (the word that flows better doesn’t really work there).
On the topic of exclusivity, when Amazon started Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), it sounded great, an easy way to publish ebooks. But then it turned out they required exclusivity with Amazon, and a lot of other mandates. You don’t get to opt out of Kindle Unlimited, which is s system currently being gamed by scammers to the financial detriment of honest authors, you technically can’t have give-aways unless you buy a gift card through Amazon so that Amazon gets a piece of it, and then send that to the winner, who can technically do anything they want with it (not doing this is why Sacred Blood was kicked off of KDP), and you absolutely can’t distribute your own digital books through any other avenue. We lose control, and there’s little we can do about it. Bizarrely, while checking on the current pricing for my second book, I saw that Amazon reinstated Sacred Blood, and at a different price than I originally set it for.
Now a well-known video game website is starting down the same path. Offering a larger cut that you’d get elsewhere, but mandating exclusivity. This exclusivity thing really has to go. Perhaps require an incentive for it, like a higher cut, but mandating it no matter what is very problematic. It’s not like the print book world, or the world of cartridge games, where someone else was investing tens or hundreds of thousands. This digital era has minimal, it any, cost to these companies doing the selling, with it all being on the shoulders of the creators instead. We create it. We format it. We test it. We make sure it works and is the best it can be. We service it and make edits or repairs if necessary. We foot all the financial investment. Then we had it over to a company to sell with them having the sole say from there on out, despite putting nothing into it. If these companies want to pay for assistants and editors and such, then fine, they’ve got money staked in it. But they don’t. We just hand them the fruits of our hard labor, knowing they’re going to keep the bulk of the harvest to themselves. We invest in the products, sometimes incurring debt to do so, for someone else to reap the bulk of the rewards on top of making very important decisions about selling. We may as well be independent contractors making products for another company to sell when that company offers no compensation at all to help cover the costs. Would you hire someone to paint your house for you, then tell them you’ll only pay for your personal labor, but you’ve got to pay for the paints and all supplies, and any assistants you may need, and no, you won’t compensate for any of it. That’s Amazon. They’re hiring that painter.
A lot of authors would do print-on-demand for print copies, or order a supply of their books for print purchases, since they ended up with a much larger cut of the sale this way since Amazon was merely the platform facilitating the sale and purchase, and had total control over pricing. Then Amazon bought Createspace, the main place authors were using, and started offering those same books on Amazon Prime for less than the cost an author could buy one at “wholesale” for, meaning the authors get a much smaller cut of a smaller amount they can’t control, with Amazon getting the larger cut for being the platform that facilitates the sale and purchase as well as fulfilling the order. This isn’t something I opted into when I started offering print books.
Regarding pricing, I’m so glad Nora Roberts touched on this. It’s epidemic how many people want books for next to nothing without so much as a thought for how much work and money goes into them. It’s gotten so bad that countless authors have banded together to offer boxed sets for sometimes as low as $4.99 for six books. Amazon’s push for books to be $1.99 or under comes with the punishment of your ranking in searches being lower if you don’t agree. They make money by moving millions of items at small profit margins. But for those of us moving tens, hundred, maybe a few thousand, at smaller profits, we don’t come out ahead, and often don’t recoup our expenses. Free-to-the-reader books even have their very own best-seller list, which many writers try to get on for the exposure. Unfortunately, that doesn’t usually convert to paid sales of other books. People looking for free books want free books. Amazon is aware that getting people to Amazon for free stuff increases the chance of a sale of something off the site.
If you’re a reader, please give authors a break. Throw us a bone every now and then. Don’t participate in the crowd that will only buy books if they’re almost free or free. Be patient between books instead of wanting a book a month badly enough that you’ll move on to someone else who pumps them out that fast. It’s literally not possible to write 70,000-90,000 words, have an editor go through it, then the writer make edits, and have it go back to the editor (at which point it could need further editing or be okay to go out), in a month. There is a lot of time involved, a lot of money, Amazon henpecking us, everyone henpecking us. In the end, the people who get money LAST are the very people the industry literally couldn’t exist without, and when we are lucky to even break even, insisting on lower prices, new books frequently enough that it would take more overtime to even push out first drafts fast enough, and demanding ever-lower prices burns us out. Folks, I know some authors who’ve done decently well, but who are close to quitting because of the amount of pressure and how much fighting has to be done to keep a few dimes per book. Amazon already puts mandates on writers that cause a loss of control and makes earning money hard enough. Please, PLEASE, be kind to authors, remember authors are people working their asses off, often on top of day jobs, and appreciate the money that authors put into books that come with so little pay, often no pay, very often in the negative, that creating books have become a labor of love and display of passion for the craft.
(Links to all recaps here: So I shall recap and comment on after by Anna Todd)
I’ve had a couple people ask if they can share this, and the answer is of course. If I’m posting publicly, then share away.)
Yes, these chapters are so short they shouldn’t even count as chapters, but just thinking in chapters makes this book drag out so much more. We’re on chapter SIXTEEN. Shouldn’t this be enough to hook a reader?
After Ana (genuine typo that I’m leaving it), I mean, Tess (of D’ubervilles…another Fifty Shades reference FTL) asks Hardin (a name that had my husband asking “What the hell?”) “truth or dare,” he obviously says “dare” because he’s a bad boy. Tess is all flitterpated because she didn’t expect him to look at her like a bad boy. So she falters. Her word, not mine. For a moment, she thinks it would be “amusing” to have him say something nice about each person.
WE GET IT. SHE IS A “GOOD GIRL.” Why not put her in a first communion white dress, hand her a pacifier and a dolly, and tell her to suck her thumb? We get it.
She’s the purest of the pure who thinks a guy touching a girl’s hips is scandalous, and who probably hasn’t even wiped herself because that’s too close to sexual. Hardin JUST LOOKED AT HER, and she’s beside herself, and she’s such a goody-goody that this little girl is probably a baaaaad girl in comparison. Tess is a caricature of innocence at this point.
Wow. I have a headache.
Molly “yells out” for him to take his shirt off, which makes Ms. Pure feel better since she won’t have to “give him orders.” IT IS A GAME. I want to play against her in Monopoly and let her get Broadway and build a hotel and then land on it. Then, when she tries asking for rent, tell her, “Are you gonna order me?” And then roll again since she’s so determined to be a doormat that she wouldn’t stop me.
This book makes me feel like a rebellious, bad person. Then I remember it’s romanticizing abuse, Fifty Shade for TEENS, and I’ve had to talk with my 9-year-old about the movie trailers that pop up when she’s watching art videos on YouTube, and I get mad again about how I had to deal with what happened when Fifty Shades trailers popped up when she was watching the music videos playlist I made her when she was a wee thing, and she came into my room upset about “a man hitting that lady.” I shouldn’t be having to warn my daughter, who isn’t even 10, about these trailers and how to handle them. She shouldn’t be subjected to this shit, yet it’s so permeated our culture as acceptable that watching ART VIDEOS comes with the risk of being exposed to it as a positive thing.
I’m not the bad person. And I’ll refrain for now from saying who is, lest I piss too many people off.
Hardin calls the dare “juvenile,” and we are stuck…well, I am stuck…reading about Tess eye-fucking his tattoos in detail.
The game goes on, someone kisses a couple people, someone else describes their first time having sex (mine was with someone so un-endowed that I was waiting for it to start when he told me he was done, and I had to pretend it was so good I needed a moment to comprehend it, and it’s no wonder he took pride in being called a “Massachusetts Minuteman”…I’m not even kidding), and someone else kissed someone, and Tess actually picks dare.
Something happens that surprises me. After some guy dares her to take a shot of vodka, she says she doesn’t drink, and everyone laughs at her, the one person who seems at all uncomfortable with this is Hardin, and she says he looks disappointed. She keeps drinking, though, and says everyone’s getting more fun.
Serious PSA: If you’ve never drunk anything before, do NOT drink for your first time in a situation where over-drinking is common. It’s dangerous. I’m not about to sit here chastising someone for drinking at 18 when I’m in a country that will put an 18-year-old on the front line in war but not allow that person a beer. So I’m not even starting on that. But when you don’t know your limits, don’t even try to find out in a situation like that. Binge-drinking literally kills people.
Hardin does the RIGHT THING after she’s had SEVEN shots’ worth of vodka, and rips the bottle from her hand, telling her she’s had enough. But she yanks it back and drinks more.
Molly then dares Hardin to kiss Tessa, which is wrong for so many reasons. She’s not sober, clearly not capable of truly consenting at this point, this is a dare she wouldn’t have accepted sober, wouldn’t have been okay with when sober even if she drank…
A little disclaimer. I don’t care if people drink and do dumb stuff that they’d be okay doing sober. I don’t care if people decide to drink because there’s dumb stuff they want to do but feel better doing drunk. I myself don’t really dance much in clubs if I’m sober, but I know I feel uninhibited enough to get up on tables if I’ve had a few drinks, and so drink with the intention of that. So I’m not about to judge people at that party who are doing things they know they’ll do when drunk and they’re going into drinking okay with this. But I AM going to judge people for daring someone to do something they know she wouldn’t consent to when drunk, especially when it’s her first time, and she’s had enough of it that she’s at risk of alcohol-poisoning.
Hardin’s eyes go wide, and though the alcohol is making everything more exciting, I really just want to run away from him.
“No, I have a boyfriend,” I say, making everyone laugh at me for the hundredth time tonight. Why am I even hanging around these people who keep laughing at me?
“So? It’s just a dare. Just do it,” Molly says, pressuring me.
“No, I’m not kissing anyone,” I snap and stand up. Without looking at me, Hardin just takes a drink from his cup. I hope he’s offended. Actually, I don’t care if he is. I’m through interacting with him like this. He hates me and is just too rude.
Remember, she called Hardin attractive not so long ago. And we all know where this will go. “Love.”
When she goes outside and calls Noah, he asked her if she was drunk, she got pissed, hung up, and said her concerned boyfriend is ruining the buzz more than Hardin. This time, I’m on the side of both Noah and Hardin. Noah’s concerned, and Hardin tried to stop her from drinking more and, so far, hasn’t pushed a kiss on a horribly drunk person who hasn’t had alcohol before.
She stumbles back inside, takes a huge drink of another bottle of some type of alcohol, and someone kinda needs to get her to an ER. She’s topping even my party days, when I’d start off chasing vodka with cranberry juice and end the night chasing shots of Bacardi 151 with vodka.
At this point, Tess is right to be questioning if they’re her friends, and no, it’s clear they aren’t. But she sees Hardin in a god light, doubting he’d have kissed her because…”his lips are so pink and full.”
Girl. GIRL. Sit down a sec. A guy doing the right thing once doesn’t mean he’s a good guy. This is an asshole who made you get dressed in front of him when you wanted him out of your private space. Any guy being nice now and then doesn’t buy him points to be an asshole. I had to learn that the hard way. I excused an abuser because “he was usually nice.” Doesn’t matter. An asshole is an asshole, and being nice sometimes or once o whatever doesn’t excuse him. Damn, books like this dredge up memories I’d rather not remember.
Drunk Tess finds her way to Hardin’s bedroom, and we get more not-believable crap about books. I don’t believe for a second Anna Todd has done more than read a summary of the Cliffs Notes of Wuthering Heights or Pride and Prejudice, yet has Tessa thinking about how rare it is for people their age, especially boys, to have read P&P. Despite being so drunk she could hardly walk, she has no problem reading a book.
Hardin’s pissed. He’s got a right to be, actually. No, wait. He did the SAME THING TO HER. Still. She shouldn’t be there. Everyone in this book is awful.
In a fit of self-pity, she asks him why he doesn’t like her, but tells us she doesn’t think her ego could handle it.
Hardin wants to know why she’s asking, and she gives him a load of lies as her answer. She’s only been NICE to them all and crap like that. Sure. Uh-huh. She and her mother and boyfriend openly sneered at Steph upon first meeting, and she’s been snide to all of them, they’ve been snide back, and she’s been judgmental as hell. Honestly, who could like her at this point? I didn’t even come to detest Ana Steele until the third Fifty Shades book, and already want to smack Tessa.
He answers that she’s uptight (true), tells her she probably had some perfect little life in a model home, probably got everything she wanted, and he hates her pleated skirts.
She gives a sob reply about her dad leaving when she was 10, her mom having to work (boo-hoo, so do most moms), and getting a job at 16 (again, boo-hoo, so do a lot of teens). She outright calls his friends SLUTS, using that word, because lordy help them for kissing, and yells that he sure doesn’t like people different than himself despite trying to be different. No, no, Tess, he just plain doesn’t like anybody. You’re the one who doesn’t like different people.
She wants to go to the bus, and he “warns” her that “it’s a bad idea.” She cries because…reasons? So he tells her to sit down a few minutes until she stops, and then she can go to the buss station. Didn’t he just say it was a bad idea?
He gives her a cup of water and claims he doesn’t drink. Oh, bull shit. BULL SHIT.
We get small talk that I guess is supposed to be showing things are cool now. He asks what she wants to do after college. She wants to be an author or publisher. (PLEASE, can people stop using this all the time?) She asks if he owns his books. Duh. He does. He calls her boyfriend “a tool.” Yeah. Noah is. But so’s Hardin. Tess doesn’t really care until Hardin says, “Well, he has been dating you for two years and hasn’t fucked you yet, so I would say he is a square.”
That’s what makes her mad. She throws the water cup at him. She goes downstairs, drinks some more, and Anna Todd shows us she forgot how to skip time.
FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER
That’s how she skipped time. Just that. In caps.
FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER, Zed and Logan have me laughing so hard that my stomach hurts.
“In a manner of minutes, Zed and Logan have me laughing so hard that my stomach hurts.”
“With just a few jokes, Zed and Logan have me laughing so hard that my stomach hurts.”
Those aren’t great, but they’re better than FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER.
But then Hardin appears as himself, as is pissed, per usual. And Tessa’s sleeping over again.
What did I get myself into with this book? I AM BORED.
Tess finds an empty bed in a room with some guy whose passed out, locks the door for safety (it’s so obvious that McDrunky will wake up and try something with her), and she contemplates life. Just kidding. She tells us how she and Noah don’t have sex because he’s “a gentleman” and they have fun going to movies and long walks. I’m pretty sure teens in the 1940’s did more exciting things.
McDrunky wakes, gets suggestive, and she knees him in the nuts, which I take it Anna Todd has never done to a guy since she has McDrunky start chasing her. You kick a guy in the jewels, and he’s going to instinctively be on the ground. It’s not just a pain thing. It’s an instinctive reaction to protect the biologically most important part of a person. (Again, BIOLOGICALLY. On a cognitive level, we tend to value other things more than reproductive ability, but instincts kinda tend to value things to keep our species alive.)
Then she runs screaming down the hallway right to Hardin. In the midst of this, Anna Todd stops the semi-action so that Tess can gawk at how “hot” Hardin is in boxers, and how that surprises her more than him calling her Tess instead of Theresa.
Anna Todd, here’s another little author tip: Stop fapping if a scene is supposed to have some dangerous tension. How are readers supposed to believe a character’s fear if she stands there thinking about hotness and names when an attempted rapist is running after her and can still reach her?
Hardin almost gets his responses right. He gets her into his room, where it’s obvious he actually isn’t going to take advantage of her, asks if he’s okay, if the asshole touched her, but then gets it wrong here:
“No, he tried, though. I was stupid enough to lock myself in a room with a drunk stranger, so I suppose it’s my fault.” The idea of that creep touching me makes me want to cry, again.
“It’s not your fault that he did that. You aren’t used to this type of . . . situation.”
No. NO. The insinuation there is that, if you ARE used to parties, then it’s your fault. Guess what, asshole. You can be used to parties, and you still aren’t responsible for when someone tries something. If someone were to have told me this after some asshole named Andre shoved me against a wall at this place called Buddha Lounge (Mt. View, California–yeah, these details can seer themselves into your brain) and tried to have his way with me, until I grabbed his balls, squeezed, yanked, and told him I’d change his fucking religion if he didn’t back off (it wasn’t the first time something like that had happened, but that was the point when I finally stopped caring about other people in situations like that, and started caring about myself), or have said that during any other time, I might need someone to pay bail for me. The ONLY person at fault is the person who sexually assaults someone. Tess made it clear she wasn’t interested, McDrunky didn’t take that as an answer. McDrunky is responsible, and Hardin and Anna Todd are both rotten people for the message that you’re only not responsible if you “aren’t used to this type of situation.”
In a stroke of good timing, my husband just walked into one of my studios with a thing of Trader Joe’s Fruit Jellies. Now I’m calming down a bit and shoving sugar into my face.
Back to the story. Tess kisses Hardin. End of Chapter.
Let’s see. Hardin gets into it. It start to go beyond just kissing, into foreplay territory.
Well, at least he’s not the one to have started it. But if he’s sober, and she’s not, and he knows she didn’t want to kiss earlier, and that she’s got a boyfriend she wants to go watch more movies with, then he’s got an obligation to stop.
Tess remembers Noah exists, tells Hardin to stop, and he doesn’t. She tells him to stop again, and he’s mad about it.
The softness in his eyes disappears and he pulls himself up, knocking me onto the other side of the bed. What just happened?
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I say, and they are the only words I can think of. My heart feels like it will explode any second.”
No, no, no. No. NO. Don’t you dare go knocking her around because she said NO, you raging asshole! And, Anna Todd, seriously, fuck you for Tess being the one to apologize in a story we all know isn’t going to end with her having a revelation about her judgmentalism and finding her own value as a person and learning that someone taken advantage of isn’t the one needing to apologize.
Tess sits there feeling bad about “almost cheating” on Noah, and I’m actually giving her a pass on this. True, she shouldn’t have started drinking when she hadn’t drunk before, but she shouldn’t have been pressured, and the sober one in this situation, Hardin, should have stopped it instead of getting into it and continuing after she said to stop…especially after she was just nearly sexually assaulted, a situation that would cause heightened adrenaline in anyone. As she hadn’t ever drunk before, I don’t think she could have foreseen this outcome. If I were to go out drinking and kissed someone, yeah, I’d see that as cheating on my husband, but that’s because I have drunk before, and I know my limits, and know that if I go beyond them, I could be tempted to do something like that, which, even if the other person were to stop it, the cheating aspect would still come into play and be on me. I would go into drinking knowing what could happen. Tess had no idea.
She’s embarrassed, doesn’t want anyone to know, and he doesn’t want anyone to know either.
And there’s his arrogance again. “So now you’re back to your old self, I see?”
“I never was anyone else—don’t think because you kissed me, basically against my will, we have some sort of bond now.”
Ouch. Against his will? I can still feel the way his hand gripped my hair, the way he pulled me on top of him, and the way his lips mouthed “Tess” before kissing me again.
I shoot up off the bed. “You could have stopped me.”
“Hardly,” he scoffs and I feel like crying again. He makes me too emotional. It’s too humiliating, too painful how he’s basically saying I forced him to kiss me. I bury my head in my hands for a moment and head for the door.
I am SO PISSED right now. HARDIN is the victim?! What the actual fuck!! Tess is partially right–he could have stopped it. The partial is because he SHOULD have as well. I sincerely want to slap Anna Todd for this. If I even get started on how furious this makes me, I might cry. It’s beyond infuriating that THIS is the shit being peddled to teens these days, as ROMANCE. Girl is pressured into drinking, gets drunk off her rocker, nearly sexually assaulted, in heightened emotional moment, kisses a guy who knows she doesn’t like him, he gets into it, ignores her when she says no, gets pissed when she makes him stop, then he’s the victim?! NO MEANS NO!! And ANYONE who ignores that is NOT the victim!! I should NOT have to talk with my daughter about books like this yet, but have to since this is the shit being sold to impressionable girls as ideal and good. HE IS THE PERPETRATOR! And this is NEVER made clear. EVER. Just he’s the victim?! NO!!
“You can stay in here tonight since you have nowhere else to go,” he says quietly, but I shake my head. I don’t want to be anywhere near him. This is all part of his little game. He will offer to let me stay in his room so I’ll think he is a decent person, then he will probably draw some vulgar design on my forehead.”
Thank GOODNESS she doesn’t stay. She goes outside and mentally beats herself up for what she’s still seeing as cheating.
I think I’m going to call this post a break after this one. I’m so mad right now that I feel a migraine coming on and I’m out of CBD oil.
Anna Todd proves that she’s never been drunk in her life. In a very short time, Tess is fully sober. Literally absolutely no way can a person go from at least 12 shots of alcohol to stone-cold SOBER in a handful of hours. And, if you don’t drink enough water, there’s no way you won’t get hung over. (Pro-tip about drinking from someone who literally only has one half of one set of intestine left: If you get drunk, drink as much water as you can before going to sleep, and then drink more. Hang-overs are your body being dehydrated, and that dehydration happens since your body is working so hard to filter the alcohol. If you don’t have enough water, your body will pull water from your fat and muscles and brain, and you’ll have a headache and feel like hell. If you drink tons of water, you’re giving your body the extra water it needs. You might still end up with a small headache, but it won’t be as bad, and, if you manage to get enough down, you might not have a hangover at all. Since I don’t have a large intestine at all, which is the organ responsible for absorbing most of the liquid your body needs, which is a big enough of a deal that I’m exempt from some laws, I kinda have to know about stuff like this to stay alive.)
But let’s continue on in this universe of alternative-facts.
Tess spends a few minutes pondering why a “punk” is in a fraternity with “preppy rich kids,” though she doesn’t give us any if her speculations. She’s got to come up with an excuse instead, about why she was at a party.
When she gets to her dorm, Hardin is there. She tells him to get out, but before he gets a chance to, her mother starts banging on the door.
Yes. Her mother. Noah called her mom in the middle of the night, and she drove to her daughter’s college, and is storming the dorm, screaming bloody murder at 6am.
Tess wants him to hide in the closet, which he says he won’t do since she’s eighteen.
Hardin, get your ass in the closet. You shouldn’t even be there.
So she lets him stand there, opens the door, and there’s her mother…and Noah.
Is anyone else skeeved out about her Tessa’s 17-year-old boyfriend and her mother have an unnaturally close relationship to where he calls her mother in the middle of the night, and then gets into a car and drives off in the middle of the night? Where the hell are his parents?Her mother (what is her name? I don’t recall her ever having a name) yells about everything under the sun. I’ve tried reading it a few times, but it’s just…imagine it, and you’re probably right on the money. Her mom’s pissed. That’s enough.
Hardin does mindly try to defend her by saying that he just got there and Tess hasn’t done anything wrong. Tess’s mother tells him to leave them alone for a moment.
For twenty minutes, Tess is lectured about not ruining college, not hanging out with Steph and Hardin, etc. Then she invites her daughter to breakfast, but tells Tess to change.
Tess does so. In the closet.
Wait. Why didn’t Tess do that the first day when Hardin wouldn’t leave? Why did she get dressed in front of him? I have a headache.
On the way out, Tess tells Noah she doesn’t like Hardin, but tells us that she’s lying.
I’m done for now. I just can’t anymore for a few days. There’s nothing redeeming about anyone in this book so far. And we’re supposed to see Hardin as some vulnerable little guy who somehow might care when all we’ve seen is him being a manipulative asshole, and Tess judges the hell out of everyone, and Tess’s mother and Noah have a relationship that I find to be very unsettling. I’m going to hop on over to the chapter I’m working on in my newest book and get back to finding betas for the one I just finished (anyone interested?). See, abuse ain’t romantic in my books because abuser ain’t romantic. It truly disgusts me that abuse is still held up as the ideal. Can we please stop going back in time for just a little while?