(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.)

Chapter 16
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.

by Diane Miller Photography

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.

Chapter 17
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.

Chapter 18
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.

Chapter 19
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.

Chapter 20
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.

Mary Kay Letourneau and the 12-year-old student she had a relationship with.

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?