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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Narcissus in Chains Chapter Seventeen

Nathaniel consents to Asher feeding from him!

I am 35% done and that's the first time in this entire book someone has enthusiastically consented to something. Asher makes to feed from Nathaniel and J.C. makes to feed from Jason. Anita is in the middle of all of this.

The ardeur "roared over me like something huge and burning, except this fire did not burn, it fed me energy, as if I were not the wood on which it fed, but I was the flame."

That is one of the worst things I've ever read. It also makes me cringe because it's trying so hard to be deep.

LKH describes Anita and Jason kissing.


Jason and Nathaniel start the heavy petting engine and we get this:

"The two of them fell on me, hands, mouths, bodies, like they were fire to my wood, but this wood drew them in, drank them almost." 

So Anita is wood (heh) but also she's thirsty wood. You know, like a log with a face drawn on it.

So we're about to get some naughty three way action but Anita has to stop the party by saying she's not on birth control. Fine, she hasn't been with anyone in six months.I can buy that she isn't on birth control. But has no one in this universe heard of condoms? Oh hey, J.C. shows up with some! He's my favorite character, just by virtue of being the least scummy person around in a tiny scummy pond.

Anita protests that she doesn't want to have sex with Nathaniel or Jason. Am I missing something here? I haven't read the other books, but there's no reason for this attitude that I can see. Of course she can refuse for any reason at all, but I'm talking about the story and her characterization. Why doesn't she want to have sex with them? What did she think was going through their minds when she stripped naked and asked Asher in to bed with her? What about her kissing Jason? I'm not saying in any way that if this were real life those things would count as consent. I am saying that as a character in a fictional story, her characterization and desires (or lack of thereof) make no sense. For this whole book I've been wondering about this. Why is she so sex negative?

Just admit it!

J.C. again points out that she might lose control again (because no one is treating that interlude with Micah as rape, but rather as Anita losing control of the ardeur) and if that happens wouldn't she rather she didn't end up pregnant? I can't believe that Anita is trying to refuse condoms because she doesn't want to accept that her control isn't perfect. Anita is in fact so against sex that she wants to push the lupanar back another night. I have no idea what purpose that would serve unless Anita thinks she'll get over this mysterious sex negative nonsense in a single night. Not to mention, Gregory is being tortured. But who gives a fuck about Gregory. He's an object, like everyone else in this novel. He exists to be moved around on a gameboard. He has no hopes, desires, or dreams. It's as if when Anita can't see him, he becomes a nonentity.

Again J.C. is the only semi decent guy in this book, because he's the only one who points out Gregory's existence. And J.C. is a rapist asshole, so you can see how low the standards are in this universe.

J.C. and Anita go back and forth about whether Anita is going to have sex. Anita doesn't want to FOR NO DISCERNIBLE REASON. Why doesn't she want to? Is it because she doesn't like being compelled by the ardeur? She doesn't feel like she knows Jason well enough? What? The writing is so unclear that there seems to be no reason whatsoever for this attitude, legitimate or otherwise.

As a bit of an aside, characters aren't always going to be faced with a wide spectrum of choices. In this case, Anita must have sex. That is the limitations of her powers and the story she's in. Fine. She can still show autonomy and sex positive attitudes by choosing exactly who she will have sex with. If she doesn't want Nathaniel and Jason, well, swap them out for people she does want. Something like that. I don't find the you have to feed the ardeur part in and of itself that bad, it's the fact that she refuses to deal with it AND that I have no idea why she refuses to deal with it.

We have to stop the non-action to hear nattering about vampire bloodlines, which starts to read like the begat sections from the Old Testament. It also annoys me how whenever one character does something, everyone else in the room just stops. J.C. is talking now, so Jason and Nathaniel might as well not be there. Oh, and I guess Asher is still here too? Oh indeed he is, because he adds to the nattering about J.C.'s creator and Belle Morte and how J.C. was a slave to the ardeur. 

J.C. apologizes for doing this to her. He says he never would have married the marks if he'd known a human could catch the ardeur. Assuming you believe all of this, he is officially the least shitty person in this whole book. How sad.

They go around and around about how Anita doesn't want to have sex and yet needs to feed on lust if she wants to approach the lupanar with any kind of rational thought in her head. FINALLY we learn that she doesn't like having blood and lust urges because it makes her a "sociopath" and a "monster."

Hold up a second. Anita is that closeted friend that always goes around talking about how she doesn't want to be one of those people, despite having a whole group of gay friends. How would that feel, if you were her friend? If she constantly used a slur to describe people like you? Because monster sure doesn't sound like a compliment, yet all the monsters dependent on her conveniently never call her out on how callous this is.

Gee, maybe being a sociopath isn't so bad because at least then she wouldn't have to have teh ebul sexxorz. Her constant sex negativity is a real downer.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Narcissus in Chains Chapter Sixteen

Jason ogles Anita a bit. J.C. is on his way but Asher shows up first. Asher, whose most important character development trait is whether his penis works. Asher wants to touch Anita's face, presumably to give her another coating of Dorito dust. When he realizes she's got sex magic static cling, he switches to wanting to lick Nathaniel's wounds.

Now this interests the crap out of me. The protocol of how to treat someone else's blood slave (pomme de sang in AB slang) could be infinitely fascinating. I think protocol is cool. Also she mentions a little world building detail about how vampires have an anitcoagulant in their saliva. That's hardly anything but I am so starved for details I feel like I have the ardeur, except instead of craving anime dick I want a real story. 

Because Anita is Nimir-Ra she realizes she can force Nathaniel to change shape if she wants. Why? I hate this so much. 

Asher and Anita lick at Nathaniel's wounds and I guess this is supposed to be sexy and creepy and vampire-y and I just find it incredibly tame. The childishness of these books upsets me. It's like listening to five year olds play doctor, what with all the talk of butts and no no places. On top of that, the things they actually do are so boring and vanilla. If LKH wants to write nasty five way wereanimal porn then by god, write it. Hell, monster porn is a thing. I have a book on my to read list called Boffing Bigfoot, for fuck's sake. This shit is not new. Turn the dials up to eleven, dammit! 

J.C. shows up in a black fur lined robe. I don't know why he keeps wearing black when he has black hair, but okay. He must look like an animate ink puddle slithering across a white tablecloth.

J.C. gets on the bed with her and once again Anita craves that alabaster divining wand (hint: it only finds pussy these days, because Anita is a homophobe). But OMG she doesn't want to have sex in front of the others, because Modesty. The modest part of her "was a razor-thin part, something that glittered in the darkness but didn't quite believe itself anymore."

I'd love to know what sort of thing is razor-thin, capable of belief, and glittery. 

Asher and J.C. natter on about whether the ardeur means Belle Morte can control Anita or not. Belle Morte, if I recall rightly, is the progenitor of J.C. and Asher's bloodline because women are afforded only a couple of choices in the AB verse as far as characterization, and BM falls right in to evil whore with a beautiful face territory. 

In the middle of this Anita shouts "open the robe" at J.C, presumably in Regan MacNeil's Exorcist voice. 


Jason is not only one of J.C.'s animals to call, but his pomme de sang. There's a lot of deeply mediocre writing about how Jason moves like water and Anita can taste his pulse and absolutely none of it is memorable or interesting. She gets memories from Asher about being with Belle Morte, who has eyes that are at once light and dark. ...Okay. Belle Morte rejects Asher because his face has been ruined.

I feel very weird about all of this. On the one hand being disfigured is a terrible thing that can devastate a person and their identity. Whether it's right or not, we put a very high value on appearance and it's flippant and cruel to insist that people like Asher should just get right to the part where we all hug and talk about unrealistic standards of beauty blah blah. 

For example in some disability communities this is a particularly prevalent, gross thought process which IMO doesn't allow people to grieve. Because no matter how much some activists would like to pretend otherwise, many disabled people grieve what they (we) had, or even what they never had. I was born blind and my other problems have been with me for a long time, but I still grieve. I'm still not anywhere done with that process, and it's a real, very powerful thing. So even though Asher's issues are mostly cosmetic, that's still a huge life event and a huge blow, probably, to his self-concept. 

On the OTHER hand I HATE how this one loss makes up the entirety of his character. It makes the world feel even more superficial than it already does, because it floats the idea that looks are the most important thing. Anita is gorgeous, Micah and Caleb are beautiful. Nathaniel? Lovely. Belle Morte? The most beautiful woman Anita has ever seen. Beyond this and beyond Asher's one time relationship with J.C., well, what does that leave? He doesn't have a character other than those things. 

We learn that when Belle Morte rejected him, Asher assumed he wouldn't be welcome with J.C. either. I realize vampires are often portrayed as superficial shits, but wow. These guys live forever and are no longer, as far as I know, under Belle Morte's thumb, but they can't have a good heart to heart about this bullshit? It also has to do with Julianna's death, I guess, a woman who used to be their third. Anita wants to comfort Asher which would be nice, except by the way it's written it just seems like she's now a container holding all of J.C.'s desires. 

Anita keeps trying to touch Asher and press against him, presumably because she'd like to give him the ritual oil slick he's been giving her by touching her face all the time. I'm starting to think it's how people in this universe greet each other. If you really like someone you make sure to properly lube them up with a stick of butter. 

Again. HE IS NOT IN TO IT BUT SHE KEEPS FUCKING TOUCHING HIM, INCLUDING HIS SCARS. This is distasteful. It just reminds me of how able people always want to touch you and/or your mobility/assistance devices without permission. She has no business putting her hands on him, and she ESPECIALLY has no business showing his scars to everyone else in the room (by moving his hair away from his face).

Anita conveniently realizes she has feelings for Asher. She says maybe those feelings are founded on J.C.'s, but then she tells me that no, the feelings are all hers. Well, which is it? 

Oh, the heart reading powers gives her magical insight in to herself too. LKH can't write humans in general or emotional evolution in specific, so ONCE AGAIN she's invented another bullshit magical power to replace the character maturation that should be there. 

Hey you know what? This whole time, Gregory is probably being tortured. 

Anita begs Asher to stay, because he quite reasonably is in fuck this shit mode. We get a little taste of what LKH surely finds to be a deep and amazing insight:

"Sometimes the greatest wounds are the ones we try the hardest not to inflict."

What the fuck is that. Seriously. What is that? What does it even mean? Usually I can kind of understand what LKH is aiming for, even if she fails, but that? I got nothing.

Anyway, the twu luv in Anita's expression makes Asher all wobbly, like a plate of Chinese buffet jello cubes. He sees Anita and J.C.'s feelings for him in Anita's eyes and--I shit you not--cries a single tear. I made a point awhile back how the men in this universe are usually only afforded a single tear. Well, consider my point validated.

"I looked across the room to Jean-Claude, and the look on his face was drowning deep..."

Both Asher and J.C. want Anita to be a stand in for Julianna, which is sad though understandable. Again, I'd like to see this explored. Grief experiences in books are few and far between, and when they are there they often feel superficial. We don't like to look at or talk about death, which leaves people in the lurch when it happens anyway. Trying to capture that is a high wire act, though, so I know LKH won't attempt it.

Another thing authors probably shouldn't use anymore? Eyes being like open wounds because of all the pain and angst in them.

J.C. and Anita want to bring the healing peen/vajay magic to bear on Asher, because things in this world are always solved by interminable boning.

..."knew that to be held in the circle of both our arms would heal something inside him that might never heal any other way." 

It bothers me that Anita has to be a part of this at all. J.C. and Asher have a history she can't hope to understand, and the fact is that even though both men are putting her in Juliana's role, she is not Juliana. It's important that she not try to take Juliana's place. This is something J.C. and Asher ought to work out for themselves.

Everyone is staring at her and she remembers she's naked. They're all in to her because of the ardeur. I think the ardeur is the saddest thing int his world. It reminds me of how very conventionally beautiful people have a difficult time making friends. Do people genuinely want to be around them, or is just because of the perceived status beauty confers? Anita will never know whether someone wants her just because of her. I don't buy the heart reading bullshit. I have no idea of its limitations and neither does Anita, because LKH doesn't seem to find that sort of thing important.

Anita is very tempted by all the hot men in her room but she doesn't want to have sex with any of them. I don't understand why not. She knows they all want to do it, even without the heart reading. Her and J.C. are already lovers. Nathaniel has always wanted to fuck her, as has Jason. Asher could be handled with a simple question as to whether he wants it. And Anita finds them all attractive and has feelings for at least two of them, yet she's fighting her own desire really hard for some reason. Maybe she doesn't want to feel compelled to have sex and that's fine, but again it feels like her reluctance is just there for the sake of it. It's as if LKH faintly remembers a time when people enjoyed Anita being a prude, so she feels like she has to make Anita in to the lady who protests too much in order to preserve her already quite thin characterization.

Anita talks like a Ren Faire reject again for a bit. She claims to have wanted Micah. This just makes me sad because Anita thinks it can't be rape if you have an orgasm during.

All authors are now banned from using "like a moth to a flame."

J.C. explains that it would be in Anita's best interest to feed the ardeur before the lupanar so she doesn't try and have nasty monkey sex with Richard in the middle of an important political event.

She asks Asher to join her and J.C. in bed. I think that's the first time Anita has shown that she does want sex, though even now it seems like part of her feelings and desires have come from J.C.

Asher treats us to another interesting tidbit of vampire lore when he explains that feeding from someone else's pomme de sang is considered very intimate.

Then a line that I almost like happens:

"Anita loves you as you are now, not as some ideal thing like a butterfly on a pin to be tossed aside if a wing falls away."

Not a bad line, though it could use some cleaning up. But IMO this should be coming from J.C., not Anita. It bugs me that she has to be involved every single time the people around her want sex or love.

I wonder if they're about to have more bullshit sex that isn't in the least bit exciting or naughty. I don't think you can just add more people as a shorthand for naughtiness. That's pretty vanilla these days, right? Are people really shocked by Anita having more than one lover at a time? It's not like she's a high ranking member of a fundamentalist church or something, or a GOP representative.

So Anita too wonders whether Asher's dick works and whether he can "function as a man" now. Did you guys hear that? TO FUNCTION AS A MAN YOU MUST HAVE A WORKING FACTORY INSTALLED PENIS. Yes. That is the entirety of manhood and masculinity in this world. Not to mention that there are many men out there who don't have a penis, don't have a penis that can get erect, don't have a cis penis etc etc. Nope. Not men. Sorry.

She describes Asher as "lying rampant" in one of the memories she shares with J.C. Um. I'm going to go ahead and call that a misuse of the word. Not to mention, this is another instance of Anita speaking in a weird stilted way. Why does she talk like this? She's an animator from St. Louis. There's no reason.

Anita trips on her way to the bed for the sole reason of falling against Asher, tee hee. That's the end of the chapter. Wut.

Narcissus in Chains Chapter Fifteen

Rafael calls. He's the wererat king, because all shifter societies are oligarchies for no good goddamn reason. I love rats too, so I am particularly peeved that the way they are portrayed in the AB verse has nothing to do with actual rats.  However, I do love Rafael in particular because his call wakes Anita up and saves us from another boring dream sequence.

30% on my Kindle, Rafael calls. at 31% the call ends. In 1% they manage to repeat the same information FIVE TIMES, which is that Rafael wants to accompany Anita to the lupanar. This serves the function of giving Anita allies to shore up her position, and underscores the point that if Richard dies in an alpha challenge with Jacob, Rafael's treaty will not automatically transfer to Jacob on Richard's death.

This is apparently how LKH sees me, because I am such a fucking idiot I need to be told the same thing five times.

Rafael, Anita, and Jason also all agree that Richard is just such a stupid baby, you guys, because men in this universe get four roles to choose from:

1). Teh hotz that inevitably sleeps with Anita. Has a sexually tragic past or feature, and fantastical characteristics of some kind that Anita just happens to find perfectly appealing. Only Anita can soothe his wounds with her magic vagina. Maybe I should give LKH points for being the only author in my recent memory who is actually writing this tired old trope with the woman in the role of the healer. Mm, nope, still terrible the other way around.

2). Straw misogynist with no personality other than hating Anita. Usually in a position of some authority. It's as if LKH heard the word privilege once and this is her attempt at using it to give her story some sort of depth. That sentence made me so sad I had to get emergency ice cream.

3). Carbon copies of her who agree with everything she says. Looks like Rafael is fitting neatly in to slot three. I predict that she won't sleep with him unless the ardeur forces her to do so, though, because he is a visible person of color and that's one step ahead of a death sentence as far as LKH/Anita are concerned.

4). Big idealistic babies who pig headedly do whatever the like even though Anita obviously has all the answers.

 I don't think I've EVER read another author who hated both women and men as much as LKH. Misogyny takes no prisoners.

So anyway, Rafael is stepping up to be the designated asshole polisher because Anita can't go anywhere without a yes man's tongue planted firmly between her cheeks Human Centipede style, while Richard is a big fucking baby who can't be trusted because he'd like to try and uphold the raw basics of autonomy and democracy. He doesn't want to order a hit on Jacob that breaks all werewolf rules, so he is a fucking fool. For someone who supposedly hates becoming a sociopath so much (you can't become one, really, but whatever) she sure has no compunctions about murdering someone who so far is guilty of merely disagreeing with her. 

Nathaniel has morning wood and it makes ardeur-y things happen. In other words, it "made things low in my body clench tight." 

Erotica is  very subjective but this is just unclear and weird. "Nathaniel's dick was hard against my thigh, and the feel of him against my skin made need rise up inside me like a lick of flame. My pussy clenched and pulsed with how badly I wanted him."

That's not great--I just did it off the top of my head, and it's pretty awkward--but at least we know what body parts belong where and what they're doing.  Things are also starting to "spill" a lot, as if sexual arousal is a tipped over gallon jar of mayo. Or like spilled milk. Spilled sexual milk, you guys. 

Her beast wakes up. I like this, even though it's more or less cribbed from Vampire: the Masquerade. There are no new ideas under the sun, after all. Anita starts to come on to Jason, too, because teh sexxorz powerz. I think she's cupping his balls but it's hard to tell because everything even faintly sexual is someone's "body." I CUPPED JASON'S BALLS. There. It's that easy. 

Jason reveals that J.C. had him stay so he could be Anita's ardeur food instead of Nathaniel. I am not sure what the problem with feeding on Nathaniel is, or why Anita couldn't have chosen someone instead of J.C. pushing her to allow Jason in to her bed. She realizes that Jason is one of the only people who simply wants to sleep with her because he wants to. He's not trying to get anything out of it and that amazes her. God, that is so sad. 

Apparently the ardeur also allows her to read the hearts of those around her. I wonder if this will remain throughout the next books or if LKH will forget about this too. 

Nathaniel wants her, but he sees an ideal and not the real her. Anita is pretty much all alone even when surrounded by others. This is heartbreaking. Jason is the only one who just wants to sleep with her because he likes her and it sounds fun. By the by, where are Anita's friends? We've forgotten all about Ronnie, and Ronnie was pretty much it. Everyone else is a manipulative lover, a dependent, or food. That's no way to live.

She tries commanding them to leave because she doesn't want to feed on them. I guess this would be because she was raped and doesn't want to rape them now that she understands how destructive it is, but I think I'm giving this passage too much credit. Nathaniel protests and she tries dragging him around by the hair...? Sure, the super submissive will certainly respond to this negatively and want to leave as she has asked him to do. The fucked up thing is she seems to believe this, despite having known Nathaniel for a very long time now. Of course it just makes him get all hot and bothered instead, and she realizes that Nathaniel can't tell her no sexually.

"If someone can't tell you no, it's rape, or something like it."

Or something like it? Or something like it. OR SOMETHING LIKE IT.

If someone can't tell you no, it's definitely rape unless you have very specific agreed upon parameters that help you cope with such a situation. If someone is gagged and bound, for example, or asleep, or passed out (temporarily. If someone stays completely out for longer than a few seconds, call 911), and you have a behavioral framework agreed upon before the scene in question, agreed upon while you were both capable of consenting, then fine, it's not rape. Actually, I'm not sure why it's rape right now. Nathaniel is willing and so is Jason. She can tell whether or not Nathaniel is in to it because he wants to be or because he has to be thanks to her random mind reading pussy powers. So I am forced to conclude that LKH doesn't think the scene with Micah was rape, but she thinks a scene where Anita can literally sense consent is poised to become a rape scene. 

"I wanted to kiss Nathaniel, to fill his mouth with my tongue."

Ergh. I hate it when authors describe the mechanics of kissing. Sure, tell me if it's a soft kiss, gentle, hard, quick, lingering whatever, but please for the love of all that is holy don't tell me about tongues dancing or mashing or whatever. 

She demands they leave and they do. That might be the first time in this whole book that anyone has listened to Anita in a sexual situation. 

Authors, we need to have a talk. Now, I know I'm not the next great American author or anything (though dear god I don't think I'd want to be) but please stop using "like candy." 

Anita starts screaming because the ardeur wants her to feed. This is actually awesome. I love the idea that sex magic isn't all butterflies and hearts, but a terrible hunger that controls you. Nathaniel and Jason rush back in and try to hold her down so she doesn't go in to convulsions. Nice! I also think that Edward tearing the baby out of Bella could have been one of the best scenes in the Twilight series, so I suppose it's no surprise I am responding to this with something other than hatred.

Well, here's our daily Tiger is a picky jerk part of the post:

"They [Nathaniel and Jason] could bench press small elephants..."

I know she doesn't mean that literally but even so, that's just silly. Nathaniel in particular is a dancer.That is a very different kind of physical fitness from power lifting, which is what she's describing (bench, deadlift, squat). It also takes a not insignificant time commitment to achieve the type of strength she's describing, not to mention all the tinkering you have to do with diet and sleep to perform at your absolute best. I don't get the impression that anyone in this universe has time for a life outside of Anita. No one in this world has any dreams or wants that don't revolve around Anita, and they certainly don't have hobbies. You can't just sit around in Anita's bedroom and randomly get built. 

Anita's need for The D is so great that she nearly bucks both men off of her. 

"Anita, you're hurting yourself," Jason said.

This is all such bullshit because J.C. has inexplicably planned for this very poorly. He sent Jason in case Anita needed to feed, but that's it. You'd think a master vamp would have his shit together to the point where they don't need to tie her up overnight in order to control her, which is FUCKING STUPID. It's dangerous, it's ineffective, it's all around ridiculous. 

But AGAIN this whole thing is just another stupid set piece, there to force Anita and Nathaniel to dry hump. There's no reason for Jason to leave Nathaniel to control her. In fact it's stupid for him to do so since he must realize that Nathaniel can't resist a sexually aggressive Anita, especially considering the fact we've gone over Nate's inability to say no to pretty much anyone let alone Anita several times in this book alone. Yet once more, we're just here because LKH started with wanting Anita and Nate to hump, then twisted everything around them until so the scene would kinda sorta fit together and she could fap uncontrollably.

So her and Nathaniel start making out. 

..."our bodies locked together in a warm, vanilla-scented nest of his hair, like being rolled in warm satin." 

"Nathaniel kissed me as if he would climb inside me through my mouth..."

Anita says buttocks, which sadly is the closest we've ever come to her using grown up words for body parts. That's an F + for effort.

Anita tells Nathaniel to stop and after one false start, he actually does. Of course he's portrayed as doing so only because he's so broken that he accepts any demand thrown his way. Being able to stop when a sexual partner asks you to stop = having a psyche so damaged you can't even protect yourself from torture and certain death. The Anita verse, everyone.

She won't bang Nathaniel. Why not? Is she honestly concerned about his ability to consent? I don't believe that because clearly no one in this world cares about consent. But fine, if not him then why not Jason? Or why not find someone she is close to? She has all the choices she could possibly want, save J.C. and Richard. And since we've already established that no one in this verse can say no to Anita anyway, well, have them all line up like it's an old fashioned brothel and pick one out. Hell, pick out several. 

Anita decides she'll just bite him a lot instead of having sex with him. This is sex. Is there really a meaningful distinction to be made here between penis and vagina sex and what they're doing? I am going to argue that no, there isn't. There certainly isn't for Nathaniel. 

Where the hell is Jason, anyway? I bet he's letting this happen, because he's a gross creep. 

Later, I'm sure he'll tell Anita how he knows best and she should be happy about his decisions and not worry her pretty little head over such trivialities like whether she wants to have sex with someone or not. 

This next bit is truly alarming. Is she biting his balls? His taint? His ass cheeks? Please send help:

"I slid his shorts down his body until he lay nude underneath me. I spread his legs so I could kneel between them, lowered my mouth to that smooth, untouched skin, and marked him." 


"I slid my satin top off and wiggled out of the shorts. I laid my naked body on his and rolled along his back, his buttocks..."

I can't even explain to you how hilarious this is to me. She's naked and she's just...rolling back on forth on Nathaniel's ass? OMG that is hilarious. I have tears in my eyes picturing this, as if they're both little erotic Weeble Wobbles. 

...I spread his legs as far as they would go, and bit down, marking areas untouched, getting ever closer, until I could see him pressed between his body and the bed."

WHAT IS HAPPENING. There's him, there's his body, and there's the bed. I only know what she's talking about because I have (ahem) watched porn in my life, so I think she's talking about the shot where a guy's hard dick is shown from behind so you can get the full dick'n'balls experience. Fine, okay. But what is she biting?

Help, I need an adult. 

Seriously though. Is it the inside of his ass cheeks? His taint? It's not his balls because she says so. THEN WHAT. I need one of those anatomy models from nursing school. 

She licks and bites his balls until Nathaniel comes and she's sated. I'm sorry, but that is sex. Of course Anita thinks all sex is strictly penis in vagina, though, of course.

It turns out J.C. was worried Anita would tear out Nathaniel's throat in her feeding frenzy. THEN WHY HAVE NATHANIEL BE THERE AT ALL? Why does everyone insist on endangering this extraordinarily vulnerable person? Not that it matters, because Anita is so special that she tames the ardeur instead of it taking hold of her completely. 

It bothers me how Anita has no personality beyond being generally unpleasant and obsessed with guns. Everyone in this story is a container, a doll, something that merely holds a collection of items or exists to wear whatever outfits its owner fancies that day. Every time Anita gains a new power, it's as if LKH is adding another accessory to her favorite Barbie. There's no character there.

J.C. wakes up. Joy. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Narcissus in Chains Chapter Fourteen

Dottie's breakdown here 

It is almost dawn. J.C. says he will stay in his coffin as opposed to sleeping in bed with Anita. Vampires in the Anita verse die when the sun comes up. J.C. is one of the most considerate people in this book. That hurt to type.

Anita decides she will allow Nathaniel to sleep with her. J.C. says she has to allow Jason to do so as well, which she agrees to despite having no idea why J.C. is pushing this idea on her.

Nathaniel starts to unbraid his hair. Why you would sleep with your hair loose when you have such a ridiculous amount of it boggles the mind. I used to have hair so long it would tangle around the screws in school desks. I can't imagine it being twice that. It would be one thing if the setting were different. In Geek Love there's a scene at what is essentially a titty bar for freaks (this is the language of the book; it is literally about circus freaks). One of the women there has pubic hair down to her ankles, and the big reveal is her taking her underwear off and showing how beautifully shampooed and groomed it is.

Excuse me, Anita, we'd like to have a word with you.

She goes on about J.C.'s huge black bathtub. The spout is a swan which "always reminded me of a fountain." Um, technically it is a fountain, right?

Woe to her, Anita has no appropriate sleep clothing. Why she can't just wear her shirt and panties I don't know. Oh wait yes I do, because this is an excuse to make Anita seem oh so modest and pure because omg, she couldn't possibly sleep naked in bed with these two men.

Turns out J.C. sent jammies,  because again he's the nicest guy in the book even though I have it on very good authority that he is also a rapist. Then again, so is literally everyone else, so I am not sure where to direct my outrage. I feel like my outrage gland is swollen and pulsing with overuse, to the point where all the receptors have died and I no longer have emotions.

J.C. brought her teh sexxxors lingerie to wear. Ha ha. It is apparently the only thing he had that was even approaching modest.

How come J.C. has a cache of women's underwear?

This tells me that Anita has a very low opinion of men and a very low opinion of herself. She's also bought in to the ornamental, fragile white woman trope. You see, her body is an object (even if patriarchy calls it a treasure. Whether or not the term is 'positive' doesn't matter), an object that all men must surely want to possess. In fact, if men see her body they will not be able to control themselves and will try to take control of her, because all men are icky wild beasts who are big fucking babies about their sexuality.

Now, all of these things happen to be true in the AB verse, but that doesn't mean they should be true.

Jason is a fucking creep and I hate him, maybe the most out of all the characters I've met so far. A guy I met in my twenties pressured me to stay the night in his bed despite me saying no at least ten times. Finally I gave up and spent the most uncomfortable, dangerous eight hours of my life clutched in this person's arms. That is what Jason reminds me of.

She thinks about Micah and blushes. Sigh. Insert rant about how Micah is a rapist.

"I am not going to babysit your ego, Jason. You'll have to take care of it yourself."

I wish we could have more of the character that peeks out in lines like this. Someone who draws clear boundaries and calls others out on their shit. Yet for some reason many, many authors seem to feel like female empowerment and stereotypical strawman 'feminist' bitchery are the same thing. They are not. Female empowerment (cis empowerment, because I think trans female empowerment is more complicated) is as simple as:

1). Women are allowed to occupy whatever role they wish, given that they are suited to that role in regard to their abilities and desires. This means that it is not feminist to insist that all women must participate in careers usually associated with men. It means that if a woman desires to be a housewife, then that is as valid a choice as a woman who chooses to be a high powered lawyer.

2). Women are allowed to leave and join social and gender roles without the threat of violence.

3). Women are the sole owners of their bodies. Women are the sole owners of their sexuality. They do not belong to anyone else. Nor are women ornamental, but as capable of contributing to the world, their fields, their families, etc as men are.

There. Now grant you that is very basic, especially to people who are involved in social justice. I haven't dealt with trans women, trans men, or genderqueer people in this break down. I haven't mentioned the complications being a woman of color brings, or being disabled, or what have you. I also framed it through a cishet lens. But those basics, as limited as they are, would vastly improve this situation and I daresay a lot of characters if it were followed.

I feel like Anita is one of the worst offenders in this regard. The things she values are all stereotypical cishet male things. Guns, a job in law enforcement, simple clothing, having many idealized lovers at her beck and call. She devalues feelings, feminine ways of dressing and otherwise presenting as femme. Her comments and thoughts about other women are almost universally negative, especially when that woman is perceived as trying too hard, usually because she happens to be wearing makeup and a skirt. It's a bit like when white people go around proclaiming how they so hate other white people as an attempt to absolve themselves of their huge wonking case of white guilt. It's not cute and everyone sees through it. It makes you no friends in any group.

Anyway, Jason has "yellow" hair. As in he dyed it that color? That doesn't sound terribly attractive.

Anita feels off balance after everything that has happened. As well she should. Of course no one is treating it like a rape. Everyone keeps asking her what's wrong and she keeps telling them she doesn't want to talk about it. Aside from the annoying repetition this too is in keeping with many rape victims. They're ashamed, or in shock, and they want to hide what happened in order to avoid another attack, and in order to keep their lives functioning semi-normally.

This woman sleeps with a gun under her pillow. She is a sad and pathetic person.

So remember what I said earlier about female empowerment in part stemming from sole ownership of one's body? Jason assures her he won't try anything with her in bed tonight, not because he doesn't want to but because Richard will make him pay for it if he does. You see, even though they're not dating anymore and Anita isn't the lupa, Richard still feels he has the right to her body and her sexuality. That is disgusting. LKH once again doesn't seem to understand how gross it is. I honestly do not get how she can understand her own work so little.

The darkness, once Nathaniel shuts off the lights, is "like some giant black hand pressing against me."

Giants! Pressing! Hands! I really should keep a count of these things. I think this is the fourth or fifth time she's used this. And really I know she's just talking about the darkness, but she's such a racist piece of shit that I can't help but giggle over her being afraid of a big black hand.

"One of the good things about Nathaniel was that he didn't question orders much."

Anita tells us that normally she sleeps in the wereleopard cuddle pile at home, and now she gets lonely when she has to sleep alone. Okay that's fair. Oh wait, but it's sad that she's like that because I forgot, in order to be teh toughz badass womenz one must be an island at all times, because touchy feely stuff is for weak little girls who wear skirts and scream when things go wrong.

She decides to snuggle Nathaniel. They must be rowing to dream land on a raft made entirely of hair, then. Anita lets Jason snuggle up but Jason is also a predictable creep about it, because that is the entirety of his character. Jason is also as tall as Anita. It's just not that likely that every male she runs across is her height. Most people (I think) are about 5'7 to 5'10. Anything above or below that is rare.

Jason has an erection. Comedy, people, comedy.

"The men tried their best not to get erections, and not to use them when they did; the women tried to ignore the fact that they had them."

This is the Anita verse version of world building, guys, since this is shapeshifter etiquette. Not to mention, they try not to use them? Not only does LKH hate women but she really hates men too. Men can't control their cocks or their urges and at any moment they could very well turn in to a malfunctioning rape ATM, like that scene in movies where money gets spit out at speed. Except you can buy cool shit with money whereas with rape all you get in the AB verse is more rape.

Again all the AB shifters act the exact same, despite being based on wildly different animal templates.

Anita, in her thirties, has finally realized that men getting erections isn't personal.

I read on the kindle so I don't know how many pages it is, but it feels like a MILLION, all to tell me that she's sandwiched between Nathaniel and Jason in bed. This is not in the slightest bit naughty to me. It probably shouldn't be to Anita either, considering she hangs around bondage clubs on the regular, but that would mean acknowledging that Anita isn't a perfect blushing white virgin which omg, we clearly cannot consider.

For once Anita doesn't feel dominant and wants to be protected. Good! An empowered women does not need to be in charge of every given situation or relationship. Plenty of empowered women are BDSM slaves or submissives. They're no less autonomous than someone who doesn't engage in power exchange. They've decided to live the lifestyle that fits them best and they live it without shame or fear.

Not to mention if you happen to be a black woman there's a huge expectation that you will also be strong. I remember listening to a talk on the power of vulnerability for women, and for black women in particular, that being strong can really have the opposite impact. I would like to see this with Anita. First, I'd like to see her actually identify as a woman of color, or if she doesn't due to say self hate, I want to see that. I want to know what the pressures of being a latina woman feels like to her, what her relationship with strength and submission is.

Of course, I won't get that, but it's another place where LKH could have expanded on these concepts quite a bit and, imo, that effort would have resulted in a much more compelling story.

Despite Jason being a container for creepy comments and hair gel, Anita waxes on about how wonderful he is and how he's a great friend. Ugh. She drifts off to sleep. Oh dear, that means the next chapter is going to be a shitty dream sequence.