Bitten: Hunt (Chapter 7)

Today we enter the town of Blue Valley, a “blue-collar town of eight thousand”. They have an honest-to-God tractor factory.

In Bear Valley […] gun control meant not letting your kids shoot with anything bigger than a twenty-gauge.

Did Jeff Foxworthy write this bit?

At night, young women walked the streets of Bear Valley fearing little more than catcalls whistled from passing pickups by guys they’d known since childhood. They did not get murdered by strangers

Must be nice to live in a fantasy world where living in a small town means things like rape and murder don’t happen. Sadly, it’s demonstrably not true in Bear Valley: the werewolves have been characterized as habitual rapists, and they’ve been living here for ages.

We get more Werewolf lore as Elena Changes: apparently it’s a biological function, so it’s easier to do when you need to than when you want to. Their cycles are somwhat lunar but usually weekly rather than monthly. Mutts don’t usually have control over their Changes because the Pack keeps it a close guarded secret.

Like having sex without foreplay, it was either going to be extremely painful or I wasn’t going to be able to perform at all.

This book really has a thing for the sex metaphors.

In Toronto, I’d done it as little as possible because I was ashamed. Two days later I was at Stonehaven refusing to admit that I couldn’t do it as often as the others because I was ashamed.

That could be a sex metaphor too, come to think of it.

One more thing to send my brain spinning into permanent confusion.

Okay, Bitten, I’m giving you a sidelong glance right now. This is your one warning. Do NOT go into the “poor confused woman doesn’t know what she wants” trope. It’s old, tired, and misogynistic as fuck. Thanks, Yami.

Elena’s team hunts in wolf form, Antonio’s in human, because he’s knocking on doors and she’s hunting by scent. Elena’s team splits up to cover more ground. Clay finds something!

He didn’t use the distinctive wolf howl, which would have certainly roused attention, but instead mimicked the cry of a lonely dog.

What does a lonely dog howl sound like? Do dogs even howl? Well I guess huskies make that sort of noise sometimes, and some dogs bay…

She catches up with him at the mutt’s apartment, judging by the smell. He’s human again, and he pets her.

“You know I hate that. […] When I’m Changed, either you stay Changed or you respect my privacy. Petting me doesn’t help.

Seems like a reasonable-enough request, and one she’s apparently mentioned before. Of course Clay has no respect for other people’s boundaries:

“I wasn’t ‘petting’ you, Elena. Christ, even the smallest gesture–“

It doesn’t matter what he was doing. If she doesn’t like to be touched in a certain way, don’t touch her that way, end of story. But, for the record, he ran his hand through her fur, that’s close enough to “petting” to make it dickish to argue over the semantics on top of it always being dickish to argue over what someone else wants done to their own body.

The mutt isn’t home, but the place smells strongly of death and rotting flesh. Elena deduces that he’s hereditary, since he has some idea of what he’s doing, but young, so he’s cocky. And, of course, Elena has to Change again to get back home since they’re nowhere near the car.

Clay doesn’t understand why killing humans is taboo. This is stated in the same way that it’s written that he doesn’t understand why nudity is a taboo.

The bathroom locks at Stonehaven had been broken for over twenty years. No one bothered to fix them. Some things weren’t worth the effort of fighting Clay’s nature.

Clay has never been taught how to accommodate other human beings. Clay has never really understood the concept that other people’s wants and needs are important. Sure, it’s not spelled out that way in the text, but just look at the quote above. Clay has the mindset of a child: I want, therefore, it shall be. I need, therefore, I shall get. I want, therefore, you want. I need, therefore, you need. I don’t need, therefore, you won’t get.

I don’t like him one bit.

Elena points out that even without locks on the bathroom, the Change is private. Not more than five minutes later, Clay attempts to barge in and she has to slam the door on him.

Elena is seen by a pair of teenage boys and has to struggle not to kill them:

It was this — the battle for control of my body — that  hated more than anything else.

Again, perfectly reasonable. Something has been done to her without her permission that makes her lose control of her own body periodically. I’d hate that too. It’s sort of a theme here I think. Anyway  she holds back, but when the boys go to run, Clay almost kills them, so she has to fight him too. They head back and play poker.

I’m not sure I have much to say about it, but Clay, Nick, and Elena are very physical with each other. Every few minutes it seems like Elena’s noticing how attractive her pack-mates are, or Nick’s nibbling on her ear, or Clay’s pinning her down. It’s not necessarily a bad thing in general, but when Elena has trouble asserting her limits to the men, it’s a little troubling that they’re this physical with her. If they were more respectful when she said no, it’d be a-ok for them to be physically playful when she says yes.

The stakes of the poker game: if Elena wins, she can kill the mutt. If Clay wins, Elena has to come out into the woods with him. Clay wins.

Next time: the scene that made me put this book down and walk away, vowing never to come back.

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One Response to Bitten: Hunt (Chapter 7)

  1. Firedrake says:

    Hoo boy.

    I try to support the powerless, root for the underdog, and so on. But this book makes it really hard. Elena is judgemental without anything to base her judgements on, doesn’t even try to set limits other than by random bursts of temper, and enters that wager knowing perfectly well what the stakes are… and I can’t help thinking things like “doesn’t want to be helped”.

    Decaying ex-industrial town? Yeah, there’s a whole lot of crime there even without werewolves. Theft, intra-familial violence and sexual abuse, drunk driving…

    Is it me, or do those teenagers read like the stereotyped bad-guy punks of all too many films from the eighties?

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