Bitten: Trail (Chapter 13)

I’ll admit; part of the reason I keep not coming back to this book is that if I were reading it for pleasure, I’d have abandoned ship by now. I don’t want to read this book. It’s not a good book, and it’s not even surprising in its badness anymore. But I want to finish it. I’ve got another book planned for the next bad book deconstruction, and I think I’ll stick to books that are bad for frivolous reasons rather than books that make me sad because they’re full of rape, but I want to finish this book out because I want to be in a place in my life where I finished this book, if that makes any sense.

So. Here we are, thirteen chapters in. Logan is dead, Clay is rape-tastic, and Elena has a plan.

Bear Valley had three coffee shops, but The Donut Hole was the only one that counted. The other two were reserved for out-of-towners, truckers, and anyone else pulling off the highway for a caffeine-and-sugar jolt.

So the entire town is full of hipster douchebags. Seriously, does the author think nothing ever happens in Starbucks? The CZU admin meeting meets at a Panera Bread every month instead of a little local joint; Starbucks is a great place to meet up because it’s neutral, usually located in a central place, and has free wifi. But apparently nobody in Bear Valley cares about those things. They only care about the authenticity of their brew. Or something.

As we walked into the hole, the cowbell over the door jangled. Everyone turned.

Everyone-looks-at-main-character-when-she-walks-in-cliche. 

In a town of eight thousand

There are three coffee shops per 8k people in Bear Valley. There are on average .3 Starbucks per 10,000 people in America. This town is too small to have a Starbucks. But it has three coffee shops? And they all make money despite two of them never being frequented by locals? Anchorage is the most caffeinated city in the USA for having three coffee shops per 10,000 people; this means that Bear Valley has secretly stolen their claim to fame. What?

Clay hated the attention. To him, his curse was his face, not his werewolf blood.

Main-character-hates-attention cliche. Alternately, Clay is a Gary Stu again.

Clay wanted nothing more than to fade into the background of human life. I think he would even have gotten rid of the Boxster if he could

First of all, boo fucking hoo, he was given a goddamn Porsche FOR FREE but hates it because of all the attention. Secondly, he got the car because he loves “fast driving and sharp curves”. This is a man who speaks with a southern drawl in New York City, loves to drive fast, can hardly keep his hands off Elena, walks around with the air of an Alpha Male, and drives a Porsche really fast. And yet we’re told he hates attention?  He has a PhD in anthropology and yet has no idea how much he sticks out like a sore thumb or how to blend in?

He was exempted from undue female attention by the gold band he wore on the fourth finger of his left hand.

Because there’s no homewreckers in Bear Valley. It’s paradise.

This is the part where I throw the book across the room again:

The ring wasn’t a ruse, either. Clay wouldn’t lower himself to such a petty deception. His ring was one of a matching pair we’d bought ten years ago, before the small matter of a bite on my hand kiboshed the whole wedding bliss and happily ever after thing. The fact that no marriage took place didn’t matter to Clay. The ceremony itself was irrelevant, a meaningless human ritual […] It was when he’d introduce me as his wife that things could get a bit ugly.

I know it’s been a while, so let’s recap:

  • Clay bit Elena against her will, dooming her to a life she didn’t want and had trouble belonging to because of her gender
  • Clay is a rapist, continually ignoring Elena’s stated desire not to have sex with him anymore
  • Clay considers himself married to Elena, regardless of her wish to not be married to him and the fact that no marriage ceremony took place
  • Clay walks around openly declaring himself married when Elena is not able to deny it due to living out of state in an effort to get away from him
  • Elena’s foster-father, the pack leader, considers it a matter of course that she’ll come back to this pack because she “belongs” here.
  • Elena considers Clay’s actions to be…. noble? Above such “petty” deception as pretending to be married when he could instead pretend to be married in such a way that forces her to be involved in his schemes?

Wat.

We’re supposed to ship this?

Seriously?

The staff were all middle-aged women who’d raised a family, decided to spend their empty-nest years earning some cash, and discovered this was the only job for which the world considered them qualified.

Every last one of them? Including the janitor? What about the accountant? Also an empty-nester? The owner? I’m seriously getting tired of hearing how everyone in Bear Valley is some kind of Stepford clone, belonging perfectly to a stereotype that is associated with their role in the story.

The incident at the rave party had made the front page. Of course, the paper didn’t call it a rave, since most of their readership — and probably most of their staff — wouldn’t have a clue what a rave was.

In a town of eight thousand, where the population is so homogeneous that only one coffee shop “counts” and nobody ever cheats on their spouse, there’s enough people to make a rave, but not enough people that know what a rave is to make it worth writing the word “Rave” on the FRONT-PAGE article about the event.

Sure. Whatever.

What facts there were could be reduced to this: A large canine had slaughtered two people at a party before being killed by police. Not exactly a story to fill the front page

A literal dog-bites-man story. And yet, it’s front page news.

Elena points out that they’re glad there wasn’t more details, given that they’re trying to keep their involvement under wraps, and turns to the adventurer’s next best plot hook finding tool: eavesdropping.

The experience was a depressing one, not because no one was discussing the “incident”, but because what most of them were discussing didn’t exactly provide an uplifting glimpse into ordinary Human life. Complaints of unfair bosses, backstabbing coworkers, ungrateful kids, meddling neighbors, boring jobs, and even more boring marriages ricocheted from every corner of the room.

I’ve read better books in which the supernatural terrible-backstory protagonist finds chatter like this relaxing. It can be comforting to listen to the everyday, easily solved problems of others; you can set aside your huge, glaring, rapist/werewolf/dead best friend issues and focus on the mundane trivia of everyday life, finding comfort in the fact that all around you, life goes on as usual.

Or you can be Elena and hate everyone for being shallow.

Why did people always complain about jobs and spouses and children and extended family? Didn’t they realize how lucky they were to have those things?

Elena’s main problem is that, never having had a family as a child due to being orphaned, she now feels she cannot have a family due to being a werewolf. Clay tries to comfort her, but she rightfully places the blame on him, since he bit her.

If we talked about it, we might work it out. That was a risk I wasn’t willing to take.

I honestly don’t see how you can possible “work it out” between someone who wants to be independent and the man bent on controlling her to the point where he’s trying to force her into  playing along with his delusions while he rapes her. On the bright side, I don’t blame her for not wanting to end up with this guy. She identifies the problem exactly as I have:

He’d have his mate, the life partner of his choice, the realization of his own domestic dreams. Well, I had my own dreams, and Clay had no role in them.

Good for her.

Moving on, they decide to go see if they can track the rogue werewolf. This is rough because while Elena has the better nose, she also has compassion and normal human feelings, so she’s having trouble returning to the place she found her friend’s body and sniffing about for signs of his killer. Which is actually pretty logical! Elena seems to be one of the few people who sometimes make sense in this novel. Case in point:

Downtown Bear Valley closed at five, allowing employees to make it home for dinner and ignoring the fact that the average person worked until five and needed to shop afterward. The oversight may have explained the vacancy rate that had spread through the core like cancer

Small business owners are too stupid to do basic market research or have common sense or think of the first plausible explanation Elena came up with in three seconds, and that’s what’s really killing the economy. This book brought to you by Walmart.

Icky:

“First floor,” I said. “I’ll start. Go hide somewhere.”

“Uh-uh. We’ve played this game before. I hide. You never seek. I’m a bit slow on the uptake, but I’m beginning to sense a pattern.”

“Go.”

Clay grinned, grabbed me around the waist and kisse dme

How hard does someone have to tell you to go the fuck away before you understand they don’t want you?! Ew ew ew.

While it was nice to see his mood had improved

And now we’re back to the author writing a very good picture of a disgusting, boundary-crossing rapist and insisting he’s a great catch. Small wonder I don’t want to read this book anymore 😐

[I found] a receipt for a new car stereo, which I hoped hadn’t gone into the Impala, or the owner had spent more on the sound system than on the car.

That’s classest. Or something. So what if someone wants to put a nice stereo into an old car?

When they find the room, Elena suggests they should stay there and lie in wait. Clay overrules her, insisting that they leave it up to a coin flip. Even when the coin goes her way, he gives her crap about not wanting to search the room, but won’t get out of the way and let her search either. He just wants to make it clear how unhappy he is while he helps:

“The guy uses hotel shampoo and hotel soap. He hasn’t broken the seal on the conditioner. There’s a Bic razor and no sign of toothbrush, toothpaste, or mouthwash. So we’re looking for a guy with split ends and a serious breath problem. Any of this helping, darling?”

The condescension is palpable. Elena doesn’t find much either, other than satanic symbols scribbled all over the Gideon Bible, which she considers childish and not part of actual werewolf culture. He also uses plenty of cologne, aftershave, and strongly scented deodorant; Elena points out that no experienced werewolf would ever use these things because they won’t be able to smell anything over their own scent. Wouldn’t that irritate their noses, then? So wouldn’t a new werewolf be even less likely to use this stuff? Whatever.

Clay finds a clue, and in yet another sign that he’s marriage material, decides to play keep-away with Elena until he’s had a chance to read it first, only giving it up once he’s determined that he isn’t interested after all. Real mature there.

The scrapbook is, of course, the serial killer’s record of his wrongdoings that every Hollywood movie plants to build suspense. No sooner has Elena discovered this than he appears in the parking lot: flanked by two of their known mutts. It’s obvious to me that they’re starting a rival werewolf gang, but Elena and Clay have no idea. Clay wants to stay and fight, but when Elena says she can’t keep going, he does the first decent thing he’s done all book and backs off, agreeing to go home.

They tumble off the balcony in haste, ending up in a compromising position on the sidewalk. When they see someone watching, however, Clay brings the full weight of his sociopathic tendencies to bear:

Clay hadn’t said anything. He’d just given her “the look” — a stare of pure malevolence that never failed to send humans scurrying. I tried to perfect the look once. […] I learned my lesson. Women can’t do malevolence.

What. The. Fuck.

I give up. I’m out. Chapter’s over anyway.

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3 Responses to Bitten: Trail (Chapter 13)

  1. Firedrake says:

    This book is certainly hard work to get through. I’ve been reading along chapter by chapter, and it feels a bit like powerboating: you can go through at great speed by skimming over stuff, but as soon as you start paying attention to the actual content, whump, you’re pushing through thick heavy water.

    Hmm, maybe by “coffee shops” Armstrong just means “places when you can buy coffee”; I can believe a town of 8,000 just about supporting a couple of fast food joints. (But actually she mentions fast food places later in the chapter, so it’s not that. Maybe everyone in town needs lots of caffeine to keep ahead of the werewolves.)

    A story about a bunch of middle-aged women who etc. etc. and decided to start a coffee shop might actually be interesting to read. This is not that story.

    I’m having a serious case of Heydt’s Eight Deadly Words.

  2. Pingback: Deconstruction Roundup for January 16, 2015 | The Slacktiverse

  3. Only Some Stardust says:

    Kudos for getting so far.

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