Bitten: Synchronous (Chapter 14)

Trigger Warning: Rape, violent/painful sex.

This is the chapter where I am officially Done With Elena.

We rejoin our heroes upon their having returned from their narrow escape from the three mutts; the chapter begins in media res as Jeremy is adamantly forbidding some course of action in front of Nick, Peter, and Antonio, who are primarily here just to prove that there are other wolves involved besides Elena and Clay. They make no meaningful contribution to the scene, which is the classing dressing-down of the protagonists by their overly strict boss as they propose to do the impossible.

This being Bitten, of course, it goes south very fast.

“If [Karl Marsten] wants territory, he has to join the Pack,” Jeremy said.

“Fuck that,” Clay spat. “Karl Marsten is a thieving, conniving son of a whore who’d stab his father in the back to get what he wanted.”

I’m sure this is just meant to be Clay being a cowboy, going off the handle in true Maverick fashion, but it’s telling somewhat that he insults a man by his mother and shows his honor (or lack thereof) by the respect he shows to his father.

Clay goes off the handle entirely, to the point where Jeremy has to deal harshly with him:

“If you go, don’t come back.” Jeremy’s voice was barely above a whisper, but it stopped Clay cold.

I’m really disinterested in the political jockeying between Alpha Males, particularly when I despise both of them for their utter lack of empathy or humanity, so I’m rooting for Clay to storm off and get his ass exiled. The book, however, plays this off as a tough decision for poor ickle Clay, who does storm off but doesn’t leave the grounds so I guess got off on a technicality.

[Clay] walked until we were out of sight and hearing of the house. Then he slammed his fist into the nearest tree, making it rock and groan in protest. Flecks of blood flew.

I am not impressed by how hard the neanderthal can punch. That makes him no less worthy of Elena than before. He screams and rages and punches trees, torn between his inability to betray his father-figure and his inability to let Logan’s killer run free. Again, if he wasn’t such a fucking awful person, I could buy into this. There could be real dramatic tension here.

Instead….

His lips touched mine lightly, tentatively, waiting to be shoved away. I could taste his panic, his fight to control the dueling instincts that raged stronger than anything I could imagine. I put my arms around him, hands going up and entwining in his hair, pulling him closer. A moan of relief shuddered through him. He let the mantle of control slide free and grabbed me, pushing me back against a tree trunk.

He ripped at my clothes, nails scraping against my skin as he tore my shirt and pants free.

Sex between Clay and Elena, that we have seen, is a violent, messy affair. It’s a classic struggle for dominance, with Clay using his larger size to physically shove her around, forcing himself into her, taking as much control as he can — in this instance, he physically lifts her off the ground so she’s helpless as well as pinned. With this scene we also introduce blood — his injury leaves the smell and taste of blood all around them. His wedding ring is a physical reminder of their strangled relationship, digging into her hips and causing her a small measure of pain to remind her what she’s doing. The adjectives in this section reinforce the narrative of sex as violence: “slammed against me”, “desperate lust”, “my battered back”,  “shuddered convulsively”.

In my own book, Wolfbound, when Zachariah and Eileen finally have sex, it’s an experience that is likewise ringed with pain: he has taken her on a run through the woods, a run her body is not physically prepared for, before tackling her to the ground and taking her earlobe into his teeth. I chose to shy away from the pain once they got around to the actual sex part; due to the first person narration, the reader cannot remove themself from Eileen’s head as she disassociates from the experience, focusing on the sense of surrender and safety that her Wolf feels in being mastered by the Alpha rather than the physical discomfort. Through this, we can see what Eileen sees in Zachariah; he is more myth than man to her, the Peter-Pan esque introduction to the world of the supernatural despite being at times carelessly cruel and never seeming to care much for her as a person.

So I can see where Armstrong could have been going with this. Clay is a violent sociopath, a monster in the skin of a man, and yet Elena is drawn to him almost against her will. I, too, have felt the call of the Bad Boy, the lure to be with someone who hurts you and uses you because deep inside your traitorous body says “yes, he is strong and dominating, he would make strong babies”. I’ve wanted to be there with Elena as she slowly comes to terms with what Clay is and what he’ll never be for her; and yet, she seems to already have gone on that journey years ago, when she left him and the Pack behind to try and put together what remained of her life. So what’s this then? What story is this book telling?

“I love you, Elena. I love you so much.”

[…]I stayed there, listening to his heartbeat and waiting for the dread moment when reality would return. It would happen. The fog of lovemaking would part and he’d say something, do something, demand something to send us snarling at each other’s throats.

Is this meant to be a love story? The story of a flawed man and an equally flawed woman coming together despite themselves, struggling to make things work in a fucked-up world?

Clay invites Elena on a run, and they shift into their other skins. As soon as she’s ready to go, he tackles her — yet again, he connects to her via violence, rather than with any sign of care or tenderness. After a few rough tackles, he entices her into a game of “tag”; only when he has tired of proving that he is the strongest, fastest wolf of the two does he change his tune. Now he feeds her rabbit, and shows concern when she feigns injury on the way to go swimming. Now he offers to make her breakfast. Only once he has what he wants: he has conquered her, and now can relax his posture and allow for her womanly weakness, providing for her as her rightful owner.

This is what makes me give up on Elena:

I knew if we went tot the house first, we’d never come back out to go swimming. Something would happen. We’d remember Logan was dead and there were three mutts in Bear Valley. Real life would destroy the fantasy world we’d built so carefully over the past night. I didn’t want it to end. Just a few more hours, a little more time to pretend that it could really be like this, with no past or future to intrude on our utopia.

This is her fantasy: being conquered by an abusive asshole, being shown tenderness because she has given up her right to agency and self-determination. Clay and Elena are our pairing for this book. The author ships them.

When I was younger I had a friend who was going through some hard times. I wanted to be there for her, to help her and comfort her and be the shoulder to cry on that she needed. But over the course of several years, I realized something: nothing was ever resolved with her. It was always something new, some new drama causing her misery and heartache. No matter how many friends she had, it was never enough. No matter what she did, she somehow ended up right back where she started. She didn’t really want her situation to get better. She just wanted to milk every last bit of comfort out of those around her and then, when they got tired of always giving and never receiving, cut them loose in search of fresh bait. Elena wants to be with Clay, despite all her complaints, despite her better judgement. So be it. Let her have him.

No, that’s unfair. It really is. I can understand the desire to be with him, as I said above. But something about this book frustrates me beyond reason. Perhaps it’s that I can see where this is going: Clay promises to change, Elena stays with him, we’re spoon-fed assurances that this is a happy ending, and I’m yet again left bereft, wondering if the book is really that bad or if it’s just me reading negativity into everything. Wondering if maybe it’s right to settle for what you can get because sometimes all you can have is a monster. And then I snap out of it and I return to rage that this book would be well-regarded enough to be turned into a TV series. Everyone picks on Twilight, but there is nothing on this book’s Wikipedia page to condemn this relationship, and on Amazon, the “most helpful” review doesn’t mention Clay, while the second-most “helpful” asserts that “Their bond is fascinating and multi-faceted — in many ways they are reflections of each other.”

I haven’t felt this deeply unsettled by a series since Anita Blake tricked me into liking the protagonist and then careened off the rails until I hated everyone in it equally. New quest: Can I find one decent character in this book to get behind? Someone to root for? Anyone?

Oh, also, some human is missing after coming out to their house. Clay probably ate him. Yay.

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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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On abuse and recovery

I was abused.

That’s really difficult for me to admit. It’s so aggressive, so blunt, so smack-you-in-the-face. I want to soften it, to minimize the impact. I want to rewrite it, maybe “I was an abuse victim”, oh, but the word ‘victim’ is so loaded today, maybe “I was in an abusive situation”. By the time I open my mouth or hit “post”,  it reads “I had a rough childhood”. In person, I then add a self-deprecatory little laugh, like, “oh, let us reminisce on our youthful folly.”

Why is it so hard to admit? I left the situation (and my home, and everything I’d known in person) at 18 and never really came back. For the next few years, my recovery was really rough. I couldn’t shake the idea that deep down, I really was defective, and it felt wrong to blame my abuser for pointing out how utterly pathetic and worthless I was. Even when I plastered a smile over it, I was sure I was lying to everyone, and if someone looked close enough, my putrid, rotten soul would be visible, and everyone would know I was a liar who pretended to be decent but was secretly awful.

But that’s the kind of thing abuse does to you. That’s not real. I’m not defective or broken, I was abused, and I internalized that abuse.

As I started to really recover, I remained hesitant to flat out say that abuse was involved. I’m not a professional, maybe my reading of the situation was wrong. Maybe it was just a bad situation. When is it abuse? What’s the threshold? Better to hedge my bets so I don’t come off as accusatory. Better to soften it, to deny the severity of the situation.

The other day, my abuser apologized for how she treated me. She admitted it was a bad situation, that she was in a terrible place in her life, and that she’s well aware of the devastating amount of damage she inflicted on me and wishes she could take it all back. In essence, she admitted to being my abuser, to abusing me. How can it be that she admits she abused me but I can’t admit I was abused?

Part of the problem is that I and my support network are handling this alone. I can’t bring myself to visit a therapist; the last time I tried, I had a huge panic attack, and then was told I needed to “grow up”. When I enter a therapist’s office, my subconscious remembers well the lessons I learned when I was in that horrible situation (see, the softening?). To visit a therapist is, to my mind, some horror-movie gamble, in which I risk my freedom, my life, and everything dear to me against my ability to lie. I found myself fighting to give correct answers to the most basic of questions, like “How old are you?” — the urge to lie and lie and never stop lying was overwhelming. Everything triggered my anxiety, from the bookshelves to the desk to the small potted plant every therapist seems to have. I was sure they were judging me, probing my story for weaknesses, for holes, for proof that I’m not actually an adult capable of handling my own life and instead a crazy person who needs to be locked up.

This might be because I was, at one point, told that I was incapable of handling my own affairs and needed to be locked up until I could be properly medicated. But you know. It might not be. Hard to tell.

I guess the point is that I’m not sure what to do now. I feel like a lot has changed since I last attempted to visit a therapist, and maybe I should try again. But maybe it’d set me back, like it did last time. Maybe I need to read more books; the last one I grabbed a sample of started talking about how you can learn to love yourself because God loves you and God will give you the strength you need and I just can’t get behind that. I need to build my recovery on the axiom that I’m strong enough to recover, not on the axiom that some external being is going to be the source of my strength, so that disillusionment won’t break me down entirely.

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Genesis of Flatland

 This is the account of Mankind and Mathematics: when they were created, and how they were destroyed again for ever by the folly of Woman.

In the beginning, when the first Man and the first Woman were naked in the garden, God took upon himself to teach them, for they were his children and he was responsible for their education. And so he began to teach them the holy forms of Geometries and of Algebras; yea, even Calculus did he teach them. Man and Woman were favored of God at this time, and so they readily understood what he taught them, even though their brains were fully developed and they lacked the plasticity of children.

One day, God said to Man, “Lo, behold this illustration. Seest thou how there is but a two-dimensional plane, upon which are figures such as you have become accustomed to regarding: the square, the triangle, the circle. Picture now how this figure might appear to them, for it is but a one-dimensional line, with line segments and points upon it.” And the Lord God did explain further the conceit of the two-dimensional land, until Man and Woman understood it.

“I see now how the point may no more easily turn and traverse in two dimensions than the square might lift himself from the plane and traverse in three,” declared Woman, and God approved, and it was good.

And the Lord God explained how his creations were in three dimensions, as limited as the two-dimensional beings in their own three dimensions. And the Woman saw that it was a pleasing analogy, and a desirable means of gathering wisdom. And the Man, too, saw the use of such an extension, and set about wondering what might be created in the fourth dimension, for he was of a practical nature, and longed to create something that would please his Father in Heaven.

The Woman preferred pure Mathematics to the more practical arts of Engineering, and she continued to extend the experiment in secret. Soon, she discovered that God dwelt in the highest dimension, the infinite dimension, where all things were known and knowable. And the Lord God was pleased, and it was good.

One afternoon, after the lesson had concluded, the Woman was sat beneath a tree when a serpent approached her. “Is infinity truly the highest sum?” he whispered to her. At first, she dismissed his words as nonsense. Of course Infinity was the highest number there was. Wasn’t that how Infinity was defined? Still, the serpent continued to whisper to her. “Imagine a table with infinite place settings. At each place setting, there is one knife and one fork. Therefore, there are infinite knives, and infinite forks, and exactly as many knives as forks. Those infinities are equal. But if you then place two ripe fruits onto each plate, is the infinity of fruits equal to the infinity of knives and forks?”

And the Woman wrestled with the question for a long day and a long night, and eventually she was forced to conclude that there were infinities that were greater than the Infinity she had been taught. And she wondered if there was a higher order of infinity than the Infinity of dimensions in which God resided.

Troubled, she called out to the Man, inviting him to partake of the thought experiment of the infinite fruit, but he could find no solution, and indeed, he too was troubled by the implications. For if there was infinity above Infinity, then was there a being of even a higher order than God himself?

The Lord God called to the Man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid, so I hid.”

And the Lord God looked upon their scribblings on their clay tablets, and he recognized them, and he grew angry. “Who told you of transfinite cardinals and uncountable infinities?” he demanded.

The Man said, “The Woman was explaining it to me.”

And the Woman said, “The serpent enlightened me, and I learned.”

And thus it was that Man, Woman, and Serpent were expelled from the Garden of Knowledge, and since that day, all three have had to scrape together what bits of learning they can from the world around them.

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I appear to have offended the gods

Today:

  • my arm still hurts from straining a muscle over the weekend,
  • despite having 10 pairs of socks a few weeks ago, I only appear to have two in my laundry hamper full of clean laundry,
  • someone had left the thermostat too high so it was hot and humid,
  • my bluetooth headset snapped in half,
  • my car wouldn’t start,
  • the guy who they sent to jump my car ran out of gas and had to send a second guy who supposedly had the day off,
  • and while I was waiting for him to show up, I got an email saying the servers were down at work.

If anyone knows what deity I offended today, I’d be glad to offer the appropriate appeasement gift >.>

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Bitten: Grief (Chapter 12)

Nope, I still don’t intend to get into why this is so late, but don’t expect any sort of regularity anytime soon >.> I do have the TV series on Netflix, so I’ll be covering that as well.

Warning: This might get triggering for those recovering from abusive situations, as well as the usual amount of rape and rape culture for this book.

Last time, on Bitten:

“Because obviously human killing is different than wolf killing, because with human killing, you intentionally take the life of another living  being, but when wolves kill, they actually just generate rainbows and fluffy bunnies and unicorns, so it’s totally the opposite. ”

“Do not date this man!”

” They head back to the car,  where they run into Logan, who Clay is jealous of because Elena actually likes him. Unfortunately, he’s dead. End of chapter!”

Clay somehow gets Elena back to Stonehaven, as she’s in a grief-coma herself, barely aware of her surroundings. Which is A-ok! People often react this way to grief, and it was quite a shock finding her friend’s body like that. Elena wants nothing to do with Clay right now, which is also understandable,  but he won’t take no for an answer:

“Let me in, darling. I want to be with you.”

Because in Clay’s world, that’s all that matters. When she continues to say no, he takes out his rage on the walls and objects:

His bedroom door slammed. Then another crash, something larger this time — a nightstand or a lamp hurling into the wall. In my head, I followed the path of his rampage, seeing each piece of furniture smash into bits and wishing I could do the same.

This is not ok: he seems to be angry because she wouldn’t let him into her bedroom, as this only started when she denied him access. Smashing up your property in a fit of rage is juvenile at best, but I can’t help but read this as a warning sign for their relationship.

Back to the overarching moral of the tale: Elena does not smash things because she has a moral compass, while Clay reacts on base instinct and breaks all his things.

[Smashing some china statues] would feel wonderful, but I’d never do it. I’d remember how much time Jeremy  had put into picking them out for me, how it would hurt him if I destroyed his gift.

Instead, she lays in bed wallowing in her grief. Again, a perfectly fine reaction, but I wish she had someone she trusted nearby to help her rather than suffer alone.

Random question: how does Elena know exactly who is standing outside her bedroom door each time she hears a knock? Do they smell different enough through the door to her when she’s in human form? Does she have detailed intuition about how each one would knock in this circumstance? Or is it just lazy writing?

Jeremy comes to Elena’s room, locking himself in and sitting on the bed, touching her, without saying anything. That creeps me out a bit too — how does he know she’s okay with his presence right now? But consent means “not yelling ‘no’ in precisely the right way” in this series, so it’s to be expected. Little things like this help erode the idea of her body and her space belonging to her.

Elena has daddy issues, and sees Jeremy as a surrogate father-figure who is too “moral” to love her. Her tragic backstory includes her foster mother being basically raped in the middle of church service, which probably adds to her desire to excuse Clay’s repeated rapes of her as being her own fault for not saying ‘no’ in precisely the right way.

At least she gets a chance to visit Logan’s grave and get some closure. Honestly, Elena’s grief is portrayed very well in this chapter, at least in my opinion. It’s not as melodramatic as Bella’s blank pages to represent an empty life, but it does pervade her thoughts and narration, tainting everything that happens with her listless sorrow.

Clay reacts to Elena’s crying at the graveside by becoming angry, yelling and disturbing her while Jeremy at least attempts to be quiet. Elena has to interrupt her own grieving to look after Clay because Jeremy apparently told him that going for revenge this very minute was a bad idea but didn’t expressly forbid him from going. Clay’s “special needs” clearly rank precedence in Elena’s mind over her own ordinary needs, and she hides in the truck so that she can come along and be his leash.

Elena has always suffered from irrational rage, which makes her afraid of herself. Good — that’s the kind of instinct that ought to lead her to seek help from a professional rather than shacking up with a bunch of immature men prone to violent rages as well.

Since it’s broad daylight, she suggests killing time by finding out how the town is reacting to the rave from the night before. Clay literally doesn’t understand the point of asking what a bunch of sheep humans think about an event,  but Elena convinces him that werewolves could be outed and he’s apparently realized that would be bad. I guess he’d have to, since that’s the only think separating him from a rogue at this point. They decide to buy a newspaper and keep their ears open while waiting for dark.

Posted in Bitten, Deconstructions | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Songs About Money: A retrospective

Number 1 single, 1999:

Always talkin’ about what he wants
And just sits on his broke ass
[…]
Wanna get with me with no money
Oh no I don’t want no

Number 1 single, 2000:

Pay my own fun, oh and I pay my own bills
Always 50/50 in relationships
[…]
How’d you like this knowledge that I brought
Braggin’ on that cash that he gave you is to front
If you’re gonna brag make sure it’s your money you flaunt
Depend on noone else to give you what you want

Number 1 single, 2001:

Think you gotta keep me iced, you don’t
Think I’m gonna spend your cash, I won’t
Even if you were broke
My love don’t cost a thing

2009, the market crashed and the US entered the Great Recession.

Clearly without having to pay for ladies, men have no work ethic whatsoever and will destroy the economy🙂

Posted in Music | 1 Comment