Book Review – Life and Death by Stephanie Meyers

Title: Life and Death

Author: Stephanie Meyers

Format: Hardback

Published: 2015

 

There comes a point in every reader’s life where they finish a book and they are not sure what to say. In most cases this is the sign of a good book. Unfortunately, this is not the case for me, and hopefully this won’t be the case for anyone else that would think to read this. I have honestly spent an entire day trying to figure out how to even begin to describe this book and what I read. It’s not a matter that it was so unremarkable that there are no words to speak.  When it comes to this book, there is just that much wrong with it.

Now, before I get far along on in the review that may turn rain train, I want to make some things very clear to anyone person who loves Twilight the series or may find joy in this particular book. I am not ripping into this book because I am just ‘that jealous of Stephanie Meyers’ or because I ‘just hate the fandom’.   I don’t even come to you as a person who has only read this one book or only watched the movies.  I have read all the main Twilight books, and did so not as a person wishing to mock the books but a curious individual who wanted something to read aside from text books while in school.

Next, I will admit that I read the first books while still in college. I read most of them them in that mind numbing state of over caffeinated and dead asleep. It was easy reading and a decent story. (I will admit while I will tear this book to shreds – the bones of the story have something to them – the execution is the problem.) I was not as mindful of sentence structure at the time, and actually ‘liked’ the books before Breaking Dawn. I could probably spend a good portion of this blog ripping apart Breaking Dawn based on memories from several years ago, but I won’t.  Yet, it was in reading Breaking Dawn that I realized what crap the books were. (It was summer I had actually slept by the time I read the final book.)

So, considering my history with the books – going from liking them to hating them, it can be without question that I was a little curious about the story being gender swapped. I love little au (alternate universe) and twists of the like, so my interest was piqued.  Thus it was determined by a few of my friends, (some of them fellow bloggers on this site) that I needed to ‘take one for the team’ and read “Life and Death”, (which I did read in its entirety).  There were times I wanted to cry because I had to read it, but eventually the book became a comedy (Dimples!) before it returned itself to nightmare status.

I now ask that you hold onto your dimples, because this journey might take a while as I take you on my trek through the monster of a book (which it was a physical monster, being two novels in one in hard back – my arms cried for mercy!).

When I started reading, I was doing some comparison between the new story and the old, flipping between the two, and I tried to be optimistic. What was said in one page by Bella took one and a half for Beau to say. Stephanie Meyers was being more descriptive. Not a lot more, she wasn’t going for a hi–def picture, but there was a bit more substance. I remember sharing this with a friend going ‘maybe Stephanie had grown as a writer’. ‘It has been 10 years, maybe this book won’t be so bad.’ These were the words of my doom.

I tried to continue read along and not compare old with new and simply read the story, but as I read I would be forced to stop. I didn’t stop because I needed to compare old with new (though I did) but because the words were not making sense.   I wish I could share with you some of the early sentences that threw me for a loop.   I literally had to stop and go, ‘Was that even a sentence?’ At one point I poked my editor and asked her for her take on the sentence.  She confirmed that it was a sentence (barely), but it was very poorly written. We then went back and forth coming up coming up with new and better ways to write the same sentence. Want to know the kicker? We didn’t add or subtract words; we literally just rearranged the words so that they flowed better and made a lot more sense.

It was after that horrid sentence that I discovered my first continuity error, I had to re-read things to be sure I didn’t mistake something.  However, writing was just that bad. It wasn’t me; I didn’t miss something along the way. Literally the character talks about their overall day and how they were bad in their last class of the day, gym class. Then the character backs up to talk about how lunch that day went and spends a whole page plus some this.   Once done talking about lunch, we are back in the afore mentioned gym class again, with a remark on how embarrassing it was.  This wasn’t like a new day/new class or a second instance of the class in the same day, it was the same class on the same day! It did not fit and flow! You have NO idea how much I wanted to take those few pages rearrange and rewrite them where it flowed and worked better!   Alas I plowed on till I couldn’t take it.

Loathing the book, I concluded to read when I was sleep deprived. I powered through a few chapters because I was too tired to notice if a sentence was actually a sentence, and this worked for me till the book was due back at the library and I either had to power through it in two days or give up, because honestly I didn’t see myself checking the book back out, particularly when there is a wait list. (Yes, terrifying I know.) So I took a deep breath and plunged in and found myself in a sea of dimples.

Almost every smile Edythe (yes, we’ll get to her name in a bit) gave there were dimples. It was rare the word smile was actually used in regards to Edythe. She had dimples. She flashed her dimples, she was seen dimpling. These references were subtle at first, till I reached the following quote:

“She leaned against the frame, and threw her dimples at them.”

It was by this point I had lost it.  In my mind I saw a woman literally taking the dimples off of her face and pelting the poor guys she was talking to with them. It took me several minutes to get over the humor of this and the scene was not supposed to be funny. (Honestly, I shared this line with everyone who would listen and most of them were fellow writers. ) Everyone I have spoken to about this line has paused at it.   From that point forward, every time I saw the word dimples, I cracked up. This made the first ‘date’ quite amusing to me as the word dimples came up a few more times within only a few pages. In the end, I did have to compare the old with the new, and the comparison was something that is not easy to describe.

In booth books the human is trying to explain what sort of effect the vampire has on other humans. In Twilight Edward ‘dazzles’ to the point that he asks ‘Do I ‘dazzle’ you?’ while Edythe merely dimples to the point of causing mini heart attacks. I KID YOU NOT.  Beau had a couple of mini-heart attack episodes in the book.  In short, Edward dazzles while Edythe dimples.

Anyway, the dimples soldier forward to not only be thrown at people, but also be put on display (I imagined a display case with dimples).  Then Beau got a face full of the dimples and then as my favorite, Edythe slowly smiled causing the dimples to appear, and it was the equivalent of the ending display of fireworks on the Fourth of July. Land sakes the dimples are Patriotic, and may have looked something like this:

Anyway, as much as I would love to continue on about the dimples and their hilarity to me, there is still more of the book to cover. (As an aside, I feel bad for the next author I read who uses the word dimples because I will laugh, and it won’t be their fault.)

By this point, I’m only half way through the book and we finally get to the point where the two lovers are separated because of the villainous tracker vampire that wants to drink the human’s blood.  So there was sadly a distinct lack of dimples (sorry I had to) by this point. This is where the story starts to deviate from the original. If you, for some reason don’t want to know the end skip down to the rating which I’ll have clearly marked. In this rendering of the tale, Beau becomes a vampire instead of going to play part in the horror that is known as New Moon (which we won’t get me started on that rant either). This is where the book had potential, I mean real potential. I had a friend once say that she (Bella) should have turned at the end of the first book, that, or died. I rather agreed and there was so much potential, and it was wasted.  ALL OF IT!

The whole transformation process is touted in the books as being pure agony, and the worst pain imaginable.  So the actual process was then referenced as fire, fire burning, simply burning, and every individual cell in the body burning.  Oh there was also pain, lots of pain.  It was during this time that the BIGGEST info dump I have ever seen in my life occurred.  Pages and pages of info dumping, with occasional moments for an ‘I’m sorry this had to happen Beau’ and ‘the flesh – it burns’ (okay, that last quote wasn’t from the book – brownie points if you can tell me what movie that came from though!) Supposedly, while in the worst agony of your life, because you are becoming a vampire, you remember every little detail, making it the perfect time to tell you all you ever needed to know about vampires and vampire life.   We learn about their ways, their rules and what the personal life stories are of people people the character hardly knows, because it was a good time to do it.  Honestly, this was Stephanie Meyer’s way of quickly covering things that came up in later books that weren’t originally covered in the first book.   This was done so that readers can compare what the differences are between the original gender character and the new gender character.  It was ridiculously dull and boring.  A better way to share that information, would have been to just use like an Afterward to go ‘hey these are things I’m sure you are wondering about that never came up in the story you just read….’ No she had to create a boring info dump, despite that fact that there is indeed an after ward for her to say – ‘this was fun and imagine what you will for anything I didn’t really cover!’

That pretty much sums up the end of the book, save for the epilogue which was odd, and I really don’t want to go far into it, beyond the fact that memories of life as a human are not easy for vampires to recall.  Thus, one can be very detached from their human past and yet somehow everyone remembers things from it, like important things such as what led to them being vampires (not just the changing process but like their near death experiences before the change, or life style before the change.  They also all supposedly suffer great pain of losing their left behind loved ones,  but can be impacted by watching their own funeral where said loved ones distraught over loosing them.  Yeah, it is really weird and messed up how the memory thing works. It appears it is only follows the whims of the author when she doesn’t feel like writing the raw emotions but still wants a character molded by said circumstances. *eyeroll*

 

RATINGS AND FINAL NOTES!!!!

 

For those of you who scrolled down to here, welcome back. For those who stuck this long post out with me congrats, we are nearing the end, and you deserve a cookie for reading all of this.   I think it is easy to guess the rating I’d give this book, which would be a 1 out of 5 pages. I know other reviewers have talked about negative ratings and 0 ratings but I’ll give the book a 1 because as I said at the start the bones are there.  The bones of the story are good, the execution however, was just horrific.  Honestly, tighter sentence structure, a good editor who will tell the author no, and no more sparkles,there could be something decent here, but sadly it isn’t decent and this is truly a hot mess, which I must continue to further outline.

If you read the forward, this book was created because of all the nay sayers who said the book was all about a damsel in distress and not about the romance. It was to show that everything would pretty much be the same if gender was reversed.  Which things were the same in a lot of ways.  Still by doing this gender swap I saw of lot things that came to light about gender in the books.  It showed all the more how there are still some massive issues involved.   While I try not to gender type at all, there were points where the actions of the character screamed the opposite gender of what they were.  I’m not saying that one gender can’t act like the other but with given societal norms (unfortunate as some may be) they did not work so well.  But there was a big deal about ‘man code’ not being broken, and the guys waiting for the girls to act instead of things being equal.   Also, it was in reading this book that I realized and noticed the gender typing in the first book. Of the school staff, we meet only 5 people, the secretary, the nurse, and 3 teachers. The secretary and nurse in the original book were female and the rest of the staff was male. Am I the only one that finds this a little bit wrong?

In addition, in the forward, Stephanie Meyer’s states that the one major set of genders she did not change were the parents, because historically speaking when they split in the mid 80’s courts have been more inclined to leave a child with a mom, so a moving dad would not have been deemed suitable for a child while a moving mom is fine. I am not complaining about this because it is a unfortunate truth of our court systems, even today. However, where this does bug me is when history is so important to the author in this case, but it’s not a big deal that Edythe was the name of the vampire who was born in 1901! Edith fine, Edythe NO! Edythe didn’t make name charts till 1949, while Edith existed in 1880. (See behindthename.com). So with this alone I find her history argument rendered invalid.

I’ve gone on for nearly 2500 words and feel I have only dented the surface of problems and issues with this book. Were I more patient person, I would spend more time and do a whole series on issues with this book and tear it apart page by page (line by line in some cases), I would, but I am not.  I was all too glad to send it back to the library, even if I couldn’t mark the book red with edits – which is saying something from me as I know that this blog post alone probably has a plethora of grammatical mistakes in it. (I did not have the time to run through and edit before posting.)

So while I hope and feel most people here would agree with me, that this book is horrid and the author is not that great, anyone who loves Stephanie Meyers please refrain from nitpicking my grammar (which I know is horrid right now) and basal insults. Thanks.

Also because I can, (and coined the phrase long ago) and I still think it is quite true to this day:

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Writer Wednesday – Jessica O’Gorek

gemini rising

Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
Jessica O’Gorek

Tell us (briefly) about you…
I’m a mother, wife, author, full time sales person burning my candle at both ends. I dream therefor I will.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
A series of young adult paranormal romance books that focus on Mother Earth, what we have done to her and how she might retaliate in the future.

…and what you’re working on right now.
Book 4 of my series.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
When I was twelve I was writing 2000 page romance novels in spiral notebooks.

What are your three favorite books?
Twilight, Eclipse and Braking Dawn

How many books to do you read at any given time?
I can only read one at a time.

What are you reading now?
Beautiful Chaos

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
snack habitually.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
Not

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Eh, not very likely.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
Very likely.

What do you look for in a good book?
Suspense, deep strong characters and very real environments.

Why do you write?
It’s fun. I love my characters and I miss them if I don’t let them play in the pages. It keeps me alive inside when the world around me is too painful.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
An actress

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
The mystery of life, nature in the spring time and my beloved father

What has writing taught you about yourself?
That I am stubborn, smart and must addicted to creating

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
They have their fingers crossed for me but I don’t think they think I will make it and that makes me strive even harder!

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
Agents who don’t even bother reading submissions and the big publishers who won’t even consider your manuscript without an agent.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
I am not good with commas, semi colons or the word “and.” Bless my editor!

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
Making a 6th Twilight movie.

How do you deal with your fan base?
Well, when I have a fan base I will adore them!

Book Review – 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James

I’ve been agonizing over when to put this review out there.  Since today’s April Fool’s Day and this book is a bigger joke than Twilight… Here ya go.  I’m warning you, though.  This review is about 2x longer than any other I’ve ever written (or anyone on this blog has ever written) and is absolutely not safe for work.

Title: Fifty Shades of Grey

Author: Writer:  Chick who managed to put words on paper: E.L. James

Format: Paperback

Published: 2012

Also known as: Twilight, the fan fic.  (You did know that, right?  Because, you know, if you didn’t, you’ve been living under a rock.  This shit is fan fiction based on Twilight.)

So, at the beginning of this blog, Catherine made a comment about how we’d never review this book.  But, you know, I read it for the purpose of reviewing it, and hey, I’m reviewing it.

Someone, please hold my lunch.

If you haven’t heard anything about this book, please, crawl back into your cave and stay there.  You’re safe in your cave.  I promise.

I can’t save you if you keep reading.

Run away.

Now.

Quickly.

Why are you still here?

Haven’t you heard me yet?

RUN!!!

Really?  You’re sticking this out?

Okay, then.

I am no longer responsible for you if you stay.

So, I read the book.  And I took notes.  FOUR PAGES OF NOTES.  Then I decided that if I ranted and raved in this review even half as much as I do in person when somebody asks me what I thought… well, you’d be here longer than it took to write that drivel.

Here’s the story in a nutshell:

Ana, college chick, works at a hardware store in Portland/Seattle (the author doesn’t know the difference, why should I?), studies English, only reads old literature… oh, and doesn’t know how to check email and has never masturbated, let alone had sex.

Her roommate gets sick and sends Ana to do an interview in her place despite the fact that Ana isn’t a journalist and not smart enough to prepare for the interview – like, you know, read up on the guy on the internet or any- oh, wait.  She doesn’t know how to use the computer.  Wikipedia is clearly too difficult.  So she goes totally unprepared to her interview with Christian Grey, busy hating herself and thinking she’s a big fat loser, what with her blonde hair, blue eyes and all.  Oh, and as for that fat thing, she hates how skinny and hot her roommate is, but they share clothes so, uh…

Christian Grey on the other hand, is young, rich, and successful, so the list of responsible journalistic questions asked of him include insulting him at every question – is your success all luck?  Are you gay?  You know, that type of responsible journalism thing.   And then he falls for this useless fat ugly whatever thing that interviewed him.

Cause, you know, that totally happens in real life.    Jeez, I wonder who I could interview for this blog and end up in a bondage room with.

Oh, did I skip ahead?  Yeah, well.  That’s because there’s no substance to this book.

And more issues than Time Magazine.

So what do I have problems with?

  • The author can’t figure out the difference between Portland and Seattle and is there a mention of Vancouver for this American born/bred?  My best guess is Seattle, but I, as the reader, shouldn’t be guessing.  The author herself should know.
  • How the hell do you make it to 22-years-old, about to graduate from college, and can barely figure out how to hit the “ON” button on a laptop.  Email, are you kidding?!  What the hell?!
  • The writing is awful.  Aside from the first person present point of view (“I go and I see and I wait and… I vomit”) which I hate, it’s not even well written.  The thing about this POV is you either have to be good or you end up with a shitload of crappy, choppy sentences.  Yeah.  We’ve got those.  We’ve also got a ton of long, repetitive, run-on sentences.  Sentences that repeat words and colors and phrases and oh, dear God, kill me.  Please.  Because I can’t stand this!
  • Which brings me to my second argument about the writing, which is word choice.  Ana says things like “jeez” all the time.  Also, every combination of “good God” “good golly” etc.  I kept expecting a jeez god or a god jeez or something along those lines.  We get it already, James.  Your character is a clueless, stupid, innocent twit.  Wait, what?  That’s not what you want us to think?  You’ll get over it.  Cause that’s what you wrote and that’s what your editor pushed through.
  • Ana harps on everything – from her roommate and herself to every description every thought every whatever. Also, every guy she meets is cute, even though there’s no chance of a relationship with them.
  • Certain characters have names – like Roy, her father-like ex-step-father – but others, like her mother, don’t.  Not exactly a family therapist here, but if you love your ex-step-father like a father, you probably call him Dad.  And if what’s-her-name down in Georgia isn’t Mommy Dearest, you probably don’t call her that.  Just sayin’.
  • Oh, and she FUCKING MURMURS EVERY FUCKING TIME SHE TALKS.  (No, that didn’t bother me at all. </snerk>)  She doesn’t say, she doesn’t speak, she doesn’t yell (unless they’re in the bedroom) she fucking murmurs.
  • Million dollar words.  This here’s another pet peeve of mine.  When your character is a simple minded twit that uses words like “jeez” every time she opens her mouth, you don’t use fancy vocabulary for the rest of what you say.  Jeez.  I’m sorry, EL, but your character is a moron.  And honestly, people that use huge words when cute little tiny ones will do, end up sounding stupid.  I mean, I know our MC is a college-educated woman who can’t use a computer, but still.  [as a side note, several of the words that she throws around like popcorn in this book are so infrequently used that I needed a dictionary… I actually kept a list at one point of the bizarre choices of words she used]
  • She drinks every scene.  – no, I’m not anti-booze (I’m a card carrying member of the Tennessee Squire Association, thankyouverymuch), but I don’t see the point in drinking every time you go anywhere just because you can, and really, she drinks so much she should be sloshed.  What’s wrong with a glass of water once in a while?  Lemonade?  Iced tea?  Coffee?

So fast forward all this stuff.  After a few choice encounters where she happens to randomly run into Christian Grey (like at the hardware store where he buys zip ties and drop cloths), several meetings where her knees go weak, including a photo shoot of Christian Grey, etc., they end up doing a few things like dinner… and each other.

And the sex scenes are awful.  Because, here, ladies and gentlemen, is how every damn one of them works.

  1. Declare that you (the gent) will not do anything that shows any sort of actually caring about the woman you’re with.
  2. Demand she put her arms over her head.
  3. Do her like you’re her rapist.

Seriously, how bad is the sex life of a normal middle aged wife that they find that sexy?  Is it hot because it’s not missionary-style on Saturday night?  Grey’s not the husband and he’s not grunting till he’s done and rolls away?  What the hell?

50shadesabused

And as the book progresses and she does more and more of this even though she hates it, I seriously have to question Ana.  How bad is her self-esteem (and how clueless is she about sex) that she thinks she has to give in to the total control and domination from her man to get any?  How warped and twisted and – fucked up – are you to think that you don’t deserve any better?

As the story goes along, we learn a few more things about Mr. Grey.  He’s “fifty shades of fucked-up” (which is why I said that in the previous line – in Ana’s case, Mr. Fifty Shades becomes her new nickname for her boyfriend), and this includes his first time being with his babysitter, several (it felt like several million) discussions about the bondage contract she won’t sign, and the most agonizingly annoying scene in which she can’t believe she’s so naughty because she goes to dinner with his parents… without underwear.  (Poll women between the age of 18 and 30, and I bet within a dozen of them, someone will admit to having not worn underwear at some point in the past two weeks.)

ARGH!!!!!

You know, I’m gonna stop because, really, I just want to vomit.

Here’s the thing that pisses me off so much about this book.  Ana is a naïve, clueless, moronic twit (have I said that yet?).  And she somehow got into this relationship with a controlling freak.  Now, maybe, just maybe, if she had had several relationships, been a bit older, had a fucking clue, I wouldn’t be so upset.  But to have a main character that doesn’t even touch herself, who can’t refer to her girl parts – the word is not “down there” the word is “vagina” – thinks of her inner goddess or whatever other bullshit words she uses on herself… she is not equipped enough to be with this man.

And really, the author most certainly shows us this herself.

As the relationship progresses, and we see such uber-creepy behavior as Grey finding out where Ana lives because he has her cell phone tracked, demanding she get a new car because he doesn’t like the one she has, etc., and they discuss the contract to death, we learn a couple safe words (and they’re incredibly stupid safe words), get to watch her dream of sex toys and get them (I can never look at riding crops the same way), and eventually get to “the” scene.  I’d call it the climax, but really, slapping her twice gets this girl off, so using the word climax no longer has any meaning at this point.

Pardon the interruption, but… being stalked, tracked, or otherwise controlled is not ever the sign of a healthy relationship.  If you or somebody you know is in a relationship like this, please leave and find somewhere safe to go.  If you don’t feel that you can leave safely, call the police and they will help you.  Abuse is never okay, and you don’t need to be a victim to be in a healthy relationship. There are resources out there, and it’s NOT something glamorous.  

Ana/Bella (because let’s remember, this was based on fan fic, and she’s really just the tortured soul Bella in a new name) has at this point decided that she wants to know what the extent of Grey’s abuse, er, I mean spanking, is.  So she tells him to go  all the way.

And while she’s crying about how awful it is, she has her only moment of light where she decides that it scares the shit out of her and she should leave.  So after it’s done, she breaks it off with him.  End book.

And even this, I need to bitch about.  Because if you already forgot, about a paragraph and a half ago, I pointed out that they had safe words.  Which she doesn’t use.  At all.  And then she’s all “I can’t believe you hurt me like that” and pouts for a while.  Wait a damn minute.  She’s entered into an agreement (even though the contract never got signed) that she would do this sort of stuff, but she has a safe word so that it can’t get out of hand, and then because she’s too stupid to use it, she gets to play the victim?  I don’t think so.

Another side note.  Consensual BDSM happens all over the world.  It does not look like this.  And it is not about being hurt or abused, it’s about control and trust.  There is absolutely no trust anywhere in this book.  The author should be ashamed at writing this shit.

If I tell you to stop, I damn well expect you to stop.  But if I don’t say anything, then it’s safe to assume for whatever reason I want you to keep going.  It’s sorta like… going to a bar and seeing someone drinking across the room and assuming they’re at least 21 (or whatever the legal drinking age is where you are).  So really, all we learned through this book is that Ana needs therapy – not only to see why she thinks so lowly of herself but also to figure out why she has the sexual development of a thirteen-year-old.

Really, I think it’s irresponsible on the writer’s end.  We’re in an age where women (no matter how young or old) are increasingly having body issues.  (Just today, a friend of mine posted a link to Hardee’s new commercial paired with a conversation about how he can’t convince his 16-yr-old daughter that there’s nothing wrong with the way she looks.  For the record, she’s adorable and fairly skinny.)  Date rape cases are rising.  So what did this asshat author do?  She wrote a book where the main character thinks that nothing about herself is okay, is too emotionally stunted to deal with herself in any way, and then made her think that she had to be abused to be cared for.  Note that I’m not saying ‘loved’ because, you know, that doesn’t actually happen at any point in this book.

I thought the worst part was that there were two more books in this series, but no.

Somebody is writing fan-fic.  About this.  A fan-fic.  About Twilight.  And the longer this book is in print, and the more copies that sell, the more people who are going to take this crap and write their own.  And really, one was bad, it being a trilogy should have been the end of it.  But I picture a library full of this shit, and well… *shudders*  Also, even better, when the fan-fic about this was announced, EL James demanded her lawyers issue a statement to the next author saying “You just don’t steal other people’s ideas”  – um…

Can I give a negative pages rating?  Please?

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