We have now reached the point in You Don’t Know Me where I literally gave up and just started screaming into the void. I’m going to warn you right now that this book needs a trigger warning for the following: Dubious Consent, Drug Use, Suicide, Suicide Ideation, and Unsafe Sex Practices. Needless to say this is NSFW. All of which happen in this 25% portion of the book. If you think that’s a lot… well you’re not wrong.
Last time we had an almost sex scene. Then the next day Jenna and Rue pack up their things to head back to LA when Jack suggests that if Jenna and Rue want to party, they should go to Ibiza. That’s right. Ibiza. In Spain.
Jenna and Rue think that’s a smashing idea because they haven’t learned yet that Jack is the enemy. Even though he’s done everything short of growing a mustache and cackling evilly while he twirls it.
But that brings into focus one of Faleena Hopkins’ big problems: overstretching suspension of disbelief.
So here comes a rant. I suppose it is POSSIBLE that both Rue and Jenna flew from LA to NYC with their passports, assuming they even have them. But it’s not probable. Let’s look at the facts.
Both of them are poor and working minimum wage jobs while trying to get gigs as dancers (something that doesn’t pay much and has a high injury rate).
They had to have both traveled to NYC with their passports.
Most people, even those who have passports, use their State ID (driver’s license or ID card) to travel within the U.S. The exceptions are those whose states don’t have “rigorous” enough of ID standards. But California is not one of them.
Passports are expensive and difficult to get. Most people, especially if they are pinching pennies to make ends meet like Rue was, won’t bother with the expense.
They BOTH had to decide “Hey, I’m bringing my passport with me!” Which considering the speed and lack of planning with the NYC trip is something that is really unlikely.
I fully admit I did search the book for Customs or Passport and didn’t get any hits. And don’t say, well they’re flying in a private plane they can bypass customs. I’m going to say, “Um, no.” After 9/11 you had better believe that loophole got plugged, assuming it was even leaking to begin with. It’s made doubly worse considering that they fly home on a commercial airliner.
Technically she didn’t do anything wrong, per se. She just expects the reader to go with it. It wouldn’t have taken much, just a quick mention - “Jenna and I grabbed our passports and headed out” - but there wasn’t even that. It’s lazy writing.
Speaking of…. Remember that foreshadowing problem in Part One?
Yep, Sean’s gay. (A later part makes that clear.)
Then we get this gem:
So this book came out in 2015. Being gay isn’t the taboo it used to be. Especially not if your family is liberal (they’re known to have supported the Obama campaign). So there’s nothing really keeping Sean in the closet. There’s no indication that his family wouldn’t accept him or love him. And considering he works in the entertainment industry, he’d have a lot of support behind him.
Additionally and it needs to be fucking said…
There is nothing wrong with being a virgin.
There is nothing wrong with never having been in love.
What is wrong is the attitude toward these two things. What is wrong is the denial of who you are. What is wrong is the implication that there are only two ways a person who is gay can be, massively sexually active or completely celibate. There is just a lot wrong here.
There will be more rant later in my wrap up.
Yep… I don’t have words. Jack is an asshole. Rue is an idiot. Sean is too pure for this world, but the homophobia in this book is now becoming problematic.
She hasn’t said anything yet! How do you know she’s Australian???!!! Sophia is not an inherently Australian Name and like America, Australia has a pretty decent mix of nationalities. There is no blonde “Australian” look. Did you know that Rose Byrne and Rebel Wilson are Australian? That Geoffrey Rush and Errol Flynn are Australian?
It’s not like she has a map of Australia tattooed on her breasts. I’m pretty sure people would have noticed that.
Jack brought Sophia over in his continuing quest to fuck with Rue. And it does. Just not in the way you think. Jenna is definitely interested.
Unfortunately I was to be let down yet again.
Jenna and Sophia swap spit for a while. Then Sophia turns to Rue and asks her if she wants some Australian action. Rue accepts because she can’t say no to peer pressure.
This becomes relevant later.
The fact that Rue trusts Jack at all is frankly unbelievable at this point. There’s the whole fool me once mentality. She’s like Charlie Brown with magenta hair…
Yes Lucy is the one who is in the wrong. But if you keep giving chances to people and they keep being assholes, you need to stop giving them chances.
As for Jenna, sexiling your BFF in a strange country is a really crappy thing to do. You broke Woman-Code, girl.
On one hand, it’s pretty clear that Rue has no self-control and no common sense. On the other, it removes her agency, which is something I have issues with. Bartenders absolutely can stop serving (I have as a bartender) - in fact in some states they’re required by law to do so. But Sean isn’t the bartender. Sean’s her brother and practically a stranger (remember it’s only been 3-4 days since they first met) - he doesn’t have the right yet. Sean should have said something first before cutting her off. Talked to her. Treated her like the adult she is.
Then if she continues, it’s on her and he can step in to keep her from alcohol poisoning. Anyway, after she finishes her partying, she stumbles back upstairs to go to bed and runs into Alec who’s there with another woman, Maya. Thankfully Maya is kind of awesome and wants nothing to do with Alec, she was only there to keep Sean from flipping out. Because apparently after literally two days, Alec is obsessed with Rue and will do anything to possess her.
Think I’m wrong?
He flips out at her having a bi-curious kiss with Sophia.
On the list of things I wish I could get through romance authors’ heads, this is one of them.
The story heads into an honest to gods sex scene and I have to force my way through it. Because as I mentioned before, Rue has no alcohol tolerance and she’s been drinking. So this is literally non-consensual. Yeah… rape is not my thing. And this, no matter how you try to package it, is rape.
From an objective level, the sex is meh. I’ve read hotter het sex written by lesbian virgins. I am not joking. The problem is that Hopkins repeats herself like crazy and skimps on the description and thoughts and feelings.
I also found this phrase:
super duper jarring. Like WTF-I’m-giggling-now jarring.
Note the percentage mark. Now while I don’t have a problem with this if there’s flirting and build up, the only build up we’ve gotten is some coitus interruptus and a whole lot of possessiveness. Technically you don’t even need to have sex in a romance. But with all of the lead up I’m starting to get annoyed. This isn’t erotica. This isn’t romance. It’s just a mess.
So I guess it depends on your definition of sex.
I know some people have issues with condom use in romance. But I happen to be of the mindset that you need to hang a lampshade on this. At least acknowledge that they’re choosing to take the chance. Or they don’t care. Something.
And considering who they are, it’s likely the latter. But this is a post-AIDS world. Condoms and birth-control should be a discussion point. Or at least acknowledged in some way. Like this: “As a dancer, Rue was on birth control. More for the lack of periods than out of any desire to prevent pregnancy, although that was a very welcome side-effect. Kids were not in the cards yet.” Just something.
The following morning – at least I think it is… the book isn’t totally clear and I didn’t feel like rereading to make sure – the group meets for breakfast/lunch down in the restaurant by the pool.
Jack saunters in and tosses a stack of tabloids and celebrity gossip magazines onto the table and then sits back and gloats. The headlines are cruel. Calling Rue a bastard (which she is). Her mother a whore (which she is not!). Rue a spendthrift partying idiot (accurate). And a whole slew of names. Rue, understandably, gets upset and runs off. What is less understandable is that she jumps in the pool to escape the headlines.
While underwater she decides that it’s peaceful there and she’d just like to stay there.
So this is where I need to talk about one of my Jack of all Trades things. I was a Red Cross Certified lifeguard. I kept my certification all through High School and College and used it to get jobs I otherwise couldn’t. We learned more than you ever wanted to know about drowning. One of the biggies is that the human body does not want to breathe in water. It will convulse and shake to try to cough it out, which will often cause the person to breathe more in. It is not a peaceful way to die. It is violent. Painful. And I wouldn’t wish it on my enemies.
Eventually Rue drowns (the author says she changed her mind about it, but I did reread that part and if she did it must be really obscured because I sure didn’t get that impression at all).
Cut to Jack…
Sorry about the repeated usage of the word ass, I just didn’t feel like typing a 200 page rant on how Jack is everything wrong with this country into my iPad. But yes, Jack is an ass. This time for essentially bullying his sister so badly that she felt that death was a good alternative.
I don’t care if he feels regret. There is no redemption arc long enough to make him a decent human being let alone a good one worth of admiration. He’s a user, an abuser, selfish, and conniving. He doesn’t even have a good backstory or consistent characterization. And he’s not played by Tom Felton, Tom Hiddleston, or Tom Hardy.
Eventually both he and Jenna realize Rue has disappeared. They notice a crowd of people by the pool and in the pool.
So most pool injuries are neck/head injuries caused by people diving in the shallow end. Lifeguards never grab around the waist. Now I’ll give you that Jack isn’t a lifeguard, but in a pool when you’re trying to save someone time does not disappear. It speeds up. Everything becomes hyper intense. And the water doesn’t fight you. Not in a pool. In a river, yes. An ocean, hell yes. Even lakes are problematic. Pools are easy.
The biggest problem with pools is that if someone is drowning you often get more unwanted help from people who because they’ve seen an episode of Baywatch think they know what they’re doing… but that’s another story.
Where’s the checking for a pulse? Also again… head injury.
I know Jack probably hasn’t had CPR training since High School but FFS the first thing you do is call for help and get professionals involved. The second is you check for a pulse. Oh and in 2010, CPR changed. Chest compressions were deemed more important than rescue breathing. And in a drowning victim, the chest compressions will often force the water out of the lungs.
We continue with CPR…
Rue will just end up bruised and maybe with a broken rib. And not the kind real CPR gives.
Through divine intervention and not Jack’s shoddy CPR techniques, Rue awakens and starts expelling pool water.
Is it sad that I have no faith that even the few things done right will get screwed up in the end?
Sadly, I’d rather watch The Room again… at least then I could count the spoons.
We switch heads to Alec and get some fun stereotyping.
Nitpick, I know. But at this point arguing with the book was my only joy.
So fun fact, drowning seriously fucks you up. And chlorinated water is even worse. You’ve still got creepy-crawlies, but you’ve also got chlorine. Which if you know your World War I history doesn’t mix well with human lungs. Pretty much everyone who actually drowns and is then resuscitated suffers from some form of pneumonia. It’s just a thing. Oh and people who have CPR performed on them have broken ribs. That is also just a thing. This doesn’t take into account potential brain damage from lack of oxygen, kidney damage, or other organ failure. Let me say it again. Drowning is not a fun way to go.
Also, why are they doing an MRI? It should be a CAT Scan. Also, chest x-rays for broken ribs. Maybe an ultrasound. I’m not a medical expert, this is actually something I don’t know much about, but I was in a car accident and one of the things they did was check my lungs to see if they were messed up.
If you can’t tell my suspension of disbelief has snapped completely and I’m just done.
Rue checks herself out of the hospital and then the shit hits the fan. Alec finds out about Jack’s plans and is pissed.
As much as I hate Jack, save the punching for Nazis. Also Alec, you are not lily-white in this whole thing.
A fact that finally comes to light.
Rue gets pissed and storms off. (Thankfully not into a pool.)
Alec gets pissed and storms off.
And basically everyone is pissed at Jack. Including Sean who has disappeared for a time.
The next morning Alec, Jenna, and Rue check out of the hotel. But not before there is a cursory acknowledgement that Rue almost died.
I wasn’t lying when I said in my first post that I was reduced to screaming “This is not how this works!”
I really was.
Anyway, Alec pays for Rue’s room and she’s now all like “He really cares about me!” or maybe he feels guilty. Or who the fuck knows. All I know is that we’re not even at the 75% mark and I am dreading what happens next.
This post is starting to get out of hand so I’ll cut it off here.
Let’s just say that while the shit has hit the fan, the bullshit is still coming.
Thank the gods cockygate is over. Although apparently she’s not convinced she did anything wrong. And she sees herself as the victim…