It’s Shark Week 2020
And I’ve got a ranty review for you about a romance novel featuring sharks.
If you missed the previous part, you can find it here: Part One.
So I’ve ranted about Grace, our heroine, which means that it’s time to tackle the really, really shitty hero. If you thought Grace was bad, wait until you meet our “hero” Alec Galloway.
I hate him.
I hate him so much that I was not rooting for him at all during the book. He’s the kind of asshole who claims to be feminist but actually is a raging misogynist with a full-blown case of toxic masculinity. (I’m looking at you Joss Whedon.)
Alec is possessive. Mansplainy. And stalkery. I mean, when we first meet him he’s staking out Grace at a conference to talk her into letting him be her filmmaker after she’s already rejected him. He doesn’t take no for an answer and weasels and wheedles his way onto her crew.
Pro-tip: If someone doesn’t respect your “no” for something non-sexual, they likely will not respect your “no” for something sexual. If you want to see how someone will behave when put on the spot, say no to them on something that doesn’t matter and see what happens. A good trick for dating is saying that a date/time/location doesn’t work and suggesting an alternative. It lets you know what to expect.
Let me give you a taste of our hero…
He feels like he needs to save the day even when help isn’t needed or, more importantly, asked for.
Seriously. Don’t touch people without their permission. And definitely don’t pick them up. Like Oh my gods.
Dude, maybe she didn’t feel like joking. She doesn’t owe you anything. For all you know, she jokes all the time with her friends (in fact, she does). Maybe you’re the problem!
Alec is ableist.
As a note, Felix is a shark. Yep… it’s one of the famous shark attacks that happen in this book.
Anyway… look at the ableism! Implying that someone is crazy, insane, having a marble knocked loose, etc. is ableist. There’s a lot of ableist language in our society and we often refer to things that are out of control, unpredictable, or unusual with terms that imply that mental illness is bad. This is why the stigma of having a mental illness is so high. Why people would rather die than get treatment. Why people view getting tested and diagnosed as problem.
Getting a diagnosis of a mental illness, if you have one, is the first step in recovery and management. People with mental illnesses are awesome. And I can guarantee you know someone with a mental illness… 1 in 4 Americans has a diagnosed mental illness… and that’s just diagnosed… there’s a high probability that the number is higher.
Gets off the soapbox… have a shark.
Back to Asshole Alec.
He’s a misogynist.
This kind of commentary is way too common in the book. It’s a fucking mess.
Worse (yes he gets worse) Alec’s also a coercive bastard on top of being sexist, ableist, and a misogynist…
Spoiler Alert… this is a one star book…
Like it could be anything else.
The problem with this is that it is something that date rapists and abusers do. It’s a guilt trip. It’s coercion. And it immediately makes the sex dubious consent at best. There are so many examples of men doing this to women who say no… which the “We can’t.” is her saying no.
A good rule of consent is to assume that anything other than an enthusiastic “Yes” is a “No.” In our society women are conditioned not to tell a man no, it’s dangerous for us. So we’ll deflect, distract, and make excuses. That is why anything other than a verbal “yes” and its variants has to be a “no.”
Yes, I am going to harp on consent here. It’s important.
The author also conflates Jealousy and possessiveness as “GOOD” emotions to have in a relationship. It isn’t and they aren’t. Jealousy and Possessiveness are signs of a lack of trust. They’re signs of objectification. They’re warning signs.
Taken to an extreme… jealousy and possessiveness are both hallmarks of domestic abuse. They’re hallmarks of stalkers. They’re hallmarks of a bad relationship. There’s a difference between wanting to be with someone and wanting to own them, mark them, brand them.
Here’s some examples from the book.
Grace is jealous. And Alec is being a dick.
Don’t worry… Alec is also a possessive ass.
Both leads constantly become jealous when a member of the opposite sex approaches them… or they think about their love interest's prior relationships. Jealousy is not an attractive trait. It is possession it is possessiveness. It’s not romantic and jealousy is something that leads to many women being killed on a regular basis.
The thing is… the author listed a whole slew of editors that she used (which note I’m not going after this book for technical errors – factual, sure – and I’m definitely hitting the book on storytelling choices but from a technical and line editing standpoint the story was solid). However, this book desperately needed a good sensitivity editor or six. Like I’ve already hit some racism, ableism, and consent issues and there’s more to come. But I think this post has gotten long enough.
Until Next time! (Continue here for Part Three!)
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