Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ruffling Some Feathers (non-turkey)

A couple months ago now I came by this comment: "Yeah, that's how I felt about Outlander. It was alright but I didn't see what the big deal was." I thought: Hey, I like books! I like fantasy! I like romance! Why haven't I heard about this big deal? So out I went to find this "Outlander" book. Within this same time frame I came across another "big deal" that I had heard of before: The Twilight Saga. I have cheerily avoided these books and movies and not so cheerily wondered at why such a story garners such admiration but whatever, people will read what they will read. Then one surprise led to another and I found myself roped into being in the same room with a DVD player playing New Moon. So here I am to report back my experience with these pop culture phenoms.

(Sorry, folks, no summaries. If you have not heard of these things then you'll quickly see that I don't recommend bringing them into your home. If you have heard of them then you need no recaps from me.:)


The Heroine - It was absolutely impossible for me to get on board with an individual who could be so disloyal to a significant other. I'm not saying I minded that she fell for another guy but the idea that she would allow her present-day husband to never get to know what happened to her was too cruel. Can you imagine what you would imagine if your significant other disappeared? So the whole time I was reading, that was all I was thinking about. I could never enjoy her because the whole time I was wondering what kind of selfish, low-life does such a thing?

The Hero - does not exist. Seriously! This is not just a fiction vs. non-fiction issue. This is a does not exist issue. Jamie is not human. There is no human that would be as Jamie is. Not in any time period and probably not from a mix of time periods. Plus, he has red hair. For some reason I just can't handle heroes with red hair. Normally this is not a problem as I am a master of mental editing and I just change it. But when it is reiterated every other damn page one eventually gives up and then begins to imagine Jamie as one giant flaming head of hair with a pre-trained penis. This is, I suppose, not really a problem because, just as cognitive hair - red or otherwise - does not exist, neither does he.

The story - is serviceable if not exactly scintillating. Poss the scintillation factor could have been increased if twice as many words as necessary had not be used to tell the story.

The Baddie is a non-heterosexual* character???? Really??? That's what we're doing? Wouldn't it have been faster to have him kill a puppy in his first scene? I mean, if we're going for cheap and easy ways to establish villains could we not use one that is free of prejudice?

*I settled on non-heterosexual rather than bisexual because I couldn't quite determine his gender preference. He was so often overcome with the urge to express himself via rape that it didn't seem to matter who supplied the orifice.


This book is the first of a series and Beth has a few posts that are hilarious re the series. Click here for the first and check out her sidebar for the others. Also, she likes Outlander so you can get an alternative perspective on this book.

Also, click here for a more detailed (and more awesome and more funny) review of Outlander. (hat tip: jmc)

New Moon:

The Heroine - is in some kind of contest to be the least interesting person alive. It's never detailed in the movie but it's pretty obvious. Also, she is so successful in this endeavor that she manages to make everyone around her completely uninteresting.

The Hero - sparkles. Like glitter. No, really, this is not a joke. I had heard so many "sparkly vampire" jokes re the series that I thought it was some sort of jokey hater thing and I was so impressed with the movie for having a sense of humor but then it's real. He sparkles. It's like his epidermis has been infested with glitter and the glitter is triggered to exit forcefully by sunlight. And it's real. I'm supposed to take it seriously.
Also, he's ugly.

The Story - It's hard to comment as I don't really even know what it was. Most of the movie was a high school* couple breaks up, one partner goes away and then gets all suicidey due to misinformation so the partner who stayed must fetch the misinformed one before he uses the power of his sunlight-controlled glitter to effect his demise. There were some werewolves** and other vampires but they came and went at the convenience of the plot, motivations lightly explored if at all.

Also, I think the screenwriter hates women. There was only one positively depicted female in the movie. The "heroine" defines herself in relation to the male characters and her girlfriends are protrayed dismissively. Ew.

* one "high schooler" is actually a 100+ yo vampire. What kind of loser can't find anything better to do than go to HS after being alive for over 100 years? Ok, fine, maybe it's a phase, but you honestly can't think it's a good idea!

**The makers of this movie ought to be ashamed and run out of town for unethical behavior. They've got this young actor so muscled up that his shoulders were permanently sloped forward completely ruining his posture. I see this in some adults much later in life as a natural aging effect but holy shitballs, people, this should not be allowed in a developing young person. Ugh!

So The Twilight Saga appears to be a romance centered around the Your Love is SO GREAT That Nothing Else Matters and I Can't Possibly Control Myself variety of love. As a reader of romance this is not my first encounter with the above. This storyline has never appealed to me and I always wonder why it does appeal to some. Is not maintaining control in the face of over-whelming emotions more impressive? Is not maintaining normal function as a human being in the face of great sadness, depression, or challenges more impressive? Well, it is to me, so to Those Who Would Devote Their Existence to Obtaining My Love, it is advised:

Retain your usefulness to society no matter how much your heart is breaking - it is certainly the more heroic thing to do.

Do not become so overwhelmed by emotion that you scream at me, throw things, shove me around or creepily stare through windows (or whatever) as those are certainly non-heroic things to do.

Do not tell me what is good for me or arrange matters in my life for my own good because you love me so much. This undermines my very existence (the existence you say makes yours meaningful), is insulting, and just plain rude. And decidedly non-heroic.

Do not take crazy risks with your life. Either have the courage of your convictions and do yourself in or (more preferably) see item the first.

There are more but since there really isn't a Those Who Would Devote Their Existence to Obtaining My Love group out there and I am ready to return to college football I will sign off.

Outlander 2 of 5 stars
New Moon 1 of 5 stars


  1. Fine reviews, Rachel. Though, I can't say I was about to go on a Twilight Saga reading/viewing spree ;-). Thanks for this.

  2. Thank you for affirming my decision not to read or watch the Twilight series. Although I may have to find a trailer to see the glitter skin, that's weird.

  3. lp13 - Can't say as I'm surprised to hear you weren't itching for a Twilight Saga marathon. :) I just hope your Fierce One (and her brother) never gets it into her head to try them out. What a dilemma for parents! I can't quite bring myself to approve of refusing particular reading material but I would be so bummed if I had kids who wanted to read these. I suppose I would have to read them myself (gah! gah! my eyes are bleeding just thinking about it) and then try to have some useful learning moments from all the awfulness. I heard of one parent who would not allow her children to read Harry Potter cuz "magick iz bad" but the Twilight books were ok. Hunh??????????

    Hey Mags - happy to take one for the team. I think youtube has tons of clips so you can definitely enjoy the glitter insanity. Seriously, I could not believe it was supposed to be real! So yuck!

  4. Well, you certainly raised some Outlander points I hadn't really thought of. Why? 1. I adore red hair, on anyone - women, men, kids, animals... 2. I had more trouble with the matter-of-factness with which Jamie on one occasion IIRC spanked Claire as a form of discipline after telling her he would do so if she did something, and she did it anyway. His complete confidence that he was being calm and rational about the need to discipline her like that was, of course, completely historically accurate, but so didn't go along with the modern sensibility vibe he gave off the rest if the time it was jarring. 3. To me, the villain's sadism was more immediate than the fact that he included men in his sexual partner repertoire, so that aspect didn't raise my hackles. But I think a lot of readers felt similarly to you, which may explain why the author made the hero of her subsequent mystery series a gay character with many more positive qualities.

    Regarding Twilight -
    *sigh* I am the poster child of your worst case personal reading scenario in that I felt compelled to read Book 1 in the series because my son did and I wanted to be able to talk to him about it. As an aspiring writer, my reaction was "It takes her 500 pages to say it rains a lot in Washington." As a parent, I was dismayed by many of the points you raised, but especially by the 'heroine' (a very misleading word for the apathetic, anemic creature involved) interpreting physically forceful/stalker behavior on the sparkle vampire's part (he thinks she shoudn't go somewhere and drags her down a sidewalk by her clothing so fast she stumbles along sideways; he repeatedly breaks into her house at night to watch her sleeping) as love.

    NOT what I want my son to learn.

    I was totally on board with the Harry Potter juggernaut. I am totally perplexed by the Twilight phenom and impatient for it to ebb.

  5. M - Did you recognize the phrase about Outlander?? It was YOU who said that. :) I realize that my red hair point isn't exactly valid. hehe That's obviously a personal thing (and irrelevant to a story) but the fact remains that the author mentions the hair color too much. Sheesh! I get it already! I thought the same of the spanking scene; I remember thinking, Finally! Something that I believe would actually happen. But he wasn't written for historical accuracy so the scene pretty much lost all validity/interestingness for me.

    So you have read Twilight? I applaud you for supporting book choice freedom and stepping up as a parent to participate in the story with your son. I would love to hear what he thought. Truth be told (and why not? am I here to lie?:) I don't know anyone under 20 who has read it. Or if I do it hasn't come up. Sparkle Vampire isn't nearly so over-bearing in that movie and he still drove me mad. I can't imagine how nuts I would have gone with worse occurring in the book.