I know it’s not Divergent day on BBGT, but I (finally) saw the new Hunger Games movie over the weekend (meh) and, because even your self-imposed work never escapes you, there was a trailer for Insurgent. AKA the other book we’re reading right now. Check out the trailer and see how much of it actually looks like a scene that came from the entire first half of Insurgent we’ve read so far. Because I counted, uh, one.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen people look less interested in being in a movie.
With Cara and Trenton together at last, the two settle into their disgusting new normal of licking each other at work.
With one ear against the phone, and the other ear being kissed and licked quietly by Trenton, I tried to schedule a three-thirty [appointment].
Don’t forget Trenton is still holding out on sex until they have a proper date, which is significant because he’s the man, except it’s mostly not, because this is still Beautiful Oblivion.
I smiled, dubious. “I don’t know why you have these strange rules. We could break them ten feet away in your room.”
Trenton hummed. “Oh. We will.”
Something not about how adorable and in-love Cami and Trenton are happens, thankfully. They discuss a new tattoo Cami wants, and the novel’s issues with retconning stop applying to just this novel, somehow.
Trenton thought for a moment. “The poppies?” […]
“They’re pretty, and they’re significant.”
“You’ve said that. But you haven’t told me why they’re significant.”
“The Wizard of Oz. They make you forget.”
I’m no Wizard of Oz expert or anything, but wasn’t the point of the poppies that they put you to sleep, not that they made you forget? It’s pretty much universally agreed that the poppies represented opium, so I guess that’ll fuck you up whichever way you please, but the movie never uses the word “forget” or “forgot” anywhere near the poppies scene, and the original book only says “Her eyes closed in spite of herself and she forgot where she was and fell among the poppies, fast asleep.”, which, again, makes the poppies sound more symbolic of ignoring problems rather than forgetting them (which would be in line with the narcotic undertones). Given that this is the Beautiful series’ second heavy-handed Wizard of Oz reference (lest you forget that plot puppy’s real name is Toto, which is more so BBGT’s fault, admittedly), you’d think the series would maybe get the details of those books right?
Furthermore, since when has the theme of forgetting been part of Cami’s character? We’ve never seen any indication that a significant element of her character is the desire to forget something from her past. Stranger yet, doesn’t this sound more like Trenton? I bet with the drunk driving accident that caused the death of a girl he loved, this would be way more relevant to him. Why is it relevant to Cami?
Not to keep going on and on about this one stupid scene, but isn’t the fact that the book just tried to do the same thing twice but didn’t make any sense the second time sort of representative of Beautiful Oblivion as a whole?
Anyway, Cami then gets this tattoo, courtesy of a surprisingly poetic scene where Cami remarks on how “Trenton tattooing my skin was so extraordinarily intimate”. Which is then interrupted by everyone’s favorite Not About Sexism, Actually,
It’s About Ethics In Gaming Journalism He’s Just An Asshole tattoo parlor boss, Calvin! He barges in on the tattooing, complains about them not cleaning instead while the store is slow, and when Trenton points out that Cami isn’t completely dressed to get this tattoo and he shouldn’t barge in, Calvin dismisses it with “She ain’t got anything I haven’t seen before”. It’s funny because respecting women is a hoot.
We also get our arbitrary joke about Bishop (who has yet to appear once in the novel) still not having shown up to work, thus continuing Bishop’s reign as my favorite character.
“Calvin doesn’t love anyone,” Hazel said. “He’s married to this shop.”
Trenton narrowed his eyes. “What about Bishop? I’m pretty sure he loves Bishop.”
Hazel rolled her eyes. “You’ll need to let that go.”
Man, even when trying to bring him into the story, he stubbornly refuses to give enough of a fuck to even be in the book. Keep on keepin’ on, Bishop.
Cami’s brother Clark (your guess is as good as mine which one he is) texts Cami about family lunch, which Cami informs him she plans to skip because their dad’s still angry about the last family gathering.
Hazel then talks Cami into getting a nose piercing, which Cami agrees to because, and I quote:
I thought for a moment, and then looked at Hazel. “I’m bored, too.”
Now, I’m not really into body modification in general, so I’m not going to tear apart how stupid an impulse piercing may or may not be. Especially when we have this way stupider continuity error about whether Cami has a stud or a nose ring to make fun of:
- Page 206: “Oh, c’mon ! We’ll do a really tiny diamond. It’ll be ladylike, but fierce.”
- ALSO ON PAGE 206: I would have never thought to get a nose ring, but I loved it.
Suddenly, things get real.
I narrowed my eyes. “When was the last time you were in a relationship?”
The look on Trenton’s face was one I couldn’t quite read. “A few years. […] Contrary to popular belief, I am capable of being a one-woman man. Just has to be the right woman.”
My mouth pulled to the side in a half-smile. “Why didn’t I know about this? Seems like the whole campus would have been talking about it.”
“Because it was new.”
I thought for a moment, and then my eyes widened. “Was it Mackenzie?”
“For about forty-eight hours,” Trenton said.
This sad revelation is appropriately followed up with Cami reflecting on it for no more than zero words, and her instead immediately going to work at the bar to celebrate that minor characters Hank and Jorie are moving in together. Wait, I wrote “appropriately”. Sorry, that didn’t make any sense, just like writing an emotional scene like this and then having the characters literally not react to it.
Also in Minor Characters’ Subplots Land (the least popular park at Disney World), Raegan confides to Cami that things with Brazil – a boy she was once involved with in the past but things ended because he isn’t spending time with her – may be ending because he isn’t spending time with her. Man, the entirely off-camera twists and turns in this subplot just keep coming!
“Brazil’s getting busy. He’s made it pretty clear that he’d rather be with his frat brothers and at football parties than with me. He had that Abby chick’s birthday party at his apartment last month and didn’t even invite me.”
Kinda have to admire how McGuire solved the continuity problem of Raegan not existing in the first novel by having her subplot barely exist in the novel she’s introduced in anyway.
Raegan’s other ex, Kody (not to be confused with Coby), shows up and tells her that he can tell that she’s hurt about something, and all that he cares about is that she’s happy, and they hug. You know how one thing I rather frequently criticize on this blog is when a novel breaks the “show, don’t tell” rule of writing, and tells the reader exactly what to think or what to feel? It’s even worse when the character explaining the book to you is Blia.
“Cheesus Crust, does this mean they’re back together?” Blia asked.
Speaking of subtlety, the book continues its driving in bad weather motif as Trenton asks Cami to be careful driving to pick him up from Skin Deep because the weather’s getting bad, because maybe the reader hasn’t heard of a Chekhov’s Gun before.
On the other end of the effective foreshadowing spectrum:
“Can I ask you for a favor, though?” Trenton nodded, waiting for my request. “Don’t say anything to your brothers about us just yet. I know Thomas, Taylor, and Tyler aren’t in town much, but I’m not really ready to have the talk with Travis the next time he comes in to the Red. He knows about T.J. It’s just…”
Just remember this for later, when we finish the novel and immediately call bullshit on Cami’s Secret making no rational sense.
When they get back to Cami’s apartment, her dad shows up, angry and drunk.
“I am sick of your shit, Camille! You think I don’t know what you’re up to? You think I don’t see the disrespect?”
Trenton was immediately next to me, his arm between my dad and me, his hand on Dad’s chest. “Mr. Camlin, you need to step away. Right now.” […]
“Who the hell do you think you are? This is personal business, so you can get the fuck out!”
Now, it’s not really a fair criticism to say that nothing that Cami’s dad says makes sense, because he’s a drunk, delusional person. That’s fine. And it’s the only thing that can’t be criticized about this scene.
Trenton frowned and lowered his chin, with the same look in his eyes he had right before he attacked an enemy. “I don’t want to fight you, sir, but if you don’t leave, right now, I’m going to make you leave.”
Dad lunged at Trenton, and they crashed into the end table next to the couch. […] Trenton slung Dad to the ground and pointed down as he stood over him. “Stay! The fuck! Down!”
Dad was breathing hard, but he stumbled to his feet, obstinate. His body weaved when he spoke. “I’m going to fuckin’ kill you. And then I’m going to teach her what happens when she disrespects me.”
So quick I nearly missed it, Trenton reared back and sent his fist into my father’s nose. Blood exploded as Dad stumbled back, and then fell forward, hitting the ground so hard he bounced. It was quiet and very still for several seconds. Dad didn’t move, he just lay there, facedown.
A couple months ago I read a criticism of the new wave of post-Twilight/Fifty Shades/etc romance for portraying “true love” as something worth a woman tolerating everything the man does short of physical abuse. But what does it say when Jamie McGuire’s books justify all this cavalier violence towards others on behalf of love?
I think this next sentence speaks for itself.
I was afraid [my dad] was dead, not because I’d miss him, but for the trouble Trenton would be in if he’d killed him.
This is a real sentence that appeared in a real book. Cami’s boyfriend might have killed her father, and she explicitly states that she doesn’t care if her father was just killed, but whether Trenton will be in trouble.
But not legal trouble. God, no. Something much worse.
When my brothers found out about this, it would be war.
Because this chapter couldn’t just end without also throwing in a reminder that Cami’s brothers’ motivations make zero sense either.
Question of the day: If you had to choose, which would you rather be? Raegan’s roommate, Raegan and Kody’s coworkers, or Blia’s coworker? I know being Calvin’s employee would obviously be the worst, so I’m not going to bother asking.