Well, I’m back, and my apologies for the delay! Moving on; Chapter 19 has Jessica and Marc arguing with the vampires (Sinclair, Tina, and Dennis) that they should get to come along for “Vampire 101.” It is revealed that Jessica apparently has an IQ of 142, just a fun fact for ya. Anyway, Sinclair uses his “vampire mojo” to make them both pass out right there, so they fall on the floor and no one does anything to help them or make them more comfortable. Friendship!
He then picks up the also-dozed-off Nick and unceremoniously shoves him into the trunk of the Jaguar, apparently also angry and offended at the whole assault of Tina any one of them probably could have prevented, and Tina and Dennis take off in his other car, a red Maserati.
Meanwhile Sinclair’s knees were up to his ears and he looked decidedly aggrieved as he fumbled for the seat latch. “You have completely destroyed my interior,” he complained, fussing with the rearview mirror. “You look tall but apparently you have legs like a platypus.”
“Jeez, whine some more. Sue me for wanting to reach the pedals.”
He started the engine and jerked in his seat as Rob Zombie’s “Living Dead Girl” blared through the speakers. “This is intolerable!”
I quoted that seemingly innocuous segment because I wanted to point out that Betsy is always described as six feet tall with apparently very long legs. Sinclair is apparently 6’4”. So, like…if she’s only four inches shorter than him and has legs for days, how the f does that work? Just a dumb joke, yeah yeah, but continuity is important!
Also, this will not be the last time she references “Living Dead Girl.” Not by half. It becomes her ringtone, it’s about the only song she directly names, and omg isn’t that soooo funny because, like, omg she is a living dead girl, and she’s listening to “Living Dead Girl”! LOLOLOLOLOh shut up.
Oh, and, of course Sinclair whines about his presets, which she apparently changed despite listening to a
CD, and puts on “serene string quartet music,” because again, MJD sure loves to bust those stereotypes oh wait, no. No she does not.
Sinclair somehow knows where Nick lives, and after going inside and hypnotizing him and whatever, Tina and Dennis take off, leaving them alone. Why they bothered coming along to Nick’s, I have no idea. But we get a chapter asterisk break, and return to Vamp 101 already in progress!
“Vampires don’t exist.”
I blinked. “Er…sorry, wasn’t listening. Did you just say we don’t exist?”
“Pay attention. We are myth, legend, folklore.”
“Like the Tooth Fairy,” I suggested, “with fangs.”
“No, no, not remotely like that, because children believe in the Tooth Fairy.”
“I was never a child,” he said soberly. “Now. Because we don’t exist, we are allowed to operate at a level unparalleled anywhere else in the natural world. This is vital, as we–”
“Whoa, whoa. Back up, slick. Never a child?”
Anyway, Sinclair makes an extraordinarily dumb declaration, and of course that sidetracks Betsy. He claims that he had to learn how to put food on the table before he learned the alphabet; he could not use a gun effectively, but he learned how to set traps and fish. He tells her that his parents were farmers.
“Farming,” he went on as if I wasn’t still stammering, “is back-breaking work. Even in this century.”
“How d’you know what it’s like in this century?”
“I own several local farms.”
“Oh. How come? I mean, it seems to me like you’d want to get away from it altogether, and–”
“After my parents were killed I couldn’t–I did not have the financial resources to–I just wanted to have the farms, and never mind the why of it! Now, back to business. Since vampires don’t exist, we are allowed to certain freedoms. But access to those freedoms depends entirely on–”
“But we do exist,” I interrupted. I could take a hint–Sinclair was as rattled as I’d ever seen him (which would make more sense if she hadn’t just met him, but y’know, logic be damned), talking about owning farms for goodness sake. So he wanted to get off the subject–I was hip to that. But not if he was going to babble a bunch of fantasy. “Hello? We’re walking in the woods, aren’t we? Just as undead as hell, right?”
Anyway, they go on and on, Betsy completely unable to understand that he’s not being literal about the whole not existing thing, because she’s a total idiot. He explains that they don’t reveal themselves; they don’t seek out their friends, parents, coworkers, return to their jobs or houses or do any of the things Betsy has already done and thus made this dialogue entirely irrelevant to her anyway (can’t exactly put that cat back in the bag, y’know?), and Betsy surmises that is the reason why vampires are total losers.
He moves on to stalking, saying that with enough practice she could even sneak up on another vampire. He asks her whether she notices a couple deer nearby, and she does:
“Let’s try to walk up on them. Try to touch the doe before she knows you’re there.”
“And give her a heart attack? Jeez, she’s a mom! Heartless creep.”
“The fawn, then,” he said impatiently.
“Scare Bambi? Sinclair, I swear, if you weren’t a vampire, you’d be burning in hell.”
Before they can continue this scintillating conversation, a park ranger approaches them and tells them that one or two deer may have “CWD,” which Sinclair helpfully tells the audience means “Chronic Wasting Disease,” and Betsy tells us that it’s like mad cow disease for deer. Thank you for that; everyone loves an entirely unnatural conversation explaining a line of dialogue the author is unsure the average reader may understand.
She whines at him that he could have caused them to get ‘mad vampire disease,’ which appalls him. He says, “The animals were just practice. And don’t ask why; you know why,” which clearly she does not. She admits as much, and asks why they don’t, as, shouldn’t drinking animal blood “be easier, not to mention less traumatic. For all of us!” To which Sinclair asks if she hasn’t noticed the effect her bite has on men, and she realizes that if she bit an animal they would probably molest her. Which is gross. Usually in vampire novels, it’s not because the bite is oh-so sensual, it just doesn’t work for some mysterious reason. I believe this is the first time in a book they’ve alluded to the bite being so automatically sensual, without the vampire’s meaning to, it would cause inadvertent bestiality. This is especially strange because later on there are vampires who subsist on animal blood, and they never again mention that the bite ought to drive them mad with lust.
So she confirms they only bite humans, and he says, “Yes. But never children,” to which she says duh and he rightfully points out that which is obvious to most seems to escape her. Which is fair. She tells him if he thinks she’s a dumbass he should come out and say it rather than “pussyfooting around,” which he interrupts to say, “I think you’re a dumbass.” Heh. He makes fun of public education, she says it was probably better than his, and then refuses to let her drive back. Oh darn.
In Chapter 20, Betsy wakes up beside Sinclair, who is laying in bed and staring at her. Creepy! He asks her how it is she wasn’t “burnt to a crisp this morning,” and instead of describing a scene while it happens we then have Betsy tell us something that happened between chapter 19’s end and chapter 20’s beginning: they got back to Sinclair’s mansion, and he paused the car for a moment waiting for some underground garage to open. She didn’t know that he was waiting, so she got out of the car into direct sunlight. He panicked and reached out to her, pulling her back into the car while his arm immediately combusted.
She even goes on for well over a page describing how her main concern at the time was wondering whether she’d ever need another haircut, or if vampires hair stays the same like it often does in stories. She thanks the heavens that she just had her roots and highlights redone before she died, and that shoulder-length hair is a pretty safe bet to remain trendy–what if she had died with stupid hair?! She goes out of her way to talk about how she’d been contemplating getting red highlights in her hair, claiming they were in, they were out, and they were in again. I’m mentioning this part because it is later made entirely clear that your body stays the same as when you died–if she cuts or dyes her hair, it goes back the next night. Even a manicure or pedicure won’t last. But this red highlight shit? She gets them done between books, and for some fuckin’ reason they stay. The rest of the time when they describe her hair, she has red highlights that she had done after she was turned, and for some fuckin’ reason these highlights, and only these highlights, remain. She does dye her hair at one point, and it does immediately go back to blonde…with red highlights. What the fuck?! Is it really so difficult to pay attention to anything in your own story?! Fuck!
Anyway, she even takes time to describe her sarcastic reaction to his concern–“Oh, right. The sun, it burns, oh the agony…oh cruel rays of zzzzzzz,” because as always she passes the f out when the sun comes up…except she apparently was in enough sunlight to burn the shit out of Sinclair already…but y’know, continuity and making any damn sense whatsoever is for nerds, I guess?!
They chat, she thinks what a gentleman he is because he apparently didn’t molest her in her sleep as far as she can tell, although she does wonder why he put her into his bed, to which he smirks and replies, “Host’s privilege,” but whatever. Her bar of standards is apparently pretty fuckin’ low if she’s surprised and touched that he didn’t rape her. If that is all it takes to make someone a gentleman and soften her heart towards them…sheesh.
Sinclair goes to shower, and Betsy goes to search for a kitchen so she can make some tea. She runs into one of the women she saw having group sex with Sinclair, the dark-skinned one.
She sized me up. You can always tell when a woman does it as opposed to a man. A woman checks your hair, your makeup job, your clothes, your shoes. If you’re bare-legged she checks to see if you’ve got alligator skin or if you are acquainted with moisturizer. Basically, she’s seeing whether you’re a player or not.
A man checks your tits, then your face. It’s annoying, but much more straightforward.
“Huh,” she said, blowing out her breath in what I assumed was disgust. That was it, just “huh” and a snort. Nice! She didn’t even know me! Usually people have two or three conversations with me before they blow me off.
She was handsome, rather than conventionally pretty, with high cheekbones (doesn’t everyone? In these books, at least), a wide forehead, strong nose, and deep-set black eyes. Blah blah blah, she’s taller than Betsy, wearing nothing but a bathrobe, and apparently desperately needs a pedicure. Betsy asks her whether she can point her in the direction of a kitchen, to which this woman has a truly bizarre overreaction, and I hope you like when I transcribe a lot of story because I kinda absolutely have to here:
Her nostrils flared. Since she had a–shall we say–heroic nose, the effect was startling. I nearly took a step back. (over a nose flare, what the fuck?) When she spoke, her voice was surprisingly deep and throaty. “Oh, so because I’m a sister I know where the kitchen is?”
“You thought because I’m a black woman in my bathrobe at eight o’clock at night, I must be kitchen help? Because you got that all wrong. For your information, I don’t know a frying pan from my own ass.”
“Er–I’m sorry to hear that?”
“I’m not the help. I’m the boss’s right-hand lady, and I know you know that shit, because I know you watched us and got your jollies.”
I was flabbergasted. I don’t think I’d ever been accused of prejudice before. I mean, everybody who know me knows Jessica’s my best friend. And anybody who knows Jessica knows she’s smarter, prettier, thinner, and richer than I am. There’s just no comparison. If anything, I tended to assume blacks (“Never African-Americans,” Jessica had schooled me. “Shit, my grandparents were from Jamaica.”) were smarter and more successful than I was. Because the ones I knew were.
Having verbally ripped me a new asshole, my nice new friend was turning away. She stopped when I spoke.
“First of all,” I said, and I was very angry, so I kept my tone light, “I thought you might know where the kitchen is because you appear to live here. Unless bathrobes are suddenly considered trendy evening wear, which I doubt, because there wasn’t a whisper of it in this month’s Vogue.”
She opened her mouth, but I plunged ahead. “Number two, watching you guys explore each other’s naughty places wasn’t my idea. Not that I care what you do with Sinclair, bur bragging about it is just gauche. I mean, like it’s an accomplishment he’s jumped your bones? I’m sure he’s got a rigorous application process,” I added sarcastically. “You have tits, so I guess you pass.”
“Don’t you talk to me like that,” she said sullenly, fingering the belt of her robe.
“Don’t you talk to me like that. I asked you a perfectly nice question and you went off. Maybe if you kept your legs closed once in a while, you could find time to brush up on your manners.”
Anyway, this causes the bathrobe woman to attempt to punch her in the face, which is super smart if she realizes Betsy is a vampire, which I believe she does. Betsy sidesteps it and knocks her back about three feet, and tells her not to start shit if she doesn’t wanna hear shit back, “and another thing. If you ever–ever–accuse me of being prejudiced again, I will knock you on your fat ass. If you’ve got a problem with someone who treated you wrong, go take it out on them.”
And like…where do I even begin with this shit? Like, clearly that whole “there was no jealousy” shit wasn’t true, although since it came from Betsy maybe she’s just bad at reading people. Or this dumb bitch (we are told in about a sentence or two her name is “Mitzi,” which is just…ugh) is more jealous of women who haven’t fucked Sinclair, which…okay, sure.
This woman, Mitzi, somehow knows Betsy saw her fucking Sinclair, and yet her first reaction is she must think she’s the help? Are you fuckin’ kidding me? Was this just a way for MJD to point out the woman with a black bff isn’t racist? By the way–I can’t be racist, my friend is black–is kind of a stereotype of people who are racist and in denial of their racism, so like…does that mean Betsy is racist?! Even a “good” stereotype like “Asians are good at math” or whatever is still harmful, so maybe the fact she thinks black people are better than her is her inadvertent racism…except that’s dumb.
Also, in this book several times it is mentioned that Jessica is prettier than Betsy, but hereafter Jessica keeps bringing up how Betsy is and always has been sooooo much prettier than her, and guys seem to only want her for her money. Even Betsy continuously thinks to herself how sucky it must be to be rich and have guys only interested in you for money–or at least having to wonder if they are (and they apparently usually are). It is said over and over by pretty much every other character, poor Jess, even before Betsy was the vampire queen it must’ve been sooo hard to grow up next to someone so much more beautiful than herself, so what the fuck? Why is this even a thing? Why is their prettiness even a fucking competition, and if it has to be, can we at least have some goddamned continuity?! Again!!
Also, it’s a little weird having a midwestern blonde writing a Mary Sue about another fabulous midwestern blonde and including a scene with an “irrationally angry black woman” stereotype played straight. Like…does she think that making Betsy “triumph” over this woman, she somehow earns some not-racist cred? I don’t even know. This scene is just stupid and really, really never needed to happen. It’s never mentioned again–“Mitzi” is never even seen again so it’s not like some begrudging oh-I-thouht-wrongly-of-you-I-am-sooo-sorry-let’s-be-friends-now-o’-non-prejudiced-queen thing, so like…why does this even exist?!
Anyway, Mitzi takes off, some other harem member comes up (described as a short blonde with a cute British accent and a pixie cut–remember during the actual foursome sex scene they were all brunette with elbow-length hair?? Oh what, did she just bleach it and chop it all off? NOPE! Just another example of shitty continuity!) laughs and says she’d been asking for it and had a real attitude problem for a while now (apparently she does think fucking Sinclair makes you hot shit) and she says a couple stupid things herself: first, Betsy stumbles over the sentence of she ‘doesn’t look like the type to enjoy being’ um, uh, um, uh, and British girl smiles and says, “A raging slut, one of his harem, his breakfast, lunch, and dinner?” and then goes on to explain, “Eric Sinclair saved me. I know I don’t look it, but he found me on the streets. I was turning tricks on my knees in back alleys. He came up with a much better solution,” apparently not seeing the irony in that she’s still being used and sing her body to survive, but whatever. Only one customer now! And shared work!!
Betsy comes up with an internal list of questions, so excited because she’s ‘never met a prostitute before!’, like how’s the money, are pimps as bad as in movies, is there a dental plan (what), can she tell a cop from a john, does she ever Do It for fun or just work work work, is pregnancy considered an on-the-job hazared by OSHA, and eventually says “Jesus” about something, and the woman (Karen) freaks out and keeps demanding Betsy say more and more god-related stuff until Dennis comes out screaming “don’t say Those Words,” in capital letters because that is something us humans can do, hear when someone means random words in capital letters or not. Karen apologizes to Betsy and says they can hear it in their heads like nails on a chalkboard wherever she is in the house, as she prays every night.
Anyway, since she’s British of course we have some dumbfuck “bags versus leaves” tea debate, and it really all goes not much of anywhere, the chapter just sort of meanders off into ending, and so does this review!
COMING UP: Reading, research, and Vamp 101 continues! Yaaaaayyyyy…..?