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Feminist Killjoy. Badly Behaving Bookliker. Writer and reader of all things speculative. 

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Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush Saga)

Hush, Hush  - Becca Fitzpatrick I've been thinking about what I wanted to say in this review for a while now. The thing is, I don't want to sound like an apologist, because I fully acknowledge that this is a bad book with more issues than Time magazine. I just don't quite think its the Antichrist in book form, as some people do. And I certainly don't think it's worse than--or even as bad as--Twilight. Happily, I can explain myself. I think.In essence, I actually think Hush, Hush is an interesting idea. A fallen angel who plots to murder a girl in hopes of turning human, but ends up falling in love with her instead? Could have been a lovely bad boy redemption story. Instead it's creepy and upsetting and brimming with rape culture. What went wrong? As someone who loves writing bad boy redemption stories, it was easy to see how, why, and where Fitzpatrick fell on her face. To begin with, she clearly doesn't know the first rule of the bad boy: The bad boy is dangerous--but NEVER to the heroine.* This is common for YA paranormal authors, it seems, and I'm really left boggled. Where does this idea of stalker = sexy bad boy come from, anyway? Haven't these women ever seen Dirty Dancing? Don't they know that nobody puts Baby in the corner!?See, it's simple: If the heroine feels like the bad boy is a danger to her, logically she cannot redeem him. The reason a girl tries to redeem a bad boy is because she sees the side of him that no one else is allowed to see. If she's busy being terrified that he's going to rape and/or murder her, that can't happen. Only Becca Fitzpatrick seems to think it can. As a result, we see nothing of a) what actually makes Nora believe Patch is redeemable and b) why Patch decides not to kill Nora after all. You can't write a bloody bad boy redemption story without the friggin' redemption, lady! Fitzpatrick substitutes Insta-love for actual character and relationship development, and makes matters worse by making Patch someone Nora is scared of. She doesn't even give us the benefit of Patch trying to protect Nora from the other dangers that are threatening her; instead, Patch is completely oblivious to them!No, no, no! That's not how it's supposed to go. This is how Hush, Hush should have gone: Patch plots to get close to Nora, in order to kill her and become human (I know that last part doesn't actually make any fugging sense, but bear with me; I'm trying to stay within the bounds of the book's "mythology"). Nora, being a tough-minded 21st century girl, tells Patch exactly where he can stick his smarmy stalkeriffic attitude and goes about her business. Intrigued by her immunity to his smexy smoldering angel charm (*gag* thinking about the actual Patch that way makes me want to barf), Patch finds himself unable to kill her when the time comes. Instead, he spends more time with her, and her fiery spirit and street-smart attitude draws out the better part of his nature (I know thinking of Nora as fiery and street-smart is a bit like thinking of Quasimodo as a GQ model, but I really need you guys to stretch your imagination here for me). Nora begins to suspect that Patch isn't quite human, and when something starts threatening her, she grills Patch for answers. Patch, alerted to the danger, works to protect Nora--not because she's a pathetic weakling, but because she's a human up against inhuman forces she can't hope to combat on her own. With Patch's angelic powers and Nora's smarts (*snicker*) they work together to defeat the bad guy, and Nora decides that maybe Patch isn't so bad after all.There is no cornering in dark tunnels and pinning against walls! There is never a time when Nora truly feels like Patch will hurt her, and for Patch, there's never a time where he can go through with his plan. If it's a series, there is absolutely no love or romance in the first book--nothing more than, at most, growing mutual respect. Patch has to do far more to prove he's worth redeeming before there can be love. (And yes, it has to be Patch's effort in the end. The onus should never actually be on the heroine.) And there you go. Bad boy redemption story, minus most of the ickyness. And no, that biology class? So does not get to happen. Nor that creepy inhabiting a host's body for two weeks and doing whatever with it. Those absolutely have to go. It's not a difficult story to write and in the right hands, it could've worked. The problem, as I see it, is that Becca Fitzpatrick seems to have convinced herself that the above is precisely what she did. Now, you and I know that's completely ludicrous, but for Fitzpatrick, it's like Patch has worked his Jedi Mind Trick on her. She sees a bad boy redemption story, starring tortured but actually really good-hearted Patch and kind, smart, intriguing Nora. Less LSD, lady. If I ever actually find that part of the book, I'll let you know, but I have the most horrible suspicion that if it ever did exist, it's now sitting on her publisher's cutting room floor. Le shiver. In short: The problem with Hush, Hush is that Becca Fitzpatrick completely failed to execute, well, everything. Now, as to why I think it's not as bad as Twilight...well, let me break it down for you.Patch vs Edward:For me, Fitzpatrick's biggest failure with Patch aside from his atrocious name is that he's supposed to be a fallen angel, and yet there's nothing otherworldly or alien about him. In order to accept the story as a whole the reader needs to be able to accept that Patch isn't human and doesn't quite think like one. And that can be done, if an author has the talent. Fitzpatrick does not (cf Diana Rowland's Kara Gillian series for an author who does have the required skill). How am I supposed to accept that Patch is anything but a creeper when he's written like a creepy teenage boy? I can't. So right there is a huge flub, something of an epic writerly face-plant. But what makes Patch less creepy than Edward? Well, some of it is simply that I've only read one Hush, Hush book as opposed to most of Twilight, so it's possible some of it is simply a lack of material to work with. There's also the fact that Patch is kinda MIA for like, most of the book. He wasn't even the one sneaking into Nora's bedroom and doing all the other creepy stuff that kept happening to her. He just wasn't there. As stalkers go, he's actually kinda lazy. But towards the end of the book, there's a scene where Nora finds out Patch's plan by accidentally touching his wing scars and getting sucked into his memories (no, this is never going to start making sense). He tries to convince her that he's changed and blah blah blah, all while being incredibly violent and gross, and Nora refuses to believe him. She tells him if he's really telling the truth, he should let her touch his scars again. It's clear from what Nora sees that Patch can't control what memories she witnesses, but he lets her do it anyway. He relinquishes control of the situation. Edward never relinquishes control. Never. Not once. Even when it seems like he does, he's merely changing what he controls, not that he controls. He chooses Bella's car, he chooses their honeymoon destination, where they're going to live--she has no say in any of it. He just does it. He would have gotten his way about the baby if Rosalie hadn't been there, and even though he doesn't get his way, he still controls the situation as much as possible, trying to take away Bella's choices the entire time. FFS, he removes her engine from her car to keep her from going to see her best friend. And when she insists she wants to be turned into a vampire, he makes damn certain she marries him first. Meyer even uses the word "triumphant" to describe his expression. Control, control, control. Less LDS, lady. Maybe it's just my nature, but I find that creepier than Patch "Oh, right, I'm supposed to be stalking this girl, forgot for a moment there" Cipriano. Which is not to say that Patch isn't creepy. Edward's just creepier. With Patch there is, I guess, the possibility he could change his ways. Since Fitzpatrick is at the helm, I think there's a snowball's chance in hell of that happening, but theoretically it's possible. Nora vs Bella:The biggest problem with Hush, Hush is Nora. I'm not trying to sound victim-blaming here, either. Nora isn't a victim; she's not even a person. She's a character, or more aptly a caricature, and that's why she's the problem. It's like Fitzpatrick went to Stephenie Meyer's School for Writing Shrinking Violets. Nora is yet another stereotypical weak, spineless, can't-do-anything-for-herself female character. She's what girls are often taught they're supposed to be: Too nice to tell that creepy guy to shove off. Imagine how much different the book would have been if Nora had told Patch to shape up or GTFO.The idea of making her both terrified of him and attracted to him is repugnant. In real life, guys who scare you aren't attractive, no matter what they look like, and this book plays into the disgusting idea some people have that a woman doesn't mind being stalked or forced as long as the guy is good-looking enough. Nora embodies this misogynistic attitude. Girls, don't ever let anyone tell you you're supposed to be scared, polite little dewdrops. Becca Fitzpatrick is just a woman who writes shitty YA paranormal books; don't listen to her.On the other hand, I still prefer Nora over Bella, and not even because she actually kind of makes an attempt to use her brain this one time at the very end of the book (I know, but it's there, blink and you miss it). Nora actually does admit, on more than one occasion, that there's something very wrong with her attraction to Patch. She acknowledges that she shouldn't feel the way she does, that it's completely messed up. In fact, if her problem was only that she had bad taste in guys, I wouldn't hold it against her--considering my track record with ex-boyfriends and all. Being a teenage girl who makes stupid choices about what guys to like is hardly a crime, and I think it's really judgmental to hate her for it. But unfortunately, she's still a stereotype, and that's a problem.But not as big a problem as Bella. Because you see, Bella doesn't acknowledge that there is something wrong with her attraction to Edward or the way he treats her. She doesn't even think that something is wrong. She sees no problems with his behavior at all; it's completely normalized and romanticized. She's never afraid of what he does, she never questions any of it, not even him watching her sleep or removing the engine from her car so she can't go see Jacob's rather nice abs. The most she ever gets is mildly peeved, and that happens almost never. In more talented hands, Nora's struggle with her attraction to Patch could have at least been interesting. No one on the planet could ever make Bella's worship of Edward less horrifying. Hush, Hush vs Twilight: I wouldn't say I liked Hush, Hush, because I'd think by now it should be clear that I didn't. I still didn't hate it as much as Twilight, and the above reasons aren't the only ones. There's also the fact that, unlike Twilight, Hush, Hush has a plot. Is it a very good or interesting plot? Not really. Is it well-written? No. But it's at least there. No matter how much I might dislike the book, if I step back and look at it objectively, I have to admit that there's conflict--outside of Patch and Nora's relationship--from early on in the book until the end. Twilight carries on plotless and conflict free for three-fourths of the book, until Meyer suddenly goes "Oh, shit, that's right. Something's supposed to happen." As well, there are a few moments in Hush, Hush that were genuinely creepy, namely the times when Chauncy makes Nora see things that haven't actually happened. Those are actually worthy of being dubbed horror, unlike with Twilight, where the only scene that evokes true horror is the one where you find out that people weren't kidding about that whole sparkling thing.**On the other hand, neither writer can be arsed to do a scrap of research, and both of them write idiotic shrinking violet heroines, so on that level at least, they're about even. Both play about equally into misogyny and rape culture as well, though not always in the exact same way. And both books made me angry at multiple points, but in the end left me feeling mostly weary. In conclusion, I'd have to say that over all, I hate Hush, Hush less than Twilight. But that's a bit like saying that a porcupine is cuddlier than a Saguaro cactus. I suppose it might be true. Certainly a porcupine is cuter than a Saguaro cactus. But in the end, you should probably just stay the hell away from both of them. *Technically, attributes like arrogant or self-confident can replace dangerous.**Okay, that's kind of a lie. The vampire monster baby birth scene is actually impressively horrific and made me wonder if Meyer missed her true calling plotting gore for Stephen King films.