The great work begins... (ceilidh_ann) wrote,
The great work begins...

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Sparkle Project #3 - "Hush, Hush" by Becca Fitzpatrick.

So, we've come to this.

Thanks again to everyone who read part two, once again the response was a big surprise and I'm glad people are enjoying this series. Now we move from vampires to the apparent latest mythological hottie crazy, angels. Because when I think hot sexy men, I think religious figures. I'd heard a lot about this book, including a large piece entitled "YA and Rape Culture" which doesn't exactly inspire confidence. So I'd be lying if I said I went into this with an open mind but believe me, my cynicism was justified.


Cover impressions: This is undeniably a striking cover, and definitely the feature of the book that’s garnered the most attention, including several awards (quick fact: the falling angel effect was achieved using a trampoline, which is a lot more fun to think about than this book). The font is very reminiscent of the Twilight font and one of the critics’ quotes on the back is from a Twilight fan-site, so while the cover isn’t quite the copycat material of the next book in the Sparkle Project, they’ve definitely got an audience in mind.

We start off with a prologue in 15th century France where angelic goings on are afoot with a guy called Chauncey and a mysterious figure who forces him into servitude. This entire segment is written in such a clumsy manner I found myself rereading certain sentences because they were so badly worded. This doesn’t fill me with a lot of hope, and the hope I am left with quickly disappears when we get to chapter 1 and realise it’s written in 1st person. I’m having Bella flashbacks! Our narrator, Nora Grey, sits in her biology class (it’s unfair to immediately scream ‘Twilight rip off’ with all these books but come on, this is just silly) for sex education, thus establishing the main driving force of almost everything else that happens in this book. The coach in charge of this class, who talks like he works for a dating website, changes around the seating chart putting Nora next to the mysterious loner known only as Patch. Yep, our love interest’s name is Patch. Truly rolls off the tongue; I can imagine calling out his name as I ask him to come inside from the fields for a nice bone. We can tell Patch is a bad boy because he’s mysterious, has a bad boy smile and smells of cigars. Yuk. Is that supposed to be sexy in the way that rock hard glittery abs is supposed to be sexy? Their first joint assignment is to get to know each other (this entire class ends up like a sex seminar, this is the most believable part of it and that’s saying something) and we find out that Patch is a smug, slimy creep who may or may not be stalking Nora and comes pretty close to threatening her as well as asking her if she sleeps naked. What a dreamboat! Of course Nora finds him annoying but is still drawn to him in the way that all girls are drawn to men who are completely creepy and inappropriate. Sex appeal automatically makes stalking okay! I’m one chapter in and I’m close to ranting; this isn’t going to get any better so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Nora later reveals that her father was murdered (which is of absolutely no importance to Nora’s character or the plot) and her mum works most of the week out of town so she is usually alone in the house except for occasional visits from an apathetic German housekeeper called Dorothea. How convenient for the plot. For some reason, Nora decides that she hasn’t had enough of Patch’s stand up attitude and drives in the middle of the night to a club she’s never been to in order to get Patch to finish their biology assignment together. Of course, Patch is a complete dick (I’m going to be repeating this phrase or slight variations of it throughout this review) and admittedly enjoys provoking Nora who at least has enough sense (for now) to see what a jerk he is. Don’t worry, that’ll change soon. Later on, she wakes up in the middle of the night feeling a presence in the room and briefly seeing a shadowy form (cough-watching-her-sleep-cough). In biology the next day, the coach asks Nora to list what she looks for in a potential mate. This class is beyond inappropriate now. I’m waiting for the cavemen with clubs to emerge and beat these characters senseless. Coach also states that sex is for reproduction and men want good looking, healthy women to bear the babies with (because apparently gay people and those who don’t want to have kids don’t exist.) Then they discuss attraction and how to show a “potential mate” you’re interested. Seriously? My high school sex education involved a video with a cartoon couple chasing each other around the room with a feather (apparently the world’s easiest foreplay) and it certainly wasn’t a training camp for pick up artists. Go back to VH1 and Bret Michael’s bus where you belong! Patch uses Nora as an example, practically harassing and humiliating her in front of the entire class as the coach encourages it! Don’t believe me, here’s the scene, word for word:

“I study her,” Patch said. “I figure out what she’s thinking and feeling. She’s not going to come right out and tell me, which is why I have to pay attention. Does she turn her body toward mine? Does she hold my eyes, then look away? Does she bite her lip and play with her hair, the way Nora is doing right now?”

Laughter rose in the room. I dropped my hands to my legs.

“She’s game,” said Patch, bumping my leg again. Of all things, I blushed.

“Very good! Very good!” Coach said, his voice charged, smiling broadly at our attentiveness.

(Hush, Hush. Page 37.)

37 pages in and I want to throw this book against a wall, but I resist the temptation because I’m a nice girl and I respect books and the publishing industry immensely. Nora tells the coach after class that she feels uncomfortable and wants to move but coach refuses and laughs. Then he asks her to tutor Patch! Oh, she’s just a silly woman getting all hysterical over nothing; she’s probably on her period or something. It’ll pass! And despite all this, Nora is still drawn to him! Come on girl, I understand the thrill of the bad boy, although I’ve always preferred the quiet, sarcastic nerd type, but there’s a difference between bad boy and complete fucking creep! If this guy didn’t look hot and was saying all this, she would have called the police by now. Vee, her chunky and obnoxious best friend who exists solely to be annoying and discuss sex and food, isn’t much help and seems to be goading Nora into admitting she has a crush on Patch. Solidarity between friends and all that. Someone tries to attack Nora while she’s in Vee’s car, although Vee cares more about the car itself, but later on the car seems fine and Nora is having trouble recalling what happened. I’m guessing this is Fitzpatrick’s attempt to add mystique to the story but it’s not working, I’m still bored and pissed off.

Desperate to discover more about the mysterious Patch, Nora decides to do some sleuthing but all a fake bomb threat phone call and some breaking into the school’s private medical files gets her is a surname, Cipriano. Nora and Vee visit a Mexican restaurant where Patch happens to work and he is his usual charming, dickish self, calling her Angel (ooh, I wonder where the story is going?) before running his finger across her lips in a way I’m sure would be considered charming if it was consensual and coming from anyone other than this fucker. In gym the next day, Nora becomes acquainted with Elliot, a non jerky (at first) new guy who actually talks to her like a human being and not prey. But who cares about that when Patch is watching/stalking her and possibly inserting his voice into her head in an attempt to make her think she’s losing it? Nora agrees to go on a double date with Elliot, Vee and his quiet friend Jules who is never described beyond being anything other than tall and quiet. Of course, Vee is excited to be getting some action. What is it with all the women in this book? They are all so focused on men and sex, even Nora’s 60 something housekeeper is taking special classes to improve herself so she can get a man! Nora tries to insist she doesn’t care but when she spends a chunk of the narration going on about her undeniable attraction to Patch, it’s unconvincing. So the 4 of them go to the local promenade/theme park/arcade thing and guess who is there? Patch! And Nora just can’t stay away from Patch even though he’s the sort of character only a fist could love and has a habit of sexually harassing her every time they meet. Once again showing us why we’re supposed to be enticed by this man, Patch grabs her and tells her to go on a rollercoaster with him (called the Archangel – the subtlety, it burns!) despite stating she is afraid of heights. Not exactly helping the phobia, Nora sees that her seatbelt and bar are loose and panics, as you do, but Patch seems relaxed and dickish. After her friends ditch her, Patch takes Nora home on his bad boy motorbike, then using her keys he just ‘happened’ to find, lets himself into her house and proceeds to wield a knife as he shows her how to cook tacos. Short TMI story time: I made tacos for my friend Nat one night so we could watch the Baftas together, but when I told people on the forum we met on our plans, it descended into filthy talk about tacos being the new sexual innuendo du jour. I don’t know if Fitzpatrick is on the same wavelength as me and my pervy friends but it wouldn’t surprise me. Is all this supposed to warm me to Patch? Am I supposed to be seduced by his actions and find him as dark and mysteriously sexy as the author clearly finds him? There’s a difference between a rebel without a cause and a known stalker harasser wielding a knife in your home! You fail, Fitzpatrick! More manhandling follows but I am too pissed off to write it all down.

While out shopping with Vee (bra shopping at Victoria’s Secret) Nora suspects she is being stalked by the same person who she thought tried to attack her in the car but this masked person has a “feminine walk” and proceeds to attack Vee off-screen. Later on Nora goes to see the new school psychologist Miss Greene who warns her to stay away from Patch. Hmm, I wonder what her motivation is. Nora’s intrepid Googling (where would YA heroines be without it?) leads to the shocking discovery that Elliot was a murder suspect at his old school and she immediately bumps into him and wouldn’t you know it, he’s turned into a complete dick. This is a recurring trait for every male character in this book by the way so get used to it.

Back at the restaurant on a semi-date with full slimeball mode Elliot and Vee, Nora dons hooker gear to try and flirt some info on Patch out of the staff, but wouldn’t you know it, Patch is working on his off night! And he’s being dickish! Back home, while her mum has returned from work but quickly popped out for something which was apparently important but I’ve forgotten, Nora sees the masked attacker ransacking her room but when the police arrive to investigate, everything seems to be okay. I occasionally wondered while reading this book what it would have been like if Nora had actually been going mad. Would it have made the book more interesting? In any other writer’s hands, probably, but Fitzpatrick is like a sledgehammer with words and lack of skill.

Later on there’s more Patch and more dickish behaviour (you get the drill now, right?) including chasing Nora and pushing her against a wall.

“A guy like me could take advantage of a guy like you.” (Hush, Hush. Page 218.)

But it’s okay to then accept a ride home from him because he smells fantastic! For fucks sake Nora, don’t accept a date with this guy; call the police and start sleeping with a sawn off shotgun under your pillow! But before she can go on her ever so romantic date with man of the hour Patch, the police turn up to ask her about the local school bully/slut/cardboard cut out cliché of a jealous teen girl Marcie, who was beaten up shortly after an exchange of words between her and Nora. I didn’t mention this when it happened because Marcie is about as well developed a character as a puddle. She’s the sort of character who appears in all these books; the slutty popular girl who just can’t help but hate the heroine.

In a typically romantic move, Patch takes Nora to the club from the first night to play pool, basically an excuse to rub up against her. During a moment of play fighting with some random Irish guy, Patch’s shirt is torn off, revealing a horrific V shaped scar on his back. Like the vampire reveal scene in Twilight, I might give a shit about this moment if the entire promotion of the book, including the front cover and blurb, wasn’t centred on selling this story as a tale of a fallen angel. Later on, snooping around Patch’s car reveals a torch covered in suspicious red liquid (and an ACDC ‘Highway to Hell’ CD – somehow I see Patch as more of a My Chemical Romance fan) which understandably causes Nora to freak out. Personally the time to freak out came 234 pages ago when he revealed himself to be a stalker creep but better late than never. No, wait, false alarm. Patch tells her it was paint and she just accepts this! Just like that, everything’s okay. Somebody slap me. Or her, somebody please reach through the pages of this horrid book and slap Nora Grey!

The back scars prompt Nora to google angels (does no one do good old fashioned library research anymore?) and finds an article that reads like it was written for a school project, warning of angelic possession, angel-human offspring called nephilim and general bad stuff. This scene, along with the entire structure, or lack thereof, of the book reeks of Twilight. There’s no real plot to speak of, rather a series of mundane events where nothing of importance happens except a lot of talking, there’s a huge delay for a big ‘reveal’ we already know about and even parts of the plot feel very cut-copy-paste – I’m mainly thinking of the little things like the biology class, the googling, the lack of parental involvement, etc. These don’t automatically make it a Twilight rip off; I understand that a lot of these things are common YA tropes, but just reading the book it feels like something that was made because of Twilight, if that makes any sense. According to an interview with the author, Fitzpatrick said that it took her 5 years of writing and re-writing to finish this book but it feels so rushed and unoriginal, I sort of find that hard to believe.

Elliot turns up the next morning and is suitably dickish and possibly drunk, and tries to berate Nora into joining him, Jules and Vee on a camping trip, which involves his suave technique of threatening her. Once again I must ask; why are all the guys in this book dickish jerks? And why are all the women sex and bad boy obsessed? After Elliot’s threat-mantic charms fail on Nora, she calls Vee to warn her but Vee is annoyed at her friend for turning down the double date and tries to justify physical threats by saying “he has a lot going on.”


And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the moment where I thought ‘screw you publishing industry’ and literally threw this book against the wall! Make a note of it; page 259. Even Twilight didn’t get thrown against a wall! More snooping (this seems to be the one area Nora is actually competent in. She’s a straight A student but you wouldn’t think it) reveals that Elliot knows Patch (why does this not surprise me?) and due to a series of convoluted events, Nora ends up alone with no jacket or hat and no phone or contact with the world, with a broken down car, and Patch, in a dirty motel room, with wet clothes, no electricity and a king size bed. Excuse me while I go throw my head in the same direction as this book. Nora gets to do some Patch scar stroking and is sent into a strange flashback (where she is only wearing her wet camisole and nothing else) watching Patch talk with that psychiatrist Miss Greene. Remember her? She tells Patch that he can get his wings back if he saves a life, therefore becoming a guardian angel, before sticking her tongue down her throat. She tells Patch (her real name is Dabria by the way, which will piss off my spell-check for the rest of this review) that he can get back into heaven if he saves Nora from being killed by...Patch. Hands up who didn’t see that coming? Anyone? Bueller? This revelation beings Nora back to the world of the living, confronted by an angry Patch, who forces her onto the bed, tells her there’s no reason why he chose her to die and he could easily kill her there and then if he wanted to, it was his plan all along to follow her and kill her and then... he kisses her. And after all this, she still wants to trust him! And that’s the point where I threw the book against the wall for the 2nd time. It’s very cathartic, I highly recommend it. So he lets her touch his magic flashback scars, revealing a discussion where Patch says he wants to become human, the reason he fell from heaven in the first place, by killing a nephilim. Other than the seething the abuse-is-sexy theme is bringing out in me, I’m very bored by this book. I want nothing more than to curl up with the book on British history by Andrew Marr I bought a couple of weeks ago but I prevail on because there’s less than 100 pages to go and I am not a quitter!

Now the book’s trying to paint Patch as a sympathetic anti-hero and Dabria as the psycho jealous villain (motivated by lust, of course.) That’ll get us to love him; blame all the troubles on the psycho ex! And all of a sudden, Dabria informs us that Nora is a nephilim descendant, the descendant of the French guy Chauncey from the prologue, so of course Patch wants to kill her. But Dabria decides to do it first by setting fire to the house in order to ‘save’ Patch (because he’s clearly worth all the trouble). Escaping the house and leaving Dabria to Patch, Nora goes off to find Vee but gets taken out by Patch again who admits he wants to sacrifice Nora. How romantic, he is truly the prince charming of his generation. A distraction comes in the form of another threatening call from Elliot, who says he will kill Vee if she doesn’t come to the school where they have broken into to play ‘hide and seek.’ But it turns out that Jules, that scarcely developed character, is the true mastermind of the operation. Not only is he the real bad guy, he’s actually Chauncey! Because that makes sense! If you want to cut corners in actual story telling in your story, this is the way to do it. Jules/Chauncey is a nephilim and, as the servant of Patch, is his vessel for 2 weeks a year. This involuntary stealing of one’s body has left Jules a little testy so he has decided to hurt Nora because it will hurt Patch because he’s in love with her. I think I could actually hear my eyes roll at that point. Luckily Patch is there to momentarily possess Nora’s body to help her fight Jules. Oh those silly women, so weak and always needing a big, strong man to take control of them to fix it all. To kill Jules and save Patch, Nora throws herself off the roof (at least it wasn’t a cliff). Another blackout moment follows and when Nora awakens, Patch is there to fill her in on all the action she missed that was no doubt much more exciting than anything else that’s happened in this book. to wrap it all up quickly, Patch became Nora’s guardian angel, which means he can get “better acquainted” with her body (vomit), Jules’s death is ruled as a suicide, the house fire is blamed on a psycho teacher moment from Dabria, who had her wings ripped off by Patch off screen, but she’s still alive so I’m assuming that’s the lazily written villain for the sequel, and Patch the brand new security system salesmen (yes, really) arrives for the final page snog. Finished.

I hated this book. I hated the complete lack of plot and effort put into telling an intriguing story. I hated the cut-copy-paste Twilight rip offs and the fact that nothing in this story felt original. I hated the complete lack of a mythology build up, which felt like Fitzpatrick just copied and pasted a bunch of stuff from Google. I hated the dull characters and the fact that all the guys were jerks and all the girls were obsessed with sex and dangerous men. But most of all, I hated the so called love story. The constant justifications for harassment and unacceptable behaviour made my blood boil. Even when Nora knew what was happening was inappropriate she still kept going back for more! She didn’t try to stop it all; she didn’t make a scene or act as if this was a big deal when it clearly was. Nothing Patch did was romantic and for Nora to end up falling for him in the end despite everything that happened makes me think she was suffering from some form of Stockholm syndrome. Edward Cullen was a dick but he never physically threatened to kill Bella. See how bad this book is; it’s making me defend Twilight! What’s happened to me? This is the perfect book for Twi-hards. Mythology fail, character fail, story fail, prose fail, romance fail, and the list goes on. Never has a book screamed FAIL as loudly as this one. It’s the well worn tale of forbidden love taken to the stupidest, most ignorant level. I genuinely want to know what Fitzpatrick was thinking when she wrote this book. She repeatedly states in interviews that even before she wrote the angel plotline into the story, she wanted it to be about “the ultimate bad boy.” Well, you certainly have a bad boy here; one that I’d happily see in a jail cell. Overall, I’d give this book a great big, incredibly satisfying ‘Fuck You.’

Sparkle bingo checklist:

·         Where the fuck is the plot? (I genuinely have no idea where it is. It felt just like Twilight – let’s just ramble and ramble in an attempt to create a love story then tack on something vaguely threatening towards the end.)

·         Personality free hero/heroine. (Nora’s the heroine and Patch is the bad boy ‘hero.’ That’s pretty much all you get from these two. Occasionally Nora would show some backbone but once her ‘undeniable attraction’ to him kicked in, that went out the window.)

·         Purple prose. (It’s mostly just lazy prose that tries to act more impressive than it is.)

·         Mythology fail. (If you count a quick bit of googling and pasting into your document as research into your mythology, you automatically get a fail here. There was absolutely no effort put into the angel mythology here, none at all. it was like mad-libs or something; just randomly insert any mythological creature into the empty line.)

·         Lack of real villain. (Fitzpatrick tries to stick in a bunch of bit part villains in place of her so called big reveal but they’re not villains, they’re just further evidence of lazy writing.)

·         Unlikeable/dull lead characters. (Nora’s stupidity is infuriating, Patch is only protected from a baseball bat to the head by the fact that he’s fictional, Vee is obnoxious and only cares about sex and food – because she’s fat, you see – and everyone else sort of blurs into the background.)

·         Description fail. (Meh.)

·         Stalking = love. (Not only is stalking a sign of sexual attraction and eventual love in this book, it’s completely okay to harass a woman in front of a group of people because they’ll all just laugh and the authority figure will encourage it! But it’s all okay because all women just want sex with a bad boy!)

·         Complete lack of romantic development. (Trying to kill someone does not count as a date, let alone a basis to fall for someone!)

·         Other women = sluts/bitches. (I don’t know how to classify this one because in this book everyone is obsessed with sex! It’s all they seem to think about. On the contrary, Vee is pissed off that she’s still a virgin. I’m going to twist my own rules and count this as a yes because the sex obsession is just as infuriating as Twilight’s abstinence messages being shoved down our throats. Apparently teenagers are either sex obsessed or frigid bitches.)

·         Special snowflake! (Wow, all of a sudden she’s the descendant of a human-angel offspring and she gets her own guardian angel! She’s so special that Patch ends up not wanting to kill her, how special!)

·         Passing family/lack of parental interaction. (Nora’s mother is as helpful as a bout of lice.)

·         Lack of real consequences. (It’s the perfect, problem free happy ending for Nora. Just ignore the house fire, dead bodies and fact that you’re in love with a fucking stalker pervert creep!)

·         Beauty = best thing ever! (Patch is gorgeous – of course – but it’s more about the bad boy attraction than the looks.)

Sparkle Bingo rating = 12/14.

The next book in the Sparkle Project - "Evermore" by Alyson Noel. Believe me, it's hilarious! 


Tags: books, sparkle project

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  • Caitlin Moran, white feminism and unacknowledged privilege.

    Right, I am probably just adding fuel to the fire here, given my past encounters with Caitlin Moran, her book and the utterly desperate and…

  • Hey, remember me?

    I keep saying I'm going to write a summary of everything I've been up to over these past few months but I'm always too knackered, too…

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    I'm taking a break from reviewing books and everything YA related. It used to make me so happy and now I'm just angry all the time. I'm…