Over the past year, I have been reading and reviewing the ‘Hush, Hush’ series by Becca Fitzpatrick. Aside from it being a truly atrocious series that I still shudder at the thought of, it raised questions for me that I had never seriously considered. Most notably: is there a God of Unpleasant Literature and can I offer Becca Fitzpatrick as a human sacrifice?
The premise of ‘Hush, Hush’ is as follows: Teenager Nora Grey is the recipient of some very overt advances from a boy called Patch who happens to be a fallen angel. He flirts to the point of actual sexual harassment and Nora, to her credit, continuously tells him to shove off … until the day where he reveals that he had been planning to murder her and possess her body all along. However he has changed his mind, as Nora Grey is just so shiny and lovely he couldn’t help but fall in love with her. From this point on Nora Grey trusts him implicitly and falls in love with him right back.
This book angered me to the point of multiple exclamation marks. To me, this book intended for a young adult audience is condoning sexual harassment and abusive relationships. It pissed me off so much, I could not get the issue out of my head for months. I was shocked at the amount of positive reviews for this vile novel, mostly from young women five-starring the crap out of it and colourfully (and grammarlessly) proclaiming their love for bad-boy Patch and how much they want a boyfriend just like him.
I am aware that this is essentially a re-hashing of the famous ‘Twilight’ debate once again, but fuck me if it’s not worth revisiting. Is this really what passes for romance these days?! You’re so special and amazing that I’ve decided not to kill you; that is how you know my love is pure.
I was so mad at this gangrenous dollop of menstrual fluid that I actually found myself realizing something about myself: I was offended. That’s a big deal for me, because I am not easily offended. I live in the UK; self-depricating humour and friendly insults form part of our very culture. Not a day goes by when I don’t call my best friend an utter twat, but that’s just how we roll over here in Great Britain. I just don’t get offended by things, and if you’re a reader of this blog I’m pretty sure you feel the same way.
I then began to wonder, for the first time in my life, why it’s so difficult to offend someone like me. Why can I laugh at a joke about Princess Diana snorting cocaine off a man’s cock in the back of the car that killed her? Why can I play GTA without once thinking of myself as a terrible person? Why do I enjoy so many things like this when, logically, my mind is telling me I shouldn’t?
I figured out the answer sometime later when reading ‘Captive in the Dark‘ by C.J. Roberts. It’s an erotic novel about a girl who gets kidnapped and sold into the sex slave industry, but falls in love with her captor. Now, I adored the first two books in the series. It was a pretty accurate portrayal of Stockholm Syndrome (which is a totally appropriate issue to explore through literature) and it was smokin’ hot! I loved the characters, I loved the hot sex scenes, and it was one of those books that really made me think. So, what happened in the third and final book? Well, the kidnapper murders his buddies in the sex slave industry, frees his slave and they form a meaningful relationship. And I hated it.
The fact that I thought the series was about a girl with Stockholm Syndrome completely dictated my enjoyment of the books. I could justify the fact that I enjoyed them. But the minute that was taken away, I no longer liked the story. I could not justify enjoying a book where a girl falls in love with a kidnapper, murderer and rapist and they live happily ever after. Some people can justify it, perhaps falling on the old “it’s just a fantasy” form of reasoning. But I couldn’t just accept that they weren’t offended by it; I judged them.
And that’s also what happened when I read ‘Hush, Hush‘. There was no justification, I could see no reason why anyone in their right mind would enjoy it. I’m not the kind of person who buys into the whole “it’s just a fantasy” justification, and for some reason I harshly judge those who do.
So I had established why, for the very first time in my life, I had taken offence to something: the lack of possible justification. But this left me wondering something else: why it wasn’t enough for me to just be offended. It wasn’t enough for me to read ‘Hush, Hush’, decide I take offence and move on with my life. I had to warn my friends, I had to write a hefty review, I had to seek out the rest of the series and review it in its entirety. I am still writing about it right now!
In the same vein, why is it when someone expresses that they take offence to something, it’s difficult to just let it go? We can’t help commenting on their offence, can we? Check out the comment section on any controversial YouTube video, any negative review of ‘Twilight‘ or the likes; I guarantee there will be some poor sod on the receiving end of some heavy backlash for expressing their opinion. And it always follows the same structure: so fucking what? Get over it, stop being to sensitive, why are you even reading this book in the first place if you’re going to get so offended by it, you prick?
Digging deeper here, it’s even the same story when the question of offence isn’t even present. Even if someone just disagrees with you, it’s extremely difficult in most cases to fully accept that someone has a different opinion to you. The issue may be minute but there is always the desire to express an opinion and dismiss those who do not feel the same way. The stronger you feel about that particular subject, the more likely you are to respond.
So where, prey tell, did that leave me? And where, for the love of the Almighty, am I going with this?
I have come to terms with the fact that I am no longer the girl who takes offence at nothing. I guess everyone has their limits and ‘Hush, Hush‘ was the beginning of me realizing my own. I will never not despise that book. I will forever trash it and ward my friends away from that train wreck of a novel. Do I judge those who do enjoy the book? Yes, absolutely. But should I?
Well that’s just it; I don’t know. I don’t understand why my brain has decided to torture me. If I have read a book I believe to be so bad, so morally wrong, is it understandable that I judge those who enjoyed it? Or is it completely unfair of me to think of those twits five-starring this shit as unintelligent, pre-pubescent nitwits incapable of critical thought who, let’s face facts here, should be shot as they are probably the bleak extent of humanity’s future?
This is why I’m throwing the questions over to you; what are your thoughts on the questions that haunt me? Furthermore, try these on for size: why do you think is it so hard not to comment on someone’s difference of opinions? Should we be doing it? Or by not engaging in debates of whatever size or significance, are we violating an unwritten yet fundamental law of philosophy?
While I wait for you to get back to me on that, I’ll be over on Twitter fangirling over Benedict Cumberbatch who, incidentally, is the most majestical being on the face of this planet and if you disagree with me I swear to God I will … write a passive-aggressive article about my conflicting emotions. Then go cry over Cumberbatch again.
Also posted over at Insatiable Booksluts