So we’re introduced to Jessica, a truly annoying Mary Sue who thinks her privileged upper-middle-class lifestyle is just the pits and she can’t wait to escape it because NOBODY UNDERSTANDS HER OH WOE.
SMALL ADDITION: I’d like to mention, for the purposes of clarification, that I am not being nasty about people whose social problems, disabilities or other such issues cause them to come across as brusque and unfriendly. That’s not my intention.
So when I talk about Jessica being nasty to everyone, I’m not basing it on her being a loner or rejecting people or even coming across as brusque and rude. It’s that she is DELIBERATELY nasty to everyone she meets. There’s no indication that has any problems that would cause her to be unsociable. And she has no glimmer of self-awareness about how her responses to people MIGHT cause them to not like her, or any hint that she wishes she count interact in a different way. We are repeatedly told that she’s only mean and callous and antisocial because everyone else is cruel and mean to her FIRST… meaning it’s implicitly not her fault.
And of course, later in the book she acts in an utterly loathsome manner when another character dies, because… she just doesn’t care.
No, my problem is that she’s basically like Bella Swan, but more open about it. Instead of keeping her contempt and loathing for other humans in her head, she makes it pretty obvious in every way. Hell, later in the book, a person who had adopted her, cared for her and tried to be nice to her is brutally killed… and Jessica could not give less of a shit if she tried. It’s a mild inconvenience to her at best. She regards NOBODY with any emotion except contempt.
So no, I’m assuming that she is just a vile bitch. Her antisocial behavior is pretty much just the natural result.
Jessica wakes up, and we’re told that The black oblivion of sleep was shattered by the caterwauling of some singer on Jessica’s clock radio. Ah, smell the stench of horribly purple prose rhapsodizing about how awesome sleep is. Don’t get me wrong, I consider sleep to be one of God’s best inventions, but no reason to get so purple about it.
So Jessica does what everybody does – hits the alarm clock, turns on the lights, and freaks out because of the time.
The somber red glow of her Lava lamp provided just enough light to read the time.
Yes, apparently the only light source in the room is RED. Wanna bet the entire bedroom is black?
Seven o’clock. The red numbers glowed sadistically, and Jessica swore. Only two hours of sleep again.
Here’s a shocking idea – and this is just off the top of my head – it’s a really crazy idea… WHY DON’T YOU GO TO BED EARLIER? I know you’re meant to be an emo creature of Teh Night, but seriously, if you’re gonna whine and bitch about it you should at least TRY to fix the damn problem.
How she managed to remain in the conscious world at all was a mystery, but she dragged herself into the shower, where the cold water finished what the alarm clock had started.
On to a day of bad grades, social ostracization and blinding headaches… all of which you could have avoided if you FUCKING SLEPT.
Only one hundred and eighty days of school left, Jessica thought as she prepared for the first day of her senior year of high school.
I guess she’s not planning on college. I would be interested in knowing what she DOES plan on…. oh wait, she’s a Sue and therefore the planets will align to provide her with whatever the hell she wants.
There was barely enough time to get dressed before she had to pull her backpack onto her shoulders and dart down the street to catch the bus. Breakfast? A fleeting dream.
It’s official: this chick is TRYING to get bad grades. Two hours of sleep, no food, horrible shower… does she also smoke weed during her tests?
She’s headed to Ramsa High School, which she calls a perfect little niche of hell and rhapsodizes about how she only gets out of bed so she can finish her senior year and never go there again. So, why does she hate it so much? Why does she compare it to HELL and describe how desperate she is to escape it?
Because the people there DON’T UNDERSTAAAAAAAAAAANNNDDDD HER!!!!!!!!!!!!! She’s so DIFFERENT FROM THEM!!!!!!!!!!
I am serious here. This is the heroine’s actual motivation for being so tortured and all that shit. She isn’t abused, bullied, or even fucking made fun of to her face – no, she’s tormented and hates this place with a passion because of cliche teenage wangst about how nobody understands them and they’re not like everyone else (ie the popular blonde cheerleader cliche).
This is one of THE WORST motivations you can give a teenage character, especially if you actually want people to LIKE them. I’m sure you get some teenage girls going, “Oh, that is SO me. Mundane life is SUCH a torture for my snowflakey self! I shall now go cut myself to express my inner sorrow!” But if your character is going to mope and whine about the torture of her life, THERE BETTER BE SOME DAMN TORTURE GOING ON. They better be taking the Ring to Mordor, sleeping under the Dursleys’ stairs, and avenging their dead father/master/wife while Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru’s corpses smolder outside.
Otherwise, you get this:
And I’ve had enough “emo Bella” to last a lifetime! I fucking read New Moon! I do not want to suffer through all that wangst again!
She had lived in the town of Ramsa since she was twelve, and had long before realized that the other students would never accept her. Few were openly hostile, but no one could be described as warm and fuzzy either.
It may have had something to do with the switchblade she liked to play with during class while mumbling, “All of you will die.” But no! It was that they didn’t understaaaaaaannnnddd her.
As she neared the building, Jessica was acutely aware of how many students walked in groups of friends.
Those losers! They actually have FRIENDS and they SMILE and HAVE FUN.
She had known these people for five years, but that didn’t seem to matter as they moved past her without a word.
So what? Are they all supposed to genuflect as Her Royal Emoness goes by?
We soon discover that she makes no attempt to be friends with anyone, and actually actively avoids it. But then she’s all WAH WAH, nobody’s nice to meeeeeee!
She even saw two girls notice her, whisper to each other, then quickly retreat as if Jessica was somehow dangerous.
… ah, and now we have the Edward Cullen effect: “Everybody’s afraid of me! I’m so dangerous and spooky!” Uh, maybe it’s because you actively try to alienate people?
And to hammer it home, Atwater-Rhodes has some kid actually cross himself when she goes by, apparently because he thinks she’s a witch. Having seen Catholics and Wiccans in the same general area, I can assure you that nobody does any crossing. Partly because teen Wiccans are about as frightening as an out-of-control chipmunk. But since Jessica is a nasty bitch, she likes to mess with the guy just to scare him. Why? No reason. Just spite or simply boredom.
… is Atwater-Rhodes TRYING to make us hate this character?
One of her witches could walk right in front of this idiot and he would never recognize her as what she was; Jessica’s witches tended to be rather human in their manner and appearance.
You know, like real ones. The funny thing is that Atwater-Rhodes was actually Wiccan in real life… and yet acts like this whole “her witches” thing has nothing to do with reality.
But here’s the real brain-melter. The shittiest plot twist yet. I mean, what could possibly make us hate Jessica more than we already do? What could make her even more repulsive than she already is? What could make her even more despicable, Suey and loathsome?
More humorous, though, was the fact that her old enemy was holding the book Tiger, Tiger by Ash Night. Jessica wondered how he would react if he knew that she would soon be receiving royalties from his purchase.
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! GAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! NOOOOOO PLEEEEAAASEEEEE NOT THAT ANYTHING BUT THAT!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh yes. Oh yes. Jessica is one of THOSE. Not content with just writing a garden-variety Mary Sue, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes wrote a SELF-INSERT. She can’t just write about a bitchy whiny malicious teenager…. she has to write one who JUST HAPPENS to be a teen author, and who JUST HAPPENS to have written a book with a title from the SAME POEM as Atwater-Rhodes’ real-life debut, In the Forest of the Night. She has thrown out any pretense of writing a REAL CHARACTER, and is now openly writing about her own personal fantasies about boffing her fictional anti-hero.
Jessica had been struck by the idea for Tiger, Tiger several years before, when she and Anne had been visiting one of Anne’s old college friends in Concord, Massachusetts.
Who’s Anne, you may ask? Young Artiste here hasn’t bothered to mention. EDITORIAL FUCKUP FOR THE WIN!!!!!!!
She had spent nearly the entire weekend vacation locked in her room, and those hours of work had finally paid off.
Yes, that slavish weekend of writing a WHOLE NOVELLA. At least PRETEND you worked hard on it, kid.
In homeroom, Jessica sat in the back, alone as always.
Of course. What else? Notice how there aren’t ANY OTHER outsiders in the WHOLE school. Just Jessica.
There’s also a totally pointless moment where we find out that the new teacher has a silly name. No, there’s no point in this moment, except to emphasize Jessica’s Suey name.
Kate Katherine, highschool teacher, must have had sick parents. On the other hand, her name was probably easier for people to remember than Jessica Ashley Allodola.
- Oh, you have to be fucking kidding me.
- And why has the teacher not changed her name? No reason.
- How is a pair of trendy names from times gone by (ie the two where-are-they-now Simpson sisters) hard to remember? You’d think her name was Brunhild Leocadia von Fangledangleboop the way she talks about it.
- And… Allodola? ALLODOLA? You are seriously naming your Sue after a skylark?! Why don’t you just go the next fucking step and just call her Jessica Ashley Skylark Rainbow McUnicorn?!
- Also, I know this character was written long before Bella Swan was inflicted on us, but I’m having traumatic flashbacks here.
The words of Jessica’s adoptive mother, Anne, echoed through her mind.
Well, thanks for FINALLY telling us who the hell Anne is.
Anyway, this is the contrived prompt for a really pointless, obnoxious flashback in which Jessica is a bitch to her adoptive mother for… no real reason. Because NOBODY UNDERSTAAAAAAAAAAANNNDDDDSSS HER!!!!!!!!!!!!! She’s so DIFFERENT FROM THEM!!!!!!!!!!
“Tomorrow is the first day of a new year, Jessie. Could you at least try not to get sent to the office? Just this once?”
“But they have peppermints!”
“Don’t call me Jessie,” she had answered.
“Just try, Jessica,” Anne had pleaded. “For me?”
“You aren’t my mother. Don’t tell me what to do.”
Just try telling that to the cops. I don’t think they’ll care.
Plus, I bet Jessica is one of those annoying kids who reject their parents 24/7 until they get driving drunk, and then it’s all “Mommy mommy mommy!”
“I’m the closest thing to a mother you have!” Anne had snarled, losing her patience.
The remark had stung,
Yeah, are we supposed to be bleeding heart’s blood for the little bitch? She’s been treating the woman who’s fed her, clothed her, and cared for her like her own child like shit for NO REASON, but the moment her adoptive mom points out the FRIGGIN’ OBVIOUS, she’s all “waaahhh, I iz hurt!”
and Jessica had stalked to her room, mumbling, “My real mother was smart enough to get rid of me early.”
First thing she’s said that I agree with.
Snapping back to the present, she wondered bitterly if Anne considered it bad luck that Jessica was the child she had ended up adopting.
I can’t imagine why she WOULDN’T. We’re less than a chapter in, and I’m already hoping that a bunch of rabid wolverines eat her alive.
So then Jessica notices that a new girl has arrived at class.
“I’m sorry I’m late,” the girl said. “I’m new to the school, and I got a bit lost.” She introduced herself as Caryn Rashida.
… and why didn’t you have her saying, “My name is Caryn Rashida” instead of stopping the quote? And yes, “Caryn Rashida” is probably the most normal name we’ll have for a LONG time.
Caryn looked around for an empty seat; one was conveniently located next to Jessica.
What’s convenient about it? A minute ago we were told that Jessica was “alone as always,” and now there’s just one seat empty next to her?
But of course, Jessica is SO spooky and scary that Caryn considers a different seat. After all, Jessica’s surly attitude frightens everybody in her town, because of course no teenager other than her has “nobody understaaaaaannnddddds me” fits and gets emo. However, Caryn decides to stay in this shitty book anyway:
“Why are you sitting all alone here?”
“‘Cause I want to,” Jessica answered coolly, leveling her emerald-green eyes at Caryn’s pale blue ones.
“And because if I sat with other people, I couldn’t be a snotty emo gawthe loner! My entire identity is based around that!”
Also, take a swig for “emerald” eyes. Another Sue trait – super-vivid jewel-toned eyes. Wanna bet she has “raven” hair?
Caryn held the gaze for a moment longer than most people could, but then looked away.
With disgust, Jessica had noted the girl’s unease and her decision to make an effort despite it.
… HOW?!?!?!?! I mean, all the chick did was make eye contact and then go away, and from those totally noncommittal motions Jessica is insisting that she can somehow READ HER MIND and discern what she’s decided to do.
Jessica had no wish to be taken under Caryn’s wing like a homeless child.
Yes, apparently attempts at civility and getting to know her count as being “taken under her wing.” Bitch.
Dislike she understood; pity she could not stand.
Pity her, Caryn! Pity her with all your might!
So Jessica refuses to answer Caryn and just sits there doodling, until Caryn moves to a different table. Uhhhhh…. table? Do schools after kindergarten use tables instead of DESKS?
After that, Caryn has trouble with her locker lock, and she asks if Jessica can help. Jessica, being a Bitch Sue, is able to immediately open it and makes a snarky comment about her.
“How do these things work?” Caryn laughed at herself cheerfully.
“Figure it out yourself,” Jessica answered as she shut the lock and tossed it back to Caryn.
“I’m pissed at you for no reason! It’s what defines my poorly-written character! I treat everyone like shit just for existing!”
So Caryn asks the perfectly reasonable question of WHY Jessica is being a nasty bitch to her, since all she’s done is normal social interaction between classmates like “Could you help me with my lock?” or “Would you like company?” Jessica’s lameass excuse: “It’s who I am,” Jessica snapped, closing her notebook and putting it away. “Learn to live with it.”
Bullshit. I am by nature a snarky and often nasty person, and often awkward in social situations. It’s who I am. Know what? I can be nice and have fun with others… and anyone who claims that they are just inherently nasty and antisocial to everybody without any actual reason is making a conscious decision to BE nasty and antisocial!
In common English, she’s a fucking brat, and she’s decided to be nasty and antisocial merely because it fits her “tortured loner” image.
So then she turns her back on Caryn, and Caryn doesn’t talk to her after that. No one else did either; besides the arrival of Caryn, nothing had changed. Oh shut up. You can’t have it both ways, idiot – either you’re tormented because you have no friends and nobody talks to you, or you’re a bitch who doesn’t want any friends or conversation. Stop trying to pretend you’re sad that everyone rejects you because you’re so “different,” gothy and awesome – you just demonstrated that they reject you because you’re a nasty bitch who hates everyone, sneers at them and then whines about how nobody likes her.