Partial review of Bitten, by Kelley Armstrong –Part Two–

Note: This isn’t meant to be a takedown or roast or what have you, just because I didn’t finish the book. I don’t want to give that impression.
It’s just generally what I thought, with a few issues/problems I had.

(And this has content/trigger warnings for literary mentions of sexism, assault, etc.)

And stating that anything disturbed or triggered me is not meant to say that it kept me up all night or gave me nightmares. It just made me more uncomfortable than I wanted to be at that specific time, given my general stress level, etc.

I also forgot to mention on the first part, that, in addition to the concerns I mentioned there, the way werewolf society works, and the way it views women is very disturbing. I know there are places on this planet where women in real life are not valued, but the way it’s depicted for werewolves is as bad or worse. I’ve read other books where werewolf society isn’t positive for women, but so far this sounds unusually bad.

Chapter 3- “Summons”

(Nah, she doesn’t have to go to court.)

She tells us most werewolves do live in human society, but don’t consider themselves part of it. Human interaction is “a necessary evil”.

Anyway, the fact that she grew up in “bad foster homes” is the reason she gives for her obsession with normalcy. Becoming a werewolf changed some of the plans she had for life, but she is determined to be as “normal” as she still can. She’s building a career in journalism, she has a home, and she has “normal and decent” Philip.

She says how lucky she is to have him, because she’s “difficult, argumentative, not the sort of woman someone like Philip would fall for.” Which makes me immediate ask: How did she get him, then? Magic or something? Well, no. She just says she isn’t like that around him, and “kept that part of me- the werewolf part- hidden…”
Which leaves me saying, if she can keep it hidden that well, it seems it really isn’t that big a part of her general personality. It must be something that only comes out when she has the urge to run as a wolf. So, really, she is the type of woman Philip would fall for anyway. She simply has a pretty big secret she is keeping from him. And whether or not he can handle it, or if he ever finds out, I don’t know.
(I do have my suspicions that since she makes a big deal of how normal and nice and great Phil is, she’s going to at least have an interest in another guy later, likely more of a “bad boy” type, probably a werewolf or other supernatural being.)

Other werewolves don’t understand her need to be with humans. Apparently most werewolves are born with the genetic tendency, and naturally begin to change when they reach adulthood.
I’d think adolescence would be a more fitting time than full adulthood, but she says adulthood. Maybe it’s just semantics, and she really does mean adolescence. If so, though, “physical maturity” would’ve been a better choice. In my opinion.

The reasons very few turned werewolves exist are 1: almost no one survives being bitten, as werewolves bite to kill, and 2: Most who do survive being bitten can’t survive the physical and emotional trauma of the first few changes.
“Hereditary werewolves grow up knowing their lot in life and having their fathers to guide them.”
Did you notice that? Fathers? Not parents- fathers. Just fathers.
Yeah.

Apparently werewolfism is only passed through the male line.

Total numbers on werewolves: About 35 in the world, only 3 not hereditary- and ONLY ONE FEMALE.

Yes, I was getting a little upset at this point. Especially when she said werewolves don’t respect women, and regard them as sex or dinner- “or sex and dinner”. Uh, nice.
And other werewolves can’t see why the only female of their kind might want to spend time AWAY from them?

I don’t know if any of the guys in her specific Pack have screwed (or more likely raped) a woman then eaten her after, but I do wonder, since she knows this happens. And really, how concerned about consent do you suppose a guy will be if he’s just going to kill you and eat you, anyway?

It really makes me wonder why one of these men would have turned her on purpose, when she was still an adolescent. Maybe he’s an unusually good guy and respects women more than the rest? I hope.

Now, if werewolves don’t care about women, and only want sex from them, how or why does any werewolf father stick around long enough to know he is, in fact, a father? Does he keep notes on who he’s slept with and check back 9 months later just in case? And if she had a girl, just leave again?
But it is stated that fathers guide the sons, so somehow they know they have sons!
You’d generally have to maintain some type of relationship beyond a one-night stand to know a child exists.

Maybe these questions are answered later, but I obviously don’t know that.

……

There’s stuff about Phil’s sister’s bridal shower, which Elena is going to have a bigger role in than what she characteristically would have, because she just loves his family too.
(That makes me wonder if a sad fate will befall one of these people. Bad things tend to happen to loved ones of main characters in stories with supernatural beasts…)

Elena finds working out with non-supernatural humans very frustrating, because she has super strength but has to pretend not to. That would suck. I guess. In its own way.

She watches trashy TV, because it lets her know people are worse off than her. Of course, people can also know this by seeing famine, war and suffering on the news, but a lot of folks do think “reality” and daytime talk shows provide this reassurance in a more entertaining manner. I do not begrudge them this just because I prefer the supposedly more intellectual method. People who do that get tiresome after a while.

But I did find something to get preachy about: On some show she’s watching, she sees a murderer she refers to as a “psycho”. In itself, while this is definitely an ableist slur against the mentally ill, it’s nothing I don’t expect. I’d prefer not to see it, but I know I will in many places.
And while I agree with her assessment that the show’s host calling this man “animalistic” is inaccurate, because humans are the only animals that kill just for the thrill of it, having this in the context of her referring to this man as both “psycho” and “Psychopath” perpetuates the myths that all mentally ill people are dangerous- and- that all dangerous people are mentally ill.

Not good, but- again-  pretty much in line with overall opinions of the large portion of the general public that does not frequent social justice blogs.

There’s something in my view worse to come on mental illness, in a conversation between her and Philip. Meant to be funny, of course.

It happens soon after the phone rings. She doesn’t answer, and a man, Jeremy, leaves a message saying it’s very urgent. He is a werewolf, but Phil does not know this. To not cause suspicion, Elena tells Phil it’s her second cousin. Family is totally sacred to Phil so he’s very concerned and saying she better call him back right away, etc.
She tries. No answer.

So, now Phil says, after he “inflicted” his family on her, she should get revenge. She should “Dig up the mad cousins who’ve been locked in attics for years.” He opines such folks would be the best, because they’d be “Definite dinner party interest”.

The problem here? Aside from the suggestion of using mentally ill people as potential entertainment?

Mentally ill people are statistically more likely to be abused and/or neglected than to cause harm to others. Joking about locking them away in the attic? NOT FUNNY. People have done this shit to their relatives in real life.

Anyway, she can’t get Jeremy on the phone. And she agrees to go to where he lives, in upstate New York, in part because Phil has now pressured her to because he’s FAMILY. (But of course, it’s not HIS family, so she’s going alone.) She wants to just keep calling for a while first, but he’s all insistent.

See, this is a little odd to me, considering Phil is always telling her how totally not safe it is for her to go out at night alone! But he guilts her into flying alone to another state- another country actually, since they live in Canada.

Well, whatever Phil.

CHAPTER 4- “Prodigal”

She’s trying to call them on her cell phone too while on the way there. No one answers and she’s annoyed.

Don’t werewolves text or email?

Use social media? I didn’t think this was in a historical context.

No one picks her up at the airport.

And here’s where we get more of her background.

Her parents died in a car accident when she was five. She had no extended family and her mom’s best friend was turned down as a caretaker for being single. (Does that still happen? If so, that sucks.) The first family to adopt her returned her after 3 weeks because she was silent all day and screamed all night. All the families she lives with are “charmed by my face and utterly incapable of handling my scarred psyche”.

And, as you could probably have guessed, once she grew to adolescence she was molested. Of course this does happen to some people in real life. In no way would I deny that. But it isn’t by any means confined to foster homes, nor does it happen in the majority of foster homes, or with most adoptive parents. And yet it’s such a big trope with orphans in fiction.

This isn’t an automatic problem, but in this case it just isn’t handled well.

And this is basically where I stopped reading.

None of the problems I had with the book would in themselves, if they had been the only problem, caused me to stop reading. It was just the combination. It was just too much.

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