Previously on Obsidian, Katy and Daemon almost advance their relationship from Mutual Hatred to PASSIONATE SMOOCHES. Later, Dee begs Katy not to go to the library alone tonight, because the town’s lurking girlnapper might girlnap her.
Note: all direct quotes are either in bold or block-quotes. If something’s in quotation marks but not bold or block-quotes, it’s paraphrased snark.
Remember how I concluded the previous chapter with, “If she doesn’t immediately head to the library in the next chapter, I’m going to be so disappointed in her”?
FIRST LINE OF CHAPTER 9:
After dinner with Mom, I headed out.
Hold on, I need to find someone to high-five.
Now, assuming something plot-important happens while she’s out, this will be the second time in the book thus far—the second time—that Katy instigated an advancement in the plot; the first time was her fateful trip to ask her neighbors where to find the town’s grocery store. Every other plot-advancing action or decision in the preceding eight chapters has been instigated by someone else. You’ve finally earned your plot participation award, Katy, well done. It only took, uh, ninety-one pages.
The evening’s turning stormy as Katy arrives at the library, and “the unnatural darkening of the sky outside” lends the nearly-deserted library and eerie atmosphere. (Okay, hold on, “the unnatural darkening of the sky“? Does . . . does Katy not know how nightfall and/or storms work?) She pokes through the shelves a bit while laboriously explaining how deep is her love of libraries, until—thank god—the librarian kills the lights and boots her out the door, as eager to get Katy kidnapped as Katy is herself.
And then three things happen in quick succession:
- RAIN POURS (UNNATURALLY???),
- Katy rushes to her car and fumbles with her keys,
- A man steps out of the shadows beside Katy.
You know where this is going.
DUDE: “Hey girl, you got a tire iron I can borrow for totally innocent legitimate tire-related reasons?”
KATY: “My every instinct is wailing that I should GTF away from you, but you look sad and wet and ‘no’ literally is not in my vocabulary—so yeah, I do, hold on, let me open my trunk and lean waaaay inside it with my back to you so I can lend you this useful murder weapon.”
DUDE: “Sweet, thanks.”
Okay, no, it doesn’t actually surprise me that Katy made this decision, for two reasons:
- As we’ve seen with every other decision she’s made thus far, Katy habitually prioritizes other people’s feelings and their perceptions of her over everything else.
- Katy’s been an accurate representation of the awful beliefs misogynistic society teaches girls. Here, it’s “being polite, helpful, and agreeable to men is more important than your own sense of safety.” Katy actually tells the reader that every fiber of her being is hissing to get away from this man, but she is still incapable of saying no. Her decision is heartrendingly realistic.
But here’s what has me rage-smashing my keyboard: instead of highlighting how awful Katy’s mindset and actions are, the book is consistently using each of Katy’s “I’ll just sacrifice my own comfort and security because they don’t actually matter anyway” decisions solely to advance the (shitty, abusive) romance.
Because yep, making your teen heroine a mess of misogynistic beliefs and behaviors to ensure she falls in love with the (shitty, abusive) alien next door is A+ responsible storytelling.
Moving right along:
KATY: [IS ATTACKED FROM BEHIND, WHO COULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING]
DUDE: [SLAMS KATY INTO THE PAVEMENT FOR THREE PAGES]
DUDE: “Humans are so stupid, so gullible.” [Sniffs her hair] “You carry a distinctively virile musk de mollusque. Where are they?”
KATY: “I . . . I don’t understand.”
DUDE: “You’re nothing but a stupid, walking mammal. Worthless. WHERE ARE THEY WHO MUSKED UPON YOU?”
KATY: “Uh, can you at least rephrase your ques—“
DUDE: “Maybe you need a little encouragement.”
KATY: [IS CHOKED]
DUDE: “FEELING MORE TALKATIVE NOW, HUMAN?”
KATY: “Not really, seeing as how your fist is crushing my neck into pulp.“
Oh, whoops—while Katy’s literally being choked to death, let me backtrack a couple pages and tell you that bits of the guy’s body are flickering in and out of transparency, which Katy remembers had happened with Dee, too.
So Katy’s blandly narrating her dying aria, (“The pressure wasn’t bad now. The rawness in my throat seemed to ease. The pain was leaving. I was leaving, fading into darkness”), when someone rips her attacker off her and chucks him across the parking lot. What proceeds is a twenty-word fight conducted in the shadows (because it’s harder to screw up a fight scene if you actively avoid writing it), but don’t worry, the fight we aren’t shown is totally awe-inspiring and cinematic:
The strength [her savior exhibited] was shocking, brutal. Inhuman. Impossible.
Her rescuer then shouts a manly curse and there’s a flash of light and the villain’s gone.
(I’ll just quickly note my discomfort with the fact that the book chose to relish every minute detail of Katy’s assault over the course of three pages, but dismissed the fight between her rescuer and attacker with only two bland lines.)
Having thus saved the day, the rescuer crouches down beside the broken, bloody, wheezing husk that is Katy, delicately slides one tentacular club down her arm to encircle her (possibly broken?) wrist, and slowly oozes his calming (or maybe healing?) alien warmth into her body. “I was reminded of days lying out on white beaches, basking in the sun,” Katy thinks, further affirming my connection between the aliens and the ocean, and thus their true squidly forms.
Now alive enough to speak, Katy begins to thank her rescuer for his superb rescuing technique, but—quelle surprise!—the face looming over her (whose individual parts she catalogues and whose whole she deems “striking and so cold“) belongs to Daemon. Her thanks fade half-spoken, and she notices that her (possibly broken?) wrist “wasn’t throbbing any longer but his touch was doing something else.” I’ll bet.
She yanks away, giving Daemon an opportunity to call the police and ambulance. Katy then thanks him for his chivalrousness, and Daemon pushes a distraught hand through his distraught hair and growls that he doesn’t deserve thanks because the attack was all his fault.
I leaned back carefully and peered up—way up—and I immediately wished I hadn’t. He looked fierce. And protective.
“See something you like, Kitten?”
Oh, shut up, guy. She was just assaulted (for three pages) by a man whom she thought was going to rape and kill her. If ever there’s not a time to make snide comments about how much you think she wants your dick, it’s now.
They briefly discuss her injuries (crunched throat, smashed face, possibly broken wrist), then how she got these injuries (DAEMON: “A stranger approaches you for help in a dark parking lot and you go and help him? That has to be one of the most careless things I’ve heard in a long time.” ME: “SHE WENT WITH YOU INTO THE WOODS. ALONE. TWICE. WHY DOES THIS SURPRISE YOU”).
I’m impressed that Daemon pointed out the recklessness of her decision, though. Less impressive is Katy’s response to his point:
I ignored the last comment. “So why were . . . you out here?”
Yes, can’t have our heroine learning the value of protecting herself from men who make her uncomfortable, can we.
Daemon stopped pacing and ran a hand over his chest, above his heart. “I just was.”
“Geez, I thought you guys were supposed to be nice and charming.”
He frowned. “What guys?”
“You know, the knight in shining armor and saving the damsel in distress kind.” I stopped at that point. I must’ve hit my head.
“I’m not your knight.”
“Okay . . . ” I whispered.
This is the quality of writing I’m working with, guys. Look at it.
Daemon then affects his most careful I’m Totally Nonchalant Right Now, Just Inspecting My Knuckles pose and offhandedly asks if the guy had said anything to Kat; he just about collapses with relief to hear that the guy had asked her “where are they” instead of specifying “where are the gorgeous teen alien twins,” and therefore his secret identity is still (however briefly) safe.
Overcome by her assault, Katy begins full-body trembling; Daemon, actually being a decent person for once, kneels down beside her, “whip[s] his shirt off,” and drapes it over her, and thank god the book is respectful enough of Katy’s physical and emotional state to not have her notice the bareness of his chest.
What she notices instead is how Daemon’s soothing salt-and-seaweed odor “wrapped around [her],” and, “[a]s if [her] body recognized [she] didn’t need to fight anymore,” Katy falls over sideways and passes out.
All right, Katy. Daemon’s list of Totally Obviously Not Human Traits now officially includes “supernatural speed and strength,” “calming/possibly healing through touch (and smell?),” and “speaking an alien language” (she heard, like, a couple words of it during the fight; it sounds like whale song, who’s surprised). If you don’t address any of this in the next chapter, I will officially lose my shit.