Previously on Obsidian, Katy
figures out has it spelled out for her (twice) that Daemon is an alien, and the info might’ve even registered.
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.
All right, guys, time to learn us some alien facts!
“You think I’m dangerous.”
And a jerk . . . and hot, but I wasn’t admitting that. And an alien life form? I shook my head. “This is crazy, but I’m not scared of you.”
“No.” I laughed, but it sounded a bit crazed—totally unconvincing. “You don’t look like an alien!” It seemed important to point that out.
He arched a brow. “And what do aliens look like?”
“Not . . . not like you,” I sputtered. “They aren’t gorgeous—”
“You think I’m gorgeous?” He smiled.
I’d like to casually point out that it took Katy exactly ten sentences to go from “I’d rather die than tell this asshole he’s hot” to “DAEMON, YOUR BODY IS A MASTERPIECE.”
Aggravated that she’s been tricked into acknowledging Daemon’s hotness, Katy provides a detailed list of what aliens “should” look like:
- “little green men with big eyes and spindly arms,”
- “giant insects,”
- “something like a lumpy little creature.”
For a supposedly devout and lifelong reader, Katy is shockingly lacking in imagination.
Daemon lols in disbelief that she’s insisting that aliens must look like ET, and Katy snarls at him about “screw[ing] with [her] head” and launches to her feet to make a stormy exit, but—
“Sit down, Kat.”
“Don’t tell me what to do!”
He stood fluidly, arms out to his sides. That creepy glow filled his eyes, like two orbits of pure light. “Sit. Down.”
I sat down.
There I go screaming again.
Is anyone doing my job for me and keeping track of the number of times Daemon physically intimidates (or straight-up forces) Katy into obeying him? What number are we up to, eighteen? Twenty?
Daemon, cut this shit out.
And Katy, get the fuck away from him. This isn’t romantic or exhilarating or sexy—it’s the nauseating, unsubtle prelude to a controlling, abusive relationship in which he’ll use any means necessary (including tackling you to the ground and terrifying you with his alien powers) to keep you submissive and subservient.
This. Is. Not. Okay.
(And don’t think I didn’t notice that misuse of the word orbits, book.)
I sat down. With a one-fingered wave, of course. He might be all about sharing his alien-ness with me now, Mr. Badass Alien, but I instinctively knew he wouldn’t hurt me.
And this is even worse. By showing Katy accepting and giving in to Daemon’s behavior with only a halfhearted middle finger—and then having Katy explicitly state that she somehow magically knows he would never hurt her, despite all evidence to the contrary—the book is telling teen readers that it’s safe to ignore all the flashing neon WARNING, BEWARE THIS DUDE, THIS IS AN ABUSIVE ASSHOLE signs arrowed at Daemon’s head.
More importantly: the book is telling teens that if they meet a boy who treats them this way—who bodily restrains them, who shakes them and yells at them to submit to him, who threatens and manipulates and humiliates them every time they’re together, who demands their instant and complete obedience—that they’ve found a guy worthy of being the male lead in an epic romance novel.
This. Is. Not. Okay.
We’re only one page into this chapter, guys. Twelve pages to go.
Now that Katy’s cowed into a sitting position, Daemon dons his most professorial spectacles, drags a chalkboard out from behind a tree, and begins his Introduction to Aliens course, during which Katy learns:
- These aliens are human-shaped but made entirely of light that’s (somehow?) still tangible—and touching an alien’s light-body produces a “warm, heady” humming electrical feeling in humans that emanates throughout their bodies from the point of contact.
- Aliens communicate via telepathy.
- They can control light, because they are light.
- Their home planet (a.k.a. Lux, home of the Luxen) is super far away, but was destroyed when Daemon and Dee were kids, so they came hurtling (at the speed of light, hitching a ride with beams of light instead of a spaceship, because they are light—except that they also bend space and time, so they actually travel on their beams of light at faster than the speed of light? So why bother riding on light in the first place? Look, I don’t know) through the universe looking for a new home, and wound up on Earth.
- Luxen travelers have been making a home on Earth for the last thousand years, but Daemon and Dee (and the Thompson triplets) arrived fifteen years ago.
- There are “[a]t least a couple hundred” other Luxen in this tiny podunk town. Hold on, just how big is this town?
I’m going to pause to note that Katy asks about what his other powers are, he states that that isn’t in the curriculum, and this happens:
I shook my head. “No. You can’t tell me something like this and not tell me everything. You . . . you owe that to me.”
“The way I see it, you owe me. Like three times over,” he replied.
“How three times?”
“The night you were attacked, just now, and when you decided Ash needed to wear spaghetti.” He ticked them off on his fingers. “There better not be a fourth.”
“You saved my life with Ash?”
“Oh yeah, when she said she could end you, she meant it.”
So Katy owes you some unspecified thing (I’ll just guess obedience) because:
(a) you chose to help her on the night that she was attacked by an alien,
(b) you saved her from the truck she accidentally ran in front of in her desperation to get away from your asshole self, and
(c) you prevented Ash from killing her for standing up to/acting out against your and Ash’s cruelty toward her.
I might never be able to unsneer this sneer.
But back to Aliens for Dummies:
- Luxen are “pretty much indestructible,” except in their natural forms.
- They have telekinesis, and can move at the speed of light even in human form (so I guess they don’t teleport after all).
- Some can shapeshift to other things than just their light-form and their one human-form.
- Daemon’s, like, extra powerful or has super-duper control over his abilities or something, good for him.
- They can’t control people’s thoughts/minds. (So, wait, you expect me to believe that Katy’s sudden dependence upon Daemon’s presence for calm and security is just a sign of romance? Fuck no. We’ve watched him use some kind of emotion-controlling power on her more than once; you can’t gaslight me, book.)
- Some locals suspect the alien residents aren’t quite human, but it’s not clear if they know they’re aliens.
- The Department of Defense thinks they’re “harmless freaks,” but for some reason gives the Luxen money and homes and lets them do their thing.
- If a Luxen uses their power around a human, that human carries a trace of the power (like a scent), which tells other Luxen that the human has come into contact with one of their own kind.
Guess where this tidbit leads. No, really, guess.
KATY: “So, like, all the other aliens know you’ve been exposing me to your alien powers left and right?”
DAEMON: “Yeah, they’re pretty pissed at me about it, assuming that you’re bright enough to have figured the whole not-actually-a-human thing on your own.”
KATY: “Joke’s on them, ha ha! But, uh, I do know the truth now. What are you going to do with me?“
DAEMON: [Leans forward, gently wraps one tentacle around the tip of her chin] “I inexplicably trust that you’ll keep this secret. Why do I feel this way, after spending the entirety of the book certain that you finding out about us would spell D-O-O-M? Is this what authorial interference feels like?”
KATY: [Staring at his mouth, mere tantalizing inches from her own, feeling the softness of his suckers on her face and the warmth of his presence like an embrace] OH. MY GOD. IS THIS WHAT LOVE FEELS LIKE?
Having brought Katy from mindless terror to ripe for romancing, Daemon concludes his lesson with a couple plot-important warnings:
DAEMON: “BEWARE, for I am totes capable of killing with my mighty powers.” [FLEXES BICEPS] “Also, there are some other people out there who’d love to get their mitts on Luxen powers—especially mine.” [FLEXES TRICEPS] “You’re covered in my magical squid-ink right now,” [FLEXES PECS] “so they’ll probably capture you to try to get to me,” [TURNS AROUND, SQUEEZES GLUTES] “[a]nd if they get ahold of you . . . death would be a relief.” [GLUTES SOME MORE]
Katy, confronted with the knowledge that she’s in terrible danger and that death would be kinder than whatever the bad guys have in store for her—isn’t given a chance to respond, because the chapter ends with Daemon’s announcement.
Okay, I’ll be honest; I read the first few sentences of the next chapter to see if it’s a continuation of this scene, and it’s not. With that in mind:
What the hell are you doing, book? You can’t keep throwing major revelations at our heroine at the end of a scene or chapter, and then skip the part where she thinks about/responds to it. Katy just found out that her life is imperiled; that’s major, exciting, important stuff! Stuff the reader needs to see her react to!
Book, let me encourage you (and any confused writers out there) to read this excellent series of articles on how to structure scenes—and pay particular attention to the aspect of scene-structure called the sequel, which comes immediately after the actiony/conflicty part of a scene (which, a bit confusingly, is just called the scene). I’m going to quote this bit about sequels for you:
[The sequel] is a time for introspection on the part of the narrating character, a time for him to process what he’s just experienced in the [actiony/conflicty] scene, and a time for the author to share those reactions with the reader. Without a focus on reactions, the character becomes an emotionless automaton, moving through the story’s conflict without ever responding in a relatable human way.
And that’s exactly what this book has to offer: an unrelatable automaton bumbling around while a douchebag squid throws her against trees and tackles her to the ground to make her obey him. What’s not to love.