“I’d heard it before, of course, usually from my mother. A nasty, cold-blooded, selfish, grasping, uppity, ungrateful goddamn little bitch. And I know that to be true. I could feel the coldness in my own veins.”
Lake Union Publishing | 2018
Opening Hook: More like opening another button, amiright?!
Main Character: Your new best sociopathic friend #4eva
Plot Twisty-ness: Jane’s plot could have used a tab more plotting, but otherwise satisfying in a totally sexual way
I really really liked this.
On the surface it’s the story of a woman hellbent on revenge for the suicide of her best friend, Meg. Her target: Meg’s abusive ex-boyfriend, Steven.
Jane leaves her expensive high-powered lawyer life in Kuala Lumpur behind, and moved to Minneapolis, giving herself a month or so to infiltrate Steven’s life and make him wish he’d never been born.
LIKE OMG SO FUN.
So that’s the basic idea of the novel. And already I know you’re thinking, “I’ve always wanted to change my identity and ruin someone’s life. Revenge is the best. Sign me up.”
But when you look past the surface, when you go a little bit deeper, you see that this is actually a novel of patriarchy-smashing awesomeness, as well as a giant middle finger to the hypocrisy of Evangelical Christians.
And that last part just feels so right it turned me on a little bit.
HEY! I’m not saying all Christians are hypocrites, I’m saying specifically the Evangelicals are hypocritical assholes who are flying high on so much cognitive dissonance I don’t know how their heads don’t explode. You know the ones, especially in the USA, who are the loudest and most vocal; who have convinced most of the world that being associated with the word “Christian” is actually a bad thing at this point.
OBAMA IS OBVIOUSLY THE ANTI-CHRIST!
But also, Trump shot his orange Cheeto loads into multiple women and paid them off while he was married and openly admits to sexual assault? I really don’t think we should be judging the president on that kind of behaviour. Trump was clearly sent by God to save us.
Anyhooters, my point is this:
Jane is a self-diagnosed sociopath. She thinks that means she’s a bad apple, not a good person, inherently cruel and what good luck she has that she’s not the type of sociopath that murders people.
But the truth is, Jane isn’t evil, she’s just different.
She has no time for the abuse toxic people in our lives can make us complacent to – to her family that means she’s a bitch. But to me, that makes her a hero. She loves in her own way, she feels in her own way. Her empathy might be lacking, but that doesn’t mean she’s inherently evil, though that is how she casts herself to the reader.
She’s bad. She wants revenge.
No. The truth is, she’s the good guy.
The bad guys are the Churchies who think they’re better than everyone else because they’re Churchies.
“I need to get closer to find out his weakest point, and if I have sex with him now, I’ll be trash. Women have to worry abou tthat kind of bullshit when they’re dating and when they’re plotting a crime. Hardly seems fair, does it?”
Specifically, the Church Deacon – the good Christain boy who loves his father and tries to live a Godly life, but also verbal and mentally abuses women to make himself feel like a big man, who cheats on his partners and sleeps with his father’s wife.
The bad guy is also the good son’s father – the Church Pastor who preaches about how to “live right.” You know – don’t be gay, if you’re a woman keep your fucking legs shut because your self-worth is completely dictated by your sexual history. Those kinds of uplifting, spiritual messages, you know? He’s the nice old man with the 30+ years younger wife who he finds a reason to cheat on with anyone who will call him Daddy.
I love this perfect example of how some religions in our society currently function. It’s the Senator campaigning against abortion rights while secretly getting his mistress an abortion. Scumbag hypocrites who should get down off of those high horses because it’s making your asses look fat.
If you are a generally a good person who would protect her friends and take care of family, but you don’t believe in a higher power and are “different” in any way that is deemed not acceptable by the Churchies, then you are automatically a bad person that needs to be saved. You are automatically looked down upon by those around us who have decided they are doing things the right way.
If you are a shitty person, if you preach hate and misogyny and diminish the lives of the people around you because they are different in some way that you just don’t like, it’s a-ok as long as you go to church on Sundays and can find a bible passage that probably gives you an excuse that lets you convince yourself it’s okay to keep being a shitty person.
This whole book is set up to expose this hypocrisy and I FUCKING LOVED IT.
They like a woman with no shame. We’re rare, you see, because we’re told to be ashamed of everything, every day, by everyone. Ashamed to give them what they want, ashamed not to want to give it to them. Ashamed to show our average bodies, ashamed not to have a perfect one. I have no idea how normal women date. The world seems like it’d be an unbearable place for people with real feelings.
So, why only four stars instead of five?
Because I wanted more of diabolical Jane.
My biggest problem with this book was that Jane was flying by the seat of her pants when it came to her plan for revenge. I would have really love to see her playing small but shady, anonymous games with Steven and his father as she worked out the bigger picture. I wanted to see Steven tormented a little bit more and Jane enjoying it a little bit more, displaying more of a calculating mind than she did.
The plan comes together in the end, but not until about the 85% mark. I would have loved more buildup in suspense and revenge as we got to the big finale.
Other than that, Jane is one of my favourite characters I’ve read this year, and Steven was one of the most infuriating assholes I’ve read in a long time. His piss-poor abusive behaviour was on the nose. As was Stone’s pointed commentary on feminist issues. The writing was good, the story flowed, the relationships worked. It was all just detailed enough to bring you into the scene without overloading you with graphic, sexual imagery.
A seriously awesome book, that could have stood to be just a smidgen more sinister in the revenge aspect.
(And if you have any issues with my commentary of Evangelical Christians, please feel free to go to my contact page, bend over and insert what you’d like to tell me deep down into your rectum.)
A double life with a single purpose: revenge.
Jane’s days at a Midwest insurance company are perfectly ordinary. She blends in well, unremarkably pretty in her floral-print dresses and extra efficient at her low-level job. She’s just the kind of woman middle manager Steven Hepsworth likes—meek, insecure, and willing to defer to a man. No one has any idea who Jane really is. Least of all Steven.
But plain Jane is hiding something. And Steven’s bringing out the worst in her.
Nothing can distract Jane from going straight for his heart: allowing herself to be seduced into Steven’s bed, to insinuate herself into his career and his family, and to expose all his dirty secrets. It’s time for Jane to dig out everything that matters to Steven. So she can take it all away.
Just as he did to her.
*book source: Lake Union Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for a review