Frankie Rose, $13.99, ISBN 978-1983915789
Sci-fi Romance, 2018
This is a request from a Patreon Hot Sauce Supporter, who thinks I will love this one after discovering my thoughts on the recent Star Wars movies.
Well, a short while into Black Moon Rising, I am starting to believe that she was being sarcastic when she talked about how this book would win my heart.
“You!” I had to email her back. “Tell me that I am not reading a crappy fanfiction of Rey and Kylo Ren with the serial numbers filed off!”
Frankie Rose is the pseudonym of Callie Hart, whom I’ve never read anything of up to this point, and frankly, this one is terrible enough to qualify for the EL James career trajectory lottery, but without any hint of charm or humor to make things palatable. Frankie Rose makes EL James look like a literary savant in comparison.
Then again, maybe it’s the source material that this author chose to
pull Tumblr crap pay homage to. Rey and Kylo Ren are easily two of the worst things out of the many, many terrible things about the Disney Star Wars trilogy. Rey is an utterly blank slate devoid of personality and charm, a walking frown with informed attributes and superpowers shooting out of her arse without any rhyme or reason, while Kylo Ren is a whiny, incompetent crybaby. Pair them together and the result is a black hole that sucks in all unfortunate enough to wander into the radius of its “I’ll suck everything down into the crap pile!” super powers.
Now, take this pairing, and add in all kinds of cringe-amplified clichés of sci-fi bodice rippers, add in lots of Buffy-speak (“So ugly!”), and have the romance be a destined conjoined of Barbie-Ken style genitalia-mashing expounded through dumb dream scenes, and this is a terrible display of why it may be a good idea to force people to take some qualifying tests and apply for a license before unleashing their Tumblr toilet-tier materials onto the unsuspecting public.
Basically, here, we have the First Order re-named into the Construct. Don’t ask. In this story, Milo Ren, er, Jass is supposed to be this ooh, dark, emo, KILLER, BAD, SEXY hero with long hairs blah blah blah, and hilariously enough, the physical description of Milo as this muscular bishie dude with lustrous hair has very little resemblance to that of Adam Driver, who on a good day looks like two seconds is way too much time for him to wash his hair. The heroine, Reza, is a blank slate who discovers that she is the chosen one, only this time her powers revolve around having… energy?… that is destined to be sucked by Milo? There is probably a sexually explicit allegory or something in here, but given how vicious the lawyers employed by Disney could be, I can’t blame the author for being a bit coy when it comes to what is being sucked by whom. Reza is of course quippy and sassy, because she is going to redeem vicious bad boy Milo with the Power of the Perky Pu… er, Female Genitalia.
Black Moon Rising is meant to be the first in a series, although the whole thing seems to be disowned and scrubbed from the author’s website when I last took a look, so I’m not sure whether there will be a sequel. Not that I care, to be honest – I’m trying to say here that this one ends on what I guess can be called a cliffhanger, so don’t expect any resolution here. This is probably a good thing because the plot is a train wreck of stupidity. Princess Leia’s stand-in basically trains Reza to seduce Milo on the slim chance that the Power of the Perky Poo-Hoo will redeem him. Why? That’s like wanting to enlist Mussolini to take down Hitler. Reza spends a lot of time being terrified of Milo, but once they are dreaming together, she’s either sassing him like a teenage girl whose exposure to the real world is limited to Tumblr, Twitter, and CW shows, or moaning and wanting to get plugged because he’s so beautiful and hot.
Seriously, practically the whole relationship here is horny-sassy dreamland fantasia.
Worse, the story is almost entirely composed of people hammering one another with exposition on very stupid and vapid things.
“You eat. You breathe, You work. You sleep. You trick yourself into thinking your days are full, and you enjoy your existence. This is when you are most alive, though, Reza. Here, in my arms.”
If you want to read this thing, I hope you enjoy lines like the above, dodgy punctuation and all, because everyone here talks down to Reza like that all the time.
Things aren’t a complete loss here, though, as there are quite a number of unintentionally hilarious moments. My favorite is that suspenseful moment when Reza has to hold her breath while floating in space – hey, isn’t this Leia’s scene? – and trying to stay alive while Milo is trying to do his Pout Power in order to save her. While holding her breath, Reza can still monologue like a CW show protagonist and marvel at how sexy Milo Ren is as he is trying to save her. There is also some novel fun in identifying which scenes from this book are
completely ripped off homages to practically identical scenes in the movies.
Of course, things aren’t completely restricted to ripping off the movies. The author also adds in liberally overplayed tropes from other crappy romances of this sort: convenient inability to read the mind of the other fellow when you’re supposed to be a psychic, the bad boy having all kinds of angst and even addictions to justify his heinous antics, secondary characters insisting that they can somehow sense the good in Milo Rey, and other short cuts. Oh, and despite how powerful Reza may be, she’s all “Hee-hee! Am I that powerful? Am I that sexy? Hee-hee, humble simper pose!” Milo always has the upper hand because no matter how progressive we are, we still want spunky, sassy girls to powerfully spread their feminist legs and squeal in delight as the mighty man swoops in to make sure that they don’t trip over a pebble and break a jawbone or something.
Oh, and the dude that is meant to be Poe seems to have some weird crush on her too. This is alt-right bigotry! This is black erasure, as we all know Poe’s true love is Finn, and the author is erasing a character of color just to give her white, straight female protagonist another admirer. Someone alert the moral police on the YA twitter community about this!
Anyway, the result is a terrible kind of carnage to behold. It’s like, I don’t know, Sherrilyn Kenyon or Cassandra Clare taking a dump on a poster of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and somebody said, “Hey, don’t throw that away! Fans of the author and the movie will pay big bucks for it, you know – let’s put it on Amazon!”
Oh wait, this is self-published. Scratch that analogy. It’s like the author took a dump on the poster and said, “Now, Star Wars is better! On to make money from my fans!”
I have better stop here before people start accusing me of committing a hate crime against the author. Let me end with this dramatic one song glory from Milo Ren, to illustrate just how multi-layered and elegant the prose of this story is.
“I’m a bad guy, Reza, and bad guys do bad things!”