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Khanh the Killjoy

A waste of fucking time

Briar Rose - Jana Oliver



It is a bad, bad thing when the best thing I can say about a book is that it started off feeling somewhat reminiscent of Beautiful Creatures. It's somewhat like licking a Tootsie Pop. It's not exactly good in the first place, but then you get to the center...thing, and instead of a crappy mockolate core, you get 31 fucking flavors of dumb.

Time for a pop quiz! Don't worry, I'm a nice person. It'll be short.

Your mom tells you you're going to die on your 16th birthday, without any proof whatsoever, you:
a) laugh in her face
b) nod politely, while wondering if your defective genes will get passed down to your children one day
c) dress yourself in your favorite nightgown, adjust your pillows, surround yourself with candles, and wait to die

You are stuck in a evil, bad, no-good-whatsoever fairy tale world with bloodthirsty wolves, crazed fairies, ruled by an insane motherfucking regent, you:
a) run the fuck away from anything, everything
b) try to blend in with the locals
c) are concerned about drinking unpasteurized milk

You meet a young man. He appears poor. He claims to be a stablehand. But then he tells offhand you that he buys his clothes instead of making them. You:
a) shrug it off, clothes are clothes
b) don't really pay any attention to the random comment, it's clothes, for fuck's sake
c) know he's secretly a prince or a nobleman, because only such a wealthy person can afford to BUY clothes

If you answered C to all the questions, as Briar did, I don't want to be harsh or anything, but kindly remove yourself from my friends list. Clearly, we are not meant to be because YOU FAIL AT LIFE. Go on, get out of here.

Bad books are a dime a dozen, but every so often, I bump into one of these gems: a book so bad it renders me speechless. I am simply at a loss for words as to how to even get started on this review. There are so many problems, I hardly know where to start. Let's put it this way: this is the worst fairy tale reimagining I have ever read, and among the worst books I have read this year. The characters are devoid of personality. The plot doesn't make any fucking sense. The characters are always fucking right in any random-ass assumptions they make. The main character (Briar) is as dumb as a brick, half as interesting, and 10 times harder to destroy. There is a love triangle.

There is a rampant amount of girl-on-girl hatred because Briar believes that every single girl who even so much as fart in the general direction of a guy she has her eyes on is a total bitch and probably a slut. Large-breasted women, turn away from this book, because according to Briar Rose, large breasts are a mark (much like a scarlet letter) of implied idiocy and extreme sexual thirst.



If there is a formula for how to write a terrible YA fantasy, this book would fulfil every single variable. Just plug in, calculate, and there you have the disastrous results. At least this book eventually ended, right? Wrong. I love the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but you know what happens at the end of the Return of the King? 30 minutes of fucking NOTHING. It's parties, parties, parties! Drinking games with hobbitses! Conversation and chatting time with friends and family. Reflection!Yeah. Imagine 50+ pages of that. Fuck this book. This book was about 400 pages too long as far as the actual material that held my interest.

Summary: There is a reason this book is so ridiculously long, but just because it has an enormous fucking plot doesn't mean it's any good.

In Bliss, Georgia, the Hatfields and the McCoys ain't got nothing on the family rivalry that is the Roses and the Quinns. Their family have been at it for longer than anyone can remember, and for most of their life, Briar Rose and Joshua McQuinn haven't been allowed near one another. Their parents have never told them why, and, because TEENAGERS ALWAYS DO WHAT THEY'RE TOLD, Joshua and Briar have stayed away from each other, avoiding each other's glances, not sitting near each other in school, etc. Such good little children, such perfect teenagers, doing exactly what their parents tell them without reason, with perfect obedience. Fuck realism.

Joshua and Briar aren't Asian. They're white. But I know for a fact that they're Asian at heart, because that is some insane level of Asian-inspired obedience, man. I mean, I'M Asian, and I'm just in utter awe at the pure level of angelic goodness that is Briar and Joshua. I was a good kid, but don't know if I could have obeyed my family that well, man. Bow down, y'all. Respect. *sarcasm*

Briar is about to turn 16, and her mother, who has been generally batshit crazy for most of her life, has been batshit crazier lately. It turns out that Briar has been under a curse! A CURSE! She is going to die when she is 16. Briar doesn't believe it. So after a night of partying, during which Joshua does a big, bad, terrible, Very Bad thing of giving his mortal enemy a birthday gift of a silver charm bracelet, Briar goes home to find her entire family and her best friend sitting there, waiting for her to die. Even her father, who loves his wife but knows she is batshit crazy, has NOW come to some kind of fucking conclusion that for some fucking reason, his daughter really IS cursed when he was just protesting that there are no such thing as curses not a few fucking hours ago. With no explanation whatsoever besides "Just accept it," Briar believes it, and makes herself a nice, pretty bed in which she lies down to die, her family and friends holding a kumbaya-fucking-prayer circle over her body as she falls into a sleep from which she may never awaken!

Dun dun DUUUUUUUUUUUUN.

But no! That's just the first 10% of the book. Briar awakens! Finds herself in a village! There are howling wolves, suspicious villagers, and a very, very handsome young man (Ruric) who for no fucking reason, decides to adopt the blonde, buxom, beauteous Briar as his "cousin" instead of finding her tale of being from another world anywhere suspicious in a town that looks like it fucking HANGS witches.

Ruric is gorgeous. He's supposed to be some lowly villager, but Briar doesn't believe it. I mean, he SOUNDS regal. He then tells Briar about the story about the sleeping Princess Aurora and all the evil fata (fairy thingies) that are haunting the village and the evil regent woman who's going around turning everything into metal and killing people like she's the Red Queen yelling "Off with their heads!" haphazardly if you happen to blink at her the wrong way. And the Princess Aurora looks supiciously like Briar! That's dangerous shit, y'all! Briar has to *sob* dye her golden hair a "raven black" (I shit you not) because surely, Clairol hair dye exists in a medieval fairy world, and it's dangerous for Briar to show her gorgeous sunshine-filled halo of hair in a village of brunettes because, well, off with her head! So Briar just goes along with everything Ruric says, because, he's gorgeous and he sounds like a prince, so therefore he is to be trusted at all cost. And Ruric, for some fucking reason, believes Briar holds the key, because he knows she's smart somehow, despite never having demonstrated an iota of fucking sense in the day (one day, a single day, 24 hours) in which they have known each other.

‘Your cunning and the fact that your hair is the same colour as our princess.

MEANWHILE, in the Real World (not the TV show) Joshua and his friend Reena (who so happens to also be Briar's best friend as well, despite the fact that Joshua and Briar aren't supposed to cross path) are looking for a way to enter Briar's fantasy world. Reena uses some freaking Hoodoo magic, summons shit, and BAM, they're right smack in the middle of Briar's dream-fairy-tale-world-nightmare...thing. Oh, wait, that's not all. Pat is also t here. He's the gorgeous jock who tried (and failed) to seduce Briar on the eve of her birthday. Well, he's there too because he happened to touch the fucking charm from the bracelet that Joshua gave Briar (which he bought on the internet). Happy, happy, joy, joy. Everyone's here. Fuck me.

And NOW the group gets split up into Reena/Pat and Ruric/Joshua/Briar as they try to rescue the Princess Aurora. And the charm bracelet (which Joshua bought on the internet) turns out to be a super secret special weapon! And then after they try to rescue the Princess, they have to figure out a way to get rid of the regent. And then to get back home. And then they have to talk to their parents and explain everything after they get home. Because they're such exemplary Asian kids at heart.



The Plot: A fucking mess. There is way too much in this book, and none of it held my attention. The writing is find, but I struggled to finish this book because the plot was way too long, way too complicated, and just overall horrible. I fucking hate the overuse of deus ex fucking machina and it is way too overused in this book. Plopped into a prison? Someone to the rescue! About to die! Let's jump on a gryphon which we've just conquered for no fucking reason 30 seconds earlier! Everything is so FUCKING CONVENIENT. Everyone is RIGHT. ALL THE FUCKING TIME. Make an assumption? It's correct! A character has an intuition out of fucking nowhere! It's true! Something is said to be big, bad, evil, horrible! I have a feeling it's good because I HAZ A FEELING. And it turns out to be true! Is there even a literary term for a kind of plot device in which your characters are fucking fortunetellers? Because deus ex fucking machina doesn't seem quite fucking enough for how pissed off I am at all the really really awesome instincts and impulses and assumptions in this fucking book.



For example:

His tone of voice had changed. It sounded almost regal, which triggered her suspicions. Maybe your dad isn’t just a reeve.

He’d made a big slip – poor people couldn’t afford to buy gowns for their daughters. They made everything by hand or bartered for it. It was clear that Ruric was of noble blood, maybe even a prince.

The Dumb: This is usually my "Characters" section, but really, there's no other way I can phrase it. Briar Rose is a fucking moron with the dumbest fucking chain of thoughts in the entire fucking world. She makes the most idiotic of assumptions. She has the stupidest feelings, instincts, suspicions, and they all turn out to be correct. She trusts people she shouldn't. She twists events around to suit her own needs and her own perception of things. And somehow, everything turns out to be the way she wants.

"If you assume the princess’s place, you may well have to remain here"
Could I do it? Maybe, once she got the dye out of her hair. In many ways, she’d been rehearsing for the role all her life.

What the fuck? No, you haven't! Out of fucking nowhere, she dreams of being a princess when in her life in the real world, there was no mention of her hopes, dreams, anything regarding the matter. I'm just too tired to go on ranting about all Briar's menu of dumb.

The Girl-Hating: Briar is a possessive little bitch. Any girl who even glances at a guy she likes is a dity slut. Naturally, they all go after her handsome young men because they're thristy bitches, not because they're just attracted to them. Briar shames the act of flirtation, attraction, any girl who dresses provocatively, flirts, makes eyes at a handsome young man is to be shamed. Anyone who looks at Briar when she is with an attractive young man is to be accused of jealousy. Any girl who goes aftere a young man must have indecently large breasts, because large breasts are immoral, shameful, lustful, an unnatural tool to incite lust. There is so much girl-on-girl hate in this book.

"‘People seem to like you,’ she said. Especially the girls, who tracked him wherever he went. Some primped their hair or swayed their hips enticingly whenever they thought he was looking in their direction."

"She knew the other girls were just waiting for her to make a mistake, and then one of them would swoop in to claim him."

"A young girl with jet-black hair and big breasts strode towards them. [She] clearly saw Ruric as the ideal husband and Briar as a liability."

"A deep yawn came next, her arms stretching up above her head, tightening the fabric over [Aurora's] ample breasts. A sight that neither of the guys missed."

"Though everyone said they looked similar, Saralyn had shorter hair and bigger boobs, which she liked to show off by wearing tops that were too small. That little trick bought her a lot of male attention, which she thrived on."

Fuck you, book.