Khanh the Killjoy

Lest I forget: she's got platinum blonde hair

Under Different Stars  - Amy A. Bartol
“Kricket,” he grins. “It’s such a powerful name,” he breathes.

If a Kricket cries alone in a forest, does Khanh give a fuck? No. No, she doesn't. Who is Kricket? What is Kricket? I'll tell you.

Take the loveliest, most statuesque and Amazonian-like model you can find, then multiply her beauty tenfold. Add some killer cheekbones to that vision of loveliness. Give her a brilliant brain whose intelligence is visible because her frontal lobe is all alight when viewed with special X-ray glasses! Have her be so slender that she can't rappel because the rope used for climbing down mountainsides can't support her bird-light weight (that doesn't even fucking make sense!!!!!!). Make her an orphan. Give her a special destiny. Make her so bloody special without knowing it.

That, my dear friends, is a fucking Kricket.

But that's not all, our Kricket's story doesn't end there, no. Her destiny is intertwined with several douchebags romantic leads, insta-love, a love triangle, and fucking aliens straight out of Earth Girls are Easy. There, in a nutshell, you've got Under Different Stars.

Summary: Kricket is *sigh* an orphan. A tough-luck Orphan Annie. She's 17 (soon to be 18). She is hiding under the radar from the Chicago Department of Social Services, because beautiful girls like her can't survive in the foster system without being shanked because other girls hate her beauty so much that they'll hurt her for it (she's got the scars to prove it!).

So Kricket is lying low. A little hard to do when you're 5'10, with platinum blonde hair, and violet eyes, but *sigh* what can a poor girl do? She's working as a janitor despite having test scores good enough for admittance at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, because she can't afford the tuition. She also works at a bar under the table, because naturally, bars are so eager to lose their fucking liquor license by employing an underaged child and paying her under the fucking table.

Kricket is special. She can tell when people lie. Her hair (platinum blonde) grows back immediately after it's been cut.

When most people don't cut their hair ever, they look like this:

While Kricket, with her un-cuttable hair, looks like this:

Did Kricket forget to tell us that her hair is platinum blonde? It's platinum blonde.

She's got a spicy, spicy gay Latino friend and his equally smexy and sassy boyfriend! Life sucks, but she deals. Until douchebags start coming after her for no fucking reason. They try to kidnap her every fucking where she goes (apparently, there are two groups of them) led by two guys: let's call them Asshole and Motherfucking Asshole, respectively). Asshole and Motherfucking Asshole proceeds to lead Kricket on a merry motherfucking chase around Chicago, yelling random ass shit you-will-pay-for-your-crimes to Kricket, but naturally, Kricket doesn't have a fucking clue what they're talking about.

And her hair is platinum blonde.

Finally, Asshole #1 (fine, his name is Trey) manages to kidnaps her using chloroform (which is actually a sweet scent that doesn't smell like ammonia, get your facts straight). He tells her jack shit. He looks into her eyes lovingly.

And her hair is platinum blonde.

Trey nearly drowns her. He tells her that a "crike" is fifty years. He hugs her.

He makes her rappel down a cave (smart) when she's hardly climbed more than the rock-climbing walls at her gym. He calls her Kitten. He sniffs her hair.

He takes her to an alien planet! He tells her nothing. He gently caresses her cheeks.

They run from wild animals and man-eating tigers. He tells her the etiquette between males and females. He tells her how brilliant she is.

Kricket almost sniffs a killer flower. Trey tells her not to! They salsa-dance in the forest! (I'm not fucking kidding)

They arrive in the promised land! Oh, finally, some information!!!! Kricket is important because she's the daughter of her mom! Her mom's a priestess! WELL THAT JUST EXPLAINS EVERYTHING. Her mom's like Helen, the face that launched a thousand ships! The woman who started a war! They started a war over her because she's powerful! Because she can, uh...

“What knowledge? Could she predict the future?”
“I don’t know what her gifts were, Kricket. It was never common knowledge.”

Are you fucking kidding me? These dumb as fuck aliens started a war over a woman whose skills are...unknown? It's like starting a war over Iraq because of some random Weapons of Mass Destructions, man. It's fucking dumb.

And then they get to the special Palace where there's a fucking love triangle over the bigger dickwad who also tried to kidnap her! PLOT?! WHAT PLOT!!!!!!!!!

Oh, and Kricket's hair? It's platinum blonde.

The Setting: AHAHAHAHA. AHAHAHAHAH. YOU'RE KIDDING ME, RIGHT? These fucking aliens are the dumbest piece of shit in the world. The world building is fucking silly, man.

I could tell you that I had a bambuzzle for hugglypoo, and then I went to gympilo to mumple my snortificus, in order to frumplefly my tigglebuns. Does that make any fucking sense? I was laughing my ass off because the language, the language! Pick some random fucking ass words, pretend they're alien words with different meanings, and you've got the language of the Etharians!

“I’m heading straight to Sequelle’s and eating an entire venish.”
“No one can eat an entire venish.”
“I’ll take that wager. No Etharian can eat an entire venish,” Jax replies. “I’ll lay thirty-two fardrooms on it."
“Where are you going to get the money for a wigg?” Wayra laughs.
“I’ll start by taking yours, chester,” Jax counters.
“How many circas of vista did you give her, Trey?” Jax asks, sounding concerned again.

By the way: when a world has LESS gravity, you run slower, not faster. Get your facts straight.

As for the world building of the aliens themselves, standard issue. Nothing imaginative. Nothing extraordinary. The only thing that stands out is how ridiculous and silly the faux-alien language is, and how juvenile the "soldiers" who kidnap Kricket are. They know about the internet. They know how to drive cars. They're aghast at the idea of nail polish! They're stupefied by the idea of a fucking thong.

“Can someone please tell me what that little pink, lacy thing is that I keep catching a glimpse of when she bends down?” Wayra asks.

The Sound of a Single Kricket Chirping: Oh, my! Kricket is so special! She's gorgeous (but doesn't know it). She could be a model (if only she were legal).

“Five-ten is not that tall.”
“C’mon, you look like a Viking. Those modeling agents would freak for your hollow cheekbones and I bet they’ve never seen a natural blond walk through their lobby doors.”

Oh, ONLY 5'10. I'm only 5'4. Fuck you, Kricket. She's got platinum hair, which she reminds us at every fucking chance she's got.

while pulling my hat from my head, causing my long, platinum-blond hair to cascade around my shoulders.

Oh, and her eyes! HER EYES! They're so freakish! Freakishly lovely!

“My eyes are not freakish!”
Enrique makes a derisive sound. “I’ve never met anyone with violet eyes,” he replies, raising his eyebrows. “If I had eyes like yours, I’d be in New York making some serious cash.”

She's so smart! Soooooooo smart!

“So that means she’s smart?”
Jax beams. “Yeah, she’s smart! She’s brilliant! There’s no telling what she can do.”

She's wise beyond her years! These aliens just KNOW this, man!

“You don’t act your age. You ask questions that I’d expect from someone older than you.”

She's BRAVE! Because she knows how to run away from a dangerous monster! As if it's not a natural instinct, like what science calls a "fight or flight" reaction or anything.

Kissing my hair near my temple he whispers against it, “You’re so brave.”

Kricket is special! SOOOOO SPECIAL!

It’s like you were a special case from the start.”

All because of her special parents!

“You’re a very important member of our clan,”
“What am I, royalty?”
“No…you’re much higher than that.” he replies, his eyes assessing me.


She's so fucking perfect that after days trampling through the fucking forest primeval, she's none the worse for wear except for a slight fucking tan.

I examine my reflection in the mirror for the first time in days. I can’t believe that I look almost the same. Apart from a tan, I can’t even tell that I’ve just been pulled through the universe to another one where I’m the enemy to just about everyone.

The Romance: Let's just overlook the whole love triangle thing. I mean it. The love triangle is the least of this book's troubles when it come to romance. Frankly, the romance comes out of fucking nowhere. Trey fucking kidnaps Kricket. She protests, she yells halfheartedly, she doesn't seem to fucking mind. He takes her to another world. She doesn't give a fuck except to protest halfheartedly about killing him. All of a sudden, he's touching her, caressing her, sniffing her hair, telling her that he's lost his heart to her. AND WE'RE NOT EVEN 25% INTO THE BOOK YET.

“You trying to stop her heart, sir?” Jax asks in a concerned tone, coming to me and checking me for injuries.
“No, she’s stopping mine,” Trey replies softly, watching Jax examine me.

I don't quite know what to make of Trey, because Trey doesn't know exactly what he wants to be. He's got no personality. He's not quite a nice guy. He's not quite an asshole (although he sure as fuck tries to be one). He is just completely unnotable, absolutely fucking forgettable in every single way. He seems to ascribe specialness to the already special snowflake that is Kricket. He seems to enjoy playing babysitter to her than being her lover and her equal.

Halfway through the book, Kricket and Trey are already familiar enough with each other to simulate having sex to fool people. It's meant to be steamy, I guess? I laughed.

It's a fucking Herbal Essence commercial with all the moans and groans, guys.

Then, I close my eyes, groaning louder than before as water cascades down my hair. “Ohhh, Trey…Trey!” I call out in a raspy tone, like I’ve heard Bridget do in the middle of the night when Eric sleeps over. Finding a dispenser of shampoo, I pour some in my hand, lathering it in my hair. Eliciting what I hope is a sensual sounding gasp, I let my voice strain as I murmur, “Ahhh…” Rinsing my hair, I try the other dispenser that smells like coconut.

That picture isn't accurate. Kricket's hair is platinum blonde.