Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review of Pulse Beneath the Sanguine Moon by Shannon Francisco

Every once and awhile, despite our best intentions, we come across a book that for various reasons, we simply cannot finish and unfortunately, Pulse falls into this category.  I kept waiting for the book to go somewhere, but it seemed irrevocably lost in the inane.  There was absolutely no sense of pacing, or any indication that it would ever verge away from insipid blather into a real plot.

The characters all presumably had to be at least 21, as they were legally drinking in a bar, but they spoke like they were 14.  I could tell that Francisco was going for edgy and slightly counter culture, but the writing fell flat time and time again. It further didn't help that Francisco introduced us to a plethora of characters, which quickly became hard to follow because there was  little characterization, which made all them all sort of morph into one.  We got tiny details about individual characters but they were nonsensical facts, which told you absolutely nothing about who they really were. Some of the relationships were explained with flashbacks, but the transition was clumsy and poorly written.

The main character, Skylar Roth, is one of the most irritating protagonists that I have come across in a long time. Much of her time seems to be spent either angsting about her ex boyfriend, or her current boyfriend Alekz.  I am going to stop for a second to ask what the point is of taking an ordinary name like Alex and spelling it differently is?  It's still going to be Alex.  Skylar and Alexz of course have their own relationship angst, when she discovers him levitating one day.  She then spends the next twenty-four hours obsessing, calling and texting him. She is extremely insecure about any woman who could possibly find Alexz attractive because other women are the competition. It is absolutely impossible for Skylar to have faith in Alekz's fidelity and she rumbles instead about girls needing to hop off her boyfriend's junk.

We did get a mention of a lesbian co-worker, but of course she broke the heart of a straight man over a year ago and he has not gotten over it and she is being stalking online by a girl she dated. Despite the horrendously bad world building and characters, I probably could have made my way through this book if it were not filled with so many damn anti woman messages, with a little fat shaming for seasoning.  Item number one, smelling something terrible in the garbage is not like being raped.  Anticipating getting wet in a storm, is not a justification for invoking rape.
If I had known I was going to be a victim of eye molestation, I probably would have gone with a few extra layers today.  In hindsight, if I knew I was going to get royally raped by this storm, there is no way I would have even left the house (page 45)
Rape is not something that should ever be casually tossed around the way that it is in Pulse.

Women are slut shamed, referred to as bitches, broads and of course my personal favorite whores.  This is particularly true if said woman dares to show interest in Skylar's man.  Pulse does not even pass the Bechdel Test because it seems that the women only talk to each other about the men in their lives.  There is never even an acknowledgement that the anti-woman language is harmful. 

The inability to decide between mozzarella sticks and buffalo wings and then ordering both is apparently something that fat people do. 
"Uh yeah! I'll take that," I said, only further proving that I'm a total I'm a total fat kid at heart. (pg 55)
Why exactly was this necessary?   The only purpose I can see is to ensure that the reader is aware that fat people are fat because they are always stuffing themselves with unhealthy food and have zero portion control. I know that attacking the fatties is just so commonplace in our culture, but to see it is casually included, without any kind of counter part was disturbing, though par for the course for this terrible book.

I quickly realised that there was no possible way to make it to the end of Pulse without either damaging my e-reader or tearing my eyes out. Sure in the knowledge that had I finished this train wreck that it would quickly be categorized as one of the worst books I had ever had the misfortune to read, I put it down and walked away.  If you are gifted with Pulse, I promise you that the person has an axe to grind and this was not a gift meant to inspire any pleasure, what more, your e-reader may never forgive you for introducing this taint to it.  I wish I could come up with even one redeeming aspect of this story but lying has never been my strong suit.  So in short, I am just going to label Pulse a read at your own risk because you'll never get the time back that you wasted on it.

 Editors Note: A copy of this book was provided by the author for review.