Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
In her 2011 memoir, Mindy Kaling [of The Office and The Mindy Project fame] talks about her childhood, friendships over the years, and the progression of her professional life as a comedian stemming from when she was young.
It’s Kaling’s recounting of moments in her career that stopped me from rating this lower than the 1.75 stars I gave it. Finding out about the progression of her life becoming a comedian is fascinating and the conversational tone she holds throughout means you just want to carry on reading, so for that, she succeeded.
However, it’s the humour- surprisingly- that ruined this for me. Reading the pages about her comedic inspiration actually makes sense, with people like Louis CK included in the list. She uses several slurs- g*psy and tr*nny among them- and makes repeated jokes about being mistaken for a lesbian, which frustrated me to no end as she relied on every stereotype in the book to make her audience laugh. There are also repeated rape jokes, and in general comments using rape as something to laugh at.
This was published in 2011, and going by The Mindy Project it seems like her humour has grown out of this, but it still knocked me back. It brings up the issue of accountability, especially with popular comedians, a topic I find difficult to breach.
The Deal by Elle Kennedy
After hockey player Garret Graham fails a midterm, putting his GPA and captaincy at risk, he pursues Hannah Wells, smartest girl in the class, to begin tutoring him. In return, he agrees to fake date her to attract the guy she likes.
I don’t read a lot of NA, generally, but I have a feeling this isn’t the best. The romance between the main two characters is cute, and it’s developed gradually, which I enjoyed. You see these characters as friends before anything else happens. The cheesiness of it makes it a quick read, and the sex scenes weren’t terrible, even though I did become tired of them.
However, there are a lot of issues with this. Garrett spends a lot of this book having to coerce Hannah into doing things which in and of itself gives me bad vibes. There’s a lot of hypocrisy on both characters parts when it comes to sex, and they spend so much time slut shaming other girls who sleep with athletes. It feels like Elle Kennedy is trying to ‘humanise’ male athletes and frat boys by creating these other frat boys who ‘aren’t like other frat boys’ but… really are? Garrett just stands by as his teammates treat women like shit. I saw someone say this has a ‘boys will be boys’ approach, and that’s so true.
Overall, the longer I’ve sat on this, the worse it becomes in my mind. If you want something that actually paints frat boys in a positive light while still being romance-y, try Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu.
The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
An aeroplane lands at JFK, bringing with it a virus that begins to spread throughout America in the form of a little worm thing. The Strain is basically the vampire equivalent of The Walking Dead, only it doesn’t work as well, and the vampires are more like self-aware zombies, so really, it’s an imitation of TWD.
The Strain didn’t work for me, as you can probably tell by my frustrated summary. The first mistake I made was listening to this as an audiobook. Ron Perlman narrates and, as much as I love him as an actor, his voice is so monotonous in this audiobook the only way I could get through it was on 2.5 speed.
Rest assured, my 1 star rating isn’t just reliant on the audiobook being bad. The actual content was bad, too. The plot is unoriginal, a combination of so many different outbreak narratives without ever doing something new with a great premise. Even Zack, the son of Eph, was like a carbon copy of Carl from TWD. To clarify: I got all of these similarities after watching 1 season of TWD. 1. Season. And that was about 4 years ago. It’s just not convincing, at all.
The real breaking point was [besides the stereotypical, quite racist portrayals of characters] the way women were treated. Of the ten or so women who received POV’s, about 5 lasted for one chapter, and all of them ended up dead besides one. ONE. The women are there to either be saved or pitied, killed off to cause man pain and given absolutely no agency whatsoever. There’s a whole ‘who’s got the bigger dick’ fight between a dude and a vampire over a missing woman and it’s so, so pointless, I cannot express that more.
The next paragraph is going to be a spoiler, so I’ll keep it in italics:
Essentially, Nora- the only surviving female character- spends the whole book in the main trio fighting the vampire outbreak. In chapter 8 or 9, right before the main fight in the final chapters, a male character is introduced. He serves no purpose before these chapters and- get this- he takes Nora’s place in the final fight.
Eph tells Nora to stay with Zack, his son [not Nora’s] instead of fighting. This happens about a chapter after Eph kisses his ex-wife, essentially cheating on Nora, and doesn’t even have the gall to tell Nora he cheated and still wants to be with his ex-wife, not her. Which means Nora has spent the entire book helping Eph, fighting the strain, dedicating herself to this fight– only to be forced to be the carer for Eph’s child while all the big, strong men [one of whom is about 90 years old and uses a walking stick?] go out and fight. How typical.
Overall, solid 1 star for this book, and I’d rate it lower if Goodreads would let me! 🙂
And those are my reviews! I’d love some recommendations for better, healthy NA, celebrity memoirs, and outbreak/apocalyptic fiction. I usually love this stuff, but alas, with these I had no luck!
Thank you for reading!