Ashleigh Paige

I'm a full-time college sophomore pursuing my B.A. in English with hopes of one day working as an editor. Cats, musicals, documentaries about cults/disasters/tragedies, and curse words are just a few of my favorite things. Also, check out our blog or I WILL FIND YOU.

Pulse - Kailin Gow It's bee a while since I really let loose and got snarky. Sorry for the TL;DR, but I had a lot to say about this short little book. I REGRET NOTHING.I love vampire lit, I love crack--as in books and stories that make no fucking scene and are great to laugh at--and based on the jacket copy alone, Pulse was going to fulfill my need for cracked-out vampire lit. I already read plenty of crack (be glad you can't see what's in my "To Read While Bored" bookmarks folder because you'd be appalled) and it's my duty to find a novel or story that comes close to, equals, or even surpasses The Room. I'll know when I find it because I will have paid money for it and won't care because it's THAT BAD.Well folks, my best friend loaned me her copy of Pulse so I could get my crackish jollies and let me tell you, this is bad. Not The Room bad, though. If I'd paid for this, I would have been PISSED that such underdeveloped, badly written, and overall ridiculous tripe took my money and ran screaming to the bank. That doesn't mean it's not funny, though. It's fucking HILARIOUSLY bad.Well, most of the time.Kalina's story of being romanced by not two, not three, but FOUR vampires (one in the past, but he still counts) is not unlike the stories I came across in my long-ago time on in terms of writing ability and plot. The difference? Those stories were free and more than a few were written by teenagers just starting out. You're supposed to pay for Pulse and despite Gow's extensive backlist, she's an awful writer.Kalina is a misogynistic little shit who judges other girls and looks down on them regularly. Once her best friend gets attracted to one of her love interests by forces beyond her control, she's just another target for Kalina's demeaning gaze. We're supposed to admire her and see her as a role model, but good female role models love their fellow ladies and try to understand what makes women hate women (hint: internalized misogyny is one major reason; growing up in a male society that encourages rivalry between ladies will do that to a woman). They do not look down on them.The plot itself is ridiculous. It's mostly cheap dramatics because Kalina wants to have sex with Stuart but she can't because she'll lose her Virgin Powers, Jaegar the Creepy Fucker wants to eat her and have sex with her (no particular order, possibly at the same time), Jaegar seems like he's evil is ~just misunderstood, they're both so hot and she can't choose between them even though there has been NO RELATIONSHIP DEVELOPMENT WHATSOEVER ON EITHER SIDE. Then cliffhanger, Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me with a fourth vampire who wants Kalina, and the book ends. Ta-dah! Pulse in a nutshell.I intended to insert a few excerpts of her writing here to show you how bad it is, but there are so many and the worst go on for paragraphs and paragraphs. I'm not going to that much effort to type it all out for you. (Typing out this lengthy review is another matter entirely because they're MY words, not Gow's.) Since I can't show you, I'll summarize it for you.You know emdashes? Gow seems to believe they go everywhere. Semi-colons? The occasional parenthetical aside? Pfft, who needs those? Emdashes on every page, baby! And I mean that literally. There are emdashes in use on almost every single page in all the ways they shouldn't be used--and even in a few days I didn't know about! It takes skill to do that. The wrong kind of skill, unfortunately.In general, the quality of the writing in Pulse reminds me of the vampire story I wrote when I was sixteen. I prefer first-person, but I decided to change it up a little and write in third-person. It didn't work too well. I fell into telling too often and while trying to write conclusions the characters came to, I instead produced conclusions that guided readers through my story by the hand instead of letting them figure it out.Gow's writing has a bonus: there are plenty of paragraphs that come off as praise she wants to see in glowing reviews of her novel. Stuff about how calm and brave and feisty Kalina is and how hot the Greystone brothers are. Ugh, PLEASE. Let the readers come up with that. Stop telling them stuff.Oh yeah, the telling! This book is loaded with it, such as when it takes two very lengthy paragraphs to inform us of Jaegar and Stuart's pasts as rakes and the differences between them. You know, irrelevant shit like that. Never mind that Stuart is hesitant to even approach Kalina because men "could get stoned for less" when he was born (which was in the 1300s). He was a total fucking rake in the past, messing with all the ladies and falling in love with them.By the way, take a look at this list of what people get stoned for in the Bible. Things lesser than approaching women that a man could get stoned for? You won't find any. Factually inaccurate telling too! Wow, Gow. You amaze me.Like I said much earlier in this academic paper-length review, this book is so bad-funny that it's worth popcorn most of the time. What happens when it's not? Ableism, misogyny, and the works.Like this quote right here from Kalina."Maybe I'll go crazy. Like this soldiers coming back from Iraq (Pulse, 16%)."NO. NO. FUCK YOU. Lines like THIS demonstrate why the US has such a fucked-up view of mental illness and part of why everything to do with guns and mental illness post-Sandy Hook has been such a complete and utter clusterfuck. The little shits who perpetuate this need to stop.Her friend's response? "You're not crazy. You're going through a rough time. That's all."WAY TO LET IT GO RIGHT OVER YOUR FUCKING HEAD.Now. The misogyny. First off, let me show you a gif I found on a Tumblr I follow about phrases like "other girls":Kalina is stated multiple times to not be like "other girls" both due to her ability and regardless of it. Her blood, combined with her vagina being unused (we'll get to THAT bright little shitstain of misogyny in a minute) and her love, lets her turn vampires into humans. However, she's regarded as better than "other girls" because she's brave and doesn't drool over guys.And here's how the novel paints "other girls": a gaggle of them gather around Stuart, the rival/head cheerleader leaves to "lick her wounds" when Stuart shakes her off in favor of Kalina, and once her best friend Maeve gets some of Stuart's blood in her system, she becomes just another enemy to Kalina due to jealousy.Oh, and this:"Well," she said, stiffly. "You should sell [Vampire Wine] to humans, too. I know plenty of girls on my cheerleading team who would kill for an appetite suppressant. And I bet quite a few of them suck blood for fun (Pulse, 25%)."This is also an explicit thought of Kalina's: "She prided herself on not being stupid. Other girls were stupid--girls who didn't get good grades, who drank too much at parties, who cried about breakups in math class (Pulse, 5%).It's also pretty clear the head cheerleader Genie Coltran/Colton is only here to make Kalina look great in comparison. How do I know? It's not even consistent about her surname. Colton AND Coltran are both used. It's too bad she fails at her duty because Kalina is a judgmental little shit whose only standout quality is her staggering level of internalized misogyny.And about that virginity + love = makes vampires human bit. This is an example of the Virgin Power trope, which is very problematic for women because in a world where we're still being crushed beneath society's expectations for what they think we do with our vaginas, this trope only makes the woman "worthwhile" and "powerful" so long as they're virgins. Once they pop their cherries, they become useless. Does this sound familiar? It should, seeing as this is a problem women dealt with in society no so long ago.Any mythos that puts power on a woman's virginity and takes away that power is inherently sexist. Gow is the creator of this world and its mythos, so if she's supposed to be a mentor/role model for young girls and women as she claims to be, why put this kind of pressure on a woman's "purity" with her mythos?Because those claims are bullshit and she's using those false claims to profit off the female empowerment movement.Funniest thing about it? The only person who says that Kalina HAS to stay a virgin is herself. Kalina has nothing to lose if she has sex because all that changes is that she loses the ability to turn vampires into humans. The vampires have everything to lose. Why is it that she puts more pressure on her sex life than they do, then?In summary, Gow may want to spend more time polishing her craft and less time artificially pumping up her books. Then she might earn actual awards that don't require payment.