I finally checked out Anna and the French Kiss so I could verify my suspicions that it is exceptionally ordinary and there is no reason the internet needs to collectively wet itself just because they finally managed to read a normal YA novel. Unfortunately, it is not horrible so far, which has had the curious effect of doubling down my resentment. Apparently I can't even stomach the idea of finding it tolerable anymore.
I'm only about 30 pages in, but so far I cannot get over my intense dislike of the situation, because her parents ARE HORRIBLE PEOPLE and being forced to live alone at boarding school in France for a year is THE WORST HORROR I CAN IMAGINE, beaten only by the fact that she had to do it while simultaneously sacrificing her senior year of high school. That is sadism, as far as I'm concerned, since by all accounts she was a good kid and very much looking forward to her year, and not some sort of introverted shut-in/social pariah/victim of bullying/teen troublemaker who needed punishment. ...so. I feel like that juuuust might be detrimental to my ability to read this book. I'm also going in with a chip on my shoulder for Etienne, for no apparent reason. Like, I just took an instant dislike as soon the main character turned into a sheep and developed the same crush everyone assumed she would, in five seconds flat. YOU SEEM LIKE A TOOL, ST. CLAIR.
And the worst part is that I can't figure out what novels I would recommend instead of this. All YA novels with a central romance arc comparable to this one seem to have flown out of my head. This cannot be the only non-chick-lit-style YA romance that has ever existed. And yet...most of the rec names I come up with, turns out romance is not actually their central feature. Of the ones that are, After The Moment was more 500 Days of Summer. Stay With Me was age-mismatched. Anything But Ordinary was about finding their way back to each other, not a buildup. Breathing? Breathing seems close, but it was still somewhat age-mismatched. Nature Of Jade...that one might work. Anything read before 2009 is long gone from my head, so I have a limited pool to work with.
So maybe it is one of a kind and there's a reason people like it. It just happens to feel more like homework than any book I have read since I've been in school.
Here, have some TV for a balanced diet.
5.22: LOVED the super intense code-cracking/house party mystery, with enough levels of double and triple crossing among both friends and enemies to rival Pirates of the Caribbean 3. The suspense was a lot bigger than the payoff, since I had no idea what I was looking at even when they did their final reveal. "OK, so there's some old dude there. Based on Blair's horrified reaction, I was really picturing either chained up sex slaves (when was the last time anyone saw Jenny?), a slaughter room made for processing baby white tigers and/or puppies as delicacies, or Dorota turning out to be a criminal mastermind/rogue spy, with an outside chance of Dan & Chuck turning out to be secretly gay for each other and very much busily engaged.
Also rather fond of how adorable Dan's paranoia is and how hard he is trying not to turn into a crazy person. It's admirable. He has a lot of reasons to be insecure, despite his inherent awesomeness and superiority, and Blair is not really making it easier. I thought his way of turning down the living-abroad offer without letting Blair know why was relatively sparing of everyone's feelings, until it blew up in our face a little bit.
5.23: And the mystery and intrigue doubles down again. Gosh, I honestly don't know who I like more: Team Nate/Lola, Smirky Blond Business-Ruining Bitches Extraordinaire, or Team Ivy-Lola, Slutty Callgirls For Acting Hire. I don't recognize this version of Blair, but I like her. I think. I'm just not sure I like how all this running around with Chuck, while harmless, is happening at the most completely inopportune moments.
At least, I thought it was harmless. The ending gave me an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach.
And then I watched a promo.
*horrified/disappointed eyes* Oh, I am done. If that Dan/Serena vomitrociousness is new footage and not from old episodes, I AM DONE. There will be no getting my heart back from that. Uh-uh. I will kick your ass out the door and not look back. At the very least, this show and I are probably breaking up for the summer. The Office and I used to do that all the time; this is really nothing new.
Private Practice, 5x20, "True Colors"
I am failing to sympathize with the immigrant lady, mostly because she seems pretty penniless and I want to know who is going to pay for all the fancy medical care her premature-if-induced infant is likely going to need when it should not be needing it at all. Kind of like all the other people in her country, or at least the area she's from. There is no reason her baby should be more special than all the other El Salvadorian babies just because its mother broke the law. I'm sorry, but it's like they designed this entire plot just to prove what a terrible idea universal health care is. "No money? No problem! Expensive and unnecessary medical procedures available for kicks at your convenience!" Even Canada does not let that fly, based on the book I read where they told a pregnant teenager she'd have to pay for her abortion out of pocket since she was an American citizen.
As for Cooper's patient, all I heard was "blah blah blah VICIOUSLY NARROW-MINDED MOM IS AWESOME gender blah."
I would have skipped this post entirely, along with all the wrath it is sure to rain down on my head, but I just had to stop in for a quick mention of how much I love Amelia and her heartbreaking tears/emotional collapse, and how surprisingly soothing it has been to replace Jake/Addison with him serving as her doctor, confidante and comfort-hug provider all in one. The show I'm watching has pretty much been reduced to a spotlight featuring them. Pete & Violet serve as a diversion on occasion, but my favorite scene with them tonight was Violet's heartbreak and bewilderment over his "lol bye for a while" announcement, so. They're not exactly lighting up the shipper radar like they think they are.
Although this new song I found is delightfully applicable to them.
There's no magic words that can fix all our problems
But if we're not together, how can we solve 'em?
And now, what we are really here for tonight:
Castle, 4x23, "Always"
I was right, the promo managed to spoil very nearly everything that was coming, but they managed to hide a couple of tricks up their sleeve. I still couldn't get into the plot -- I avoided fast-forwarding, but I definitely wandered all around the internet unless Alexis or a Promo Moment was on the screen -- so let's just skip to the good parts.
Appetizer: Castle & Alexis, a/k/a "Your devastating weekly reminder that all of your favorite teenagers in fandom except Blaine graduate this year." It keeps forcing me to relive the feelings from my own graduation over and over again and it is just so depressing. I don't like things being over and people leaving and groups disbanding. If what you have is good, the next step is rarely if ever equally good, much less better. I don't know how I made it through her speech without crying, because my heart was definitely being shredded into tiny pieces within my chest. Had to cling to all their precious hugs for sanity. Appreciated their placating line from Alexis about being scared of change, at least.
And now the main course, composed of several mini courses:
1. Forever delighting at her boldly holding his hand right there in the middle of the workplace.
2. Still not ready to handle "Because I love you" and "Four years I've been right here, just waiting for you to open your eyes, to see that I'm right here" and "I'm more than a partner" and "Every morning I bring you a cup of coffee just so I can see a smile on your face, because I think you are the most remarkable, maddening challenging frustrating person I've ever met" and "I love you, Kate, and if that means anything to you, if you care about me at all, then don't do this" and oh geeze, the tears in his eyes.
...on second thought, I think I'm handling it well. The fight was everything I expected it to be -- I was even pleasantly surprised by how quickly they laid out and glossed over him letting her know he knew she'd heard him -- and served as the forest fire that needed to happen in order to set up that final hookup in a way that I would not, what's the word, want to curse out the showrunners for. Someone on Tumblr mentioned that he needed to walk away in order for her to realize how much she needed him, and they are absolutely correct.
3. HIDDEN GEM: This snuck up on me while I wasn't paying attention, and all of a sudden I found myself scrambling to rewind. This might actually be my favorite part in the whole thing, the fact that she's staring death in the face and literally all she can think is "Castle." One simple word, such a magnanimous effect. It may have been a "bow down and praise" moment for me.
3.5. SIDEBAR: So I guess Ausiello's blind item was about them, and I went into this finale with no small amount of dread, certain I would be one of the viewers who would "grumble that it’s too soon, and the show is skipping too many beats in the pair’s unrequited love story for their coming together to be truly satisfying." Because "skipping beats" sounds worrisome and otherwise that definitely sounds like me. The problem with UST ships is that they really like to take the "S" part to heart once the show puts them together, while I am constantly like "NO. WHY. I JUST WANT A DISNEY MOVIE ENDING AND THEN LET'S FIGURE IT OUT FROM THERE. I DON'T CARE HOW LONG YOU HAVE BEEN DATING IN YOUR BRAIN, IT DOESN'T COUNT." And with just a few moves out of sync, Castle could very easily have hit a sour note and made me one of those viewers. But the wonderful thing is, it didn't.
4. Partially promo-spoiled ending scene (seriously, it was fifty types of irresponsible to include her reaching for a kiss. It should have stopped at Castle opening the door): My initial reaction was not great. More like, "Oh. Wonderful. That's not an unpleasant image to burn into my brain for a First Real Kiss at all. Open-mouthed lunging, totally hot." I don't know why I bother hoping. I feed on hand touches and hugs anyway; kisses rarely please me. Which is why I spent the early part of this year repeatedly saying I could wait forever before they got together, if necessary.
But, and here's the HIDDEN GEMSET up their sleeve, it turns out all I needed were some really lovely whispered apologies, and for Castle to just hit the pause button long enough to show concern & give us some context. Beautiful, beautiful context. "I almost died, and all I could think about was you. I just wanted you." And then I collapsed into an instant puddle of liquid and decided I had a brand new favorite quote for the series.
Good timing, too, because according to Deluxe Transcripts, "Aaaand then it jumps the border from 'acceptable' to 'PENDING HYDROCHLORIC ACID ON THE EYEBALLS' and since I'm sure Tumblr will be assaulting me repeatedly over the next few months, I'm stopping here."
Except I noticed there were still almost two minutes left in the episode, and it occurred to me they probably couldn't keep up this frenzied pace for that much screen time and there must be something worthwhile waiting for me. So, against my better judgment, I winced my way through it while staring fixedly at a lowerhand corner of the screen until OH, HELLO THERE, Scar Full Of Meaning I keep forgetting we can't have without exposed-bra cleavage. Now I get what we're doing here.
And that, that one tiny little circle, is the thing that saves this from being a cheap and too-rushed way to get them together. It makes it real for me, smooths away the unpleasant edges and makes it a culmination of moments and real feelings rather than an out-of-the-blue adrenaline and hormone response. Cannot decide which part sends me into fits of emotion more: her guiding his hand there or the suddenly lovely kissing that follows. The clasping hands and Kate's shiny-eyed smile before she leads him off to more appropriate off-screen locations (bless your eventual thoughtfulness) are just the exquisite bits of icing on the cake.
In conclusion, bow down and praise perfection. That was a beautiful note on which to leave us for the summer. I'm callin' it, Castle is winning the trophy for Best Season Finale this year. I don't even care what sobfest Glee has planned, Castle has a 98% chance of taking it down. And off only like, 10-12 minutes of decent footage, too.
Footnotes: Meanwhile, apparently Beckett resigned, Esposito hates Ryan the Judas Goat (now left all sad and alone with his Do The Right Thing ideals), and there's some more conspiracy plottage afoot. I don't believe anyone actually cares right now, though, since we're all busy basking in the afterglow and likely will be for the next 2-4 months. You know whatever comes next is just going to be a letdown, so ride the high while you can.
Also, this fantastic exchange on Twitter happened:
AndrewWMarlowe: @TerriEdda Whaddya wanna do tonight?
TerriEdda: I don't know, baby. What d'you wanna do?
AndrewWMarlowe: I think we should open a bottle of good wine, toast our fans for making it all worthwhile, and then watch them break the Internet.
SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN.
In other news: ...If I Die Young is over. :o I feel curiously hollow, like a piece of my heart is missing. I've only been hanging around for a few months, but I don't believe I've ever had that feeling about a WIP before. That story worked itself into my soul.