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Pump Six and Other Stories
Paolo Bacigalupi

Butterfly Tattoo

Butterfly Tattoo - Deidre Knight This is a reluctant three stars, but overall this book is quite good, and the characters are compelling. It's just that the author made a few choices in the last quarter of the book that sent me from gleeful enthrallment to fiery hatred, throw the book across the room rage.

If you're unfamiliar with the plot, it's your classic formerlyfamousbutnowhorriblyscarredbytragicstalkerincident!actress falling in love with hunkybisexualandrecoveringfromthelossofhis(male)partneroftwelveyearsinacaraccidentayearago!electrician meet on a studio backlot and fall in love story. Hunkybisexual!electrician is having Issues with his daughter, who was in the car at the time of the accident that killed her other dad. Formerlyfamous!actress is having Issues with PTSD and feeling unlovable. Or something.

I make light, but I really was sucked into the story and these characters and their mutual healing process blah blah blah up until the last quarter of the book or so.

That's when both protagonists veered into the Land of Personal Button-Pushing Hatred that I never really recovered. It was in the inevitable they-got-together-but-now-must-be-torn-apart-briefly portion of the competition, which can often be quite enjoyable, but here was just infuriating.

Because, see, Hunkybisexual!electrician is actually the biological father of his daughter, not Tragicallydead!surferdoctordaddy as they told the little girl, and for a variety of reasons, both good and bad, Hunkybisexual!electrician really, really doesn't want to tell his daughter that he is her biological father and her biological mother is Tragicallydead!surferdoctordaddy's twin sister (who may or may not harbor feelings for Hunkybisexual!electrician). Well, actually, that's not the vexing part. I can understand grief making you do funny things. I can understand not wanting to "take away" another connection to Tragicallydead!surferdoctordaddy.

What terribly vexed me was what happened when he did decide to tell her - he considered long and hard and then said, "Well, he [Tragicallydead!surferdoctordaddy:] will always be her uncle!"

No. No. This is a well-done book about non-traditional families and letting love define your life, not predefined roles and norms, and then the author completely undercuts that message with, "Well, biology trumps everything and is most important!" No.

Along similar lines (in my head) was the heroine's Epic Fail. Now, I can understand her feeling threatened by the fact that a) she is a girl and 2) Hunkybisexual!electrician's Epic Love was distinctly not a girl, and I can even get her doing dumb stuff because she feels threatened, but I draw the line at their big, epic fight (after Hunkybisexual!electrician has done some careless, stupid flirting with someone who looks like Tragicallydead!surferdoctordaddy because, you know, it's been less than a year since his first epic love died horribly) where her winning, trump card reasoning is, "You're gay and you just won't admit it and you'll never really love me so stop pretending."

Again, really well-done interesting set-up of a modern romance involving nontraditional families and nontraditional sexualities, explored in a thoughtful way within the context of a traditional romance novel stumbling on Epic Fail in the last little bit. You don't get to have the heroine (with the implicit authorial support with which it was written) pull the "I know your sexuality better than you and now I'm going to tell you how to live it" card. And everyone knows that bisexuality doesn't really exist. It doesn't make it okay or more pc just because she's telling him to be gay rather than straight.

So, yeah. High degree of difficulty, excellent mid-air execution, fell flat on its face on landing. Not even a Keri Strugg breaking-an-ankle-but-still-standing landing. An agony-of-defeat sports reel highlight landing. Lots of really interesting, complicated stuff going on, with no straightforward Good and Bad, but in all of the big issues (sexuality and family and how they intertwine in new ways these days) I felt like the author totally blew the ending and made the previous sensitive, interesting work feel like mere lip service.

Yeah, it's been two months, and remembering this book still pisses me off. And, for the first seventy, seventy-five percent, I was sneaking out to my car on my lunch break to read more because it was that good. Fail.