Healthy Revenge—The Sweetest Just Desserts
Healthy Revenge—The Sweetest Just Desserts

Healthy Revenge—The Sweetest Just Desserts

Healthy Revenge—The Sweetest Just Desserts

Off (With) His Head!

As readers, I dare say we’re (unconsciously or consciously) drawn to books that address universal themes and help us work through aspects of our own story.

One such book that I recently read was promising. Until it wasn’t.

You see, two-thirds of the way into the novel, something awful happens to the protagonist. But the author gives short shrift to what, in my POV, is really, really important. In a nutshell:

  1. Nerdy seventeen-year-old girl crushes hard on popular, hot jock at school
  2. Both she and he take part in a community program, chat every week, develop an easy rapport
  3. One night they meet up outside of the program and—be still her heart—he kisses her
  4. In her mind, he’s a total god because, hey, a kiss means he wants friendless, dorky, homely her, right?
  5. Nonetheless, she redlights his attempts to go further
  6. So, he plies her with alcohol. When she keeps rejecting him, he gets a bit rough
  7. Yet, she romanticises the situation
  8. Typical narcissist, he loses interest
  9. Redoubling her efforts to keep him interested, love-starved she buys chick-magnet him an expensive gift, which she’s had engraved (dear God!)
  10. And then she tells him how she feels … whoa!
  11. He ghosts her; she’s crestfallen
  12. In damage control mode, she resolves to PM him on Facebook and tell him the gift (which, incidentally, he gave back to her without unwrapping) was a joke, but 
  13. She stumbles on his most recent post, a nasty one where he says she’d hit on him just because he’d been nice to her
  14. Worse, the bastard’s sycophantic FB friends chip in with their troll-like comments: call her a ‘skank’ and a ‘psycho’.

Anyway, adolescence + public humiliation on a social network lead to utter despair. So, with her self-esteem in tatters, she decides to take her own life.

Vicarious Vengeance 

But in the process, she has a sort of out-of-body experience, and at the eleventh hour, she decides to save her own life. Still, she’s admitted to hospital emergency.

And that’s how the epilogue starts.

Here, though, is where this unrequited-love trope goes off-script.

Now, I’m not big on the fairytale-ish HEA (happy ever after). Too unrealistic. HFN (happy for now) is fine. And getting back at him would qualify as HFN. 

But horrible, popular, hot jock no longer features in the story. He doesn’t even rate a mention!

Annoyed that my revenge fantasy has been left unfulfilled, I feel the book is no longer five-star worthy.

I check out the reviews* on Goodreads where it has received a 3.87-star average. However, I note that many of the low-rating reviews are not constructive. And what … they’re personal? The author has become the scapegoat in these readers’ revenge fantasies because he hasn’t given them what they wanted.

The nature of the reviews gives me pause for thought.

Success Depends on Your Backbone, Not Your Wishbone

The story in and of itself hasn’t given me what I wanted. Just the same, the author is astute.

Maybe the gaslighting jock doesn’t get any airtime in the epilogue, but the once-hapless protagonist does ‘avenge’ him … in a manner of speaking: years later, she achieves unprecedented success in her field, which has the potential to save millions of lives.

The author has shown us that the best revenge is making your own life work.

Even so, I’m not above wondering what happens to people like the jock. Or to those reviewers who habitually stand on the densely populated sidelines of life and engage in the widespread sport of mud-slinging.

When this lot arrive at the Pearly Gates and are asked, ‘Did you work at being the best you? And what legacy did you leave behind?’, what will they have to say for themselves? Sadly, not much, I expect.

*See earlier blog post on negative reviews: https://paulahouseman.com/super-shitty-reviews/

 

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