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Go Ask Malice, Week 1: December 14th - January 28th

Taake

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Book Club: Go Ask Malice
First week (week 39): 25th of September to the 2nd of October



The book is in diary format and this week we will be reading the book dates
December 14th to January 28th, (pages 1-36),

Discuss these dates here.

:)
 

Lyri

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I remember reading this for the first time when I was about 20 or so and I remember being really annoyed at everything about it, because I just wanted to know about Faith's training and the vampires and demons she fought before she came to Sunnydale. All this crap about her life really bored me.

Reading it now, as a 31 year old woman, the only thing I am is really, really angry and upset over Faith's life. I know that there are children and teenagers in the world who actually live like this, but I'm honestly disgusted at the idea that Faith would be stuck in a life like this. Her mother could not be more horrible, her teachers and the social worker are just completely uncaring and she's literally on her own. What kind of a man blames the victim for being bullied? 'You just give out that sort of vibe, honestly. You bring it on yourself.' That's a disgusting thing to say to a 16/17 year old girl who just saved herself from possibly being gang raped. What even happened to the guys who attacked Faith and Tommy? Nothing, I'm guessing. Not to mention what Tommy said to her in his letter, how horrible that he was saved from possibly being killed by a girl. God forbid!

My sister is a primary/elementary school teacher and my best friend is a high school physic teacher, and I can't imagine either of them talking to a student the way the English teacher spoke to Faith. Looking down her nose at the girl with the troubled home life, like she's better than them.

I understand that the writer wanted to show that Faith had a bad life prior to becoming the Slayer and finding a reason for living, but I honestly think he went too far. The opening chapter, where she talked like pre-Slayer Buffy, might have actually been something interesting to look into. The only thing we knew about Faith from the TV show was that she dropped out of school and ran away from home and, I think, she didn't get along with her mom; we were just inferring what her life prior to Kendra's death was like from those few details. It might have been a more interesting comparison between Faith and Buffy if their pre-Slayer lives were more similar. Whereas Buffy tried as hard as she could to hold onto a normal life - school, friends, home - Faith embraced it completely, like the Council wanted, and we saw her turn away from everyone, turn her back on her life to devote herself 100% to Slaying, making her Watcher her only ally, friend and human contact, explaining why she went so far off the reservation when she died. At least it wouldn't have been as upsetting as what I'm reading now.

That being said, as far as the actual novel goes, I grew to disliking books written in the first person (I blame Twilight, lol) but this didn't bother me nearly as much as I thought it would. Maybe it's the diary-entry layout, it's not so much 'he said' or 'I said as I watched him walk away' or whatever. It's helping me get into Faith's head but the only thing I want to do is give her a hug, lol.
 

Taake

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So, week 1 here we go, first 36 pages done :D

I agree that the writer went too far, this is what bothered me:

I know that there are children and teenagers in the world who actually live like this, but I'm honestly disgusted at the idea that Faith would be stuck in a life like this. Her mother could not be more horrible, her teachers and the social worker are just completely uncaring and she's literally on her own. What kind of a man blames the victim for being bullied? 'You just give out that sort of vibe, honestly. You bring it on yourself.' That's a disgusting thing to say to a 16/17 year old girl who just saved herself from possibly being gang raped. What even happened to the guys who attacked Faith and Tommy? Nothing, I'm guessing. Not to mention what Tommy said to her in his letter, how horrible that he was saved from possibly being killed by a girl. God forbid!
All of this, I don't buy it. It's like he's doing "damaged child" by the numbers just stacking one thing upon the other.
Abusive, absent mother - check
Abusive 'step father' - check
Unrealistically openly disinterested/abusive teachers - check
Bad reputation, hated by other girls - check
Abandoned by everyone including one and only friend - check
Super strict, super Christian, multiple foster kids, foster home that seems to be de rigueur in American broken home narratives - check
Everything is her fault, according to everyone around her - check

There is zero balance here. It is like he's trying too hard to give a broken background to Faith. Like she can't have anything that is remotely good in her life. Not.A.Single.Thing. I'm guessing V is going to die at some point because right now she poses the semblance of something positive in Faith's life. It's unrealistic to me. If he had given some nuance, maybe that Faith thought that her teachers were thinking that about her, not saying it to her... just something so it doesn't come across as the 'pity Faith parade because she has nothing in her life, and this is how you make a killer FYI.'

Like Lyri said, we know very little of Faith's homelife in regards to what was said on the show, so this is just the writer making an amalgamation of assumptions of what a broken home should be like. So to me it's not upsetting so much as it's trite.


I liked the opening chapter because I felt it was an insight into how Faith views Buffy later on.
I don't mind the diary format because it puts us in Faith's head, however, because of everything above I find it hard to get a 'feel' for Faith. She doesn't feel like a real person, just the idea of a person.

Dreams: at first I thought the little girl she was dreaming about was herself. Since we find out the girl's name is Alex I guess that's not the case.

Ponder: Is V Faith's Watcher?

All in all a decent beginning. I'm not expecting much depth from this book so the above complaints are not damaging my ability to appreciate the book for what it is.
 

Bluebird

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I liked the beginning quite a bit. I thought the opening entry was a good way to show Faith's cynicism towards life. I get the oversimplification accusations though, it is pretty bleak. To me it's surprising the writer did go so far because the Buffy novels were marketed as children's books or 'young adults' books. But then that is maybe a reason the writer went as far as he did, like he doesn't believe younger readers can pick up on the nuance.

Other than that... I like the format. I like that we see her pov and that it's not overwritten. I don't want to be thinking 'hey Faith wouldn't write like this' when reading. It feels like her level of writing ability, with a bit of added flourish for prose sake. :D
 

Taake

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Oh I also liked that she had done the reading for class, i.e. Dracula, but that she just doesn't express herself well in the classroom setting, it seems to fit her character (and reminds me of Cordelia a little).
 

Lyri

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Yeah, it was like 'let's make this girl's life as horrible as possible. With absolutely no redeeming qualities, so that when she becomes the Slayer and has something meanful in her life, she grabs onto it with both hands until she is nothing but the Slayer'.

There were many ways that it could have gone, he didn't need to break Faith so hard. Let her have a friend, for the love of God, let her have some good in her life. Having that doesn't mean she won't end up where we see her in the show. It just means it would hurt more, knowing that she does get ther.

I think that's what Alex is supposed to be, but she's a figment of Faith's imagination(?), she's not someone that can actually be of any help to Faith. It's sad that this writer wanted Faith to be so broken that her only comfort is an imaginary friend and it saddens me that he went this far.

But then that is maybe a reason the writer went as far as he did, like he doesn't believe younger readers can pick up on the nuance.
Like I said in my original post in this thread, I remember being about 19/20 when I first read this and just being bored and wanting to get to the Slayer stuff, so you might have a point.
 

Athena

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I'm kinda in agreement with the rest of you - these first chapters do a very good job of making Faith's life as hard and horrible as possible, so much so it's overwhelming. Ok, so she beats these guys within an inch of their lives without knowing, but she also defended herself and her friend against a gang of young men, who would no doubt have taken advantage of the situation. I just feel like the fallout of this is so overly dramatic.

Tommy especially annoyed me - they're clearly best friends who have both been ostracised. They have plenty in common. She goes off the rails once defending him and he essentially disowns her? All because a woman defended him? So ridiculous.

Also on Tommy: I did feel that we didn't need to know he was gay. It felt so blatant, as if Faith couldn't just have a friend who was male because "if he was straight he'd want to bang her, so this guy is totally gay". I just felt it was unnecessary detail, especially as Tommy so quickly leaves the picture. This book is supposed to be Faith's diary. Why would you specifically write in your diary that your best friend was gay?

I think that's why sometimes the diary format story annoys me, because it includes certain things you would never find in a real diary entry, just for the purposes of character or plot development, so it sometimes feels inorganic.

It did feel to me like they refused to allow Faith to have any positive influence, purely to demonstrate "this is how bad life can be" - yeah, sure it can, but I still struggle to believe all the tropes they brought out are all relevant in her early life. It was however a really easy read, so before I knew it I'd reached the end and I definitely wanted to read more.

Where's the slayer stuff though?! :p
 

Taake

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I agree on Tommy, both that it's unnecessary for us to know that he's gay, but that it's annoying that he basically disowns her for standing up for him. I mean, why did that have to be a thing? Couldn't he just have written like - sorry to leave you, but I gotta get out of here (and not in consequence of anything she has done), love you, no hard feelings, bye.

I'm not sure if I think it's interesting or annoying that Faith blacks out. I guess mostly it confuses me. Clearly she has the pre-Slayer slayer groove going on, but blacking out from rage... I don't feel like we see that in Faith on the show. Like sure she gets really into Slaying, but being in the zone and blacking out are two different things.
 

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I thought his take on potential Faith was interesting. I don't know that I always viewed Faith as a pity me girl. That's how it came across to me in these first few pages.

I was excited Faith had a gay best friend but then let down that he just up and disowned her as a friend because she was defending him. I think had my best friend saved me from bullies I probably would have thought she was a hero. I understand being gay in the 90s was completely different than now but I thought that was a bit much.

I can see the reasons for all of this abandonment. I understand the author was trying to sow the roots of Faiths abandonment issues as we see her in seasons 3-4. But I agree in that I thought all of it was a bit much. And I had that same "holier than thou mega creepy foster home trope" feeling as some of you mentioned before.
 

Taake

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I was excited Faith had a gay best friend but then let down that he just up and disowned her as a friend because she was defending him. I think had my best friend saved me from bullies I probably would have thought she was a hero. I understand being gay in the 90s was completely different than now but I thought that was a bit much.
It's a good point about the 90s. But yeah, he really should have thought of her as hero. But then we saw this on the show too with Buffy saving Xander from Larry and Xander getting really sore about it. I feel it's a bit of a stereotypical take on the male characters, i.e. the hurt male ego. Even if it makes some kind of sense, I really would have liked Faith's friend to have stuck with her, at least in his letter when he had cooled off a little. :)
 

WillowWhispers

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I think what makes Faith's laundry list of trauma so difficult to buy is the crammed timeline. Yes, these types of trauma happen, but rarely all at one time. There's usually an escalation of difficulties and abuse (especially where a parent's substance use is concerned), but I think the writer cheapened it by forcing a short timeline. It's hard to believe so many things would happen within a month or so, but more believable over a year or two.

I also had an issue with how abruptly Tommy was present and gone within 20 pages. In the beginning, he's more than happy to break the rules with Faith getting into the concert, but being defended against a bunch of bullies is where he draws the line? Again, I blame the crunched timeline and Tommy felt phony as a result.

Lastly, the tone of the first few entries clearly goes back and forth between writer voice and Faith voice. There are some descriptions in there (like the nightmare) that don't feel like Faith's voice- it's too "writer-y". Hopefully it will smooth out.
 

Taake

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I think what makes Faith's laundry list of trauma so difficult to buy is the crammed timeline. Yes, these types of trauma happen, but rarely all at one time. There's usually an escalation of difficulties and abuse (especially where a parent's substance use is concerned), but I think the writer cheapened it by forcing a short timeline. It's hard to believe so many things would happen within a month or so, but more believable over a year or two.

I also had an issue with how abruptly Tommy was present and gone within 20 pages. In the beginning, he's more than happy to break the rules with Faith getting into the concert, but being defended against a bunch of bullies is where he draws the line? Again, I blame the crunched timeline and Tommy felt phony as a result.

Lastly, the tone of the first few entries clearly goes back and forth between writer voice and Faith voice. There are some descriptions in there (like the nightmare) that don't feel like Faith's voice- it's too "writer-y". Hopefully it will smooth out.
Completely agree on all of the above. It's a shame too when so much is crammed in at once because it feels like there was potential for more stories if one had given it time. Of course, I guess the writer had one Faith book to write and that was it, so he wanted to get it all out on the table and make the most of it.
 

Bloody William

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I just started this last night...so I will try to catch up. Always had a soft spot for Faith so I was looking forward to it! I like the diary format, but I think some of the writing seems too immature to be Faith?
 

Taake

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I just started this last night...so I will try to catch up. Always had a soft spot for Faith so I was looking forward to it! I like the diary format, but I think some of the writing seems too immature to be Faith?
Awesome!

I think that's a good point. Maybe it's a case of an older person trying to write a younger person? It's hard to find the right tone :) I also think it might be because the book is kind of... "simple" (and I don't mean that in a bad way) it's just kind of straight forward and not a lot of nuance in Faith's portrayal of her life, everything is right there on the paper. It feels like an older teenager would have a bit more sophistication in her thoughts and writing. So the immaturity might be aimed at making Faith's thoughts and life crystal clear to the readers?

Or it reflects how little time she wants to dedicate on writing at all. :)
 

Bloody William

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I agree, not sure an (I assume) older male is suited to writing the thoughts of a teenage girl? Especially one like Faith? I also understand what you mean about 'simple', I suppose a diary is harder to write than a highly descriptive novel?
 
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