This is a massively stupid book.
I mean, I get that the point isn't the plot. The point is for J.A. to include heaps of Far-Right rants, so that MAGA saps will buy her book.
But oh my God, the plotting.
Chapter 21 is yet another encounter with the President of the University, who has summoned Jake to his office to yell at him for being a conservative. As Presidents of Universities do.
“Why? Because I’m a conservative? In an institution of
higher learning, especially, shouldn’t there be room for all different
kinds of viewpoints?”
“Not the ones devoted to hate,” Pelletier said as his
lip curled in a sneer.
“I don’t hate anybody. Look around at the rest of the
country, sir. The stock market’s up, unemployment is down, the economy is
growing at a nice rate. Around the world, other countries respect us again.”
The sad thing is, this is exactly what MAGA Americans believe. I've had them say this exact same thing on my FB page or on blogs. And parts of it aren't wrong -- the stock market is up (and down, and up), and employment is down. But these are mostly minimum wage and part time jobs. Wages are down, in other words, except among the very richest among us.
And no, "other countries" don't respect us. Why would they, when we've allowed ourselves to be led by a conman?
Meanwhile, Pelletier threatens to commit grade fraud to get Jake expelled.
“My grades are fine. You won’t be able to cook up
something and claim that I flunked out. Not without falsifying a lot of records
and getting a bunch of people to go along with you.”
“Don’t be so sure I couldn’t do that,” Pelletier warned.
He probably could, Jake thought. After all, the left specialized
in banding together and spinning false narratives. The mainstream media
had been doing it for decades. They took pride in being able to tell the public
what to think, whether the so-called news they peddled bore any real
resemblance to the truth or not.
Oh my God.
Blah, blah, blah. Jake leaves, heading for the library for his 'date' with Burke, and we switch to the Chief of Campus Police, McRainey, on his way to drink coffee with his buddy, Head of Groundskeeping -- who is dead!
(The Bad Guys killed him for his coveralls, remember.)
While McRainey is trying to decide what to do about this, one of the Bad Guys jumps him from behind. They fight. For pages and pages and pages. Then McRainey kills the Bad Guy. I forget how, and who cares.
McRainey stumbles upon the dead guy, by the way, because the Bad Guys left him lying in the middle of the room for some reason, instead of hiding him with the other bodies. Because of course they did.
Bleeding and battered, like a true Man, McRainey calls for help.
Cut to Jake in the library, flirting with Dr. Burke. He sees Fareed with his study group and is instantly on his guard. After all, Middle Eastern guys are all terrorists.
More ranting from Jake:
Jake started to pull her chair out for her, then
stopped and said, “Wait a minute. I’m not supposed to do anything polite
like that, am I?”
“Holding a woman’s chair for her is a patriarchal microaggression
. . . but I’ll let it slide. This time.” Natalie’s smile and the twinkle
in her eyes took any sting out of the words.
See, this is funny, because feminists spend all their time attacking guys for
opening doors and pulling out chairs for them, and it's offensive because it attacks masculinity -- how can men be men if they can't pull out chairs for women?
(A) I have never in my life seen any woman, feminist or not, get upset about having chairs pulled out for them or doors held open.
(B) But here's a point. Conservative/Anti-Feminist men love to wave around the fact that they hold doors open, or open jars, and those feminists don't appreciate it!
As if that were something women needed -- someone to hold doors for them, someone to pull out their chairs. We don't need that. We need equal pay. We need universal daycare. We need the right to control our own bodies. We need men who will do their fair share of childcare and housework. Chairs? Bitch, we can handle
Conservative/Anti-Feminist men focus on holding open doors and pulling out chairs because that is literally the least they can do. And that's the part they do.
Anyway, more political rants from Jake, more rants about feminist, more rants about how unreasonable progressives are. Then he says this, to Burke:
"The last thing I want to do is turn into one of
those people who filter everything though an ideological lens."
I mean, oh, my God. I'd challenge anyone to go through this entire book and find anything Jake has said or thought that wasn't filtered through an ideological lens.
Here's an actual picture of Jake in his dorm room:
|Actual Picture of Jake|
Nah, not really. Jake doesn't have a phone, remember?
The Bad Guys emerge in the library. They have changed out of their groundskeeper coveralls and into regular clothes. Why?
You got me. I'm still not sure why they needed the coveralls to begin with. But once they were in them, why go through all this trouble to smuggle their regular clothes into the library (an operation we hear about in some detail) so they can change in the bathroom?
Also they've hidden weapons in the bathroom. How? Why? You've got me, but it's necessary for Matthias, our chief Bad Guy, to kill a student while he's retrieving the weapons. I'm kidding, it's totally not necessary, the student was leaving the bathroom and Matthias could have just waited for him to leave, but he kills him instead. And then knocks out another student who surprises him while he's hiding the body. He doesn't kill this guy.
Later he shoots a student who starts running as if to jump him. Which is surprising, since conservatives have assured us that in the event of a mass shooting, we should just 'swarm' the gun man and we can bring him down.
My point, though, is that Matthias is holding these students for ransom -- so why would he start shooting them? Dead hostages aren't very useful.
Oh, and we get Matthias's back story. See, he was a student at this university. He was -- and is -- a progressive. But to his shock, when he came to the university, everyone hated him as much as they hated good Patriotic American Conservatives. Why? Well, because he was working class.
Their commitment to diversity and equality didn’t
extend to boys from squalid little oil-field towns like the
one Foster came from, no matter how smart they were.
You know how the progressives hate the working class.
That's why Matthias is doing all this, we discover -- he knows that the only thing progressives really respect is wealth. So he's going to get really rich, and this is the best way to do that.
Did I mention that we're supposed to believe Matthias is brilliant?
He pulls his gun and starts firing rounds into the ceiling. Everyone screams and panics, except Pierce (and Jake, but we'll get to that). Pierce just calmly assesses the situation, and makes this odd remark:
The gunman was white, fairly young, and average- looking.
Nothing about him shouted “mass shooter.”
See, Fareed. Fareed is what a terrorist looks like. A young white guy? That's a 'normal' American. White guys
Meanwhile, Fareed tries to join forces with Matthias, in order to bring down the American Infidels (yes, he literally says this) but Matthias will have none of it.
Cut t o Jake, whose catlike reflexes cause him to leap across the table -- literally across the table, knocking books and papers everywhere -- and knock Burke to the floor.
Jake twisted as they went down so that he hit the
floor first and she landed on top of him, in- stead of the other way
around. His weight falling on her might have seriously injured her.
Oh my God.
Matthias shoots the guy who rushed him, shoots another round into the ceiling, and then goes off on his political rant. He wants a hundred million dollars from the families of the students, who are all part of the 1%, or he will blow up the entire university.
"That’s a one with eight zeroes after it, for
those of you who believe math is racist.”
Ha, ha, ha, see, that's funny because progressives think math is racist. He says this standing in the middle of a university. Where we teach math, and do research with math, and on math. Where there is an entire department devoted to math. But okay.
Matthias then assures them he thinks math is racist, too -- because J.A. doesn't want us to forget that he's evil because he's a progressive -- and rants some more. He only wants ransom from the 1%, because despite what J.A. told us earlier, his aim isn't actually to get rich, it's to hurt the wealthy.
That's what progressives live for, as you know, to hurt the wealthy. (We find out Pierce's father owns two Fortune 500 companies. And also McRainey, despite lying in a pool of his own blood, finds time to ruminate on how the real wealth gap in the USA isn't because rich people write the laws that allow them to loot the country. Oh no. It's because progressive write laws that allow the government to loot the working class. That's why most of the wealth in this country and the world is owned by about 30 people. Democrats.
Also regulations, somehow.
Blah, blah, blah, more political rants from everyone, despite how they're in this mass shooter situation. Jake's adviser, the one who was so evil and such a progressive, is brought to his senses by the situation. Guns aren't evil! Violence isn't evil! He steals a gun and kills one of the terrorists, and then -- Die Hard
style -- climbs into the ceiling.
Jake rushes Matthias. He overpowers him, and puts a gun to his head.
But what is this! Burke has sneaked up behind Jake. She puts a gun to his ribs.
OH NO. Burke is one of the BAD GUYS.
This is the big plot twist J.A. has for us, and while it does explain why Burke would be willing to risk her career by dating and making out with Jake, it's just...bizarre.
Burke is a professor of Criminal Justice at one of the best universities in the nation. She's on the tenure track. This is what we're told. And yet we're supposed to believe she's going to join forces with someone like Matthias and his crackpot scheme to hold an entire university for ransom?
I mean, obviously J.A. has never spoken to an actual professor, but yeah, no.
I'm assuming we're going to learn that Burke was overwhelmed by her passion for Matthias, or something of that order. But also: yeah, no.
Or is she supposed to have been planted here at the university by Matthias, the way all the Bad Guy groundskeepers were, and the guy working the desk at the university, and so on? Because if that's the case, oh, hell
I suspect J.A. has no idea how faculty get hired. Most people who don't work in the academy have no idea how faculty get hired, so that makes sense. But you don't just walk into HR at a major university and apply for a tenure-track job and get hired.
First there has to be an opening, and in a tenure-track job, that means someone left or someone died. Maybe Matthias killed one of the criminal justice professors? Okay, let's go with that.
Now we have to get approval to hire in that line, the tenure-track line, for that job in that department. This is a process that usually takes about a year. But maybe they put a rush job on it, because I don't know why they would, but let's pretend.
Now we have to put together a search committee, and they have to decide what they want -- what particular flavor of criminal justice professor they want, I mean -- and write a job ad. It gets placed in two or three specific journals around the world.( I assume Matthias recruited Burke before he killed the other professor, because otherwise that's just wasteful, so how did he know what sort of criminal justice professor the committee would decide they wanted? Burke has to be qualified for this job in order to get it.)
Now we wait for applications to pour in, and they do pour in. When we advertised for our last position in my department we got nearly 200 applications. And this is not a tenure-track job, and it's not at 'one of the best' universities in the country (though I like our university).
Then the committee reads all the applications, all the CVs, all the teaching philosophies and writing samples and so on. (All of these are required when you apply for most academic positions.) We choose maybe 20 that make the first cut.
Then we contact their references, and ask for letters of recommendation, or call them up and talk to them. This takes six to eight months, from start to finish.
We settle on three candidates, usually, to interview in person. We bring them to campus for a two or three day visit, so everyone can talk to them, so they can give a presentation of their research, so they can teach a class or two and we can see how they get along with our students, so we can just make sure they aren't hinky in some way, like planning to pull a heist on our campus.
Kidding. But I could tell you stories. These interviews happen for a reason.
Anyway: We choose one person to hire. We write up the justification for not hiring the other 199, as well as the justification for hiring this one, and send everything to HR. HR contacts our choice and asks for more information -- copies of transcripts, SS#, a whole pile of stuff. The justification also goes up the line to the dean and provost and the Board.
Then we wait. It's usually another few months before we get approval to hire.
By which time the person has usually taken a job at another university and we have to start over.
MY POINT IS -- yeah, if we're going to be told that Burke is on the campus as one of Matthias's plants, that just didn't happen. Maybe
Matthias could get one of his men planted in the grounds crew. He couldn't get someone hired at the library. He absolutely could not get someone hired on the tenure track.
Also, if Burke were at all qualified to be hired on the tenure track, there is no way she would throw that over to help her boyfriend run this ridiculous job. Becoming qualified for a position like that -- and getting a position like that -- is the culmination of about 15 years work, and a shit ton of ambition. She's not going to give all that up.
I wouldn't write a book about what it's like to be in the military if I'd never been in the military and I didn't know anyone who had and I'd clearly never even talked to a soldier. Why does J.A. think she can write about what it's like on a university campus without ever even visiting one?
This is all I can take for now.