Monday, June 11, 2018

Review: Transcendence
Folks, this is going to be one of my more challenging reviews to date.  Why?  Because Transcendence by Shay Savage took parts of Romancelandia by storm a few years ago, including captivating my good buddy, and RWA roomie, KristieJ.  Kristie told me I had to read it.  So I bought this when it was 99 cents and it sat on my Kindle until finally Kristie said I had to promise to read it before RWA in July.  So, I did.  My experience with this book can be wrapped up in one simple, inelegant, response:

WT-Actual-F did I just read?!?!

Seriously.  I want to drown myself in a vat of brain bleach.

The story opens with some half-baked science-y explanation on why our hero can't talk or understand language. Blah, blah, blah SCIENCE!  Once past the prologue we meet our caveman (seriously) hero, Ehd, trying to stay alive after the death of his tribe (wiped out by a fire).  He digs a pit, manages to catch an antelope (or whatever) and in his state of hunger accidentally leaves his spear behind.  When he goes back he notices his pit has captured something else.  A young woman wearing strange clothing and making a lot of weird mouth noises.

The young women, Beh, is from "the future."  But Ehd doesn't know that because he can't communicate or understand what she's saying and damn she makes all these weird mouth noises that hurt his head.  She basically cries a lot and is generally the most annoying thing on the planet Earth, which takes some doing since the reader isn't given her point of view.  That's right kids!  This story is told in first person, present tense, from the hero's point of view.  Yes, the hero who can't talk or understand language.  How he can tell a story to the reader then defies logic - but whatever.  Ours is not to reason why.  Ehd takes one look at our idiot heroine, immediately starts thinking of her as his "mate" and spends the rest of the novel desperately wanting to get her pregnant.

Yes, it's all just as insulting as I'm making it sound.  Don't believe me?  Let's look at the notes I highlighted while reading last night:

At 9%:
However, she seems so frightened of me now, I don’t think she would readily position herself on her hands and knees so I can fill her.  Still, I am much stronger, and if I want inside of her, I can just hold her while I enter her body.  Joining with her in such a way would still feel very good, I imagine, but I don’t like it when she yells and cries, and I think she would probably do that if I have to hold her down to mate with her. These thoughts are making my penis lengthen and become stiff.  I consider stroking myself, but I am afraid it will wake her.  I sigh as I look down on her sleeping face and wonder how long it will be before I can properly mate with her.  I touch her cheek softly again, and I know when I decide to lie with her, I want her to enjoy it.  So how do I get that to happen? Finally, after thinking about it a long time, I decide I need to make her like me.
Wendy's Notes: WT-Actual-F am I reading?!  And wait, how does a caveman hero who cannot understand language know the word "penis?"

At 16%:
As much as I need water and food and shelter, I need to be inside of her—I need to give her a baby.
Wendy's Notes: Sure, why not? Let's roll feminism back 100 years.

At 22%:
I hope if I am patient, she will let me put a baby inside of her soon.
Wendy's Notes: Kill. Me. Now.

At 36%:
We have to mate now before it’s too late. I have to put a baby in her.
Wendy's Notes: Seriously dude. WE GET IT ALREADY!

At 41%:
I can feel the heat in my groin and the hardness of my flesh under my furs, and I know my body is straining to put a baby inside of her as soon as possible.  Before long, the weather will be cold, and Beh will have to have a baby in her soon so it will be big enough to survive the next winter.
Wendy's Notes: Barf and kill me.

At 43%:
I mean—if she touched me there, then surely she’ll let me put a baby in her now, right?
Wendy's Notes: You know, sometimes I'm a little slow but I think I'm beginning to notice a pattern here.../end sarcasm.

At 69%:
My mate likes everything to be clean and dry, and putting my penis in her while she is bleeding is clearly not an option.
Wendy's Notes: What sweet hell is this?! 

At 71%:
We eat; I put my penis inside of her for a while, and then I fall back to sleep.
Wendy's Notes: Proof that some 21st century men haven't evolved all that much from their cavemen ancestors.  Booya!  

And really, that's just the tip of the iceberg.  You've got a time traveling heroine whose point of view you don't get, who cries All. The. Time and doesn't do a damn thing THE ENTIRE STORY to figure out how she got there, how to get back to her own time etc.  Color me wacky, but I think I'd make that my priority over giving it up to a caveman who can't talk.  But the piece de resistance?  When the heroine gets her period the caveman hero fashions up some maxi-pads for her using antelope hide and dried grass.  

People, I can't even. 

Harlequin kills SuperRomance for, presumably, low sales  and THIS!  This is the sort of story that earns glowing 5-star reviews out the ying-yang.  A heroine (yes, she's an idiot - but still...) reduced to broodmare, a story concept that defies logic (How does he know the word penis? How can this story be told from his point of view when HE DOESN'T UNDERSTAND LANGUAGE?!), and a time travel element/explanation that makes even less sense than your typical time travel romance - which, long time romance readers will attest to, takes some serious doing.

I'm done.  I'm out.  I want wine.  Send wine.  Lots and lots of wine.

Final Grade = F 


azteclady said...

If this...Neanderthal? Homo Habilis? WHAT????...doesn't understand language (even though primates do!!!!) how does he connect sex with pregnancy, and pregnancy with offspring????

You know, on top of all the rest, how is this explained?

Yeah, I don't know this one will ever get read, though I (as you) bought it on KristieJ's recommendation, long, loooong ago.

Lori said...

"We eat; I put my penis inside of her for a while, and then I fall back to sleep."

This is probably not the single worst sentence in the history of romance novels, but it's a contender.

I try very hard not to yuck someone else's yum, but the fact that people raved about this book kind of hurts my feelings.

Lori said...

So do I hold up my end of the bargain or just be glad you took one for the team and posted all the best parts?

S. said...

From a comedy POV, this might be hilarious to read, I bet.
At least you make is seem so. :)

Wendy said...

AL: That's a very good question - how does he equate sex with pregnancy?! He also knows that when a woman gets her period that means she's not with child. HOW DOES HE KNOW THIS?!?!?! Sigh. He once had a tribe so he understands the concept of woman gets big ol' belly, woman then gives birth to little human - but that's basic observation. This book literally makes NO sense!

Lori: I don't know if you're a Seinfeld fan, but yeah - it's basically the equivalent of Elaine yada-yada-yada'ing "the best part." ("No, I mentioned the bisque...") But yeah, I read that line and I was like seriously?! Here's a thought author: TRY!

Lori: We make Nikki keep her end of the bargain and then re-evaluate after that :)

S: There's humor here in hindsight. While I was reading it I just wanted it to stop. I need a decent book to read next. I'm literally dying over here.

PK the Bookeemonster said...

I just ... I don't ... how ...

This went through multiple people, presumably, who all said, "Yes! Let's publish this. Let's put our time, effort, MONEY, and reputation behind this book."

We're doomed. Our civilization is doomed. Excuse me, I have to go read some Shakespeare now to regain my faith in mankind.

Rowena said...

I'm definitely with Lori on this one. Do we have to...especially after reading this review? Please say no, please say no... :) Thanks for taking one for the team. I loved your commentary though. Hahaha.

I'm gonna buy you a beer at the next lunch for all of your hard work on this one. :)

RND said...

This sounds like prehistorical/time travel fan fiction. Therefore, it doesn’t need to make sense as long as there is an audience for it. I was never sold on the praise for it, so avoided it. I also assumed it was self-pubbed.

Personally, I’m getting really sick of the all too pervasive first person present tense. Occasionally authors can pull it off, but most cannot.

Wendy said...

PK: Well, it's self-published. And it started life as fan fiction (more on that in a bit). Honestly, I think 98% of the praise comes from the fact it's "different." Folks, listen to your Auntie Wendy. Just because it's "different" doesn't mean it's good.

Rowena: Someone else needs to read this and decide whether or not I'm over-reacting in the horribleness LOL

RND: It is. It's apparently Twilight fan fiction. I'm not sure how? I mean other than having a "heroine" I want to smack into next Tuesday and an obsessively creepy hero. But I only got through 8 chapters of the first Twilight book, so I'm not an authority.

I love first person. I grew up on first person (mystery reader from way back). But certain corners of romance (I'm looking at you erotic romance) are bound and determined to kill my love for it. There's so much bad first person out there. I mean, just really bad. And it's pervasive in self-publishing to the point where I'm leery to read any of it. I'm at the point that I'm going to require a signed affidavit that an editor at least eye-balled the story first.

Lori said...

Wendy: You are not over-reacting to the horribleness. If anything you under-reacted in that you actually finished the book. I know this without having read it myself because, "We eat; I put my penis inside of her for a while, and then I fall back to sleep." There is no over-reacting to that. I mean really, that's just staggeringly bad.

A Library Girl said...

I remember this one ending up on a P2P Twilight fanfic list somewhere (apparently so AU that the author decided not to worry about "Beh" and "Ehd" being so similar to "Bella" and "Edward). Yeesh, I hadn't realized how bad it was. "I put my penis inside of her for a while." How sexy and romantic. -_-

Jill said...

Haha, I remember when there was buzz around this book and I'm someone who has an intense (probably borderline irrational) hatred of stories set in prehistory (wow, Ayla invented the sewing needle, and the bra, and the washer dryer and . . . zzzz), but I also had "fear of missing out" so I listened to my instincts and went to Amazon and read only the one star reviews.

Now, none of those were as funny as Wendy, but there was some comedy gold there. And it definitely convinced me I would never, ever read this book. Maybe it's a little bit of mean-spirited thing to do, but I have used it to talk myself out of some impulse buys and talk myself into some DNFs when part of me is hoping the book magically gets better. No regrets.

Harper Miller said...

I haz so many questions. SO MANY!

Kristie (J) said...

I had to come, you know I had to. Laughing. While agreeing with you I have to give my rebuttal. I read this as not Ehd telling a story but more the reader is inside his head ‘listening’ in to his thoughts. This also explains the simplistic ways he thinks. I know when I’m thinking I think basically “im hungry, I eat now. Me tired, me sleep. Because it’s to ourselves only, we don’t need all the bells & whistle.
Another point, this takes place so far in the past feminism isn’t even an issue. The whole point of life in that time period is food, shelter and carrying on the species, about as simplistic as can be.

And he doesn’t so much think penis as that thing between his legs that gets big & hard when he’s around Beh and somehow produces babies.
And if I had to live the rest of my life without anyone understanding what I say, no coffee, no TV, no internet, no CHOCOLATE I’d be doing lots of crying too ;-)

And despite not being able to talk to each other, I got the strong sense they were able to communicate.
And while a times he talk like an intelligent guy of current times and others like me Tarzan, you Jane might be incredibly distracting, I just went with the flow. For me what struck me the most is how the entire book makes me feel. When I’m up at a cottage with the girls having a truly great time yet crying, literally crying at the end even though I’ve already read it a few times makes this a real statement read.

And I said before you read it that if you hate the book I’d get why, heh, heh, heh. I just truly appreciate that you gave it a try.
Though I must admit I’ll miss the Wendy, Wendy, Wendy. But a promise is a promise is a promise and I said if you read this I wouldn’t Wendy you. And I also have the consolation I was right about Conor’s Way wasn’t I?.

Wendy said...

Lori: I know. I got to that sentence and I was like, "Oh c'mon - you're not even trying anymore."

Library Girl: This is how faulty my memory is - I was misremembering that this was 50 Shades fanfic - but wait? Isn't 50 Shades also Twilight fanfic? Ugh.

Jill: Yeah, I suffer from "Maybe this will get magically better" syndrome too. It usually goes hand-in-hand with "I should love this, why am I not loving this" syndrome.

Harper: At least one in my local circle of romance friends is reading this right now and her verdict so far is "Yeah, some of this is really stupid Wendy but I don't know, the caveman is kinda sweet." I like Nikki. I sure am going to miss her LOL.

Kristie: You ARE right more than you're wrong. I think you're SO wrong here (LOL!) but you were SO right about Conor's Way and The Way Home (Megan Chance - OMG, that book was great!) and countless others I'm blanking on right now.

You know what I've noticed about us? We agree on a lot of books - but when it comes to books that one of us LOVED? That's where we get in trouble. Books I LOVE, you're like Meh, whatever Wendy and books you love I'm either Meh, this is a C or in the case of Transcendence? No. No, nope, nopity nope.

Love you sweetie. We're so close to RWA time!!!!

azteclady said...

Aside: the fact that I'm going to miss KristieJ at RWA is just more insult to an already bleeding injury ::sigh::

Unknown said...

This is BevBB. I saw your comments on this on Goodreads & had to come read this post. I haven't laughed so hard about a book discussion in ages. A fanfic of a fanfic of Twilight? ROTFL!

Ok, I had a passing thought, maybe it's a satirical send-up of the Twilight characters... Just trying to be helpful.


Nikki said...

I'm late to this party but all I have to add is OMG. And thank you for taking one for the team.

Mary Watkins said...

I remember way back in the day Dear Author had a review of this with similar thoughts.
The only prehistory books I’ve ever been able to get through are the Clan of the Cave Bear books and I do a lot of hand waving with Ayla inventing everything.

Wendy said...

AL: We shall raise a glass in your honor and miss you terribly!

BevBB: Huh, a satirical spin? That actually makes a fair amount of sense, although I suspect we're giving this book way too much credit ;)

Nikki: I soothed my frazzled nerves by continuing my glom of Marcia Muller on audio and reading a historical western for the TBR Challenge.

Mary: LOL! Yeah, I love historicals but I think prehistorical settings are lost on me. Even if this book had been better written, I was really unmoved by the concept of it.

Erin Burns said...

This has been on my Amazon wishlist forever now because of the sheer WTFery, but even at 0.99 I couldn't pull the trigger. So it just sits there taunting me as something I world probably love to hate read but an probably better off without.

Wendy said...

Erin: You were stuck in my comment moderation! Sorry about that. I'm having all sorts of issues with receiving notifications at the moment, and it's making me look rude!

Well, I think it's definitely a hate read. The best aspect of this for me was that two other SoCal Bloggers read the book shortly after I did and it turned into this epic text message string that entertained me for hours. So, that's something, right? LOL

Erin Burns said...

No problem, I've been out of the loop so long I figured the bots just thought, WTF we thought this one had up and died.

And epic hilarious text chats are worth almost as much as a great book, so that'd be a win to me :D