Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I need to pay more attention to what I download...

A couple of days ago, I was on Amazon.com looking for something to read.  I really like non-fiction books, especially when they are about foreign lands.  I found a book called Brianna's Story: Married to An Arab that got really good reviews and appeared to be non-fiction.  It was self-published, but I read a lot of self-published books.  I downloaded it and started reading.

My first clue that this book was going to suck was that it didn't have a very professional appearance.  It was double-spaced.  As I read the book, certain things didn't add up.  Again, at first I thought I was reading a true story.  The protagonist was a woman from Ohio named Bree who was an engineering student at Columbia University.  You would think someone smart enough to be an engineering student, especially at a school like Columbia, would be very intelligent.  But Bree didn't come off as being very smart.

The story begins with Bree attending a meet n' greet for engineering students.  She sees an exotic looking guy there who drives a Jaguar and regularly dresses for success.  She strikes up a conversation with him and he doesn't seem very friendly.  Just as she's about to go away, he grabs her wrist and asks her to stay.  The grip is painful, but she stays.  They talk and she find out his name is Khaleel and he's from Saudi Arabia.  He's found that many Americans don't like him because he's an Arab.  Not wanting to be racist, Bree doesn't immediately tell him to take a hike because of 9/11.

We then find out that Bree had a long-term boyfriend who had died.  She had kept herself out of the dating scene for a long time because she still grieved for her dead boyfriend.  So we're supposed to believe that Mr. Saudi Arabian hot stuff tickles her fancy enough for her to want to take a chance on love, even though from the get go he's a bit of an asshole.  And we're also supposed to believe that a Saudi man would be turned on by how forward the American woman is, knowing that Muslim men generally like their women chaste.

Next thing you know, they've moved in together.  Somehow our heroine has managed to break her lease and has hopped into the sack with Mr. Saudi hot pants.  They're fucking, even though he's Muslim and premarital sex is a no no.  Bree takes him to Ohio to meet her family.  Her parents don't like him because he's an Arab.  Dad comes right out and confronts him about September 11.  Mom says they're having chicken for dinner instead of pork.  Dad's offer to have a beer is rebuffed and then we get a brief tale about how Bree's dad might be an alcoholic.  This part of the story doesn't seem to fit very well, but it's sort of par for the course, given the rest of the novel.

Next thing you know, Bree is pregnant.  She tells her boyfriend, who immediately gets weird and starts praising Allah.  Twins run in Bree's family, so Khaleel is sure she's going to have twins.  He keeps talking about how Bree is carrying his sons.  They call Bree's mom and dad and tell them they're getting married.  Bree starts making wedding and career plans, even applying for jobs in California.  Khaleel has other ideas, of course, and has some shady dealings with some Arabian guys who come over while Bree is out.  She gets home early and Khaleel is angry, even though she offers to make coffee for everyone.

Just a week before they are due to graduate from Columbia, Khaleel and his posse of Arabian friends decide they have to leave the country.  Khaleel tells Bree his father is ill and they need to go to Saudi Arabia immediately.  Since Bree is pregnant with Khaleel's baby, she's forced to come along for the ride, even though she wants to stay in New York, graduate, plan their wedding, and have their baby.  Bree whines about their graduation plans, but Khaleel says the university can email their diplomas (really?).  She gets manhandled and drugged; then they put her on a private plane.  She sleeps for most of the flight until they land at some private airport in Saudi Arabia with no car rentals or concessions.  A helicopter takes them further into the desert.

Khaleel's brother forces Bree to wear an abaya.  Unfortunately, the author of this book repeatedly refers to the abaya as a "burka".  Burqas are what they wear in Afghanistan.  They are pretty much the same thing as an abaya and have the same basic function, but I would expect someone who was forced to go to Saudi Arabia to know the right terminology.  I could be wrong, but I have never heard of Arab women calling their attire a burqa.

Khaleel forces Bree to marry him in a quickie Muslim ceremony.  Bree soon finds out that Khaleel has several wives and regularly beats the shit out of them.  He divorced one of them for giving him a daughter instead of a son and because she wouldn't let Khaleel have their daughter circumcised.  It turns out the divorced wife speaks English because she used to work in an American embassy in the United Arab Emirates.  However, somehow Khaleel's ex wife's little daughter speaks English too.  Now, tell me if you live out in BFE Saudi Arabia with your daughter and there's no chance you're leaving, why would you need to teach her English?  Never mind.  It made things convenient for our heroine.

Khaleel goes from being an asshole to a whole ass and Bree decides she has to leave.  But they are nowhere near civilization and she's very pregnant.  Khaleel won't take her to a doctor.  He insists that his mother will help her, since she'd had 11 kids and never needed help.  It later comes out that Khaleel's father got rid of all the girls.  It's implied that they were killed.

Bree eventually gives birth to twins…  but she's drugged during labor.   The twins are girls, they are taken from her before she gets to see them.  It is implied that the twins are murdered for not being male.  Gee, with all this girl killing going on, it makes one wonder how they found anyone to bear their precious sons for them.  As she recovers from losing her twins to Khaleel's murderous family, Bree discovers that Khaleel and his brother, along with all the other men who helped spirit Bree to Saudi Arabia, are terrorists with plans to blow up New York's subway system.  They got out of New York suddenly because the feds were onto them.

Somehow, Bree quickly gets over all of this trauma related to being kidnapped, finding out her husband is a terrorist, and having her twin daughters taken from her.  She manages to escape by stealing a truck.  She takes Khaleel's ex wife and daughter with her and they meet people from the US embassy at the border who save her ass.  I almost expected Bree and Khaleel's ex to start a lesbian love affair or something.  Solidarity, bitches!

Nothing is said about Bree trying to find out what happened to her daughters.  It is implied that she believes they were killed, as well as another one of Khaleel's wives.  The author makes Saudi men out to be terrible monsters who just shoot their women when they tire of them.  I have read some shocking accounts of what goes on in Middle Eastern countries, but I find it hard to believe that people in Saudi Arabia are the way they are depicted in this book.  While I can't say I have a great love for Saudi Arabia, I did find the author's characterization of them a bit racist and offensive.  I don't think she's done her research beyond reading a couple of simple books.  The writer comes off as quite xenophobic.

I also think if you're going to make your heroine someone smart enough to study engineering at a school like Columbia, you should make her fit the part.  I might guess Bree was a home economics major at a second rate public college in Kansas rather than a super smart engineering type.  She just isn't very bright or evolved.  She ignores a lot of huge red flags.  If she has the pluck to escape Saudi Arabia, she should have had the pluck to tell Khaleel to go screw himself when he started treating her like a slave before they went to Saudi.  But she starts off meek and weak minded and somehow changes in a very short timeframe after having twins.  I would think someone like Bree would require more time to recover from that before she pulls off an awesome escape attempt.

I realized at the end of this book that this ridiculous book's sheer suck factor must be a sign.  If that author can get me to fork over $4 for her shitty novel, I bet I can do the same thing.  I know I can write a more believable book than she did.  I went to her author page and I see she's written a lot of novels.  There must be a pay off.

Anyway, next time I download a book, I'm going to be more careful.  That was the worst book I've read in a long time.

7 comments:

  1. You can definitely do better. Start a book now.

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    1. I've got one in the works on my porno blog. ;-)

      I'm also about a third of the way through the book you gave me. It's funny, because the writers discuss how characters can end up going in a way you didn't expect. That's happened to me a few times and, in fact, just happened the other day.

      What I have written is probably not the greatest thing in the world, but it is for sure much better than the book I described in this post was.

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  2. Oh man! That sounds like a terrible book. How you read the whole thing is beyond me!

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  3. It was truly bad storytelling. The author's writing was not the worst I've read and there weren't that many typos… but the book was just poorly conceived and not well-researched. She got many facts wrong and didn't create believable characters. In a way, the book was so bad it was entertaining.

    I've just started another bad book. Stay tuned for a post.

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  4. I got suckered into buying this too, thinking it was a memoir. Halfway through, the believability factor was so low I had to do some research. Which is what brought me here. Total waste of my time and $. Kindle should not market this as a memoir. And now I'm pissed.

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    1. Wow. This book is still being sold? I think it was one of the few I reviewed on Amazon. It's terrible.

      Sorry you got suckered. :(

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