A new home! & Batch review #1

Days of packing & two intense days of unpacking have given us a new, cozy, clean home.

We are happy.
(In case you are wondering, the “we” I refer to are my family and me.)

And as of today, we also have (again) the access to the internet, and working washing machines and phones. These simple (!) technological pleasures I will never take for granted again. (And I will very probably forget about my new resolution in three weeks. Life’s sad.)

Perhaps because I had no access to the internet except on my smartphone, I got more reading done than expected. So following my last resolution, here are my impressions/reviews.

The Manual of Aeronautics#1 The Manual of Aeronautics by Scott Westerfeld (author) & Keith Thompson (illustrator)

This little (53 pages) book is a guide-like book to Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy (Leviathan; Behemoth; Goliath). The pages are all in full-color and contain many illustrations of beasties and Clanker engines by Keith Thompson (quite a few not shown in the trilogy’s illustrations!) and short explanations by Scott Westerfeld. The last four pages are dedicated to four people (Alek, Deryn, Count Volger and the lady bofffin)’s portraits and their official (meaning Dylan, not Deryn) bios of what they are doing now the WWI is over.
Recommended if you are a die-hard fan of the Leviathan trilogy or interested in knowing how the airbeast Leviathan, Alek’s Stormwalker and many more beasties and Clanker walkers look like.
I personally bought this book about 60% off the retail price, which is the only reason I acquired it; otherwise it’s ridiculously expensive at 20 USD.

Rapture in Death#2 Rapture in Death by J. D. Robb

Probably my fifth re-read. I’m on the mission of re-reading all the In Death books I’ve read so far (18, plus two novellas) before I continue on with the series. From Vengeance on I’ve read them only once, so details are a little fuzzy.
In the case of Rapture, I knew the main plot twists & who the murderer was & etc. but I’d forgotten how hilarious (esp. Eve and Peabody) & heart-warming Eve and her little (as of yet) gang can be! I also adore Roarke and Eve as an item.
There is one detail, however, that has and would have continued to escape me if it hadn’t been for the recent burst of explanation videos on YouTube about consent and consensual sex.
Spoilers for Rapture in Death
In chapter fourteen, Roarke is being influenced by Jess Barrow (through subliminals hidden in music using his brain-pattern) to get very lusty about Eve. He (J.B.) has done this before in one of the early chapters of the book, but that time it was for both – they (Eve and Roarke) both wanted each other. It’s still mind-control and therefore illegal because it robs you of your free will, but at least it wasn’t rape by either party.
This time, however, Roarke’s the only party to be influenced, and he can’t control his urges. So he drags Eve into a nearby closet and starts getting sexy. Eve’s at first amused and a little bit aroused, but she tells him to cut it out since they are at a party. Roarke doesn’t respond to this. It comes to vaginal intercourse, and Eve tells him to stop, because he’s hurting her. Roarke doesn’t – can’t – stop, so Eve shuts her eyes and waits it out. Afterwards, or even during the whole thing, Roarke is horrified at what he’s done / is doing, and tells Eve “Good God, Eve. Good God. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. […] For Christ’s sake, I’ve raped you.”
To which Eve responds, “No. […] You did not. I know what rape is. What you did wasn’t rape, even if it was a little overenthusiastic.”
Now, Eve is trying to protect Roarke. She loves him, and seeing the controlled ice-man so scared and appalled at himself has shaken her. Instead of being hurt or traumatized that he has exploited her trust, she tries to protect him. (To which Roarke responds something in line of are you crazy I just raped you.)
And here is the point: What Roarke did was rape. He violated Eve sexually because she never consented to any sexual activities. She even told him to stop, and he didn’t stop. Roarke himself was a victim (of Jess Barrow’s) in this case, but he still did rape her.
This is a truth that kind of rings inside me in a clear, startled way. Because I learned that rape is not justified just because the individuals are married or in love or whatever. It doesn’t matter whether they have had sex countless times before. Consent has to be given every time, even multiple times during a sexual act. And given consent can be retracted any time. Sex is not a contract; it’s voluntary, it’s personal, and it involves a great deal of trust.

A similar thing happens a few chapters later, when Roarke asks her to make love with him that night and Eve becomes flustered and says something in line of  “You don’t have to ask. We got married and everything.”
This line gives off a wrong impression as well, for the reasons stated above. Normally, Eve and Roarke are pretty much in sync when it comes to sex or other sexual activities. Their consent is usually implied by their urgency to take each other on, so to speak. So it’s not like “Wanna have sex?” “Sure do” with them, but this does not mean that they didn’t have consensual sex before.
End of spoilers for Rapture
The In Death books provide for me a mindless escapism into the future. Nora Roberts / J. D. Robb has gotten a few predictions right but they still have a “retro” feel to me since the early In Death books were written mid-1990s when internet wasn’t yet a widespread thing. I still can’t believe that this series is almost as old as I am. And that I still enjoy the books a lot.


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