Thursday, June 27, 2013

How to Trap a Tycoon by Elizabeth Bevarly

Skeptic scale: 
I did NOT like this book. I get that this was supposed to be an ironic and tongue in cheek take on gender politics but it just felt like one long gasbag lecture about how "girls and boys are different but equal". C'mon now. Is equality even a question at this point!? 

The book is filled with long rambles about gender politics and sexual power dynamics that become frustrating and repetitive - perhaps a thorough edit could have solved that issue. But the truth is, NOTHING could have hidden the fact that the entire premise of the story was UNBEARABLE, flawed and offensively silly.

The protagonist is a woman holding down two jobs - she's a bartender at an exclusive club as well as a Sociology TA. In addition to her jobs, she has pseudonymously penned a bestseller called How to Trap a Tycoon where she talks about how women shouldn't feel bad about "getting theirs" and if money is their objective, they should follow her carefully laid out plan to trap a tycoon. 

Ok now I am going to go a bit nuts. I know it's "just" fiction yada yada, but it's DANGEROUS for anything to be this out of touch with reality. Let's begin the madness!

1) The premise of the book Totally Sucked. 
Here was the main point of the book (as well as the book within this book) summarized in a few lines spoken by the protagonist:

"How to Trap a Tycoon is a book that tells women how to go about getting ... nice things, things that they don't already have because they've been denied them by men."

Ummm...WHAT THE EFFING EFF??? How has this book not ended up on the banned list for this nonsensical premise!!?? Surely this is a more dangerous book than Lolita ever was? She's basically saying that because traditionally women have tended to be at an economic disadvantage, the way to even out that difference is to WHORE THEMSELVES TO A MAN WITH MONEY?? How does that not just EXACERBATE the bloody problem? Oh, so you don't have economic power so why don't you just make yourself so desirable a nice rich man will fall for you and then you can have everything you want, baby! Are you kidding me? 

Nothing about educating yourself so YOU can claim economic advantages for YOURSELF? How about arming yourself with the tools to acquire economic power (a fulfilling job, the capacity to provide for yourself, retaining control of your body etc)? You really think trapping a man is going to solve the whole gender power distribution thing?

2) Hugely irritating female characters
For all the big talk about women being up front and asserting themselves in male/female relationships, every single female character is extremely passive and panders to men. The main character, while educated and eventually financially independent, is entirely passive when it comes to her relationship with her love interest. He makes all the first moves, he is the sexual aggressor and he is the one who must "forgive" her for something he perceives as her betrayal. In fact, she never takes a single assertive step to help define their relationship. I mean, this could be a character from a Regency romance novel set in 1820 for all the pluck the woman shows.

Every single woman in the novel is portrayed as a passive player in their own lives and almost each needs to be saved by Mr. Alpha Dude Rich Guy. One of the main side characters was a woman who had been abused when she was younger and only comes to terms with her fears when a man takes it upon himself to "save" her. The main character's mother is not exactly passive, but she is a prostitute - oh, sorry courtesan, who has depended on the indulgence of men all her life. This character feels like she is truly "independent" because she doesn't need marriage. Um, I don't think being the sexual dependent of a rich benefactor counts as being independent, lady...

The one woman who is actively involved in shaping her own destiny - the owner of the bar where the main character works - is portrayed as a stone cold bi-atch. Because hey, you can't be an ambitious, money-minded, successful without being kind of a stinky shrew!

3) Equally annoying male counterparts
As annoying as I found all the female characters, the men were even more pathetic. Each man had exactly two attributes that define his entire personality  1) How wealthy he is, and 2) His willingness and ability to save the woman. 

For example, the main character's father was 1) Rich and 2) Unwilling to accept his bastard daughter. Ergo, he was a douche bag. By contrast one of the side characters who "saves" this girl who had been abused in her early years is 1) Rich and 2) A knight in shining armor. Ergo, he is a "hero". The main character's love interest is 1) Rich and 2) Willing to "forgive" his love interest for hiding her secret identity from him, so he too, is a hero. Douche bags and heroes. That's it. No further analysis of their characters. We know next to nothing about these men's motivations, their ambitions, their personal quirks, WHY they feel the need to save (or reject) these ladies. Nada.

Well at least we see some equality between men and women - as in there are equally dumb.

4) Wasted opportunities
There were so many other ways this book could have gone. I could CRY for all the wasted opportunities here...Maybe, in spite of writing about trapping a tycoon, the main character could have fallen for a poor man and then realized that true happiness has nothing to do with money and power when both are happy, well adjusted people. 

Maybe the secret author of How to Trap a Tycoon was the male character who was writing a tongue in cheek book to stir the pot, and then has to untangle the mess he makes when the female characters try to trap him, but he ends up falling for a women who doesn't try to trap him at all. 

I mean, ANYTHING other than the premise that girls should feel free to jiggle their boobs and learn how to give creme de menthe blow jobs would have been peachy. Oh sweet Aphrodite, I need to Listerine my mouth just thinking of how much garbage I ate reading this thing. Gack.

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