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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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books: jane doe by victoria helen stone
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
Because I just realized starting tomorrow the next week is going to be hellish for work and pre-Christmas shopping, I need to abruptly relax.

So. Book rec.

Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone



Summary: a woman embarks on revenge for the suicide of her best friend.

Why You Should Read It: It's first person pov of a female sociopath and she has a plan to destroy a man's life.

Wait, not that kind of sociopath. I mean one who I believe either satisfies ASPD or so close it doesn't make a difference. She's not a monster or a serial killer or anything like that; she's just a really good lawyer living an awesome life with an analytical mind and an incredibly dry sense of humor who doesn't really 'get' the human thing. But she did have someone that made her want to, and that was her best friend; the only person, in fact, she'd ever cared about.

Jane is breathtakingly cold; watching her put on her persona as a vulnerable woman to trap the man that caused her friend's suicide is cool enough, but her dry commentary makes it perfect. Because everything she does 'normal' comes from an almost alien logic, very much like you'd expect someone playing human very well. She puts on the part of a vulnerable woman being emotionally abused; she responds correctly to the cues to assure her victim thinks that she's going to be his, eventually; in her mind, though, he's one step down from an insect, and it shows.

She doesn't want to kill him; sure, that's on the table, but only if she can't find a way to do something far more satisfying, like destroy him and all he cares about. And spoiler: fuck yeah she finds exactly how to do it. It. Is. Beautiful.

Why This Works:

Honestly, I don't know. This is so not my usual area of even looking, but I saw it recced on a Romance website--I think SmartBitches?--and was curious. I am glad I did.

1.) Sociopaths in most media are serial killers/monsters/whatevers, which is fine (not gonna lie, I love it), but it also means most people aren't aware Anti-Social Personality Disorder is a.) an actual real thing and b.) is a spectrum of behaviors and personality traits, and actually, very few end up on the FBI Most Terrifying List. Even the rare ones who aren't wearing people-suits and tongue-hats are evil assholes at minimum doing horrible things because they don't care. It doesn't seem to be considered that sociopaths may just--you know, not do horrible things because they don't care.

(There is a really interesting argument in this about the nature of people, even uplifting--yeah, a story about a sociopath taking epic revenge does this--that the human default is 'don't do shitty things'. But I digress)

Like Jane, sociopaths may just live their lives and follow social rules and have ethical boundaries because they really have no reason not to and why the fuck make life difficult for yourself when you don't have to? Jane illustrates this very well; she went to college, went to law school, got a great job, has a really great life, has acquaintances, goes to bars, picks up lovers, has her best friend that is this extraordinary and precious person who makes her see an entirely different world and even, a little, feel a part of it. When she starts revenge, the same applies; her attack is clinically focused on the goal and the people involved with minimal bystander casualties. Would she have dragged innocent people into this if she needed to? Hell yes. But--she didn't need to, so she didn't.

2.) This is probably the single best breakdown of how emotional abuse happens, how it works, what it does, as Jane calmly explains what she's doing and why. It shouldn't work but it does; it could be uncomfortable--I can say more than once I stopped because holy shit, I remember a guy saying that shit to me--but it was surprisingly satisfying to watch a woman manipulate an abuser, gaslight the fuck out of him, and thoroughly destroy his life using his own asshole stupidity against him.

This may be triggering for those who have experienced emotional abuse, but it may also be cathartic, there's no way for me to know. I can say that her calm narrative of what she does and why--adn what he does and why--was fascinating.

3.) This is also an exploration of grief; that she experiences emotion in a very, very different context doesn't change the fact it's there and incredibly painful. And yeah, this is about her; her method is about her friend and what she went through before she died, but doing it at all is for herself, because this man took the most precious thing she had.

4.) And over the course of the book, Jane changes. No, she does not become soft, warm, and cuddly, but as she deals with her grief and her anger and how much she misses her friend, she becomes involved with a guy she used to date that never forgot her (which shocks her), and finds herself exploring the idea she doesn't have to be alone or lonely. She might not be people, but she does kind of like them.

(Note: This is a relatively minor part of the book and Boyfriend is not well developed, but honestly, that made sense; this book was very much about Jane. I did however, come to the conclusion he's basically Dead Best Friend with Penis and won many points because he's attracted to Jane for the same reason her BFF was; Jane is an iceberg of utter calm and logic in their lives and both of them loved and needed her for exactly what she was.)

5.) HUGELY IMPORTANT - the revenge is fantastic. Watching her decide what to do and how, the way she gathers information and sets everything up--seriously, it's wonderful and that shit starts within twenty pages.

This may not work for you--I'm genuinely surprised how well it worked for me--but wow. It was fun.

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