Redneck by Jordan Silver: Review and Rant
Apparently this book has raised a stink in the erotica community and offended many readers, so naturally I had to read it. I downloaded it on Kindle Unlimited the night that it was removed, so I didn’t read the T-Bone: Redneck re-upload (if re-upload it indeed was, which I presume to be identical. I can’t find it on Amazon now whatsoever, so if anyone has the active link to purchase it, please let me know via email , Twitter, or Facebook—I saw a link but it’s been a few days, and I will update this).
Warning: This is going to be a long post.
I was going to include Redneck in my newest batch of mini-reviews, but I decided against that for several reasons. I think those reasons are significant to the review, so I’ll elucidate a little before I get to the meat of it, and the promised rant that will inevitably follow.
The controversy surrounding Redneck means that everything written or spoken about it will be subject to more intense scrutiny than normal. My online reviewing style is easygoing for two reasons. One, I’m a writer in this genre, and we have a hard enough time getting recognized as serious authors; I review as much to help out as I do to inform, which isn’t the case in other genres. Two, erotica doesn’t require the same brutal standards of professionalism to be a genuinely satisfying read for the audience. It’s about communication and providing an experience, and some things are just more important to that than others.
(Seriously, none of us really care if there’s ONE typo in a short erotic read, do we? Yet I’ve critically destroyed books in other genres for an average of one typo every 10,000 words, and will gleefully do so again. We should strive for that perfection in erotica, and I do, but it wouldn’t ruin Skullfucked by the Goddamn Yeti Dictator to typo a main character’s name. Not as much as it would hurt to typo Jon Snow to Jon Snoq in the never-going-to-see-print final book of ASOIAF, or if just once in a new typesetting of The Hobbit, they missed the time the protagonist was autocorrected to Dildo Baggins.)
These are the reasons, along with demands on my time, that I only do mini-reviews of erotica that I find truly enjoyable, and which I suspect most other readers will, too. These are also the reasons why I may give 5 stars to a book (or piece) that, were I doing a complete, objective, professional review, may not rank quite as highly. If it’s erotica and it’s hot and it’s well-written and others will love it, I’m fine with giving it 5 stars.
The controversy is why I’m doing a (somewhat) fairly complete review of Redneck, similar to what I would were this going into Pub Weekly or, you know, if I were getting paid for it. Maybe not quite to that extent, but close. Eyes are on Redneck, and some are being brutal. This way, when I get to the rant, you’ll know exactly where I’m coming from.
Redneck is an erotic fantasy told in an (eventually) oscillating first person point of view. The titular Redneck is T-Bone Riley, who spends much of the first several chapters explaining that he does not regard the laws of men with any levity, and confessing to the double homicide of his fiance and her lover. He comes into a fortune finding oil on the homestead, and buys out the neighbors so he is truly isolated from society. In the course of educating himself, he becomes smitten with Melanie Dewitt, a sexy young student in the nearby college. T-Bone stalks Melanie online, prepares his cabin to accommodate her, then abducts her to his secret kingdom. He rapes her into loving him and being a good wife and baby mama. They live happily ever after.
Clearly, this isn’t erotica for everybody. It’s the kind of erotica that a lot of people may feel ashamed to find arousing, and that’s a personal call. As a story, the reader could be left wondering if this Stockholm Syndrome ending is truly a HEA ending or not—maybe a future installment could be ‘Melanie’s Revenge.’
It sure feels HEA, though. They have a nice little family, he’s never once cruel to her (aside from the initial abduction and incessant rapes, which she seems to begin enjoying almost immediately), and they are rich and comfortable.
Technically, there are some issues, but nothing atypical for the genre. Many erotica releases could benefit from an additional proofreader, and this is no exception. It’s not as bad as many for typos and such, though, so it’s not a glaring weakness. I would grade the copyediting about a 7/10. I suspect a fresh pair of eyes and one quick, final look-over would have improved this to a 9 or 10, but this is par for the course in self-published and small press erotica. It rarely distracted me from the reading, which means it wasn’t too bad at all.
T-Bone’s narrative voice is consistent, although it doesn’t feel entirely genuine to any region of which I’m aware. However, as a tool of characterization, the narration is often amusing, and mostly well done. There is a fair amount of humor in the book and it reads breezily, especially in the T-Bone chapters, which are the most frequent.
Melanie’s voice is more weakly constructed. Her perspective reads almost as an afterthought. While her chapters are mostly believable, there are moments where it seems as though Melanie is only given voice to make T-Bone’s actions more palatable to the reader—a wise and necessary choice, given the non-consensual sex, but not executed as well as possible. Melanie capitulated far too quickly, making the Stockholm Syndrome seem more pronounced—and more likely to be a psychological condition resulting from the abuse, rather than a true change of paradigm for Melanie. However, ample time was given to her perspective to minimize this, albeit barely.
The plot was…okay. The tropes borrowed were a bit of a turn-off. It’s definitely got a “redneck” feel to it, but at times it’s almost cartoonish. The Beverly Hillbillies twist was so obvious I groaned when it was revealed that yes indeed, T-Bone was rich from “black gold.” I was glad he didn’t set his sights on Miss Hathaway from down to the bank. I do believe this was intended to be humorous, but for me, it missed the mark.
However, the blatant shout-outs to redneck stereotypes were comfortable, if condescending, so I can understand why Silver chose to include them. It kept the story in familiar territory for those of you who didn’t grow up around rednecks, and helped to keep the pace brisk. It was decently written overall.
If the book commits a big sin, it’s that as the story progresses, some of the rape/sex scenes are abrupt and repetitive. They become almost boring and slightly anti-climactic, and another non-sexual event or two may have really helped in this regard. Even cutting out a few of the less-intense, less-detailed sexual interludes may have been a good idea. It would have felt less relentless, but would have been more interesting.
But it’s not badly done at all, and it serves to pace the story, so it’s not much of a sin in my opinion—the story is furthered, but you won’t get a wank-on to each sex scene. I commit this sin on purpose quite a bit, myself.
As a piece of erotic fiction, I would rate this a 5. As a piece of fiction in general, I would rate it more harshly, but still would recommend it to people whom I thought would not be put off by reading about non-consensual sex. It was a fun read and I would, and will, read more by Jordan Silver (this is my first read of this author, and overall, I enjoyed it).
So I’ve given you the critical read. It’s not even much of a critique so much as criticism, because that’s what the gangpile is doing and I want everyone to understand that I truly judged this work on its merits.
Holy fuck a moly, this book has RAPE! And not just one. A lot of rapes. No bones about it. This is one rapey ass book, the rapiest I’ve read in a long time. The most rape-filled eBook I’ve ever read, for sure.
Non-consensual sex in a book!
Sweet Buttfucking Buddha on a Rocket Ski, what’s next? Will fictional characters go so far as to KILL someday?
I mean really, come on. Think about it. This is a story about a caveman in the modern day who takes a wife. Rape is a trigger for people, but it happens in nature literally ALL THE TIME. How would you go about getting Leatherface hitched up if it were your book?
Listen, this was not gratuitous rape. This was plot-integral rape. Now those words will trigger some people, but you need to calm down and think sometimes. Rape is what the story was about, and it makes no bones about it right from the start. Yeah, the plot was about rape. You don’t have to like it, and you certainly don’t have to read it. That’s totally fine.
But what the plot was not? The plot was not a surprise. Not in any sense. Silver very clearly told the reader what was going to happen in this story, far in advance of the actual rape scenes. From the first chapter, even.
Unless, of course, the reader is an idiot. Or an asshole, who only read on in the hopes they would become offended by something that disturbed their delicate sensibilities. I understand that rape is a very sensitive subject, but if you’re triggered by reading about it, then hey, don’t read about it, right? I mean shit, I don’t read about things that trigger me. You don’t have to read about things that trigger you.
Don’t tell me I can’t read about things that trigger you, though.
And if you are such an idiot or asshole who wants to censor what I can read, may I inform you of a significant piece of information that is directly relevant to your feelings of offense? It might even give you pause:
I’m perfectly confident in saying that no real people were raped in the making of Redneck.
And I’ve never met or even spoken with Jordan Silver, that I recall.
Censorship hurts everyone.
Even the kind of censorship you may think will benefit you will only hurt you in the end. To declare ideas off-limits opens doors to everyone who wants to control how you think. Who decides what ideas you are allowed to have? Who knows best for you what you can think about, what conclusions you are allowed to draw, what options can exist within your own mind?
Nobody should be allowed to decide those things for you. Not your church, not your government, not your spouse, not your parents. Only YOU.
It’s not a fallacious slippery-slope argument. It’s an entirely valid one. Maybe the most valid of all. And if you don’t agree, think about it more, because guess what? You’re fucking wrong.
Ideas are not your enemy. Grow the fuck up. You are the people who ruin everything, so please stop doing that. I could go on about this forever, so I won’t. Quit getting books banned, you fucking Nazis.
Redneck is fiction. These things only exist inside your mind because you read it.
Read Redneck, it’s fun. Don’t be a no-good, censoring cunt. If you know you won’t like something, just don’t fucking read it.