Bulletproof Mascara is worse than AIDS
Babes with guns? Okay, I’m game. Bad guys, CIA agents, and Bond-esque gadgets? Sounds great to me! A double agent, modern-day slave traders, and minor espionage? All of these are the makings of a fantastic thriller film, much less a novel. It might seem like a trite and overdone topic for a book -and you’d be correct- but every now and again an author comes along with the skills and wit to make it work…and seem original in the process.
Bethany Maines, creator of “Bulletproof Mascara” and hottie in her own right, is not one of these writers. There isn’t a single saving grace to be found in these 392 pages -besides the 393rd page, which, thankfully, is the back cover. I wanted to enjoy the book, I really did; spy thrillers are my single favourite genre -be it books or film- and it’s made even better with the feminine twist. After all, No One Lives Forever is the best series of femme-spy media ever produced, and I expected much the same here (albeit less ’60s-style sexy sensuality and more sleek 21st-century spy literature).
Well, it’s more than ‘much the same,’ it’s damn near identical. Lipstick grenades? GPS compact? Hidden gadgetry and spy devices in every accessory a suave chick could need? Check, check, and motherfucking check. What’s worse about the whole ordeal is that Maines writes as if she read about spy fiction in a magazine and thought to herself “you know what Beth, we can totally write a book about that!” Every bit of concrete detail seems like she skimmed a Wikipedia page for a handful of seconds before writing it in as if she was an expert. Descriptions of guns, fighting techniques, and her Thai locales come across as copy-pasta –and not in a good way. Sure, the back flap says she’s a black belt in karate chopping, but even that translates horribly. I never once felt immersed, despite trying desperately to become involved. Like I said, spy fiction is nearly as awesome as Kat Dennings’ recently-leaked boobie pics, and I genuinely wanted to like this book.
“‘Oh ho! Now we’re getting to the good stuff. Is he-dang it-what did that girl on the TV call them the other day? Oh yeah. Is he a hottie?’ Nikki lauged. ‘He is kind of hot, yes. And please don’t say ‘hottie.’ It’s just not you.'”
See what kind of writing my enjoyment is up against?
“She pulled it on and took a walk to the mirror. ‘Nice,’ she said, eyeballing her cleavage in the mirror. Rachel had done a masterful job on this one–it definitely enhanced her assets.”
Are you beginning to get the picture? How about this exchange, which occurs while three women are preparing to extract a hostage and take out the evil mastermind:
“‘Well, good,’ said Jenny. ‘I’d hate to spend that long on a plane and not be needed.’ Nikki laughed and hugged her again. ‘Enough with the hugs,’ said Jenny, looking embarrassed. ‘We’ve got to go save people, right?'”
All of that would be fine, except the entire book is written like a short story for Cosmo. And no, that’s not a compliment. I knew “Bulletproof Mascara” would be something penned for women; I knew it was going to be from the head of a woman and authored with a casual reader in mind. But that is no excuse for what’s displayed here. I was writing with more grammatical and lyrical proficiency when I was ten, and I don’t say that to boost my own self confidence. I have never encountered a more poorly-written, -worded, -phrased, -constructed, and -assembled written work in my entire life. I don’t know who the editor was, but he or she should be fired immediately. Then again, an editor probably wouldn’t have helped much, since this book’s problems start from ground level. There’s nothing inspired about it, nothing to hook attention, nothing which says “read me! I’m unique and interesting!”
The plot itself is so generic that I’m embarrassed for Maines. A girl bumps into a guy. A girl gets drafted into a cosmetic company WHICH IS ACTUALLY A SPY AGENCY. Girl goes to Thailand to help other girl. Girl’s partner is a double agent, the guy turns out to be CIA. They kill the double agent, rescue the other girl, and become boyfriend-girlfriend. The fucking end. And after all that, I could certainly deal with that level of blandness if Maines had made it intriguing. It’s like the whole book is summary and she forgot how crucial use of scene is; even when she goes into detail, it has less enthusiasm than reading the back of a cereal box at breakfast.
And the ultimate travesty: “Bulletproof Mascara” has gotten good reviews and Maines was contracted for a sequel. I suppose no one else noticed how shitty the book is. Unless you have the intellect of an infant or the literary sense of an orangutan, steer clear.
Conclusion: A book for children that was written for adults with the brains of a toddler