- Paperback: 372 pages
- Publisher: Grosvenor House Publishing Limited (April 7, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1781486956
- ISBN-13: 978-1781486955
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,872,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Devil and Disciple - The Temptation Paperback – April 7, 2014
Top customer reviews
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Books like "Chemical Pink" by Kate Arnoldi exist to excoriate the world of female bodybuilding written by a former female bodybuilder who had a rough time of it and writes an Author Tract to tell us all in great detail how much it sucks, and how disgusting men who find muscular women to be attractive are. Kate Arnoldi went out of her way to make the book as unappealing as possible as a cautionary tale, sort of like "Reefer Madness," but for schmoes.
If I had to describe "Devil and Disciple: The Temptation," it would be as "Chemical Pink" for people who think "Chemical Pink" sucked and hated how it portrayed female bodybuilding. It follows a similar plot; a world class female bodybuilder falls in with a rich nutjob who promises her the world but is only really helping her to make his sick fantasies come true. One of the major strong points of the book is how fleshed out her main character is. Lisa is writing from experience when she wrote about Amanda Hearst. There is no way that Amanda isn't a self-insert of Lisa. That isn't to say that Amanda Hearst is a Mary Sue by any stretch, but knowing what I know about the author, it's just too perfect. Lisa loves bodybuilding and she loves her fans. She takes the time to detail the kinds of correspondence she maintains with them, and one of my favorite scenes of the book is when Amanda is going through her jam-packed e-mail inbox chock full of a sorts of licentious requests from horny schmoes looking to sex her. Lisa details how the e-mails she gets run the gamut of sweet and endearing, to out and out strange and off-putting. I could only imagine the kind of stuff she has to put up with on a daily basis. I also had to wonder if she really had been requested to crush a hamster to death until it exploded by a fan. As a female bodybuilder, Lisa herself has to put up with lots of well meaning, but tedious interaction with people who couldn't fathom seeing such a beautiful woman deciding to bulk up and get strong every time she goes out. She also displays her frustrations with the industry's nebulous standards for female bodybuilders and the trials and tribulations they have to go through to compete for such a paltry reward. The year-long prepping, the cruel dieting, the psychological torture, the body destroying workouts, ignorant people's fascination with one's body, the soul crushing despair of defeat, etc. The first ten chapters read almost like an autobiography. It's clear that Lisa has a love of many things besides bodybuilding too. She takes the time to schmooze knowingly about art, the theater, other books, music, etc. Without giving too much away, I can say that I enjoyed the book overall, but there are some flaws present that prevent me from giving it full marks.
Firstly, it's evident that Lisa is a first time, albeit talented, author. No duh, right? I was surprised at her command of the language, and found the prose to be surprisingly powerful and sumptuous without entering Jim Theis "Eye of Argon" purple prose territory. Lisa wants to envisage the magnificent splendor that is Amanda Hearst's godly physique. She lets you into her principal character's heads and lets you know what they're thinking and feeling. However, I felt like some aspects of the story and some characters were left underdeveloped and unexplored to the fullest. There really isn't any closure at the end, which is a shame because one gets rather engrossed at the direction the story takes place. I have no idea if Lisa ever plans on writing more and continuing the story, but I hope she does. I was that invested.
Secondly, I think Lisa would benefit greatly from hiring an editor. As I said, Lisa clearly has talent, but it's blatantly obvious that she hasn't written before in her life. The way the story's paragraphs were structured bothered me a tad, sort of like walking into a cloud of gnats. They don't hurt you in any way, they just start to bug you after a while. Typically, a break in paragraphs signals a break in the scene, sort of like a cut in a movie. Lisa has a tendency to add a paragraph break in the middle of a scene, sometimes in the middle of two characters having dialog. One gets used to it, but for a lit nerd like myself I just couldn't help but notice it. Also, there were some minor errors here and there in punctuation, geography and continuity. The punctuation errors are largely forgivable, but with a little more polish, this story could've been read just a little more smoothly, speaking for people like myself, of course. One error I caught early on was how Lisa thinks that Las Vegas is in Arizona. Not a big deal, but still noticeable. Lastly, toward the end, it's been established that it's the dead of winter in St. Petersburg, heavy, thick snowfall and all, cold enough to freeze a dog's bollocks to the stoop (or a luckless hobo to death, wink wink), yet it's pouring rain a chapter or two later. I don't know what the weather's like in St. Petersburg, but if it's cold enough for snow to blanket the ground, It don't think it's likely that fortuitously dramatic rainfall would occur just as a character would need it, unless she's Storm from X-Men.
And lastly, I have to talk about the price. I opted for the Kindle version for a couple reasons. One, it's hard to explain to any body who rummages through my book collection why I have a book with a picture of a naked female bodybuilder from the back on the cover, but that's neither here nor there. I simply wasn't sure I wanted to pay $15 new, $17 used (!) on an inaugural effort by an amateur writer. $7 and some change seemed like a much better, more sensible option, and even then, I think it's bit much. Maybe I just like to complain, but that's where I stand.
I couldn't help but feel like I was reading a story ripped from the archives of Diana the Valkyrie's library. If you don't know DtV, it's probably one of the first sites on the web to be dedicated to strong, muscular women and has been around for probably going on twenty years. It's a pay site, but there's a free story section that runs the gamut of topics. Usually the stories are a poor written solid wall of text where the shallow female characters bully, dominate, rape and/or kill the equally shallow male characters with absolutely no plot beyond sex, strength and muscle. Sometimes the female characters start off small and weak, but get big and strong via various, usually laughably implausible means, and then proceed to bully, dominate, rape and/or kill the male characters in story. Needless to say, I don't go for that kind of stuff (I'm probably like one of seven guys who likes muscular woman who is not into femdom). There is a femdom chapter in this book, but thankfully it's rather brief and has no real bearing on the plot so it can be glossed over without missing anything important. But, there are also some rather well written pieces tucked away in those archives as well, ones with actual attempts at plots, characterization, realistic believable personalities, and the like. This story could easily be one of those. Is it on par with James Joyce, or Sylvia Plath? No, but the subject matter is hundreds of times more interesting than anything either of those two could come up with.
In closing, as I said before, I enjoyed what I read overall. Lisa can write. She just needs some experience under he belt, and maybe a second opinion to help her fine tune her work.
I'm ready for the sequel.
Before anyone asks, yes, there are references to steroids in the story. But, if you’re looking for an in-depth account of how they’re used and the role they play to a female bodybuilder, you will be disappointed. However, it’s debatable whether adding more detail would contribute positively to the story as a whole. It really depends on personal taste and where you stand on performance enhancing drugs. For me, I think if one was bold with showing the fetish side of the culture, one could have been bold with showing the PED side, motivations like getting cosmetics such as breast implants and so on.
After the exploration of the lifestyle, the story then explores interesting power dynamics in both the physical, mental and sexual sense. Here, you have a female bodybuilder who on the outside exudes strength and power who is then tempted by achieving her dream but then has to yield her power to the villain of the story. One might think that most strong-looking women would not to allow such a thing. Ms. Cross does an excellent job of showing that even the so-called strong woman in control the world around her can be systematically stripped of that power in exchange for some trinket she yearns for.
As they say, the devil is in the details. I liked the well-described environment of the Devil’s world as well as well as the culture of the foreign country he’s from.
Readers will enjoy this story as it comes authentically from a real female bodybuilder who has seen and lived the lifestyle for years. This is in contrast to other authors that may not have reached Ms. Cross’s level of muscular development who cast a female bodybuilder as their main character. Self-image and body issues often press hard within the minds of bodybuilders, especially in dealing with society’s view of femininity. Amanda was no different in having to deal with these difficulties which gives her such authenticity in her motivations as a female bodybuilder character.
From my experience, this is the first novel that I know of from a real, hardcore, professional female bodybuilder that portrays a hardcore professional female bodybuilder as its main character. Can’t get much more authentic than this.