Handbook for Mortals: Chapter 9: Temperance

Previously, on Handbook for Mortals: Zade went to a Plain White T’s show, complete with cameo appearances by all the band members. Jackson hit on her. Mac hit on her. A random Lemonade guy hit on her! Also, Zade read tarot cards to choose which guy to date, and her mother also read tarot cards which did nothing to move the story along. Finally, Zade assaulted a sad ugly Lemonade girl.

Oh, and I made a new, improved Plain White T’s poster:


Chapter 9 opens in third-person italics. It also ends in third-person italics. It’s actually entirely third-person italics, and, thankfully, it’s pretty short. It also only features Zade in passing, although she is still the focus of everyone’s attention. Because of course she is.

So we open with TechFriend Tad, LoveIntrest Mac, GayGuy? Cam, Babytech Riley, Jackson NotRathbone, Tom, Tim, Mike, Dave, and De’mar (all of the real life band The Plain White T’s) along with a heretofore unintroduced audio tech named Drew standing around in Charles’ theater. (Loljk, he was the guy who’s birthday was celebrated in chapter 5 that time Sofia hit on Mac).

They’re “dealing with some work issues,” supposedly.

So we get a brief haha no it’s long introduction of Drew. I’m not mad, though, because it’s a nice change of pace from “all Zade all the time,” and also it’s also the most enjoyable thing in this book:

Drew had always gotten along with everyone and all in all was a decent guy. He was about as vanilla looking as someone can get, with brown hair and brown eyes. He led a pretty average existence overall, and no one ever had any problems with him.

Vanilla = brown hair and brown eyes. That’s how we know Zade is so non-vanilla: her hair is dyed wacky colors.

I always wonder who these characters are based on, so I hope whoever was the inspiration for Drew doesn’t feel too slighted by this. Assuming that Lani’s captured his essence, though, I’m sure he’s fine with it.

The other guys tended to pick on Drew, though, because he was an easy target in a theater full of more-talented, more-experienced, and better-looking people, who all led far more exciting lives. Even so, Drew always seemed to be pretty content and—compared to anyone from the small town in Iowa he was from—he was leading the best life by far.

If this book just started being about Drew, I would be so happy. He may be untalented, inexperienced, and unattractive, but he takes it in stride. In a way, he’s a foil to Zade, who is always being told how wonderful she is and can only see things insofar as they’re related to herself. I bet he has a dad-hobby, like making civil war dioramas or something. I hope he and Mel are friends, and talk about things that aren’t Zade together.

“Drew, we need to have a rehearsal before the show rehearsal tomorrow,” Tom demanded. He had a way though of not sounding demanding, even when he was being that way.

If it doesn’t sound demanding, is it really a demand? It sounds more like a statement, or a request. The writing in this book gets progressively worse, I swear.

Tom explains that they need to work in a new song, and they sort out some logistics. It’s boring, but at least it’s not Zade. Mac turns to Drew, and tells him that Sofia was complaining about being shocked by her handheld microphone. Drew seems to take it personally and gets defensive, saying Sofia just wants attention. That’s sad. I feel my affection for Drew waning.

As Mac and Drew screw around with the microphone, a very special girl walks past them.

Zade walked by on her way to the main stage, moving too quickly to notice the group of men who had all stopped to stare at her.

And the chapter gets sucked right back into orbit. That’s right, a group of ELEVEN MEN all stop everything they’re doing to stare at her as she walks by.

And Drew loses any points he may have gained:

“God, that girl is beautiful! It’s beyond that, there is something unique and special about her.” Drew said, nudging Mac with his elbow. “Wonder what my chances are. Is she dating anyone?”

Oh Drew. Why do you think you’d even have a shot with her?

The answer is because The World Revolves Around Zade, of course! Bringing us to 19 unique instances of people losing their shit over her (or Zade making everything about herself).

Mac gets all huffy when Drew says that, because even though he and Zade have been hanging out a lot, they’re still not anything official.

The one thing Mac and Zade were sure of was that they had an unspoken rule that they really didn’t talk about all the time they were spending together with anyone at the show. It was a secret—and on some level that even made it more fun.

That is so weird to me. Mac was the only one who cared about whether he dated her, and even if they did start dating, I think the only reason anyone would care is because it has to do with Zade, so they have to care (it’s the law). Mac certainly hasn’t been subtle about his interest in her, so everyone probably knows already anyway.

Mac snaps at Drew, wondering why Drew was asking about Zade’s single status:

“I wasn’t, really. Just asking in general,” Drew responded, slightly puzzled at the way Mac was reacting to what really was him trying to make small talk.

Oh, Drew. That’s kind of weird small talk to be having with 11 guys (as far as I know?) but I get it, he’s just trying to fit in.

Mac and Drew go back and forth about Zade’s dating life. Drew says that when a girl is into a guy, she gushes (ew), and Mac says he doesn’t think Drew is her type (ouch). Fortunately, the conversation stays between Mac and Drew, although Jackson seems to be paying attention (of course he is) and Tad is occasionally glancing over at them. We also learn that Mac hasn’t told Tad anything about his motorcycle ride with Zade.

Drew, meanwhile, is sad that Mac doesn’t think Zade would go for him.

I—I think I could use my charms on her,” Drew stammered, his voice starting to carry a hurt—as well as confused—tone.

Ugh. I hate Drew.

Cam tells Drew he’d like to see his charm, and Riley feels sorry that everyone’s making fun of Drew. Maybe Cam isn’t gay, though: he says he’s popular with women. It’s inconclusive.

Mac says that Jackson asked Zade out, and we learn that Mac and Zade never talk about Jackson. Jackson affirms that yes, he’s “been testing the waters” and would “definitely go swimming in that ocean.” Ew.

Mac asks Jackson if he has indeed “gone swimming in that ocean,”

Jackson says he has not:

“Nah. She is quite a catch, but we’re keeping it light. She’s the kind you want to marry, not just use to get laid. Not sure if I’m ready to give up my freedom just yet, but she’d be the girl to do it for, that’s for sure,” 

Gross. This chapter is terrible. How did we go from Vanilla Drew to a Madonna/Whore dichotomy? Anyway, Mac daydreams a little about marrying Zade, and then gets sick of the conversation. He says doors are in 20 minutes. Then, Tom, from the Plain White T’s says that there’s a joke in there somewhere.

“You know that doors being a saying about opening the doors to let patrons come in to see the show, and the fact the theater also gets called ‘the house’ and there is a band called the Doors, and . . .”


If I were Tom Higgenson, I would sue for defamation. This is the least funny thing in the book thus far, and that’s including Cam’s ironic boy-band mixup thing from chapter 32. It is so unfunny, in fact, that Mac and Tad tell Tom that it’s not funny.

As Mac walks off, Jackson confronts him. He says that Zade is still fair game, and that he likes a challenge. Jackson makes a joke at Drew’s expense, and the two share a bit of a laugh.

Mac is surprised that Jackson can tell that he’s into Zade, even though Mac denies it. Jackson says that all is fair in love and war. So then Mac and Tad get dinner at the employee buffet, and Mac confesses all about his motorcycle makeout. Tad is happy, and Mac tells him to keep it a secret, and that it’s been so long since he’s felt this way, etc. Tad says that he understands wanting to keep it secret, because the show is very gossipy.

And we learn that apparently Sofia has been spreading rumors about Zade! Tad explains:

“[Sofie’s] basically just pissed that Zade knocked her off her high horse–and sleeping with CS isn’t getting the part back or her star spot on the billboard.”

CS is Charles Spellman, in case you’re not paying very close attention. I am fairly sure we never learn what the rumors she’s spreading are, so I think that this entire exchange is just supposed to be one more opportunity for everyone to hate Sofia.

Tad and Mac talk about what an ungrateful bitch Sofia is:

“You think she could be nicer to the girl that saved her life,” Mac asserted, annoyed by Sofia’s lack of ability to care about anything but herself.

Hey, Mac? I’ve got some bad news for you about Zade.

The chapter ends with a final jab from Tad about how Sofia is incapable of acting like an actual human being. Mac agrees, and we’re done.

Drew never shows up again, so I’m assuming Mac murdered him offscreen.

5 thoughts on “Handbook for Mortals: Chapter 9: Temperance

  1. I can’t believe how many plotlines are started and just do not return… It really makes me wonder what the story she *is* writing is, because there doesn’t seem to be anything. I’m so confused.


  2. I think that the funniest thing is that the book has three well-defined acts. Act One ends when the whole love triangle is amping up (Jackson asking her on an official-kind-of date and Mac taking her on a romantic rain ride is at EXACTLY at 33%), and then SPOILERS a new “illusion” goes horribly wrong at 66%, which sets off act three. I also think it’s obvious that initially Lani didn’t have a conception for Act Two, and probably everything that happens in it is filler. Part of me wonders if HfM originallly just had Mac as the love interest (since Jackson is such an afterthought), and originally the script was Zade and Mac hating each other, but then falling in love, and then misunderstanding, which leads to the act going wrong. Jackson isn’t in act three very much at all.


  3. “The chapter ends with a final jab from Tad about how Sofia is incapable of acting like an actual human being. Mac agrees, and we’re done.”

    Damn, that’s harsh! They dehumanized her entirely. What was the exact text like? Did they literally say Sofia was incapable of acting human? Because holy shit, that’s some severe misogyny from Sarem… This is why we can’t have nice things. :O


  4. “You’re saying that like Sofie could act like a regular human being,” Tad interjected with a smirk.
    Mac nodded and remarked, “Yeah, well. One can always hope.”
    (then the chapter ends)

    I do my best to not misrepresent Lani Sarem. It’s ridiculous how bad this book is.


  5. This is getting very sad. Lani Sarem is in her 30s and this is her own personal fan-fiction on a character based on herself that all men immediately fall in love with. Oh and every other girl is either ugly, forgettable or like, soooo jealous of her awesome beauty.

    Also even the fact that this character is supposed to be 25 is insulting. 25 year olds are adults.

    I could write on and on, but this is just…painful.


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