So if this sequence opens a bit like a coffee date and its climax involves one of our figures releasing pent-up emotion in the other’s arms, this would be the part where one of the lovers gets a sudden rush of sexual shame. Maybe they’ve woken up in the wrong bed, or maybe they just got a text from their husband at the wrong moment. In any case, they realize in a rush that they’ve betrayed their husband and/or their own self-concept, and then they turn that self-hatred outward. “You twisted temptress! How dare you do this to me, you whore!”

There was a vocal minority of commenters still siding against Shanna at this point (one of them cheered on the slap, facetiously or not). I’m pretty easygoing about people reading my work how they want–if you don’t agree with the interpretation in the last paragraph, for instance, that’s fine by me–but that got on my nerves. Sometimes I want ambiguity about who is and isn’t the bad guy, but this wasn’t one of those times: the ones committing and abetting murder are, in fact, the bad guys, and the one trying to stop them is not.

I say that, fully aware that Shanna is a challenge for the nerdy reader to like, especially at first. Accepting her as a protagonist means accepting it’s possible for good people to hate your nerd shit and sometimes even have a point. That can be hard to do if that’s where you’ve built your identity, and unlike in Fans, this Shanna is not (yet) surrounded by a bunch of nerds whose sentiments balance hers out a bit. But regardless, thinking outside the tribe seems like a necessary exercise to me. Unthinking loyalty hasn’t helped our society much of late.