After losing her virginity, Beverly Sykes discovers that having sex has a strange effect on her and her partners. Not only does it give them an amazing feeling like bombs bursting inside them, but her partners find themselves changed afterward. More often than not for the better. Bev decides to use her gift to help as many people as possible. However, being a means of healing others, when it doesn’t have the same effect on her, proves to be a difficult thing.
“I wanted to burst and sizzle and liquefy. I wanted the colors of the whole earth to bleed again and I wanted my blood to get so hot and loud it’d block out the noise of airplanes,trains, my own irrepressible sex sigh which seemed louder than a rocket.
I wanted the bomb inside me to go off and I wanted my skin to scream. Again and again and again.
I wanted ‘Don’t stop.’
I wanted to fuck.”
Girl Like a Bomb can be described as a lot of things; erotica, magic realism, a coming-of-age story, and in many ways a dark comedy. The story follows Bev as she goes from a small-town girl raised by a single mother, to working as a stripper where she uses her healing abilities on her clients, to becoming a world-renowned “guru” using her powers on world leaders. The whole time, she seeks personal fulfillment.
One of the things that stands out the most in this novel is Autumn Christian’s excellent prose. One would think that with the number of times she describes transcendent ecstasy, she would run out of ways and get repetitive. However, each time she comes up with vivid and beautiful ways to portray the effect that Bev has on her partners.
“I pushed my light into him, dissolving the rottenness from his bones until he was born anew.”
Bev’s powers are a mixed blessing for her. She has a thing for “bad boys,” but when she has sex with them, she ends up healing them and making them clean their life up, making them less exciting for her. Likewise, while many praise her as practically a new messiah, others view her as a fraud, a degenerate slut, and symbol of everything wrong with America. Like many celebrities, she’s forced to hire bodyguards to keep her safe. In spite of all this, she refuses to give up her mission to heal as many people as possible.
Throughout the book, Bev is working to use her ability in what she hopes will do the most good. As a teenager, Bev is raped by one of her teachers. Because of her powers, the teacher realizes how ugly inside he is and commits suicide in front of her. This is the catalyst that makes Bev leave her small town to put her powers to use helping others. Later, when she’s become a world-renowned healer, she becomes increasingly numb from dealing with people who are simply using her as a means to an end, eventually becoming unable to feel anything. Only when she later has sex with a notorious terrorist at the behest of the US government, who again commits suicide because of the ugliness inside him, does she start to feel again. Happiness, like the orgasm, is fleeting and must be chased and struggled for in order for it to have any real meaning.
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