Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Books I Cannot Like

I am reading a book right now that I want to love--I really do--but I can't. It's well written, the plot is there, the characters are tight, falls flat. For me. For the millions of fans of the book (and movie), it worked, but not for me.

And I realized--there are some styles of book that I will NEVER like. It's just a personal preference, just like how I don't really like movies like Meet the Parents where the main character has the worst luck EVAR or any movies by Jim Carrey (with the exception of The Truman Show).

Anyway, here's the kinds of books that I just do NOT like:

  • Books where the author talks to the reader. This was a problem with me with the Lemony Snicket books and, more recently, The Tale of Despauraux. Here's the thing: I feel like I'm being talked down to in these cases--like the way Lemony Snicket assumes we don't know the meanings of words and gives them to us. Now, some people love this plot feature--up to and including Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte--but it breaks the fourth wall for me and kills the book.
  • Books where the solution to a problem is found in another person (i.e. my world revolves around him!). I have this friend, right? He thinks that his life is horrible, and if he'd just find a woman to share it with, it would be a dream. Also, I teach high school. All the girls' worlds revolve around the boys, and vice versa. My point is, when a person OR a character thinks the solution to all of life's problems can be found in a dream lover, I am out. Look, I love the husband. Like, a lot. But real love isn't obsession, and real love loves despite the problems and flaws--it doesn't, for example, get distracted by sparkly vampires.
  • Books where the solution to the problem could happen if the character just said something. This is why I am not usually a fan of romance novels. If the guy would just tell the girl, or the girl would just tell the guy that they liked each other, problem solved! Of course, the plot would be two sentences long...but I am the type of girl who says what she means and doesn't beat around the bush, and it drives me crazy when characters do. Just say SOMETHING!
  • Present tense voice. See? Sometimes I have to eat my own words. Ask me about present tense voice a year before, and I would have said I hated it. But now...well, I'm writing a manuscript in it. And some of my favorite books have since been written in that tense. The moral of the story? Any of my personal pet peeves can be tossed out when the rest of the writing's good enough.
Now, I don't mean to slam on anyone's writing or books here (not even you, sparklespire). These are just the kinds of stories that will, invariably, turn me off. They totally work for some people. My mother, for example, adores the classic romance he-loves-her-and-she-loves-him-but-OMG-we-can't-tell! formula. Lemony Snicket has made an indeliable mark on children's literature--and I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I just think it's interesting how some tropes just grate on people's nerves.

How about you? What kind of style in a book will automatically turn you off?
Post a Comment