Monday, September 12, 2011

B is for Bad

What do you mean by bad you ask?

Bad as in good?

Bad as in bad?

Or Bad as in Bad-A?

No, no, and no. I mean bad as in:
I can't read it anymore!

Recently I started reading a book that has been talked about quite a bit lately in the blogosphere, and has done pretty well in sales. I am not going to tell you what it is, because this blog is not meant for book bashing (even if they start with B). All butterflies and bunny rabbits around here! But I will say many people have loved it and given it favorable reviews. I wasn't one of those people. This is where I got irritated and stopped reading:
  1. After the excitement of the first few chapters wore off, things really slowed down to back story that wasn't even interesting. Sure it told me more about the protag and her family, even the world she comes from, but I don't care if it doesn't move the plot forward. 
  2. When the writing style changed. Almost like the first few chapters had been heavily critiqued by someone else and then the author was left to her own devices for the rest. 
  3. When I noticed too many repetitive pet words. I know I am guilty of this crime, believe me. But that's what critique partners are for, and editors!
  4. When I started noticing all the times I pulled my eyes from the page trying to find something more interesting to do.
Suffice it to say I was glad it was a library book.

What are some of your pet peeves when reading a book? What makes you put it down and not pick it back up?


  1. I hate when that happens :( It's awful. I always try to give a book my best shot and push through a slow spot, but sometimes you just can't do it. Its rough. At least you didn't buy it though! That's good. Just put it away, forget about it and start on something else that hopefully won't let you down. :)

  2. Oh dear... I've a shelf for books like that. For me - its one thing that pulls me - the voice! Pretty much if I relate to the MCs character, I'll keep reading.

    Happy writing this week!

  3. Ah yes. I remember picking up a book from the library. The beginning was promising, but then backstory took over. The exposition was boring, and though I still finished it (back then I had a rule to finish all books I've started even if it'd kill me...I don't go by that rule anymore), I found myself wondering WHY? Granted it was an old book so I guess publishing was not as competitive then? *shrugs* I dunno. :(

  4. Usually, the MC is what will make me not like the book. Another thing, is too much backstory. I find myself skipping through it, if it isn't about what's happening at that moment in the story. But, I have to REALLY not like a book, to not finish it. I have to know the ending, once I start.

  5. If it's a historical fiction, I can't stand it when the history is it's own character and trumps the story. When the author spends more time explaining the historical events than moving the plot ahead.

    The other type of books I read are YA, usually paranormal. When the story focus' mainly on the back story rather than pushing ahead and when the best friend and love interest are merely cardboard cutouts in the self-centered MC's life. That's when I give the book a less than desirable review.

  6. I don't think I've ever noticed when someone's writing style has changed, so now I'm really paranoid about it happening in my own work! If a book I'm not enjoying is easy to read then I'll finish it- otherwise I've been known to read three quarters of a book and give up, but generally I'll read a book to the end if I've properly started it. I do get annoyed by repeated words as well though!

  7. The more I write, the pickier I am. I look at things I wrote a year ago, and cringe. Then cross my fingers that not as many people will see all the small stuff that I do.

    I think sometimes editors and crit partners get so caught up in the excitement of the story, of something new, that they miss some of those smaller things, which sucks. because editors are supposed to catch all those little things.

    But, yeah. The same thing's happened to me, more than once, on books other people loved.

  8. Ah Jessie! I love that you put MJ on your blog. did you do that for me? I love him so much and now I love you more.

  9. that's why the support of blogosphere can sometimes be a sword with two cutting edges :( It's nice seeing us fellow bloggers supporting each other but there are cases when people are just being nice and not honest (Actually that happens most usually).
    As a book translator and a professor of English literature, I have extremely high standards when it comes to books and I also often get disappointed by bad books circling around.

  10. I think I get annoyed when reading too much back story in the beginning. I want to get to the action already!

  11. Definitely my pet peeve is when THINGS DON'T HAPPEN. I need a plot heavy book. Some of the other things I can ignore. (Unless you put them all in the same book!) Oh! And I hate when I don't care about the MC. I think that's the problem with the highly-rated book I've been reading for the past TWO WEEKS. I can't seem to want to pick it up more than a few minutes a day. Sigh.

    And btw, I LOVED your "bad" examples!

  12. Now I'm dying to know what book this was! ;)

    I don't like un-likable or two-dimensional characters. I don't like characters in a YA book that constantly whine just because the author thinks teenagers are supposed to whine. I'm sure that annoys a lot of teenage readers too. I like a plot that picks up fairly quickly, but I'm very forgiving about giving a book about 50 pages or so to pick up.

    I'm surprised by the amount of books that are published that have a lot of common pet peeves in them. Stuff that's not just a matter of personal opinion, but GLARING mistakes that we're commonly taught to avoid in workshops, blogs, and conferences. It kind of gives me hope that one day I'll be published, since I try so hard to avoid these peeves. :)

  13. Oh, man. I hate it when that happens. I read a book a few months ago that everyone raved about and I didn't really like it at all. I still wonder why everyone likes it. It's funny how much other people LOVE a book and when you pick it up and star reading you think, "Why the heck does everyone love this?" lol :) I'm getting pickier though. The more I write. It's kind of annoying sometimes. Great post! ;)

  14. I know nothing about writing a book but I love to read. And it drives me crazy when an author alludes to something that will happen later. Like the MC will say "If I knew how bad this would have turned out , I would have never never even open that door."
    I read a book that ever chapter ended like this. Drove me CRAZY!!!

  15. My answer is a B word -- boring! If I'm bored I'd probably give up on the book. Also, if I'm annoyed, whether by the protag or the writing or the plot. No need to torture myself by reading something I don't enjoy. And I totally feel you about not liking a book everyone else loves. That happens to me a lot since I'm super picky when it comes to reading. I get so excited when I do find a book I adore, though!

  16. I've read a couple of books lately where the writing style has suddenly changed after the first couple of chapters.

    If I'm not enjoying a book, I forget it. Life's too short and my TBR pile too high. :)

  17. {One} of my pet peeves when reading a book is centered around names.
    If I don't like the name a character has it can sour the whole deal for me. Especailly if it's also a hard to pronounce or stupid name.
    Examples: 'Graceling' has a girl character called 'Bitter Blue' - don't like.

    JR Ward has umpteen names that rub me the wrong way...Phury? Rhage? Just no.

    And I read a book called 'Year Zero' by Jeff Long not long ago where the main character was called Nathan Lee Swift. Every other line had "Nathan Lee (this)" and "Nathan Lee (that)" and a perfectly fine name was ruined for me >:(

    I have weird peeves, I know :D

  18. This has totally happened to me recently! And, although, I did finish the took a long time and I didn't enjoy it. At all! And then I wonder how it got published. And how it got such high sales. And how the editors didn't catch the obvious. Okay, sorry. You got me on a rant, because it happens. And I wonder why people on the internet raved about it. Or more specifically, why writer's raved about it.

    And I'll get off my soapbox now. But I loved this post :)

  19. Lolol, those pictures cracked me up!

    It's not always easy to find good books. I had a string of bad ones over the summer that I just couldn't get passed the first few chapters *sigh*

  20. Good topic Jessie.

    My pet peeve with books is lack of research. I remember reading through a mystery/thriller by a well-known author and her main character was a female campus police officer who had left a big city police agency.

    Unfortunately, the MC acted like someone with zero police experience and made decisions that made me question whether the MC had finished high school.

    Anyway, the MC was involved in a shooting involving a firearm and a load type that are incompatible. Not sure how it made it past the editor, but I noticed that another reader had made the same observation and posted it in a discussion forum. The bad research really killed the book.

  21. Slamdunk - One of my friends in my local writers' group recently taught a workshop at a mystery writers' conference about firearm mistakes, and he followed it up with an article on the subject. I guess it happens often. He says readers are smart enough to catch these mistakes, and you'll lose credibility if you're not accurate in your research.