*Rubs hands together in a maniacal manner* This week’s blog challenge is going to be fun. Anyone who knows me knows I have pet peeves about a lot of things, and given that I read 70-100 books a year, I have several that relate to books. Here are my top 5:
- “If I only knew…” – I don’t see this one as much as I used to, but it’s when the writer takes the
easylazy way out instead of actually working to put foreshadowing into their story. “If I’d only known then how wrong I was.” Really? Why don’t you try showing us both scenes and letting us, as readers who have brains, draw that conclusion? It’s just a sign that the writer either doesn’t know any other way to build suspense/a sense of dread or that he/she is too lazy to bother to put in the work. It immediately knocks at least one star off the final rating for me and raises my blood pressure. If it happens multiple times in a book, I’ll stop reading.
- Characters that are too stupid to live (TSTL) – Most common in romance and YA books, this is a thing that really should be allowed to die out. Please, please, please give your characters common sense. Even if they are vapid – some people just are – give them a sense of self-preservation. I mean, hasn’t everyone seen enough movies/TV by now to know not to reveal to the killer that you’re going to go to the police, especially before you do it? Sadly, the majority of TSTL characters I’ve encountered have been women. Really, we face enough discrimination without the help of this type of character. Usually the TSTL reveal happens because the author needs the character to do something, rather than it being something they would naturally do, so it hits a false note with readers. I think this is lazy character development. It’s fine in a first draft, but before the book is published, the author should take the time to go in and make the action make sense in the context of the world he/she has built.
- Second book syndrome – You know this one. It’s when a series, usually a trilogy, has a pretty much pointless second book that serves only as a bridge to the third book. I read one recently that could have been summed up in at most a chapter or two at the beginning of the next book. I won’t name it because I love the author and was shocked to see she’d produced such a waste of time book. “Lady of Avalon” is the classic example for me, which I will cite only because they author is dead. Both “The Forrest House” and “The Mists of Avalon” were fantastic. “Lady of Avalon” felt like an excuse to get the Forest House characters (or their descendants) to where she wanted them to be in Mists.
- Weak third books in trilogies – I say this as I’m working on the third book of my Guinevere trilogy, praying I don’t fall victim to this myself. It’s when the first two books in a trilogy are great and you can’t wait to read the last one, only to find yourself thinking “WTF? Did you just not know what to do with the book?” I think some of it can be blamed on the deadline pressures traditionally published authors are under, but some of it likely comes from a lack of clear vision/planning for the whole series. There are some cases in which traditionally published authors have contracts extended and are surprised by having to come up with material for another book, but that doesn’t explain most instances. Either way, there’s no call for a weak final book.
- Books that don’t seem to have a point – There are whole books that I’ve read where I’ve finished it said, “And the point of this was…?” I feel like every story should at least impart to you an idea, an inkling of why the story was told or at least what story was being told. I have read several (sadly, most are literary fiction – it and I do not get along) where I couldn’t tell you what the story was about. It was just a bunch of talking. Or a series of visits between two people. What were they talking about? I have no idea. Nothing of consequence. Think of Waiting for Godot. I’d love someone to tell me what that play was about. Same idea.
*Steps down off of soapbox with a muttered prayer she is never guilty of any of these offenses*
What are your biggest pet peeves in books?