I finished reading a book recently and I hated it. But at the same time I couldn’t put it down. It was like a car crash. I’m not one of those people that has to finish every book they’ve started reading. If I hate it or it’s terrible I just stop. Sometimes I will read the last chapter to find out what happens then I can put it back where I found it.
I won’t give you the title or author as it is not my intention to give a review. And I am not recommending it either. This is just my personal opinion based on what I personally enjoy reading. I do like to try new genres and authors either fiction or non-fiction, and mix things up a little. I started reading it because I liked what I read in the blurb and I was looking for some inspiration for a little project I am dabbling in. It turns out the book was rubbish. I kept reading because I wanted to know why I thought it was rubbish.
It was an interesting concept. A lost manuscript had finally been found and it had potential implications for not just the witch that found it but all creatures. Apparently there are only four: humans, witches, vampires and daemons. Werewolves seem to be absent. The book didn’t end up being about the missing manuscript at all. It progressed into a crap romance where a perfectly independent woman gives up everything because she fell in love with a vampire. Then it became a big war between all creatures, though the humans had no idea what was going on. And it ended with a bit of time travel because the witch, who had refused to use her powers, happened to be the most powerful witch of a few generations, and needed to go back in time and find someone to teach her to control her powers.
The first thing that annoyed me was that the main character, a female, started off being strong and independent then gives up everything for love. Why are there no strong independent female characters in literature? Everything turns into what the man wants, or what they are willing to do for love. It’s a heap of crap! (Or perhaps I’m a little cynical.) And what is it about Vampires? Here you are doing what you want with your life then a vampire comes along and suddenly you want to be with him forever and become one. OMG! And why do modern authors feel the need to change hundreds of years of vampire lore?
I didn’t just keep reading because I wanted to know why I hated it. That was actually clear. But why was it was so painful to read. Was it the fact that the dialogue didn’t seem natural? I could not relate to the characters? There didn’t seem to be a plot? There was too much description and not enough explanation? And it never seemed to get to the point. I never did find out the magical message that the manuscript was meant to contain or it’s relevance to all creatures.
Also, considering what I learnt in my course, that the writer only lets the reader see what they want them to see. I figured that maybe I was missing something. Maybe the little detours actually served a purpose to something else and the author may actually get back on track and get to the point as to why this certain book was so special. Apparently not.
Essentially it was the characters. The main female character started out being strong and independent but ended up changing her entire life for a man. I just couldn’t relate to her. I didn’t feel anything for her. (And, I just wanted her to die and stop whinging). She told me stuff about herself that didn’t add anything to her personality. The scenes should have been described in a way that I would pick up clues to who she was that would make sense later.
Maybe I shouldn’t be so critical. I haven’t been published so what do I know about writing a book? But I (the reader) am the one that will buy your (the author’s) book. My opinion is probably one of many differing opinions out there. It certainly isn’t a professional opinion as I am also not an editor. So I imagine it is of little significance.
What this book highlights for me, what I’ve learnt from it, is the importance of characterisation, plot and scene; otherwise you just have a nice idea and a story.
The book I picked up next was a debut novel by a Canadian author. Within the first two pages I was comfortable. It was like visiting an old friend. I knew what was going on. There was a clear indication of the characters and their relationship to each other; all this was merely communicated to me (the reader) through the use of dialogue. The dialogue was natural and expressed each character’s personality. The ending related back to the beginning and all loose ends were tied up. This is a book I would recommend. (So I will. Sweetness from Ashes by Marlyn Horsdal.)
This little experiment just goes to show that you can learn just as much from reading things you don’t like as you can from reading things you really enjoy. The book that I hated is a lesson in what NOT to do, whereas the other novel was a good example of what to strive for. Please feel free to leave a comment. Do you keep reading a book even if you are not enjoying it?