Thursday, February 28, 2013

Horrible Books, and How Much I Hate Them

Two nights ago, I was reading a novel in bed with my handy-dandy booklight, and I put it down and went to sleep not because I was falling asleep or because I had finished the book, but because the book was annoying me to death with its banal predictability.

At that point, about 20 pages from the end, there was only one logical, ethical conclusion, and it's one that I've grown weary of:  the sudden death of a character which makes everything all right.  Blah, blah.  It can be pulled off, of course; I've seen it done well.  But I've also seen it done really poorly, and nothing in the book up to that point gave me much hope.

What's the book, of course you ask?  Never mind.  It's a British light theoretically romance novel that I picked up in the English-language section of an airport, I think Cairo but maybe Paris, and I'm not sure it's even published in the States.  Normally the Brits are quite good at light romance in a Bridget-Jones sort of way.  Many of them also involve excellent cooking.  They're a fine way of spending your last bits of foreign currency while giving you something untaxing to read on that long plane ride home.

Anyway, when I stopped in disgust I really did have only 20 pages to go, and so, last night, I went ahead and finished it.  Normally I don't finish books I dislike unless I'm being paid to read them (I write book reviews for a literary magazine), but in this case I wanted to see if I was right about the ending.

Nope.  The ending was even worse than predicted.  Instead of a character dying to make everything right, he didn't die, he didn't change, and yet we were to believe everything was all right, because, you know, that's what the author told us to believe.  Such a waste of trees.  There wasn't a likeable character in the bunch.  Most of the action happened before the book began.  The writing was meh.  The plot veered inconsistently.  And the end was garbage.  Trite, unethical, stupid garbage. 

I hate it when two characters have three chance encounters and are suddenly supposed to be violently in love.  You can pull that crap off if you're Shakespeare.  Otherwise, give us some development, please.

Everybody write this down:  you--as the writer--you are the God of your little fictional world.  You decide what happens.  If it's stupid, inconsistent, or boring, FIX IT. 

Thus endeth the lesson.  Thank you.  I'm off to write some crummy fiction of my own.  But I will edit it into something better before I foist it off on an audience.  Swear.