I love to read widely and this year I’m looking forward to a Year of Reading Dangerously where I’ll bravely try new genres, overcome my fear of lengthy and intimidating books, embrace new writing styles and just generally take a leap into the literary unknown. Having said that there are certain things that when I come across them in a book I’m reading or if I spot them in a book I’m about to buy, will always turn me off and make me want to put the book down. Or at least come on here and rant about said book to all you lovely people after I finish it. 🙂
The main bookish deal breakers for me have got to be…
1. Totally unexpected sad endings
You can relax, I’m not about to start ranting about Allegiant again. 🙂 I actually don’t include that in this category. I might not have like how it ended but it wasn’t totally unexpected given the nature of the story. What I’m talking about are those stories where things are either going along nicely or all the conflict has been completely resolved, the future looks bright and then from nowhere tragedy strikes! Two lovers have overcome turmoil and separation to finally be reunited then one of them is hit by a bus or caught up in a tropical storm and lost at sea, that kind of thing. A typical Nicholas Sparks type of story really! Not all stories have to have happy endings – who doesn’t love Romeo and Juliet? – but it bugs me when an author just pulls the rug right out from under you at the last minute for no good reason!
2. Sexed-up classic book covers
I think it started when Twilight came out and publishers wanted to try and cash in on that market to get teens interested in the classics. First there was the edition of Wuthering Heights which they re-designed to look like a Twilight book then I spotted a version of The Bell Jar which looked like a piece of chick-lit. How is a story about a woman spiralling into depression and how she’s treated in any way a light piece of chick-lit fluff?? And don’t get me started on the ‘retro pulp’ cover of Pride and Prejudice which shows a Colin Firth version of Mr Darcy smoking a cigarette with the tagline ‘ Lock up your daughters! Darcy’s in town!’ Seriously??!
3. Unecessarily long descriptions
Some of my favourite books are my favourites because of the beautiful and vivid descriptions the author uses and when it’s done well, it can transport you to a whole other world. When the description of the scene is still going on two pages later it just becomes a bit of a joke. Particuarly if the descriptions are made up of entire paragraph long sentences. We get it, you know a lot of obscure and fancy words, and you’re very clever! Now, just stop going on about the transcendent scenery and get the story started before we fall asleep!
4. Any of the following romance stories – woman/girl is nothing till man/boy comes along, woman always needs rescued by man, girl just meets boy but is prepared to give up entire life for boy
Twilight is the obvious example to use here but sadly it’s not alone. Sadly after years of the various women’s rights movements, there is still an alarming tendency for authors to create female characters who go along in life feeling dull and boring until the hot new guy in town notices them and they ‘come alive’ or who need a guy to get them out of whatever tricky situation they get themselves into or those stories where the entire focus is about the main character finding ‘Mr Right’. I love a good romance but not if it makes the woman out to be whiny and weak, and not if it’s the sole focus of the book. Throw in some action where she gets to kick butt or have the romance be the cherry on top of a really good story but don’t keep creating these Bella-type characters!
5. Porn masquerading as romance
I’m not a prude at all and I do enjoy some heat in a story but there are some books which cross the line from sexy to what is essentially porn. I used to really enjoy reading the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter books and I enjoyed the, shall we say risque scenes, but after a while it just seemed that Laurel K. Hamilton gave up even trying to come up with plot lines and the whole book would just be the occasional paragraph in between sex scenes! There were no lead-ups to these scenes, no sexual tension building up like in the excellent Fever series, just one random sex scene after another. If you’re going to write a book like that why don’t you just call a spade a spade and admit it’s porn rather than trying to pass it off as a legit story?
What about you? What are your biggest bookish deal breakers or turn offs?