The Importance of Powering Through That Bad Book

Recently, I picked up a book that had a gorgeous cover, intriguing back cover story, and made the NYT Bestseller list.

I’d heard the author speak and was interested in seeing her work. But I have to confess, I put the book back once before buying it.

Something just didn’t hook me. Still I decided to give it a shot.

And I’ve been paying for it ever since.

I’ve put the book down numerous times. It feels like work to read it. I almost quit a hundred pages into it.

But then I decided to keep reading. To analyze what made it so putdownable for me.

I am now done. And I have a long list of complaints:

  • The main character isn’t likable
    • I cannot connect with her no matter how hard I try
    • There is way too much telling and not enough showing of her inner self
    • She comes across as whiny and weak
    • She doesn’t do much for the entire book
  • The love story is so not believable
    • The writer keeps telling me about these feelings they have, but I don’t believe it
    • I never really saw this love develop in the book it was just bam there
  • The hero is so mysterious I don’t know a damn thing about him
    • At first this was tantalizing, but by page 200 I’m just annoyed and bored. And uninvested in the outcome
    • I don’t get why things aren’t working and it frustrates me
    • The only explanation comes in the last 15 pages and it is just a lead into the next book
  • The book is nothing like the back cover
    • Don’t promise me a mystery with romantic elements and deliver a stalled romance that goes nowhere and a mystery that no one works to solve
    • I’m done and I still have no idea what the story is about
    • More to the point, I don’t care
  • The pacing is SOOOOO SLOW
    • Nothing happens throughout most of the book. Like hundreds of pages wasted.
    • Things start to get interesting around page 200. Yup 200! Then they slow to a snail’s pace again
    • When I start daydreaming about doing laundry and my next blog post, I know there’s a problem
    • The last 25 pages were climatic. But getting there was an act of faith and self flagellation
  • The writing is so-so
    • Tons of clichés and basic descriptions–feels like lazy writing
    • Lots of telling instead of showing
    • Many unnecessary scenes
    • The sentence structure and word usage are very commonplace
    • The voice is severely lacking
    • I find myself skipping ahead pages to see when things get interesting and have gone 50+ pages ahead and found nothing
I have to say, I’ve learned more from reading a bad book than I do from the good ones. Because you don’t notice everything the writer does right since it’s seamless. With a bad book, you notice every pothole you hit.
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4 Responses to The Importance of Powering Through That Bad Book

  1. Lucas says:

    What a great idea to read a bad book so you know what NOT to do. I have been struggling through a so-so biography on Joe Dimaggio. The book was moderately dull until Marilyn Monroe came into his life. Then I whizzed through that part. Ecxitement and drama matter!

    • I decided to make the most of what might otherwise feel like a major waste of time. Glad I did. I’ll try to apply what I learned to my manuscript. Make sure I’m not making similar mistakes. 🙂 Marilyn Monroe would be a great addition to pretty much any book!

  2. berry says:

    So who is the author. Name of book. Come on give details. Or at least a clue. This is first time I see you not liking a book this much. How did it make bestseller list. Wow. Maybe it is who you know and not what you know.

    Isn’t life unfair.

    • I don’t believe in giving bad reviews. That said, I did want to write about my experience finishing a bad book since it’s the first one I ever powered through. 🙂
      There are books I give up on. It happens every once in a while. Always leaves me feeling disappointed. I did read reviews where people loved a book that I couldn’t bear to finish. It’s so very subjective I guess.

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