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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The last book I didn't finish . . .

I pick up a lot of free and bargain books. I do some "vetting" with the bargain ones, but with free, as long as the title and blurb look okay, I'll often click "download" without reading the sample. Then when I'm looking for a new book, I already have a lot of options on my kindle ready to go.

However, because of this it isn't unusual for me to start reading a book and decide it is not my cup of tea. I don't review books I don't finish, and with most of these, I don't usually get past the three chapter mark, but still, it always intrigues me why some books draw me in and some don't. Usually it is a matter of taste. Some of the things that stop my reading dead in its tracks might draw someone in

Since I don't review unfinished books, I'm not going to give author titles or names on these books. It would kind of be hitting the writer below the belt to bad talk them when I honestly didn't give them a "fair shake." Maybe after chapter four the story picked up or something.

However, you have to consider that a big way readers decide "buy or not" is by reading the first several pages, that Amazon sample. If it draws them in, the sale is yours. If they stop reading, you've lost your chance. Doesn't matter what happens in chapter two.

So here we go . . .

The flowery book:

This is the most "personal opinion" of all of them. This book I actually got a good way into before I gave up, 18% according to my kindle, and it is a longish book. However, the writing was just too bogged down with unnecessary descriptions of details I didn't care about. I'm not a minimalist writer. I like beautiful words and the occasional piece of poetry, but this one just lost me. Still, of all the books on my list, this is the one I'm most likely to try again, maybe when I'm on vacation and want to take my time reading something. Heck, I got through War and Peace. I could probably finish this one if I put my mind to it. 

The whirlwind book:

This book dropped me into the middle of a rescue of a girl I didn't know by a boy I didn't know in a world I didn't know, and I quit in chapter two with still no idea what the heck was going on. 
I blame all those writing guides that blab on and on about hooks. Start with the exciting part and make it more exciting! But really, if I don't know who this girl is, her rescue has little emotional connection for me as a reader. Also, the few sparse details given about the world were confusing and I wasn't sure if I was reading a futuristic scifi, or a fantasy set in another world, or a dystopian universe . . . I didn't know, and by chapter two, I didn't care. 

The Trope Book:

Don't get me wrong. I love a good trope. I write a lot of trope, but if the trope is ALL you've got going, if all this book seems to be is a story I've heard a hundred times already, then there really isn't any reason for me to read your book. Maybe you've shaken the book up in the later chapters, or changed the ending to something unexpected, but you need to at least hint at "something new" or "different" in the early chapters.
I don't even read romance, and I know the "two strangers forced into a marriage of convenience" trope. If the characters had been really interesting, I could've kept reading. If the writing had been ridiculously clever, I could've kept reading. If it was a marriage of convenience but the guy also turns into a polar bear every night, oh heck yeah! I'll keep reading (And have . . . that's basically the plot of a number of fairy tales), but if all I see is trope, trope, trope, no need to keep reading.

The Stupidly Simplistic Book:

I will admit that this book is in a genre I haven't read a lot of, but a book that shovel feeds me all the ideas on a silver platter is super annoying. The writing style wasn't "bad," per say. All the words were in the right order, but the ideas were spelled out so simply and plainly that there didn't really seem to be any imagination involved in reading. All the characters were painted with a really broad brush, "Rookie detective with a chip on her shoulder who also happens to be (in the books words) a person of color and is very determined to fight prejudice around her" sort of broad brush strokes. 
The story seemed to be aimed at adults, but the writing in Nancy Drew's I read as a kid was about as subtle and fleshed out as this was.
And I'm not saying that these character elements are bad. I'm saying, don't spell out your character's personality. Show it to us through actions and interactions, subtly, with finesse. 

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