Friday, March 2, 2018

Why I did not finish reading this book


  This is a non-book-review on a romantic suspense novel, which means I will not disclose the names of the title or author. This book was published by a large and well-known traditional publisher of Christian romances.
   Shame on the editors for not catching this stuff.
   This non-book-review is intended to improve our writing, and not to criticize simply for the sake of criticism--never mind that I was a deeply disappointed reader who, while reading what I anticipated to be a few hours of delightful escape into the thrilling world of danger and romance, would have loved nothing better than to hack, hack, hack on the author who caused me to waste my money on her novel!

   All venting aside, this article is written with a cooler head and from the perspective of both reader and editor. From the perspective of a reader, as an avid reader of good fiction (I love it, love it, love it!), there are some things I will bear with for a while, in hopes the author will quickly adjust and improve. If that does not happen within a reasonable number of pages, I assume I am seeing a pattern in the writing, and I ditch the book.
   For the following reasons, the book in this review (which managed to keep my strained attention (for 72 pages. It had potential.) did not get finished:

  • The author repeatedly used the same idioms. It's a good idea not to repeat idioms. Once is great. Twice is too many. More than twice slaps a reader in the face (at least they do me). They notice it, and after the first use, it's already old. 
  • Research: Readers are usually well educated (whether self or academically). Some critical facts in this story were not straight.
  • Gender stereotypes: This particular publisher states in their guidelines that they want their female and male characters to be equal partners, and then are notorious for publishing all kinds of gender stereotypes in their books anyway.Such was the case with this story. The author threw in some statements to make it appear as if she was compliant with the guideline, then contradicted those statements with gender stereotypes. Even one or two are too many but after that, I generally ditch the book.
  • Believability: Situations where common sense does not prevail
  • Oxymoronic evidence in the same scene (a video too blurry to make out any details, except the color of the perp's eyes!?)
  • Convenient stuff that just gets added into the story as needed, "Oh, I just happen to have recently installed an airstrip on my farm..."
  • Contradictions: Weather conditions that prevented visuals from only a few feet away, but the characters could see headlights coming from quarter mile away
  • Flat characters--especially the hero. Even though the writer described their appearance, I simply could not visualize either one of them.
  • Chemistry: The author kept telling me the main characters were attracted to each other, but I could not feel any connection between the two. 
  • Emotional Experience: Aside from irritation, I actually felt nothing while reading this novel. Zero emotional experience.
  • Conflict: I had trouble figuring out what his conflict was if he had one. I did not relate to her conflict. It was weak and unconvincing.
   I finally gave up hope that the writing would improve and closed the book for good.
   The sad part is, the story had immense potential but fell short.
   In defense of the previously published author (she was not a newbie), she was probably on a too-tight deadline and did not get near enough editorial attention.
   A word to Editors, just because an author is a veteran, doesn't mean she or he shouldn't get the same quality editing for each book. 
   I believe the editor[s] did a dis-service to both author and readers by publishing this novel without giving it a good twice or thrice-over. Good editors could have pointed out the weak points and drawn more out of the author, helping to hone her story into a really great read.
   Published as it was, though, I found the story to be bland, shallow, and boring.