Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the bloggers of The Broke and the Bookish. I altered this prompt slightly to be: Top Ten Aspects of a Book That Make Me NOT Want to Pick It Up. This is basically a companion post to a previous Top Ten Tuesday where I listed my Top Ten Aspects of a Book That Make Me Want to Pick It Up.
I believe this calls for a certain type of writing/critical thinking. *grabs snark cap* Are you ready, lovely readers, to see what aspects of a book tend to either ensure I'll never read it, or if I have read it, will most likely garner it a low rating?
Romance masquerading as speculative fiction (most specifically YA dystopians) — I have no idea how this became the common, cool thing to write. Really, I don't. As a reader, I dislike being fooled into thinking that a story is being marketed as a dystopian about a corrupt government and potential rebellion, when those aspects only seem to be setting the stage for a forbidden/difficult romance. Last time I checked, dystopian world don't exactly provide the best setting for romance. (ex. Renegade by J.A. Souders)
Love triangles — Okay, not all love triangles are taboo for me, but many of them are. I just hate how prevalent they are in YA novels (and you're going to have a hard time convincing me they're that prevalent in real life). I don't think I'd mind them as much if every once in a while they focused on a different "side," rather than having our female protagonist be the focal point and object of affection for two guys. It's just become such a tired literary device. (ex. Matched by Ally Condie)
Unrealistic male protagonists — I suppose the same can be said for unrealistic female protagonists, although I feel as though there are fewer female protagonists being written by a male author. I do think it's a wonderful thing to try to step outside one's comfort zone while writing. I run into issues, however, when I start realizing that a protagonist just doesn't sound or act like his/her gender at all. I understand how difficult it can be to write convincingly as someone of the opposite gender, but then get help? Have people of said gender review your story and tell you how the voice can be made more realistic? (ex. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl)
"Mandatory" in-between novellas — These just make me angry. First of all, shouldn't the authors be focusing on the actual next installments in their series instead of taking time away for a random novella? If the events/characters of the novella aren't included in the actual books, there's probably a good reason why not. My general belief: if whatever aspects in the novellas are important enough that they need to be read as part of the series, then they should probably be included in the actual novels. (ex. Destroy Me by Taherah Mafi)
Companion novels that tell the same events from a new POV — This is somewhat related to my thoughts on in-between novellas. I live life as a singular person, with my single point of view. I prefer to read my novels that way, too. If I've formed enough of an attachment with the protagonist, then I'm satisfied with my understanding of the story. I don't want nor need the same story to be rehashed from another person's perspective. (ex. Hopeless / Losing Hope by Colleen Hoover)
Lack of believable worldbuilding — If a story is not taking place in our world, then solid worldbuilding should be a no-brainer. I don't think it's much for me as the reader to want to understand the new world I'm reading. Some geography is nice, as is a basic understanding of history, culture, language, religion, race, etc. It can be difficult and intimidating to consider all these factors, but they're crucial to a reader's ability to understand and enjoy the story being told. (ex. Delirium by Lauren Oliver)
Uncredited retellings — Let me first be clear: I absolutely adore retellings. I think it's great how authors can find creative ways to envision an older story, while also allowing the older story the potential to be brought back to public attention. What I dislike, however, is when it's not readily apparent that the story is a retelling. Since this story wouldn't be in existence without some older one, I think it should be made clear through blurbs, promotion, reviews, etc before even starting the book. Not knowing a story is a retelling upfront is not okay with me. (ex. Ten by Gretchen McNeil)
Being touted as the next [big name book] — I kind of understand the marketing tactics behind this move. At the same time, though, why would you want to emphasize the fact that you're derivative and invite comparisons? If I've already read some of the big name books that a new book is being compared to, is the new book bringing anything new to the genre? In my opinion, it makes so much more sense to focus on what makes the story unique and worth reading. (ex. Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza, which is supposedly for fans of The Bourne Identity series and I Am Number Four)
Contemporary Protagonists with Strange Names — For fantasies and other sorts of speculative fiction, I am more than fine with authors using more fanciful names for their characters. In books that take place in our world? Not so much. You're trying to convince me of the normalcy of your setting, and yet your character has a ridiculously strange name? Yeah, not very convincing. Also, I hate it when female protagonists randomly have surnames as their first names, or names that are 100% guy names. (ex. Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins)
I could push myself to add another example, but, honestly, these nine are the big ones for me. That's not to say that I haven't read and loved books that incorporate one of these dreaded aspects, but in those cases generally everything else about the book has been pretty much perfect.
What about you? Let me know what are some of main bookish aspects that cause you to think twice before picking up a book!
Disclaimer: The only book listed that I've actually read is Lauren Oliver's Delirium, so these are all my interpretations based on others' reviews and promotional materials. I am not saying that I'd necessarily hate any of these works, but that they all contain an element that tends to bother me as a reader.