Thursday, March 29, 2012

remind me why i'm reading this again?

I dislike not finishing books. In fact, I dislike it so much that I make a point of always finishing books--well, except this one book that had some... well, less-than-desirable content. And also Water Wars. Goodness gracious, that book was so dull.

Which, incidentally, leads me to what is possibly the only reason that I would ever not finish a book. I grew up with the classics. I have fond memories of learning to read curled up with Curious George and Beatrix Potter, then moving on to the original Winnie the Pooh books, The Boxcar Children, and the Swiss Family Robinson. The Little Princess, a hearty dose of Nancy Drew, and when I was ten, Moby Dick and many of Jules Verne's books; that's what I cut my literary teeth on.

So when I read a book, I expect to live up to those books in terms of their believability and characters. The Little Princess is a classic for a reason: it's well written and it also has some of the best characters. I still remember them, and periodically go back to the world of a dreaming Sara, a fascinated Rebecca, and the dastardly deeds of Miss Minchin. I've not picked up a Boxcar Children book in forever, but I lived those adventures, and those characters will always form part of what I think of when I hear the word "detective" (or train). Jules Verne will always be one of my favorite authors, mostly because he managed to create beautiful stories that were long enough for me to not just blow through them, but also because his characters and his fictional scenarios fit each other so well.

And then there are those...other books. The ones that have no character development and whose plot seems to be hanging on nothing but a thread of self-importance. The pacing is off, to the point where the reader alternately feels as if she is slogging through quicksand or being pushed through the pages by a bullet train. These are the books that we cringe through, hoping that somehow, it'll get better at the end (I also try to imagine myself writing something spectacularly wonderful and showing up the author. Or just banishing them for their crimes against literature, but that's another post entirely).

They are books that, rather than describing things, tell you in the most boring voice imaginable, exactly what happened and when and where and what the character's hair and nails and teeth looked like when it happened because we all care a lot about how our Elf princess looked when she killed that fellow. Within these books seem to be the most amazing things possible--a person jumping around a circle of men killing them with nothing but her knees as she jumps from shoulder-to-shoulder, or the established rules of vampire lore suddenly coming undone...even within the book's own universe, or there suddenly being a bomb wielded by terrorists who had never been heard of before, but it's okay, because the book is only fifty pages long so far.

(In case you're wondering, I'm totally going to point fingers and name names. I just talked about the Inheritance Cycle, Twilight, and Water Wars respectively. Though the second is kind of a stretch. Stephenie Meyer tries, at least.)

So, dear future authors and current authors and authors that have been, 
Just remember that listing things is not an acceptable replacement for actual description that brings your characters and your world to life. Making a long list about all the things that would logically mean your five-foot-tall herbalist would lose against your six-foot-tall trained warrior, is not the same as describing to us the things that make it so...especially not when you've just done that. In that vein, repetition doesn't mean I'll get your point better, or suddenly realize that your characters are, indeed, traveling across a desert where there is no water and hasn't been water for the past century. Pointless repetition just makes me want to put your book down. Nor will repetition of the same words make me see your political point. It's already been drummed into my head during the first 800 pages; I don't need 80 more that are nothing but a radio speech to make me realize that you're trying to make a point. 
Also, please kindly remember that gory wounds are not the time nor place to make up for your lack of description elsewhere. No matter what you may think, they will not make your battle scenes any more gripping, nor will they make your whiny characters any more lovable. Gory wounds that are described in stomach-turning detail just make me want to put your book up and go read something less nauseating. If I wanted to read about that, I would have picked up an anatomy text book. 
In closing, dear author,  I would greatly appreciate it if you would get to the point instead of leading me on a wild-goose-chase for some semblance of a plot. 
With much love,
- Kyla Denae

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