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Thread: What's bugging you in the novel you're reading?

  1. #26
    practical experience, FTW Ken's Avatar
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    ... too many details !!!
    Still turned out to be an excellent read.

  2. #27
    practical experience, FTW LJD's Avatar
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    That I didn't write it.

    Because it's really good.

  3. #28
    Still confused by shoelaces Once!'s Avatar
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    I've just read Transition by Iain Banks. And while there is much to like in it, I was really annoyed by his trademark obfuscatory beginning. It takes far too long to work out what is going on.

    Don't get me wrong. I like Iain Banks and have read just about everything he's written. His prose style is very clear and strong. I like his imagination and the worlds he creates. But there is something about his pacing and plotlines that is starting to grate.

    Every one of his science fiction books seems to follow the formula - complicated beginning ... lots of characters and different worlds, seemingly unconnected ... who is he? What does she want? ... then everyone starts to come together ... big reveal at the end that the Culture had a hidden plan after all.

    It's all good stuff, but ... I can't help feeling that we've seen it all before.

  4. #29
    Still sitting Phyllo's Avatar
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    Just started Jay Parini's "H.M." -- a novel about Herman Melville. So far, there's way way too much telling. His wife basic creates a laundry list of: Herman was like this, and he was like that ...

    But I'm sure it gets better ... ?

  5. #30
    New, but ready and revving to go Liz_cm's Avatar
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    "Small Favor" by Jim Butcher part of "The Dresden Files series" Butcher has this problem at times where he knows how to open and close a book, but his middle needs some cutting from time to time. Also, out of all the books that I have read "Proven Guilty" is by far his best book in my mind plot wise and character wise.
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  6. #31
    oldie turned newbie squeaky pram's Avatar
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    This doesn't count as something annoying, but it has made me stop reading.

    I'm too invested in the characters. I know that their already-tragic-enough lives are beginning to crumble further and I haven't the heart to go on. The book is A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. Though it's potentially one of the most powerful books I've ever read, my cowardice seems to be even stronger. Pathetic, but true!

  7. #32
    empty-nester! shadowwalker's Avatar
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    I'm trying to work my way through "Innocent" by Scott Turow. I should have known better, after reading "Presumed Innocent", but... I'm just having a real hard time rooting for the MC - frankly I find him a weak and despicable person. But then I find most of the characters weak and/or despicable. Only one character seems halfway decent (the son) and he seems incredibly stupid naive for someone his age. So between that, and the confusing flashbacks (I'm not really sure the author remembered who did what and when) it's incredibly difficult to keep going. I think the only reason I'm going to finish it is because I don't want to have wasted my money and need to have something to read on my lunch break.
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  8. #33
    taking time to smell the flowers Nonuw's Avatar
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    Reading The Shiva Trilogy by Amish. The premise is that the Hindu god, Shiva, was really a tribal Tibetan man who walked down from the Himalayas to the then thriving Indus Valley Civilization in 1900 BC. Interesting premise that had me buy all three books.

    The author has really sub-par writing skills (the guy spends one page describing the emperor as 'average' - average height, average build etc. - wanted to throw my book across the room). The chapters are littered with expo-dumps, and scenes which remind me of 80's Bollywood movies. Frustrating. Because the premise was so good and could have really made this a very remarkable, witty and edgy book. Sigh! Maybe Arundati Roy will pick up the idea.

    Wondering if I should keep reading and will it become better eventually...
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  9. #34
    Not so new, really dirtsider's Avatar
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    Most of the books I've been reading lately have been non-fiction. I think A Discovery of Witches is probably the most recent non-fiction book I've read. I agree with Yorkist - the two main characters were the problem with the book. The FMC is all right in the first half, even though she's a whiny get from the get-go. She's got issues but understandable reasons for them but she's still whiny. Second half, though - definitely a Mary Sue to beat all Mary Sues. And the MMC calls her "brave". I call her "too stupid to live" in the second half. She reminds me of a more active version of Bella Swan who is a whiny, limp, bubble-headed, dish-rag of a victim. (No offense to the people who like Twilight or A Discovery of Witches.)

    Spoilers: I mean, after all the comments on how vampires are dangerous and having just watched your lover and his mother actually hunt for their meals, you still aren't going to twitch slightly? If only because of an instinctual 'fight or flight' reaction of prey in the company of a predator? Because non-vampires are still considered prey to a vampire, especially since the MMC himself is still concerned about his own ability to maintain control around the FMC.

    That being said, I do like the plot concept of ADOW. If the FMC gets off her butt and becomes actually useful, it would improve 100%. I think I will still check out the second book in this series if only to see if things have improved or the secondary characters are given more page time.

  10. #35
    Happy Spring!! backslashbaby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by squeaky pram View Post
    This doesn't count as something annoying, but it has made me stop reading.

    I'm too invested in the characters. I know that their already-tragic-enough lives are beginning to crumble further and I haven't the heart to go on. The book is A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. Though it's potentially one of the most powerful books I've ever read, my cowardice seems to be even stronger. Pathetic, but true!
    Aw!! This was one of my suggestions for my bookclub that didn't get any interest in reading. See, I was right A good friend begged me to read it
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  11. #36
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Umbrageofsnow's Avatar
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    Book I'm reading is a short story collection filled with some really lovely imagery and descriptions of scenery that artfully elaborate on themes or foreshadow the whole story.

    But dammit why does every shadow of everything ever either lurk, cavort, leap, crawl, dance, or crouch. I don't mind scenery doing verbs, I don't mind descriptions of shadows, but can't things sometimes have an inactive shadow? And can't we describe the light casting the shadows instead once in a while?

  12. #37
    So Goth That I Was Born Black AW Moderator Kitty27's Avatar
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    I'm back to my old favorite,Anna Karenina.

    Levin annoys me. Dude is a complete weirdo and Kitty's carrying on is something else.

    I am also rereading Game Of Thrones. Ned's lack of cunning and complete inability to read folks plus his insistence on honor and whatnot= GOOD GAWD,man.
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  13. #38
    Is Published!!! Archie1989's Avatar
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    This is probably a whole thread unto itself, but i just finished the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy and I swear to god if I ever in my life read the words "foil packet" again I'm going to spontaneously combust.
    I know she's now rich and famous and whatnot, but come on. If you can't figure out a different way to say something, don't say that something ten MILLION times in the same chapter. Slash book. Slash series.

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  14. #39
    oldie turned newbie squeaky pram's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by squeaky pram View Post
    This doesn't count as something annoying, but it has made me stop reading.

    I'm too invested in the characters. I know that their already-tragic-enough lives are beginning to crumble further and I haven't the heart to go on. The book is A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. Though it's potentially one of the most powerful books I've ever read, my cowardice seems to be even stronger. Pathetic, but true!
    Quote Originally Posted by backslashbaby View Post
    Aw!! This was one of my suggestions for my bookclub that didn't get any interest in reading. See, I was right A good friend begged me to read it
    BSB, I finally plucked up my courage and finished Owen Meany and wow. An extraordinary book. One of the best I've ever read. You need to find a new book club!

  15. #40
    Owen Meany is great. Man knows his craft.

    I won't name the book I just put aside, but here's why: 50 pages and the plot hadn't gotten in gear. I read the dust jacket, I knew what was supposed to be coming, and I was looking forward to it. But 50 pages of character introduction, narrative summary, and scenes that didn't seem to connect to the DJ plot? It was just character development and setting. Enough! The last 300 pages of the book may be great, but I'll never read it. It was a first novel.

    And here I had worried about my WIP that I spent 3,360 words doing character introductions and that was maybe too much--and I had them in action, action which connected somehow to the larger plot! I'm not as worried now.


    New novel 85,000/85,000.


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  16. #41
    Writting broad batgirl's Avatar
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    The villain. The villain is bugging the heck out of me.

    I've read all of the Home Repair Is Homicide series, by Sarah Graves. But I may have to give up on Breakdown, which is something like 13th or 14th.
    I don't know why, but the last 3 books switched from 1st person narration by Jacobia (Jake) Tiptree, with subplots following the lives of her neighbours and family, to 3d person narration, multiple povs, and darker and more thriller-like plots. The characters suffered a lot more, but the stories were still gripping.
    This one, though... The last couple of villains were nasty pieces of work, but this one is just ludicrous. Basically, Norman Bates out for revenge, bringing all the Mommy issues and squirmy memories. He's out to kill Jake, with a stated deadline of the Fourth of July (why then? dunno). Just way OTT, in a series that built itself on down-to-earth characters and a realistic setting.
    So Graves has dropped the whodunnit aspect, and replaced it with supposed suspense that this episode's maniac may succeed in ... killing the main character of a profitable series?

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  17. #42
    Come on you stranger, you legend, Devil Ledbetter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yorkist View Post
    I'm reading The Discovery of Witches, and several things are bothering me bad enough that I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to give it up (even though I'm 80% of the way through and I have never, ever given up on a book after I've invested that much time in it). In ascending order of importance:

    (1) At least half of this novel should have been left on the cutting room floor. I can handle this because the awful crap I have to read for work (e.g. FASB statements) has cultivated a certain patience in me, but srsly, I keep "reading" as much as two pages and realizing that I have absorbed not a word. How many times can people have tea and sleep and talk about food? Did an editor even touch this?

    (2) The two main characters are the most self-indulgent Mary Sues I think I've ever read in a work of fiction that was actually published. The male romantic lead is particularly godawful. And creepy. The main character starts out alright and has an interesting backstory and occupation, but she gets more and more Mary-Sueified the longer I read. She is simultaneously *spoiler highlight* the most powerful witch ever, and yet spends most of the novel crying, fainting, shaking uncontrollably, and otherwise falling apart. Oh, and the male lead is simultaneously teh ultimate predator and then we learn later *spoiler highlight* I am not even joking, he is secretly a knight. Like an actual knight. Who runs a secret order. Charged with protecting innocents. There is no irony here. I kept looking for it, and it's not there.

    (3) This is the most turgid, melodramatic, insufferably boring romance I think I've ever encountered in a work of fiction. It starts out cliche while not seeming to take itself too seriously, and that I can handle. It becomes egregiously offensive, with the male romantic lead telling the main character when to eat and sleep. And I just read a scene that made me throw this book at the wall; I can't even talk about it, it's just so horrifying, but let's just say we run into a Buffy versus Bella problem here.

    Why did I put up with it for five hundred some-odd pages? Well, there's about a hundred pages of really interesting stuff here. The secondary characters are great. The worldbuilding is fascinating. What little actual "plot" there is -- awesome. If the main characters were kicked out of this book, it could be fantastic.

    Lots of potential, very little follow-through, and now I need to cleanse my palate with Alice Hoffman and a Buffy marathon.
    Quote Originally Posted by dirtsider View Post
    Most of the books I've been reading lately have been non-fiction. I think A Discovery of Witches is probably the most recent non-fiction book I've read. I agree with Yorkist - the two main characters were the problem with the book. The FMC is all right in the first half, even though she's a whiny get from the get-go. She's got issues but understandable reasons for them but she's still whiny. Second half, though - definitely a Mary Sue to beat all Mary Sues. And the MMC calls her "brave". I call her "too stupid to live" in the second half. She reminds me of a more active version of Bella Swan who is a whiny, limp, bubble-headed, dish-rag of a victim. (No offense to the people who like Twilight or A Discovery of Witches.)

    Spoilers: I mean, after all the comments on how vampires are dangerous and having just watched your lover and his mother actually hunt for their meals, you still aren't going to twitch slightly? If only because of an instinctual 'fight or flight' reaction of prey in the company of a predator? Because non-vampires are still considered prey to a vampire, especially since the MMC himself is still concerned about his own ability to maintain control around the FMC.

    That being said, I do like the plot concept of ADOW. If the FMC gets off her butt and becomes actually useful, it would improve 100%. I think I will still check out the second book in this series if only to see if things have improved or the secondary characters are given more page time.
    Oh dear, you both made it much farther than I did. I think I stopped around the 17% mark on my Kindle.

    I'm sure I gave A Discovery of Witches a thorough trashing in the Books You've Thrown Across The Room With Force thread, so here's the Reader's Digest condensed version:

    All the main character did was sit around sipping tea and doing yoga while a vague threat of "daemons" never materializes. Mary Sue MC (she's a tenured professor at Oxford at the age of 26, IIRC) goes to the library, studies, comes home, exercises, sips tea, falls asleep on the couch, wakes up, goes to the library ... lather, rinse, repeat.

    That this book was a dog bothers me less than seeing it again and again on bookstore "staff picks!" lists and NPR positively droolingover how great it was.

    What the actual f**k?
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  18. #43
    practical experience, FTW cmi0616's Avatar
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    Reading Everything Is Illuminated, and while it's not necessarily a bad I don't understand all the hype around it. The broken-English narrative that we receive from Alex is funny at first, but tires fast and we don't really see or know enough about Jonathan to care about him or his grandfather who he searches for. The prose underwhelmed as well, and all though there were a few points where the writing did shine, it was ultimately a very unimpressive book. Only 50 pages left though, so I guess I'll finish it out.
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  19. #44
    practical experience, FTW cmi0616's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by squeaky pram View Post
    This doesn't count as something annoying, but it has made me stop reading.

    I'm too invested in the characters. I know that their already-tragic-enough lives are beginning to crumble further and I haven't the heart to go on. The book is A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. Though it's potentially one of the most powerful books I've ever read, my cowardice seems to be even stronger. Pathetic, but true!
    I must be the only guy on the planet who couldn't get into that book. I'm a huge fan of John Irving too, but it just didn't do it for me. After he spent 100 pages talking about the Christmas play, I gave up.
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  20. #45
    practical experience, FTW Kathleen_'s Avatar
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    I have a book on pause where I'm wondering if it's actually any better than the fan fiction the author used to write years ago...

  21. #46
    Toughen up. gothicangel's Avatar
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    Robyn Young's insistence on using flashback in Insurrection. I didn't mind the first few, but chapter after chapter of them is getting on my nerves now.

    Otherwise it's a fab book, with a brilliant historical accuracy.
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  22. #47
    'til the end of time savagelilies's Avatar
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    The use of first person. I don't think I've ever been so irritated by a first-person narrator. At random times she'll stop in the middle of a scene to explain the world, which is so not necessary. I want to shout at her to stop infodumping. The worldbuilding should be subtle, slipped in here and there, not stated so up front. And the flashbacks she launches into at random times! Dear God.

    And the character is a Mary Sue. Ugh. She's so flawed, but somehow, she still comes across as a Mary Sue. None of the main characters dislike her, and if they do, it's for a really petty reason.

  23. #48
    figuring it all out Seth?'s Avatar
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    Well, I reread Battle Royale last weekend, and then I read The Hunger Games for the first time yesterday.

    Yeah... enough said.


    Not to say that I "disliked" Hunger Games per se, it was just... I couldn't get into it, I felt like I was rereading roughly the same story and I was kind of like "Wtf bro? Wtf?"

    Anyway, I figure I'll give it a month or so and then reread Hunger Games. Hopefully it won't bother me so much after I've taken a break from both. I'm not too irked about it like a lot of people are (my best friend included. She goes crazy when you compare the two. Battle Royale fanatic.)


    -Seth

  24. #49
    Come on you stranger, you legend, Devil Ledbetter's Avatar
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    I am reading The Lovely Bones. It's pretty good (I'm in the middle, which is not as promising as the beginning but I'm sure I'll finish it anyway). Here is what's driving me crazy: There are too many named characters. And these characters are casually mentioned, then dropped, then mentioned again later and I'm all what? Who?

    Who is Holly? Oh, she's one of the people who wanders into Susie's heaven. Who is Hal? Ummm, oh yeah, older brother of Lindsey's boyfriend, Sam. Who is Clarissa? Crap, now was she the snooty neighbor girl who went to private school or Susie's best friend in life? Hmm, seems like the private school girl was named Grace, maybe? So Clarissa must have been Susie's friend. Now which one is Ray? I get him mixed up with the other guy who also had a crush on Suzie (who didn't have a crush on Suzie, anyway?) And Nate? Maybe that's Buckley's little buddy?

    Way, way too many named characters. I really wish I'd have started a character scorecard at the beginning of the book. It's too late to go back now.

    Ugh.

    The other thing bugging me is minor, but characters keep "nodding their heads." It's a small redundancy, but a redundancy nonetheless. I mean, what else can they nod?
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  25. #50
    That in this novel I'm reading, which I will not name, tastes/rules of what's acceptable have changed since this was published 40 years go. I like this one better than many newer ones, and part of what I like about it are things that I've read specifically that we are "not to do." In particular, this level of detail would, today, be called "info dump," but it's fascinating. I think people have grown allergic to learning anything, even accidentally.

    Sign #43 this week of being an old fart.
    Last edited by lorna_w; 07-03-2012 at 06:10 AM. Reason: because I actually was vague.

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