Stylized yellow menorah on blue tile background

AW Amazon Store

If this site is helpful to you,
Please consider a voluntary subscription to defray ongoing expenses.


 

Welcome to the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler! Please read The Newbie Guide To Absolute Write

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 31

Thread: The Girl on the Train is NOT "excellent:...or is it? What makes literature good/excellent?

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW EmilyEmily's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Posts
    107

    The Girl on the Train is NOT "excellent:...or is it? What makes literature good/excellent?

    I'm starting this thread after a kindly moderator's reminder that my side-rant on a different thread was veering off topic. I had responded to another poster's assertion that (paraphrase here) she finds novels, such as The Girl on the Train, "excellent." This prompted a shocked mini-tantrum in me.

    I wanted to continue the conversation here. See, I find The Girl on the Train trite, poorly wrought, and narrated by an MC who is not so much "well developed" as of a structure reliant upon cliche. And all of those things infuriate me. I just hated the novel, and I agree that, as other posters (and real life friends) noted, publishers are doing The Girl on the Train a real disservice in their insistence upon bleating its status as "the next Gone Girl." Because Gone Girl WAS well-written, and its characters were complex and well-explored in an unexpectedly powerful way.

    But, as I like to ask my students when I'm feeling sassy, what IS "good literature"? Do poor writing, lack of originality, and/or poorly wrought characters make the literature "bad"? What if such a novel incites a vast readership, people who would not otherwise pick up a novel at all? What if the "bad" literature's sheer volume of fans makes an important cultural statement about the contemporary world/state of literature?

    But, dammit, I just hate The Girl on the Train, so I'm also thrilled to debate with anyone who believes that tome stands alone as a finely executed work of art.

  2. #2
    cutsie-pie Curlz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    in a pineapple under the sea
    Posts
    1,766
    Quote Originally Posted by EmilyEmily View Post
    See, I find The Girl on the Train trite, poorly wrought, and narrated by an MC who is not so much "well developed" as of a structure reliant upon cliche. And all of those things infuriate me. I just hated the novel, and I agree that, as other posters (and real life friends) noted, publishers are doing The Girl on the Train a real disservice in their insistence upon bleating its status as "the next Gone Girl." Because Gone Girl WAS well-written, and its characters were complex and well-explored in an unexpectedly powerful way.
    See, I find The Girl on the Train deep, carefully plotted, and narrated by an MC who is well wrought as of a structure reliant upon imaginativeness. And all of those things please me. I just loved the novel, and I agree that, as other posters (and real life friends) noted, publishers are doing The Girl on the Train a real service in their insistence upon glorifying its statrus sa "the next great thriller". Because it was.

    Quote Originally Posted by EmilyEmily View Post
    what IS "good literature"? Do poor writing, lack of originality, and/or poorly wrought characters make the literature "bad"?
    "Good" is literature that is well crafted.
    Quote Originally Posted by EmilyEmily View Post
    Do poor writing, lack of originality, and/or poorly wrought characters make the literature "bad"?
    Yes but that doesn't mean it can't be loved by readers. "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" is not great literature or original, but it's fun.
    Quote Originally Posted by EmilyEmily View Post
    What if such a novel incites a vast readership, people who would not otherwise pick up a novel at all?
    It has happened many times before without any noticeable consequences. Unless you can quote any?
    Quote Originally Posted by EmilyEmily View Post
    What if the "bad" literature's sheer volume of fans makes an important cultural statement about the contemporary world/state of literature?
    Of course it does, and the statement is: "people like to have fun"
    Quote Originally Posted by EmilyEmily View Post
    But, dammit, I just hate The Girl on the Train, so I'm also thrilled to debate
    That's not a debate.

  3. #3
    All the nopes. lizmonster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,789
    When I was in high school, I wrote a five page essay about why a book from our reading list was TERRIBLE. I ripped into theme, character, execution, writing style - all of it. I backed my argument up with quotes, illustrating why the book was objectively Just Awful.

    The book was THE GRAPES OF WRATH, and my teacher noted when he gave me back the paper that it had won a Pulitzer. But he also gave me an A.

    It's really hard to quantify something like personal taste. I don't care for Steinbeck; never have. Ditto Hemmingway. OTOH, I love THE SCARLET LETTER, and I'm not sure I've ever met another human who agrees with me on that one.

    For me, I think a book either crawls under my skin, or it doesn't. If it does, I can forgive it some technical issues or moments of clunkiness. I respond mostly to character when I read (which is possibly why I don't end up reading a lot of fantasy these days, since much of it - not all of it - seems to emphasize scene setting at the start, and I don't get enough of my personal "hook" to keep my attention).

    As for what makes "great" literature? I think the word lacks a practical definition. Shakespeare, for example, wrote stories with classic, universal human themes. If he wrote today, of course, we might look at him funny for his language choices, so it's not all about theme.
    Last edited by lizmonster; 09-16-2017 at 07:13 PM.
    December goals:

    1. WIP outline/integration of notes
    2. Revise first 1/3 of WIP
    3. At least 2 blog posts
    4. Progress on side projects
    5. Other WIP, if applicable

    Goodreads giveaway for THE COLD BETWEEN - US, UK, Canada, Australia - December 11, 2017 - December 19, 2017

    Hey, I got interviewed by AbsoluteWrite!




    Here are some books I wrote.

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW EmilyEmily's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Posts
    107
    Originally Posted by EmilyEmily
    See, I find The Girl on the Train trite, poorly wrought, and narrated by an MC who is not so much "well developed" as of a structure reliant upon cliche. And all of those things infuriate me. I just hated the novel, and I agree that, as other posters (and real life friends) noted, publishers are doing The Girl on the Train a real disservice in their insistence upon bleating its status as "the next Gone Girl." Because Gone Girl WAS well-written, and its characters were complex and well-explored in an unexpectedly powerful way.



    See, I find The Girl on the Train deep, carefully plotted, and narrated by an MC who is well wrought as of a structure reliant upon imaginativeness.What does this sentence even mean, exactly? (Also, the "type" of MC in The Girl on the Train is practically a trope within Russian literature: I fail to see how this inferior, pallid copy within The Girl on the Train demonstrates any degree of "imaginativeness", but again, I don't really understand your underlined statement, so perhaps if you can rephrase, I will see that I have misunderstood your idea) And all of those things please me. I just loved the novel, and I agree that, as other posters (and real life friends) noted, publishers are doing The Girl on the Train a real service in their insistence upon glorifying its statrus sa "the next great thriller". Because it was.


    Originally Posted by EmilyEmily
    what IS "good literature"? Do poor writing, lack of originality, and/or poorly wrought characters make the literature "bad"?



    "Good" is literature that is well crafted. What is "well crafted"? Short, sharp Hemingway-esque sentences that are devoid of ambiguity? Ornate, Dickensian constructions that rely upon clause upon tumbling clause, replete with the type of punctuation derided by today's contemporary reader? Text speak (thus relatable to a teen audience who would not otherwise be reading novels)? Dave Egger-esque intentionally run-on rants, which communicate high emotion that causes the heart to ping with a pain and despair that Hemingway never achieved? Or something else? Does "well crafted" have anything to do with grammar? If so, what kind of grammar; grammar trends evolve and change. "Well crafted" is so vague a term as to be essentially meaningless within the context of this debate. So...what is it?

    Originally Posted by EmilyEmily
    Do poor writing, lack of originality, and/or poorly wrought characters make the literature "bad"?



    Yes but that doesn't mean it can't be loved by readers. "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" is not great literature or original, but it's fun.

    Pride and Prejudice and Zombies appears at the tail-end of a newly resurrected trend in literature (supernatural/"undead" entitles moving among aristocrats). Lord Byron himself kicked off this trend in "The Giaour" when he "cleaned up" the (formerly shambolic, dirt-encrusted, empty-minded, folklore-based) vampire, and turned it into an elegant, beautiful Romantic figure. Byron's physician continued the trend in his novel (attempt) The Vampyre, in which a brutally attractive (to women), unearthily beautiful vampire smote hearts. And this theme/trope continued for some time through the Romantic and Victorian eras, and the popularity of this kind of thing by the reading public of the time underscores some significant cultural issues of their time. And then the trend re-emerged generations later, beginning with Anne Rice, moving into Twilight, and continuing through with zombies, etc., and yes, I think this new popularity of an "old" genre does indicate some significant contemporary cultural issues that deserve exploring. What problems in our society, or interests, or trends, mirror those in previous "undead"-literature loving societies? It would be interesting to explore what similarities between "our" culture and Romantic/Victorian culture might be, and what their significance might be to humankind/psychoanalytic processes/history as a whole. And dangerous to dismiss these ideas, I think.

    So I see Pride and Prejudice and Zombies as a bit more significant than just a bit of "fun." And I wouldn't classify it as "bad literature", regardless of its writing style, derivative nature, etc.

    I will continue to argue with vitrolic intensity that The Girl on the Train is garbage. Poorly written fluff with no cultural significance, and no illumination of the human condition in its history and intensity.

    Originally Posted by EmilyEmily
    What if such a novel incites a vast readership, people who would not otherwise pick up a novel at all?



    It has happened many times before without any noticeable consequences. Unless you can quote an 1. Regency silverfork novels 2. Jane A.'s work within her own time, 3. most novels written by female authors in the Victorian/Romantic era, a time in which middle-class females were discouraged from reading novels at all, 4. Fifty Shades of Grey! 5. Academics have written volumes about this same issue, discussing hundreds of other novels/books, and the cultural significance of their success.

    Originally Posted by EmilyEmily
    What if the "bad" literature's sheer volume of fans makes an important cultural statement about the contemporary world/state of literature?



    Of course it does, and the statement is: "people like to have fun" In times in which didactic fiction was especially popular (because the people of those times "liked to have fun"), cultural phenomenon such as witch hunts, legally mandated religion, legalized rape, etc. also tended to occur. I'd say that, when a specific type of "bad" literature becomes a cultural phenomenon, we'd do well to analyze what elements of that culture are prompting such trends.

    Originally Posted by EmilyEmily
    But, dammit, I just hate The Girl on the Train, so I'm also thrilled to debate



    That's not a debate. I suppose one could argue that the debate in this post is more of a Gollum-Smeagol type thing. Perhaps someone else will join in.

  5. #5
    All the nopes. lizmonster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,789
    Welp, I can't contribute to this debate, but y'all have made me want to go read THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN now.
    December goals:

    1. WIP outline/integration of notes
    2. Revise first 1/3 of WIP
    3. At least 2 blog posts
    4. Progress on side projects
    5. Other WIP, if applicable

    Goodreads giveaway for THE COLD BETWEEN - US, UK, Canada, Australia - December 11, 2017 - December 19, 2017

    Hey, I got interviewed by AbsoluteWrite!




    Here are some books I wrote.

  6. #6
    All the nopes. lizmonster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,789
    Quote Originally Posted by EmilyEmily View Post
    In times in which didactic fiction was especially popular (because the people of those times "liked to have fun"), cultural phenomenon such as witch hunts, legally mandated religion, legalized rape, etc. also tended to occur. I'd say that, when a specific type of "bad" literature becomes a cultural phenomenon, we'd do well to analyze what elements of that culture are prompting such trends.
    Also, what you're talking about here is popularity, not greatness. Long-term, of course, a great book must also be popular, or it won't survive the cultural consciousness across generations; but popularity is a distinct characteristic. Plenty of popular books aren't going to survive the test of time; many of the ones that had multi-month waiting lists when I was working at the library in high school are now completely unknown (or recognized as "dated," such as Sidney Sheldon's stuff).

    I'm also not sure it's entirely fair to use one book you don't like as an indicator that our culture is hopelessly corrupt and falling apart. I mean, it may be, but off-putting, scandalous literature is pretty much a thing in every era.
    December goals:

    1. WIP outline/integration of notes
    2. Revise first 1/3 of WIP
    3. At least 2 blog posts
    4. Progress on side projects
    5. Other WIP, if applicable

    Goodreads giveaway for THE COLD BETWEEN - US, UK, Canada, Australia - December 11, 2017 - December 19, 2017

    Hey, I got interviewed by AbsoluteWrite!




    Here are some books I wrote.

  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW EmilyEmily's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Posts
    107
    Quote Originally Posted by lizmonster View Post
    Also, what you're talking about here is popularity, not greatness. Long-term, of course, a great book must also be popular, or it won't survive the cultural consciousness across generations; but popularity is a distinct characteristic. Plenty of popular books aren't going to survive the test of time; many of the ones that had multi-month waiting lists when I was working at the library in high school are now completely unknown (or recognized as "dated," such as Sidney Sheldon's stuff).

    I'm also not sure it's entirely fair to use one book you don't like as an indicator that our culture is hopelessly corrupt and falling apart. I mean, it may be, but off-putting, scandalous literature is pretty much a thing in every era.
    I don't agree that "longterm, of course, a great book must also be popular." Actually, I think it entirely possible that one/some of J.D. Salinger's archived books (the ones he allegedly wrote and stored, never to be published) may be great. And they may/will never be popular, because no one will see them. This doesn't diminish the sort of greatness they may embody.

    But I'm still unconvinced of the narrowness of criteria for assessing a book's "greatness."

    And I have in no way insinuated that this "one book you don't like" (The Girl on the Train) is any kind of indicator that "our culture is hopelessly corrupt and falling apart." I just think that book is garbage. Like used toilet paper, it may serve a one-time purpose to a certain reader, but--again, like used toilet paper--indicates nothing about any kind of corruptness of our culture.

    Disclaimer: I quit a "book club" last week in disgust because The Girl on the Train was the tome up for "discussion." I can't find words to communicate my disgust for that novel, or the disgust and disdain I felt for its author as I read her interviews. But you are right, these are separate issues that don't belong in this thread, I suppose.

    - - - Updated - - -

  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW EmilyEmily's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Posts
    107
    Quote Originally Posted by lizmonster View Post
    Welp, I can't contribute to this debate, but y'all have made me want to go read THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN now.
    Do it! Then come back so we can "debate" it in more detail

  9. #9
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    13,865
    I was baffled by Girl on the Train, or rather, as in the OP, the touting of the novel as similar to Gone Girl. I too thought Gone Girl was well-written, well-plotted, gripping, etc. I started GotT maybe six times before I got into it, kept putting it down because it just seemed to be rolling on in the same manner, and when I eventually got to the end, was pissed. No twist, no surprise, no nothing but, 'bleh, really?' It seemed obvious, telegraphed, and boring to me. I thought it was a tedious read.

    Obviously, it's all subjective, but I don't get it at all. A lot of the time stuff I don't like that either is very popular or acclaimed, I can see why it is either or both of those. I don't like litfic, for the most part, but I can appreciate that others do. I don't like X, but I can see the appeal. Some stuff, like GotT, I don't get at all.

  10. #10
    All the nopes. lizmonster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,789
    Quote Originally Posted by EmilyEmily View Post
    I don't agree that "longterm, of course, a great book must also be popular." Actually, I think it entirely possible that one/some of J.D. Salinger's archived books (the ones he allegedly wrote and stored, never to be published) may be great. And they may/will never be popular, because no one will see them. This doesn't diminish the sort of greatness they may embody.
    Well, let me amend my point a bit. It's quite possible Salinger's unpublished stuff is brilliant. It's possible all the words I've got backed up on my external drive are also brilliant, and should be what I'm subbing instead of this bit of nonsense I've been working on.

    But it doesn't matter. Salinger's unknown greatness isn't going to contribute anything to the universe. If a thing doesn't exist (and never-to-be-seen is, for all practical purposes, non-existence), it doesn't get to be part of the greatness/non-greatness discussion.

    Quote Originally Posted by EmilyEmily View Post
    And I have in no way insinuated that this "one book you don't like" (The Girl on the Train) is any kind of indicator that "our culture is hopelessly corrupt and falling apart." I just think that book is garbage.
    Perhaps I misinterpreted this:

    Quote Originally Posted by EmilyEmily View Post
    I'd say that, when a specific type of "bad" literature becomes a cultural phenomenon, we'd do well to analyze what elements of that culture are prompting such trends.
    to be an existential warning about the social perils of ignoring when lousy books become popular.

    My point, of course, is that "bad" is subjective, no matter how much we want it to be otherwise. I hit this with movies all the time. THE SOCIAL NETWORK is one of the most hideous and offensive things I've ever watched, but wow, a lot of people disagree with me. I thought INTERSTELLAR was lugubrious, ham-handed, and dull, but once again, plenty of people I respect adore it.

    The passion of your dislike for this novel doesn't make you right. It makes you a passionate reader, and one who, like the rest of us, is absolutely free to pick and choose what you read.

    (Also, you might want to stay away from taking shots at the author, as you're violating RYFW there.)
    Last edited by lizmonster; 09-16-2017 at 07:10 PM. Reason: Grammar, which pretty much disqualifies me from this convo. :)
    December goals:

    1. WIP outline/integration of notes
    2. Revise first 1/3 of WIP
    3. At least 2 blog posts
    4. Progress on side projects
    5. Other WIP, if applicable

    Goodreads giveaway for THE COLD BETWEEN - US, UK, Canada, Australia - December 11, 2017 - December 19, 2017

    Hey, I got interviewed by AbsoluteWrite!




    Here are some books I wrote.

  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW Lauram6123's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Northern transplant in the southern US.
    Posts
    1,410
    *Caution. Although vague, there may be possible spoilers*

    Well count me as a rare middle-of-the-roader on this book. I barely remembered it, which kind of says something, and I had to go back and read a plot summary to remind myself what happened.

    Then it all came flooding back.

    Before I read it, I was intrigued with the overall premise, and was one of those readers who bought into the, "if you liked Gone Girl" marketing campaign.

    My experience reading it was mixed. When I began, I was drawn in pretty quickly and was enjoying it. It was kind of a page-turner. I was particularly fascinated with the first person present, stream of consciousness-type narration. I also kinda dug the spooky voyeurism stuff.

    It wasn't long, however, before the charm wore off. I don't want to spoil anything, but I guessed the novel's secret almost immediately, and from then on, I was mad at the all characters because they couldn't perceive what seemed so glaringly obvious.

    When I finished it, I categorized the plot as implausible and contrived. For it to hold water, it requires that nearly every character in the thing is not very bright, in complete denial or just incapable of general deduction.

    I was also a little bit sickened that every female character in the story was generally miserable, grasping, conniving, or unpleasant, not to mention that they all seemed convinced that their future happiness depended on the arrival of a Prince Charming to dote on. Yuck.

    Still, I can see why a lot of people enjoyed it.

  12. #12
    Resist. Love. Go outside. Marlys's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    midwest
    Posts
    3,501
    I saw the film "The Girl on the Train" before I read the novel, and hated it. My one-line review: "Three rich white women wholly defined by their relationship to child-bearing."

    People (including at least one person here) insisted the book was much better, so I read it to find out if it was. Nope. The problems were the same, and the whiny drunk narrator even less appealing than Emily Blunt portrayed her in the movie. In both formats, the husband's character made absolutely no sense. Oh, and the unreliable narrator I kept hearing about was not--she simply couldn't remember what happened because she'd been blackout-drunk...until it was convenient for her to remember, of course.

    So, lucky me--I got to hate "The Girl on the Train" twice: movie and book.

  13. #13
    practical experience, FTW EmilyEmily's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Posts
    107
    You seem as if you would have a dry, snarky manner of speech in Real Life. I like you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Marlys View Post
    I saw the film "The Girl on the Train" before I read the novel, and hated it. My one-line review: "Three rich white women wholly defined by their relationship to child-bearing."

    People (including at least one person here) insisted the book was much better, so I read it to find out if it was. Nope. The problems were the same, and the whiny drunk narrator even less appealing than Emily Blunt portrayed her in the movie. In both formats, the husband's character made absolutely no sense. Oh, and the unreliable narrator I kept hearing about was not--she simply couldn't remember what happened because she'd been blackout-drunk...until it was convenient for her to remember, of course.

    So, lucky me--I got to hate "The Girl on the Train" twice: movie and book.

  14. #14
    Swan in Process Siri Kirpal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    In God I dwell, especially in Eugene OR
    Posts
    7,855
    Quote Originally Posted by lizmonster View Post

    It's really hard to quantify something like personal taste. I don't care for Steinbeck; never have. Ditto Hemmingway. OTOH, I love THE SCARLET LETTER, and I'm not sure I've ever met another human who agrees with me on that one.
    Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

    For what it's worth, I like The Scarlet Letter. And I'm also no fan of Hemingway.

    I have no opinion about TGOTT, however. Haven't read it or seen and don't feel inclined to do either.

    Blessings,

    Siri Kirpal
    "The only freedom any of us ever has is the freedom to choose how we will not be free."

  15. #15
    Write. Write. Writey Write Write. mrsmig's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    4,976
    I read TGOTT a few months ago and found the characters dull and the plot predictable. But so what? It's just my opinion, and it seems a waste of energy to vent so much spleen over a book one disliked.
    KINGLET: Now available from Fiery Seas Publishing: Amazon Barnes & Noble iBooks Kobo
    FISKUR: Now available from Fiery Seas Publishing: Amazon Barnes & Noble iBooks Kobo
    STONEKING: Releasing February 20, 2018 from Fiery Seas Publishing






    My Website:
    www.donnamigliaccio.com

    And the occasional Tweet.





  16. #16
    practical experience, FTW MaeZe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Posts
    4,148
    I had responded to another poster's assertion that (paraphrase here) she finds novels, such as The Girl on the Train, "excellent."
    That would be me.
    Quote Originally Posted by mrsmig View Post
    I read TGOTT a few months ago and found the characters dull and the plot predictable. But so what? It's just my opinion, and it seems a waste of energy to vent so much spleen over a book one disliked.
    I found the strength of the reaction interesting, indeed.

    The reactions here certainly explain why in the Amazon book reviews there are ~2,500 one star reviews along with ~26,000 five star reviews. That was my original comment, don't sweat the bad reviews even good books get mixed reviews. We don't all like the same literature.

    I see two things. I thought the plot was a page turner and the pace was good. I haven't read that many mysteries so perhaps I did not see plot clichés an avid reader of that genre might see.

    And the other thing was the protagonist. She was clearly not a character for everyone. On the one hand she was disgusting, SPOILERS: throwing up on the stairs and leaving the mess, lying, always borrowing money, owing back rent to the roommate, and making an ass of herself pestering her ex and his new wife.

    Some people are just not going to like an alcoholic character, especially one like Rachel.

    But how did the author portray that character? Whether you liked the story or not, hated the character or not, she was written with a level of skill that you saw an unlikeable alcoholic. I thought the author had quite a hurdle to overcome to make such a character interesting. But even if you found the plot predictable and the character unlikeable, can you say the author didn't show you a clear picture of that character?
    Last edited by MaeZe; 09-17-2017 at 06:14 AM.

  17. #17
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    The right earlobe of North America
    Posts
    35,933
    Quote Originally Posted by EmilyEmily View Post
    I'm starting this thread after a kindly moderator's reminder that my side-rant on a different thread was veering off topic. I had responded to another poster's assertion that (paraphrase here) she finds novels, such as The Girl on the Train, "excellent." This prompted a shocked mini-tantrum in me.

    . . .

    I just hate The Girl on the Train, so I'm also thrilled to debate with anyone who believes that tome stands alone as a finely executed work of art.
    Then I think you're going to have to define the standards by which you consider something "a finely executed work of art." I haven't read either Girl on Train or Gone Girl, so I have no opinion on either, but you are really being judgmental here, without any base standard that I can see.

    caw
    Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.

    -- Terry Pratchett

  18. #18
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    13,865
    Quote Originally Posted by MaeZe View Post
    That would be me.
    I found the strength of the reaction interesting, indeed.

    The reactions here certainly explain why in the Amazon book reviews there are ~2,500 one star reviews along with ~26,000 five star reviews. That was my original comment, don't sweat the bad reviews even good books get mixed reviews. We don't all like the same literature.

    I see two things. I thought the plot was a page turner and the pace was good. I haven't read that many mysteries so perhaps I did not see plot clichés an avid reader of that genre might see.

    And the other thing was the protagonist. She was clearly not a character for everyone. On the one hand she was disgusting, SPOILERS: throwing up on the stairs and leaving the mess, lying, always borrowing money, owing back rent to the roommate, and making an ass of herself pestering her ex and his new wife.

    Some people are just not going to like an alcoholic character, especially one like Rachel.

    But how did the author portray that character? Whether you liked the story or not, hated the character or not, she was written with a level of skill that you saw an unlikeable alcoholic. I thought the author had quite a hurdle to overcome to make such a character interesting. But even if you found the plot predictable and the character unlikeable, can you say the author didn't show you a clear picture of that character?
    Personally, I wouldn't say she was interesting. I thought she was one-note, to say the least, and not because of the alcoholism, but because of the way she was written, which may have been a choice (to make the alcoholic loser an unrelenting alcoholic loser), but I thought it kind of specifically made the character boring and unengaging. I enjoy a hateable character under the right circumstances, and find fascinating awful people characters in general examples of good writing, as I think the writing has to explore and access a lot, subtle and not, to convey universality, sympathetic aspects, etc., along with the overarching stuff. Rachel bored me; I didn't find her sympathetic or interesting, which, again, may have been the point, but certainly played into how hard I found it to get into the book and stay with it.

    The protag of Gone Girl is arguably disgusting, as a person, but I thought she was quite interesting.

  19. #19
    figuring it all out Jeff Bond's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    98
    Just a drive-by opinion here, but I'm with the OP and cornflake: I loved Gone Girl, but didn't get all the fuss over The Girl on the Train. Not a bad read, but IMHO the popularity did seem out of proportion to the work.

    Haven't read Into the Water (her followup), but for what it's worth, the reviews I read were not kind. Not necessarily damning of TGOTT, just another datapoint.

  20. #20
    permanently suctioned to Buz's leg Putputt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    No longer in Cali :(
    Posts
    4,817
    Quote Originally Posted by MaeZe View Post
    That would be me.
    I found the strength of the reaction interesting, indeed.
    If I'd come across TGotT on its own merits, as its own book, I think I would've enjoyed it a LOT more. I would've come in without much expectations and I would've been pleasantly surprised, because I think it's competently written and I found the characters interesting enough to keep reading.

    BUT. But.

    That was not what happened. Because the ONLY reason I picked it up was the constant comparison to Gone Girl. And Gone Girl is an amazing book. Complex, brilliant characters, a huge amount of research, perfect execution. The Girl on the Train, while it's not baaaad, is nowhere near as good as Gone Girl.

    And so instead of enjoying a decent read, I end up feeling cheated yet again. I say "yet again" because after Gone Girl, I read a whole slew of books in the same genre to satiate my hunger, and there is a long and bitter trail of "UGH, this NOT the next Gone Girl, fuck you and your marketing ploy!!" books behind me.

    *sigh*

    Any book recs that a fan of Gone Girl might enjoy?
    Kallithrix: "you're like pot noodle - you know it's dirty, unwholesome, trashy drunk food, but.... you just want it in your mouf"

    Wee hippo has a message for everyone: DIIIIIE.
    Repped by Uwe Stender of TriadaUS.

  21. #21
    practical experience, FTW MaeZe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Posts
    4,148
    Quote Originally Posted by Putputt View Post
    ...

    Any book recs that a fan of Gone Girl might enjoy?
    No but this has made me add Gone Girl to my reading list.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by MaeZe View Post
    No but this has made me add Gone Girl to my reading list.
    Bought it years ago. Tried to read it twice. Made it as far as the fifth page, I believe. Will try to read it again after I finish the book I'm currently reading.
    Quote Originally Posted by Orchestra View Post
    But seriously, never ask permission to write something. Don't be a wimp.

  23. #23
    I liked it okay, but pretty much forgot about it right away, so...
    Last edited by Fruitbat; 10-06-2017 at 12:43 PM.

  24. #24
    practical experience, FTW Jan74's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    746
    Is that how people chose which books to read? Oh its like Gone Girl so I'll read Girl on the Train? I don't think I've ever read a book because its been marketed as similar to a book I did like. It makes me wonder how people chose which books deserve their time. I'm fairly skeptical when I'm told "you have to read this, its sooooo good." blah! My best friend raved on and on about 50 shades of grey.....and I took it out from the library....and promptly returned it to the library only half read. Yet millions of women would disagree with my assessment of that novel. I didn't read Girl on the train, but I did watch the movie and found the entire thing completely unrealistic, most likely I would hate the novel, but I usually can't stand novels where the women leads are pathetic and spineless.

    Writing is similar to music. There are tonnes of talented bands out there and the talent can't be denied...yet I don't like their music. What makes "good" music and who decides. In the end the fans decide. Just because "I" don't like a novel doesn't mean it isn't good. The same would go for art. Maybe I think Monet is the best but someone else thinks Picasso is the best. Taste is fickle and individual. Picasso will never be Michelangelo but who says which is better? I'm rambling now....so those are just a few of my thoughts on the subject.

    "You fail only if you stop writing" ~Ray Bradbury~
    "The road to hell is paved with adverbs" ~Stephen King~
    WIP Romance or Women's fiction, hopefully by the end I'll know.
    "If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word." ~Margaret Atwood~
    "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." ~Mary Angelou~


  25. #25
    practical experience, FTW Tazlima's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    1,985
    Quote Originally Posted by Jan74 View Post
    Is that how people chose which books to read? Oh its like Gone Girl so I'll read Girl on the Train? I don't think I've ever read a book because its been marketed as similar to a book I did like. It makes me wonder how people chose which books deserve their time. I'm fairly skeptical when I'm told "you have to read this, its sooooo good."
    I'm curious, then, how do YOU decide which books to read? I don't know that I'd choose a specific book simply because it was marketed as similar to another individual book, but I know which genres I tend to enjoy, and what's that except a broader version of the same thing?

    If I had to choose between two books to read, one romance and one horror, and the genre was the only thing I knew about either of them, I'd go with the horror every time. My sister-in-law would just as unfailingly choose the romance. My boyfriend would avoid both like the plague...he prefers non-fiction, particularly history and biographies.

    As far as recommendations, "It's sooo good," may not be a good indicator of whether one particular person will like a book, but "It's right up your alley," said by someone who knows your tastes, is a pretty safe bet. Not 100% guaranteed, but certainly better than "I liked it, therefore you must too," which makes about as much sense as the line my mother gave us when we were kids: "I'm cold; put on a sweater."

    I do occasionally go to the bookstore and just browse the shelves to see what jumps out at me, but even then there's going to be some serious narrowing of choices simply based on what section I choose to browse.
    "One of the hardest things to do, I think, is learn to trust your own creativity." - Ambrosia

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Custom Search