Big Named Authors That Disappointed You?

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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

dgiharris

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Well boys and girls.

I just finished The Prometheus Deception by Robert Ludlum.

I have no idea if that book is representative of his writing ability, but it read like a second draft. Felt like it needed another draft/editing pass.

The story was a good story, the writing was abysmal. Mountain sized infodumps right in the MIDDLE of the action, as you know bob info dumps, plot holes the size Jupiter, and the ending was one giant plot hole that almost made me threw the book.

It has a Scooby Doo type ending that was just fucking stupid.

Been a while since I struggled through a book this bad. I mostly did it as a learning experience just to see if bad writing could carry a good story.

It did for the first half. After that, I had to 'force' myself to continue.

Mel...
 

Noah Body

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I don't seem to favor James Patterson's works very much, though they are certainly readable, they're fairly mechanical and workmanlike.

Laurel K. Hamilton's stuff is, simply put, wretched. I've read two of them, Obsidian Butterfly and Burnt Offerings (not a movie starring Karen Black), and while I've been told they weren't the worst, I won't be parting with any more cash.

I also have issues with a lot of Clancy's work, simply because he's murfs it operationally more often than most people know. But what the hell, that's not as tough to overlook as his ridiculous characters.
 

Melanie Nilles

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RE: GRRM

I thought I was the only one who hated it! Shame cos I love some of his earlier stuff.

Definitely not alone. I couldn't force myself any more past the first 100 pages, and only picked it up because so many people highly recommended it.

If I'm going to read, I want to know that I can invest my time in an at least likable characters or two and know that they will stick around for some time. I didn't like any of his characters from the start, nor did I appreciate being introduced to a character who's sexually abused by her brother, a child subject to sex with an old man, nor characters who are killed off in the same scene as we get their POV. NOT exactly how I want to spend my time reading when there are plenty of other better books out there.
 

Ken

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... none to date. I stick to reading the classics, by patron saint Gogol and the like and have never as yet been disappointed. These authors deserve all the acclaim they receive, and then some. They are that great!
 

Priene

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If you're a Hemingway fan, you should be challenging me to a bare-knuckle boxing match in a smoky absinthe den in downtown Havana.
 

Delhomeboy

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If you're a Hemingway fan, you should be challenging me to a bare-knuckle boxing match in a smoky absinthe den in downtown Havana.

Oh I would--but I don't have the money to go to Havana. Neg rep will have to do.
 

spasticpancake

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The only book that i've ever throw was The Lake House by James Patterson.
.....
God, it was sooooo awful that I screamed "You've got to be shitting me" and threw the book.

Mel...

Actually, there is a tradition in my house where if a book was particularly awful it takes a trip down the stairs before it is taken to a used book store. I read The Lake House as well and so far out of all the books that have been bounced down into the basement, throwing The Lake House down the steps has been one of the most satisfying.

Other titles that come to mind are The Road by Cormac McCarthy and Bag of Bones by Stephen King.
 

JulieHowe

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Faye Kellerman. The Ritual Bath, her first novel, is a book I've read many times. Her last two novels were good for kindling wood. I was so incredibly disappointed. Burnt House was a badly written book that wouldn't have even been published if the author was some anonymous first-time novelist.

Danielle Steel. Most everything she wrote before 1987 is worth reading. Somewhere around Star, (published in 1988) her trolley crashed into SF Bay. Everything she's written since then has been hit and miss, and I'm the kind of fan who used to buy all of her books the day they came out in hardcover. I check the books out from the library if I really want to read them, or I grab the paperbacks when they come through my work. The company sells textbooks, so the boss doesn't care what I do with any of the Danielle Steel novels that get mixed in with the shipments.
 

Lost World

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GRRM's Feast for Crows

Wow...GRRM has really gotten slammed in this thread! I still like him and ASOIF series, and I think A Feast For Crows was a decent read, definitely better than A Storm of Swords.

But back to topic, I'm into writing crime and suspense and I've begun reading my first Elmore Leonard novel, Up In Honey's Room. Can't say I'm likin' it. Plot is enough to keep me reading, but there are too many characters, and while I agree with the maxim that a writer should let his characters tell the story, Leonard takes it a step too far. The book is almost entirely dialogue. And while it's good dialogue, I just can't get into his style. But hey, I couldn't resist buying it for six bucks in hardcover.
 

Misa Buckley

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Robert Jordan's WOT - 99.9% of the female characters just annoyed me because they came across as selfish, overbearing tyrants. Correction: selfish, overbearing chauvanistic tyrants. It's like he never meet a real woman but used bad stereotypes.

THIS.

The female characters in WoT make me cringe.

Does Meyer count as a "big name"? I read half a page of that novel before throwing it back of the shelf and going to wash my hands.
 

StephenP

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The first book I ever read by James Patterson was The Dangerous Days of Daniel X back in August. I was flying to Baltimore on a business trip and grabbed the novel at the airport. Completely random choice.

Holy cow. It was definitely YA fiction, but in the worst way. Incoherent, stream of consciousness narrative, chapters that were a page long, false cliff-hangers at the end of every chapter, pop culture references in every paragraph, cheap descriptions -- literally, describing things by telling us it's the opposite of what TV shows make it look like... I stopped reading when I landed for my connecting flight and picked up Joe Haldeman's The Accidental Time Machine. It was either an amazing book or just much better by comparison.
 

EssieRatcliff

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Frankenstein. Sorry, but that damn thing was incredibly vague on the science (of course she didn't know what she was writing about), speciesist, emo, unbelievable and badly written. Why is it a 'classic'?
 

Chrisla

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Wow! Interesting thread. I like George R.R. Martin's series. I'm always a little surprised when he kills off another main character, but I like an author who surprises me. Besides, I think I know the big secret of this book, and keep reading to find out it I'm right.

Jodi Piccoult -- some good, some not so good. I did like My Sister's Keeper.

Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Both uneven, some very good, some very bad. i really liked Koontz's book about the dog (can't remember the name of it now, but that was the book that drew me into his writing.) And I do like the new Odd Thomas books by Koontz.

Robert Ludlum -- first books were much better than the later ones.

James Patterson -- I quit reading him a long time ago.

Tom Clancy -- Okay, but W.E.B. Griffith is better.

I like David Baldacci, especially his Camel Club series. For mystery, Jan Burke is a favorite, and Greg Iles is hard to beat. Elizabeth George is good, too.

James Burke's In the Moon of Red Ponies, Joy Fielding's See Jane Run are very good books.

In short, I like a lot of different books, in different genres, for different reasons. Some do characterization well, some develop great plots, some have wonderful paragraphs I love to re-read.

I know I'll get beat up for saying this, but I have a problem with Grisham. I've got a bookshelf full of his books. He's a good writer, but I wish he'd learn to develop his characters better. I contend that you can take a lawyer from any one of his books and interchange him with a lawyer from a different book, and never know the difference.
 

jodiodi

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I know I'll get beat up for saying this, but I have a problem with Grisham. I've got a bookshelf full of his books. He's a good writer, but I wish he'd learn to develop his characters better. I contend that you can take a lawyer from any one of his books and interchange him with a lawyer from a different book, and never know the difference.

I recall an episode of Third Rock from the Sun where Sally and Tommy were reading two different books by Grisham and she asks him what his is about.

He says something like, "This lawyer finds a conspiracy and is trying to expose the evil cabal."

She says, "Hey, that's the same thing as my Grisham. Wanna trade?"

They switch books in mid-read. I had to LoL.

I used to read his books, but haven't in a long time. They were good for brain candy.
 

DWSTXS

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I am currently reading David Baldacci's latest, and I think it's crap. It's just too cliched. The MC is a girl who is 'tough' (her name is 'Mace'), she rides a Ducatti, etc etc.

I have decided that I just can't stand it when a writer goes to such extreme lengths to tell us how tough and spunky their female MC is, and it just comes off as something that only a 12 year old girl would find interesting.

Next time I read about a female MC with a tricked up name, a la 'Mace', I'm going to vomit blood all over the book.
 

jodiodi

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I haven't cared for any Baldacci since Absolute Power. I think I tried reading a subsequent book and was disappointed.
 

JGKelly

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I believe books are like children in a way, from the authors' pov.
Some turn out great, others...not so. But they all sprang from the same well, same water.

Another comparison would be to a professional athlete. Even Tiger Woods can have a bad day.

But...in each of these comparisons, the great authors and the pro athletes are the ones who have written/have hit home runs in the ninth.

Keep in mind: They're human.

I love Jodi Picoult. There was a time when I was finding quite a lot of bad books, like "Some Can Whistle" by Larry McMurtry, and it depressed me. I chose a Jodi Picoult book, "Salem Falls," and she blew me away. Her subtle personal descriptions were jarring, sensitive, deep. Brought tears to me eyes. I quickly grabbed another, "Plain Truth," and I wasn't thrilled. I don't think, though, that it was her "fault" as much as the change in story venue/characters involved. She did the story justice.

My vote is still affirmative on Alice Hoffman. "Here on Earth" showed her talents, which are wonderful. I'm into "Turtle Moon now," so we'll see.

A big disappointment was "Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett. I read somewhere that people either loved that book or hated it. Put it this way: I'll leave his books on the shelf next time. If you're into medieval times, you might like it. I pushed my way almost 800 pages, just to see the bad guy get it - on the last page. Geesh.

An afterthought:
Everyone writes differently, I know. When I write a story, I start with only a slight plot/outline in mind, but hardly an entire book. I let the characters find their own ways, once they're established, for they become real. Life just happens, just like in life.
Having said this, not every book can be "the best." Each one is a trip, an experience all to itself.
And every reader has different tastes, and those tastes change, even daily. You might be swooning over a romance you read, then the next week, in your own life, you might get your heart broken. If you read that same book a week later, you'd likely think differently.

Jen
 

Hittman

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I read a lot of Ludlum back in the day. Someone said "all his characters are the same." I tried to argue the point, but then realized he was right, but I'd had so much fun reading them I hadn't noticed.

I grabbed one recently, for the first time in at least tweney years, and thought it was awful. And it was really written by him, not Robert Ludlum{tm}

I liked Misery.

Me too. Misery and Cujo were genuinely scary, because the monsters weren't imaginary – they were people/creatures that that could really exist.

Dan Brown, of course.

I'm sorry, but I enjoyed The Da Vinci code. It was a stilly popcorn book, and sometimes that's just what I'm in the mood for. So I picked up his earlier novel, Digital Fortress. I was amazed. Absoutly amazed. I didn't know it was possible to cram that much suck between two covers. It was the same story as the TDC, except it was about computers. The facts were often wrong, and when they weren't wrong the characters solutions (which always made things worse) were just stupid, mistakes a first year computer science student wouldn't make. And the Big Huge Problem that Treated To Destroy The Company and The World could have been solved by physical unplugging their internet connection. That's it, literally pull the plug, and then they could have dealt with it at their leasure. But they never thought of that.

Forever War was better than Starship Troopers in every single way.

Apples and Oranges. They were very different books.

But back to topic, I'm into writing crime and suspense and I've begun reading my first Elmore Leonard novel, Up In Honey's Room. Can't say I'm likin' it

My reaction to Leonard is the same as my reaction to Opera. I can recognize the talent, and respect it, but it just doesn't appeal to me.

BTW, I agree that Hemingway is boring, and F. Scott Fitzgerald is boring and pretentious.
 

Shadow_Ferret

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So I thought I'd ask you guys, what big named authors disappointed you?

I can't think of any.

But I often feel writers make awful readers because they tend to have too critical an eye for everything, as if they hold a "Book of Writer's Rules" in their hand as they read and check off each no-no. In your case, info dumps, which I doubt the ordinary reader would notice or rather would think was the wrong way to handle that.
 

DWSTXS

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I sincerely believe that Dan Brown uses the exact same formula and outline when writing every one of his books. he just changes characters names and locations.

I tried to read his latest, and it was like an injection of Sominex directly into my brain.
 

Libbie

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SIIIGH

I SOOOO wish to add my two cents to this thread. But I can't. The person who disappoints me the most is probably my only competition once my book gets published. We're both writing historical fiction in a setting that is RARELY done.

Her debut novel I liked only because it was in this rare setting. I didn't like much about its plot or style, but the fact that it sold so well was indicative of the market for this type of historical. I was excited for it.

The following two, I wanted to smack. One had scenes that looked suspiciously just like scenes from Memoirs of a Geisha, and the other was just kind of twee and really lost a great opportunity to tell a whopping good tale with a great subject and setting.

So disappointed.

But so excited, because her work sells so well, has tons of hungry fans who are just chomping at their keyboards for more, and I know I write better than she does. So I think this means the future is rosy for me.

Don't think I should mention her name publicly, though. Might look bad, etc.
 

Hittman

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But I often feel writers make awful readers because they tend to have too critical an eye for everything, as if they hold a "Book of Writer's Rules" in their hand as they read and check off each no-no.

I used to review movies on my web site, and stopped for that very reason. I was watching the movies so critically, and thinking about what I was going to say about them, that it was ruining movie watching for me.

While that happens for books, it's only for poorly written ones. I still get lost in good ones. (They don't have to be great – good is good enough.) But if they suck even just a little the errors and mistakes jump out at me.
 

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