Happy Tuesday my little turtledoves! Like a true dork, I love a good list. This week for Top Ten Tuesday, the folks over at The Broke and the Bookish ask bloggers to list their top ten book turn-offs. This week is all about the things that make us cringe, roll our eyes, or possibly throw a book across a room. Let’s go!
1. Love Triangles. I don’t often like romance in books, but love triangles are the absolute worst. I hate the “Oh no, I’m so awesome that everyone is in love with me. I can’t choose!” thing. I tend to be of the opinion that if you can’t choose between the two people who want you, probably neither of them are the right person for you. If you really loved either of them, choosing wouldn’t be an issue. (I’m looking at you, Katniss.)
2. Bad, repetitive writing. You’re a writer. Be creative, or at least crack open a thesaurus. Do not use the world “giggle” every time a character laughs. (Ahem, P.S. I Love You.)
3. Unbelievable situations. For me, a book has to either be wholly realistic or totally embrace unreality. I love books that are firmly entrenched in the real world, and I also love writers who go balls out and say, “yeah, there are vampires hanging out in this lemon grove, and they drink lemon juice instead of blood.” But you can’t be somewhere in the middle; a story can’t be set in the real world and have me think, “yeah right,” about whatever just happened. If your book is supposed to be realistic, it needs to actually feel realistic. No implausible scenarios.
4. Flat characters. I don’t have to like a character, but I have to be able to feel empathy toward him/her. Make your characters complex; no one is totally good or totally bad. Show me the different dimensions of your characters and make me care about them. Why would I want to spend a few days reading about a character who doesn’t come alive on the page and whom I don’t care about?
5. Long sections where nothing happens. This is why I couldn’t get more than 100 pages into Lord of the Rings
6. Gratuitous sex. Ugh. Like I said, I’m not into romance in books. A little bit of sex is okay, if it’s written well, but I get super annoyed when the sex doesn’t feel necessary. I think this happens more in movies, the mentality that audiences like sex, so let’s throw some sex in regardless of how it fits into the story, but it also bothers me in books.
7. Gender stereotypes and cliches. Unless an author is trying to make a point, no smiling soccer moms who have dinner on the table at 6:00 sharp when her husband walks through the door. That feels less like a depiction of reality than wishful thinking. I want my characters to feel real, goddamit!
8. Dystopian novels that don’t really say anything. I love a good dystopia, but here’s the thing: for me to think it’s good, it needs to feel realistic. I need to believe that this situation could happen, and it should make a point about our society. The Handmaid’s Tale, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and Brave New World all do this. From where I’m standing, The Hunger Games doesn’t really accomplish this, and so, to me, it fails.
9. Similes/metaphors that don’t make sense. Oh man, I wish I had noted examples of this when I came across them, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across metaphors that left me scratching my head and wonder, “What does that even MEAN? How is this possibly like that?” Similes like, “The snow fell like teeth from an unmade bed.” (I don’t know.)
10. Romanticizing abuse. Nothing gets me riled like this one. You know I’m talking about Twilight here. Edward is controlling and stalkerish, and his relationship with Bella is so, so unhealthy. My boyfriend has a much younger sister who likes Twilight (although I think she’s only seen the movies), and I really want for her to not internalize this idea that she’s nothing without a man and that behavior like Edward’s is romantic. I want to see her grow into a strong, independent woman who knows when a relationship is unhealthy. It terrifies me to see girls who read Twilight and aspire to the kind of relationship Edward and Bella have. Go ahead and show abuse, authors, but for the love of god don’t make it seem attractive. Make it hurt and teach your readers that it’s not okay.
Now that I’ve had a good rant, it’s time to turn the tables. What about you, readers? What are your biggest book turn-offs?