Top Ten Book Turn-offs

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!

Top Ten Tuesday

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, 1984Fahrenheit 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?

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23 thoughts on “Top Ten Book Turn-offs

  1. I’m not picky enough to write a list like this. Literally, not picky enough…I’d never make it as a critic or in the pubslishing business at all. Bad writing doesn’t bother me (I probably couldn’t tell you if something was bad writing) and things I would never stand for in real life (obsessive love) doesn’t bother me in books. The two that would be on my list are #s 3&6 for sure. And the only way I can take any unrealistic setting is if it has its own set of rules I can figure out and base my understanding upon.

    • See, I started this post thinking, “There’s no way I’ll be able to come up with 10 things…” and then I wound up with 12. I didn’t realize how picky I am!

      • I’ll have to start writing down things that annoy me as I read and keep track of which things turn up most often. Another blog on this topic mentioned whiny characters, which reminded me how annoying Holden Caufield is…so there’s one on the list!

  2. Bwahahahahaha! Okay, okay. I need to stop laughing, but your LOTR comment- this is why I love you! I agree with so much of this list! I am the worst at magical realism. It’s either magical or it’s realistic- my brain refuses to compute the two happening in tandem. I am really OVER love triangles and I spend a lot of time wishing I could punch flat characters. I’m very fictionally violent.

  3. hehe poor Edward!!
    I hardly give up a book actually, because I like to comment on my blog everything that makes it not worth reading, if it’s the case. But yes, there are times in which you are not undestanding anything and you have to stop reading and go for another book in order to keep your mind healthy 😉

  4. Oh yes on #7 especially (though I think I agree with all of yours!). But #7, yeah… and you can omit the “gender” part of it and it annoys me just the same!

    • Well, except for the LotR part. I don’t get itchy over passages like that in Fantasy novels because that generally goes along with the Fantasy genre. Aside from that, though, yes.

  5. Just plain stupid or illogical characters annoy me so much – I might have all the sympathy in the world for their situation but if they’re just incredibly slow I lose all respect for them *ahem Jane Eyre*
    And I totally agree with all of yours, especially the love triangles; just pick already!

  6. You make some good points. I really agree with your last point about romanticizing abuse in novels. I hated that in Twilight. I also hated it in 50 Shades of Grey when just because a man was handsome and rich it seemed to make it alright for him to be controlling in and out of the bedroom. That kind of writing brings out the feminist in me!

  7. Agree, to most of this. I am also not a fan of romance novels, so the love triangle thing isn’t for me either.

    I read the Twilight books, and I never really looked at it that way 🙂

  8. You’re so right. Let’s add lovesick characters (BELLA) to the list.

    And you are sooo right about the realistic/unrealistic thing. Like if the book is real make it REAL but if it’s fake, make it fake allllll the way. For instance, and this is a movie example not a book one but I can’t think of a book one. . . in 13 Going on 30, at 13 years old she gets the fairy dust all over her dollhouse and boom is 30. Okay, I can buy that. BUT at 30 years old when she wants to go back to 13, there is STILL ENOUGH FAIRY DUST ON THE ROOF OF THE DOLLHOUSE??? It’s been 13 YEARS!!!! No way is fairy dust still just chilling on top of that roof. Drives me crazy.

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