Well, it’s Tuesday, and I haven’t done this in a while, so I figured it’s about time I do this again.
This week’s opinion: My top ten pet peeves when reading
We all have opinions on what constitutes a good book and what constitutes a bad book. And we know these things based on our experiences with reading.
About once a month, I come across a book that really bugs me. And I mean, I really, really don’t like it. Basically there are things about the book that seriously annoy me when I’m trying to enjoy the story.
Below are pet peeves I have regarding some of the books I end up reading.
1. Plot holes and unanswered questions
When I read a book, I expect authors to have gone over their story multiple times, with at least one critical editor, before they publish it. So when I read a book that has at least one plot hole in it, I become seriously annoyed. A plot should run smoothly without any contradictions, otherwise I’ll end up focusing on the mistake, and not on the story itself. Unanswered questions also bug me. What was the point of that little detail or that character? It may not be crucial to the plot, but if you don’t have a good reason for everything that exists in your story, then I’m going to reduce my rating, and I might not read any more of your books.
2. Cliffhanger chapter endings
I hate them, and yet I fall for them every time. This writing technique is one the most annoying things in the book world. Authors end the chapter in the middle of an action or event, so you have to keep reading in order to find out the result. Even more annoying are the books where the chapter ends on a cliffhanger, but then the next chapter moves on to something else that’s happening the story, like following a different character, so you have to read several more chapters before you finally reach the result of the cliffhanger that grabbed you in the first place. If your book isn’t all that great to begin with, and you rely on cliffhangers to keep your readers reading, then I’m going to be seriously annoyed with you.
3. Annoying protagonists and female weaklings
I’m a self-proclaimed empathic reader, meaning I like being able to connect with the protagonists in the story. They have to have some characteristic that I can identify with. In order to enjoy the book, I have to like the heroes of the story. So when I’m reading about a character I really don’t like I just can’t enjoy the book. Characters that whine, or don’t do anything helpful annoy me a great deal, as do protagonists without any redeeming qualities (I’m not the biggest fan of stories with the bad guy as the hero). My biggest pet peeve, however: weak and silly female characters. I absolutely hate damsels in distress, the female who is totally dependent on someone else. I find them absolutely ridiculous and even insulting.
4. Love triangles
I confess I am a former Twilight fan. Back in the early years of college, I was in love with Edward Cullen along with millions of other readers, and I sympathized with Bella and her difficult choice between two awesome guys. But ever since Twilight, I have become seriously annoyed with love triangles. There’s something about one girl playing with the emotions of two guys that I currently find really annoying. I can’t explain it properly, but it seems kind of petty and it doesn’t put either guy in a good light (you’re willing to steal a girl away from another guy? Seriously?!) Honestly, I prefer the stories where there’s a love triangle, but then the guys back off, saying, “you know what? Never mind. Go pick on your own.”
5. Repetitive Dialogue
I hate repetition in dialogue. Hate it. Phrases like “holy crow” or “oh my” that get repeated numerous times within each chapter irritate me to no end. I don’t mind catch phrases within a series, provided that they are used sparingly, but if the same words are used on almost every page, I will start the ridicule.
6. Endless series with redundant plots
Series are fun, but more often than not, they can stretch out too long. That’s why I usually prefer trilogies or tetralogies. Series with at least 10 books frequently repeat the same plot, or type of plot, so they become pretty redundant. If you didn’t completely grab me with the first 3 or 4 books, chances are I’m not going to finish the series.
7. Underdeveloped fantasy worlds
I love fantasy. It’s currently my favorite genre. But I’m also very picky about my fantasy books. Being the amateur anthropologist that I am, I love looking at hows and whys of a culture or world. For me, it’s the little details, the things that are only mentioned in passing, that can make or break a fantasy world. For example, if your characters use popular real-world phrases, such as “oh my God!” or “totally lame”, then you have lost my respect, because you didn’t think out the little things. But if you create new phrases that reflect what’s important to the culture(s) in your imaginary world, then I’m impressed. This is why J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, and Frank Herbert are widely read; they thought out everything, even the smallest, most insignificant details, and thus made their worlds seem more real to the readers.
8. No spark or connection with important story elements
When I review a book, I look at three things: the flow of the plot, the development of the characters, and the writing style. In order for me to like your book, at least one of these three things has to be really good. In order for me to love your book, all three components have to be amazing. The plot should move along and have some creative bits put in, the characters should have depth with something I can empathize with, and the writing should flow or have some sort of spark that pulls me in. If none of these things exist in your book, I’m going to be disappointed.
9. Pushing ideas that are just wrong
I’m not a religious person, but I am fairly open-minded. I studied both science and religion in college, I’m very familiar with both arguments, and both sides have valid points. Now, I don’t mind reading about this kind of stuff in fiction, but what I don’t like is when the author chooses a flawed argument. What I mean is there are arguments that work, and others that can be torn apart by someone who actually knows what they’re talking about. If you’re an author, and you pick something that can be debunked easily, but you promote it as something that could be true, then I’m going to be seriously annoyed with you. I currently have a problem with Dean Koontz for that very reason. In his book Breathless, he talked about a theory on how evolution doesn’t work, that we could not have evolved on our own, but it’s a theory that anyone who actually studied evolution can take apart easily. However, he argued it in a way that would make it sound plausible. Suffice it to say, I’m a little annoyed with him.
10. Bad audiobook narrators
Okay this isn’t related to the book itself, but a lot of times I listen to my stories on audiobook. And a narrator can make or break a story. A good narrator is able to improve on the book, distinguishing the different voices and making the story come more alive. A horrible narrator butchers accents, does a terrible job voicing the opposite gender, and just sounds annoying in general.