The Twilight Series
People fall into one of two categories where these are concerned — they love it or they hate it. Obviously, I hated it.
And not (just) why you might think. Stephenie Meyer can form a sentence. She can construct a plot. My problem is that she took the MOST boring characters and the MOST boring plot and made them her focus. Jasper took part in 1800s vampire turf wars. Alice was deemed crazy and kept in a dark isolation room most of her life. Carlisle was a preacher’s son who managed to completely tame his bloodlust after being bitten (because he’s just that awesome, not that he has some dumb power like Bella). Rosalie was raped, beaten, and left to die by her fiance and his friends, but got her revenge Kill Bill-style after she turned. Why can’t I read about that instead of the cheesy Harlequin romance that drags on 100 times longer than every other Harlequin?
And on the subject of characters, Edward is completely unrealistic. “Oh, he actually acted like a vampire and killed people to drink their blood, but it’s okay, because he only killed bad people.” Who is he, Dexter Morgan (and even he has made mistakes)? And he’s a virgin after more than 100 years…yeah…
I feel like a traitor for hating this book since I love Jane Austen’s other books, but, to me, Emma was just a flop. The titular character was whiny, annoying, egotistical, and completely oblivious to the facts. I understand that this was kind of the point and she supposedly learned a lesson, but I couldn’t get past her flaws to find a trait that I liked or could even connect with. My motivation to read it after that was based purely on the fact that I had to write a paper about it.
Although the story of the Hunger Games trilogy was decent, I think that the actual execution fell flat. It’s kind of the opposite of the Twilight series. They seemed to get gradually worse, making the final installment the real disappointment.
Mockingjay and its predecessors suffer from the same problem as so many other YA novels — overly simplistic writing. Obviously, you need to be on your reader’s level, but I’ve seen third grade chapter books with better sentence construction. When your sentences are so basic that they sound contrived, it’s disappointing. And when your descriptions are so jumbled and unclear that a college-educated writer can’t make sense of what’s going on, you have a problem.
The final issue I had with Mockingjay was that it tried to do too much. The story against the Capitol was enough — don’t try to splice in issues with the government of District 13 along with it unless you’re going to set that up a little earlier. Obviously, no government is going to be perfect and you can point that out, but if it’s so bad that the main character feels the need to assassinate the President to prevent her from taking power, then it needs to be a part of the larger story arc. Otherwise, just focus on Snow’s evil, the decadence of the Capitol, the tragic bombings of the other districts, and the torture/brainwashing Peeta suffered.
And for the love of God, DON’T EXPLAIN YOUR METAPHORS. Yes, Katniss is the cat with the red dot, going crazy for what’s dangled over her…but no person is quite that poetically self-aware.
Pretentious. Long-winded. A total guilt-trip. Excessively dramatic. Confusingly written (a story within another narrative written down in a letter some third person is reading…?).
I had the same problem with Madame Bovary as I did with Emma. The title character was so whiny and downright stupid that I was unable to connect with her. I couldn’t even make a connection to the story because all the characters were either oblivious retards, simpleton peasants with no personalities, arrogant aristocrats, or user douchebags exploiting a weak-minded woman. And unless you have some in-depth knowledge of French culture during the time period the books take place, a lot of the references that supposedly characterize Madame Bovary will just go right over your head (I certainly didn’t know that at the time, opera was considered plebeian entertainment on par with modern WWE).
Want to know about some books I really liked? Try these past posts:
Reviewing Toni Morrison’s “A Mercy”
Terry Brooks: Sometimes the Magic Works
Read a Banned Book!