Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Book Turn-Offs

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is Top Ten Book Turn-Offs.  Those little things (or big things) that make you want to throw a book across the room:

10.  lack of dialogue tags - You know the books I'm talking about.  They're the ones where there's rapid-fire dialogue back and forth between two characters that goes on for half a page... and by the end of it you can't figure out who's said what so you have to go back and count the lines to make sure you've gotten the gist of the conversation.  I think Lord of the Flies has quite a bit of this; it's the reason why I never got very far into the book.

9.  old men lusting after young girls - This seems to be found mostly in the YA paranormal genre.  You'll get some supernatural creature that, by his very nature, is really old.  And then he always has to lust after a teenage girl.  I'm not sure what we're supposed to take from this.  Paranormal guys are pervs?  Supernatural dudes only like nubile virgins?  (It wouldn't be so bad if these old guys were somehow frozen in their mental development as well as their physical development.  But, as it is, you get men with hundreds of years of life experience seducing girls who are just a few years past puberty.  As I've said before, in our world, it doesn't matter if the 30-year-old man next door looks like he could pass for a high school kid; if he has a relationship with his 15-year-old neighbour, he's going to jail.)

Don't even get me started on Jacob and Renesmee.

8.  religion - I don't mind if a character has a religion or preaches their religion to other characters if it's in keeping with the story.  But if it's a blatant attempt by the author to proselytize to their reading audience, it's a turn off for me... and it doesn't matter what religion (or non-religion) it is.

7.  mean characters that aren't acknowledged as mean - I'm thinking about characters like Georgia Nicholson.  She's supposed to be funny, but after a while she just came off as a bitch.  It's not always a bad thing to have a bitch in a book... as long as that behaviour is not overlooked or normalized.

6.  having babies - This is mostly because I'm reading YA fiction, and I don't think it's all that appropriate for the genre.  At least, in the books where I've encountered it, it hasn't been appropriate (and it's been a real turn-off).  Books like Ice by Sarah Beth Durst and Breaking Dawn use pregnancy as a plot device and don't really address the paternalistic attitude of the impregnators.  That's different than a book that's actually about teenage pregnancy and all the issues that go with it.

5.  shrieking, pretentious teenagers - I would steer clear of these sorts of people in real life.  I really don't want to have to read about them.  (Example: Lily in Dash & Lily's Book of Dares.  I think she's got to be close to the top of my list of Most Annoying Characters of All Time.)

4. lack of climax - I hate it when I'm really enjoying a book and a few exciting things have happened and there's been all kinds of foreshadowing, so I think I'm in for one heck of a climax... and then it fizzles and dies.  The most memorable example I can think of is Breaking Dawn.  Worst.  Climax.  Ever.  Compare it to the climaxes of the first three books, and you'll see what I mean.  Yes, part of my disappointment was because of my high expectations... but they didn't get high in a vacuum.

3. typos - It's the 21st century.  I shouldn't still be seeing typos in published works.  We have spell checkers.  Use them!  (And I'm not just talking about little homophone slip-ups where I read "there" instead of "their".  I'm talking about reading words that don't even exist, like "wass" instead of "was".  True story.)

2. "said bookisms" - This is when the author seems to be allergic to the word "said", and employs every synonym they can think of in its place: gasped, sighed, murmured, whispered, shrieked, laughed... you get the idea.  The thing is, when you use "said", it kind of disappears; our brains don't really register it, so it doesn't disrupt the flow.  Too many "said bookisms" do disrupt the flow.  To me, overuse of these words comes across as amateurish.

1. "said bookisms" that don't make sense - This is my #1 biggest pet peeve.  It's not something I ever used to see, but it seems to have become an epidemic, especially in the YA genre.  If I encounter these at the beginning of the book, I'll most likely give up.  If I encounter them in the middle or toward the end, I might also give up... unless the plot and characters are so spectacular that they can overcome brain-bleedingly awful sentences like:
"Wait until I get my hands on you," he ran across the room.


  1. YES to Lily! I included her in my list as well, she irked me that much. Great list!

  2. Great list! Really like your #2. So true! I never realized how "said" really moves to the background but in normal conversations is surely the most appropriate word to describe the uttering of words. Mostly it really IS "said" and not for example murmuring (I thing mumuring is sooo overused in books!) Sometimes it might be appropriate to give the words another "sound" but in general it is just avoiding "said" because back at school the teacher told the author to avoid it (or whatever reason there is for it.)