Its a short story that my class read in lit a long time ago called 'The Most Dangerous Game'. I cant remember that author offhand, but the story was so generic. It just... was a topic worn out. A psyco dude that lures ships and people to this island, and sets them off into the jungle with a two hour head start and then... hunts them. It just... got tiring. The author could have done better. I 'rewrote' the story out of the book to see how it would sound and got something that my lit teacher adores. Ah well. Stuff happens.
I couldn't stand . . . The Stand. Started reading it because OSC said it was a prototype for disaster-novel format. May be, but I had 12 pages of getting to know primary MC, how he felt about football, growing up w/o Dad, and a lot of things to yawn about before a car of inexplicably sick people crashed into the gas pumps. I wanted it to start with the crash -- or no more than a page before. I couldn't go on.
Trouble is, I wanted to learn from it. OSC thought my scenes should be longer. May be . . . but not Stephen-King long!
I recently posted a rant about how much I despised a book called Dextra on my blog. It may be a personal thing; my boyfriend liked the book, although so far every woman I've talked to has also despised the book.
Which pretty much covers why I hated it. I'm no cutthroat feminist, but that book set my teeth on edge.
I also dislike strongly the Philip Pullman series, which I understand is Major Mojo for young adults - but as a young adult, I threw it against the wall so hard I made a dent, and then set about erasing the details of what I disliked so thoroughly that I now remember only the sense of utter betrayal the book evoked in me. I gather the storyline cleverly "twists" a lot of YA stock material; apparently it twisted too hard for me.
And I developed a strong dislike of both Piers Anthony and L. Ron Hubbard at a young age because they used too many exclaimation points. (Which still annoys me. It's so damned condescending.) As I've aged I've developed both dislikes on more solid moral and craft-related grounds.
[This message has been edited by KatFeete (edited December 18, 2005).]
[This message has been edited by KatFeete (edited December 18, 2005).]
I've read very few books that I couldn't stand, largely because once it becomes apparent that I can't stand a book, I stop reading it.
For instance, from what Kat says about Dextra, I wouldn't have gotten past the first sex/nekkid scene, and (again, going by what she says) that probably would have meant I put it down in less than five minutes.
I'm a sensitive sort, there are lots of things I just can't stand. But despite that, I find plenty of books I like a lot. So...I don't worry about it.
I'm like Survivor: if I can't stand a book, I put it down, and I don't think of it again. The one example that sticks out is Cherryh's Hammerfall, chiefly because I once mentioned offhand how much I hated that book (around here, I think), and someone said how surprised they were, since Cherryh is such a big name in the business.
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Like a few others have said, I have no problem dropping a book if it is terrible. Two books I I did gut my way through were Da Vinci Code (because I wanted to understand the controversy) and Castaways of the Lost Dutchman by Brian Jacques. I made myself finish the latter because I enjoyed his stories so much when I was younger, I thought he would redeem himself by the end. He didn't. It was absolutely wretched, with cookie-cutter good-guys who had no negative qualities whatsoever and horrible protagonists who had absolutly no redeeming qualities, nor motives for their evils. That, and he simply recycled the same sub-plot a half dozen times throughout the novel. I'm really afraid now to go back and re-read any of the Redwall series for fear I will find the same thing, thereby quashing my pleasant childhood memories of the books.
Posts: 292 | Registered: Feb 2004
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"Couldn't stand" is a rather relative term. I've read books I've "not liked"...or "weren't my cup of tea"...or "just didn't move me."
Two books come to mind. (1) "The Catcher in the Rye," which I had to read for school (never a good way to enjoy a book). I thought the lead character was an idiot studying to be a moron, his life problems didn't impress me, and the whole thing reeked of a descent into sordidness and stupidity. (2) "Finnegan's Wake," which I got partway into and it became the only book I've ever flung across a room (I was in the school library at the time, too). Unintelligible nonsense.
I suppose it's possible, if I picked them up today, they might have improved (or I've acquired the depth to appreciate them).
dakota, I thought the same thing about Stranger in a Strange Land. And the long speeches where they explained their philosophy to each other were also very very dull.
Posts: 1750 | Registered: Oct 2004
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I think that any writer needs to know what they dislike so that they can strive to do better. So once I started writing I have tried to read (and dissect) bad novels as well as good ones, so as to learn by others' mistakes.
Many bad works come to mind, some famous and overly hyped, others just bad. But the absolute worst one I can recall was The Scandalous Summer of Sissy Leblanc by the former television writer Loraine Despres.
How bad was it?
Let me give an example. I recall some years ago I played tennis with a serious player, a fellow who had played intercollegiate singles. Halfway through the match he threw down his racquet and stomped off the court saying I was so bad I had ruined his game forever. (He was a little bit overly dramatic.)
This novel was so bad I threw down my reading glasses and wept. I couldn't read for nearly a month after I finished it.
Seriously the story had one redeeming virtue. It was as readable back to front as front to back.
djvdakota, I must admit you're right. I have never quite understood why such a great writer as RAH liked to write such bizarre endings for his adult stories.
Robert Nowall, Add Tropic of Cancer and you have a trio of critically acclaimed stories which defy rational thought.
[This message has been edited by keldon02 (edited December 19, 2005).]
Ha ha, I guess everyone likes the opportunity to rant now and again.
I agree about the ending of Stranger in a Strange Land. But I loved the first half of the book so much, I took the ending in stride. I looked at it as a display of why Martian philosophy and human physiology don't mix well in practice--people take to lounging about and having random sex. Now, some might call this the human race actually getting things right, but really. Such a group couldn't survive without leeching off of those who actually work. No wonder everyone else revolted against them! (And no, I don't think that's the message Heinlein was going for--we're supposed to be on Michael's side I think--but it just didn't work for me.)
I say the book I dislike most that I actually finished reading would be Marian Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon. That book has got to be the strangest I've ever read in the following respect: First of all, the only reason I read through the whole thing is because a friend begged me to, and since she indulged me enough to read one of my favorite books, I agreed. Despite the fact that it was the most god-awful boring book I'd ever struggled through, not counting LotR. (No offense, LotR was a great concept, but it was written like a history text, not a story!) If you want hundreds of pages of women plotting against eachother a bit, but mostly reminiscing about their youth and looking at their sagging breasts, then by all means pick this paperweight up and have at it.
But here's the strange part--I almost cried when I put it down. I don't know how, but despite its sheer dullness, I actually got to know these characters. Seeing their downfall (or at least, their end) was like having a friend move away or die or something. Granted, had it not been for the pressure of my own friend I would never have read enough to reach the point of caring for these women, but there you have it. I just couldn't believe it when my stomach started fluttering and my eyes started burning a little. I thought I must be crazy.
quote:Its a short story that my class read in lit a long time ago called 'The Most Dangerous Game'
I liked that story. Of course I read it in junior high school or high school 25 or more years ago. I don't think it was quite as unfresh at the time. I'll have to reread it. I often think it would be fun to go through and critique some stories that have been included in lit anthologies over the years.
Another book that I couldn't stand was called The Last Ship by William Brinkley. Here is just a sampling from the first page of the book: "The words needed little more than whispers in the undivided quiescence that reigned everywhere. I stepped out on the starboard bridge wing, the ship brought now line abreast to the land. Not a breath of wind stirred the morning. The last stars paled in the sky, the silent waters stretched away in a vast mirror, glittering in the oncoming sunlight, bringing with it the softened sky of the low latitudes, sea and sky so deliquescing into one that I would have had difficulty taking a sextant bearing, making a horizon.
The book goes on and on in his wordy and unintelligible banter for pages at a time. I haven't ever finished it, even though my dad recommended it. I'd better finish it so I don't hurt his feelings, but it will hurt me deeply to do so.
[This message has been edited by Smaug (edited December 20, 2005).]
I'm reading POLARIS by McDevitt (sp?) -- it's around here somewhere. It started off really readable but now it has bogged down in boring meetings. The aim of the plot -- I thought it was to find out what happened to the people onboard this starship Marie Celeste -- has pretty much vanished and I don't know how I'll ever get the desire to pick it up again and finish it.
I notice I mentioned my problems with "Finnegan's Wake" in a post elsewhere among these boards. At the time I mentioned "War and Peace" as another book I never finished---but I didn't dislike it the way I disliked "Finnegan's Wake."
And keldon02, I've never read "Tropic of Cancer," though naturally I've heard a lot about it over the years. Also, a lot of Heinlein's later works (any novel after "Stranger in a Strange Land") were what one would call "difficult reads," so it's hardly surprising people would have trouble with some of them. As I also say elsewhere, start somewhere else...and if you do get Heinlein fever you'll want to look into the others...
The only book series I have every truly hated was the 'Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever' series by Stephen R. Donaldson.
What I couldn't stand was the main characters mantras: "I'm not worthy".... "I can't use my power because <enter another lame excuse here>"... "I can't make a decision or act because my hand is stuck to my forehead in the shape of an 'L' ..."
That is the only book series I have ever thrown in the trash after I had finished reading it.
Reading something else yesterday reminded me of another book that I read in my college days, that I couldn't stand, that I read all the way through to the end: "Mein Kampf."
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The conversations between the MC and his wife are always verging on ridiculous. I think they're supposed to be funny, but I just found them sickeningly stupid.
The premise of the story is that the MC's grandfather predicts 5 horrendous days in the future that will affect the MC. In actual fact, there is absolutely no reason for this stupid plot wrapper, apart from to put the story in the category of having an almost supernatural theme instead of thriller. But, there is just no reason for the plot device, at all. And it is never explained how come the grandfather had the predictions in the first place.
After you read about the events of the first prediction, you can most likely predict the theme of the others. Also, one or 2 of the dates of the predictions are off anyway, and so the events come a few days before they were expected. Which in my view deems the plot device redundant yet again. All that it seems to serve is to add a bit of suspense / foreboding. But not adding to the story.
The MC is described as being a clumsy lummox, but this is never shown in the story. It's just told to us now and again so that Koontz can show us that this guy has some kind of weird character trait.
I thought the book was awful, and has put me off reading another Koontz book ever again. However, there are several folks on Amazon that disagree with me. Strangely, my 1 star review of the book on that site was never published.
Plus - anyone ever notice how most of the book reviews start out with the reviewer revealing how quick a reader they are --
"I read this on a 4 hour business trip on the plane..."
"I read this in a couple of nights, couldn't put it down...."
Thanks, right, Yawn - just tell us your misinformed impression of the books will you.
I'm the guy that started the "Books that Suck" thread, but I see no reason not to complain here as well.
How about David Eddings? I liked the Belgariad books, but then he tries to tell the same story again with the Mallorean! He even rationalizes it into the plot. There's a friggin' REASON for him to tell the same story twice featuring nearly the same characters in nearly the same situation. The gall!
Most hated book: Easily Da Vinci Code. I couldn't slog through it. I tried but the guy wouldn't stop preaching. He's like Louis Lamour, every chance he got he started preaching about this or that belief which was supposedly true. I watched a show on the discovery channel (a far more reputable source for information then Dan Brown) and there never was any priory of sion
Browns site says this about the priory “hints at a shocking historical secret which allegedly has been guarded since 1099 by a European secret society known as the Priory of Sion.” No matter that it really was founded in the 1950's in france by a politcal radical. Who's founder admitted to it's fabrication and that it has been proven more than once to be a complete hoax. And yet the Priory of Sion was a central element in the plot and logic (so to speak) of The Da Vinci Code.
And right in the front of that book it states that the Priory of Sion was a real society blah blah blah.
I hated that book, he tried to make people with beliefs feel belittled, like he was laughing behind his hand at anyone who may have thought differently. Talk about an author that betrays his readership. One hint to authors of fiction, don't right fiction and then claim it is true after all.
Also, I have to agree with the post about Thomas Covenant the Unbeleiver. But I also hate it because finally when he starts to actually use his powers, finally when things are starting to work out, right at the end, and after all that other stupid crap you had to go through, He kills the main character. It was pure Crap.
[This message has been edited by eclectic skeptic (edited December 21, 2005).]
In reply to the post about David Eddings, mostly I agree with the poor rationalization. But I actually read the series in reverse order the first time, so that I actually enjoyed the second series more because I had read it first. I admit I would have been the same as you however, if I had read them in correct order. Both are decently written, and it is a fun story, I particalarly liked Belgarath as a character to read about.
Posts: 60 | Registered: Dec 2005
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The Work and the Glory I. That's about the only book I can recall having the sorts of experiences you describe. I mean, I realized it was kind of unfair for me to be always trashing it without having read it so I set out to read it. It was worse than I assumed.
Posts: 366 | Registered: Sep 2006
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I'm currently reading The Work and the Glory Volume 1.
As you say, it has its problems, though the storyline itself isn't it one of them, IMHO. As I've been reading it though, I'm finding that I too could've written it--at least I think I could and without as many of what I'd call mistakes. But guess what? I didn't write it, and kudos to the man who did and made some serious cash off of it. Part of being a writer is seeing a project through to its end and he did that. There are some fine LDS writers out there, but one of the problems I see is that they get too close to boundaries, and major LDS publishers don't want to risk that. Then, the writer is stuck with a book with no market. And you have to look at it this way, if any writer has the talent, they want to go mainstream. That's really the only way to make a living at it.
[This message has been edited by Smaug (edited December 22, 2005).]
One entire genre makes me tired. It is not horrible enough to actively dislike but fills me with ennui so that I cannot maintain the physical strength to walk toward a shelf of its books. Anybody here like Harlequin Romances?
[This message has been edited by keldon02 (edited December 23, 2005).]
Warning this particular post is PG-13 for subject matter.
Like anyone who will call themselves a writer, I HATE Jordan's Wheel of Time cashcow of paperpulp and ink.
For completely different reasons, I have nothing but contempt for Laurell K Hamilton and her treatment of a woman's sexuality in both of her series. Anyone who removes the williness to have sex from a woman by making it a neccesity is condoning a form of rape.
I have to agree that WoT has been drawn out for too long. Robert Jordan is a fantastic writer, and his characterization is great! But that seems like thats all it is anymore. Tarmon Gaiden wont happen until book twenty at this rate, and I'm not waiting that long.
My least favorite book of all time was Rama II. The first half of the book was overwhelmingly boring. I could care less about the politics of doing the space flight, and the characters doing whatever on earth. Get to Rama, for crying out loud. Build the characters through their actions on the flight to Rama and when they get there. I litterally skipped reading entire chapters of that book, and to this day I do not regret it.
cvgurau -- I'm with you. I tried to read Hammerfall and just couldn't do it. The concept seemed cool, and the way it began I thought for sure it would be a fascinating read, but each turn of the page grew harder and harder, and I could sense my focus drifting as my eyes kept steeling glances at the clock while I struggled to convince myself that I could make it just one more page.
In short, it sucked. I've found more excitement reading my Jeep Owner's Manual.
Another one that I got thuroughly bored with was The Silmarillion. I thought it would be neat to read the backstory and history to Tolkien's middle-earth. I was wrong.
And Piers Anthony is okay, but he seems obsessed with every one of his character getting laid. It's almost formulaic: Joe Nobody finds himself in wierd situation, meets girl somebody, bangs her, then saves the day.
And I used to love Robert Asprin. But I recently picked up another book and after reading it was struck with the painful realization that I loved Asprin when I was 12.
I'm not 12 anymore.
I DO like Koontz, but I have noticed he has a very annoying tendency to spell out for me every single thing that I already know. It drives me nuts. He could cut a 100 pages from "Strangers" if he would drop the obvious and let me just enjoy an otherwise outstanding story....
I have to say that I wouldn't really assume an "LDS Market" publisher would be interested in my WIP. I mean, Deseret Book (the church owned book company) has a stated goal of not selling (or publishing) any book that anyone would be embarassed about giving to anyone else (i.e. your grandmother or a 12-year old niece.)
There is one other relatively large publisher, Covenant. A third publisher that was a bit "edgier", Signature, went under a couple of years ago.
My attitude is that if the book is good apart from appealing to an LDS audience, I'll have to take my chances with non-LDS publishers.
I have to say that the book that I cannot stand is "Hatchet," by Gary Paulsen. It is a bit of an amateur book, I have to say (I read it in the fourth grade, and have gone back to make sure what I said about it was valid, which it is), but my loathing for it remains no matter what reading level I am at.
My biggest issue is the repetition. The author will repeat the same thing in three consecutive sentences, changing the wording minutely. There was a part in the book where the main character (Brian, I think) encounters a bear. I'm not entirely sure if the repetition occurs here or not, but seeing as it happens almost every few sentences, I am fairly sure it does. Assuming the repetition does occur here, this is what the paragraph would contain.
"Brian was scared of the bear. It was very scary. The bear made him very scared. He was afraid of what the bear would do, it was so scary."
I mean, it wouldn't sound exactly like that, but it would not be dissimilar. Unfortunately, (or fortunately, however you think about this book) I don't have on hand to provide you with an exact quote, but I don't know how easy it would be for me to look through it to find one. That book holds horrible memories for me. ~shivers~
If only I could have joined those in this forum who have flung horrible books across the room. Probably would have gotten me suspended.
Is it really fair, though, to criticize fiction just because you disagree with the ideology the author is presenting?
It bothers me when people despise books for being "immoral" or "insulting." If Dan Brown's cardboard characters were the problem, then maybe that's a valid criticism of the book . . . but if it's just his ideas about Christianity that bother you (the same goes for Phillip Pullman's trilogy) then is that really a fair artistic judgment? If promiscuous sex or rampant sacreligion bother you, don't read about them, of course, but can a book really be faulted for presenting either?
As one poster pointed out, even though a book might have flaws, it did get published, while the books of many people here have not been. It just seems ignorant to me when people bash accepted classics like The Catcher in the Rye for trivial reasons. If you are personally annoyed with Holden's ideas, that's your perogative, but the book is still widely read and discussed. It's obviously meaningful to a lot of people.
And heck, what about sheer entertainment value? If Robert Jordan's repetitive subplots help some people unwind after a hard day, why fault the work? Back to Dan Brown--if some people just want a thriller, or something to shake up longheld beliefs, then what do characterization or symbolism really matter? I believe that no book is completely pointless or without value, and that books are all equal the same way an orange is no beteter than a chair. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, but they are serving different purposes, so it's silly to criticize either.
I thought the Da Vinci Code was appalling. Clumsy writing, cardboard characters, implausible plot twists, stupid stupid stupid bad awful horrible writing, but I coudln't put the damn thing down. Still pisses me off. Plus, the whole thing was ripped off from "Holy Blood, Holy Grail."
It is my impression that many participants on these forums expect authors to adhere to their moral preferences; I am not sure how widespread that expectation is beyond these boards. Personally, I find it far more interesting when authors do not simply affirm my own world view, but explore territory that I am not so familiar with.
To each their own; it's a big world, with lots of books in it.
quote:I thought the Da Vinci Code was appalling. Clumsy writing, cardboard characters, implausible plot twists, stupid stupid stupid bad awful horrible writing, but I coudln't put the damn thing down. Still pisses me off.
I'm still trying to decide whether it was an Idea story Milieu story, probably Idea, but it sure as hell wasn't a character story. They only needed to be cardboard characters. Plus, you can't call it stupid stupid stupid bad awful horibble writing AND claim to have not been able to put it down. Now that's appaling!
If you believe that cardboard characters are sufficent for any type of story, well, that's fine. As I said, it's a big world, with many books in it, and no doubt many of those books will have characters that are shallow enough for your taste. Enjoy!
I completely agree that it's appalling that I hated everything about DVD but could not put it down. Completely.
Re: Hatchet, I used Amazon.com's search inside the text feature for bear.
". . . and he heard a noise to his rear, a slight noise, and he turned and saw the bear.
He could do nothing, think nothing. His tongue, stained with berry juice, stuck to the roof of his mouth and he stared at the bear. It was black, with a cinnamon-colored nose, not twenty feet from him and big. No, huge. It was all black fur and huge."
etc. I can see a little repetition, but certainly not "The bear was very scary. The bear made him very scared."
~laughs~ Oh, I know the repetition isn't that serious. I did say that I couldn't provide you with a direct quote and that the writing wasn't the same. Still, I do tend to overexagerate when I write things like this. But last year I was looking over the book again, hoping thay maybe it wasn't as bad as I had thought in the fourth grade, but my friend and I were in hysterics at the repetition we found was so common. Maybe it's just me, and I think that once you've said something, that's it, there's no need to say it multiple times, but even reading the direct quote that was provided annoyed me because of the repetition. I'm just an easily annoyed kind of person.
Posts: 67 | Registered: Dec 2005
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The book that I hate most is..."Eldest". "Eldest" is the sequel to "Eragon", which many condemned, but, other than possessing the worst characters and motivations (Eragon spends the book seeking revenge across a continent to kill two birdpeople. They killed his stepfather, but it was just so stupid), I liked the magic system because it at least set some limits on magic, unlike Harry Potter.
I started reading Eldest and was growing bored until the book switchs POV to Eragon's stepbrother, Roran. Now usually this is where people are turned off because their hero's story is cut off by some subplot that becomes part of the main plot. However, in this instance, the problem was reversed. Roran was a fully developed character capable of greater emotions than Eragon, a more pressing story followed him, and Roran seemed to have more flow. By flow, I mean Eragon's actions did more "touching base" than anything. For example, Eragon's growing up is shown by his animal lust for some good-looking witch, which just felt like Paolini got lazy. So every other chapter, a switch occurs in POV and rather than building suspense for both sections, Paolini made me only want to arrive at Roran's story and then trudge through the ridiculous tale of Eragon.
Now overall, I hate Christopher Paolini. Not because of his writing, but because of who he is. He gives all young writers a horrible person to aspire to because he is the geekiest human being I have ever heard of. He actually admits in a Time magazine interview he spends all his time alone in the mountains, hates people, cares little for the opposite or same sex(I frankly don't care if he is gay, but I want to see an author who takes an interest in something), and has poor hygiene, which I gather by his photograph. Schoolkids are going to think that as long as they can write, they can be disgusting introverts.
I would shudder to think that anyone on earth could claim they "knew me" well enough to judge that they hated me after reading a single magazine interview. I would hope people would be aware that a human being has many facets, and not all of them are revealed to the public. Our best face, and our worse face, are often seen only by ourselves.
Posts: 2026 | Registered: Mar 2005
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Well, as far as personal hygiene goes, I had to look up the word to see how it was spelled. I don't mind taking baths, but avoid deodorant in all but the most extreme circumstances.
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Let's not get into a bashing thing against hermits. I read Hatchet, and I liked it okay. My mind has it pegged as shorter fiction, but I guess that's because it's pretty short for a book. It's a simple tale, but what I remember wouldn't fit in a short story, at least.
Mystic, perhaps consciously, has hit on the fundamental problem some people are going to have with a book like Hatchet. It relies heavily on the "natural" response to the story of an isolated human surviving in an untamed wilderness. But there are a lot of humans with little experience of anything wild and thus no appreciation of it. And such are unlikely to appreciate the story. To them, wildness is something distasteful, a matter of poor hygiene and anti-social behavior.
For those who have encountered the wild, such a story is entirely different. Which is just to say, different strokes for different folks.