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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Discussing Published Hooks & Books » Worst book or author in your oppinion (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Worst book or author in your oppinion
Patrick James
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Alright, admit it. We've all thought it, at one time or another. You've read a book(or tried to read a book)and said to yourself: This is terrible! I can do better than this! This guy or girl(see I allow equal opportunity for either a man or a woman to be a lousy author.) is a professional? Wow, have I got a career ahead of me, if this author has published this many books.

In your immodesty you are probably wrong. You are probably not as good a writer as you think you are. Your stuff only reads that well, identifies that well with yourself.

The fact is that many styles and a lot of material only appeals to a certain group. If you don't think this million best seller's stuff is any good, chances are greater that you simply aren't in that group that his or her stuff appeals to than that he or she is fooling the entire world that his or her stuff doesn't stink to high heaven.

Anyway, I am interested to hear who you think is the worst author or worst book you have ever read. Please, not just hate talk. Give a reason why you thought it was bad.


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Patrick James
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Oh, also. No arguments. Try not to respond to a post that lambasted your favorite book with something like: Well, if you didn't like it then you must be an idiot! It was the bestest book of all time and you are stupid for thinking it was bad!

If you feel the need to defend a material or author please do it without insulting the previous poster. I don't want to start any fights.


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Robert Nowall
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Would you believe I started putting up a lengthy reply, but it got lost in cyberspace?

Either way, I'll got one. "Bad" certainly, though maybe not "worst." Rather than retype that, I'll just name the book, and maybe fill in details later. It's relatively new: Swimming Without a Net by somebody calling herself Mary Janice Davidson.


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Darth Petra
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Swordbird comes close.
Or Silas Marner.
Or Earagon.
Or Captian Underpants.

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wrenbird
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I've been doing a lot of reading in the YA Fantasy genre lately, because that's what my novel is.
Of the many that I have read, several stand out as pretty bad.
Fablehaven by Brandon Mull: It's a great premise, but he is not a talented writer. At all. It read like some of the stuff I wrote in high school.
Circle of Magic-Sandry's Book by Tamora Pierce: Oh gosh, this book was so grating. I picked it out because the premise has several similarities to mine. But, it was just bad. The main characters were so incredibly obnoxious. Bratty, whiny, petty. I forced myself to keep reading because of the similarites to my book, but at the half way mark I literally could not go on.

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wrenbird
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Hey Patrick, what about you?
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Patrick James
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Right now I am of the opinion that is 3:10 to Yuma. But that is a reactionary and short sighted one. Hmmm... Worst...
I am going to name a book I love... Dune...

It is called THE masterpeice of science fiction--and it very well may be.
It was a brilliant world/universe that Frank Herbert created. I loved the complexities, but as to style, it gets a 2 out of 10.
Most of the people I know are still confused about the plot because it was so poorly explained, on every page there were at least three words that were unpronounceable(making it very difficult to read.) and ideas that were almost impossible to wrap ones mind around. Many people give up on Dune for the odd names the characters have alone.
As to style, it certainly is not a strict POV. Throughout the book you are bombarded with thoughts from different characters from every direction. However that is more unusual than bad.

All in all a great story, but a book I would not have soldiered through the first 200 pages had I not been garuanteed that it was worth the effort.
Anyway, I, too, am going to garuantee that it IS worth the effort.

in summation: Great story, but Herebert's storytelling is confusing at best.

[This message has been edited by Patrick James (edited April 16, 2008).]


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Doctor
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3:10 to Yuma is a book?

Well, what-do-ya-know, I thought it was just a movie with Christian Bale and Russell Crowe, and a good one at that. But, noticing your review, I can see why it might make for a dull book. It's a western, enough said . I kid. But seriously, interesting topic.

I would have to volunteer some of my own writing as the worst I've ever seen. Though some of it strikes me as some of the best... err, at least passable. Kind of inconsistent.


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Rhaythe
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I could barely stomach "Next". It had a slew of characters that just inspired no interest whatsoever, so many that I could barely keep track of what each contributed to the storyline.

Of course, it's by that, what's his name...?, oh yeah: Michael Crichton guy. What a hack...


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Robert Nowall
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I remember, when I first read "Dune," before I was trying to be a writer or anything...I remember being cheesed off by Herbert's habit of putting out his character's thoughts---almost every character in the scene! Seemed like bad writing to me at the time...before I knew about things like POV and the like...
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Ben Trovato
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For the worst: Mercedes Lackey.

All except a very few short stories (the Skitty ones) are grating. Somebody should hold her head beneath the great whirring, clacking blades of the printing press and make her recant and swear on her inkstained soul to "Show, not tell."

Frank Herbert, on the other hand, can do no wrong.


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Doctor
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I find Herbert, like Tolkein, to be a bit slow and dull.
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Robert Nowall
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Yeah, right...I've read a fair amount of Frank Herbert, even bought and read that biography of him that was out a few years ago...but I never hung on his every word like I did with a lot of other writers. I think my early experience with "Dune" was what done it...
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Patrick James
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Ok. I am about to rag on my favorite sci-fi author....
Isaac Asimov

Anybody read Foundation?
Sure you have, we all have.
Is it not the biggest info dump that has ever been written?
Did anybody find it exciting? I didn't. If you DID tell me why cause I am feeling like a dope for not understanding what millions have seen in this (uck) 'classic'.

Okay i just know somebody is going to say: "Exciting" isnt what it aimed at. It was for enlightened minds, unlike yours.

I would like a better insight than I am just a dope (because I already know that ).



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Robert Nowall
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I've been thinking about the Foundation series, the original trilogy, of late...y'know, when you get down to the nitty and the gritty, I'm not sure it's even science fiction. It's got the Galactic Empire and the exotic planets and the spaceships and such. But mostly they're not important to the plot, they're just background and style. (Maybe some of the stuff in "The Mule" affects the plot.) The rest is just history lessons, elaborate injokes for students of history, populated by interesting characters like Hari Seldon and Hober Mallow and Arkady Darrell.

Do I like the trilogy? Well, yes, probably my favorite Asimov fiction book. But is it good science fiction? I'm not sure, either about the trilogy, or a definition of "good science fiction."

(Just "thinking about," mind you, not "rereading"...my copy is inaccessable without a lot of effort, being behind a big stack of boxes.)

(Oh, yeah, and just the original trilogy, not the sequels and prequels and connector novels and such that Asimov wrote late in life. They were okay, too, but didn't have the impact the original trilogy did. At least with me.)


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Grant John
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The worst book I think I have ever read is Shaman's Crossing by Robin Hobb, but this might be a bit unfair because I so loved her other books I did read this book all the way through. If I hadn't loved Robin Hobb I wouldn't have bothered.

Grant


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Patrick James
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Thanks for the warning, Grant, we'll all be sure to stay away fromm Shaman's Crossing then.
BTW If you like Robin Hobb you'd probably appreciate
George R. R. Martin and his Song Of Ice And Fire quadrilogy. Even if he is a no talent hack.
(No one jump on that, private in-joke)

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Doctor
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Can't be worse than Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
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Patrick James
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An interesting thing about really bad books, unlike really bad movies, they aren't funny when they are bad.

I will be sure to stay away from Seagull.


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Doctor
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And let me add The Scarlet Letter.
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shimiqua
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True that, Patrick. The worst movie I have ever seen is Suburban Commando starring Hulk Hogan. It's so bad it's classic.
However it probably would make an interesting book.


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Robert Nowall
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I liked "Johnathan Livingston Seagull"---but I last read it in the late seventies, and don't know what I'd think of it now.

There have been several books (and movies, and TV series, and so on), that I liked when I was a kid, but didn't "hold up" when I reread them much more recently. I guess tastes do shift with time. But on the other hand, some works improve as I've aged. It balances out.

(I did recently reread a short story by L. E. Modesitt---is that how he spells it? I don't have the book in front of me---his first story, I gather. I clearly remember seeing the story when it first appeared, and I even have a clear memory of the illustration that went with it. But I remembered nothing of the story itself---and, rereading it now, it seemed no great shakes.)


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InarticulateBabbler
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The Axman Cometh by John Farris is the worst book I've ever read. That is the only book that made me feel so betrayed that I never gave the author another chance. It started strong, built tension with the ax murderer stalking his victim (protagonist), then pulled a bait and switch--and it was like I was reading an entirely different story.

I've read a number of un-memorable stories. I've read a few predictable books, or books where I could have written a better, more satisfying ending, but this one is #1 on my Most Hated Stories in Print List.


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smncameron
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While I despise Eragorn, my main objections are it's lack of originality and sub-par prose. It's certaintly readable, and I can understand people enjoying it (I do, of course, hold them in contempt)

For the record I'm limiting my choices to books published by reputable houses. I'm positive their's a lot of self-published drivel that's worse. But withuot further ado.....

The absolute, worst book I have ever read is Matthew Reilly's Seven Deadly Wonders. This book transcends bad, turning it into pure gold.

For a start, the author's seething jealousy of Dan Brown is palpatible, not unlike some of the writer's here's attitude towards Paolini. He references the DaVinci Code several times, and the book is clearly his missguided attempt to replicate Brown's success by drumming up the biggest possible scandal he can think of.

The plot is terrible. A bunch of mercenaries search for piece's of the 'golden capstone' in the bellies of the wonders of the ancient world, trying desperately to find them before the Tarturus sun. The fate of the world is on the line! I don't have time to go into the details, but it involves Natzi's, terrorists, a prophecy, a giant american army, and more traps then you can think of, with each escape narrower and more cheesey then the last.

The prose is terrible. Sterling examples include (I'm paraphrasing)

quote:

The tower was tall and sleek. It jutted into the gorge. It was topped by a spiked parapet and a spiral staircase ran down the other side.

On the other side of the gorge was an identical tower. It too jutted into the gorge. It too was topped by a spiked parapet, and it too had a spiral staircase running down the side.



It also contains the funniest line I've ever read:

quote:

The wily old nazi lunged at him with a knife!

Finally, and perhaps worst of all, Reilly has two infuriating habits. He. Really. Overuses. Telegraphic Sentences. Like. All. The. Time. (I am aware that just inserting a period doesn't make a sentence telegraphic, you'll just have to imagine the frequency). And he italicizes. Not the words you or I would italicize, but words seemingly chosen at random. Words like knife and his. He italicizes on average two or three words per page. I wish I was exaggerating.


Anyway, as this long, drawn out rant comes to a close, the message I would like to leave you with is, read this book! It is hilarious.


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Robert Nowall
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The remark about "not giving the author another chance" reminds me of a disappointing experience with a popular (non-fiction) book.

Isaac's Storm by Eric Larson, which I picked up 'cause the subject (the Galveston-smashing hurricane around the turn of the last century) was interesting to me...but I didn't care for something in the way it was written, something hard to put a finger on but something that left a bad taste in my mouth.

Larson went on to write a couple of other books on appealing and interesting subjects...but I remember what I thought of this book, and haven't picked them up.


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Patrick James
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Qoute:This book transcends bad, turning it into pure gold.

That should be on the jacket cover! You will have a hard time keeping me away from this book now. Thanks smncameron


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KayTi
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I find myself scratching my head at Gregory Benford, in particular Beyond Infinity or some title like that. I couldn't make sense of the book, too many weird ideas all enmeshed together. The relationships were all painted with such faint strokes I couldn't be sure the MC was connected to anyone else, at least not in any meaningful way. Once they got to the tube world, he lost me. I kept reading it because I felt "it was necessary for my education." LOL

I'm going to have to re-read Foundation now, in light of posts here, because I don't remember it being so ... pedantic. But maybe it is? Hmm...


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Jo1day
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I couldn't get through the first page of Eragon. (Please, please, please, change your sentence structure!) As for "bad" books I've actually read through, I found myself really impatient with Kevin J. Anderson's Star Wars books. The storytelling always seemed a little too far removed from the real story for me, even when he was talking in pictures. Mmm, and there's one writer that I found on the old library book shelves, Monica Hughes, who wrote brilliantly, but there were at least two books (these were children's books, mind) where the kid didn't want to do what the adults wanted him/her to do, but by the end they'd decided that was just fine. This really grated on my nerves, for some reason.


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EP Kaplan
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Terry Goodkind: Wizard's First Rule. Ugh. Supposedly the series goes downhill, but I wouldn't know.

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J
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I second that opinion, EP.
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EP Kaplan
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The first time I tried to read it, my immediate thought was "So, after three pages of hearing about some vine I don't care about, we eventually learn that Hitler's bastard son marches on Moskva and receives a hero's welcome? Wow, People in this world must really be stupid."

Then I read the phrase "first ultimate use". First *last* use. Yeah okay. It's a good thing a "friend" loaned me that book, or I'd have defenestrated it.


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InarticulateBabbler
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I liked it. I admit the beginning was a bit slow (thankfully the second book does not have that problem), but i have found many doorstopper fantasies do start that way. I loved Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy, but the last one seemed a little dragged out. Fool's Errand the first book of The Tawny Man trilogy, begins with 220 pages of recap, only in PoV. Then it gets good. <shrug> Sometimes that happens.
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micmcd
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In defense of Asimov -- I agree that the info-dump style is painful, but in all fairness, these books were written a long time ago. That was the thing to do then -- sci-fi wasn't as mature a genre as it is today, and people were still inventing the best ways to explain fantastical societies to readers. Those works were a step above one where two professors casually chat about the last fifty years of scientific advances for no reason.

I think they were great for their time, even if the same style today wouldn't make it past an agent.

You can see the same thing in movies -- back when most actors had mainly stage experience, their performances looked exaggerated and god-awful on the rare occasion I'm forced to watch one. Did people really think Zero Mostel was funny?

Anyhow, not trying to have a flame-war defending old favorites of mine. Just wanted to put the info-dump style into context. I think it's more interesting to hear about authors making it to publication today that people are less-than-enamored with.


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Pyraxis
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I couldn't stomach Melanie Rawn. I think I slogged through a couple hundred pages before finally giving up in disgust, because nothing seemed to have happened yet. Long, epic, meandering fantasy really isn't my style. I like to pretend my time's a little more valuable than that.
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Robert Nowall
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Zero Mostel was funny, in at least three movies.

It's been a growing suspicion with me, that Asimov "made it" because he happened to live in New York City and was willing to go to the Street & Smith editorial offices and meet personally with John W. Campbell...I'm not sure his early stuff would have gotten a second look if there hadn't been a personal contact.

Hell of a thing to become so cynical about one of the giants of the field, isn't it? Well, I doubt if I'd'a done so well with a personal connection. My early self resented my early stuff being bounced...but my later self owes them a debt of gratitude for their not publishing what I wrote. My later self resents the current editors for bouncing my later stuff and buying some of the stuff they do publish...


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Oblomova
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I really dislike Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, perhaps because it came recommended so highly and was described to me as "Harry Potter for grownups." Did anyone else have this problem?

To me at least, it felt like the author buried the magic of the story in fifty layers of bureaucracy and dust. It was so self-conscious that it felt more like a literary author trying to make fantasy "serious" than someone out to write a good story. Maybe it was just indigestion, but I got through the thing at great personal cost--and I love a good doorstop novel, including Goodkind and Herbert, bless their overly descriptive little hearts.


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debhoag
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I didn't care for it either, Oblomova. And the Historian, I thought was awful, and it got raves. I read the whole thing, waiting for something to actually happen.
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annepin
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Are you talking about The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova? I thought that was a terrible book, too. The structure--first person stories wrapping each other really didn't work for me, esp since the voices all sounded the same. And it was just all too a little convenient,w with the book popping up everywhere, and at the end, they do NOT act like historians! And the whole back story about the mom and dad--so terribly boring. Anyway, I was sorely disappointed, like you, waiting for something to happen, through all 600+ pages.
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Robert Nowall
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I bought a copy of Johnathan Strange...but never got around to reading it. Someday, maybe...
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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I enjoyed JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL. Haven't tried THE HISTORIAN.

Just finished THE HOST by Stephenie Meyer (in reference to a discussion of her other books), and I really liked it (which, of course, means I shouldn't mention it in this topic). Oh, well.


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Robert Nowall
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I've wondered about that one. It's been written up and displayed all over the place.

Hype around a book often kills any interest I might have in reading it.


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Wolfe_boy
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I'm going to offer a counter opinion of the Historian... I thought it was three quarters of a wonderful book, and one quarter cop-out. I really enjoyed the long build up Ms. Kostova has going on, the more complex language, the historical fact (regardless of the accuracy of it, which isn't something I can speak knowlegably about), and the slow, long, subtle build up of tension. I was waiting for something to happen, but I was content to wait, simply because I was being entertained for the duration.

The ending disappointed me, though. The love story was a little too sudden, and the rush at the end did seem out of character and unrealistic to me. The young girls love affair with the college boy struck me as strange, and the final showdown poorly handled too.... Still, I recommend it to people, with a warning on the ending. That first three quarters, though... wonderful.

Jayson Merryfield


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rcorporon
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Hmm...

I recently tried to read "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand. I couldn't get past the overly pretentious writing by Rand.

I'm currently reading some Vonnegut, and I'm also not enjoying that. I read "Cat's Cradle" and thought it was utter tripe, and now I'm 1/4 through "Slaughterhouse 5" and don't think it's much better.


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Robert Nowall
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I enjoyed a lot of what I read in Vonnegut...I liked "Slaughterhouse Five" and "Breakfast of Champions"...but I haven't read all the Vonnegut there was, even all I bought (or at least acquired---I think I got some paperbacks as freebies and printer's waste way back when.)
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HuntGod
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Kevin J Anderson is the Roger Corman of sci-fi writing.

I read his books, buy don't like to admit it in public. The only reason I slogged through the Dune prequels and sequels was I HAD to know how the story ended (and he delivered). His writing is very staid, I enjoy the Seven Suns novels, but his writing is often distracting. He has some nice ideas and characters but his prose style does not carry them well.

There is a special place in hell for people named Paolini :-)


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Zero
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quote:
There is a special place in hell for people named Paolini :-)

It's the dungeon, isn't it?


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RobertB
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Like Wolf Boy, I enjoyed most of 'The Historian'. I like that sort of detailed story far better than your average fast-paced book, which tend to be rather shallow, unless they're extremely well done. Most of them leave me thinking 'So what?' and promptly forgetting about them. But despite the poorly done ending, I can't get that one out of my mind. Maybe I'll use the theme of the cursed book one day. Or even a vampire novel, if I can think of a new way of doing it. I think Kostova did that very successfully. Come to that, 'Dracula' is pretty slow-paced as well, and it's one of my all-time favourites.
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Noele
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I love that so many people don't like Eragon. I fully agree with it and it drives me nuts when people don't understand why I don't like it because they adore it so much. It reads like a predictable poorly done RPG.

Stephanie Meyer has weirdly addictive books, but they drone on sometimes and don't feel all that well developed. In her Twilight series the lead female is a classic Mary Sue. The males all just fall for her. I'm waiting for her next book to really see if I can fully respect her story. If the lead character is turned vampire, then no, I don't think I can and she belongs in this thread. It's just too predictable!

Also I enjoy Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel, but I've been revisiting it since I bought it a couple of years ago and still haven't been able to finish it. I don't agree with it being put out there as "Harry Potter for Grown-ups" though. It just isn't comparable to me.

I think I failed at this a little. None of these are really the worst books.


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Robert Nowall
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Haven't seen anybody use the term "Mary Sue" since I gave up Internet Fan Fiction writing...boy that brings back a lot of memories...
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Zero
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Noele, so you're iving her yet one more book to withhold judgement for? Isn't she on like book 8 by now?
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