Readin’ and Ratin’

After reading my reviews thus far, you might be wondering why I kept reading the books that didn’t recieve very high ratings once I was finished with them.

Now  I actually gave a lot of books 4 or 5 stars in 2010 if not in the last month or so. I hope to give out those sort of lofty ratings again in the near future too. All the same, some books have missing elements that are sorely needed and I can’t honestly give them a 4 or a 5. But a decent portion of those books still get 3 stars from me because the book makes up for its flaws in other ways.

What makes me give a book multiple chances:

Remarkable writing. Some authors can make you read about horrible, disgusting, or awfully boring things simply because they have such a way with words and descriptions.

Nifty main characters. If the writing isn’t all that great or the plot is somewhere between mediocre and cliche, but the characters are occasionally entertaining or at least comforting to read about, I’ll keep going.

Unpredictable plot twists. If I cannot figure out what’s going on and there’s no way for me to learn about what’s going on from reviews, I have no choice but to continue on with the book. However when these means I have to wait until the end of the book to learn that nothing happened or changed, it makes me incredible angry when it’s time to review or suggest said book to others.

Cool world-building. If someone creates a remarkable world, I can occasionally be persuaded to continue reading, but this rarely happens. I am a very character-driven reader and writer.

Some books, however, have moments that I cannot get over or cope with and that cannot be made better by any of the reasons listed above. At that point I will have two choices a) boldly go where I didn’t really wish to go or b) put the book down and find something better.

If the book doesn’t get kicked to the curb, it’ll probably get a 2 star review. I can’t imagine reading books that I’d actually give 1 or 1/2 a star to once I was finished. Unless the book was so bad I couldn’t put it down which was the case with Ted Dekker’s BoneMan’s Daughters which I had the misfortune of picking up in March.

Or I might also give a book a low, low rating if most of it was really good and suddenly then everyone in it got killed by a giant hamster. But I digress.

What makes me put a book down or give it a rotten review:

Bad romance. Lady GaGa might want it, but I do not. Examples of this would be: Whiny female characters who will clearly end up with really interesting guys or awesome women who will clearly end up with jerky idiots.

Priority problems. This depends on the character in question, of course, but if a character is supposed to be competant and awesome I will be pretty angry if making out with their girlfriend/boyfriend is suddenly more important to them than saving the world. Even in a Romance novel, I expect better, and as result I rarely ever finish Romance novels that aren’t set in the Regency period.

Cleverness for the sake of seeming Clever. Some writers try too hard. Some writers want to treat me like a peasant in their fiefdom of Literature. Some writers add plot twists that amount to nothing but pretty window-dressing. Some writers find obscure legends, bring them to life, and do some weird social commentary full of ironies, paradoxes, and clever clever cleverness as if this was their thesis for graduate school. If an author is so clearly working too hard to be pretentious, I usually manage to put their book down without chucking it at a wall, but sometimes it’s a close call.

Unresolved issues. I don’t think it’s cool to leave all the issues in a book unresolved. If I get the sense that the ending is going to be all Post-Modern and What Do YOU Think Happened Next? I put it down. If I want to be in charge of what happens to the characters during the course of a book or significantly near its end, I’ll read a Choose Your Own Adventure.

If I thought about it, I’m sure I’d have more reasons for both categories, but these eight are usually the biggest motivators for me to read or abandon ship.

About April

I'm a librarian, reader, and writer whose main goal in life is to be able to swim in books the way Scrooge McDuck swims in money. Although my reading choices will always be wildly eclectic and I never plan on leaving any genre unexplored, my favorite reads tend to be Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Gay Romance, or Historical Fiction. You can e-mail me at inspector[dot]librarian[at]gmail[dot]com.
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