Shockingly Terrible Books

Needless to say, I read a lot, and I have a few rules to reading.  One is to always finish a book you have started.  If it is bad, at least give yourself knowledge of the whole thing to write a better negative review of it.  People deserve to know the truth; I’ll take on the pain, so others do not have to!  Another rule is to read every hyped up book.  Why?  If it is popular, I consider that there must be a reason.  And I’m nosey.  I must investigate.  A more infrequent rule is to pick up a book simply on the strength of its cover every now and again.  Armed with these rules, you just know that the only natural course, is the course to some very bad books.   I list some of my worst experiences here.

The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer (2006-2008)

If you read my book reviews, you’ll know that I reviewed the first book of this series, Twilight, and that I gave it quite a fair review.  It’s enjoyable, I said, but very poor writing with a structure that resembles what China would be like if it were an anarchist establishment.  I smiled at it, gave Meyer a patronising pat on the head, and let the bad literature go.  I just let it go.  As I got further and further into the series, however, my good nature was pushed to its limits and I lost my patience with possibly the worst writer to ever be published.  I thought that, perhaps, she has the mental age of a twelve year old and was called “the fat kid” one too many times during gym class.  There are so many things wrong with this series that I don’t even know how to start.  If you can imagine every bad thing a writer can do to their novel you will pretty much have summed up Stephenie Meyer.  I’m just going to take a deep breath, and list things until I get bored:

  • Her heroine is a Mary-Sue.
  • Her hero is an anti-feminist, controlling, bullying, stalking, bipolar psychopath.  Okay.  Fine.  But Meyer makes these traits out as desirable in a boyfriend.
  • Every romantic scenerio is sickly and clearly a juvenile fantasy or wet dream of the author’s youth (or present).
  • Her characters all have personality transplants in the last book.
  • Her heroine has no flaws, if there are any, they are made out to be endearing, such as her clumsiness and self-sacrifice.
  • The author makes rules, but then breaks them later on (vampires can’t have children, DER!).
  • The whole series has an anti-climax.
  • The themes are shallow.
  • It belongs in the Mills & Boons series.
  • Too much emphasis of physical beauty.
  • Authors fills up plot holes with quick fix it solutions, one of which includes a situation that strongly stinks of paedophillia.
  • The heroine gives birth in the same fashion that Ripley gives birth to aliens.
  • Authors builds up tension about heroine turning into a vampire, but heroine’s transition is completely problem free, which goes against her previous rules.
  • Even given the fantasy context, the author fails to be convincing, most notably the act of ‘imprinting’.
  • Cliché here, cliché there, cliché everywhere.
  • Nobody even appears to care that hero and his family are murderers.
  • Lack of regard for souls and inner beauty is positively shocking.  This is coming from an athiest.
  • The series can only appeal to girls.  Young girls at that.
  • Author will write of gruesome mutant births with great detail, but will not discuss sex.  HEE HEE!
  • No sacrifices are made by the characters. 
  • I’m bored now. 

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (2004)

Aww, bless him.  He tried so hard!  Did anyone notice how hard he tried to stress that males and females are equal?  How Sophie is far more intelligent than Robert, how she is more physically capable?  Then there is that whole ying yang concept?  So cute.  His conscious effort to defy usual gender codes is painful, especially as he unconsciously, as it seems so natural to do, to linger on Sophie’s physical appearence all the time, and even when she does something brilliant, Robert is more interested on the effects of doing these brilliant things has on her beautiful face.  Then he gets to shag her at the end of it all.  Great way to fall flat on your face, Brown! 

But what am I saying?   Oh yes.  Why this book is so god awful.  I understand that this book is extremely hated because people want to drone on about historical inaccuracies and conspiracy theories.  Whatever.  It’s fiction.  I don’t give a shit about that.  I’m also an atheist, so I haven’t the slightest comment to make on the books ideas of religion.  I couldn’t care less.  No.  I hate this book purely for literacy reasons.  The book reads as a Hollywood movie, and I could literally hear the DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN!!!!! in my head at the end of each chapter.  Every character is a stereotype.  There’s no depth, and the writing is so side splittingly laughable that it’s not even funny.  It’s beyond a joke, Dan Brown.  You are guilty of the most severe literary crimes.  You write like a thirteen year old, only an editor came in the corrected your spelling and grammatical errors.  Your style is simply insipid. 

Well done for selling so many books though.  I mean, fair play.  You write complete drivel and you earn millions back on it.  If I can’t commend you on your writing, I can sure commend your shrewdness!

Shadowmancer by G. P. Taylor (2003)

Fortunately for Mr. Taylor, I read this god awful book several years ago, and I do not remember enough to pick at his dull, didactic load of bollocks.  However, I do remember my complete and utter distaste for the book and that it mostly has page space for the author to spew out his religion upon unexpecting children.  There’s this character called Rhubak (ahem, well, I say “character” but that’s a very loose term regarding this Rhubak thing) and all he does is vomit out scriptures, but with different words in a different order that means the same thing. 

There isn’t any plot to this.  I think there is this evil guy trying to take over the world – I couldn’t be sure.  There’s a predictable sidekick, and there’s no personality to the hero.  Calling this novel a story is basically misleading the audience.  The most shocking thing about all of this that there was a critic on the back of the book that said ‘biggest thing since Harry Potter’.  That’s what made me pick this slug up.  At least it taught me to ignore critics.  But in all honesty, the critic could have said (and probably did) that ‘this book aims to be the biggest thing since Harry Potter and fails’.  Those sneaky publishers!

Pamela: Or, Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson (1740)

This book made me want to smash my head upon my desk several dozen times.  It was one of the cruel punishments of even daring to go to university.  The module was called ‘The Rise of the Novel’ and this book was part of it.  How this book contributed to the rise of the novel and not its downfall is anybody’s guess. 

I have several warnings about this book.  The first and most important is that it is incredibly dated.  I do not mean the writing either, but the story.  Jane Austen writes of her contemporary society, which is dated to us, but it still has the human essence of longing, love and sensitivity, blah, blah, blah.  Pamela cannot give the same happy boast.  It was written in the eighteenth century, and in the eighteenth century it should have stayed. This novel tries to convince its readership that there is truth in the words, and that the readers should go away and think about what a good girl Pamela was, and how she was rewarded in the end. So, ladies of the eighteenth century, did you get that? Be pathetic, a lap dog and worship and love those that try to rape you and kidnap you, and you will be rewarded by marrying your kidnapper! Great one!

Pamela is basically a didactic novel, written by a man, telling women how they should behave.  This is every feminists worst nightmare, and perhaps it will remind anti-feminists just how far feminists have taken us, and thank goodness for that.

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5 Responses to “Shockingly Terrible Books”

  1. J.S. Peyton Says:

    Your thoughts on “Pamela” are spot on. I too was forced to read this in college and it was … an experience. I’ve never read “The Twilight” series, because I think I exhausted my interest in teenage vampires when I was well, a teenager. I did unfortunately read “The Da Vinci Code” and it was as awful as I expected. What really bothered me were the people – random strangers! – who kept telling me that I should really read it. I don’t mind taking book recommendations, but it kind of rubs me the wrong way when it comes from someone who will probably have read only “The Da Vinci Code” in an entire year.

  2. J.S. Peyton Says:

    Great post, by the way!

  3. I read “Twilight” because it had hype. As simple as that. The first book is not so bad if you can accept it for what it is (which even then, that is quite difficult) but you run out of excuses for her by the end.

    I was told by many people to read “The Da Vinci Code”, including my own brother. I didn’t get it. I can only assume that people that like it do not read anything else at all. Otherwise they’d realise how badly written it was, surely?

    I was also recommended Philippa Gregory by numerous people. She’s not bad, because she can write well, and she researches well, she just makes historical fact into soap opera. What do you think of her?

  4. I am dying at your review of the twilight series.

    “The heroine gives birth in the same fashion that Ripley gives birth to aliens.”

    That is probably my favorite part.

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