Sunday, September 9, 2012

Blog Business

So after the great debate that was Tiger's Destiny and a conversation about Defiance (mostly the melodramatic writing), I have decided I am going to amend the blog, just a little bit. It's not going to be a very big change, but one that a some people may care about.

Here's the thing. First, I want to like every book I read.  If I'm going to invest my time, it better be at least a three star book.  If it's going to be less, half the time I won't even finish it. Second, I rate books based on my reaction. Honestly, I should probably wait a few days to figure out my true rating because sometimes I'm so immersed in the world, prying myself out is a sticky, gooey, emotional mess.   This often results in a better rating then the book deserves.  I ignore mediocre writing in favor of great plot or characters or sometimes even an idea.

The Tiger's Curse series is a great example of this.  The writing isn't up to par with the world Colleen Houck created.  I still loved the series and am a proud owner of all four books, but there were moments that literally made me cringe.  Another example is Tarzan. I love the adventure, but I am also aware that the book is horribly racist and misogynistic.  I'm okay with that because it was written over a  century ago, but I know it bothers a lot of people.

Then there are books that suffer from the opposite problem. The author is a great writer, crafting realistic characters, plot, and setting, yet I don't like the book.  Either it's something I'm not interested in or there is some plot point that bothers me.  Maybe it's just plain boring.  I honestly recognize the craft that went into the book, but I don't like it and will probably never read it again.  I am often glad I read it, but it's not something I'll subject myself to twice.

Unfortunately a lot of classics fall into this category.  Don't get me wrong, I love classics: anything by Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Alexander Dumas, Jack London, most Charles Dickens, William Faulkner, Mark Twain, and the Bronte sisters.  But there are some I don't like.  Henry James, for example, creates beautiful narratives that are perfect for tearing apart and analyzing from every angle to find deeper and deeper meanings.  But I don't like his stories.  They are, not to put too fine a point on it, boring.

Another example is Melissa Marr.  She is a good writer, her books are best sellers, and she writes the sort of things I should like.  But there are things in Wicked Lovely that drove me absolutely crazy.  I vented about this book with a friend for hours upon hours when I finished it.  The idea behind it was amazingly wonderful but I could hardly stand what she did with it.  Or Maggie Stiefvvater.  Her writing is almost poetic, but I still haven't been able to make myself finish the second and third books in the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy.

On the bright side, sometimes an author delivers the whole package. Case in point, Shannon Hale.  Her writing is beautiful, her stories exciting, and her characters realistic and sympathetic.

So here's the point of this blog. On certain books reviews, I'm going to include a paragraph or two about the writing, plot, etc.  I may also give the book two separate ratings.  One for how much I liked it, and the other for how well it was written and fleshed out. I wish the two were one and the same, and goodness knows the latter helps the former, but alas that is not always the case. I hope this will help everyone find exactly what they are looking for in a book, and it might warn off a few people from reading certain books.

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