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What makes you give up on a book?

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Ghost, Apr 12, 2012.

  1. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    I have alot of fantasy novels and I have read hundreds if not thousands and I have yet to actually put one down and just stop reading it. Terry Goodkind WAS a little too political, but I tend to ignore things like that in a novel, focusing more on how interesting the story is, the characters and how unique the world is. I have read lots of classic fantasy like Tolkien, Piers Anthony, and C.S. Lewis and newer stuff like Terry Brooks, Terry Goodkind, Robert Jordan and the like and each was appealing to me in their own way.

    I do have to admit that much of the TSR or WOTC (Wizards of the Coast) stuff from the 90s was pretty standard, cookie cutter fantasy, but I finished everything I read without much trouble. I guess I just never looked that deeply into most novels.
     
  2. charleshudgen

    charleshudgen Dreamer

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    I love reading books but for some instances it makes me distracted when there is a new book to release which is I wanted to read it too. I stopped for sometime just to read the introduction of my new book and I took 10 pages and forgot that I am reading this book. On the other hand, it end up to stop my new book and go back to book which I used to read.


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  3. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

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    I also give up on very few books. I don't think there's any particular rule for me, as it's a combination of all the things that make you continue reading a book not happening.

    For one, there's simple boredom. That's what ended up killing the Wheel of Time for me. Too many page with nothing really happening. No new info, no plot advancement... nothing. Book closed.

    Another is pedestrian or sub-par writing combined with a shock of some kind - I don't shock as in emotionally, but a shock to my enjoyment. This happened recently as I was trying to struggle through A Gathering Darkness (new book by Micheal Stackpole). Bad writing to begin with, but I like to finish what I start so I kept reading. The eventual 'shock' was when the book took a turn into urban fantasy territory when it had been straight up dystopian sci-fi for about half of it's length. Nope. Not going down that road with you, author.

    Hm... those might actually be the only reasons. Like I said, I pretty stubbornly finish books even when I don't like them, because that'll give me more reason to dislike them. No-one can say to me "Well it go really good at the end!" Besides the fact that any book that gets good 'at the end' is most emphatically NOT a good book, finishing it means I can deny that any such improvement ever took place.
     
  4. The first chunk of the book is a bit dry; it spends a lot of time with Blomkvist and his legal problems. The movie compresses all this very nicely so that you get the gist of it and then fairly quickly move on to the main plot.

    Nonetheless, after I saw the movie, I went and read all three books in about two weeks. Maybe seeing the movie will make the book easier to read?
     
  5. To answer the original question: I've only ever given up on a couple of books in my life.

    One was The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when I was a kid. I'd read and enjoyed the first two Narnia books, and then for some reason I just couldn't get more than two or three chapters into Dawn Treader. I didn't finish reading it (or the rest of the Narnia books) until I read all seven of them to my son last year. (Having read all seven, I can't say I'm particularly glad that I did. :p)

    Recently, I gave up on the fourth Eragon book, Inheritance. I had enjoyed the first three (despite the obvious problems, like the overly descriptive prose and complete lack of subtlety in character development), but for some reason, the fourth one just got on my nerves. I made it about 3% of the way through, according to my Kindle. ;)

    One of my mom's favorite SF authors is C. J. Cherryh, and my wife really enjoys Cherryh's books too, but I just can't stand her writing style. I got about ten pages into one of her novels and gave up.

    I did enjoy the procedural-like nature of the Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell, but after six books of Geary solving every problem in five minutes, it really got repetitive. I think it was a case of me waiting for it to get really good, but it not being quite irritating enough to put down.
     
  6. Leif GS Notae

    Leif GS Notae Closed Account

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    Anything with Gail Martin's name on it...

    Er, I have to get at least 50-100 pages into it. If I am not sold on it or my brain is working overtime wondering why the author did what they did, it is time to let it go.

    Maybe I might read the first chapter and if I have no hope, I'll read the last and see if the ending matches the beginning. If it doesn't, I get a nice little fire to warm me.
     
  7. Kit

    Kit Maester

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    I really liked her contributions to the Thieves' World series, so I tried one of her novels and had the same experience- tried hard but I don't think I even made to the end of chapter one.
     
  8. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I actually give up fairly easy. But, I'm what you call a "give it another chance" reader. Meaning sometimes a book will suck me in and I'm totally engrossed in it, then there's a chapter that just sinks me. I stop reading. It could be because the characters aren't really doing anything or what they are doing isn't very interesting. This happened to me a number of times reading A Dance of Dragons because if people are sitting around eating olives I suddenly just go blank. But I finished the book later.

    For me, no book ever goes unfinished, I just will have to read it later if it's not working for me. I'm very careful with my book selections now though, so this happens less and less as years go by.
     
  9. Alex Croyle

    Alex Croyle Guest

    The one thing I absolutely hate is weak main characters (not just physically). If I'm reading a book and the main character is constantly backing down and complaining about things rather than doing something I want to rip my hair out. A good example is Robert Jordans books. Amazing start but the main characters chapter starts becoming a cry fest around book four or five.
     
  10. Janga

    Janga Minstrel

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    Something that will turn me off a book is if the characters make stupid decisions that do not make any sense. I've read a few books like that but i can't think of any specifics right now.

    Also, stories that don't appear to be going anywhere coupled with uninteresting characters will lead me to put down a book. I have a long to-read list, so I have no problems quitting a book if I lose interest.
     
  11. Ailith

    Ailith Minstrel

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    Interesting question! I rarely quit in the middle of a book, but sometimes I won't complete a series because it is clear that the author is not going to resolve certain storylines. Or that they are going to drag them out indefinitely. The same goes with TV shows. There comes a time when the story is really over, and you can't drag it out anymore!
     
  12. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Yeah, I hear you. I write some YA, and I like to keep up on what appears to be selling in the field. I recently read P.C. and Kristin Cast's House of Night books, and while the series has been fun I'm starting to get that feeling about it. With the last one I started thinking "OK guys, are you going to wrap this one up or what?"
     
  13. Aravelle

    Aravelle Sage

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    I can't take a majority of urban fantasy seriously. Especially if the main character has a "secret" of any sort, or is in a love triangle with a mortal/non mortal or two non mortals. It's just... no.

    I also am slowly getting annoyed with the stories of "average joe falls into tragedy and becomes a hero". I still haven't finished the first Wheel of Time book because of it. Patrick Rothfuss did it best, truly.

    I also loathe stories where the elves are straight out of Tolken's mind -Eragon being my only weakness-, and the dwarves being the mighty hammer wielding boozeheads.

    Oh, and creatures that are too powerful and just built up to be badass. It's like people take nature or any realism into consideration. I get that's it's fantasy but... be somewhat realistic. It doesn't give you the license to do whatever you want.
     
  14. Fnord

    Fnord Troubadour

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    I'll jump onboard the RA Salvatore/Terry Goodkind bash because they were going to be the two authors I was going to mention when I saw the title.

    I liked the Icewind Dale Trilogy. I liked the Dark Elf Trilogy. I liked a few of the books that came after. . . and then it seemed like there were so many sharks being jumped that I was watching an Evel Knievel stunt. There was no room left for the characters to develop so it seemed like an endless cycle of fantasy tropes. You can only stretch a concept so far.

    A friend of mine used to gush about Terry Goodkind and he went so far as to buy me "Wizard's First Rule". I hate when people buy me books because then I feel obligated; if I buy a book and it doesn't grab me then I just dump it because it's a sunk cost anyway but there is no reason to spend more cost (in this case, time) continuing. But when a friend buys me a book I feel like I need to give it a go. After the first chapter I just knew I wasn't going to like it. It seemed kind of bland and obvious ("oh, the protagonist rescues a beautiful girl right away? There can't possibly be a romantic tension developing later. . . .") and the setting and story just didn't seem very interesting. I powered through to about halfway into the book before I just gave up outright. I didn't even notice any political commentary--I was just too busy feeling uninspired.

    I have noticed (at least as far as fantasy books go) that are some superficial indicators about whether or not I'll like the book: if the cover is bland, I don't have much hope for the contents (the Goodkind book is a perfect example). The other one, which will sound kind of silly, is I will thumb to the "world map" in the book. If the map looks like the type of place I'd like to explore, I seem more inclined to enjoy the book. If it seems dull, empty, or too simple my experience has been that the setting tends to be too. I'm huge on well-made settings though, which is not always the focus other readers have. I need to be transported *into* the book and the map is the bridge to that for me.
     
  15. Kit

    Kit Maester

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    That's interesting- and helpful. I didn't have plans to even include a map in my WIP, but you make me rethink.
     
  16. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    If there is a map, I like to see that it has been well thought out and is well done. If there isn't a map at all, however, that doesn't bother me.
     
  17. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Yeah, Goodkind is abyssmal, and I'll just leave it at that (having commented on him elsewhere).

    Salvatore...I have much the same view you do. I like those earlier books, as well as some of the ones that came later. Some of the other, later books were terrible and anything dealing with the spellplague and after seems to be infested with the "fail" that is 4e (stretching even into the fiction).

    But you're right, the series jumped several sharks long before that. I have to wonder if, as an author, you become completely uninspired at some point, but are compelled to continue the series regardless. In this case, I'm sure WotC doesn't want an end to Drizz't. If Salvatore didn't continue to write the books, they may pass the character on to someone else. If I were Salvatore, I wouldn't like that so much, so I might feel compelled to churn out more Drizz't stories to avoid it. I tried to read the first of the post-spellplague Drizz't books and got about 30 pages in before I shredded it and fed the bits to the cat.
     
  18. Fnord

    Fnord Troubadour

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    I haven't bothered with the Spellplague business. I'm actually a huge fan of the 4th Edition D&D (mostly because it made my life so much easier as a DM) but I did a cursory thumbing through of the Forgotten Realms campaign book and found little interesting. Of course, I've never been a fan of published settings for games anyway (with the exception of Planescape back in the 2nd Edition days mostly because there was tons of room for the DM's own world-building desires), so I just assumed it was an extension of that.

    And the Drizzt books were the only FR books I read, so I don't know too terribly much else about it. I got about as far "A Thousand Orcs" before I just put the book down mid-read and never went back to it. I ran into the same issue with the Dragonlance books too. After the Legends Trilogy it just didn't hold my interest.
     
  19. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    As a side note, back in 1997, they actually did pass the character to Mark Anthony when Salvatore refused to write him anymore. Salvatore eventually caved, and they cancelled Anthony's book.

    Anyways, I'm most likely to give up on books if I dislike the protagonists. This doesn't just mean finding them boring--they need to be actively offensive in some way (e.g. a hero who'll let innocent people die rather than attack foes from behind, but has no compunctions about using his magical powers to kill thousands of enemy soldiers at once.) That said, I've also given up on books because I obviously wasn't the target audience (e.g. a romance/action series in which the unusual love interest I found myself charmed by was killed off in the first book so the heroine could be paired off with a generic love interest I'd hated since his first appearance.)
     
  20. Fnord

    Fnord Troubadour

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    I went back and found the thread about it. It's too bad, really, because I'd probably be fairly sympathetic to his political viewpoints. But that sort of agreement just doesn't save boring writing. Of course, I couldn't get into "Atlas Shrugged" either even though everyone who knows me and my general ideological standpoint thinks I'm nuts for not finding it interesting. I think it's conceptually interesting (if, like the author, a bit too shrill), but prose killed it for me.
     
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