Thursday, December 23, 2010

Underwhelming Books

There are some books that I cannot put down, but when I've actually finished it, I think, 'Wow. . .that's it?' Or I'm like, 'That was a good book' and a week later, I fail to tell you what it was about. Books that hook you, but don't make a lasting impression on you.

For me, these books fall into that category:
1. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

2. Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

3. The Uglies series.
It started out strong. The first of the series (Uglies) is my favorite, but I hardly remember the next two, Pretties and Specials.

4. A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

5. The Gossip Girl series.
I didn't finish it, but what was the point of those books??

6. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.
When I was reading the books, I was like, 'Omg, amazing!' Now, I couldn't tell you the basic plot beyond Valentine being evil.

7. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden.
500 pages of nothing.

I do have some level of respect for these authors. A lot of them are bestsellers, so some people obviously loved them. They had me turning the pages, desperate to learn more (well, some of them - Gossip Girl, not so much). But I felt kind of cheated at the end. Like, what was the point of that?

Did I learn anything? Let's look at the themes of these books.
Water for Elephants : love.
Lovely Bones: family??
Uglies: now, this theme did stick with me. The people of this world surgically enhance themselves at a certain age, and the establishment even inflicts brain damage to keep people compliant. There was a lot of social commentary in this series, so I appreciate that.
I know A Gate at the Stairs dealt with interracial families a littl bit. The main theme, I think, was growing up.
Gossip Girl: no, don't get me started on the LACK of theme and depth in those books.
The Mortal Instruments series: no idea. Don't fall in love with your brother?
Memoirs of a Geisha: I guess the theme could be "ambition makes people horrible"?

Did I feel anything for the characters beside, 'Ooh, what happens next?' Generally, no. I thought Jacob in Water for Elephants was lifeless, Tally Youngblood could have had a lot more personality, and I don't even remember the main character in Memoirs of a Geisha.

My writing has a tendency to be fast-paced and plot-centered, and the last thing I want is for someone to race through my book, and then say, 'Huh. Okay. Whatever.' I want my characters and themes to stay with the reader.

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