There is no thief worse than a bad book. ~Italian proverb
Don’t you just hate spending time with a book that disappoints you?
Recently, I read my first novel by NYT bestselling author Tess Gerritsen, and I enjoyed it so much, I grabbed another of hers when I went to the library.
This time, my expectations crashed like the hopes of most people playing their state’s lottery.
The Shape of the Night promised me a haunting tale, one I wouldn’t quickly forget. Here’s part of the cover blurb:
After an unspeakable tragedy in Boston, Ava Collette flees to a remote village in Maine, where she rents an old house named Brodie’s Watch.
In that isolated seaside mansion, Ava finally feels at peace … until she glimpses the long-dead sea captain who still resides there.
Sounds intriguing, right?
But I’d barely read twenty-five pages before I realized Ava was a protagonist I was going to tire of real soon. Her propensity toward drinking herself into oblivion, coupled with an unspecified secret that’s left her guilt-ridden and estranged from her family, made me want to shake her and demand, “Grow up, already!”
A few pages later, she has a physical encounter with a ghost.
Physical? Yes, so the author tells us.
Frankly, I had a bit of trouble suspending belief to accept that.
And Gerritsen milks that encounter for all its worth, with details that made me blush.
Sorry, Author, but you should’ve warned me this book fell into the erotica genre, so I could’ve left it on the shelf.
Another problem is it’s written in first person, present tense — distracting as all get out, and made worse by the proximity we’re forced into with an unreliable protagonist.
Many times, I almost tossed the book at the wall, but the author in me wondered how Ms. Gerritsen was going to redeem herself.
If she could.
I won’t spoil it for those who’ve yet to read it, but briefly:
- Ava has more encounters with the ghost, and they become more intimate
- Ava runs into townsfolk secrecy when she tries to find out about the previous women who lived at Brodie’s Watch
- Ava faces danger all around and questions who to believe
On top of all this, the ending failed to tie up loose ends despite a “one-year later” epilogue.
Maybe that’s what the author intended — to let the reader decide what, and who, to believe.
But this reader is miffed at having slogged through 268 pages when she could, and should, have been doing something worthwhile.
I have a simple way of dealing with books that begin to irritate or bore me at some point. I stop reading. I don’t have any trouble at all not finishing a book. Life’s too short to be irritated or bored, and the local charity resale loves to get books!
You make some good points, Linda. I probably should’ve dropped this one since it irritated me so much. There’s just a huge part of me though that believes strongly in finishing what I start. Not that I always can — or do — but I generally try to. Still, if I can quit watching a TV show in the middle, I should be able to do likewise with books, right?!
Debbie, I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t read a book in probably 10 years (I know, isn’t that horrendous?), so I can’t recall a specific book title that disappointed me. But I will say that there have been times when I started to read a book and just knew it was not going to be good. If a book doesn’t grab me by at least the second chapter, I usually won’t read any further. I prefer a book that grabs me immediately.
And it’s the same way I feel about a movie. In fact, I just recently started to watch a film I had never seen before and knew within 10 mins that I wasn’t going to finish it.
“But this reader is miffed at having slogged through 268 pages when she could, and should, have been doing something worthwhile.”
Yup, I know the feeling!
Hope your weekend was a good one. Have a great week, my friend! X
Ron, 10 years without reading a book must be some kind of record! Having had my nose in a book practically ALL my life, I can’t imagine such a thing. I’ll read practically anything — cereal boxes, instruction manuals, dictionary, you get the idea. I love to read, whether digitally or print.
I’m with you, though, on movies and TV shows. If something doesn’t grab my attention immediately, I’m outta there! Maybe I need to make a more concerted effort to do the same with books.
Thanks for stopping by to offer your thoughts. Enjoy the week ahead! xo
I will not finish a bad book! I have even thrown soon across the porch at room. The second I declare “stupid book,” I am DONE!
Good for you, Sarah! I need to take a long, hard look at how much time I waste trudging through inane books — and then get up the courage to toss them aside. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of books out there!
Life is too short to read dull/insipid/stupid books.
Yes, it really is. And there are so many other, more productive things one can be doing.
I write thrillers in the first person present tense to get the reader into and part of the story. One has to be careful and not produce a sea of Is in the process. Sorry, this one didn’t work for you.
Thanks for that clarification, John. I admit, first person present tense does have a way of pulling the reader right into the story; the problem, to me, comes when the narrator isn’t reliable … or even likeable. Then it becomes near-drudgery having to spend time with them. And this book wasn’t what I’d call a thriller, which as a genre often uses that first person present tense. Better luck next time!
Yes. Better luck next time. By the way I hate it when a book is horrable. I give it 50 pages thenI’m outta there.
Thanks, John — I think that’s very wise, and I need to remember it!
I also hate books that promise way more than they deliver. Especially when the first couple of chapters are really interesting, and then everything devolves into a cliche-ridden plot. It’s so disappointing!
You’re so right! This one did start out in an interesting way. Gerritsen obviously is a popular writer and began with an intriguing premise. Sadly, for me, it fell apart with all the detailed description of a ghostly tryst.
It is so disappointing to not be enjoying a book, but sticking with it to see what becomes of the characters and then to have the loose ends not tied… Grrrr… I’ve developed floaters in my eyes this year and they are so much of a nuisance that I’ve resorted to listening to books on Audible. I’ve discovered I like being read to!
I don’t do much in the way of audio books, but I’m not opposed to them. In fact, I think they’d be a great way to pass the time on a long train or car trip!