"Tiger and I thought it might be time to start a meme to discuss some of the frustrations that are unique to book bloggers. What happens when the hobby you love becomes more of a chore?This meme will appear on the first and third Mondays of the month. Tiger or Karen will give us a question to respond to and a linky for sharing our responses and developing community.
This week's question is: Everyone LOVES that book! Why don't I? How do you handle being the one reviewer who doesn't like a book that's taking the blogosphere by storm? Do you write a review? Pretend you didn't read the book?
This has happened to me a few times. I read great things about a book. Every review is glowing. I am eager for the book. I buy the book. I settle down to read it. And I am underwhelmed. Sometimes I actively dislike the book and set it aside to never be finished. Luckily those books can find a place in my High School Media Center where they might find an audience among my book happy adolescents.
In one case, at least, in my blogging history I actively disliked a book and attempted to soldier on through and read it but did not succeed. I had real problems with Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. I couldn't stand the style of the story which bordered on stream of consciousness. I hated the main character. Because I had heard so many glowing things about the book, I persisted. I set it down an picked it up again numerous times. I think I finally gave up on page 186. I was going to link to the review I wrote but I can't find it now. I am sure I wrote something after attempting it.
I know that every book isn't for every reader. We all bring our own needs and expectations to a book. I like a story with engaging characters who have strengths and flaws but are basically good people. I want a plot that is relatively straightforward. I want conversations. I want necessary description. I want some humor. I want some romance. I want a story that engages me.
I don't like books that are filled with lush description and meandering plots. I don't like unlikable characters being the protagonists of the stories I read. I don't like books that play around with English grammar. Books that are written in a stream of consciousness style with limited punctuation don't interest me. Stories that attempt to set time and place with massive amounts of made-up or archaic vocabulary aren't worth the work it takes me to read them. And I hate dialect. I have been assigned to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn at least four times in my years in school. I haven't read it yet. The dialect defeated me. Bumped by Megan McCafferty almost reached my slang limit but I did finish that one. The interesting story line was enough to let me finish it.
I sometimes write reviews for books that I dislike but I seldom write a review for a book I don't finish. I do try to find some positives when I write that kind of review. Just because I don't see the wonder of the story doesn't mean that someone else won't adore it. It is more often the case for me that I will read a book that is getting rave reviews and think that the book was OK but not exceptional.
I have read lots of books. At an estimated 200 books a year for almost 50 years, I have really read lots of books. It takes something pretty extraordinary for me to rave about it. Less experienced (maybe less jaded) readers will have a different response than mine. Also, I am not a young adult. Some days I barely remember being a young adult even though I see and work with them every day. Books targeted to young adults can't always be expected to resonate with me as much as they do with their target audience.
I can't bring anything else to the party except what I am. When I write about a book, whatever I say is filtered through my reading experiences and my life experiences. How can it be any other way?