Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dilemmas and Frustrations

I have a dilemma. I'm on page 122 of 273 pages of the third book I'm judging for the Passionate Plume Awards. This book is bad and keeps getting worse. I've posted before that it's very rare for me to completely trash a book. I figure anything is better than what I could ever write since I lack the creative writing gene. But this book is so bad even I could have done better. Seriously. And I don’t think I’ve ever said that before.

Usually, I’ll stick with a book until the bitter end in hopes that it might get a wee bit better. But this book is so jaw-dropping awful, and getting worse as I read, that I don’t think I can waste anymore of my life reading it.

The final straw? The Big Misunderstanding. The leads are suckin’ tongue on her couch. Her brother walks in. She even introduces him as her brother and the two men shake hands. The brother casually goes and gets a beer- no hostility, just friendliness. Suddenly we go from swapping spit, then friendly introductions, to “You don’t have to lie and say he‘s your brother! Just admit he’s your lover, dammit!” Followed by the slamming of the front door as he leaves. That’s when I had to stop reading. The whole book up to that point was one “WTF? That makes no sense” scene after another, but that one was just so bad that, if this had been a paperback, I would have burned it. GAK!

So here’s my dilemma… On the judging scale of 1.0 to 9.0, this book so far is a 1.0. Actually, it’s a 0.0, but that’s not an option. But is it fair to not finish it? Am I shirking my responsibility as a judge if I don’t suck it up and endure this offal? Will I raise my score to say a 1.2 by the end and would that make a difference? Or should I just cut bait now after reading 45% of this trash and not waste anymore of my life?

And you know what's really weird? I've never heard of this author or her epublisher. But I went to her website and, according to her, her previous books have won all kinds of awards. So how can I find this book so excruciatingly bad?

I decided to delay that decision by moving on to the fourth book for now.

The fourth book is a bit frustrating to judge. It’s the 4th book in a series and could easily have been a 9.0 The world building is rich, the characters interesting, the storyline compelling, and the erotic scenes are smoking’. But for some reason, the author drops the ball on the important pivotal scenes- and ONLY those scenes! If she had just spent a bit more time on these scenes, not only would this book totally rock, but I would be rushing over to the epublisher to buy all the preceding books! Instead, I found myself kinda sitting here blinking after reading them.

Here’s an example, and I’m totally paraphrasing but you’ll get the idea:

Hero: Werewolves are real and I’m a werewolf.
Heroine: Oh, okay.
Hero: You have a latent werewolf gene and you’re going to change at the next full moon.
Heroine: Oh, okay.
Hero: I know we just met briefly yesterday for the first time, but you’re my mate for life and I love you.
Heroine: Oh, okay. I love you too.
Hero: Let’s Fuck
Heroine: Okay.
Me: *blink blink*

See what I mean? The preceding scenes up to this point were setting up these important revelations, and all we get is *blink blink*! The story then gets back into being rich and riveting again.

There were two other important pivotal moments in the book that also left me blinking. So it’s frustrating me that I can’t tell the author how close she came to having a completely kick-butt book. If only she had spent more time fleshing out those pivotal scenes! It’s almost like she sketched an outline of those scenes first, built the rest of the story around them, but then forgot to go back and rewrite those scenes to be as great as the rest of the story.

So, in fairness, I can only give this book a 7.5- I dropped a half point for each of those scenes. Hopefully that will be enough to get her to the second round of judging and a second opinion, with a chance at a Plume Award.


Ann(ie) said...

Books like this make me bang my fist on my head. I hate where there's no real pretense at story. It's all just setup for the fucking. Meh.

I want the sex to deepen the relationship! Contain meaning! Intimacy! Advance the plot, ffs. Literary. Sorry, I'm okay now. Just a pet peeve of mine.

QB said...

I know what you're saying. If I'm reading Erotica, then I don't expect much story and any I do get is a bonus. But, if it's an Erotic Romance, then there had better be something there to engage my emotions, a story to follow. And not just a whole bunch of bumping uglies followed by an "I love you" at the end of the book.

Ann(ie) said...

Exactly!!! Do not try to sell me an erotic romance when it's clearly erotica!!