Ooh, this week’s theme is a good one! I had a lot of fun putting this list together…It was actually kind of hard to think of ten specific things that I don’t like about books. What’s your biggest book turn-off?
#1: Bad grammar/punctuation. Nothing turns me off of a book more than when an author can’t properly construct sentences. Part of my job is being an editor, so I know that I can sometimes get a little picky, but I try to be patient with authors and let small things go. But when you have missing commas, fragments, misused semi-colons, etc., it just drives me nuts and will totally affect whether or not I actually finish the book and how many stars I give it.
#2: Weird names. This one isn’t a huge turn-off, but it does kind of bother me when authors choose strange, basically unheard of names for their characters. Or, like in Crash by Nicole Williams, when the names are supposed to have symbolic/historical/metaphorical meaning.
#3: Books set in contemporary England. I don’t know why this bothers me as much as it does. I have absolutely nothing against England! I just, for some reason, usually don’t enjoy books set in England/written by English authors. This is probably offensive to some people, but I swear, it’s just a weird, bookish personality quirk of mine.
#4: Not enough world building. Nothing is more aggravating than when you’re reading a book that you actively want to like, but can’t, because you are too confused about what’s going on, due to less-than-stellar world building. This is 100% the reason that I absolutely hated and could not finish Under The Never Sky, when everybody else loved it. This most often becomes a problem for me in dystopian or science fiction YA novels, but I’ve also come across it in other genres as well (like the contemporary New Adult novel Like Falling by Jaden Wilkes).
#5: Endings that are contrived or don’t exist. In very, very rare circumstances, the phenomenon of a metaphorical ending (or, usually, just a lack of one) can work — like with The Great Gatsby. But it’s very cliché and it’s been done so many times that it really annoys me when contemporary books attempt it. It doesn’t always ruin the book, but it’s really hard to pull off an ending like that and actually make it work. For example — The Fault in Our Stars worked…Where We Belong didn’t.
#6: Insta-love. This should’ve been first on the list, haha. Does anybody actually ever like this??
#7: When you figure out the “secret” before the characters do. This really, really aggravates me. In particular, I’ve read a few Sarah Jio novels recently where I saw almost every single plot twist coming. If I can do that, the author isn’t working hard enough. And, similarly, I also don’t like it when the author on purpose lets you in on it before the characters — that just makes it so boring (i.e. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay).
#8: Characters not acting their age. This goes both ways…sometimes I read books where teenage characters are acting way too mature for their age (see any John Green novel or Perks of Being a Wallflower, even though they are both awesome), and other times I see characters that act super immature in a way that’s totally unrealistic (Wanted by Kelly Elliot).
#9: Poorly written dialogue. There are too many instances of this, particularly in self-published novels, and it really makes me mad. If you can’t write dialogue that sounds like a real conversation, then you shouldn’t be an author. Or at least not until you get better.
#10: Love triangles in which the main character treats one of the other characters like shit. I don’t mind regular old love triangles. What I really hate is when the main character (usually a girl) either can’t decide between two characters and is leading both of them on, or is clearly only interested in one of them, but completely takes advantage of the other guy that likes her just because she can. Obvious examples of this would be Twilight and City of Bones.