Pages

5 Books that I Disliked

If Tamagotchi were books, they would
out-do every novel on this list.
They gave me hallucinations.
Sorry to be negative for two weeks in a row, but I'm in that kind of mood. Mwahahahaha...

For the most part, I like most of the books that I read, at least on some level. Even if they're not mind-blowing, they're at least entertaining, and a good use of my time.

Over the years though, there'd been a few novels that I didn't enjoy. A bundle of flaws popped out, and they're easy to identify. But in any case, they;re book at the bottom of my "re-read" list, and for very, very, good reasons.

Now, in no particular order...

NOTE: This is my opinion. If I hate a book that you absolutely loved, go ahead and hate on one of the books that I love. An eye for an eye, after all.



Gregor and the Code of Claw by Suzanne Collins

Rating: 2.5 out of 5
This is the kind of book that is weigh down by a small collection of flaws. But a small collection of flaws is usually enough to spoil one's experience.

First of all, a minor nitpick, but the untranslated codes grated at my fast reading pace. I'm sure Mrs. Collins intended the readers to stop and translate it if they want to, but I don't like that kind of work. It's minor, but bad enough to leave a bitter taste in my mouth.

Second of all, section breaks. From what I recall, she handle them a little better in this series, but the lack of section breaks wrecked pacing a little. They sort of dulled the impact of the battles going on behind the scenes or right belong Gregor. But I'm the type that needs that emotional impact, and pushing it aside can make a less interesting read.

Not to mention I didn't like the ending. I bet a lot of readers were mixed about it. But I'm not exactly sure what led Collins to take that route, and the depressing tone makes it sticky in retrospect.

Unfortunately, she didn't learn from a couple of these mistakes.

Lesson Learned: Don't have untranslated codes that forces readers to take a full-stop. And use section breaks when you need them.

A Swiftly Tiliting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle

Rating: 2 out of 5
I liked the other two books in the series, but any charm that the author wanted to be in the story is buried by one thing: confusion.

Basically, my main reaction while reading the book is, "How is time travel supposed to save the world from this mysterious dictator? Okay, I'll take your word for it, Mrs. L'Engle."

However, that isn't enough. I can't really recall the plot, and my fast reading speed might be partly to blame, but I still can't remember how the plot was exactly solved. And we don't even get to see the main antagonist at all. It's that kind of nagging feeling that locked me out of enjoying the story.

Lesson Learned: Make sure the point of your character's actions are clear, along with the end goal. Confusion is a no-no.

Daniel X: Watch the Skies by James Patterson

Rating: N/A (Incomplete)
I'm probably a bit unfair toward this book, considering I hadn't read the first book. And the fact that this is out of my age range. But I read Maximum Ride, and I saw this book at the library, and...

Patterson's signature style of using really short chapters works against him here. First of all, prologues are something that already divide publishers. Multi-chapter prologues? Twilight had the sense to keep its "Preface" at two pages (Twilight's a 2.5 out of 5, by the way.) Also, considering the easy prose, it gave an impression of shallowness. A shallow book is like eating tasteless and useless foam.

Second of all, this book is...strange. Its random streak, taking the form of one event from another, suggested more of a Japanese widget series than a book with an understandable narrative.

Lastly, what killed the book for me was Daniel, the protagonist, and the fact he's pratically a Marty Stu. Know about the term Mary Sue? Well, Marty Stu is her equally-bad counterpart. And somehow, an author like Patterson managed to write one.

First of all, Daniel's a reality warper. He created all of his friends, he often pulls stuff out of mid-air right when it's needed, and he re-created his parents. Which pretty much negated the fact that he became an alien hunter because his parent's died.

Oh, and Daniel predicts that Superman would rank about 38th or so on the Galaxy's Most Wanted List. Superman is already considered a Marty Stu at some level.

Considering the main setting's Earth, the power scale Daniel and the aliens makes it hard to believe that the Earth, or my suspension of disbelief, manages to stay intact.

Again, it's aimed for a middle-grade audience, but Percy Jackson is more grounded than this Saturday Morning lit.

Lesson Learned: Just because the demographic are for 12-year-olds doesn't mean you can dumb down everything. Oh, and don't push suspension of disbelief farther than the comic books.

You by Charles Benoit

Rating: 1.5 out of 5
Look at last week's post. But to sum it up:

Lesson Learned: If you're going to be unconventional, please, please have a protagonist that's at least a little interesting.

On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer

Rating: 1 out of 5
I remember reading this back in 4th grade, having it completely miss my expectations, and me saying "I didn't like it."

Normally, I like Newbery books, or I at least think they deserve the nomination or award. The Westing Game, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Holes...yep. All fantastic books.

However, On My Honor falls flat in terms of plot, character, setting, and emotion. Yes, the main reason why it won the Newbery in the first place is because it's a tearjerker. But it's only a tearjerker, nothing else. And books never make me cry. (Except my own stories in my head.)

If a novel relies on one element, it's likely to fail. On My Honor is only 90 pages, so it isn't even long enough to be a novel. The timeframe works against it too, as the protagonist only has an afternoon to go from discovering that his friend drowned, to confessing.

This would be fine if this was a short story, but On My Honor is narrow. We don't get enough of these characters. We don't see their school or enough of their family life. There's no excitment, no happiness, no spark, no injustice, no heartwarming moments.

Only a death, and an attempt at sadness that misses the target.

On My Honor, to this day, is the one book that I dislike the most, because it could've been way, way more.

Instead, it only solifies the stereotype of what people hate about Newbery literature: hit-or-miss tearjerker material.

Sorry, Mrs. Bauer, that you couldn't entertain my 4th grade self.

Lesson Learned: Don't rely on the readers to cry. Make sure to have plenty of situations for other emotions, build your characterization before causing the tear-jerker, and take advantage of the aftermath.




YOUR TURN: Do you agree or disagree with any of these entries?

What are some books that you disliked/hated?