Sunday, August 26, 2012

This Book is a Bestseller? Huh?

by Leann

When I am writing a book, I cannot read cozies. Perhaps I am afraid the influence of other writers will creep in. Or I get too distracted. I'm not sure, but I know it slows my own writing so I choose other books. I am an exclusive mystery and suspense reader and have been for many years. The last two books I finished were both big and recent bestsellers. When I finished them, I was left wondering why they were bestsellers.

I won't name the authors or the books. I would never do that, nor would I ever go on Amazon and trash someone else's book. We all have different tastes, after all. And writing a book, any book, is a huge and complicated undertaking.  I also know my books aren't for everyone. But when I read what I believe is a "flawed" book and it's making the writer millions of dollars, I get a little frustrated. Am I missing something? Is it me?

One thing these last two books have in common is unlikeable protagonists. I don't know if this is a trend--but both these books hit #1 on the NYT bestseller list. They left me feeling sad, disgusted, and wondering what it is about these books that made people go out and buy them. Why did I buy them? I suppose if someone had told me that there is no redemption in this book, there is no hero, and no one is ever happy, I probably would have passed. But I don't like movie trailers that give away the whole movie and I don't read reviews that give away plots, either. So, I guess I bought these books because of the hype.

Even my daughter--who works for a literary agent and reads vociferously across genre--read one of the books I am talking about and afterward, she Googled, "Bad reviews for _______." She couldn't find any, even though she was hoping to find someone--anyone--who felt the same as she did. She should have talked to me earlier because today we learned we have the same opinion about said novel--flat writing, unlikeable characters, poor structure and a self-indulgent author. The good news is, I learn from books I consider flawed. (And I am not saying I write perfect books. I am ALWAYS trying to improve.) One thing I will never have in common in with these writers (excluding the money I will never make) is the lack of  a true hero or heroine. There will be justice and satisfaction at the end of every novel I write.

What about you? Been disappointed recently in a book you spent a good hunk of change on? I'd love to hear about your opinion!