Sunday, June 20, 2010

Favorite Author, Not So Favorite Book

by Leann

We all have our favorite authors. You know, the writers whose books you buy the minute they come out--hardback, paperback, doesn't matter. I have a few of those and I am not naming names. That's because I'm not a reviewer, I'm a reader. We've all been disappointed by our favorites at times, but then we keep coming back.

One of mine has a new release and I am seeing something in the last three books that I don't like. The writing is still excellent, don't get me wrong, but writing and storytelling are two different things. This writer has decided, for whatever reason, that the continuing characters are not safe, and not only that, they will do really stupid things that come out of nowhere. If there's a set up, if there's foreshadowing, okay. I understand. But I want to trust my narrator. And I'm beginning not to trust this one.

Reading is comfort for me, as it is for all of you, I am sure. Revisiting characters I've waited a year to listen to again is important. This latest book left me with a sad feeling, an emptiness that disappointed. Not because of the writing, but because the author has intruded too much. S/he has decided to play fast and loose with long standing character traits, ones that I thought I understood. Humans change and I like to think they grow. But I see my fictional grown-ups in this series seem to be going backwards, and only, in my opinion, because the author wanted to "shake things up." For me, the story should dictate how "shook up" things should get. In this case, I didn't see the motivation. All that being said, I will buy the next book. Maybe s/he will right the ship!

How about you? Has this ever happened to you with a favorite series? How did you feel?

19 comments:

Dru said...

That happened to me with one of the series I use to read. This character was vibrant and had a strong sense of self, but the author changed the heroine in a way that I felt was unfitting her character and I never felt the same way about her.

Andrea C. said...

Leann, I totally get it. I think this has probably happened to us all at some point. I have a list of authors whom I love and I keep track of their release dates. With one series I think the author perhaps felt pushed to get more than one completed a year? I don't know but it went downhill - just like you said - with characters doing "uncharacteristic" things. It changed the dynamic of the book! Here's hoping the next one will be back on track!

tonya kappes said...

No it hasn't happened YET...but I won't be able to continue reading if it did. I love my favorite authors, but ultimately it's about the story for me.

Aimee said...

Sadly, I know exactly what you're talking about, Leann. It's bad enough when you read a standalone and a character you thought you liked starts acting stupidly but it's an entirely different matter when it's a long standing character. It's almost as if your friends or family have suddenly changed on you.

Leann Sweeney said...

Glad you all understand. I just finished that particular book (listened to, actually) and I am a tad angry! I want to shake said author and say, "Do not forget what made this series brilliant! You're getting off track!" :-)

Allison said...

I agree with you, Leann. I had a favorite author several years ago, and while she does not write series, I read all her books. Then her writing changed and became very dark. I found out she had a major trauma in her life and I think that was the catalyst that changed her writing. I can't read her books now, which makes me sad.

Another author has changed her writing and I just have not liked the last two, so it makes me wonder what's going on in her life?

Leann Sweeney said...

Good point Allison. As a writer, I think events in my life may alter my writing to some degree, but what if sat, Lydia Monk, the crazy one, suddenly started acting rational? That shouldn't happen. What if Jack Reacher got married and bought a house? What??? I have to stay within the bounds of what I have created or my readers might act like I am right now. :-)

Kate Collins said...

It is amazing how life can affect a writer's outlook. If your life was filled with grief or illness, it would be pretty darned difficult to write something humorous and light-hearted.
With that said, I have to admit that a big name author has disappointed my husband and me in his last 2 books. It feels as though he's lost his passion for telling a story. As they say, it sounds as though he phoned it in. We are afraid to buy any more of his books.
And as a side note, most authors are being asked nowadays to write more than one book per year. That's the state of the publishing industry right now. Right, Leann?

Leann Sweeney said...

That's true. I can't write two books, even though I wish I could. But this particular author only writes one book a year or every 18 months, so that's not the problem. There's a certain ruthlessness about what the author has done to the characters in this book and that is a little scary.

Heather Webber said...

This has happened to some of my favorite books, too. So very disappointing. What I hate most is when a secondary character is killed off for no good reason. Grrr.

trek said...

When a character behaves out of character, I am left wondering what happened to the author's skills. If a character has a pattern of behavior, they should continue in that pattern unless there is some external force (like a catastrophic illness) which causes the departure from the norm.

Heather said...

This hasn't happened to me recently, but has happened in the past, when either the author's style or quality of writing changed. Also hate it when great secondary characters are killed off for no good reason - this applies to TV as well as books.

Leann Sweeney said...

"trek" I have to be fair. Something did happen to this character--a death of a loved one, in an earlier book. BUT, and this is why this has been bothering me, you may be grieving, but that doesn't change your basic personality. And I feel that's what happened here. I went on amazon to see what some other readers thought about this and I am not alone. Several people found this character's "change" to be just not believable. And that, of course, pulls you out of the story. As Heather said .... grrrr

Babs said...

I know exactly what you mean I have a list of authors I follow, but recently I have had to think twice about one of them. The main character on top of her side kick has taken a nose dive and the boyfriend has left for god knows why. From what I can gather she is tried of writing this series, but at least send the characters out with out making them look / sound mental.

Vickie said...

I usually stop reading the series or the author if I see a trend of bad choices either in writing or the way the characters are going. Life is too short to read bad books and it makes me sad when an author goes astray.
One of the biggest disappointments was when I found out that at least one (and I think there are more) author hasn't been writing his or her own books, just 'polishes' them after a team writes them and then has the big name author on the front cover.

Leann Sweeney said...

I guess those big name authors are too busy enjoying their money to write anymore. I will never have to ponder that. :-)

Ellery Adams said...

It's happened to me but I always give the author one "mulligan" so to speak. If the problem repeats for two books in a row, I usually give up. There are too many other things to read!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I have come across this and actually just this year. It is disappointing because, even though the character is a figment of the Author's imagination, you invest your emotions in them.

As a person who has dramatic swings in her life, I feel, as a writer, your emotions should be kept in check, if not, then write a different series and market a different audience. Most likely, easier said than done.

Jeannie

Lover of Books said...

It hasn't happened to me yet. And here's hoping that it doesn't.
Krista