Thursday, February 19, 2009

the non-review

I'll be honest.

Sort of.

I do not like to rate or review books publicly. There are a number of reasons for this, but I will say that I have no problem praising or ripping into a book privately among friends.

It kind of puts me in an awkward position, though, because I really like reading book reviews -- even those penned by other authors. And I'm a follower of GoodReads, too... but, I'm, like, what happens if a friend of mine, or someone who gets paid by the same parent company writes a book that's a total stinker and then asks me to review it?

So I don't. But, then again, I've never been part of a writer's group or crit circle, either, so I don't know anything about brutal honesty among competitive colleagues.

If that's what it is.

The last book I read that totally stunk I had to stop reading. This book has been well-received, lavished with hype, and is on lots of lists, too. But I started it... couldn't get into it... figured there was something wrong with me... started it again... then on about page 100 I threw it across the room, gave up, sighed, and donated it to a library.

I think one of my friends knows what book I'm talking about. He had the same reaction.

I mention this because I just finished reading the worst book I have ever read.

It was deliciously horrid. Some of the worst writing and editing ever... a virtual manual on how to suck. It was so bad, I couldn't stop reading it. Every page had the promise of presenting one of the suckiest lines you could ever read.

And this book was SERIOUS YA fiction, published by a major house that actually pays authors money. I will not identify the author, publisher, or title... and I will use XXXX in the place of identifying character names, but -- please -- allow me to share with you some of the absolute worst CRAP I have ever seen printed in a novel:

1.) The wind hadn't let up all day and the trees on the ridge whipped in the wind.

What??? Are you fucking kidding me??? It's like, really really windy. You can tell because all the wind of the wind is windy through the trees.

2.) But his sister said XXXX wasn't heavily into drugs; he only smoked the occasional marijuana cigarette.

After reading this shit, I felt like I'd been on the receiving end of a few bong tokes myself.

3.) She wanted to beg him to take her with him, but he hated whining.

Times like this, I wish I was Gumby so I could walk into this book and slap the shit out of her myself.

4.) Her heart felt as bleak as the darkening sky.

Okay. Honestly. I puked when I read that.

5.) Somehow it seemed okay to tell him about XXXX's hands on her breasts here at the beach.

Her breasts are at the beach?

And, finally, my favorite (an actual sentence -- not a quote -- punctuated with an exclamation point)...

6.) The gun must be what he told the guy on the phone at the donut shop that he had in the trunk of his car!

He told a gun he has a fucking donut shop in his trunk???? WTF?

Yeah... you just can't make this kind of stuff up.

And I guess this is why I've never been in a crit group.