What Was This Book About Again?

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I just finished reading a book by a well-known (though not very prolific) author of … I guess you’d call his work ‘police procedural’. His genre was a bit new and unusual, something no one had tried before; luckily for him, it worked. Oh man, did it ever work! I’d read the first two books and loved them, and I’d been eagerly awaiting the third. At last, the library called. The copy I’d reserved was in! I started reading and realized something was very wrong. The first books, while definitely strange and a bit disturbing, had been firmly based in reality, the mysteries being solved through the use of deduction and forensic science. In this third book, with every page I turned, it became clearer to me that the author had left his chosen genre behind, in favor of a more horror/supernatural genre that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Bringing the woo-woo factor into a story like that ruined it for me.

Sometimes that happens, I suppose. Maybe he meant to do that all along, and I just missed the signs. Maybe the signs had been too lowkey, too subtle for me. Whatever it was, I finished the book with a deep sense of dissatisfaction. The author had pushed his story into a genre I’m far more familiar with, yet it didn’t feel comfortable or correct for those characters to have to function in a world like that. I almost wonder if the author had always intended to write urban horror, and just didn’t know how to start. I’m all about experimenting across genre lines, but not when the experiment grabs the character, holds a gun to his head and forces him to do and say things he never would have considered prior to this book. Right now, I find myself torn between hoping the next book explains it all in rational, real-world terms, and not wanting to bother reading it at all.

Have you ever read something that took a wild left-turn in the middle, changing into something new and different that you weren’t expecting? If it worked for you, tell me why. If it didn’t work, you can tell me about that, too. But please don’t list the title/author of books that disappointed you. I’m not in favor of dissing anyone publicly.

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4 comments to What Was This Book About Again?

  • I’m with you, Miz Misty, about not listing author or title. But, yeah. Been there read that. And it was really disappointing. That is why I write under more than one name, to keep from disappointing fans. I still have fans of Gwen Hunter who come to me and say, “I read one of your Faith Hunter titles. Why are you writting that weird stuff???”
    Ummm. Cause I’m a writer and weird stuff lives in my head…
    Faith Hunter (I think)

  • I have definitely found myself in that place. I was just tripping along and realized that the book I was reading had completely changed from earlier incarnations of the series, which I actually enjoyed.

    In that case, it seemed to me the author went from telling an epic-quality story, to exploring some newfound personal philosophy on life, culture and economics, and throwing some dress-up clothes over it so it resembled a story while it was explored. Plot took a back seat to pages and pages of ideological speeches. Even though I’d purchased the books as a set, I’ve never bothered to continue on.

  • Faith said, “Cause I’m a writer and weird stuff lives in my head…”

    Truer words were never spoken! Sometimes I wonder how my head hasn’t exploded yet…

  • I don’t know if this counts, but I have had jacket previews diliberately mislead ( I felt ) about the story. I read the jacket and think, “Hey this sounds good.” Then I get into the story and find out that the jacket described something trvial to the main plot of the book.

    In my opinion, the book would have been better if it focused on that subplot rather than on what it did. Maybe a later editor thought that too but they did not want a complete rewrite done to accomplish it?