Book reviews and lazy plots

In the past year, I volunteered to read a book from a local writer, and responded to three separate cold reviews from authors I did not know.

What is a cold review? It’s what I’ve decided to call how writers have been reaching out to me on Twitter for a review. In the past year, three writers have approached me on twitter through private messages and asked if I would read and review their books. “Cold review” because I don’t know who they are and they don’t know who I am, much like ‘cold calling’ sales people do. They ask if I would read and review their already published book. For the first two who reached out, I said, “Yes!” and “Sure.” For the third, I stated I would right a review regardless of how good it was. The writer was ok with that.

Also in this list is a general review of a book a local writer wanted reviewed. They reached out on FB to find a few reviews not just one person. I am including that one in this review for reasons that will become obvious later. Names and titles are not being listed as I’m not trying to call anyone out.

Book one:

The first book I reviewed within the past year was written by a local writer I’ve met a few times. I only had one issue with this book. Overall a good book, with a good plot and well written characters. There were some editing errors, but it’s almost impossible to read a book with zero errors, therefore I ignore those and wrote a favorable review. It was a good book despite one issue, which I will go into at the end of this, as it ties into the fourth book.

Book two:

The second book I agreed to review I didn’t end up finishing. The book was published through a small publisher. The pacing was so slow and the characters so completely uninteresting that I gave up maybe 40 pages in and told the writer, sorry, I will not be able to finish.

Book three:

The next book kept reminding me of a much better book a friend of mine wrote. My friend’s book had a clear delineation between “poor” and “rich” areas, where the rich lived in cities in the air, and the poor lived on the streets far below, in the old city. His book was filled with incredible imagery, which still sticks with me years after reading it. The book I tried to review this year, was not. It felt like it was part X of I don’t know how many. I was lost half the time and the formatting was so poor, I wasn’t sure it if was on purpose or not. Sometimes when the narrator spoke, it was in italics, sometimes it wasn’t. There were other formatting glitches, but I can’t remember them. When I was done reading the book, I reached out to the writer and told them I did not like it and stated if I did review the book, it would not be favorable. Then I asked if he wanted me to write it anyway. He did no. So, I didn’t. But I almost wish I had.

Book four:

When the next writer reached out, I told them I was going to review the book good or not, due to my previous experiences. I wish I had just told them I wasn’t going to read it. Or simply ignored the message.

I just finished the fourth book. This is book one of an unknown number. The book was originally published in 2014. The second book has not been published. I have had a hard time getting my second book for my (already written but not edited) trilogy published. I don’t blame the author for the long time in between books. It happens. But, as I am writing a general review of four books and not a specific review for his book, you can probably guess I didn’t like this one either. And you’d be right. I didn’t.

There were two main stories going on, possible three. Therefore, three sets of main characters. And though some of the plot was interesting, it wasn’t interesting enough for me to want to read more. Also, all the characters were typical men/women/evil. Group ‘a’ had three characters. Group ‘b’ had too many to recall. Group ‘c’ has 2 characters, but their chapters were so short, it was almost like they were a mistake.

A catastrophe happens leaving three people alive on an island. Many things happen to put the characters at odds with each other. The man in group ‘a’ didn’t talk to his wife about his fears. And his wife didn’t talk to him either. I find this troupe to be overused and lazy. If you don’t want your characters talking to further the plot, find another reason other than, ‘husband can’t talk to wife because couples don’t talk’.

Also, group ‘a’ had two women. One older, one younger. The older kept carefully seducing the younger. As the older was in a position of power, the younger went along with what the elder wanted, regardless of her own hesitation and doubt. So, rape… Rape is not exclusive to man over woman. It happens in all situations.

 The main man in group ‘b’ was an abuser and a rapist. That’s it. That’s all he was. Which is also lazy. A character whose worse traits are physical abuse and rape is overused and needs to be removed from literature.

This is where I go back to book one. The largest issue I had with that book? The main character, a woman, kidnaps another woman, then they have sex in the next chapter when the second woman wakes up. No person in their right mind would have sex with their kidnapper upon waking up from being kidnapped. I did not talk to the writer about this issue, and I left it out of the review, as I did not feel comfortable enough to bring it up.

I have never been raped and hope to go to my grave being able to continue saying that. I believe rape is a lazy writer’s way of showing someone is evil and has control over another. It is unnecessary. Find a more creative way to show a person if fucked up. There are so many, many wonderful ways to show a person is truly evil without rape being used.

That’s been on my mind for a while and I’m doing what I can in my own writing to stay away from lazy plots like those listed above.

For the book reviews, I will sit on the fourth book for a while longer and see if I decide to review it. If I do, I will post that here. For the moment, I can only say, I’m glad it was less than $2 through Kindle.

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