Having received two negative responses to a couple of reviews I’ve written, I thought I’d start a new thing on my blog and discuss what some of my pet peeves in books are; although these can also be applied to other forms of media. These might be things that are style choices and other people are fine with… but for me, personally, can be real deal breakers in whether I like a book or not.
Feel free to share some of your own pet peeves!
- Switching POV. This isn’t actually so bad in third person books, but it’s particularly bothersome when a book switches between either two (or more) first person perspectives… or first and third person. I’ve thought about it a lot and I think the problem is not being able to get to know the characters when it changes so much. Plus, the characters are rarely established to the point where I can automatically tell whose head the narration is in. Unless it’s clearly marked (s0metimes not even then), I’m quite often saying, ‘Why is Bob referencing something only Pete’s supposed to know…? Oh, wait…’ (Disclaimer: Not necessarily names of real characters).
- Information dumping. I enjoy learning about worlds and characters… but as the character/s experience the world. If there are several paragraphs (or sometimes several pages) detailing the background of the world/characters… I tend to switch off. On a personal level, I find it really boring.
- Insta!love/love at first sight/soulmates. I have read exactly one book series where soulmates has been handled well. One. Bear in mind, I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember… and I’m now 30. The books on here and on Goodreads are actually a fraction of the amount I’ve read over the years. And not much is more irritating than when a character decides he/she/undisclosed loves another person after or during their first meeting. I mean… real love is about knowing someone’s faults and loving them in spite of those. After a first meeting, how are you going to know that someone is a morning or evening person? That they snore? That their guilty pleasure is Power Rangers? (Raises hand. Yes. I’m the latter).
- Love triangles/squares/etc. I have never liked these. Why? Most of the time, it’s a young, attractive woman trying to decide between two guys. And most of the time, said two guys are one extreme or the other – the nice guy and the dark, brooding bad boy. Add to that the fact that, most of the time, every other character takes an inordinate amount of interest in said character’s love life (even when the fate of the world hangs in the balance), I’ll be eye-rolling long before the end.
- Ridiculously over-powered characters/ones who the rules are broken for. In fan fiction, characters like this are known as Mary Sues (female) and Gary Stus (male). These are the characters who are able to defeat overwhelming odds without even breaking a nail… and with very little training to go along with that. Or, you know, none. The character who’s a vampire who can walk in the sun when every other vampire can’t. The character who’s the one every bad guy obsesses over. I’m not saying that characters shouldn’t have gifts… but as an aspiring writer who reads everything I can get my hands on, not much annoys me more than the perfect character who’s the centre of the world and everyone else is just there to look pretty.
I think there are probably more… but off the top of my head, these are the ones that have cropped up recently in what I’ve been reading. I’ll be interested in knowing what other people think.