Friday, March 02, 2007

How To Make Me Put Your Book Down

I picked up a book off my shelf the other day that I bought at Barnes & Noble a long time ago. I finally felt in the mood to read it, and things were going along just fine. It's by a New York Times bestselling author and it's set in World War II, so I was pretty sure I'd like it.

Well, I did like it. For awhile.

And then the author pulled something on me that literally had me slam the book shut. Here's the scenario. The main character is about to go out on a secret mission. Granted, I know he's going to make it through because the story is about this main character's son who researches his fathers' past to see what caused him to get a court-martial in the army during the war. Fine and good. I know he's going to survive.

BUT...the author ends the section with the main character writing a letter to his fiancee, telling her that he's going out on this dangerous mission, but not to worry, he'll come out of it just fine. And I eagerly turn the page. Yes, I know he's going to survive, but will he be injured? Near death experience? What?

No worries. The very next paragraph tells me, yes, tells me, that he's just fine and then proceeds to explain how the mission went.

Wait a minute! What happened to the suspense? I felt like I was dangling off a cliff by my fingernails only to discover that there was a nice piece of land inches from my feet. By telling me that he had survived, everything intact, the author effectively wrenched me out of the story. I'll be honest. I haven't picked up that book since I read that. That's how badly it hit me. Do I still want to find out the whole mystery behind the characer's court martial? Sure. And I'll skim through the rest of the book just to find it out, but I won't finish it.

Ever had this happen to you?


  1. that sucks when the author does that. There's been a couple books I've read that turned out that way and it pissed me right off. Have you ever read The life of Pi? I keep hearing more and more about that book

  2. I don't recall anything so obvious :( Sad though, to be let down :(

  3. Too often -- but I need to start analyzing exactly what it is that makes me throw the book against the wall instead of just leaving it on the floor. :D

  4. Argh! That's so frustrating. I'm with you, I'd skim to find out how it ends, but my interest would be long gone.

  5. Unfortunately, I have, and it makes me even more grateful that I have an agent and editor who would never let me get away with it...

  6. What a letdown. If that's your suspenseful hook, you gotta use it, lol. Or not, apparently.

  7. Like Toni, I can't remember anything so obvious. And right now no specific examples - but I know there have been books I've read where I've just closed them because I was pulled out of the story and never bothered opening again.


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