Ask Us Anything #3: Books That Angered You The Most
Every week or so on Bibliodaze, we’ll be throwing a question out to our contributors for them to answer. That question can be from you or it can be one the editors have pulled from their jumbled minds. If you’d like to ask us a question, just leave us a comment or ask us on Twitter. Ask us anything! Within reason, of course. Don’t be creepy.
What’s the angriest or most upset/offended you’ve ever been by a book?
Ceilidh: Oh joy, I’ve set myself a question that’s a tad difficult to answer succinctly. There’s been one instance where I actually threw a book against the wall twice in a fit of rage over what I’d just read (it was Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, for those wondering: a book where a woman is stalked, demeaned, left to fear for her life and held against the bed by a man gloating over how he could kill her – and he’s the romantic hero). Yet that’s not the book that angered me the most. I consider Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck to be the worst book I’ve ever read, both in terms of content & style, but it’s still not the book that drove me into the biggest rage. That honour falls to Thoughtless by SC Stephens. I can handle the central romance being based on adultery, although I don’t find it especially romantic. I can even tolerate a touch of the tortured alpha male trope, although its appeal alludes me. What I couldn’t handle was the straight up No Means Yes romanticising of an abusive jerk who treats the supposed love of his life like a whore (his words) and forcibly drags her into a car to basically rape her. It boiled my blood. The only reason I didn’t throw the book at the wall was because I read it on my Kindle.
Miranda: XVI by Julia Karr. The entire premise was iffy to begin with, but it could have been well done. But instead we got slut shaming, a girl who gets raped and murdered because she was flirtatious and “easy”, and a failed take on the media’s influence on female sexuality.
Special shout out to Anna and the French Kiss for condoning cheating and yet more slut-shaming and female cattiness, and Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas for using the psycho/dead lesbian tropes.
Megan: The obvious answer for me would be some conservative, tea party-thumping book by Ann Coulter or Ted Cruz or someone similar. Instead, I wanted to highlight something else that pisses me off – the demonization of mental illness. If you saw my review for Wicked Games by Sean Olin, you might have seen how it became a rant about how a girl’s untreated and seemingly nothing to worry about mental illness became a source of wicked deeds, that she was evil because she was sick. So to keep this answer short, treat mental illness like some way to make your villain a villain and that’s it, and you will piss me off.
Tez:It’s too obvious to list books that include various -isms and -shaming, so my mind skipped over them completely. Thus my beefs relate to conflict: namely lack thereof. A “story” without (or with very little) debate is NOT a story – it’s just stuff that happens. Even in romance, when your characters are guaranteed a happily-ever-after or a happy-for-now, there MUST be clashing views and lots of them! And not contrived drama, where there are misunderstandings and everything would be sorted if the characters actually farking talked to each other.
Lauren Dane’s Brown Family series. Laid Bare was my first ménage read, and while I liked it then its problems bother me now. I tried the other three novels in the series, and they were more boring on the conflict scale. Here’s what we can learn from the series:
-If you’re going to have a ménage relationship, make sure everyone is included legally.
e.g. Erin and Todd are married, and they’re in a relationship with Ben. Not even the author knows who Alexander’s biological dad is (and she’s never going to reveal who is), so why is Todd listed as the father on the birth certificate? Since Erin and Todd are married, it would’ve evened things up for Ben to be listed legally as the dad. The three PRETEND they’re all equal, but the legal actions suggest otherwise.
-The most traumatic events should happen DURING the novel as the MAIN plot – NOT earlier. Using them in flashbacks doesn’t excuse you.
e.g. Adele’s murder, Elise’s abusive first husband, Ella’s abusive ex, etc.
-What’s the worst thing that could happen to your character? MAKE IT HAPPEN. Not just the threat, but the actual thing.
e.g. Adele’s killer could have been paroled, Elise’s in-laws could’ve legally gained sole custody of their granddaughter, etc.
-If there is opportunity for conflict, you bloody well better write it!
e.g. Alexander’s bio-dad (see above).
Yes, we all agree that who raises you is more important than whose DNA you have. But that should be realised at the END of the story – NOT skipping over the potential debate entirely. Without conflict you don’t have a story, and that’s just farking insulting to readers. Think we can’t handle conflict? You don’t want to write it? Not cool, y’all.
Jeanne: Few things have pissed me off as much as Wildefire by Karsten Knight. I was offended me both as a Polynesian woman and reader. Not only is this “best selling YA fantasy” poorly written, but it’s rife with racism and sexist tropes. I’m sick and tired of white authors appropriating non-white cultures to give their mediocre books an “exotic” twist. Based on the plethora of errors in the book, Knight couldn’t even be bothered to use Wikipedia, much less any in-depth research into the many cultures he uses in this series. Even the simplest details are so hilariously wrong it’s embarrassing.
FYI, Mr. Knight pineapples do not grow on trees.
The cherry on top of this shit sunday is when Knight was asked why he chose to write about a Polynesian character he responded with:
“…I drank a lot of Hawaiian punch while I was growing up, so in some ways, I’m an honorary Polynesian.”
The publisher should be ashamed they wasted paper and ink on this trash.
Catherine: Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick. I only managed to read about half of it before I quit. I reviewed it years ago, and here’s an extract of what I wrote:
“In Crescendo, slut-shaming is used in lieu of actual characterisation (apart from an inability to say the most ridiculous, pathetic and cliche attempts at insults) to ‘show’ the reader that Marcie is a character we are not supposed to like. It seemed every time Marcie appeared or was even brought up in discussion, we were reminded of how horrible she was through comments about her sexuality – she’s called a ho, implied to offer sexual favours to boys in exchange for payment, and we’re repeatedly reminded of how terrible she is compared to the pure and virginal Nora because of the way she acts around guys, through the way she dresses and more.”