Monday, May 9, 2016
When You Hate That Book That Everyone Loves
This book - a newish book, 2014 or thereabouts - was recommended on io9.com, which is where I've recently been getting my recommendations. It's also on the shortlist for the UK's biggest SF book award. So I bought it. And I read it. And it was bad.
Not Eye of Argon bad. But childish. With paper-thin characters and a plot that was picaresque at best. The best way to sum it up is "It's the future, and everybody is really, really nice." The author seems petrified of conflict. When characters have problems, they just talk things out and everything gets better. (Also, war is bad, and if you're in love, then your species shouldn't matter.) So if you're suffering from PTSD and you're afraid that any fiction you read will be a "trigger," then this is the book for you.
To be clear, I understand and support the idea of comfort fiction. I couldn't have gotten through childhood without P.G. Wodehouse, Susan Cowper, and Josephine Tey. But this book has the kind of problems that most writers struggle with in Year One of their careers. And everybody loves it.
So are they crazy, or am I? Have I wasted years trying to make believable characters? Are plots that actually extend across the length of the book just unnecessary? Is all that "writer's craft" stuff simply bullshit?