Monday, January 4, 2010

First and Last Book of the Decade

I'll start with the last book I finished in 2009. Which was Impossible, by Nancy Werlin. This was the first book I've read by Werlin, and I think I'm going to pick up another, for comparison. I grabbed Impossible because of the premise- a paranormal story revolving around an ancient curse hidden in the lyrics of Scarborough Fair. This was a song my sixth grade teacher made the whole class learn, and I thought it was fairly depressing even as an eleven year old. So I thought I would connect pretty sharply with a story that basically parallelled my initial reaction to the song.

Werlin does have a great concept here, but overall the story seemed to suffer from something I see a lot of in YA, especially girl-centric YA- Perfect Characters. Not just the MC, Lucy, but the whole, entire human supporting cast. The only real baddie is the supernatural villain. Everyone else, from the saintly foster parents to the obvious eventual love interest, are just unbelievably, overwhelmingly Kind and Understanding. Even the rapist isn't really a bad guy. (when there would have been plenty of ways to make the story more interesting without the rape, actually)
There is also a lot of scrambling in the beginning of the book to set up the plot.
Overall, it's a romance, and a fantasy, so I give the characters a little bit of a pass, but it would have been refreshing to see at least one negative reaction, other than a lot of worrying that everything will reach it's inevitable happy conclusion.

Impossible is by no means the only book I've read lately with characters that seem a wee bit too nice.
In fact, here's a short list of the Random Writing Trends I noticed in the past 6 months or so.

Fraternal Twin Protags.
This is mostly in MG, but last summer it seemed like every other book I picked up featured a set of brother/sister twins at the helm.

Super Short Chapters
Like, less than a page. These are everywhere. Of course, that's not new, it just seemed to be in a lot of the new books I've picked up lately.

Super Disgusting Characters
This is for adult fiction, actually. I'm not an especially queasy person, and I like a bit of grit and realism, sure, but I could use less graphic descriptions of aging bodies and "performance" issues among the guys. Yuck.

Now, on to the First Book of 2010, Sarah Dessen's Lock and Key. Which I picked up simply because her books are freakin' everywhere, and yet I've never read one before.
I'm about 50 pages in, the chapters are nice and long, and we're barely into the plot outlined on the back cover, which was essentially nothing.
The Brother In Law is shaping up to be one of those Preternaturally Nice Characters, but the bitchy sister has some potential. We'll have to read on and see just how good this gets...


Kelly said...

I'm so glad to hear someone else felt "meh" about Impossible. I saw it on so many people's "best of 2009" lists that it really made me wonder if I'm off my rocker. Which maybe I am, but not because of how I felt about that book.

I haven't read Lock and Key by Dessen, but I have read 3 others. Then I started The Truth about Forever and had a similar experience where I felt like it was soooo slow to start.

btw, do you track your reads on Goodreads? I'd love to use the "compare" feature on there and see if we have very similar taste. So far, it's looking like it! :)

Kelly at

Lily Cate said...

Oh, I know I should be on Goodreads... but... I already spend so much time reading these dang blogs, and hanging out on the writer sites...

Mary Witzl said...

Uh oh: I hope to God I don't do this, but I have a sneaking feeling I could give my characters a few more fatal flaws. Some people are just born awful and there's not much we can do about it. But when you're writing, there's a real temptation to play all-omnipotent and make everybody nice guys. Or nicer guys, at the very least.

And I definitely have to hang out on Goodreads.