Tuesday 21 January 2020

The Cranky Book Reviewer Just Read the Worst Book Ever

Plot Twist: Turns out the Cranky Book Reviewer has a conscience

My mother recently sent me a book with a note that read, and I'm not making this up, "Please read and tell me if I'm correct - this could be the worst ever first book, self published, terrible editing, etc... Or is it just me?"

Photographic evidence that I'm the way I am for a reason.
(image credit: author's own)

I have a few problems with this.* 

First, she knows I'm trying to write a "first book" as well. And I know, that, should I ever send it out for publishing at some point (oh help), not everyone will like it and there will probably be at least one typo or inconsistency because that happens. But what if someone feels this way about my novel-to-be?

Second, she mailed a book to England because she thought it was really awful and wanted me to read it too.

Chris, on the other hand, was just horrified by the whole thing (so, status quo). Not only did his wife's mother mail her a book that she knew was really, really bad, but his wife then read out a selection of extremely poorly-written passages every night, just to share how really, really bad it truly was.

So, yes, I'm going to tear it apart (somewhat respectfully), but I'm not going to reveal the name of the book or the author (unless you contact me and ask me directly), because that would be mean. If  someone were to take the time to absolutely eviscerate my labour of love in a blog post, it would really hurt my feelings, and I don't want to be that terrible person.

(I will, however, share far too many horribly-written passages with you, because why should Chris be the last one in the chain?)

This book is so, so bad, except for one thing

The trouble with trying to review a book that is this bad is that I don't know where to start. I mean, everything about it was bad, except the spelling. The spelling was fine. But the rest was terrible.

Disbelief leads to absolute fear as his heart rips out of his chest. Several sentences later, M---'s heart just shatters. 

Wait, did it shatter after it was ripped out of his chest? Ohhhh...they were metaphors. I see.


It was bad. Comma splicing, run-on sentences, repetitive phrases, semicolons where colons should be, you name it. I'd guess that English is not the author's first language, but where was their editor?

A month passes and I--- is doing extremely well at losing weight. L--- notices that she is slimming down. "I---, you're doing great! I am noticing that you are slimming down."

The beeping of the heart monitor, the wires connecting her to machines, instantly as he sees her, an overwhelming sorrow replaces his numbness.

Plot sequencing

To be technical, the book has no causal chain. It's all, this happened then this happened then this happened and he said this and she said that then he did this. It's billed as a novel, but is very obviously written about the author's father's life (including photos of him). However, most people's lives don't (usually) have natural story arcs and denouements and B-stories. If they do, it's because of careful editing. Of which there wasn't any.

Example, because why-should-I-suffer-alone:

J--- starts her engine and heads for A---. When they arrive, I---'s heart starts to beat very rapidly. She gets out of the vehicle, takes a deep breath, and wipes her tears. J--- walks in with I---, and I--- takes a seat to wait her turn. J--- then walks to the secretary and announces the appointment with Dr. B--- for I--- B---. The secretary nods and tells J--- to go to room 2 with I---, and Dr. B--- will be there shortly. They both walk toward the room. J--- opens the door and tells I--- to go in and sit down; Dr. B--- will be in shortly, according to the secretary.

I mean, really.

The tone

Yes, it's a blow-by-blow recounting of someone's life, but somehow it's also painfully unrealistic and trite. The main characters are obnoxiously in love and are very happy together. We know this because it is stated, repeatedly, that they are very much in love and so happy together.

They all proceed to their bedrooms and even though it is a difficult time, there is a general feeling of peace and contentment in the house.

She suddenly has a feeling that her husband deserves only the best in life since he's such a good person.

Then he kisses her passionately and everyone claps hands with joy to see L--- and I--- so much in love with each other.

The Cranky Book Reviewer isn't having any of this. And neither is Ziggy.
(image credit: author's own)

The dialogue

Oh, the dialogue. My favourites include:

"Why! Why! Why!" L--- asks himself.

On finding out he might have cancer, a character exclaims: "Cancer! That is a lot to take in, considering I was going to ask you to go home because I am feeling fine."

"Paige is in good hands with my little sister, Marie."  The main character says this to his parents when his sister-in-law mentions that her baby was with Marie. He only has one sister, and his parents ... uh... already know her.

To sum up

This was the worst book I have ever read. 

It is valuable as a cautionary tale, however: beware the dangers of self-publishing. The author wrote a 326-page book that they thought was good enough to publish. Their friends and family all supported them. Nowhere along the way did anyone stop this from happening, and because of that, my mother inflicted it on me, and I inflicted it on Chris.

This could happen to me. But now, I have a goal. When I publish my (probably terrible) first novel, I just want one thing. I want it to be better than this book.

/end cranky

(for now)

* My therapist, however, has dozens of problems with this.

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