What’s wrong with me?
Out of the five novels I’ve read over the past month, I would only recommend one of them to friends. (The one I really liked was A Cast of Stones, a fantasy novel from Bethany House.)
- A thriller from a multi-bestselling author. I would rate it as good, but not great. It certainly didn’t stick with me. Yeah, it moved along okay and the writing was strong, but nothing distinguished it from any number of thrillers I’ve read.
- A suspense story from a multiple award winning novelist. Suspense means we’re not supposed to know what’s going to happen, right? Not much of that in this novel.
- A modern day mystery novel from a major publisher. Slow. Tedious. Lots of telling and not so much showing. Language that would have been swell and marvy and keen in 1950, but not so much today. Plus I didn’t care about any of the characters.
- A historical novel a friend of mine raved about where the author seemed to use an exclamation point on every other sentence! Maybe he didn’t use it that often! Maybe it just seemed like he did! Maybe that distracted me from the story! I’m not sure! I think it was the predictability that lost me.
You see why I ask what’s wrong with me? Award winning, bestselling, friend-endorsed, major publisher novels. These weren’t self-pubbed vanity books. Am I too picky? Maybe. Probably. But there are certain things that make a novel great for me:
- Interesting, compelling characters that surprise me
- Writing that isn’t riddled with clichés
- A plot that takes twists and turns I don’t always see coming
- A innovative, unique theme that makes me think about the novel weeks, months, and even years later
I’ve been told my own novels aren’t fluffy reads. That’s good and that’s bad, because some people want to read light. And the four books that didn’t make my fresh list were on the lighter side. So likely the fault is in me, rather than the novelist.
So talk to me. What do you like in your novels? Do you like both fluff and non-fluff? What do you look for in a novel? And what do you try to avoid?