I put a novel down the other day.
It happens all the time to each of us. We start reading a novel, excited for the promise of a good read. Then we get into it and the book doesn’t grab us. We give it a little while to see if it improves. At a certain point, we realize there are too many stories out there to waste time with one that we don’t enjoy. So the book gets laid by the wayside.
My disappointment was that I had really enjoyed the three previous books in the series. The first one had been one of my favorite books I read that year.
The author released three books in the series, but then was dropped by the publisher. There were plans for up to seven books, I believe. The author had a long layoff before a home for book four was found, with a smaller press.
I finally got book four, and I enjoyed the author’s descriptions and certain aspects of the writing from before. Unfortunately there were a lot of problems with the writing. It wasn’t tight. It hopped all around regarding perspective. There was no struggle for the protagonist. He was becoming an alcoholic, but it was muted, and life just went on. There was an overarching conflict through the first three books that was alluded to once in the first 150 pages, but it was never introduced to grab continuing readers.
Overall I was very disappointed to give up on the book. I wanted to see the author succeed, but I couldn’t keep on. I was lost.
I’ve been pondering this since I put it down. What caused the author to lose me as a reader when I had been hooked before?
Here’s a few thoughts in random order (meaning as they pop into my brain):
- The author was with a smaller publisher that didn’t give him good editorial support.
- The author lost track of the story flow with the time layoff.
- I’ve changed as a reader and just don’t jive with this author anymore.
- The story wasn’t that good originally.
I’m leaning toward #1 being the major cause, with #3 being secondary. I know some of the stuff that is bothering me are things only a writer would probably notice. The author loves to use a lot of similie and metaphor to bring points across. Used sparingly it works, but when he does it all the time it makes it hard to read. I thnk the book loses track of some of the central conflict as well.
It is too bad. I might try to finish it, but I have an ever growing to-be-read pile. I wish I loved this latest book, but I am trying to take lessons from it all the same.
What about you? Are there any series you stopped reading because the author lost track of whatever made the books good? How can authors avoid this trap?