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Friday, July 29, 2011

Goodreads disappoints

I've had my suspicions for awhile about this site - there are often a substantial number of overly gushing reviews for books, that look like they were all written by the author's mother and her friends, or by interns at the publisher's office (I first noticed this with the rhapsodic reviews for a book called Anna and the French Kiss, which is a apparently a transporting experience to read, despite the fluffy title).

I believe I've hit upon another example, with Die For Me by Amy Plum.  My friend Meredith recommended the book on audio because she said the reader was very good (she was), and I read some reviews to make sure it would be generally within my range of interest.  The reviews were largely positve, so I got the book at Audible.  It almost felt like work to finish it, because, frankly, it's such an inferior effort.  Certainly the reviewers are either very easy to entertain or they have another reason for writing what they did.  Of course there will always be a range of opinons on books, as there are on movies, as I have found on imdb.com.  But a quick trip to Amazon highlights several reviewers who immediately point out the book's obvious flaws, most notably that it's a carbon copy of Twilight (see below for an excellent example).

I feel frustrated, because I don't want to waste time on crap - I have so little time to read.  (I like love stories, but not love stories that are just a copy of another book!)  So I'm going to have to read reviews from a wider range of sites from now on, because I just don't trust Goodreads anymore.

Here's a terrific review, called "Dude, Twilight Much?" This covers exactly what I think as well~

We don't need to see the Edward/Bella romance over and over and over again. Seriously. We've already seen it. It was called Twilight. They even made a movie about it. We don't need to see Bella with fallen angels and we don't need to see Bella with zombies. Especially when the fallen angels and zombies are carbon copies of Edward.

Does Vincent have godlike good looks? Check. An aura of danger? Check. Is he a virgin immortal? Check. Has he lived without love for decades? Check. Does he fall in love with our heroine for no apparent reason? Check. Is he a stalker? Check. Doesn't sleep? Check. Has a "family" of other immortals, including a Manic Pixie Dream Girl who becomes the heroine's best friend (Alice/Charlotte), one who resents the heroine and isn't thrilled with their immortal existence (Rosalie/Charles), an older figure who mentors/protects (Carlisle/Jean-Baptiste), an irreverent extrovert (Emmett/Jules), and one who trains the others in battle techniques (Jasper/Gaspard)? Check.

Is Kate an introvert? Check. Has she moved away from home? Check. Does she fall in love with the hero because of his looks? Check. Does she rhapsodize constantly about how gorgeous he is? Check. Does she sound more like a forty year old woman than a sixteen year old girl? Check. Does she have any interests outside reading? In a wild fit of originality, the author does give Kate another hobby: sitting around in museums staring at paintings until she goes into an art trance. Luckily, since that hobby is a Mary Sue author intrusion (Amy Plum is an art historian) and in no way resembles something an actual teenager would do, Kate's still on track to grow up and be Bella.

Kate doesn't understand what Vincent sees in her. Sound familiar? This insecurity is based on the fact that he's the handsomest handsome of all the handsomes there are. Sound familiar? She has a "special" ability most humans don't have. Sound familiar? She fits in great with the immortal "family", most of whom adore her. Sound familiar? She and Vincent have chaste sleepovers. Sound familiar? He's all she thinks about. Sound familiar? He slows her down sexually. Sound familiar? Vincent thinks he should leave her alone for her own good, but is an empty shell without her. Sound familiar? The plot consists of Kate and Vincent falling in love, smooching, and talking endlessly about their relationship until a rushed and predictable action sequence at the very end. Sound familiar? The villain gets to Kate through a family member. Sound familiar?

He's sooooooo good-looking. Sound familiar? You wouldn't believe how good-looking he is. Sound familiar? That Vincent sure is one good-looking dude. Sound familiar? Vincent is perfect. Sound familiar?

Obsessive love. Obsessive love. Obsessive love. Sound familiar?

I'm making a plea to all the authors out there. Please do something original. Please. Is your creativity so MIA that you can't create a fresh love story, believably flawed characters, and a plot we haven't seen five thousand times before? Bonus points if you create a villain who's not a cartoon.

I'll say this about Stephenie Meyer: she explored the whole obsessive teen love thing THOROUGHLY. She used hundreds and hundreds of pages to do this trope, so YOU don't have to replicate it. Do your own thing. Give us a love story that surprises and delights.

Give us something we haven't seen before.



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