Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bad books: they piss me off

As a writer, I'm naturally critical of other writers. It's a "déformation professionnelle," a result of what I do. A lot of the times I'm awed and humbled by the talent, imagination, creativity and skill of the writers I read.

Lately, however, I've been annoyed by the quality, or lack thereof, of some of the books I've read. Devil May Cry, by Sherrilynn Kenyon, is a case in point. This book is so bad I can't even push myself to finish it. I don't have the stomach for it.

I'm not really a fan of paranormal romance --usually vampires who reform because of a "pure" woman-- but I thought I'd pick up Kenyon's eleventh Dark-Hunter Novel since I'd read and heard that the series had gathered a cult following. Her blurb states that Kenyon "has more than ten million copies of her books in print in twenty-six countries," so I thought okay, this might be worth a try. BIG mistake.

What's to like about this book? The setting? There's none, really, except for a casino in Vegas or the occasional visit to Mount Olympus. The characters? The female protagonist is a mix of Goody-two-shoes and kick-ass bitch (when the story needs it) and the male protagonist is a bitter, hard, distrustful, deep-in-his-soul-hurt ex-god who melts in love with miss Goody-two-shoes in about five minutes. The story? They are fighting an invincible force of demons -- except when they kick the demons' asses-- who will inherit the earth if they're not stopped.

Add to that teleportation, pitiful sex scenes, healing powers, and a bitch-goddess-who-must-not-be -killed, and you have Devil May Cry.

Oh, and did I mention the writing? It's so bad it's an insult to readers everywhere. Unless it's an indication of the expectations of readers out there, which depresses me no end.

But in case you don't believe me, here are a few extracts that might convince you:

"Sin smiled in spite of himself. Her humor should irritate him, but instead he found it a refreshing relief from the seriousness of the situation. Honestly, he couldn't remember any time in his life he'd enjoyed more than this time with her. And all things considered, this had to be the worst part of his existence, since they were only days away from Armageeddon."

"any time in his life"? This ex-god is about nine thousand years old. He's just realized his twin has become a super-vampire monster, his mother is imprisoned lest she destroys the entire world, and the girl's mother is the one who stole his godhood. Hmmm.

"She stuck her tongue out at him in a playful gesture that somehow managed to be adorable on her.

What was wrong with him?

"Just be a spoilsport, why don't you?"

He supposed he was. He wanted to be playful like her, but he wasn't. A the end of the day, he was all about doom and gloom and he couldn't help wondering what his brother was up to.[...]

"...I can't let the Dimme out and I can't allow Kessar to win in this. Whatever it takes. Whoever I have to sacrifice. I will do what I have to to keep them away from the innocent."

She couldn't imagine the strength inside him that would allow him to carry out such a thing. She laid her head on his chest and held him close as she tried to fathom the source of his courage [...] He was incredible."

Had enough yet? I have. Even with that kind of writing, if the story were compelling, I'd keep reading. But it's not. After 150 pages, the action hasn't started yet.

Am I too critical? Don't think so. Getting published, let alone read, is so incredibly hard. There are hundreds --heck, thousands-- of writers who are struggling with awesome material and not getting anywhere because publishers prefer a good bet like Kenyon. I find it more than frustrating that this kind of stuff is getting published while other more deserving authors are bypassed because they're unknowns.

The conclusion in all that? Cult following, my keister. It's "we made money from the first five, so let's farm out more. The suckers will buy them."

Consider this a wake-up call. Censure? Readers are subjected to it every day by these publishers' bad, bad choices.

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