Saturday, June 12, 2010

Judging A Book By Its Cover

Have you ever bought one book in the middle of a series thinking you could read it as a separate entity; then found out you needed the rest of the series?  And then, when you went to the expense of purchasing the other books, you found out that the whole series was a total waste of your time?  I bet you have done this at least once in your life; and if you haven't, you will.

Years ago, I bought 'Arthur' by Stephen Lawhead.  I was in high school and loved the Aurthurian Legends; and still do.  But it was nothing without the other books.  So, once I was older and had the money, I ordered in the other books.  However, the first two books of 'The Pendragon Cycle' were fantastic!  They were the absolute pinnacle of sci-fi fantasy and how brilliant this author is!  However, once I cracked the cover of 'Arthur' and got about a quarter through it, I found it slowed down into a lull and stayed there... it got boring.  So, I started it again... and again, the lull was in the same place and again it bored me.
So, one of my friends - who reads faster than I do - offered to read the series for me.  He said he'd find out if it's just me or if the series really did have a problem.  Recently, he brought them all back saying that he was unable to finish 'Arthur'; so he skipped it and tried the other two or three books ahead of it.  However, they were just as boring and slow.  He told me that the main problem was Merlin; and that he didn't turn out to be the all-powerful magician legend had made him out to be.  My friend told me that he seemed to whither and hide whenever there was a battle afoot and pray too much instead of working the magics like he was taught to (like his name meant in Welsh). 

So, this five-book series has turned me off Stephen Lawhead as an author; which got me thinking... who in the writing world has written a book so bad that you haven't tried reading their works again?  And why?


  1. I'm sorry you've had that experience. As someone trying to become an author, I hope I don't write anything that is so bad that the rest of my writing loses readership.

    I took a class in fiction writing in college which had a part where we'd critique each others' stuff. At least one or two of my short stories had a lot of bugs (not enough action to balance out the dialogue, not enough physical descriptions, etc.) in it, and I had trouble working out said bugs on a deadline. I was worried that all of my potential as a writer would be lost due to so many weaknesses in my writing.

    At least when I did Nano Wrimo in November, I didn't have to worry so much about quality as I did about getting in at least 50,000 words. This month, I'll have to edit like crazy so that it'll be ready for a free manuscript copy by the end of the month, making especially sure that there's nothing in there that I wouldn't want my dad to see. (He's going to want to see the novel, and there is the possibility of my being in the hot seat over different details, why I chose the plot that I did, etc.)

  2. The fortunate thing about this is that it hasn't turned me off reading trilogies or saga as a whole. I just love reading those kinds of books.

    So, even if I'm not into Stephen Lawhead anymore, I do enjoy reading other genres and authors just the same.

    I missed out on Nano Wrimo in November. However, I find trying to write that much so stressful; so I stick to what I know with my writing... and I take so long to edit; and even then I'm not happy with my work.
    I wish you luck with your writing. And hey, if you're worried about what your Dad's going to say, I reckon if it'll shock him, it's gotta be good! (but then, I like to shock people with my work..:P).

  3. I had that experience with P.C. Cast. I read Marked and was so turned off by her that I refuse to read anything else she has written. Christopher Paolini had the same effect on me--he stole so much from other novels for Eragon that it kind of made me sick to read it.

    Do you watch the BBC version of Merlin? I know it's not accurate to Arthurian legend, but I think the show is super fun so I like it anyway!

    Anyway, I dropped by because I saw that you were interested in my event, Book Read 'Round the World. If you would like to participate, I have the signup posted at the above link. I am definitely in need of an Australian blogger so I'd love it if you are able to sign up! I am also trying to arrange a special giveaway for people who participate in the event! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to e-mail me or contact me on my blog or through Twitter (@bowlieb).

  4. Carin: Yes! I do watch Merlin. It's a fun and great show. Being into the magics myself, I know what might have to do before he does it; and sometimes that can get a little boring. But otherwise, how young Merlin handles things is very well done!