Little Did She Know

…that my head would implode!!!

I saw something yesterday in an online book excerpt (that shall remain nameless) that set my teeth on edge and it’s still bugging me, so I decided to blog about it and share my irritation with you.  Maybe I’ll feel better once I get it off my chest.

<rant>

As a reader, I despise being tricked or lied to. 

Don’t spring a suprise in the final pages that the protagonist supposedly knew all along but kept secret from the reader.  POV characters cannot keep secrets!  Not if the author is writing in deep POV.  It’s impossible.  That particular book was made even worse because the POV was first person, and I was still supposed to believe that little “secret?”  Nope.  Sorry.  It doesn’t work, and I refuse to read that author to this date.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved Sixth Sense.  I loved going back to watch the whole movie and seeing all the little clues.  If you do that as an author and give me those little clues to track and decipher, then I’m one happy camper.  I love tracking the trail of bread crumbs.  (Don’t ask me how many Robert Jordan books I read trying to figure out which sister in the Tower was actually one of the Forsaken.  Don’t even get me started about Jon Snow in George R.R. Martin’s series, because if he’s only yanking my chain, I’m going to be really pissed.)

I don’t want you to tell me the heroine is sooooo smart, only to watch her stumble around in the snowy woods with no coat in the middle of the night without so much as a flashlight even though she knows a serial killer is stalking her, all because she heard a noise.  Surely we’ve learned that lesson from Scary Movie 1, 2, …10…haven’t we?  At least in those movies it was FUNNY and not irritating.

My latest peeve:  I despise being treated like I’m stupid.  The biggest slam to a reader’s intelligence is the “little did she know” trick.  Like I’m too stupid to figure out delicate foreshadowing, so I must be clubbed over the head with “little did she know, but the man she was kissing would kill her before dawn.”  Or “she had absolutely no idea that he was a serial killer.”

If she doesn’t know, how can the reader know if the author is handling POV appropriately?  This is author intrusion and I can. not. stand it.  It absolutely drives me bat-shit crazy, even worse than blatant head hopping.

Give me the unease souring her stomach, the chill clawing down her spine, the hair crawling on her nape, something, but don’t give me “little did she know that danger approached.”

</rant>

Nope, I’m still irritated.  Needless to say, I won’t be buying that book.  (At least it was only an excerpt–think how furious I’d be if I had actually PAID to be irritated!)

What’s one of your reader peeves?

7 thoughts on “Little Did She Know

  1. Yep…that’s a BIG peeve! I’m annoyed by the basics…really poor editing, those TSTL “heroines” and, really, anything that makes me stop reading (the WTF moments) and have to go back and check something.

  2. Do I need to be apologizing right about now? I have a confession to make, I don’t for the most part read exerpts. If it’s really good, I want to read the rest of the book then, because most times I will forget what I was looking for when I actually get to the bookstore. :roll:
    P.S. And yes, you do have me curious as to the title of whatever exerpt brought this on.

  3. My hugest pet peeve? “I hate you, you beast! Now ask me to marry you so I can admit I loved you all along!”

    Seriously. I mean, a talented and skillful writer can make me enjoy even that, but seriously. I can stand initial dislike. And I love distrust. Good conflict then. But I hate you until the plot requires me to love you? Geez!

  4. My pet peeve? Thinly disguised sermons. People are going to write about what they think is right or wrong, and they’re going to have moral stances–you can’t write in a vacuum, after all—but don’t use your book to shove your ideas down my neck. If the character takes the same stand you do, fine, but make your plot a logical extension of the character’s stance, not an example of some sermon you want to preach under the guise of telling a story.

  5. One of my biggest peeves is when an author takes the bloody rampage too far. That’s why I set aside
    the Martin books. He took his hatchet to so many main characters in the first book, and was on the same
    path in the second book. It’s much too unsettling to me to keep doing that. I lose the plot and the
    reason for all the death much too quickly.

    Friends constantly tell me to go back and give it another go. But I got to the point that every time a new
    character came along, I was waiting for him or her to be killed off. That severely dulled my interest.

  6. MsValerie, I’m with you on the WTF moments. Hate ’em!

    Ann, not at all. This was a published book and the entire excerpt read like a clunker, so my annoyance level was already high. If you ever did “little did she know” I don’t remember it! I know I did it once or twice myself a long time ago.

    Oh, Sis, I hate those sort of books too. “I hate you!” for 399 pages and “I loved you all along” on page 400. Gag.

    Cheryl, I guess I haven’t read too many “Sermon” stories yet but that would bug me too.

    Travis, you should read Martin’s third book in that series. Bloodiest wedding ever. I’ve joked that I can’t even remember if any of the original characters are still alive (they are). Martin taught me how to kill even the most beloved character. I love that no one is safe in his books. Absolutely no one.

  7. What you said and what Valerie said. I hate moments that just throw me out, it’s usually poor editing – something wasn’t integrated earlier in the book as well as it should have. And poor POV handling. I read my early stuff and it’s SO awful with POV but my later stuff – I can’t remember when I “got” it but now it drives ME batty to read poor POV.

    There is ONE book I enjoyed that the first-person heroine had a secret, and yes it was a matter of withholding info, but the clues were there and it tied up SO nicely and everyone got what they deserved – Patry Francis’s The Liar’s Diary.

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