Then something happens. It might happen all of a sudden or gradually, but at some point you realize that the book has done something you don’t like.
Maybe it’s arguing against a social issue you feel strongly about or using a plot device that irritates you. Maybe you found out something questionable about the author. The bad thing starts to grow in your mind until it becomes more important than anything else. You try to remember what you liked about the book, but it’s dead to you now.
Book dealbreakers. They’re real, and it sucks when they show up in something you would otherwise enjoy. I ran smack into one of mine yesterday and I’m still mad about it. I wanted to like that book, and now I’m going to be returning the 2nd in the series to the library without opening the cover.
Book dealbreakers are also very personal – what one reader hates, another might like, or at least find forgivable. I reached out to some of my fellow Rioters and bookish friends to get a sense of what other people saw as their book dealbreakers. Here’s some of what we came up with:
1. Casual treatment of sexual assault or rape. (This is the one I encountered yesterday).
2. Books that ignore the existence of LGBTQ relationships.
3. Books that characterize any LGBTQ characters as inherently untrustworthy/up-to-no-good.
4. Books with female characters who cry at the drop of a hat, especially if the author is male.
5. Inappropriate treatment of the issue of suicide.
6. When a plotline fails to make logistical sense.
7. Minor but basic factual errors, especially in nonfiction.
8. Books that repeatedly substitute obscure words for standard ones (“orb” for “eye,” “tresses/locks/mane” for “hair,” “tome” for “book).
9. Sudden romance: when two characters who have no chemistry and who have not appeared to be developing feelings for each other suddenly announce that they are in love.
10. Excessively prolonged romantic tension: when you know two characters are meant to be together and they should know it too but they refuse to do anything about it.
11. When a book ignores basic known facts about the world for the sake of a plot.
12. Oversimplification of mental illness.
What about you, readers? What are your book dealbreakers? What do you do when you encounter one?
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