A Week of Awful Books – Day 2

Today, we continue our journey of awful reads by talking about genre. Genre labelling can seriously impact how a book is received. Fantasy. Paranormal Romance. New Adult. Sci-Fi. Dystopian Fiction. Literary. Chick Lit. Etc. Marketing can seriously influence who reads or avoids any given book it. I’m not super influenced by classifications; I like variety, but there are some I try to stay about from. New Adult is one of those, turning into a wasteland of awful before it even has the opportunity to become a real genre. But I’ll talk about that more later this week.

Apparently, there are some classifications I’ve never heard of- Christian Fiction is one of these. And it’s one that I would normally race from like an Olympic marathoner, and I’m not a runner. This classification instantly makes me think of the rapture and crazy stuff like The Left Behind series.
I’ve never read these, and I won’t be, but I’ve seen clips of the 2001 movie featuring 80’s tv heart throb, Kirk Cameron. These are not in my wheelhouse – at all! However, I am a fan of procedural crime drama (books, tv, movies) and that is how I came to own – that’s right own not borrow from the library – today’s horrendous read.

The Pawn (The Patrick Bowers Files #1) by Steven James
I was suckered in by the cover! I’d just finished The Rook by Daniel O’Malley (which I loved), and I having a love affair with the principles of chess being woven into book plots. I was looking through the cheapy-cheap books for my Kobo and came across the cover for The Pawn. Looks interesting. Oh, and it’s a mystery FBI profiler novel – even better. And look, it’s part of a series. And all the books in the series are named after chess pieces. Bonus, it’s on sale. I have to own this book. So, I bought it, added it to my library, and started a totally different book. I got back to this one several months later, so I needed a reminder of what it was about.

One of the things I don’t like about ebooks is that there’s no back blurb that I can reference. This led me to my ever trusty Goodreads where, upon loading, I noticed a classification I hadn’t seen in anything leading up to me buying this book – Christian Fiction. Uh oh. My hackles instantly rose. I felt like a cornered animal. I would not have bought this book had I known. But I spent money on it. I added it to my inventory. I must read it now. One does not buy books and then never even open them – right? Right!? So, I checked out some reviews, shelved my trepidation, and dove in.

Much to my surprise, it wasn’t the genre that was the problem. It was the awful prose and unrealistic characters. I only made it to the 10% mark in this book, and that was a struggle. The only reason I kept trying was because reviews had raved about how devious the villain was. I love me a good villain.
The real villain – the writing. It stabbed me directly in the darkest depths of my reader’s soul (that’s the kind of stuff I’m talking about). Did an editor even glance at this book? There were so many unnecessary sentence breaks and adjectives that you had to unfocus your eyes to find the important words – like those 3d pictures I could never make work.
(Apparently, this is one of these things: Jupiter, Flowers, Saturn, Rainbow, Star. I have no freaking idea)
Worse than that was the way the author wrote down to his readers. Insulting! The protagonist was such a pompous douche. The scene that finally did me in? When James wants the reader to believe that the police would have missed the fact that a murder victim was wearing an engagement ring and wouldn’t have tried to locate the fiance or even ask the family who it was until Bowers genius decided it was important.
A writer might have gotten away with that a few decades ago, but in this mystery/psychological thriller saturated market, that’s just disrespectful.

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