The Mountains of Instead

Championing fiction as an escape from pandemics, politics and bad TV.

Books I Thought I'd Love But Ended Up Hating or GAAAR!

This post is inspired by The Book List over at I'm Lost in Books

After last week's list Books I thought I'd Hate But Ended Up Loving, I was rather hoping we'd get the chance to reverse the issue.  Before I start, you should know that these comments aren't objective, or measured, or calmly written.  They are my own personal opinion (and boy, have I opinion-ed the hell out of them - I loves me a good rant) and you should by all means check out positive reviews of these books or pick them up and opine them yourself...

Carrie Jones

Ok, I loved Need.  Seriously adored it and invested in a copy of it's sequel, Captivate, the day I finished it.  Now, I would like to qualify that I still pretty much liked the overall story that ran through Captivate - and I will certainly read the last in the trilogy, but so much made me go grrrr. And bah. And meh. Firstly, the requisite Hot Young Man, lovely Nick, started to call his beloved "baby" all the time.  Yuck.  It was weird, patronising and seemed totally out of character with the Nick that I had known, loved and swooned over in book one.  Secondly, the constant reference to Zara's blue skin had me envisaging her as an extra from Avatar. I didn't like Avatar.  I understand that these are little things and very much personal preference.  But now comes number three.... some very interesting, new mythology was introduced in Captivate - it was new to me and a bit confusing, I didn't feel that it was particularly well explained.  Neither, it would seem, did the author as she suddenly started to try and explain it using examples from a popular TV show. On more than one occasion. If you feel that your readers are going to be so lost by the plot that you have your characters frantically expositioning Buffy (and all hail the mighty Buffy, but this wasn't a book about slayers or, sadly, Spike) then it's time to re-think....  Saying that, I can't write creatively for toffee, so what do I know.

Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen

Ok, ok... I know that this is a classic and I love the story - I have watched TV adaptations and movies of it repeatedly and it never fails to get right inside my shrivelled up old heart.  Yet I have tried to read the book repeatedly and just hate it.  How many words can you possibly have in one sentence?  I tell you, if you are Jane Austen then the answer is at least 623.  And the inanity of so many of those sentences - God, those women chatter.  No wonder Darcy's so bloody grumpy all the time. And the men?  They just take their leave and sweep out of the room a lot. Can't say I blame them. For me, this is a story that needs to be seen, not read - and there are not many books (in fact, perhaps none other than this) that I can say that about.  For the record, I love Jane Eyre, Northanger Abbey, Wuthering Heights and Rebecca so am not against classics in general.  Just this one.  

PC and Kristen Cast

I just bought this a couple of weeks ago.  I fancied a new vampire story, the blurb looked good and the first couple of pages seemed fun so I picked it up and took it home.  Big mistake.  While the main character was generally well written, her constant asides and judgemental opinions not only seemed out of keeping with her smart persona, but stank of authors using their character to air their own personal views on the world.  While some of the issues that they brought up are worthy of addressing (teen sex/drugs/alcohol), the way in which they did it was so snide and overly pious that I found myself getting angrier and angrier, especially as they were all voiced in rather laboured, try-hard "teenspeak".  The point at which our heroine touts her "don't procreate with losers speech" saw me throw the book across the room.  Another thing that really got me going was the endless pop culture references - in 2/5/10 years time is anyone going to care what Jessica Simpson's hair looks like, who Paris Hilton is or if Ashton Kutscher has a thing for older women (which begs the question, does anyone care now)?  I don't think teenagers need to be patronised into liking novels - and I think that there are far more skilled ways in which to get them to relate to your character than sounding like Perez Hilton's nastier cousin.

So there we have it...Don't judge these books by my thoughts, however.  Read them, comment on them and change my mind - nothing would make me happier as I am, in general, a lover of all good stories. And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I must away to a darkened room to lie down and wait for my rage to abate.
I take my leave.


Robby said…
What I love about this is that you're backing up your opinions. You tried and failed to like these and that is fine. Must read P&P!
Splendibird said…
Thanks - and you really should read it. I think that most people probably love it, but I just couldn't, a fact that frustrates me to this day!
Carla said…
I am kind of astonished that you never read pride and prejudice because i am a major jane austen fan girl, but then again i read them a long time ago and have read them again and again. i'm a sucker for the classics. i totally agree with what you said about the marked book though, it just seems like the girl is a bit of a tart, though i have read more of the series, i dont particularly love them in any way. also, i read need and didnt enjoy it that much so we'll see how much i enjoy captivate as i have it waiting on my pile
Cecelia said…
Nice list! I too 'justify' my negative thoughts by explaining what I didn't like and why. I think it gives people a real idea of what your reading taste is, and also whether what is intolerable to you might not even register to them.

That said, I disagree with you on Pride & Prejudice, but you probably expected it. And those other two aren't on my 'must read' list. Thanks for sharing!
Splendibird said…
Thanks for all the great comments. I should qualify - I have read all of P&P twice... not just tried. I want to love it - I just can't :-(
Nomes said…
Oh - I am ashamed of how I just don't get Jane Austen. I feel like I should, but I am bored to tears in her books. We had to do Emma as an high school text -- and it felt torturous...

As for Marked and Captivate. I think I know from the outset they are not my kind of thing - so never even tried, even though they're at my local library.

Great list :)
I am lol-ing at your Jane Austen comment about words in a sentence! I LOVED that book, but it is long and tedious at times.

You didnt ask, but I thought I would share anyway...I wanted to love Beautiful Creatures. Just couldnt get my mind to like Lena. She was so whiney, yes she had a reason, I just got tired of hearing about it.
Jillian said…
Hi, this is Jillian from Random Ramblings. I am trying to contact all the blog's followers.. if you could please read my latest post about the blog's technical problems, I'd greatly appreciate it. You can read the post right here. Thank you so very much!
Stephanie said…
Although I am a Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice fan, your description of P&P is classic! I am laughing out loud. :-)

I am loving your blog title and header. Where does the phrase "mountains of instead" come from?
Splendibird said…
I am so glad that P&P appreciators are being lovely about my post - I was afraid I might get hanged, drawn and quartered...
The Mountains of Instead comes Song VI of W.H. Auden's Twelve Songs. The whole verse goes:

Clear, unscalable ahead
Rise the mountains of instead
From whose cold, cascading streams
None may drink, except in dreams

It always makes me think of a scene from a book and has a real dreaminess to it that I love.
Lauren said…
Excellent post!! You know what? I love P&P... the BBC series. And the book? Aaaargh. Actually at Uni I had to read nearly every Jane Austen novel and the only one I really liked was Emma. I tried to like P&P though, in a just-because-it's-about-the-lives-of-women-instead-of-men-from-this-era-doesn't-mean-it-doesn't-have-value way. But I was bored. And LOL at the 623 word sentence. That's painful.

With Marked, I read it at the height of my vampire obsession, and I liked certain elements a lot. But, I hated all those things you did too. I find that series trashy in a not good way (I like some trash) and although I've read too of them and I would have liked to know what happens next, I just can't bring myself to read another.

I haven't read Need or Captivate yet, but since I'm getting the impression you're going to be one of my book twins, I'm intrigued to see how I go with those.
Splendibird said…
Lauren - Do you know, as I was reading your post I was thinking "Goddamn - this woman is my book twin" so am glad you think so too. You and Carla both - it's spooky.

Also, glad that you agree on P&P - great story, silly writing (now I am going to get shot - I just criticised Jane Austen's writing. Again. Oops). With Marked, I still can't think about it without feeling properly angry - even more so because there were things I liked about it which made the stuff that annoyed me even more annoying.

Will be interested to hear what you think of Need and Captivate - the jury is still out for me on the series, but the last book will have to be pretty good and not mention Buffy to win me over.
Unknown said…
Captivate! I am so with you on that one. I thought it was just me though. I had a horrendous cold when I read Need so I figured I enjoyed it just because I was in the need of something really simple. Now I think maybe it was just not as well written. When a certain character just happens to have a certain ability, I was like oh come off it. Coincidences are one thing but this is like finding out there is a door on Earth that leads to another habitable planet when our oxygen runs out or something. Hope you get my meaning :-)
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