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Bad Books: Fit Only to Kindle Fire

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Posts

  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Let's get to twerk! The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    The first books I read where Chronicles of Narnia and the Bible, then Harry Potter really turned me on to reading and writing. Now I read McCarthy and Faulkner and Shakespeare, majored in English and am doing a writing masters. I also enjoy reading Stephen King every now and then.

    Young Adult novels are never going to be great literature but they are a great starting point and reading them is better than reading nothing.

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  • ThirithThirith Registered User regular
    I'm having problems with just how *binary* the discussion here seems to be, where there's *good* literature on the one side (with a distinct dearth of precision or even examples; are we talking about the likes of The Ambassadors, Ulysses and Beloved here, or about books like Consider Phlebas, Lord of the Rings and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy?) and *bad* literature on the other (again with little to no distinction), and without acknowledging that a novel can be mediocre to bad in one respect and still engaging, competent and even good in others. More than that, there's little distinction made between very well crafted but essentially unchallenging fare and the sort of book that requires an effort before it gives anything back to you. There's an interesting conversation here, but I'm worried that it's buried under a certain snobbism and unwillingness to acknowledge that something you consider crap can be (though doesn't have to be) pretty good at certain things.

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  • CervetusCervetus Registered User regular
    I call bullshit on that attitude, there has always been utter schlock in the literary world. This isn't new, we have a false idea of literature as a great thing of the past because the only things we remember are the Shakespeares and the like. The Victorians alone had a huge industry of crappy dime novels and romances.

    But were those things held as paragons of the form by public consensus?



    I like to think someone literate enough to read a 300 page book written for adults is also literate enough to want something edifying from the experience. I'm almost certainly wrong, I feel.

    Have you ever tried to read Pamela? It's the first book to have the raving popularity that Twilight and The Da Vinci Code enjoyed, and it's pages and pages and pages of a girl whining "But my virtue, my virtue!" as she's kidnapped by a horrid man who attempts to rape her repeatedly, but then she turns him good and they marry. It's awful, and it was published in 1740. People have always liked shit.

    The libertarian response to anything is, "Sure, that works fine in practice, but it doesn't fly in theory."
  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Let's get to twerk! The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    Cervetus wrote: »
    I call bullshit on that attitude, there has always been utter schlock in the literary world. This isn't new, we have a false idea of literature as a great thing of the past because the only things we remember are the Shakespeares and the like. The Victorians alone had a huge industry of crappy dime novels and romances.

    But were those things held as paragons of the form by public consensus?



    I like to think someone literate enough to read a 300 page book written for adults is also literate enough to want something edifying from the experience. I'm almost certainly wrong, I feel.

    Have you ever tried to read Pamela? It's the first book to have the raving popularity that Twilight and The Da Vinci Code enjoyed, and it's pages and pages and pages of a girl whining "But my virtue, my virtue!" as she's kidnapped by a horrid man who attempts to rape her repeatedly, but then she turns him good and they marry. It's awful, and it was published in 1740. People have always liked shit.

    See also the Roman poet Catullus (sp).

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  • sportzboytjwsportzboytjw squeeeeeezzeeee some more tax breaks outRegistered User regular
    Can I do some Belgariad?

    The Belgariad is a series written by David Eddings. Now, David Eddings is dead and a saint and I will not have you bad-mouth him or I will internet-punch you but...

    Let's just say that of the list of sample literary criticisms in the OP, Garion and company end up falling victim to more than one.

    The setting is a magical world where the far-easterners are evil and look a little funny too. This would be a little racist except it was written towards the end of the Cold War, so it's acceptable racism or something. But seriously, instead of orcs and ogres, he has odd Easterners of varying races as the opposing force. The world is "excessively shallow"; most races are stereotypical beyond belief, whether they be warlike, practical, or stupid, and they exist to be a tool or plot device for Eddings, not to hold up their section of the world. The few times that Eddings strays from his established stereotypes are some of the more fun moments in the book.

    The characters are held back by the fact that they're basically card-board cut-outs of my first Baldur's Gate 2 party; light on the magic users (but still a few who are insanely powerful) backed up by plenty of beefy fighters and a little healing.

    As for personality; while it seemed like each character was a well-developed person with dreams and hopes when I was 14, it turns out that they may each have 1 dream and 1 hope, so as to give them a quest to accomplish while keeping them fairly simple cardboard cutouts. There are exceptions (wife-drama, etc), but the book is fairly simplistic in this regard.

    Next, the plot. I'll probably spoil some things here, so if you have problems with me ruining 30-year-old stories, here is your "shut up and change posts" point.


    The plot is the basis of 35% of all video-games. A boy is whisked away in the night by his caretaker aunt after a few odd occurences throughout his mostly happy childhood. The farm blacksmith comes along, they meet up with the Thief and the Warrior, and adventures are had. Sure enough, our hero is the Chosen One, and has to bear a tremendous responsibility of defeating the evil god in a faraway land.

    Another negative point that I'm going back up a few lines to insert; duex ex effects (assuming I'm using the term correctly) seem to happen a lot; "Oh, sweet plot-twist that made everything work out from something we had no idea was coming!" happens sometimes. At age 14, this was amazing. At age 25, not quite so much.

    There is a lot of heavy-handed "evil god and evil easterners," but I don't know if it is necessarily symbolism, or simply inspired by a US-centric view of the world from the late Cold War period. I should mention too, that despite all of this, I was able to read through the books again as an adult (cringing a few times, but whatever) and that they do have some redeeming points. Women, a dwarf and a cripple are all strong, powerful characters. That might seem normal, but it is not particularly reflective of the time period that it was written in. Also, while the themes are pretty generic fantasy, it is good to remember that this is one of the first (modern I guess?) fantasy books, and that it predates LotR (just kidding, jay kay man, jay kay), The Wheel of Time, and Dragonlance, and many other comparably bad-but-popular (and entertaining) fantasy series of the time.

    TLDR; worth a read when you're in your early-to-mid teens, much better than Eragon if you have someone who needs books of that genre, but not as good (I know it's not literature shut up) as something like Harry Potter or Ender's Game.

    I hope I did this right.

    Also, I love David Eddings for being one of the few decent fantasy authors when I was a kid, even if he wrote badly.

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  • elkataselkatas Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    One thing that is typically forgotten in these discussions is how women do process words very differently from men. While I don't want to go into neurological details, it has been discovered that when female reads or hears word, she also processes emotion associated with that word. End result is that reading highly detailed and ambigiously worded book often feels pretty damn good for them. This is why, for example, many women love romance novels while men have hard time even reading single sentence. Men also tend to criticize many pieces of literacy that women like because they don't get same kind of emotional response from reading them.

    elkatas on
    Hypnotically inclined.
  • BlackDragon480BlackDragon480 Bluster Kerfuffle Master of Windy ImportRegistered User regular
    edited March 2012
    Cervetus wrote: »
    I call bullshit on that attitude, there has always been utter schlock in the literary world. This isn't new, we have a false idea of literature as a great thing of the past because the only things we remember are the Shakespeares and the like. The Victorians alone had a huge industry of crappy dime novels and romances.

    But were those things held as paragons of the form by public consensus?



    I like to think someone literate enough to read a 300 page book written for adults is also literate enough to want something edifying from the experience. I'm almost certainly wrong, I feel.

    Have you ever tried to read Pamela? It's the first book to have the raving popularity that Twilight and The Da Vinci Code enjoyed, and it's pages and pages and pages of a girl whining "But my virtue, my virtue!" as she's kidnapped by a horrid man who attempts to rape her repeatedly, but then she turns him good and they marry. It's awful, and it was published in 1740. People have always liked shit.

    See also the Roman poet Catullus (sp).
    I've always loved Catullus' outright vulgarity, and the man did have a great command of Latin, gotta give him props for that.

    Hard to think of an English equivalent, although I suppose John Wilmot comes close.

    BlackDragon480 on
    First they came for the Muslims and we said...NOT TODAY MOTHERFUCKERS!
  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Let's get to twerk! The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    Cervetus wrote: »
    I call bullshit on that attitude, there has always been utter schlock in the literary world. This isn't new, we have a false idea of literature as a great thing of the past because the only things we remember are the Shakespeares and the like. The Victorians alone had a huge industry of crappy dime novels and romances.

    But were those things held as paragons of the form by public consensus?



    I like to think someone literate enough to read a 300 page book written for adults is also literate enough to want something edifying from the experience. I'm almost certainly wrong, I feel.

    Have you ever tried to read Pamela? It's the first book to have the raving popularity that Twilight and The Da Vinci Code enjoyed, and it's pages and pages and pages of a girl whining "But my virtue, my virtue!" as she's kidnapped by a horrid man who attempts to rape her repeatedly, but then she turns him good and they marry. It's awful, and it was published in 1740. People have always liked shit.

    See also the Roman poet Catullus (sp).
    I've always loved Catullus' outright vulgarity, and the man did have a great command of Latin, gotta give him props for that.

    Hard to think of an English equivalent, although I suppose John Wilmot comes close.

    And I'd never knock anyone's enjoyment of it. Just using it as an example of how this idea that literature is degrading is beyond silly.

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  • Linespider5Linespider5 ALL HAIL KING KILLMONGER Registered User regular
    Bogart wrote: »
    To steal someone's argument from a thread years ago (Jeffe? perhaps), there's not a strong link between encouraging habitual reading and a person habitually seeking out edifying literature. As they said memorably, reading Twilight is only likely to encourage reading more books like Twilight.

    Everyone starts reading somewhere, and very few people start reading classics and great literature and only classics and great literature. I read a shitload of genre fiction in my youth, and gradually added more dollops of literature as I got older. I might be an exception to the rule of genre fiction leading to literature, but I imagine a whole bunch of people currently reading literature are the same way. The point isn't that twilight usually leads to nothing but more twilight, but that never reading twilight or anything like it (Lord of the Rings, Hardy Boys, whatever) is even less likely to lead to reading literature.

    That's actually a good topic unto itself. What makes people want better entertainment? In my wild youth I read a lot of old school science fiction -Asimov, Farmer, Herbert, that sort of thing-but I also read the Dragonlance series. Loved those books-I simply loved them. They made such a mark on me for years on in my fiction I thought it was necessary to break each chapter into a series of longform paragraphs with breaks that cut to other places, and that it was very important that my party (yes, my party) of characters would need to be split into at least two groups along the way.

    Thing is, good genre fiction is an important stage of a literary enthusiast. You can't get to wanting deeper characters, more complex plots, and more unconventional storylines without learning the ropes of those more basic story types. The thing that dazzles you about a book will never be the same again, but the story will remain the same. You have to move forward, finding the characters that go where the others wouldn't, who have bigger demons than the ones that speak darkly in their thorned ramaints, and speak more towards the life you've lived versus the life you want to live, and do justice to both by acknowledging that slaying the dragon doesn't save the day, it just means you've slayed the dragon.

    The problem comes in when people just want more McDonald's all the time rather than deciding, maybe it's time to go to a sitdown place with a seasonal menu where the people making the food have earned a fulltime career out of it.

  • TommattTommatt Registered User regular
    No mention of the evil chicken yet? I'm surprised

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  • BlackDragon480BlackDragon480 Bluster Kerfuffle Master of Windy ImportRegistered User regular
    Tommatt wrote: »
    No mention of the evil chicken yet? I'm surprised

    If you're refering to the Chimes as imagined by Terry Goodkind, then I'm glad there hasn't been a reference yet.

    The less said about The Sword of Truth, the better.

    First they came for the Muslims and we said...NOT TODAY MOTHERFUCKERS!
  • BagginsesBagginses __BANNED USERS regular
    The first books I read where Chronicles of Narnia and the Bible, then Harry Potter really turned me on to reading and writing. Now I read McCarthy and Faulkner and Shakespeare, majored in English and am doing a writing masters. I also enjoy reading Stephen King every now and then.

    Young Adult novels are never going to be great literature but they are a great starting point and reading them is better than reading nothing.

    Honestly, it seems like the main reason YA lit won't produce great lit is that we judge whether something is great lit by how much it panders to old, white sons of privilege. We mock works that talk about growing up or finding one's place in life, but praise rumination of human mortality and the privileged life. Novelty is placed on a pedestal, while Dionysian imitatio and Campbelian storytelling are derided. Stories staring young people are niche fiction, while books starring middle aged to old white men are mainstream.

    I mean, if we want to talk about stupid shit that's inexplicably popular, how about we start with Eat Prey Love.

  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Let's get to twerk! The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    Bagginses wrote: »
    The first books I read where Chronicles of Narnia and the Bible, then Harry Potter really turned me on to reading and writing. Now I read McCarthy and Faulkner and Shakespeare, majored in English and am doing a writing masters. I also enjoy reading Stephen King every now and then.

    Young Adult novels are never going to be great literature but they are a great starting point and reading them is better than reading nothing.

    Honestly, it seems like the main reason YA lit won't produce great lit is that we judge whether something is great lit by how much it panders to old, white sons of privilege. We mock works that talk about growing up or finding one's place in life, but praise rumination of human mortality and the privileged life. Novelty is placed on a pedestal, while Dionysian imitatio and Campbelian storytelling are derided. Stories staring young people are niche fiction, while books starring middle aged to old white men are mainstream.

    I mean, if we want to talk about stupid shit that's inexplicably popular, how about we start with Eat Prey Love.

    Yes, we only like WASP books, like Beloved or Orinoco.

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  • VanguardVanguard Je suis le savant au fauteuil sombre. Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    ^
    ^

    You sound like you don't know what you're talking about.

  • TommattTommatt Registered User regular
    If it wasn't for YA novels I wouldn't be the reader I am today.

    I absolutely hated reading, until I got ahold of "Monster" by Christopher Pike in 6th grade. Maybe a little adult for me at the time, but what dragged me in was in the first 3 pages, a man rushes into a party, and shoots 5 people with a shotgun with no explanation.

    Blood, gore, and sex. I was hooked. I started reading a lot of Pike and RL Stein, and then later moved into adult horror and then fantasy. I now re-read the WOT series about once a year in anticipation of new books, have read the entire magician books multiple times, and still find time to discover new books and worlds. Currently on book 4 of ASoIF.

    Ah ya, at some point I read the sword of truth books. First one was good, second ok, but I enjoyed the world he created enough to keep going. Then him and the books got batshit crazy and repetitive.

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  • AtomikaAtomika not a robot. does not eat bugs!Registered User regular
    Bagginses wrote: »
    The first books I read where Chronicles of Narnia and the Bible, then Harry Potter really turned me on to reading and writing. Now I read McCarthy and Faulkner and Shakespeare, majored in English and am doing a writing masters. I also enjoy reading Stephen King every now and then.

    Young Adult novels are never going to be great literature but they are a great starting point and reading them is better than reading nothing.

    Honestly, it seems like the main reason YA lit won't produce great lit is that we judge whether something is great lit by how much it panders to old, white sons of privilege. We mock works that talk about growing up or finding one's place in life, but praise rumination of human mortality and the privileged life. Novelty is placed on a pedestal, while Dionysian imitatio and Campbelian storytelling are derided. Stories staring young people are niche fiction, while books starring middle aged to old white men are mainstream.

    I mean, if we want to talk about stupid shit that's inexplicably popular, how about we start with Eat Prey Love.

    Which is exactly why the consensus among critics and scholars is that Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, and The Red Badge of Courage are among the best examples of American Literature?

  • BogartBogart I Will Cure You Registered User, Moderator mod
    Bagginses wrote: »
    Honestly, it seems like the main reason YA lit won't produce great lit is that we judge whether something is great lit by how much it panders to old, white sons of privilege. We mock works that talk about growing up or finding one's place in life, but praise rumination of human mortality and the privileged life. Novelty is placed on a pedestal, while Dionysian imitatio and Campbelian storytelling are derided. Stories staring young people are niche fiction, while books starring middle aged to old white men are mainstream.

    Stories with young people find their way as a protagonist are some of the most highly lauded books I can think of. Catcher in the Rye, The Adventures of Augie March, Huck Finn. And you think great literature is judged by how much it panders to old, white sons of privilege? Balls.

    There's a whole lot of middle aged white guy fiction clogging up literature, but that isn't the main reason YA fiction doesn't produce great literature.

  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Let's get to twerk! The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    Vanguard wrote: »
    ^
    ^

    You sound like you don't know what you're talking about.

    Care to explain why?

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  • VanguardVanguard Je suis le savant au fauteuil sombre. Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    edited March 2012
    Vanguard wrote: »
    ^
    ^

    You sound like you don't know what you're talking about.

    Care to explain why?

    I meant the poster above you. Two arrows for two posts.

    Vanguard on
  • AtomikaAtomika not a robot. does not eat bugs!Registered User regular
    Bogart wrote: »
    Bagginses wrote: »
    Honestly, it seems like the main reason YA lit won't produce great lit is that we judge whether something is great lit by how much it panders to old, white sons of privilege. We mock works that talk about growing up or finding one's place in life, but praise rumination of human mortality and the privileged life. Novelty is placed on a pedestal, while Dionysian imitatio and Campbelian storytelling are derided. Stories staring young people are niche fiction, while books starring middle aged to old white men are mainstream.

    Stories with young people find their way as a protagonist are some of the most highly lauded books I can think of. Catcher in the Rye, The Adventures of Augie March, Huck Finn. And you think great literature is judged by how much it panders to old, white sons of privilege? Balls.

    There's a whole lot of middle aged white guy fiction clogging up literature, but that isn't the main reason YA fiction doesn't produce great literature.

    Indeed.

    I would suggest that the primary reason YA doesn't produce great literature is because the entire genre is based upon a caveat of condescension and pandering.

  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Let's get to twerk! The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    Vanguard wrote: »
    Vanguard wrote: »
    ^
    ^

    You sound like you don't know what you're talking about.

    Care to explain why?

    I meant the poster above you. Two arrows for two posts.

    Ah. *filed for future reference*

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  • BogartBogart I Will Cure You Registered User, Moderator mod
    Well, I think a lot of it probably does that, but not in any way that isn't practiced by any other section of books that want to sell themselves to an audience. Fantasy, SF, romance, horror, etc: all have a whole bunch of books that pander to a specific audience, so I don't think it's YA fiction's problem alone.

    I think there's less great fiction specifically aimed at the YA audience because it's going to be incredibly difficult to write a truly great novel while also making it accessible for people aged 13 or 14. It's just a very, very tough ask.

  • BagginsesBagginses __BANNED USERS regular
    Bogart wrote: »
    Bagginses wrote: »
    Honestly, it seems like the main reason YA lit won't produce great lit is that we judge whether something is great lit by how much it panders to old, white sons of privilege. We mock works that talk about growing up or finding one's place in life, but praise rumination of human mortality and the privileged life. Novelty is placed on a pedestal, while Dionysian imitatio and Campbelian storytelling are derided. Stories staring young people are niche fiction, while books starring middle aged to old white men are mainstream.

    Stories with young people find their way as a protagonist are some of the most highly lauded books I can think of. Catcher in the Rye, The Adventures of Augie March, Huck Finn. And you think great literature is judged by how much it panders to old, white sons of privilege? Balls.

    There's a whole lot of middle aged white guy fiction clogging up literature, but that isn't the main reason YA fiction doesn't produce great literature.

    I'm mainly speaking from reading the NYT book review section, where every other work is praised as a "fine meditation on human mortality/aging."

  • VanguardVanguard Je suis le savant au fauteuil sombre. Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    If you're relying on the NYTBR for finding books, you're doing it wrong. The whole business of rankings and what gets featured has more to do with who has a better marketing campaign than whether or not anyone wrote a good book.

  • AtomikaAtomika not a robot. does not eat bugs!Registered User regular
    I'm pretty sure I've seen Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly's horrible fiction on the NYT. Not much of a metric.

  • BagginsesBagginses __BANNED USERS regular
    Vanguard wrote: »
    If you're relying on the NYTBR for finding books, you're doing it wrong. The whole business of rankings and what gets featured has more to do with who has a better marketing campaign than whether or not anyone wrote a good book.

    I meant the actual reviews.

    In retrospect, I suspect my whole YA crit could be boiled down to "it's not for you."

  • AtomikaAtomika not a robot. does not eat bugs!Registered User regular
    Bogart wrote: »
    I think there's less great fiction specifically aimed at the YA audience because it's going to be incredibly difficult to write a truly great novel while also making it accessible for people aged 13 or 14. It's just a very, very tough ask.

    Almost 100% of YA fiction is about protagonists in similar situations and age ranges as the target demographic.

    So, considering young teenagers are just about the least interesting and engaging people on the planet . . . .

  • sportzboytjwsportzboytjw squeeeeeezzeeee some more tax breaks outRegistered User regular
    Bogart wrote: »
    Well, I think a lot of it probably does that, but not in any way that isn't practiced by any other section of books that want to sell themselves to an audience. Fantasy, SF, romance, horror, etc: all have a whole bunch of books that pander to a specific audience, so I don't think it's YA fiction's problem alone.

    I think there's less great fiction specifically aimed at the YA audience because it's going to be incredibly difficult to write a truly great novel while also making it accessible for people aged 13 or 14. It's just a very, very tough ask.
    I'm totally putting words in your mouth but you seem to be saying it is hard to write a great novel/write literature that is also pretty readable.

    That seems like a failing of what the demands of literature are as much as a failing in the appetites of readers.

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  • AtomikaAtomika not a robot. does not eat bugs!Registered User regular
    Bogart wrote: »
    Well, I think a lot of it probably does that, but not in any way that isn't practiced by any other section of books that want to sell themselves to an audience. Fantasy, SF, romance, horror, etc: all have a whole bunch of books that pander to a specific audience, so I don't think it's YA fiction's problem alone.

    I think there's less great fiction specifically aimed at the YA audience because it's going to be incredibly difficult to write a truly great novel while also making it accessible for people aged 13 or 14. It's just a very, very tough ask.
    I'm totally putting words in your mouth but you seem to be saying it is hard to write a great novel/write literature that is also pretty readable.

    That seems like a failing of what the demands of literature are as much as a failing in the appetites of readers.

    What a sophisticated adult that has experience with literature and enjoys being challenged finds "readable" is generally pretty far removed what an empty-headed teen finds "readable."

  • BogartBogart I Will Cure You Registered User, Moderator mod
    You're putting words in my mouth. 'Readable' and 'aimed at 13-14 year olds' aren't the same thing.

  • sportzboytjwsportzboytjw squeeeeeezzeeee some more tax breaks outRegistered User regular
    Bogart wrote: »
    You're putting words in my mouth. 'Readable' and 'aimed at 13-14 year olds' aren't the same thing.

    Yea, I was, but I feel like it illustrates the gap between "literature" and "books people will actually read". There are some exceptions and awesome books that fit both categories. Most lie in one area or another though.

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  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    Tommatt wrote: »
    No mention of the evil chicken yet? I'm surprised
    We've had enough threads dedicated to how terrible the Sword of Truth is, and there's plenty of terrible in the books to fill another full thread or two, just not this one.
    I'd love for this thread to be populated by more obscure terrible books.

    Like Stinger. I have no idea how that book has that many positive reviews, or even how you start writing a 4 star review with the words "Read like a B-movie". It boggles my mind, and not in the usual moderately pleasant way my mind is boggled, but in an entirely new and painful way.

    Ringo wrote: »
    Well except what see317 said. That guy's always wrong.
  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    I've always really enjoyed these takedowns of Dan Brown.

    I mean it's a little unfair, when all you're doing is critiquing the word usage of an author it's all a bit armchair general and if you're so great why don't you write a bestselling novel etc etc?

    But then you find out Brown uses phrases like, "He was learning the ropes in the trenches" unironically, and... yeah. Good lord, that's so bad it's actually impressive.

    A trap is for fish: when you've got the fish, you can forget the trap. A snare is for rabbits: when you've got the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words are for meaning: when you've got the meaning, you can forget the words.
  • Mad King GeorgeMad King George Registered User regular
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    Ok, so I am about to go to bed, so this will be short.

    My initial focus is going to be Harry Potter. The books are not good. I was surprised, having only seen the movies and picked up stuff overhead in conversations that when I actually got around to reading the books that they were less of a chore to read than I expected. Whatever the narrative failings, Rowling apparently has some technical skill when it comes to writing. Unfortunately, my criticisms and concerns for the details of the story were confirmed in spades.

    I have a handful of major critiques of Harry Potter, each of which I intend to elaborate upon as I get a chance - here are my introductions of a few.

    I struggle to find a thematic coherence. One such example being the fact that we are at once supposed to be enchanted by the Wizarding world and the richness it contains but at the same time acknowledge that the government is largely incompetent, large swathes of society entirely reactionary, an undercurrent of corruption and both tacit and no end of other failings. However, this tension goes largely unexplored and entirely unacknowledged. All in all the books are depressing rather than exercises in whimsical escapism.

    The Wizarding World is a hidden dystopia even beyond the bumbling, ineffective and corrupt nature of their society. They are technologically stagnant, they make no effort to understand anything about the world beyond magic, he magic they do learn is largely inherited knowledge, almost no mention is made of higher education, the magic they do learn is either useless or designed to harm others or just plain doesn't work (see: Divination), they almost entirely ignore muggles despite coexisting with them. The large majority of the population who are not aligned with Voldemort are essentially complacent with regard to any kind of social justice or concern for the wellbeing of their fellows, muggles or other sentient beings. There are a handful of careers available, one of which being an Auror which is more or less a secret policeman, bounty hunter and inquisitor rolled into one - it is doubly troubling that the society is so thoroughly dysfunctional that there exist a sufficiently large prevalence of dark wizards to justify the existence of Aurors and that people hunt and, on occasion kill these people for their profession. The magical society is not an enlightened one.

    The story is one of broken morals - despite ostensibly having a message of tolerance and liberty we are faced with a large gaping hole in the case of the house elves. Even if we grant that Hermione eventually advances their cause when she is capable of affecting Wizarding law she and her cause is presented as an object of ridicule and pointless badgering throughout the stories. The elves' cultural acceptance of their position and their notions of honour and insult on at Hermoine's attempts to free them is hardly an answer or a solution to the problem - there are some interesting philosophical questions with regard to sentient beings who wish to be slaves but the books do not even begin to ask them. But at its base, we have a society which has bred and subjugated house elves to the point of of complete neurosis and subjugated them to the point of entirely lacking legal rights and the overwhelming majority of society makes no effort to rehabilitate or liberate them.

    Wizards are basically stupid. Or rather, every major point of plot and resolution are matters of convenience, not consequence. @Atomic Ross quite rightly pointed out that the time turner is the most egregiously stupid part of the whole series - and to make matters worse it was more or less introduced for nothing more than an additional sense of wonder. Somehow the godlike power of being able to travel through time and the dangers this represents is appropriate for inconvenient scheduling issues with regard to elementary education but employing it to reverse the successes of the most powerful and dangerous dark wizard ever to exist is beyond the pale? The a few tweaks to the way the story unfolded could just as easily have demonstrated Snape hateful, the ministry inflexible, Dumbledore benevolent (another characterisation which I believe is unearned) and rendered Sirius a fugitive without introducing the one-size-fits-all solution to any conceivable problem and then ignoring its existence for the rest of the series. A different demonstration of the plot contrivance is that of the Mirror of Erised and its layers of protection - it's just plain stupid.

    I've been a longtime lurker, but I had to join because this is such a peeve of mine and I actually didn't mind the books until she started trying to outpace the films and turned in bloated, unedited waffle.

    You have obvious bits of illogic like in Goblet of Fire where you have a villain waiting a whole year to use a trophy as a teleport object when he could have made a pencil into one and asked Harry to hand it to him at any point and so her books fail because you can apparate simply by touching another wizard who can so there's not even a point for the device--wizards apparently concoct endless amounts of redundant ideas and ways to execute them.

    But more importantly you address the failure of her themes. One of my biggest annoyances is at one of her largest themes, that of racism. We're told throughout the books that there's nothing wrong with not being a pureblood wizard, yet, being that we're supposed to be enticed by the world and identify with wizards it's clear that being magical in any form basically makes you a superior being to a muggle or a genetic mishap with "squibs" like Filch even being endlessly harassed about their inability to change how they were born. So while racism amongst wizards is bad, it's okay to be magical and look down on muggles. It's even to the point where the only character with a full wizard background but who still likes muggles, Mr. Weasley, comes off as a Victorian colonial anthropologist with a whooly condescending attitude like he's amazed we muggles don't sit around flinging feces and living in the dirt.

  • AtomikaAtomika not a robot. does not eat bugs!Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    But more importantly you address the failure of her themes. One of my biggest annoyances is at one of her largest themes, that of racism. We're told throughout the books that there's nothing wrong with not being a pureblood wizard, yet, being that we're supposed to be enticed by the world and identify with wizards it's clear that being magical in any form basically makes you a superior being to a muggle or a genetic mishap with "squibs" like Filch even being endlessly harassed about their inability to change how they were born. So while racism amongst wizards is bad, it's okay to be magical and look down on muggles. It's even to the point where the only character with a full wizard background but who still likes muggles, Mr. Weasley, comes off as a Victorian colonial anthropologist with a whooly condescending attitude like he's amazed we muggles don't sit around flinging feces and living in the dirt.

    Or as someone once pointed out in something I read,

    "Hey, is Voldemort impervious to bullets? Have we tried that? Have we tried shooting him? We should try shooting him. With bullets."

    Atomika on
  • GreeperGreeper Registered User regular
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    Greeper is now Minister Of Communication in my new regime.
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  • Kipling217Kipling217 Registered User regular
    Can we hate authors as well as the books they wrote? Because I would like to nominate Harry Turtledove THE MASTER OF ALTERNATE HISTORY! The last part is a blurb that's always on his books.

    AND NO, he isn't!

    There is more to writing an alternate history book then filling off the serial numbers of real history and inserting it in another place. Like the book he wrote about hidden Jews in a triumphant 3rd reich. Where the Nazis experience glastnost with alternate equivalents of Gorbachev and Yeltsin. The series where the south turns into the 3rd reich with Blacks as the Jews.

    History does not work that way you hack.

    Communicating from the last of the Babylon Stations.
  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Let's get to twerk! The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    I love those Southern Victory novels though, they're such silly fun.
    Though the point where AlternateWW2 involves like a billion atom bombs was questionable.

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  • Kipling217Kipling217 Registered User regular
    One giant plot hole in the Harry Potter books: How do wizards know how to read? If they don't interact with muggles, they presumably don't attend regular school. Since Hogwarts starts at age 11 and does not contain anything like English(or maths or Social studies), how do the kids know how to read? Homeschooling? Actually that last part is a fairly good answer. It does explain a lot.

    However: Pencils. What kind of backwards society still uses quills? When pencils are advanced technology beyond their comprehension a society is fucked up.

    Communicating from the last of the Babylon Stations.
  • AtomikaAtomika not a robot. does not eat bugs!Registered User regular
    Kipling217 wrote: »
    One giant plot hole in the Harry Potter books: How do wizards know how to read? If they don't interact with muggles, they presumably don't attend regular school. Since Hogwarts starts at age 11 and does not contain anything like English(or maths or Social studies), how do the kids know how to read? Homeschooling? Actually that last part is a fairly good answer. It does explain a lot.

    However: Pencils. What kind of backwards society still uses quills? When pencils are advanced technology beyond their comprehension a society is fucked up.

    There's a whole Cracked.com article about this.

    Owls? Really? In a world where email and cellphones exist?

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