Welcome to Connected With YA Paranormal! This blog is designed for readers who love YA Paranormal fiction. I’ll be discussing different trends and various aspects of writing, as well as posting reviews of lesser-known YA Paranormal novels I’ve read, as there are a lot of really great novels out there that don’t have the luxury of a major publisher or PR firm to market them. My intention is to make this blog interactive, so please comment often!
*******DISCLAIMER FOR OVERLY SENSITIVE
POLITICALLY CORRECT PEOPLE*******
I’m going to use the word “she” instead of substituting it with the PC “he/she” or even worse, pluralizing everything and making it overly clunky. It’s not because I’m a feminist or a man-hater. It’s because 90% of the YA Paranormal fiction I read involves a female as the main character.
I’ve learned over the years how very subjective this industry is – even in analyzing books that appeal to me versus what’s insanely popular at the time, it’s clear that it’s more of a personal decision, a feeling when you read something that speaks to you. I’m curious to discover what all of you think, what makes you continue to turn the pages and finish a book, great or not.
Honestly, I’m still trying to decipher exactly what it is that makes a book great for me. I know style factors into it – some authors write in a fashion that I find easy to read, and those are the books I devour. I’ll read them through to the end, even if they have gaping plot holes, blatant plot devices, ridiculously unrealistic situations, and *gasp* excessive adverbs (I won’t name names). I recently read a book that had the worse character names I’d ever encountered, but it was written well with a great plot. So I got over it and kept reading. There are a lot of things, now that I think about it, that I will forgive if the writing, plot and characters are good enough. But there are some things that I have trouble getting past, so much so, that I will abandon the book. Here’s my preliminary list of all things forgivable and unspeakable:
Bad character names, hard to pronounce names, or even trendy names
Some names evoke a feeling within you, good or bad. You can’t help ghosts from the pasts – if you grew up with a Michelle who treated you like dirt, you’re probably always going to cringe when you hear or read that name. But others… I recently read a great book in which the lead characters were named Pagan and Dank. Pagan is unusual at best; I got used to it. Dank, however… I couldn’t help but think of a mold-infested cellar. Not exactly sexy for me. I found myself hoping she’d end up with the other guy just because of the name. Regardless though, I finished the book and I recommend it!
Some misspells, bad grammar and punctuation (just can’t go overboard)
As an English major, this is decidedly a step forward in my treatment of Grammar Nazism. There was a time when just a few errors would send me raging into a tirade that would make a mobster uncomfortable. What can I say? The electroshock therapy is really paying off.
Occasional awkwardly worded dialogue
Not every author has the time to read the book aloud, listening to how the dialogue sounds and carefully considering whether or not someone would actually utter those words in real life (although it is a good practice). I can wince through a few of these and still continue to read, especially if the plot’s engaging.
Someone other than the main hero/heroine solving the final crisis
The trick to this one is you don’t realize it until the end of the book, so even though it’s unforgivable, you’ve still read the entire novel. I recently read a book that did this, and it was really unfortunate because I loved her writing style, and the plot was excellent. But now I’m not sure that I will continue to the next book in the series. Even with third person point of view, there’s still a main character – someone you’re meant to bond with and cheer for. That person has to be the victor in the final conflict. She can have help from her love interest or friends, but it’s her battle, she has to be the one to win it overall.
Multiple points of view
I know this can sometimes be pulled off, but it’s usually by experienced writers and it’s handled very carefully. Most of the time, it’s jarring to jump from one character’s head to another, and it’s difficult to know who you’re supposed to be rooting for. I recently read a book that did this – though the author at least took the precaution of changing the point of view at chapter breaks, I still found it annoying and ended up not rooting for any of the characters, except maybe the villains. Probably not the intended effect.
Weak hero/heroine, who doesn’t get stronger by the end
It’s okay to start out with a weak heroine, but if she doesn’t show any kind of personal progress by the end of the novel, I find it hard to like her, and she ends up coming off as a damsel in distress. I’m not saying she has to do a complete 180, but she needs to demonstrate (preferably through her actions) that whatever conflict she faced throughout the novel has made her a stronger individual.
Overly macho female protagonists / over the top skill sets
If I find out in the first chapter that the heroine is a black belt with secret ops training, I’ll probably just give up and put the book down. I see this more when men are writing female characters… and it’s too much for me. It’s annoying to the point of distraction, because I know there are so few actual people like that in the world. I’d rather see faults than ridiculous skills, especially in the beginning, I think because it makes it easier for me to picture the character as a real person and relate to her.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Let me know what you think, what makes a novel worth reading for you.