The Great Story Idea Spoiled

I’m rather annoyed at the moment after trying three times to write a book review on Goodreads. Every time I got to the end of a line, the ad in the right column of the page overlapped it and kept popping in and out as I wrote.

The review happened to be for a book that prompted me to think about the benefits of reading bad books. Well, not bad bad. There’s no way I could make my way through an entire really, truly bad book. This particular book and another that I read right after it are the kind that make me finish the last page and say (moan, complain) “Another good idea spoiled.” In other words, they’re not truly horrific, just mediocre.

The catch with the first one is that the author is quite popular in her genre, and the book had good reviews and ratings on Goodreads. There were a few exceptions, which I now have reason to agree with, but the plot did intrigue and I took the risk.

But the two books together weren’t a total waste because they were excellent examples of how not to develop a story and characters. I won’t mention the titles, but both were about humans and gay vampires. It’s a category that’s been done almost to death (not meant to be a joke), but offers so many possibilities for interesting twists and turns that it’s pretty irresistible for both writers and readers. Since I’ve also read an excellent human/gay vampire novel, specifically Blood Run Cold by Raev Gray and Alexandre Voinov, I had something to compare them to.

I’ve bought a fair number of books, based on Goodreads recommendations, and on reviews from other sites. What I had to acknowledge recently, and had confirmed by the two mediocrities, is that even an entire community worth of ratings and recommendations isn’t necessarily going to add up to something you can rely on. The language of one book was praised highly, while I found it rather klutzy and distracting. The characters were praised and I found them to be too poorly developed for me to understand their motivations.

If all you’re looking for is hot sex scenes and happy-ever-after endings, no matter how improbable, both books probably fill the bill. But I was given the impression that there was more to be had, and there wasn’t. Blood Run Cold leaves you with characters who stick in your mind after you’ve closed the book. The others leave you with a vague and fading memory of nearly-identical clones that populate the genre.


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