The last time we talked fantasy fiction, we concluded it is okay to drop novels that have failed to entertain you.
And yet, the many conversations I have had on the issue suggest that a lot of people are reluctant to drop novels they hate. Putting aside the fact that some cannot justify dumping a book they bought with their hard-earned money without reading it to completion, why would any rational person put themselves through the torture of reading a novel they hate?
Novels are not like movies or even TV shows. You cannot fast-forward through the lousy bits just to see what happens at the end. So why would anyone willingly suffer the punishment of a poorly written novel? I can only think of two reasons.
First of all, a lot of people are driven by hype. Remember what I said a week ago? I argued that many readers persevere because they think things will get better.
They are not wrong. A shocking twist can transform a disappointing novel into a literary marvel within the span of a few chapters. But do you know what?
Most of the time, that doesn’t happen. Atrocious novels are normally consistent. They will tempt you with just enough mystery and intrigue to keep you reading. But when you get to the end, you will throw the book in the trash and wonder why you stuck with it for so long. I will tell you why so many people persist. The hype keeps them glued to the page.
“Surely, if everyone keeps praising Stormlight Archive as the greatest fantasy fiction series of the generation, it will get good if I just stick with it. Forget the fact that I couldn’t stand Books 1 and 2. Book 3 will change everything, right?”
“Yes, I read Joe Abercrombie’s entire bibliography and I hated every bit of it. But surely, with all the praise people have heaped on A Little Hatred, the novel will finally teach me to appreciate Abercrombie’s grim approach to storytelling”.
To be clear, I love Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy. But the number of people that have expressed their undying hatred for the author’s books only to reveal that they have read his entire body of work astounds me.
Why do they do this to themselves? It is because Abercrombie fans like me cannot stop singing his praises. And the avid readers that hear that praise cannot accept the fact that maybe Abercrombie is not their cup of tea.
Just because we all read fantasy fiction does not mean we like the same kinds of stories. But some don’t want to miss out. They have an overwhelming desire to participate in the fun and excitement of reading a novel and then talking about it with other fans.
They want to laugh with the group, to share their anger, sadness, or happiness over the latest developments in whatever series has the fantasy fiction world buzzing.
So, they will force themselves to push through 14 punishing volumes of The Wheel of Time, because they are hell-bent on adding their voice to every Egwene hate thread that erupts.
I read the first two novels in the series simply because of the hype. I wanted to see what the books had to offer. But I gave up once I realized I did not care for them.
The fact that others pushed through to the end is mind-boggling. Well, if you enjoy reading novels you hate, who am I to tell you to stop?
Though, I think your life would be better if you broke this habit. Why pour your time and effort into a book you hate when the market is filled with so much great fantasy fiction that you could potentially enjoy?