Lirritants (get it?)

I've posted before on my annoyance of blurbs that bear no resemblance to the actual story.

Some other things that annoy me in literature:

Retelling the entire backstory in the first chapter in a series. This annoys me because if you haven't read the series, I don't think you deserve to have all the past spoonfed to you. Look pal, I did the hard yards and read the first 2/3 books, buck up and stop trying to muscle in on my series! Its all too Baby-sitters Club for me, where you could literally skip the entire first chapter as Ann. M. Martin told you all about how Kristy was the tomboy and Claudia loved berets and kept junk food hidden all over her bedroom.

Giving away the entire backstory when reading "stand alone" books.
(Leading me to...)
Too much
backstory in books that are meant to be stand alone books.
This one has annoyed me a lot recently. I read(v) several authors in the same genre regularly, so I can see how this works and who can do it effectively, and who's cocking it up.

James Patterson- The Alex Cross series has been running for some years now, its a series. Unintentionally, but that's just how it is now. They started out fairly well, in the stand alone sense, but readers were crying out for more about the main character, Detective Cross, not just his exploits. Patterson also took the route where his lead detective wasn't just solving the crimes, he became a target of the killers. This will always take you down the road of having to delve right into the background and life of your main character. In the case of Cross, the death of his wife Maria before you meet Cross in the first book. Patterson has resuscitated his killers a few times too, so you can't just pick up the latest book (IMHO) and get all the info. Personally I think Patterson has painted himself creatively into a corner with this series, there's only so much one Detective can take in a lifetime.
Patterson has another series, the Women's Murder Club which I've spoken about before. This started as a series, making it different to the Cross series, and Patterson has learny from his previous mistakes, this series has 4 main characters technically, with the action mostly narrated from one of the women, but it leaves options for the future.
I think Patterson is arguably the most successful Crime Thriller writer in the market today because of his success at getting a whole different series off the ground in addition to the original Cross, and stand alone books on top.

I've just finished another book (see here) where the writer has ended up writing a series, it cannot be classed as anything else, because she's ended up with all the characters with all the action happening to them personally, so for that you need motivation, you need backstory the whole way.
It was a good book, but its begun to annoy me because I think they should be advertised as books that need to be read in order. This is something Fantasy and Sci-Fi do well, that Crime Fiction is really lagging in.

I know it can work when they don't tell you the backstory. I remember buying a book by an author I liked, Anne Rice, at the time. It was the third book by memory of a series, and I didn't get any of it, right from the first few pages. I didn't understand the story, it literally felt like I'd walked into the middle of a conversation and the speaker didn't pause at all for me. I ended up putting the book back down again, and read soemthing else. Eventually though I read the first books before the one I owned, and when I made it back to that book, it all made sense and I could power through. It was a fantastic series in the end.

/end rant.

5 kindred spirits ~ This bugs them too!:

PrincesseEmma said...
April 08, 2008 12:33 PM

It's soo funny that you mention the Baby Sitters Club 'cause I was just thinking about those books the other day. I always used to skip that entire backstory chapter too!
Are those books still around? Cause I know kids today are all Harry Potter crazy but I wonder if any read Baby Sitters Club!?

K said...
April 08, 2008 3:35 PM

I find Mr Patterson a bit hit and miss. I liked the Alex Cross books but they got a bit repetitive (but then again so did the Scarpetta books by Patricia Cornwell). I really don't like the women's Murder Club ones though - the characters seem so fake to me.

Do you like series books? Did you ever read the Thursday Next series? Highly recommended.

Dataceptionist said...
April 08, 2008 3:47 PM

P-Emma I'm pretty sure you can still get BSB books, but I don't think they're as popular as they were when we were younger. We never had Harry Potter though, and there are a few other series for young people that look fantastic too. I think writing has improved for children/teens since we were kids. :)

Ooh who's that by K? I haven't heard of that one.
I do like series in the main, a lot of what I read possibly falls into that category. I don't like the Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben though, and I love him, I can't stand that character.
I could never get into the Kay Scarpetta books, my mum reads Cornwell.

K said...
April 09, 2008 9:59 AM

They're by Jasper Fford - the fist on is called "The Eyre Affair". Its not a thriller series, more of an interesting cross of chick-lit, sci-fi. I think they're really funny and clever (although I normally hate sci-fi).
I started to describe it but it was coming across as lame so I'm gonna let you pick it up and see what you think.

Dataceptionist said...
April 09, 2008 10:11 AM

Hahaha I nearly spit my coffee everywhere. That happens to me all the time, verbally: "blah blah blah and ok you're looking at me weird I'm going to stop"

I'll look him up, thats for the tip, sounds like a genre I'd like actually. I like Chick-Lit, but always forget it exists unless the cover of one catches my eye.

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