Thanks to Coranne over at The Best Books Ever for this idea! My list of pet peeves comes from the POV of both an avid reader and author.
My Top 10 Book Pet Peeves:
1. Overuse of pop references. Yes, it is important, especially in a YA novel, to establish the culture of the time. But using references to TV shows, movies, and pop stars can get really date your novel! If you’re writing a book now, it may not be published for a couple of years, and your references to Miley Cyrus may go over your readers’ heads by then.
2. Inaccurate descriptions of locations. I just added this one to my list because I started reading a middle grade novel that takes place in Pittsburgh. By page three, I could tell that the author had done his research about the area, but had clearly never been here. In short, an important landmark was described as being “on a hill” when it really isn’t. I’m seriously considering DNF-ing this one because it annoys me so much.
3. Poor plot pacing. I’ve been noticing this more and more lately. I’ll be reading a 300 page novel where literally nothing happens for 150 pages, and then all of a sudden WHAM! something comes out of nowhere, and then EVERYTHING happens all at once in such a frenzy that I can hardly keep up. I’m not just talking about a climax or plot twist. I’m talking about almost giving up on a novel because it’s so boring, only to be hit over the head with a ton of action late in the novel.
4. Sex for the sake of sex. A couple of YA novels that I have recently read seem to use sex scenes because the author thinks it’s required of a YA novel. Or, worse yet, the sex scenes go over the tasteful line into the “eww.” I just don’t think it’s always necessary to go into detail, especially if it’s not essential to the plot.
5. What genre is this again? Call me crazy, but I like to know if I’m reading a horror novel when I start it. If a novel suddenly switches genres in the middle, it’s a big turn-off.
6. It’s clearly every single genre all mixed together. I just started reading a YA novel about a teenage girl who is being sent away because she is gay. I clearly didn’t read the summary closely enough before I started, because I missed the trippy part about dinosaurs. Um, ok. Sometimes less is more.
7. Teenage stereotypes. YA novels seem to thrive off stereotypes. The hunky, brainless football player. The ditzy cheerleader. The geek who can’t get the girl. It’s like an episode of Saved by the Bell every time I open a novel.
8. The guy who is clearly more well-spoken, smarter, and sophisticated than everyone else. It was cool in the first five John Green novels, but now it seems to be the norm. Not all high school guys are jocks, and not all high school guys are geniuses. Where are the in-betweeners?
9. Too many POV shifts. I try to stay away from novels that switch POV frequently, because my brain just cannot keep up. Especially when there’s no clear indication of who is talking. Alternating chapters between two characters is fine, but any more than that and I’m lost. I also think this trend of alternating POV’s gives beginning writers the (wrong) idea that they can shift POV whenever they want. I’ve read novels in progress where the reader goes from inside one character’s head to inside another’s within two sentences. No, no, no.
10. Vampires and such. I’ve said it before (and have had people yell at me!) and I’ll say it again: I just don’t like vampires. I’m all for the fantasy/sci-fi/paranormal genres, but I find they are saturated with the same types of characters. I don’t like Twilight and I don’t want to read your copycat novel. And if you’re going to write a novel about vampires, it had better be unique enough that it doesn’t sound like a Twilight copycat.
What do you think? What are your book pet peeves?