These books stink

Book lover discusses books she does not love

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Photo by Abby Bunch

Out of millions of books, there’s bound to be a couple that may be unworthy of reading.

Story by Emma Allen, staff writer

From a young age, I’ve loved books. There’s something about reading about someone else’s adventures, getting to know fictional characters, their motivations, who they are, that I’ve always been drawn to. Maybe it’s the escape from reality. Maybe it’s something else, something I picked up on when I was so young that I couldn’t even add. But every once in a while, a book comes along that doesn’t give me those feelings. I don’t want to meet the characters. I don’t care about their adventures. It’s a small list, but one I’m quite passionate about. 

“Jacob Have I Loved” by Katherine Paterson

I read this book in the seventh grade, so obviously I don’t remember everything about it, but there are a few things that stand out in my memory. First is that it was so bad that my teacher didn’t read the whole thing, which, by the way, is not something you should admit to a class full of students you’re forcing to read said terrible book, but I digress. 

The other thing that I remember is the main character, a girl probably around 12-15, had a huge crush on the neighborhood old man, he was probably somewhere around 70. Imagine my rage at the book when this man got a girlfriend his own age and the main character had the nerve to be extremely upset that he would do such a thing. Luckily, she eventually went after guys not nearly a whole lifetime older than her, but the ending just wasn’t satisfying, though I imagine this was a result of the conflict itself being unsatisfying. 

“Ethan Frome” by Edith Wharton

Many people who go to Texas High School (and likely other high schools that have this book in their curriculum) will know how horrible it is (assuming anyone actually read it). According to the book’s description, this is “one of American fiction’s finest and most intense narratives,” which I can say with absolute certainty is false. If this was as intense as it claims, why on earth did I start falling asleep every time I attempted to read before the next quiz? I’m getting really tired of “American classics” just being stories with the only plot point being a not-so-secret affair. I can honestly say that the best part of this book was walking into Mr. Tirrito’s class on quiz day fully prepared to discuss how absolutely garbage the plot, characters and everything else about the book is. 

“Be More Chill” by Ned Vizzini 

I am a big believer that the book is better … in most situations. This philosophy does not apply here. The novel was developed into a musical that gained popularity since its stint as an off-Broadway production. The book, however, didn’t live up to the standards the musical set. 

The basic premise is still the same, but the book has nowhere near the same amount of humor as the musical, nor are the characters as fleshed out. The book relies solely on the main character to carry the plot, almost completely ignoring any of the friends and family. Every side character is treated as a prop more than a character that needs to be developed to keep the audience interested. Without the musical, I probably would have never known the book existed, but I doubt I would have enjoyed it very much even without the comparison. 

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

As a Harry Potter fan since the fourth grade, when my mom unwittingly introduced me to the books that would change my life forever and ignite the spark of writing deep within my soul, I have to say that I had high hopes for this book. Well, calling it a book is generous since it’s just the script for the play, but it was marketed as a book and will thus be treated as such for the rest of this review.

 I’m not convinced that J. K. Rowling actually had too much of a hand in the plot of this story. She insists that the story is canon (meaning that the story legitimately takes place in the Harry Potter universe), but if that’s true, then everything from a certain point in book four on is no longer canon because of the time travel aspect in Cursed Child. Not to mention, it means that Harry Potter is canonically a parent who would tell his child that he sometimes wishes he wasn’t his son, which, though I am not a huge fan of Harry as a character in the original series, goes against everything about him. Yes, people change, but I can’t imagine that he would change that much without having a different author write his character. There are a lot of other issues with this book that I don’t particularly want to delve in to, such as the fact that Voldemort has a child, so I’ll just leave it there. 

“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll

This book is a classic, though I couldn’t possibly tell you why. This is another one that I’d have to say the adaptation is better (the Disney animated version, at least — I haven’t seen any others.) It’s much more appealing as a children’s movie with beautifully imagined visuals. You know how they say that random doesn’t equal funny? Well, this is kind of the same thing. From constant growing and shrinking to tea parties that turn into talent shows, random doesn’t equal interesting or brilliant or classic. Additionally, Alice supposedly was based on a child that Carroll knew personally, which I’d say is a bit concerning.

“The Kill Order” by James Dashner

As a prequel to the Maze Runner series, you may expect this book to have been made into a movie like the rest of the books during the dystopian boom in the early 2010s, but it was not, and for good reason. The series went downhill after the first book, and as the fourth in the series to come out, that doesn’t bode well for The Kill Order. Characters in this book had little to no personality, yet I continued to read in the hopes that it would get better. After the only character with any personality was killed off in book three, I thought perhaps there would be room for at least one good character to replace him, but I was wrong. 

I had to read all the way to the end to find any semblance of interest, which came in the form of a last minute character-reveal-plot-twist, — plot twist is generous when there was little sign of plot to begin with — which I imagine was the entire reason for the book to be written. Perhaps a superfan of the series would enjoy it, but I would not put myself in that category. At all. What’s more is there is a sequel to the prequel, but luckily this one follows a different — and better — cast of characters, including a younger version of the only — now dead — guy with personality. 

I’d like to have it known that I mean no offense to any of these authors, and for people who like these books, well, good for them. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I just strongly disagree. I understand that everyone has different tastes in literature, so if anyone wants to try reading these books after all the trash I talked, I’d say go for it, but you’re not allowed to be disappointed when they’re just as bad as I said.