Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Things that I feel a review needs to let you know. Part 1 (the bad)

This is in continuation of the reviews post an not a part of the Talion post.  Also I would first like to say that in this overly sensitive day I hope that no one takes offense at this blog post.  We must understand that there is a difference between a preference and discrimination.  A preference is just the fact that an individual likes or dislikes something over another thing.  Some people like hot over cold, chocolate over vanilla, and broccoli over cheese.  In the context of preference, discrimination is treating someone different because of their preference.  I hope people understand that any comments made here are simply my preference and I hold nothing against others because of them if they are or were in any example listed here.  Other comments here I believe most will agree with me when I show my dislike for practices that are illegal in most places.  While writing about them can have some value that doesn't mean I wish to read about them.  I trust that people will be adult enough to know the difference between preference and not see it as discrimination or bigotry.  So on to information I would like to know about from a review before I read a book.

For example while I have no problem with alternative life styles and have had friends in the past that had such a relationship I personally don't want to read the details of it.  There a few books that handled this with simply an allusion to such a relationship for plot reasons rather than trying for what I assume was some type of shock value from others.  Attempting to create a situation that they could later claim was a means to show how open minded they can be.  There is a difference in a book that uses the relationship for a honest plot.  Such a book when written for people that do not live such a life style needs only to mention such a relationship.  When a book is written for people that do not live such a life style instead uses multiple quick descriptions is looking for shock value and I find that in poor taste.  If a book is written for such a life style then it is know for that and I can avoid it.

Another problem I had with one book was the use of lame plot devices simply to have multiple sex scenes within a book. If you have two protagonists that are unsure if they actually like each other or not, don't have them instead go sleep with someone else because they are unsure if they are being forced into loving someone (one book) or because the two can't confront their possible feelings for each other.  While someone might make such a decision I find it in poor taste to continue to keep writing scenes for erotica value in ignorance of the actual plot.  In a book where the plot is truly supported by such a notion it would at least treat the situation with a little class.  It still wouldn't be the type of book for me, but would be expected and easily avoided.  I think a lot of stories could suffer to understand they are not Hollywood and don't need a sex scene in every book and actually take the time to make an actually compelling story instead.  Some of the best, most widely loved books don't have a single sex scene and have relationships adult enough they don't feel they have to run out and sleep with someone else.  Now don't get me wrong I'm not a prude.  I've read several books that have had sex in them where it was used to show a deep physical and emotional relationship, which was still a rocky one, and yet did not feel the need have the character go sleep with someone else.

One more hitch on my list is books that use what I call SWS or Sadistic Writer Syndrome. I find SWS to be a common new disease among writers now days. This is where the writer feels they have to do horrible things to their characters in order "to show how horrible real life can be".  These are not biographies we are talking about but Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy types of books.  While bad things are going to happen in a book taking it to sadistic levels is too much.  Yes we are talking about people that do not exist, but at what point is needless sadism ever acceptable.  The description of pain to an individual for no other reason than that pain is sadism whether it is in your imagination or not.

Finally, while you could lump this in with sadism because it really is I still wanted to give the topic its own point.  Having your characters raped or even just continually almost raped is in poor taste.  While attempting to give the reader, who may be invested in the character, some dramatic tension could be warranted the act itself is extremely distasteful.  A plot tastefully done where this happens once as a central core to such a plot can be understandable.  To simply continue to do or almost do such a thing over and over can serve no purpose.

So these are the things that I feel should really be mentioned in a review.  While I've given my views on why, others may agree that they should be mentioned but for wholly different reasons.  Also, while I give an often extreme example of some of these events in books that isn't to say that any time they are used they are not tastefully handled and in such a way that others my prefer to have them take place in a book.  However, the point of a review is to give people information that helps them make a decision on whether it would be a book they wish to read or not.  You don't have to give your opinion of such events, but as you can see for some it can be important information in their decision and it would be helpful to at least make mention of them.  Next time I'll be a little more on the positive side of those things I would like to know about in a review.

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