I’ve been reading since I was old enough to scribble a signature on a library card, about age three. My parents had one rule, I could check out as many books as I could carry at one time. Our local library had the children’s section downstairs and it was huge. This was in 1970/1971 and so my mum didn’t think twice about letting me pick out my own books without hovering. She knew I wouldn’t be destructive and the librarians were used to my presence a couple of times a week at least. Little did anyone suspect that my first chance to check out library books on my own would result in me determinedly climbing up and downstairs to deliver my books to the top stair awaiting checkout. After all, the rule was all the books I could carry not all the books I could carry to the car! After much laughter, the pile of books which was taller than my chubby, blonde self was checked out and shuttled to the car. Needless to say, the rule was promptly changed to all the books I could carry to the car even though my parents both knew it meant more frequent trips to the library than ever before.
The point to that glimpse into my life, I’ve been reading for well over forty years and I’ve got some very definite pet peeves.
Death in the Opening Pages
Seriously, want me to put your book aside faster than a child spits out a cooked vegetable? Kill off a character in the first couple of pages of the book and I will be closing the book, giving it a horrible review, and moving on to other books. I don’t care what the setting, if dead bodies start appearing before the settings and characters are established then I’m done. Why kill off characters before you’ve established anything about anything other than to have the bodies pile up? I’m sure there are plenty of readers that like that style but not me.
Swearing for the Sake of Swearing
I swear but it is rare and only at home when we don’t have company. My husband swears far more than I’m comfortable with but he’s swearing less every year and not in public. My general philosophy is if you have to result to swearing to make your point than you have a poor grasp of the English language. Authors who swear are the worst offenders. I don’t mean situations like an shock stumbling onto the body of your best friend or something else as traumatic. I mean swearing when you get out of the car because the character is frustrated or when things don’t go the way the character expected. Seriously, these authors just get under my skin and I will never read another word by them again.
Poorly Written and/or Unlikeable Characters
Nothing is more irritating that trying to suffer through a book where the protagonist is thoroughly unlikeable. Characters that don’t like animals immediately spring to mind as an example of unlikeable characters. I’m not going to invest time in reading characters that I wouldn’t want to be friends with in real life. Poorly written characters are a close second to unlikeable characters. Failure to establish a backstory, no personality quirks, no personal details all make for examples of poorly written characters. Every human has quirks, has a history, and has personal details so why would any of these details be left out by an author? This offense won’t guarantee a one star rating like the previous two pet peeves, but the rest of the book would have to be so incredibly amazing that it could overcome this pet peeve. To be honest, no offending author has ever overcome the hurdle.