Saturday, 9 January 2010

Brilliant : Annoying

Sometimes you read a book, fall in love with it, glom everything the author has written and then bask in the afterglow. Sometimes you read a book, get two pages in and throw it at the wall. Most of the books you read will hopefully be at least an enjoyable way to pass a few hours.

At least you know where you stand.

Because then there are the brilliant annoying books. (Annoying is nowhere near a strong enough description but explains the kernel of the feeling so well.)

These are the books where one aspect is so brilliant, so original that it blows you away. Unfortunately it's fighting against an aspect that is so wall-bangingly annoying it makes you want to tear your hair out in frustration.

Then you're stuck in the brilliant/annoying dilemma. Is this book more brilliant than annoying? Or more annoying than brilliant? And if this book is more annoying than brilliant where is the authors next book going to fall on the continuum.

Example - bearing in mind this is completely subjective. One persons annoying is another persons literary addiction.

Kushiel's Dart. Brilliant in its superb worldbuilding, complex characters and plot, beautifully written. Annoying in that it has one of the most irritating heroines ever and the most insomnia inducing first few pages ever written. (I always credit this book as the one that taught me you don't have to love the heroine to love the world she inhabits).

I'd also include the BDB as examples of brilliant/annoying books. With the brilliance (plot akin to crack because it's so addictive) usually overshadowing the annoying (product placement).

So at what brilliant:annoying ratio do you give up? When should you persevere and push through your frustration?

I'm asking the question at the moment because a couple of days ago I thought a book was DNF. But then I picked it up again today and started reading and it was good. I am afraid however that the brilliance of one particular aspect and how it touches the whole book is not enough to compensate for the fact that the heroine really gets on my wick.

So do you have any brilliant/annoying books. I have a copy of Jory Strong's Ghostland to give away to one person who comments on this thread. Poster chosen randomly. Giveaway open until next Friday when I'll announce the winner.


Jenre said...

Great post Lesley.

These are the sort of books which drive me mad as a reviewer. On one hand I may have serious objections to some aspects of a book and yet other aspects just blow me away with their originality. What sort of grade do I give such a book? How do I review it and get both my concerns and my delights? It's a tough one and often these sort of books end up getting pushed to the bottom of the reviewing pile until I can sort it all out in my head :).

Renee said...

Such a true reading experience with some books! For me, it's the Anita Blake series, and more recently, the Stephanie Plum series.
When reviewing, it's such a hard call, because I find that even though there may be much good about the book, when I write about it, I get really caught up in the frustrating part of the book.

LesleyW said...

Jenre - this is the other dilemma. Especially as the aspect you find annoying may be specific to you as a person. How do you get across what is wonderful about the book without putting people off with what you found frustrating. And at the same time you want to be honest about your opinion.

LesleyW said...

Renee - the Anita Blake books (for me) are a good example of the brilliant:annoying ratio starting at 100:0, and then as the series progresses slowly changing until they were 0:100.

And I think that the frustrating part of a book if it's annoying enough can completely overshadow the brilliance. Kind of like an annoying sound that sets your teeth on edge. Every time you read the annoying thing it just gets worse and worse.

Li said...

Oh, so true! Especially the dilemma about where the next book is going to fall on the brilliant/annoying continuum.

There's this series where I loved the first book, heroine became way too annoying and TSTL in the second, sort of redeemed herself in the third, but the fourth was almost a DNF. I'm almost at the point of giving up on this series, but there is this nagging "but what if the fifth is back to being brilliant...".

LesleyW said...

Li - that's it! There's always the worry that if the next book is brilliant that you're going to miss out.

Nicole said...

For me, brilliant / annoying books only stay brilliant for a short while. The annoying level can remain the same, but the brilliant level must increase for me to continue reading a series.

As mentioned, the BDB is a good example of this. (I gave up when I could barely finish Phury's book.) As is Anita Blake. (I don't even remember where I gave up, but I'm never going back nor touching another LKH.)

I also found The DaVinci Code to be brilliant / annoying. The brilliant was in the pacing of the chapter layout and the way the words made it a page turner. But since just about everything else was annoying, I won't be reading another Dan Brown, either.

LesleyW said...

Nicole - I'm still struggling on with the BDB. Mainly because I'd like to read John Matthew's book. Though saying that I still haven't read Rehvenge's book, it's been languishing on my TBR pile since I bought it.