1. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    James Patterson

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by MilesTro, Apr 2, 2013.

    Does anyone here enjoy James Patterson's books? If not, then why? Not a lot of people seem to be talking much about his work. I know he gets co authors to finish his novels, but I still like his simple writing styles. Plus his novels are on the bestselling list, mostly thrillers.
     
  2. live2write
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    live2write Contributing Member

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    Funny is a friend of my told me to read "Miracle of the 17th Green". When I get a chance to go to the library I will take a read.
     
  3. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    It is a sad commentary on modern times when James Patterson is held up as a shining example of what good literature is. A large contingent of readers are monkey see, monkey do. They don't think about, analyze, or feel the words they are reading. Like bad reality TV, Patterson's books are nothing more than a distraction. People read them to be busy, and to stay current with the trends.

    The writing is overly simplistic, an insult to any reader of decent, discerning intelligence. There is no power, passion, no touch of authenticity to his writing; it is a staid, mechanical habit. Reading is about escapism, not endless predictability. Good characters, good storytelling...It is multidimensional, it should suck you in, swallowing the world around you. It shouldn't be like trying to eat with a canker sore, and honestly, I find that more enjoyable than trying to force down a Patterson novel.

    I cheer each and every week that his books are not listed among the bestsellers, but those weeks are few and far between. People have become hopelessly inured on such pitiful literary offerings that they have come to fear true writing. I work at a bookstore and it is easy to spot the difference between actual readers and the bestselling groupies.

    Reading requires active intellectual involvement, but there are also two distinctive types of reading: Required and/or educational, and pleasure reading. Patterson falls firmly into the latter category, but fails miserably to achieve the goal of literary escapism. Good books should make you think, ask questions, or elicit an emotional response. It should engage your attention more than a technical manual or instructive text, although, there is a lot of very well written non-fiction out there.

    People like Patterson because they don't have to exert much effort to read his work. He is a white noise author. There to distract and cancel out without involving actual conscious effort. I think it says a lot about this forum that his books aren't gushed over in the book discussion boards. Patterson appeals to mass society because he is easy, a habit, not because he is good at what he does. At one time, he may have had an ambition to be a good writer, but the continuous mechanical regurgitation of novels has long since killed any touch of true authorship.
     
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  4. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Well said Darkkin.
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Back in middle school, I began reading the Alex Cross series, but I ended up quitting after the 3rd or 4th book. It wasn't because of the writing or anything like that. I just found another series that I really wanted to read.

    I agree with most of what Darkkin wrote. I do see a lot of people reading Patterson on the bus or airport, but I don't know how many of these people actually think Patterson is a good writer. Once in a while I'll read and finish a poorly written book, but, like Darkkin said, this is only because the book is an easy read and doesn't require much thinking. Sometimes I just need a break from the books that make you think a lot.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Patterson has as many writing styles as he has collaborators. I enjoy the Women's Murder Club series, with each author who has penned it. Many of the other books bearing his name have left me cold.
     
  7. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I agree that most of his books are cliche' and predictable. Based on his fast pace simple details, he is more into making it easier for the readers to understand what is going on; probably aimed to readers who don't have a good readership. I admit that I am one of those type of readers. I don't remember all the meaning of the advance words in sentences, my grammar is crap, and I can only imagine a few things that I can understand from a book. A book that tells the story is really easy for me to understand, but sentences that only show the action or the characters' emotion is hard for me to understand. If all novels require everybody to have advance reading to understand the narratives, then the crappy readers will only read picture books. James Patterson, I think, just wants his novels to be easy to read for everybody, and that is why they are on the bestselling list. Plus he still has his own passion of writing. And it shouldn't matter of what type of story you decide to write, even if it is cliche' or predictable. What also makes his novels good are lots of cliff hangers and twists.
     
  8. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    It boils down to personal opinion, and he has not written anything I would consider good. His cliffhangers and plot twists are nonexistent. There is no depth nor dimension. His characters are as flat and lifeless as the paper on which they are printed. I like and respect authors who appreciate their readers' intelligence, those who don't take it for granted. Readers only become better if they actually read and James Patterson doesn't extoll any effort in that direction.

    In the long run, readers are doing themselves a disservice by discounting books because they appear to require effort to comprehend. Larger vocabulary, longer chapters, and intricate punctuation...These need to be seen, read in context to be understood. It is how we learn. Voice, description, emotions...These are what make characters, what makes them truly tangible. That is what writing is about.

    The more one reads, the better they become with both reading comprehension, grammar, and writing in general. It is a lack of motivation, and sometimes fear, which has lead to a decline in literary standards. I refuse to let my standards fall. I write on the level I like to read. These authors have shown a respect for my intellect, I can do no less. I hold true to a foolish ideal, but it an effort I have to make.

    Wretched literature is published for a reason. It is a spark of inspiration when we are about to give into doubt about our own abilities. How many of you have invested time in a poorly written novel only to set it down thinking: 'I could do better than this...'? Patterson has a purpose, but his writing isn't good by any stretch of the imagination.

    I know I'm being as subtle as a sledgehammer about this, but people and opinions are as diverse as the grains of sand upon a shore.

    - Darkkin, the Tedious
     
  9. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I respect your opinion. We all have our own taste and dislikes. Even if reading more books help us become better readers, there are some readers who are born with learning disabilities. They can read, but not as good as normal readers.

    If I read a book that spent too much time on characterization and bringing you into the motive of feeling the emotion with a lot of showing, it will give me a headache. I prefer to read books that stick to the main topic with less characterization and background information. All novels are different and don't have to follow what every reader believes what writing should be about.

    And publishers seem only interested in books that sell well, no matter how simple the writing is. If they can make lots of money on it, then they will publish it.

    I guess since lots of people buy James Patterson's books is because simple narrative are becoming more domain than artistic novels.

    In my short story writing class, our teacher read us some books that is all about style, and I never heard of them in public. They sound very rare to me.
     
  10. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    I have severe ADHD, so I am well aware of labels and learning disabilities. My younger brother isn't a good reader and avoids books as if they were a plague. But, I'm straying off topic here.

    What I would like to point out is that there is a huge difference between a stark narrative and overly simplistic storytelling. Hemingway's the Old Man and the Sea, Steinbeck's The Pearl and Of Mice and Men. These are stark narratives. C.S. Lewis created an entire world, taking it from humble foundations to a final epic end, with a fluid simplicity that is breathtaking. William Golding took a group of school boys and reduced them to barbarians in the blink of an eye. These books are classics for a reason.

    As far as artistic novels being rare. This just isn't the case. Take a step away from the bestsellers and press a little deeper into a bookstore or library. Look at the genres of mystery, science fiction, fantasy, horror, and romance. Most of these won't be on the bestsellers, but word of mouth recommendations. There is a certain element among these books that is lacking in Patterson's work, an honesty and a passion stemming from the author. These are not stark narratives, but true works of fiction from the back story to the characters. There are even a few of these artistic novels giving Mr. Patterson a challenge on the bestsellers. The Wheel of Time series, the King Killer Chronicles, and the Song of Ice and Fire series, are just a few that spring to mind.

    Patterson's style serves as a spring board for reluctant or challenged readers, but he shouldn't be the only thing they read, just because his chapter length is comparable to that of the Magic Tree House series. As I mentioned before fear and lack of motivation are two factors that have greatly impacted the literary standards of today. People just don't want to try.

    Geek is going mainstream again, which does lend some hope to the future of literature. But try looking beyond Patterson, look for other gateway authors who have a similar style. Talk to librarians, booksellers, friends, family...See what they are reading, see how it compares to your own preferences.
     
  11. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I believe not all writing can be bad. If there are bad writing, authors will be discriminated. Every writer has their own style. But I am confuse of which bestseller book is good, and which one is bad. Why are they bestsellers? Are the publishers just calling them bestsellers to make people buy them? Or there are a lot of people who prefer to read those type of books.

    I don't focus reading only bestselling novels. Most of the Teen Picks are fantasy and dystopian books. And they all sound like follow ups of Twilight and Hunger Games.

    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/teen-picks?keyword=teen+picks&store=book

    I usually read books that interest me in the back of the bookstore.

    James Patterson also wrote a new book for preschool kids called Middle Shool the worst years of my life. There are som interesting parts in it, but it is too much like the Diary of a Wimpy. I guess James sometimes have a hard time coming up with new ideas.
     
  12. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    I haven't read any of the Women's Murder Club series. His early stuff wasn't bad, but over that last 10 years I have read the first few chapters of many of his and/or whoever's and they appear to be as bad as Myer's.
     
  13. Birmingham
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    Birmingham Active Member

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    I think that Patterson is a mixed bag. There are some things in his writing that I like, and some that I dislike, and even have contempt for. I hate those fake little cliffhangers at the end of his Alex Cross novels. They're not even real, and they simply insult the intelligence of his readers. I did like the first Alex Cross novel "Along Came A Spider", and I liked that specific villain (who shall remain unnamed because it's a mini-spoiler if I mention the name). That villain appears later on in other books, and I enjoy some of the little mind games he plays on Alex. He's a well crafted bully. In the end if Jack & Jill, when he says "Are you enjoying her, Alex?" If you read it in context you'll know what I mean.

    In both the first and second book of the Cross series he touches on what frustrates his villains in a very human level. The villain of Spider struggles with having to live a mundane life filled with bills to pay and beaurocratic nonsense, and feels unappreciated by the world. In the second novel, "Kiss The Girls", we see two villains, each had to hide his nature from society, each had to hunt as a lone wolf, they found one another and could finally open up to another human being about who and what they are.

    I wouldn't be surprised if Patterson had written about himself. Wouldn't be surprised if he looked at his own bills and thought "I'm so much better than this. I have a mind that would one day produce a best seller, and cannot be troubled with this gray and ordinary existence."

    The third novel sucked, and the fourth bores me so far. And the Alex Cross movies sucked, btw (two with Morgan Freeman as Cross. One with Tyler Perry as Cross).

    I think even if you hate him, there could always be things you could take from Patterson. If Patterson is a semi-dry corpse lying in the desert of book-writing, you should take all the good parts and pick it clean, then fly to your nest, chew your Patterson parts, and feed them to the mouths of your little characters. Let them grow using any inspirational material that you find, even if it's from a novelist who is far from perfect.

    Patterson has more experience than I do writing true bullies, people who would mock and mock and won't stop. People who would kick you to get you down, then kick you when you're down, then kick you for five hours after you've passed out. When I had to write such a character, it was around the time I read a Patterson novel I didn't like. However, there was such character, with such mentality, and it helped to inspire me.
     
  14. Birmingham
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    Birmingham Active Member

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    Oh, and I almost forgot!!!

    What about the way he moves between first person and third person? I don't know if you like it or not, and maybe that should be talked about on a different thread, but he inspired other writers to follow his style. Look at Harlan Coben. Look at Linwood Barclay. Barclay started with a very unique style of intruducing the plot through a third person character and then telling the rest of the plot in first person through a different character, but he quickly dumped that to follow Patterson and Coben. All three authors, btw, I think, are examples of people who started off nicely and gradually deteriorated.
     
  15. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Patterson was not the first person to ever switch POV's in a novel before.
     
  16. Birmingham
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    Birmingham Active Member

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    Nee, are you refering to the specific tactic he uses, or to switching POV in general? I'm not saying he was the first to switch POV. That's been done a kazillion times, from one third person pov, to another third person pov, to another third person pov. Who was the first you've seen who switches from first to third? Cos I know of only three authors.
     
  17. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    Well, that came completely out of nowhere...Just saying...
     
  18. Birmingham
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    Birmingham Active Member

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    Yeah, well, I was in the area, so I thought I'll make a quick stop at that neighborhood. I wouldn't want though to digress off the main topic TOO much. And these people probably don't know who they are anyway.
     
  19. Birmingham
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    Birmingham Active Member

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    More and more thoughts about Patterson are starting to pop. I've written today a bit on why I like him (at least some of his work), and less about the things I don't like about him.

    One thing I don't like about him is that he cheats, in my opinion. In "Along Came A Spider" Alex tells us, the readers, about the circumstances his wife died. He doesn't just tell Jezzie or some other character, but he tells us. Therefore, he tells us "the facts". Now, if Patterson wants to kill Maria Cross, under any circumstances he wants, fine. But he should make up a story and stick to it. But when he decides, as a matter of objective reality in the Cross universe, that Maria dies away from Alex, and then, 10 books later, he regrets it for artistic reasons, and therefore rewrites history to make Alex a witness to the death, well, that's just cheating in my opinion. He can't do that. If he wanted to have done that, he should have thought about that before writing the first book.

    Michael Crichton did it with Ian Malcolm (who died in Jurassic Park yet came back to life in the sequel) and Kevin Williamson did it in Scream (David Arquette dies in the first movie but is alive on Scream 2).

    Second form of cheating:

    Supposedly the Cross series takes place in our reality. There are references to cultural and political figures all the time. From Ran & Stimpy, to Princes Di, to George Bush Sr. to Bill Clinton (and, I'm sure, George Dubya and Barack Obama later on). Meaning that if Patterson wants to add a political character of a contemporary president and VP... he should not do it with the Cross series. But, of course, he did. There was President Thomas Burns, an independent (yes, an independent who WON the elections in the 90s). He was president in the 90s, in the Cross universe, which included Bush and Clinton as presidents in that era. That's just dumb and annoying. Again, cheating in my opinion. You have to have a reasonable amount of logic and realism if you pick a certain route for a universe or a certain genre. You can't have everything all the time. You can't have Alex Cross dying one way and then dying another way. You can't have the world of your character to include fictional presidents and then real ones, IN THE EXACT SAME ERA. Pick one, because the readers expect SOME logic.

    So, like I said. We should focus on what Patterson did right (which he did) and use that to inspire us or teach us. And use what he did wrong to make sure we don't do that ourselves.
     
  20. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    How can you bring back dead characters to life? And redoing it sounds stupid. If I wrote a book, I would keep all my characters dead and stick to the establish concept. If it is a comedy, it shouldn't matter, but serious books shouldn't cross the line.

    I also thought most readers don't care about logic in books as long as the characters and the plot are good.
     
  21. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    How can you bring back dead characters to life? And redoing it sounds stupid. If I wrote a book, I would keep all my characters dead and stick to the establish concept. If it is a comedy, it shouldn't matter, but serious books shouldn't cross the line.

    I also thought most readers don't care about logic in books as long as the characters and the plot are good.
     
  22. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    And have any of those people actually posted in this thread?
     
  23. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    What about his characters in his young adult novels like Wizard and Witch, Daniel X, and Maxuim Ride?
     
  24. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    This is a fatal assumption for any writer. How can a good book not have a basis in logic? Plausibility is inherent to the human condition and all good writing has it. You can't have a well rounded plot without it. Should a writer take their readers' understanding for granted, it will come back to bit them. Most people are discerning enough to put two and two together and know that it doesn't make five.
     
  25. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    He has made 35 such assumptions in the last week alone. It's getting very old.
     

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