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  1. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Way to ruin a book

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Steerpike, Jun 21, 2011.

    So I'm reading Under the Overtree, a horror novel by James A. Moore. His first book (2000) and not bad.

    There have been some killings in this small town, and in one scene the medical examiner is telling the sheriff that he's found some strange proteins associated with the remains.

    Ok, small-town medical examiner happens to find some weird protein. Bit of a stretch, but I'll go with it, particularly since the author gives a little back story and you find out the guy is supposed to be a good scientist and would-be researcher etc.

    Next, the sheriff asks the medical examiner what is so strange about the protein.

    The medical examiner and supposed gifted scientist says: "it doesn't seem to have any form of DNA configuration."

    Yes, I think, that's because it is a protein. Dumbass.

    Then, to top it off, when speculating on what it might be, the medical examiner/scientist says: "If I didn't know that kind of crap was for the birds, I'd think I was actually studying a physical example of ectoplasm....the stuff that supernatural entities are supposed to build their bodies from."

    Uh-huh. Ectoplasm. The stuff you've never seen before, and that until five minutes ago thought was a fictional substance from horror books and movies. The stuff that neither you nor anyone else has a sample of through which, by way of comparison, to decide that your strange protein is ectoplasm.

    Riiiight.

    "Hey Jim, check out this strange protein with no DNA in it. Must be ectoplasm."

    WTF?

    I'm tempted to throw the book in the trash, even though on the whole it is fairly decent.

    Any of the rest of you have examples of stupid and unnecessary things a writer does to just ruin a book, whether through skipping basic research or something else?
     
  2. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    I hate it when people throw in technobable and do not put an ounce of research behind it. I was watching a show last night where a guy says "The hydroelectric power cable has been eaten away." Just because the power plant is hydroelectric does not mean that the power cable is not just a power cable. And do not get me started on the Flux Capacitor or Jigawatt.

    It is a sure sign of someone trying to make their character sound smart but in the end, they sound like idiots.

    Some times you have to just read past these things and go with it. Like Dan Brown's "Angles and Daemons".
     
  3. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ways to ruin books, thy name is Charles Brokaw. First there was 'The Atlantis Code'. (no, doesn't have anything to do with DaVinci Code. Not at all. Nope. Just happens to be in the same genre.) Guy meets girl. Girl hates him. Guy meets girl 2. Girl to loves him and instantly wants to have sex with him. Girl 1 hates him. A lot. Then late in the story, guy argues with girl 2, so he has sex with girl 1 instead. WTF?

    Then, Lucifer Code. Guy meets girl. Girl hates him. Guy meets girl 2. Guy has sex with her. A lot. Later in the story, guy has arguement with girl 2. Girl 2 doesn't want to have sex with him, so he has sex with girl 1 instead. Makes sense. Of course everyone wants to have sex with him. He's a linguist professor, after all. Regular superman here.

    The whole "guy has sex with girl 1 for no apparent reason even though girl 1 hated him through the whole story" was bad enough in the first book, but then he did the exact same thing in the second book? Not to mention guy meets girl he hasn't met in years. "Let's go have sex now." "Sure thing!" and off they go.

    The sad thing is both books would have been pretty good if that guy could stick to one woman pr book, or even leave the whole sex-thing out of the story. It pointless and ruins the characters he built up through the whole story.

    (and of course... do I have to mention girl 2 takes him back the next day in both books? And girl 1 is fine with it?)
     
  4. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Dr Seuss' Oh, The Places You'll Go is - very nearly - ruined by the verse that concludes with the following lines

    Amid a lot of other stuff that is moving and consoling and enlivening that bit really stinks. A grim, superficial philosophy. Always tempting to rip that page from the book.
     
  5. Ashrynn
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    Ashrynn Active Member

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    NEVER QUESTION THE FLUX CAPACITOR!

    Hehe, yeah it's rather cute. I hate over-research when a writer tried to sound too smart about something in a book.
     
  6. teacherayala
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    teacherayala Contributing Member

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    I just hate contrived illnesses/deaths given to protagonists for shock factor. Nicholas Sparks' A Walk to Remember got thrown across the room. Not just because he set up this near-perfect angelic creature of a girl, but also because he then decided the best thing to do in order to create the "most touching and inspiring" effect was to kill her off with leukemia or something like that. Really ticked me off how manipulative it was.
     
  7. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I hate when writers build and build and build up a story toward some big event, like a battle or something like that, only to back out at the last second or deliver some awful cop-out. I hate Twilight, but Breaking Dawn is a good example of that.
     
  8. Wes
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    Wes Member

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    Three words... Under the Dome... Mr. King could have done so much better. The build was great, the characters (as many as there were) were defined. The climax was... um... Was there a climax? I forget... Yea. 1000+ pages for a cop out ending. Depressing.
     
  9. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    "Wear it home home it will look like a dress." What rubbish, I totally agree with you.

    Harry potter was anther one of those buildups and then fizzled at the end.
     
  10. Jessica_312
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    Jessica_312 Contributing Member

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    I can't think of a book off the top of my head but I can think of a movie. Shyamalan's Signs. Such a great buildup. Tension being built, things are amiss, good character development, and then oh no the aliens are invading the house, oh no the heroes are locked in the basement, the power goes out, aliens at the other side of the door... then, BOOM! The aliens have gone, vanished. Radio announcement says they'd been defeated using "primitive methods" (never elaborated on what exactly "primitive methods" means - beaten with sticks? Put in the stocks? Rotten cabbage and fruit thrown at their heads? I mean, come on!). Oh, and apparently water kills these aliens and swinging a baseball bat at a water glass is instant kryptonite. Such highly intelligent creatures have a little allergy to water yet choose to invade a planet that's made up of mostly... water. RIIIGGGHHHTTTT.
     
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  11. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    James Clavell used to do this sort of thing. He'd take you through a 1000+ page novel, full of characters and events and amazing Asian stuff, then he'd resolve all issues with a natural disaster. Just at the moment of climax, he'd have a huge earthquake (Shogun) or a huge mudslide (Noble House) and the conflict between characters disappears because one of them is dead due to an act of God. That's a lot of reading to go through, just to end up with some random event solving the problem.

    Come on, writers. We can do better than that.
     
  12. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Haha, Signs was a bit ridiculous. Such a great start, such a boring ending. But keep in mind this is the same guy who gave us "Lady in the water". I haven't met anyone who dare admit having enjoyed that movie. I tried my best, but... no. :p

    Moving back to books, there's one thing that's starting to annoy me a lot. Why can't people write normal crime stories where they investigate an unknown killer? Far too often they seem to want to make the killer more "normal" or something and make him or her a part of the main story. The cops still investigate and all that and try to find out who did it, but what's the point if we already know who the killer is?

    Movies suffer from some of the same. We have two famous people on the cover. One of them is the leading police detective. The other is apparently a normal person that doesn't have much to do with the story. Hm... could that one be the killer? :rolleyes:
     
  13. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    And they didn't even bring their raincoats!
     
  14. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    I liked both. :D Now you've met someone who dares admit they enjoyed Lady in the Water.

    I hate that, too. One of the best part of books like that is trying to guess which character is the bad guy...when they make it totally obvious, that takes all the fun out of it.
     
  15. The Degenerate
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    The Degenerate Active Member

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    And The Village. And The Happening. And that Avatar movie. Oh dear...
     
  16. Ryan.Sh6w
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    Ryan.Sh6w New Member

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    The two biggest literary disappointments for me were 1) Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood and 2) The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling.

    1. I would actually highly recommend Oryx and Crake for those of you that like dystopian fiction. It's written in a really engaging way and Atwood's vision of the future is kind of unique and interesting. The problem is that the book has potentially the worst ending I've ever read.

    *spoiler*

    It basically has the main character, who has been the lone human survivor for a number of years encounter more humans on a beach. Rather than talking about whether he meets them or doesn't or whatever the book just ends. It's ridiculous.

    I've heard Atwood does that kind of thing a lot but authors who build to a theme or conclusion that doesn't get explored drives me up the wall.

    2. Probably a little more familiar to everyone but.. deathly hallows? Really?! Deus Ex Machina anyone? I just didn't buy the connection of those objects to the rest of the books. I know it would have taken a tremendous amount of foresight for her to have inserted references to the Hallows starting in book one, but without those references, the hallows as a plot device just felt really random and out of place.

    So I guess I can sum it up this way: people who have a vision for a series of fiction (whether that be TV or books *cough cough Lost cough*) and don't know how they're going to end it drive me crazy.
     
  17. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hm... I dunno. Someone could have hacked your account and written that post. It's a lot more likely that you liking that sorry excuse for a movie. :D

    (unless... you aren't M. Night Shyamalan by any chance?) :D
     
  18. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Only Atwood I ever tried to read was The Handmaid's Tale. I tried to stick with it despite the ridiculous premise at the beginning, and then by the time I got about 1/4 of the way in I put it away and vowed not to pick up another of her novels absent some glowing recommendation from someone personally known to me (and whose opinion I trust).
     
  19. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I got confused about the whole wand thing in the last book. However, what made the last book suck was the big final battle. Just Harry lecturing Voldemort about how wrong Voldy was and how very stupid he'd be to try and cast Avada Kedarva at Harry one more time. This while they're surrounded by teachers, students, and other Death Eaters whom all very likely just watch in abject horror or just twiddle their thumbs.

    I mean, that'd be like if Luke Skywalker spun around to face the Emperor, used the Force to grab his lightsaber....only to make it ignite by itself right into the Emperor's chest before using the Force to switch off Vader's chest panel and walk calmly out of the Second Death Star.
     
  20. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I liked The Blind Assassin, but I haven't read anything else of hers yet.
     
  21. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    @Ryan-Hey, I don't.

    I agree that I was like,"Woah woah woah, random hallows? Forget about it! Go hunt horcruxes or something!"

    But although I've never read that particular book, the ending sounds... well, it makes you wonder what happened after that. I like that kind of ending.

    For me, the greatest literacy disappointment AND amazement was the ending of His Dark Materials. I was so upset Will and Lyra were separated, forever, and yet it was such a brilliant plot twist(though Xaphania just randomly showing up and saying,"trolololo, you two have got to live apart" was a little corny).
     
  22. hiddennovelist
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    I like being respectful of other people's opinions, too. ;)

    Aw, now I'm never going to read that book.
     
  23. thesims
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    Sorry this is too tempting... the professor is probably a cunning linguist. :p
     
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  24. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Great series of books. You should give it a shot ;)
     
  25. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    You ought to have enough respect for people on this site to hide the rest of what you said in spoiler tags. The title of the thread was not an invitation to ruin books for other people.
     

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