What makes you put down a book?

Another thread that got a lot of traction on the old board.

What would make you put down a book without finishing it? What are some mistakes that writers should avoid? What storylines, plots, or tropes are you just tired of seeing?

The OP of the original thread mentioned too much backstory. I agree–backstory is not story, and I’m there to read the story.

I’d also add too many factual errors, like if characters keep getting bonked on the head, but come to just when the plot needs them to without any lasting harm done (I’m looking at you, Stranger Things 3). That’s not how head injuries work.

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Inconsistencies are a big one for me, in all their forms–plot holes that don’t make sense, characters that act inconsistently with their established motivations, worldbuilding that doesn’t line up, magic that violates Da Rules the book has established…

Now, sometimes an “inconsistency” is just a difference in interpretation, or it’s something that will be made clear later in a book, or something along those lines. I love a good reveal or a mystery the reader can plausibly solve. But when Josephine is deathly afraid of snakes on page 11 and fearlessly climbing into a pit of vipers on page 12 and she isn’t lying/possessed/an alternate personality/an imposter… that’s not gonna work for me. If the author doesn’t care enough about their story to stay consistent, then why should I?

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Characters that get boring once X happens. X might be a relationship, meeting some goal, the author forgetting that they exist… but it drives me nuts when the character that I loved in the first act is a drag to read about in the second.

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I’m not afraid to put down books I’ve invested time into. I know some people feel the need to slog it out until the end, but I am not one of those people!

Worldbuilding is fun but when there’s too much description of every little item and working of the world, I get bored. I feel like it’s done just right when I actually wish there was more description, because I want to know more. Like if I just had an encyclopedia of that book’s world, then I’d be happy. :rofl:

I don’t enjoy being preached to in books, or when the author is trying too hard. I don’t know how to explain it, but if I start rolling my eyes or cringing, I have to put it down.

Another one is lack of editing. I can understand a few typos and mistakes getting through, but I’ve read books where it seems like the editor was sleeping on the job (if they existed in the first place).

And this one doesn’t happen so much in books, but in films/TV: shoehorned romance, especially heterosexual. Just because a man and a woman are in a movie together does not mean they have to be with each other. Ugh. Give me chemistry and logical reasons why, please! And if it’s not a romance in the first place, then double ugh.

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I just put down, well if you can put down an ebook LOL
[suddenly cracking up about injecting my kindle with a deathy poison through a sharp syringe right in the … screen!!!bahahaha]

No hook at the beginning. It doesn’t take too much for me: a great action thing that makes me wonder what’s going to happen next, something weird or mysterious about a character…or really just a character that has something going on. Just something to get me interested in what is going to happen. Here lately, I have struggled to get interested and even when things turned out great or even good… it’s kinda hard to forgive the broken glass you had to crawl through to get there.

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I know that first person POV comes in different flavors but I struggle to keep reading a story when the protagonist(s) all speak in first person and they just seem to magically know everything, even if they’re new to a location/experience/world/life state.

When a character comes across as combative and aggressive for no reason except that the writer seems to think it makes for a strong character, like someone who is considerate and has respect for others can’t also be a strong person.

My biggest problem is when a book has been edited but whoever did the editing consistently misses when the wrong words are being used. If it’s just a once in a while thing it isn’t quite as annoying because I know it happens, but if a chapter has a whole bunch of similar mistakes I honestly have to stop reading because I start to pay more attention to those then I do the story itself.

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Dropped threads or forgotten information – mainly in series. It doesn’t make me put them down, but it does make me irritated.

For example, in one book, there was a character who felt guilty about a particular death, but she was never accused and the whole town supported her. Then she left for some reason (can’t remember the reason), and when she came back, she “remembered” how the whole town had accused her of murder. But that hadn’t actually happened in the books…

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My friend ran a short-lived book club. She wished she could have put the book down. At one point the character commented “they brought me into a hallway I didn’t know existed”

The character had been in the building for six hours, there were likely many hallways she didn’t know existed.

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The reason I most often put down a book is if I can’t suspend my disbelief anymore. For example, I started a book that was highly recommended to me in which the main character begins as an 8 year old. Of course, this 8 year old was such a prodigy that they were the most mature character in the entire book, figuring out why another character acted the way they did and defying them because the other character is obviously evil. I just couldn’t continue reading about an 8 year old kid who I kept picturing as 30 because of his actions and ability to deduce so astutely.

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When the question that rises, from the hook, pays off in the first plot point. I get madder when the payoff never comes and I’ve reached the end. If there is a bigger secondary hook before the first payoff, the same applies, if it pays off too soon–I’m done reading.

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Reasons I have put down books:

  • I wasn’t interested in any of the characters left alive
  • The inciting incident didn’t happen until halfway through the book
  • The plot was convoluted and the tension too low to compensate
  • The protagonist went from fully competent to whiny and clingy after getting into a relationship
  • The first POV character was super condescending to a mythological creature I love (shallow, I know, but still)
  • I actively disliked half the POV characters and wasn’t particularly fond of the others
  • Blatant transphobia
  • Repeated violations of my suspension of disbelief
  • Blatant sexism
  • Blatant racism (looking at you, Lovecraft)
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OKAY but smug characters in general drive me crazy! I love a good snarker, but there’s a fine line between “this person is sarcastic or irreverent but still competent and likable” and “this person is hideously annoying but the author is convinced they’re amazing and witty and they won’t shut up”.

I thought of another one, too–books with random plots, where things just sort of happen to the characters, with no connection to each other. I can’t remember the name, but there was this fantasy book I read a few years back that was HORRIBLE with this. It started off with one plot in one location, then suddenly it was Let’s Go To Magic School, then suddenly the main character joined a flying circus?? (I can’t remember exactly when this happened, but it was extremely weird), and then it was a war book, and… it just kept switching theme and direction.

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Agreed

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I’ve deleted many Free ebooks for making the mistake of not writing in the write tense from sentence to sentence. It was majorly annoying. Another thing that gets me to stop reading a book that’s a sequel to a book I liked, is when the sequel is about the first books Main Characters kids.

Finally, there have been a few series I’ve quit reading because for the first two or three books, it’s from the point of view of one character and then the next book, the author decides to have two or more point of views. In fact, only one series that’s done that but it made sense to me, and didn’t bug me, was the Bloodline Series by Richelle Mead.

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Another thing I hate – when the back cover blurb doesn’t accurately represent what the story inside is about. It’s not always the author’s fault, but when I’m expecting X and get Y I tend to get bummed out. Even if Y is actually very nice itself.

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If a character isn’t likable (as in they have zero redeeming character traits). When main character has plot happening to them instead of them control over them. Excessive misogyny, ableism, or discrimination against LGBTQIA2S+ folks.

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One of my characters is a 20-something edgelord. Based on a real person who is a 20-something edgelord. Everyone hates this guy, I found him amusing because I didn’t have to deal with him often (and I was always just “research!”). I’m worried my readers will find him annoying.

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My main thing recently has been characters who don’t seem to have ‘appropriate’ reactions to what’s going on around them? Like, I know that people in real life don’t always react the way you expect them to, but I’ve started a few books recently where characters have horrible things happen, or big revelations, or changes in circumstances, and they just have… no reaction. And there are no emotional consequences to the events.

I also agree with the casual racism/sexism/ableism/homophobia/transphobia etc. I don’t mind it so much if it’s a character trait and portrayed as negative, but if it’s in the POV character or the narration, it’s a super turnoff.

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I agree with many of the above reasons, but the last book I walked away from and dusted off my hands was because the previously very smart, savvy, competent heroine intentionally walked herself right into an obvious trap for an inadequate reason. It was pretty obvious that this smart girl was knowingly doing a dumb thing just to move the plot along. My eyes. They roll.

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I’d like to add ‘fridging the only two women main characters in the book so the men can have plot/character arcs’ to my list :angry:

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