Monday, August 30, 2010

To "Michael"

Hello there, "off-putted" and "ticked off" reader o' my blog,*

I am glad you stumbled upon my blog, and I would hope that my review of Bree Despain's novel The Dark Divine did not upset you enough that you did not read more of my reviews or other posts that I have done. I hope you come back often (even though I doubt you will judging by your comments) and see what other things there are to see. I have taken your comments to heart. So much so that I am going to go through and respond to the whole thing. Here we go:

"Michael" said:

I came across your blog while I was looking for reviews of this book because I was interested in learning more (have not read it yet). Frankly, I found your post quite off-putting and the more I thought about it, the more it really started to tick me off.

I said:

First off, you have not read the book, therefore you really cannot defend it too much. I hate to say that. Even if I did not compare this book to Twilight then it would still be poorly done and it would get the same rating from me. The only reason I read it was because it was there and I was going through a phase where I wanted to read young adult literature. Honestly, I think my review has done you a favor of not wasting your time with the book. Unless you like books that are severely predictable and dull, not to mention poorly written.

Michael said:

I think it is actually you that are suffering from Twilight Syndrome. This "formula" you complain about is what we call Paranormal Romance. It's a genre. One that has been around for hundreds of years. If you are tired of it. . . read a different genre! Twilight just swung the genre back into the foucs of the general public.

I said:

You misspelled focus. Maybe you're too worked up over this to type correctly. I really am sorry for the heartburn my opinion, I mean, review caused you.

Exactly how am I suffering from Twilight Syndrome? I have never made it a big secret that I have qualms about Meyer's saga (by the way, they call it a saga but, really, it shouldn't be called a saga. Sagas take place over several years...moving on). But really I don't understand how I suffer from a syndrome that I made the definition for and came up with the term for (I'm sure someone else has used it in some other way. I don't claim full credit for it). Basically the Twilight Syndrome is this ghastly formula so prevalent in young adult literature today. Go to Barnes and Noble, "Michael", and just browse that section for a bit. Guarantee at least 80% of the books you pick up will have some sort of paranormal element (meaning a hunky werewolf or vampire or angel) that has this girl's heart in knots and her life in his ever-loving hands. Then try to tell me there is not some sort of significance to that. Just try and convince me that Stephenie Meyer's success has not, in some way, influenced the type of story we see on the bookshelves.

I wouldn't exactly put this or even Twilight in the paranormal romance genre. If you do then it would have to be on the same shelf as the trashy romance novels you see in Barnes and Noble that have the half-naked man with an eight-pack and a sword on the cover. This is young adult paranormal romance. I'll compromise.

I actually really like books that have a magical element in them. I have nothing against the genre. What I want to see in this genre is not what is actually there. I would like to see books that don't involve a girl falling for the mysterious guy that ends up being some sort of monster. That storyline has been hashed and rehashed to death. If I'm going to read that kind of story I would like there to be some sort of spin on it. And I would honestly like to see a reason for the two to fall in love besides an "undeniable attraction" (a.k.a. lust and hormones) or "bad-ass-ness" (a.k.a. the girl has daddy issues and so she turns to a man who will also treat her just as badly as her dad did/does). In neither Twilight, Hush, Hush, nor The Dark Divine is there really any reason for their attraction. As much as girls love Edward, how many can really say they would love the ice-cold, sparkly marble skin?

In other words, some depth would be nice. Maybe you're right. Maybe I'm asking too much of young adult authors. And maybe it's not completely their fault. I'm glad they're getting young people to read. But it would be nice if someone would have a little faith in teens' intelligences and actually write a book that makes them think. What a concept! Truth is, however, most teens would probably not read a book with depth. So it's just a vicious cycle. If I were a teen today, perusing the books in Barnes and Noble, in a section that is dedicated to me I would be slightly offended that my intelligence does not require more than just the same story over and over again told in different ways with different characters.

So you're right. I will steer clear from young adult paranormal romance if this is all that it holds.

"Michael" said:

Seriously, I am so tired of people claiming that authors are sitting there thinking "I should just copy Meyer because she was so successful." Have you been an aspiring author for long? Because I don't think you have the first clue as to what it takes to get published. If you did, you'd realize what a load of crap that is. And to make such an assumption is extremely presumptuous and arogant. Though I'm sure your stories are completely original and devoid of any formula or cliche.

I said:

Blah blah blah. How many people have tried to copy J.K. Rowling? You cannot tell me that this sudden influx of vampire books you see in the young adult literature section was not, in some part, influenced by the popularity of Twilight.

To answer your question I have been an aspiring author for, oh, slap a number on it, ummm...fifteen years. I would say that's awhile. Sure, some of what I've written on here may come to bite me in the butt when (notice the when) I become a published author, but for now I'm going to let my opinion be known. And I have a really good idea of what it takes to get published. I've been researching and reading up on it for years. Oh and there's this thing called a bachelor's degree that I got in English that pretty much says I have been to school to find out what it takes to be an author, so let's not even go there.

Originality is hard to come by these days. I do not claim to be all-original in my stories. The best you can do as an author is to write something that people will read even if it's formulaic. I did finish Despain's book, didn't I? Like I said, maybe I'm asking too much of this genre by asking for some originality and less of a formula. I usually don't finish books that drive me nuts, but I finished this one. Where's my award? Again, I did you a favor. I suffered for you. Maybe it was luck that brought you to my blog so you could read my review and save your money and spend it on a book that is better.

Formulas and cliches are ingrained in our heads since we are little. It's hard to escape them. The good writers use them to their advantage. You cannot tell me that you have not seen the same formulas going on in the young adult paranormal romance (man, that's a mouthful) genre. I would actually read more of Becca Fitzpatrick's stuff. Her book may not be original or anything but her characters had enough life to them that I would read more. I may not enjoy every second of it but I would still read it. Comparing Fitzpatrick's book to Despain's I would say Fitzpatrick is the better writer, but not by much.

You misspelled arrogant. If you're going to write a complaint to someone (especially someone as nit-picky as me) you had better use spell-check.

"Michael" said:

I'm sorry for being so negative, but you really ought to think this stuff through before you go spouting off. Especially if you are trying to break into the biz yourself.

Apology accepted. I really do appreciate you taking the time to let me know how you feel. This blog is meant to be an outlet for me to share my opinion on books I have read as well as thoughts on my life, updates on my writing, and so forth. Go ahead and read Despain's book. Let me know what you think. If you love it that is great. You are entitled to your opinion and I respect you for that. I, however, am also entitled to my opinion and should not be belittled for giving a book one lousy moonstone out of five moonstones.

Oh and, in case you were wondering, I looked it up for you:

The definition of opinion is:

1. a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty. (Meaning my opinion only goes so far. It's not set in stone. You can form your own and we'll all be happy.)
2. (My favorite) a personal view, attitude, or appraisal. (Italics were added for clarity. I don't think I really need to spell this one out.)

The other 3 definitions have to do with law and judges and stuff. You can look them up here.

Finally, I really don't see why having an opinion is going to haunt me later. I love how you left with a little threat as if I'm not going to break in to "the biz" if I'm spouting off reviews of books. I know good literature. I went to school to study literature. My credentials are there. Just because I'm a nobody doesn't mean I am not entitled to an opinion. And it is my opinion that Bree Despain's novel was not good literature.

Like I said, read it for yourself. Form your own opinion, "Michael," and then we'll talk more.


Jake Taylor
Aspiring Author
Opinionated Book Reviewer
Apparently Doomed for Having an Opinion

P.S. "Michael" If you do, in fact, read this response to your comments, please know I mean no personal disrespect and I sincerely do hope you will respond to this as well as other posts that you have an opinion on. Thank you and have a fantastic day!

*To all those outside of this conversation: If you want to know who "Michael" is and know what this post is all about read my post from August 29, 2010 and then the comments below.

1 comment:

  1. If I could, I would pina rose on your nose and a gold star on your forehead. :o) I laughed and laughed!! -even though not meant to be funny, "michael" should have picked on someone else. :o) And thank you for your reviews, you have decided many a books for me to read and not to read. :o)