I must have bought a copy of this book when it was super cheap on the Kindle store because it definitely isn’t the kind of thing that I normally have much hope in. I’ve also never read anything by Louise Candlish before. Still, there was obviously a time when it appealed to me and I ended up buying the ebook and audiobook version. After finishing Animal Farm last week, I decided that I wanted to read something silly and an audiobook sounded like a great idea. I’ve been so tired that even reading exhausts me. I had reached a point when I couldn’t get my way through a chapter before I started falling asleep and I hate stopping halfway. It just makes me feel uneasy. As if I’ll have no idea where I am when I start reading again.
Recently, there was a drama on Channel 4 starring David Tennant called Deadwater. I was really excited about it because, you know, David Tennant but I only ended up watching the first episode. It just didn’t grip me but that’s okay. The reason that I bring it up is that I read a review about it that revealed a big plot twist. The review talked about how great and unexpected it was. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The twist was so obvious that you could tell from the trailer. It’s infuriating. Am I seeing something different from other people? Or are they just unwilling to see what’s right in front of their face? Maybe I’m just too cynical to take anything at face value? I don’t know but what I do know is that psychological thrillers never surprise me these days. Just look back at all my book reviews for this genre and you’ll see the phrase “painfully obvious” crop up plenty of times. I just don’t think anyone has any original ideas anymore. All psychological thrillers try and do is be darker and sexier than the last one. And, though I’m happy for those things to exist in a book, they shouldn’t be the only reason for a novel’s existence. There is no substance in novels like that. It’s just a writer trying to shock but not being good enough to hide their intentions. It makes me angry to see so many shit books being published and then praised by so many people. Of course, I also never learn and continually get drawn into them. Most recently with this one.
I’ll be honest, when I picked this up I knew it wasn’t going to be the greatest thing I ever read. I mean, a YA detective story based on the pre-Eleven life of Detective Hopper from Stranger Things. It was an absolute cash-grab. Something that is instantly confirmed by the price. This book cost me £20 and there is nothing about it that looks worth it. It’s not got a very good cover nor does it feel like super great quality. It’s just plastered the faces of familiar characters on the front, used the Stranger Things logo, and made it an official novel. Then let the die-hard fas shell out their money without a second thought. I say that knowing full well I bought it but, in my defence, I had a book token so I don’t really count it. I didn’t spend my hard-earned cash on it. It was essentially a present. And I was a little intrigued by this. I’ve never had a great time with the novelisations of films or television shows. I want to love them but, more often than not, I just think it’s cringe. Can it ever not come across as fan fiction? Anything written as part of an expanded universe that doesn’t come first-hand from the original creators will always feel weird and desperate. Let’s not forget the curse of The Cursed Child.
As you know, I’ve been trying to get my way through all of the NetGalley books I’ve had waiting on my shelf for months. I always feel really guilty when I go on a requesting binge and then buy a load of new books to read. Plus, I have my ratio to think about. I requested Campusland because it sounded fun. It’s almost impossible to not think about Animal House in this situation. Which is both a good and a bad thing I guess. When you’ve already been lucky enough to watch the best college-based comedy we’re ever likely to see, it means nothing else will compare. But it also means you’re willing to try and find the next one. So, when I saw Campusland on NetGalley I couldn’t resist giving it a go. I should have known better. I really should have known better. It’s what I go through with psychological thrillers every time. I expect something new and different but just end up angry and full of regret. Shame I’ve got nobody but myself to blame.
What were your least favourite books in 2018?
You may have noticed that I didn’t post a Sunday Rundown yesterday. That was mostly because, after a bad night’s sleep, I fell asleep before writing it. But it was also a tactical choice. After all, it’s New Years Eve so it’s time I started doing my rundown of the year. And what a year it’s been. I’ve already posted my Top 10 Books, Top 10 Films, and Top 10 TBT Films lists. But, let’s not forget that 2018 wasn’t a completely positive year. The political situation of the UK is pretty shitty moving into the new year so it seems only fair I add my least favourite books to the pile. Thankfully, after my top 10, most of the books were fairly middling so I could only scrabble together 5. I guess reading-wise, 2018 wasn’t so bad after all.
For the first time in a really long time I haven’t got a new book to review. So, for the first time in a really long time I haven’t got any inspiration for my Wednesday post. It definitely doesn’t help that my current read is so bloody uninspiring. I don’t really know what possessed me to start reading To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, especially as I didn’t even like the film that much. I guess I thought it would be an easy read but I just can’t get into it. It’s fallen into so many awful YA traps and I genuinely hate reading parts of it. There is something about an adult writer trying to write the voice of a 16 year old that never quite works. I know that there is no way that I could write a convincing 16 year old yet, still, YA writers keep trying. It got super bad when she used the word “beotch” twice in quick succession. This was a book that was only written a few years ago. Who was still using the word “beotch”? It’s ridiculous. I’ve spent so much of this novel cringing. Which is why I’m being so bad at reading right now. I just don’t want to pick up this book.
Dear One Of Us Is Lying,
It’s books like you that make me say things like “I don’t like YA books. They’re all shit.” What I mean is, I don’t like shit YA books. Books like you. Books that, somehow, manage to get a load of hype around them even though they don’t deserve the attention. And what’s worse… you had the audacity to create a link between yourself and The Breakfast Club. As if you had what it takes to rub shoulders with pop culture royalty. As if you had any right to share in its flawless reputation. All you were doing was desperately trying to pass off its acclaim as your own. Because you knew you didn’t deserve to get any of your own.
I’ve read a fair share of crime thrillers in my time and, even if I do say so myself, have become pretty good at spotting who the killer is. I can, usually, see a big twist coming a fair few pages before it happens. Do you want to know when I spotted your twist ending coming? The first paragraph. I’m not even joking. On the very first page the killer, literally, announces his plans in front of another character. It’s so blatantly obvious that it’s not just annoying but insulting to your audience. You clearly think your readers are so fucking stupid that they’ll spend the next few pages really confused.
But you aren’t just guilty of bad writing. Oh no, you’re guilty of lazy writing. You don’t feature a well-crafted narrative that twists and turns its way to the end. Nope. You are chock full of YA stereotypes that have been done so much better elsewhere. The jock who is secretly gay but too afraid to come out? Seen it a thousand times. Do you really think you added to the debate? I don’t. It added nothing to the character and didn’t even feature an empowering ending. It was just an easy way to give a character depth. But you stopped there. Aside from their basic traits, your main characters have no personality. There is nothing interesting or realistic about any of them. They have even less depth than a supporting character in a romantic-comedy. I know fuck all about any of them.
You couldn’t be bothered to create realistic teenage characters or a realistic situation. You used real life issues and used them badly. You didn’t add any new insight into the narrative of suicide, homosexuality, or abusive relationships. Yet, you constantly used them as easy ways to progress your narrative. You carelessly throw these ideas around without any kind of care or attention. Yes, you are badly written, boring, obvious and lazy. But what is worse is that you don’t give a shit about your audience. You are potentially damaging. You are potentially triggering a whole bunch of your audience for cheap shocks and cheap emotional pull. It’s pathetic. You’re pathetic. You’re the worst book I’ve ever read… and I’ve read a lot of shit in my time.
Some [books] are too toxic to live
Dear Gone Girl,
A few years ago, I lent you to my sister and you have been sat on her shelves ever since. At least until last weekend when she finally brought you back. I can’t say that I was very pleased to see you. Really, I only wanted you so I could take a picture to accompany this post. I’ve never liked you. I didn’t finish you. You annoyed the shit out of me and, if I’m honest, I was glad to get you out of the house. You have a ton of hype surrounding you even to this day. But I don’t get it. I feel like I’m the lone survivor of some awful disease that makes you love shit books.
You’re constantly being praised for being clever but you’re not. What you are is super obvious. How anyone can read the first half of the novel and not realise that it’s all bullshit is beyond me. I didn’t even finish the first half because I couldn’t be bothered waiting for the inevitable. And before you start crying and saying “but how do you know if its obvious if you didn’t finish it?” Bitch, please. I have Wikipedia.
I’ve put off writing this letter for ages because I just didn’t want to come face-to-face with you. I’ve never met a book that deserved its reputation so little. Even 50 Shades of Grey was acknowledged as being shit despite its massive success. But you. You fooled everyone. You continue to fool everyone and you’ve started an endless parade of increasingly poor psychological thrillers. Girl on a Train? Urgh. It was even more obvious than you were but at least I fucking finished it.
Whether it admits to it or not, at least Girl on a Train knows its place. It knows it’s trash. You have the audacity to think you’re better than trash. You suffer from the Dan Brown complex: a trashy novel that thinks it of great literary worth. Just because you put on a fur coat and some fake diamonds it doesn’t make you different. You’re still Jenny from the block.
So why am I writing this letter to you? After all, this is supposedly a list of the books that “changed my life”. Well, in spite of everything, you did change my life. You were the first book I ever purposefully did not finish. Before I met you I struggled through every shit book I picked up no matter how hard it was. No matter how long it took me. I mean, yeah, there are books I stopped halfway through with the intention of picking up again that still sit, unread, on my shelf. That’s not the same. See, I genuinely hated you. You made me angry. I was so annoyed by you. I couldn’t do it. I don’t know how you’ve managed to fool everyone else but I see through you. I see what you really are.
There is a lengthy and oft-praised passage inside you which discusses the idea of the “Cool Girl” and how it doesn’t really exist. You know what? You’re the ultimate Cool Girl. You pretend to be this clever and refreshing new type of thriller so everyone will like you. But it’s all just bullshit. It’s all just pretend. Your tagline is “there are two sides to every story”. Well, there is: mine and all the idiots you’ve managed to trick.
We complete each other in the nastiest, ugliest possible way
The line “Sleep is like a cat: It only comes to you if you ignore it.” is the biggest piece of bullshit I’ve ever read. This isn’t good prose. This is nonsense!