Maybe it's the perpetual state of annoyance in which I'm currently inhabiting. . .
I met a book that pissed me off.
I tend to stick with books, even the ones that annoy me. Lots of people point out that life is too short for bad books. They're right of course, but I can read all sorts of books that only show a spark of life because somewhere along the line I lost the ability to get annoyed.
And then I met Emily Giffen's Something Borrowed. I probably should stick with it for a little while longer just to see if I can get past this stuff, but at the moment, I want to stomp on it and throw it against the wall and then rip it into shreds.
Is it badly written? Not at all. Is there a dead baby? Nope (thank goodness I've gotten past the dead baby prohibition. When my guys were little, I Could. Not. Bear. Them.) Dead animal? No. Gratuitous rape? No. Obvious deus ex machina? Not so far.
It is the Best Friend Diss.
I'm not exactly a loyal-through-the-years friend. I don't hold tight the way I should. But nor do I whine and kvetch about my friends, except sometimes. But this character, the narrator of the book, not only does she feel competitive with the person she calls her "best friend" not only does she seem to go out of her way to see the bad side of this person she's "loved" for years. SHE BOFF HER BEST FRIEND'S FIANCE ALL NIGHT. Okay, okay, human. Things happen. This is what goes on with human beings. But her response is "oh god I'll get caught." When her friend calls up, frantically wondering where her fiance could have vanished to, does the main character feel awful that her friend spent the night wild with fear? Nope. Still hoping she didn't get caught. Her best friend is someone whose supposed to matter to her. This is an immutable fact.
Turns out it's a RULE, written in stone. I can forgive a character who'll lie cheat steal and even maybe murder now and then. Or get unreasonably mad, even with her best friend. But what the hell? Why does she play the role of passive aggressive in the relationship with HER BEST FRIEND?
That "oh no gonna get caught" in the face of her friend's misery was about the time I decided I was done with that story and it was only a couple of chapters in.
I had nearly the same response with the Kitty Norville book. This is about a werewolf (strike one) who single-handedly decides to out the supernatural world. Because she's thought the matter through and decides that it's best? That would be bad enough because she'd believe she has the right to decide the fate of her fellow supernatural types. No, she outs them all to save the ratings on her radio show.Yes, I know it's a fluffy little book with cutesy dialog (all cutesy-smart-snark is on her part, naturally) but even fluff deserves decent non-brain-dead characters
The wall-banging moment came for me right after her best friend has killed for her. He now has to run away from human society, abandon his life, live in the hills. Does she think, "god, I'm so grateful you saved my life and I'm going to worry about you night and day."
No. She gets mad at him and says "no need for that" even though it's clear she was losing the fight. And then, after she forgives him for murdering for her and saving her skin, she says "what am I going to do without you?" not "how are you going to survive?" It's all about her.
Gah. Grr. I stuck with that book though and decided overall it's pretty good. A few of those The World is All About Kitty moments but basically it was all right.
I don't require Mary Balogh self-sacrificing types. I don't mind if someone acts selfishly--as long as there's either self-awareness or clearly some awareness on the author's part. But these characters tend not to even regard other people as fully human or only in terms of What Can You Do for ME? They're all in first person narratives too. Eh, I'm done with that.
Anyway if I wanted to read about disloyal, cowardly or despicable characters, I'd read literary fiction, thank you. Then at least those people tend to be interesting.