Predictable Books

I’m listening to a YA audio book that I’ve been wanting to read for a couple of years. I’m not going to share the title because the truth is, I’m not crazy about the book. It’s not a bad book, but it’s not a great book, either, in my opinion. Since it won at least one national award, I was expecting greatness.

Yeah, yeah. Greatness is subjective.

For starters, I’m not a fan of angst- or problem-driven YA literature. I’m more of a middle-grade fan. But there’s a lot of overlap and variety in books for young people, and the whole label system falls apart when leaned on too heavily, so I suggest we don’t do more than give my label a quick look.

Anywho, I would call this book an angsty YA, but that’s not my biggest criticism. My biggest criticism is that I think I know where it’s going, and how it’s going to get there. I believe I spotted 2 key clues the moment they were dropped. The narrator read the line and I said to myself, “Ah, that’s going to be important in the end; that’s going to explain why the main character does what he does.”

If I’m right, if the book goes where I anticipate, I’ll be disappointed. I like to be surprised by something at the end of a story, a twist perhaps,

Surprise! Twisted pelicans. Australia.

a reason to read it all the way through. It has to make sense, mind, and be justified by the lead-up. I have to be able to look back and say, “Sure, when he did that it caused this to happen.” But I don’t want to see the ending creeping toward me in plain view from chapter 5.

I’m sure this isn’t a 100% rule. There are predictable books that I love;I’m a Dickens fan, after all. In those cases, there must be other qualities that make up for the predictable ending: a convoluted twisting turning plot, wonderful characters, hilarious writing. Unfortunately, this audio book doesn’t have any of those. The characters are sad misfit teens trying to find themselves, doing things that aren’t especially nice or good. I don’t want to be friends with them.

The story’s not over. I could be wrong, and I hope I am. If I’m not, then this one goes in the what-not-to-do-in-my-own-stories pile. And maybe I’ll have another look at the ending of my AK novel.

Categories: Reading