A couple of weeks ago, Queen Midget, youngest Prince Midget and I went to see the latest Hunger Games movie. Count me as a fan of the first book and movie. Huge fan. Count me as a lesser fan of the second book and movie. And as an even lesser fan of the third book.
The previews start — you know, what fills up about three hours and eighteen minutes of time before the movie actually starts. They show a preview for a movie coming out in a few months. It’s called Divergent.
A couple of months ago, my oldest son asked me to buy him a book. It was called Divergent. Wanting to encourage him to continue reading in this age of technology, I did. He liked it and began talking about how it was the next “big thing.” The movie preview suggests he may be right about that. (Side note: yesterday, on Facebook, I saw that one of his friends got a Divergent-related tattoo. See, it is the next “big thing.”)
The preview intrigued me. I checked the book out on Amazon. It’s part of a trilogy. I bought the first book for my Kindle and was hooked. It’s kind of like Hunger Games, kind of not, but it’s a good story, whether it’s written incredibly well or not. So, I downloaded the second book in the series — Insurgent. Read it as well. The two books combined are over 1,000 pages.
And here’s where the trouble started. For some reason, I decided to check out some of the reviews for the third book — Allegiant. Maybe it was because the overall rating on Amazon for the third book was significantly lower than the overall rating for the first two. When I decide to check out reviews, I typically look at the lower reviews first. Why? I don’t know. Just seems that they might be the more instructive.
I started reading them and learned something about the third book. While the first two books are told from the first person perspective of Beatrice/Tris — the primary female protagonist — the third book switches between Beatrice/Tris and Tobias/Four. And, there was also unhappiness with the ending — yes, unfortunately, as a result of reading the reviews, I now know more about the ending than I’d like.
I downloaded the third book and started reading. The first book was over 500 pages. The second book was over 500 pages. The third book is also over 500 pages. I’m about 1/5 of the way through the book and I want to throw it against the wall. Only problem is, it’s on my Kindle, so I can’t. (Reason #1 e-readers are a problem.)
After over 1,000 pages of getting the story through Beatrice/Tris, I’m now being forced to flip back and forth between her and Tobias/Four. With every single chapter where it’s told from his perspective, I find myself constantly having to remember that I’m reading Tobias’ version of the story rather than Beatrice’s. And, that’s a problem. I keep thinking it’s Beatrice doing the thinking and talking and feeling and then something is said and I have to snap back to realize it’s Tobias.
A couple of weeks ago, I met with Zoe. One of the things we did was talk about Northville Five and Dime. She said something that was very interesting. It’s a concept that all writers should keep in mind. As a writer, you owe it to your reader to not make it difficult. Don’t make the reader work for it. That’s not quite the way she said it, but it’s close enough. A reader should not have to work in the process of reading your story.
Right now, reading Allegiant is far too much work. As much as I’d like to read to the conclusion (even if I know too much because of those reviews), I’m getting tired of having to remind myself who the narrator is with each chapter.
This would be completely different if the author had started from book one with this idea of switching back and forth between the two main characters. But she didn’t. What the hell was she thinking and what was her editor and publisher thinking when they went forward with the third book as is?