Monday, January 18, 2010

In Which I Rant A Bit, Or, The Lovely Plot Inconsistencies

First of all, you know what's awesome? Having the day off from work for MLK day. Three day weekend and four day work week can't really be beat.

So as you know I read Interworld. Which was pretty good, for a MG book.
But I was mostly done with it when I came across something that PEEVED ME OFF.
Not enough to dislike the book, though certainly this issue has made me hate other books (it must be because I love Neil so much).
What is this thing you ask?
Well I will tell you.
I hate them.
AND because I own the book, I'm going to point them out to you.
(warning - slight spoiler alert - I will do my best to make the spoilage very limited, and nothing hugely plot related, but you have been warned)

Page 156 - In the book Joe, and the others have to memorize the coordinates to their home base. It's like a scientific formula. In the book, Joe has a slight memory lapse which is quickly rectified. On this page it is written "The formula for getting to Base Town burned clear and bright in my mind. I could get there, oh yeah."
Nothing big right?

Page 170 (yes, less than 20 pages later) - Joe thinks: "I remembered almost everything. But, rummage around in my head as much as I wanted, I couldn't find the key that would let me go back to Base Town."


Did he just not say, less than 20 pages ago, that he remembered the formula but now, suddenly, he tells us he doesn't actually remember it?

And then, on top of it after a lot of action, on Page 232: he uses the formula to get them to base town.

What the hell?!

First he remembers it, then he says he actually hasn't remembered it, but then, when it's all said and done, he has remembered it and uses it.

BS. I call BS on that!

Continuing on:

Page 183: Some of the people Joe knows were captured in a trap in which he had escaped, and on this page, Joe speaks to one of the bad guys. The bad guy says "We were disappointed not to have picked you up in the snare last month, Joseph Harker."

Page 192 (I KNOW! less than 10 pages!): Joe is pondering his captured friends and thinks: "I didn't know how long it had been for them - days? weeks? months?"

Uhhhhhhh. Actually, it's only been 1 MONTH you wanker! The bad guy told you that a few seconds ago!!

I know some people can say on this last one that, well, maybe the character didn't hear the bad guy and so it's the character's fault for still not knowing how long it's been.

Well that's a big load of BS. It was careless writing that did this.

I couldn't believe that I saw such inconsistencies not once, but twice, in a book. And from Neil of all people!
Let's blame Michael Reaves for this. King of the 80's cartoon or not, I will shove him under a bus to protect Neil.

Anyway, the last time I saw 2 (yes 2!) inconsistencies in a single book I was almost apoplectic with rage.
Why is that you ask?
Well, that's due to a little phenom known as The Lovely Bones.

Now I don't own The Lovely Bones, so I can't quote exact page numbers for you, but I can very vividly remember the inconsistencies in that book. I triple checked them at the time. In Interwold, they were no big deal, just little stupid things that had no real meaning on the plot. Also it's a MG book, and kids are dumb amiright?*

But in Lovely Bones. ..

So in the book Susie is killed by her neighbor who chops her up but accidentally leaves her hat and her elbow behind, which the police find later and use to confirm that she is, indeed, dead.

Anyway, Susie wears a charm bracelet, the one THAT IS ON THE COVER OF THE BOOK, and, if I remember correctly (and I have a good memory...) Susie talks about how her favorite charm is her bicycle one (possibly because her dad gave it to her, but I could be mistaking that for another charm). Therefore, when I'm reading the book, I'm surprised when the killer takes a charm, but it's not the bicycle charm, it's the keystone charm.
(please keep in mind, I could be wrong about the specific charms; it's been awhile since I've read it. Just remember there are 2 charms, Susie's favorite, and the one the killer takes).
So because of this, I've noted, in the back of my head that the killer has taken a charm I didn't expect him to take.

Hello. I'm the charm bracelet Alice Sebold hoped you wouldn't pay too much attention to...

So the police tell her family she's been killed, and return to the family Susie's hat, which her mother had made for her and had little bells on it (also the killer had used this hat to stuff in Susie's mouth when he raped her. Not really important to my point, but you can see the hat was more than just some small, unimportant prop). I thought it was kind of weird that they returned her hat to her family, because I thought the police might need it as evidence in case they catch the bad guy. But it's like 1973 in the book so I brush it off as me watching too much CSI and Discovery Channel ID (which I watch ALL THE TIME. I should have been a suspense writer. Hell, maybe I'm the next Richard Castle and don't even know it?)

Back to the Lovely Bones. The book itself spans quite a few years and at one point, Susie's sister, who never really gives up on her, mentions how she had taken Susie's hat and hidden it in the back of her closet. I remember this specifically because I thought it was touching.

Years go by and the case gets re-opened and the Detective, who's a minor character, thinks to himself how it's lucky they still have Susie's hat in the evidence locker because he may need it again.

And right then I FREAK out because Susie's sister has the hat in the back of her closet! So I page back until I find that part, just to make sure I'm not crazy or dumb. And I'm not.

So right there, I'm irritated. This is supposed to be this fantastic book and blah blah blah and no one but me noticed this issue?

But I keep reading; I usually finish everything I start.

Which is good thing I do, because towards the end of the book Susie's killer is thinking about how he killed Susie and how he still has the charm he took from her, and it's in a shape of a bicycle.

And I SUPER FREAK out! Because I had specifically thought it was weird that he DIDN'T take the bike charm, and now suddenly he has it?

Nuh uh. No dice.

It really peeves me off in The Lovely Bones because I think the book was way too hyped for it's own good and therefore I felt a bit tricked into reading it. And now it's been made into a movie and all that, and no one but me noticed these issues. And the charm is supposed to be representative of Susie (which charm you ask? I don't even know anymore...).

I've actually gotten to the point where I wonder if I got a defective copy of the book...

If anyone has the Lovely Bones, and wants to do a little research, have at it. Or you can lend it to me and I can look.


So now that I'm all worked up I have to try and remember the point I was going to make (you know, besides my stone-cold dislike of The Lovely Bones).

I've heard from a few different sources that after an author becomes a big seller, someone who steadily puts out a book or two a year and has a fan base that will always buy their work, they just don't get the editing that they got in the beginning of their careers. Check out Laurel K Hamilton's latest vampire "masterpiece" if you want to know what I'm talking about. You can find some problems a few pages in. (To be fair, she's one of the sources who has said she doesn't get edited anymore. Unfortunately, she apparently needs it... That and a plot...)

But this was Alice Sebold's first book. Why didn't anyone, her agent, her copy editor, notice these problems?

I guess the point is, you can't rely on other people to make your book right. You have to make your book as best as it can possibly be. Because we can't all be Alice Sebold and write whatever we want from one scene to the next and have it fly off the shelves. We can't even be Michael Reaves, who's lucky enough to have Neil shield him (that would be awesome though, wouldn't it?).

But seriously, don't worry about Interworld. It was fun.

* Sarcasm, of course. I don't actually believe that. I think writing for kids should be held to the exact same standard as writing for adults. I think kids are actually more perceptive than adults give them credit for, and sometimes more perceptive than adults


Piedmont Writer said...

I hear your pain and frustration. I read a book last year by a famous mid-list romance author that was so bad I literally threw it across the room when I was done with it. I was SSSOOOOO disappointed that no one, edited her. Not even her and I said "Shame on You!" I'm busting my butt to make sure my query, my ms., my synopsis are perfect and you with all the money, our money, can't even proofread your own work so it doesn't look like a newbie wrote it. UGGHH!!!

I'm sorry for the rant Sarah, this just rips my wagon. I want what I write to be held to a higher standard but if anyone can publish anything, then why should I bother checking for typo's?

Falen said...

oh i hear you loud and clear. In fact the book i'm reading right now is full of typos - the book's good so i'm actually not bothered by it at all, but i don't get it. Maybe one typo getting through i understand, but one every chapter? Come on...

Your Friendly Neighborhood Palindrome said...

I had to glaze over the Interworld bit because it's still on my list...Lovely Bones, on the other hand, was never on my list. And you've given me the rant on that before, but it is still an extremely valid point.

I think if I was published and later found out my editor skipped over such inconsistencies, that I would find a new editor...if that were within my power. And I think as long Laurell K. Hamilton's books still sell, she will never have a plot and forever write porn.

Falen said...

hopefully i will now never have to rant about it again. I usually forget about it until something reminds me, like Interworld.

True, but people like me keep buying the books just in case they're back to being good. And to be fair, though the last one needed some major line editing, and was super repetetive, it was the first one in a long time that had minimal porn and a decent plot. Still, i should have stopped reading them after Obsidian Butterfly

Your Friendly Neighborhood Palindrome said...


I have too many books to read that I know aren't going to be repetitive and porn-ish...not that there's anything wrong with porn-ish but again, so many books so little time.

Teebore said...

All I know about Lovely Bones is A. it was EXTREMELY hyped back in the day, like, OMG THIS IS THE GREATEST BOOK EVER type hype and B. You hate it.

Which, frankly, is enough to keep me from reading it.

That's some terrible plot inconsistencies, there. I've watched enough Heroes to be able to gloss over the charm bracelet one, but the hat is pretty bad. The only thing I can think of is that maybe there was a bit about how the sister gave it back that was cut by an idiot editor, or the author wrote hat when she meant something else and no one caught it?

I dunno, but no matter what, someone dropped the ball, big time.

Oh, and all this discussion of editors and the lack thereof reminds me of why I would never want to self-publish something. People are always like, "oh, you should self-publish, oh, did you know you can publish your book online for $99, blah blah blah".

But I want an editor; someone to check for typos, someone to tell me "this part would work better here, this character is too cliche," etc (also, I crave the personal satisfaction of having a professional publisher TELL me my writing is good enough to be published, and not just me BELIEVING it's good enough. But that's neither here nor there at the moment).

Falen said...

Teebore - pshhhh. I'll tell you all that ;-) Seriously though, that's along the lines of why i feel it's neccesary to have an agent. I don't want to deal with all that business crap, so i might as well get someone in my court who will.
And don't ever self publish, it will just end your career.
Also, why are you still watching Heroes? Are we going to need a crappy TV show intervention for you? You could be watching House instead...

Palindrome - yeah, but if i wanted to read porn, i'd buy some erotica that's at least written well

Piedmont - also, i've never heard the phrase "rips my wagon" before and i kind of love it...

Anne said...

Don't you dare talk down about that Night Angel Trilogy! i didn't see any typos, so therefore they don't exist!

Yeah inconsistencies really rip my wagon.

And Laurell K Hamilton's books are like crack- you know they're no good for you, but you just can't stop. Luckily we usually buy them for our mom (their publishing schedule lines up nicely with mother's day and her b-day) so we can just read them after she's done


Teebore said...

Pfft...House...>rolls eyes<

Basically, I still watch Heroes out of habit and for the train wreck factor. Plus, there's part of me that hopes when they air the season finale, without having to worry about a budget anymore, they'll FINALLY give us the super powered battle royale they've been implicitly promising since the end of the first season.

Speaking of Heroes, Dr. Bitz and I were playing Ultimate Alliance this last weekend and he asked me "if they made a Heroes video game like this, would they even need an 'attack' button?"

And then later, when were milling about in the Sanctum Sanctorum (where you can't do anything except talk and then leave for your next mission) I said "hey, this part here, THIS is the Heroes video game: just stand around and talk about your feelings instead of doing something cool."

Your Friendly Neighborhood Palindrome said...

Teebore - LMAO!!

"Speaking of Heroes, Dr. Bitz and I were playing Ultimate Alliance this last weekend and he asked me "if they made a Heroes video game like this, would they even need an 'attack' button?""

I almost got in trouble reading this because I wasn't technically on "break" and I laughed pretty loudly.

Btw, work isn't that funny so I was almost BUSTED!

Stark Raving Zen said...

OMG, i READ lovely bones way back when it first came out, and i REMEMBER that hat issue!!! I kept flipping back and forth, assuming i was the crazy one, perhaps thinking I had remembered it incorrectly. But then I found it! And I thought, "wha...?!" It was kind of like quantum physics. My mind just couldn't fully comprehend what was happening here. So I repressed it. Until you reminded me of it today. LOL

Falen said...

Zen - THANK YOU!!!! It's so nice to know i'm not a lunatic and someone else saw it too! It was the first time i ever came across any sort of inconsitencies in a book (or at least the first time i noticed any) and it changed me forever

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