Friends, readers, countrywomen: I was really really bored, so I started hunting through book tags for a fun one. I have a habit of noping around a lot, so this one fit the bill. The questions were taken from the Caffeinated Bookworm Life.
As always, there will be spoilers.
A book ending that made you go NOPE in denial or rage, or simply because the ending was crappy.
Miss Iceland (Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir). This book pissed me off so much because it made me read 255 pages of whimsical loveliness before springing literally the worst ending on me on page 256. The book follows Hekla Gottskálksdóttir, a young Icelandic writer who moves to Reykjavík in the hopes of getting her novel manuscripts published. In Reykjavík she meets Starkadur Pjetursson, an unpublished poet, and eventually moves in with him even though he knows almost nothing about her. (She reads foreign literature. He gives her a cookbook for Christmas. I would’ve tossed him into a fjord.) When he learns that she is a writer, that her poems have been published, and that he and his little club of male poet buddies have been enjoying her poems without knowing they’re hers, he becomes shocked, jealous, and threatened. He later admits that he stalked her long before she even knew about him. Having never been particularly attached to him, Hekla leaves him in the dust when she runs off to Denmark with her friend Jón John. That’s fine, but what pissed me off was that even after she’s left him she still sends Starkadur one of her novel manuscripts with the request that he allow her to use his name as a pseudonym. EXFUCKINGCUSE ME?!
I can understand Hekla’s need to publish under a male pseudonym. She’s a female writer in the 1960s. Icelandic men don’t take her seriously. Fine. I can live with that. The thing is, she already has a couple of pseudonyms, under which she’s published several poems. I don’t know why she needs Starkadur’s name. Starkadur himself says he was initially uncomfortable appropriating her work, though he grants her request all the same. The last line in the book is “The book shall therefore be mine.” I am not okay with this. This isn’t a nice send-off. Starkadur is a whiny, controlling stalker. Though he does show admiration for Hekla’s talent, it’s always with an edge of jealous insecurity. Instead of using her work as inspiration to improve his own abilities, he quits writing and starts driving a taxi because he is convinced that he will never be able to compete with her greatness WHY DOES HE DESERVE TO HAVE A NOVEL IT’S BEEN A WEEK SINCE I’VE FINISHED THIS AND I’M STILL MAD (ﾉಥ益ಥ）ﾉ ┻━┻ AND ALSO I KEEP WANTING TO CALL HIM STARDAKAR BECAUSE I SWEAR HIS NAME LOOKS LIKE SARDAUKAR AND I’VE GOT DUNE BRAIN GAAAAAAH
A main character you dislike, who drives you crazy.
Song Leiyin (Three Souls, Janie Chang). I like the book, but not because of Leiyin. She is a singularly frustrating narrator. She’s not a bad person, but there are moments where she’s so completely awful that you can’t actually sympathize with her situation. She is arrogant, selfish, and almost completely lacking in judgement. For someone who’s supposed to be smarter than her four older siblings, she can be astonishingly stupid. She’s well educated and was at the top of her high school class, but this actually means very little, because she still has no idea how the world works even after being shown a glimpse of it by her stepmother. She starts out with admirable goals but quickly loses sight of the bigger picture the minute she meets Yen Hanchin, a handsome communist. You could literally boil the entire contents of her brain down to “Yen Hanchin! Yen Hanchin! Yen Hanchin!,” because he’s the only thing she thinks about for the rest of her life. I’ve never spent so much time wanting to slap someone.
A “ship” you don’t support.
Nitta Sayuri and Toshikazu Nobu (Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden). I’ve never actually gone looking for Memoirs fanfiction, but I know there are Sayuri/Nobu shippers because people will ship anything.
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but Nobu didn’t end up with Sayuri because he did not deserve her. I didn’t quite catch this the first time I read the book because I was probably somewhere between 12 and 15, but as an adult I have had it with this “He’s a kind man in his own way” garbage that all his friends keep feeding to Sayuri. He’s not kind. He’s an abusive asshole. He shows a kind of affection to people he likes (e.g., Sayuri), but he’s awful to everyone else. Later in the book, he forces Sayuri to beg and cry for his favor before he agrees to help her. He loses his temper with her even later and slams his hand onto a glass bottle, then tells her not to make him cut himself the next time he asks her for an answer. In case it wasn’t obvious already, she didn’t make him do anything. I’m sorry half his face got blown off, but SAYURI IS NOT HIS REHAB.
NOPE! Plot Twist:
A twist you didn’t see coming and didn’t like.
I technically haven’t reached this twist yet, but I made the mistake of reading the summary for Children of Dune (Frank Herbert) and have learned that Alia Atreides, one of my very favorite characters from Dune, is going around the villain twist because the voices in her head are driving her into literal insanity. I am Not Pleased.
A genre you will never read.
I really hate romance. I can’t even handle rom-coms. I’ve had to bypass a lot of books that sounded interesting because their summaries all promised romance. Case in point: I really wanted to read All the Stars and Teeth (great title), but I was out the minute the summary mentioned that the protagonist has to strike a deal with a mysterious pirate.
NOPE! Book Format:
Book formatting you hate and avoid buying until it comes out in a different edition.
There’s a specific type of cover material that I cannot physically handle. It’s rough and sandpapery, and every time I touch it it feels like nails on a chalkboard. I don’t know why publishers have to use this stupid material, but it’s prevented me from buying a lot of paperbacks.
A trope that makes you go NOPE.
Female protagonists who are supposed to be smart but actually aren’t the brightest. Yeah, it’s great having the other characters fawning over the protagonist’s brains and all, but it means nothing if the girl keeps falling into stupid traps that shouldn’t work.
A book recommendation that is constantly pushed at you, that you simply refuse to read.
Crazy Rich Asians (Kevin Kwan). A lot of my friends and coworkers have read the book and/or seen the movie, but I don’t do romance. This one poses some difficulty for me because I really want to support Asian American literature, but my fellow Asian American writers are making that very difficult because they seem to keep insisting on writing fucking romances.
A cliché or writing pet peeve that always makes you roll your eyes.
The “I Must Not Harm Children Because I Am A Woman” trope. Exhibit A: season 5, episode 8 of Game of Thrones, in which a previously badass woman lays down her weapons and refuses to fight the ravenous ice zombie children who quickly mob and kill her.
NOPE! Love Interest:
The love interest who’s not worthy of being one.
Will Parry (His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman). Lyra was the only thing that series had going for it, because it went straight downhill after The Golden Compass. The Subtle Knife drove me crazy because it should’ve continued Lyra’s story but instead introduced a rude little brute named Will, who quickly became the hero while Lyra politely stepped aside and let him take over. Lyra was kinda bratty, but Will was on a whole other plane of rudeness, on top of which he threatened to kill Lyra the first time he met her. It seemed like Pullman was trying to make him forceful and charismatic, but he was just an ass. The worst part of their “romance” was seeing how much Lyra admired Will, even though he treated her like shit. Give me a fucking break.
A book that shouldn’t have existed.
The entire Fifty Shades series. I’m sorry, but this is fanfiction. I have zero respect for the Twilight series, but it’s still Stephenie Meyer’s intellectual property, and I have no idea how Fifty Shades managed to get published when it’s literally just Twilight with no vampires and more abuse. I read the first book and was able to identify all of the original Twilight characters (major and minor), as well as scenes that were ripped wholesale from Twilight.
A villain you would hate to cross.
I would be worried if Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar were coming after me (Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman).
A character death that still haunts you.
Abu Sayeed (The Map of Salt and Stars, Zeyn Joukhadar) 😭😭😭
An author you had a bad experience with and have decided to quit.
Christopher Paolini. I tried reading Eragon years ago and couldn’t do it.