The definition of a great book is not the same for every reader. In the same way, what we dislike in a book may also vary massively. And that is completely fine! Literature is not a scientific discipline after all. A variety of opinions are acceptable, since fiction leaves room for interpretation and personal judgment. Thus, there are complaints about books that I obviously don’t agree with. When I’m reading reviews, some negative opinions don’t curb my desire to read a certain book, because for me they are not a problem.
There are four main complaints that I currently disagree with.
Clues to the ending since the beginning
In my opinion, whenever there is a mystery to be solved, it should be presented in a way that we look back and see that the answer was there all along. Revealing something that has never been hinted at just for shock value is not that good writing. I like to reassess the story and realise that everything makes perfect sense since the beginning. Things shouldn’t happen out of nowhere. It’s fantastic when I only manage to put the pieces of the puzzle together at the very end. However, I prefer not being surprised and figuring out the mystery beforehand than not being able to understand the reason behind a revelation.
I see nothing wrong with characters not being likeable. Their actions just have to make sense within the story and their personalities to be believable. There are plenty of people in real life who are unlikeable. So, it makes sense to me for authors to choose to portray that. As long as they feel fleshed out and plausible within the context of the story, such characters don’t prevent me from liking a book. If I mention in a review that a character is unlikeable, it’s not a criticism. It’s just a consideration.
For example, while reading Os Memoráveis by the Portuguese author Lídia Jorge, I became extremely annoyed at the constant moaning by the characters being interviewed. For me, that didn’t make sense in the context of what I perceived to be one of the purposes of the story.
Characters being racist, xenophobic or sexist
Unfortunately, these types of people exist in real life. Thus, I don’t have a problem with them being featured in books, as long as it isn’t conveyed that their ideas are acceptable in our day and age. Just because something is being portrayed, it doesn’t mean that it’s being promoted.
Portrayal of rape
This is the least straightforward complaint that I’m mentioning. I only don’t have a problem with the portrayal of rape when it is done for a specific reason and not only for shock value. Moreover, it needs to have repercussions within the story. Personally, I just don’t see the point of graphically portraying the rape of a young child, for example. In some cases, a quick mention is more than enough.
Are there any criticisms of books that you don’t agree with? Tell me in the comments!