Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Book Hesitation

I will probably never ever get through all the books on my to-read list. Right now, the count is nearly 300. And even with my lofty 50 books/year goal (which I've never managed to reach, by the way) it would still take me an embarrassingly long time to get through that list. And doesn't even include any new books that I add along the way.

I've come to terms with this. Too many books to read, too little time. My sister says that concept stresses her out. My dad shrugs and agrees that really this is the opposite of a problem. My mom seems generally unconcerned by the whole deal.

My criteria for adding a book to my to-read list is pretty minimal. As my Goodreads page says, "Give me a decent cover and an intriguing synopsis and I'm pretty much in." I add books that look interesting, or books that people have talked about (friends, bloggers and booktubers alike). I don't tend to pay a lot of attention to many of the other details.

Though recently, this concept of reading a book because it's written by a certain author has become a more tangible thing in my mind. Because my reading preferences tend to be all over the place and it's definitely easier to avoid certain books or genres than it is to get into them, I haven't really paid much mind to the authors behind the books.

Except in the last little bit, I sort of have noticed. Authors like Rainbow Rowell, Laini Taylor, Marissa Meyer and John Green have won me over. I've read enough by them to know that yeah, actually, I'm pretty much in for whatever they write.

That's sort of a new concept for me. I probably haven't had a go to author or series of authors since RL Stine and KA Applegate when Goosebumps and Animorphs took over my childhood. It's... not weird exactly, but different. The good kind of weird maybe?

Anyway, the point of this is that this awareness has led to some interesting side-effects. Though, it's probably just as correlated to the fact that I actually have half a clue about what's going on in YA fiction these days. But it's brought author awareness to the forefront of my mind.

And not necessarily in a good way.

Hence the "hesitation" part of the title of this post.

What happens when a book delivers on my requirements of a decent cover and intriguing synopsis but I have not been particularly fond of that author's other writing?

The specific example that's been on my mind lately is Uninvited by Sophie Jordan. Let me show you what I mean...

When Davy Hamilton's tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn't feel any different, but genes don't lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he's not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

Sounds cool, right? Nature vs nuture vs society and all that. Love it. And the cover is a little meh, but the DNA strands in her hair are pretty wicked.

So what's the hesitation? My brain had been running Jordan's name through my mind for a while before it dawned on me. Firelight. That one about teenage shapeshifting dragons. (The one that's not Seraphina.)

I probably would not have finished Firelight had I not been stuck on an airplane. The world was decent, but the whole thing was overshadowed by characters who were unlikeable at best and obnoxious at worst. The writing and plot was forgettable. So much so that I actually had a moment last year where I was trying to think about this book I was sure I'd read and... oh, right, it was Firelight. I did a lot of skimming and scanning of that book.

So I'm reluctant to try Uninvited, because my experiences with Jordan as an author have been less than stellar. And with so many (potentially) great books already on my tbr, why gamble with my time like that?

Of course, there's a flip side to this story. And that is Maggie Steifvater.

Shiver was not my thing. My feelings towards it were lukewarm at best. So I did a lot of casually ignoring her other books. And then I picked up The Raven Boys. Good cover, intriguing synopsis. "Hm," I thought. But I waffled on it for quite some time. After all, I'd been 'burned' before. Metaphorically. Or at least put off.

Eventually, curiousity won out and I signed The Raven Boys out from my library. And it ended up being one of my favourite books of the year. It's sequel The Dream Thieves will probably make that list at the end of 2014.

It's enough that I am seriously considering checking out The Scorpio Races because, wow. Wow. (Also there is not enough YA standalone fiction in the universe. Why does everything have to be a trilogy WHY.)

So, I guess my question is two-fold:

Does the author of a book matter to you? Does it register for you at all or do you just read whatever strikes your fancy?

And do you give authors you disliked second chances? Has it worked out?

Let me know what you think!

(Should I read Uninvited?)