Today I thought I’d write about my biggest pet peeve in books. This is something that’s pretty common to run into nowadays, and it’s making it very hard to find anything new and good to read. What is it?
In many otherwise interesting books (and of course, in some bad books, too), in the place of humor is this stuff I call “Snappy Comeback Dialogue.” You could also call it “witty banter.” Everything the characters say to each other comes in the form of a smart remark, and while the author probably intends to make the character appear clever, cute, funny, or spunky (or all of the above), if you really knew somebody who talked this way you’d want to shake them violently by the nose. I know this because I have known people who have to make a smart comeback to everything anybody says. They have trouble finding people who want to spend a lot of time with them. You might think this is because they are so intelligent that others can’t keep up, but not so; they are of normal intelligence. They just happen to have a lot of practice at snappy comebacks.
Anyway, you also hear this kind of dialogue on TV shows, especially of the science fictional variety, but it works a bit better on TV, where expectations are not as high and duration is low. It bugs me on TV, too, but in books it’s much worse.
What really bothers me is when the book is a good one in other respects. Right now I’m reading a teen fantasy (or possibly paranormal, not sure yet), and the setting is intriguing (though perhaps under-utilized), the premise is very good, and the characters would be likable except . . .
They talk to each other in the most annoying way, constantly having to answer each other with “cute” smart aleck replies, and it makes me feel like the author is hopping up and down, pointing and saying, “See?! See how cute and clever and spunky she is? See how they love to banter? They’re made for each other! See how he can’t quite keep up with her? But the poor sap loves it! Because she’s spunky! See?”
I find it difficult to like any of the characters because their dialogue is so disrespectful, so falsely clever, and as scripted-seeming as a black-and-white movie but without the sparkling wit. I want to finish the book in order to find out what happens, but I’m starting to lose my patience.
Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…
• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!