Discussion: When Your Favorite Authors Write Books That Are Not Your Favorites

Let’s be real: I’ve not read that much this year. Even so, in that tiny little pile of 20 books I’ve gone through so far, I’ve read a book by a favorite author that didn’t really work for me. I think we’ve all had this experience. There are those authors you totally trust. You kind of secretly feel like they get you and they write for you specifically, even though you know that’s totally not realistic. You feel like you can’t imagine them writing a book you wouldn’t LOVE with all of your damn heart. For a while, that can even hold true, but at some point, they write something that isn’t really a you-book. Maybe it’s genuinely kind of not good or maybe it’s fantastic but about shit you just don’t personally enjoy.

So far, Jay Kristoff is an example of an author who has yet to write a book that I don’t find bloody brilliant. Almost across the board, I’ve given everything top ratings. The lowest is a 3.5, which is still damn good. But someday, Kristoff will no doubt write something that makes me

It happens. As it happened to me this year with Sparrow Hill Road. This isn’t a review of Sparrow Hill Road, but I feel comfortable using it as a specific example because a) I do think it’s good albeit not good for me and b) I’ve read a fuckton of Seanan McGuire’s books and I think she’s a goddamn genius. Seriously, McGuire/Grant is the author of some of my absolute favorite books of all time: the Newsflesh trilogy and the October Daye series, which I’m pretty certain is the best paranormal/UF series in the history of ever. FIGHT ME.

McGuire’s books are absolutely my jam. Her characterization, her concepts, her prose, and zomg her PLOTTING. I’m not even particularly bothered about plots, and I swoon when I think about some of hers. And somehow she does all of this while churning out a couple of books a year and I’m pretty sure she also reads hundreds of books a year. Basically, she’s a goddess?

And yet. And yet.

Between her books written as Seanan McGuire and Mira Grant, I’ve read 20 of her novels and probably that many novellas (I usually don’t bother with novellas but I am OBSESSED with October Daye, in case that wasn’t already clear). I absolutely intend to read everything this woman writes…or at least try it. However, for all that October Daye and Newsflesh are my favorites and I will fight to defend them, I really didn’t like Parasitology, because it felt like a less powerfully characterized version of Newsflesh, which is what I’ve heard about the fourth Newsflesh book that came out last year. Meanwhile, the Indexing books and Sparrow Hill Road both left me bored, because, though deeply clever, they’re very episodic and not character-focused to make this particular Christina have any feelings.

Another example of this is Tessa Dare: I love everything she’s written with Avon, but I read her backlist series, and, with one exception, they were…ummm…not good. I could give countless more examples of authors I generally ADORE, but whose books sometimes just don’t click for me. *cough* Leigh Bardugo *cough*

Because of this, I tend to try to be generous in trying books by authors, even if I haven’t liked them in the past. Look at Tessa Dare or Meg Cabot: their first books were not great, but they fine-tuned their techniques, let the jokes fly and started changing genres. That’s powerful stuff. I like to keep in mind that, just because I didn’t love one book,  it doesn’t mean I’ll never like something else an author writes again. A favorite author can still be a favorite, even if you’ve one-starred one of their books. That doesn’t discount the other 20 that turn you into a ball of squee just covered in heart eyes.

Sure, it’s disappointing when I buy a gorgeous shiny hardcover by an author I LOVE and horror of horrors I hate the book. But! I like to look at the bright side with this too. Often, this indicates that the author is creative and trying new things. Maybe this book was an experiment in a new genre or with a new method of storytelling. I may miss their usual style and not like this one, but they probably had fun writing it and learned a lot about their craft. Often what I respect and love so much about what works for me is how innovative and creative it is, and it’s not surprising that those sorts of authors occasionally write books that don’t fit on the ChristinaBook shelf.

I always try to take a moment (blogging is good for this) to sit back and think about what aspects didn’t work for me and which did, to admire the risks the authors took in these books and the new techniques they tried, even if I don’t personally like the books much. It’s part of their journey, and I like getting to see the way authors mature in their talent throughout their career (part of why if I love an author’s books enough, I’ll try even their books that don’t really sound like ChristinaBooks. It’s ironic that I may actually end up with more low ratings for a favorite author because I wanted to try everything, but I sometimes find gems I would have missed because the subject didn’t sound like my thing. When this happens, I try to focus on the positive and set my sights on their next release with fingers crossed.

In case it wasn’t super clear, I have the utmost respect for all of the authors I’ve mentioned in this post; I absolutely will read every book they write and no one can stop me (minus MC’s middle grade bc I’m shrug about MG). All names mentioned are personal top faves. Writing is hard and taste is really fucking subjective.

Does this happen to you a lot too? Tell me in the comments!

One response to “Discussion: When Your Favorite Authors Write Books That Are Not Your Favorites”

  1. lenore says:

    Yes! I will absolutely have every hardcover of every Tana French novel ever. So far there’s been only one that I didn’t love but I still respect it mightily!
    lenore recently posted…2017 in Review – MusicMy Profile

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