I recently got trapped in an unwelcome fictional turn of events - at least this time it was in fiction, rather than real life (our family has had two major upsetting events so far this year).
I got sucked into this great book, Some Quiet Place, a young adult paranormal debut by Kelsey Sutton (not yet released; I got a digital review copy from NetGalley). The combination of a very cool, original premise and beautiful, sensory-rich writing made me a happy reader until I got into the second half, when things turned a little too graphically violent for my taste.
Violence is common in young adult (YA), especially in the science fiction and fantasy genres I lean toward, but the descriptions are short and don't get too detailed. Since I'm prone to nightmares (I still get nightmares from those darned Alien movies, even years and years after the fact!) I really shy away from horror and graphic violence. I just don't need those images stuck in my head! And it's not just movies - the Hunger Games series, especially Mockingjay, left some images in my head I wish I could get rid of, too. I love YA books for many reasons, and one of them is that they don't shy away from troublesome topics, but they don't get graphic about them (well, except for Mockingjay. And now Some Quiet Place).
Since Some Quiet Place doesn't release until June, there's not a whole lot of reviews for it available yet. I'm awfully picky about the books I read: it's a serious investment in time, and sometimes money too if you can't wait for your library's copy, so I always read reviews carefully before I pick a book. The temptation of NetGalley and other similar places is you can get free pre-release copies for review, which is kind of exciting (getting your hands on a book before the general public, and for free) but also a little bit of a risk (few or no reviews yet for you to judge whether the book includes something you prefer to stay away from).
I suppose the title for this post was a little unfair - if you don't like what you read in a book, no one's forcing you to keep reading. But I do feel a little trapped when I'm more than half way into a good book, really enjoying myself, and then - WHAP! - too-graphic violence catches me off-guard. I'm invested in the book, at that point, you know what I mean?
Sometimes I toss around the idea of a "content rating" for books - like the rating system used for movies - but I think that would open a can of the worms with far-reaching issues. In general book reviews give you the information you need to know about whether a book's content is suited for you or not. If you are a bit of a cautious or picky reader like me, maybe preleases or new releases, as tempting as it is to get them for free, aren't the best idea. Especially since in exchange for your free copy, the publishers expect you to review the book on your blog, and I'd prefer to talk about books I can highly recommend on my blog, rather than books I have serious issues with.
So maybe I won't be requesting any more titles from NetGalley. But I have committed to doing several reviews here, and I am trying to be honest about the good qualities of these books in addition to the parts I didn't personally like. I'll be posting my review of Some Quiet Place here on Thursday.
What do you do when you're invested in a good book, and it suddenly takes a turn that leaves you uncomfortable? It's true that books should stretch us outside our "comfort zones" (see the quote on the image) but what about some readers needing a "safety zone"?
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