Thursday, April 13, 2006


Ok, I'm almost done with Sam's Letters To Jennifer by James Patterson and can I just say that I'm loathing it? Jesus, this book is awful. It's so predictable and sappy. From the minute the dude ran down the dock and jumped into the water, I knew she was going to fall for him. I knew there was something wrong with him. I knew the grandmother was going to come out of the coma for one last "important" talk with her granddaughter. The book is about a subtle as a jackhammer and broadcasts the plot in 10 foot-tall neon letters.

And my god, they use people's names a lot. "But Jennifer, I'm telling you, Jennifer, you are the most beautiful girl in the world. Jennifer." What the FUCK? Did you have a word amount you had to hit? And what's with the play-by-play on the songs and the directions to get from point A to point B and the type of car, in overblown detail? I don't CARE. Tell the story without all the filler.

To me, this reads like one of those horrid romance things that are printed in "women's" magazines like RedBook, only way, way, WAY padded out to make it just about novel length.

I don't give a shit about any of the characters, there's no character development and the writing sucks. It's wooden and clunky and reads like something a 13 year-old drama queenmight have written for her freshman English class. I don't have much hope of it improving over the last 40 or so pages I have left.

Here's where I sound like a complete and utter snob. How can people read this crap? Honestly. Do they like having their emotional buttons pushed like that? Do they like being spoonfed the plot? Do they like not having to think?

Before anyone gets all up in arms, I'm not casting aspersions from some ivory tower over here. I read plenty of mass-market stuff. Anne Perry and Maeve Binchy and Jennifer Weiner - and I enjoy them thoroughly. I like a good escape as much as the next person and I am waiting with bated breath for the next Harry Potter book. But jesus, stuff like this is just wrong.

And listen, Mr. Patterson, TWO fucking paragraphs does not a chapter make. Especially not when you continue the same thoughts on the next fucking page! For the love of god, man, I've never taken a writing class in my life and I know that much.

I need to go read War and Peace or something now, to get this drivel out of my head. Blech.


Lyrehca said...

You hate it so much, you posted twice, right?

So why keep reading it if it's so bad? I found a book called Book Lust recently, written by a librarian about the books she thought were terrific, and the introduction mentioned that there's only so much time to read if you're of a certain age, so why waste time on something if you've given it a shot and found it lacking? Move on! Particularly when there's so many great books on your book meme.

Shannon said...

I read Bridges of Madison County and I have to admit I cried at the end.

I like simple novels because when the kids are at me, it's nice to have a novel where I don't have to concentrate too hard.

On the other hand, it is a bit tedious to read those books and then I choose something challenging and meaty to read.

Major Bedhead said...

lyrecha - I'm gonna blame blogger for that one - I thought I'd deleted it. Whoops.

I'm reading it for a book group and I don't feel it's fair to comment on a book that I didn't finish. Since this book is short, I'll finish it. Not to worry, I have plenty of other stuff to read.

Shannon - I don't mind simple novels, but I don't like stupid novels. I will happily read Maeve Binchey, Anne Perry, Anne McCaffrey or YA fiction and enjoy it. I wouldn't call any of those challenging, but they're interesting, the characters have depth and personality and they don't always do the expected thing. Y'know what I mean? I don't need a happy ending, wrapped up in ribbons and bows. I just want something interesting and entertaining.

I hated the book, but the movie version of Bridges made me bawl my eyes out. When she's sitting in the truck...gah. Weep fest.

Anonymous said...

What bugs me is that Patterson's rep sells so many copies of junk. Scott Turow's newest is an example of someone who tries something outside of his regular genre and it's fabulous. Patterson's book is a LOUSY book club choice. Have you discussed any Jodi Picoult. She's great for provocative subject matters that get the group talking book.

Major Bedhead said...

We did Keeping Faith, which I really liked. I'm not religious at all, but I do like reading books that touch on faith and beliefs. The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russel was another excellent novel that had to do with faith, albeit set on another planet. I loved that book.

Shannon said...

I totally know what you mean. I'm reading a dumb novel right now and I'm torn between chucking it or finishing it. I hate not finishing a book even when it sucks, LOL.

Shannon said...
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Jamie said...

That book was the first and ONLY book of Mr. Patterson's that I have read. I gagged my way through it, and then gave it to my Mom. It's ok to read if your mind has gone to mush, but other than that, I got the feeling that if someone like him could write a book like that - then I could become a writer myself. (This is NOT a compliment, I'm a terrible writer).

Yes, you could predict the outcome, and OF COURSE he survives the surgery. (Don't know if you got to that part yet, but it's not like I've ruined it for you - the book already sucks LOL).

I'm more into thriller/mystery books myself. I haven't read a good one in awhile .... the last book I read was Martha's Bitch Posse :) (which I couldn't put down because the characters were soooo f*@#'d up.)

Hope the next book you have to read is a good one.

Kerri. said...

For whoever wrote that comment about Jodi Picoult, they're so right.

I read "My Sister's Keeper" in a night. All night long. And I went out that week and bought every freaking thing she's published and devoured those, too. Her style is fantastic. Her characters have definitive depth. And while there is the occasional ribbon and bow, it's laced with chaos and contemplation. READ HER BOOKS.

And yes, Julia, the tendency of Patterson's to use people's names over, Julia, and over and over and over ... Julia, do you know what I mean?

Jess said...

Hey Julia!

It's getting harder and harder to hold my teeth here, especially when my medically trained (andbygod should KNOW better) husband mentions that someone we both know has just be diagnosed with prostrate cancer.

The low keening in my head prevented me from mentioning that perhaps this person could just sit up.

I have to get that book you recommended - if only to throw at him.

Sandra Miller said...


I'm lovin' this review.

Your description is frighteningly reminiscent of my reaction to the first chapter of Dan Brown's Angels and Demons. Needless to say, that was all I could stomach (thank heavens it wasn't a book club assignment).

Just read Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides-- a really well-written, fascinating book.

If you haven't picked it up already, it might make a fine antidote to Patterson (whom I've never read, and thanks to this post, never will).

Oh, and that book Lyrehca mentions-- Book Lust -- awesome. Got it as a gift a couple of years ago-- whenever I'm at a loss for something to read, I consult it.

Good luck with those last 40 pages...

Anonymous said...

You seem to like only lesbian stories. Why is that?

Angewl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Angewl said...

**I know you hate deleted comments, the above was mine. Sorry about that. Be nice if you could just edit them.**

I guess I picked a horrible choice. Maybe it should have stayed in Framingham? lol

I liked the book. Guess I need to apologize for that? Anyway, the repeating of names and such was quite annoying. I read all of his books. (should I hang my head in shame?) This might have been my least favorite of his, but I still liked it.

Looks like I will not be choosing any more of the book club picks. I promise!!!

Major Bedhead said...

anonymous - Perhaps post under your real name instead of hiding like a coward and I might dignify that with a response.

Sandra - I read Middlesex. Excellent book.

Angela - don't be silly. Mark loves Patterson's mysteries. I haven't read one, so I can't judge them. I keep saying, I read plenty of mass market stuff, stuff that makes some people crings (Rosemund Pilcher, Phillipa Gregory anyone?) Taste in books is subjective and you like what you like. I do like no-brainer books sometimes, I just thought this one was awful.

Major Bedhead said...

Gah. Cringe, not crings. I hate that you can't edit comments.

Vivian said...

My husband has never been a reader. When we lived in CO he took the lightrail to work, which was an hour at least. He started reading just to pass the time and he read the Patterson series and seemed to enjoy them. I don't know how good they were because since we moved he has not picked up another book. hahaha

Nicole P said...


May I make a book recommendation? I just finished "Another Bullshit Night in Suck City" by Nick Flynn -- a memoir set in Boston. Excellent. Better than War and Peace, me thinks. I'm actually reading it again.

Your remark about happy endings instatntly made me want to recommend the book for you.

Also, thank you for your earlier post re: new sites. I tried my thigh and it's worked out well. Hope O was game for trying something new.


Major Bedhead said...

That book is on my list, Nicole. I'll have to see if the library has it. Thanks for reminding me of it.

I have to change her site tonight - I should do that now. I'm hoping she'll try either a thigh or top of the butt site. I'll tell her you did a thigh for her, maybe she'll do it, too.

Allison said...

Books like these make me want to write a book because if they can get published, surely I can!

Joke said...


You're the 2nd person to strongly recommend The Sparrow. I might have to read it, now.

Like I don't have (literally) another 8 books standing in line waiting to be read.



Joke said...

P.S. Why don't you disable the anonymousness thing on your combox?

Major Bedhead said...

Joke - I have 4 shelves full waiting to be read, so I feel your pain. But I'll still highly recommend that book anyway. It's really fantastic.

Disabling anonymous comments. Excellent idea.

Joke said...

I disabled the anonymousness of my comments when the same person accused me of being a lesbian and asked if I had pictures.


Major Bedhead said...


You're sure it's the same person?

Erica said...

Ooh getting good ideas for train ride books.

I'm reading State of Fear by Michael Crichton. I think I have to have an IQ about 50 pts higher to follow - its a little complex for me. I just grabbed it off my mom's shelf - I was desparate for something to read!

Erica said...

I meant to add that no matter how much I hate a book I force myself to finish it. I can't stand not knowing how it will end...

Joke said...

Well, his name was the same, "Anony..."


Never mind.


Kendra said...

So this is like a year after you read said book, but thank god someone hates James Babblerson as much as I do :D And Dean Koontz ain't far behind, oi.