I’ve been struggling to read a certain book lately. It’s from a series that I have read many books from and thought after a year away from the characters, that I would get back into it. I keep stumbling over the language so much that I want to get a pen out and start editing it.

I wasn’t always like this and I’m not a snob with all stories. Mostly, I don’t care if a book has incredible prose or not, I’m more interested in the characters and their relationships and how the story will test them. But this certain book and the lead character that I have known over four (five?) books just started to wear thin on me. I’ll finish it and I think I will keep reading the series but it hurt to realise that a series I had admired just isn’t written that well.

The bummer with learning to construct a story is realising that some of the stories that you thought were amazing, turn out to be a bit of a suckfest. It’s like learning the magician’s tricks and seeing the pulleys and the trapdoor instead of the glitter and the smoke. It’s the price we pay to become better storytellers.

Then there’s the point where you realise that it’s not only other writers that know this, it’s other readers as well. It’s scary.

I’m not saying that there is no room for faff and fairyfloss stories. There are many things that I like that are formulaic or just plain ridiculous. But those stories still need to engage me and make me believe that they could, somehow, be real.

During my crisis with that book, I devoured another. I read The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. I’ll admit that I only wanted to read it because the title scared the hell out of me. I knew it was about the undead and that it had some good reviews (not that I read those).

The book is about a zombie apocalypse. I’m not sure what images you have flashing in your head right now but I’m pretty sure none of them match up with this story. See, it would have been so easy for this book to be an action-packed blood bath but it was so much more than that.

Carrie Ryan used the chaos to illuminate just how fragile the main characters were in these circumstances. As they faced the death around them and the posibility of their own demise, I got to connect with their world, their dreams and fears and their turmoil. I had tears in my eyes for the whole book it was so powerful and unlike the other, I finished this in one day.

I told you I wasn’t a snob with all stories.



  1. In many ways I feel sad about the reader I've become. Since learning about the craft of writing, it's MUCH harder for me to get lost in a book. I know it's a good one when I don't find myself editing it or debating word choices.I used to think I was becoming a literary snob, but I've realised it's not about the story or content. Even fluff can be absorbing – if it's well written. Like you, I'm most attracted to good characters, but if the writing's not clean, I'm distracted either way.Am intrigued by this zombie book! I have yet to read one, so this might be the first…Katherine

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