My Love-Hate Relationship with Bad Novels

Face it. We’ve all been there. You’re stuck in the airport, with nothing to do, no music to listen to, you’ve read that gossip magazine cover-to-cover five times already. So what do you do?

Well, if you’re like me, you wander over to Hudson News or a similar store and you wait for a cheesy title to catch your eye. Your eyebrows shoot up into your hairline as you read the truly unrealistic plot on the back, the “fun, sexy, triumphant” reviews from some author who writes similar nonsense, and sighing deeply, you hand it to your parent to cough up the ten dollars, thereby buying you 150-odd pages of syrupy, sappy romance.

So why do we do it? My excuse for reading historical fiction romance is that I could possibly learn something. But writers like Phillipa Gregory really do not aim to teach. They aim to entertain and distract, rather than increase your level of “wordly” knowledge.

On the other hand, Young Adult fiction (an ever-burgeoning category under the tutelage of Veronica Roth, Suzanne Collins ,etc.) is even more worthless to me. I know many people who enjoy it, but I can’t unless the plot is reasonable and the writing is at least average. This seems increasingly rare.

I will freely admit to enjoying The Hunger Games and Divergent series, but beyond that my interest in dystopian teenage love stories pretty much ends. I sometimes find myself wishing that an author would publish a utopian novel just to shake things up a bit!

But I still keep buying them, still receive at least one for my birthday, still add them to an Amazon wishlist because maybe, just possibly, it might be good. The protagonist (usually modeled by a girl who looks exactly the same as the last), might, perhaps, be attracted to girls. Or maybe, horrors of horrors, she and her romantic interest don’t end up together at the end.