So I need to talk to you guys about something. Lately, I’ve been having some issues as far as genres go for the books that I’m reading. I just read a great post from The Housework Can Wait about clarifying the proper definition of each genre (and it’s great – you should go check it out!) but I’m talking about something a little different.
Lately I’ve been have problems where I pick up a book thinking in falls into one type of genre and turns out, it has a twist that crosses the line into a second genre. What’s my issue with this? I go into the book thinking it’s going to be one thing and then I almost feel betrayed when this plot twist pops up and completely changes the whole feel of the story.
WHO’S TO “BLAME”?
Okay. First things first. I in no way mean to bash these books or these authors!!! They’re actually really great works, but the genre confusion that I personally felt directly affected my comprehension and overall opinion. I would never say don’t read these and actually there were a lot of things that I did like about them, but there were just some things I did not see coming and for some reason, it left a sour taste in my mouth.
(Please note, I’m going to mention some specific books, so if you don’t want any mild spoilers (I’m only talking about genres, not plot) look away!)
So am I to blame for this confusion? Did I bring this upon myself? Well, yeah, sometimes. I’m the kind of person who hates spoilers SO MUCH that I will avoid reading a full summary on Goodreads OR on the dust jacket OR a full blog review because I have that big of an averson to spoilers. Just the tiniest thing gives away part of the plot and then the lead-up to it isn’t exciting anymore. So yes, I’m partially to blame. SOMETIMES.
Time When I Was To Blame: LEVEL 2.
LEVEL 2 by Lenore Appelhans. I actually enjoyed the book – I did – but why did I think that this was more of a dystopian book? Well, first off – the cover. Right up until I actually received the book, I thought that girl on the cover was wielding a sword and not just slouched over. (Because how cool would that be?) I had started it by thinking of Felicia as caught in Level 2 in an almost sci-fi/dystopian way more so than, “Hey. She’s in the afterlife. Maybe that issue’s gonna come up, huh?” It never once crossed my mind that religion would be tied into this book or that we’d even be talking about a limbo between Heaven and Hell (I know. Don’t ask why that thought didn’t cross my mind). True, it still does have kind of a futuristic feel a lot of the time, actually, but there’s that … how can I put it? Sacredly paranormal aspect that somehow I just never thought of.
How Did It Affect My Opinion? I got mad at this book. It kind of took a twist I wasn’t expecting which dove more into the “sacred paranormal” (pardon my improper terminology) and I was actually frustrated with how much religion was tied into the book because well, that’s just not my thing. I went to a Catholic school for 10 years and somehow that turned me off to religion instead of strengthening my faith. Go figure. So I almost ruined parts of it for myself because that twist wasn’t blatantly obvious (to me. Somehow).
BUT other times, that second genre is not mentioned. I’ve checked. I went back and looked through the summaries and if I hadn’t read the book yet, I wouldn’t have known at all. There were the tiniest of hints that I wouldn’t have picked up on when reading just the description and boy, did that twist take my by surprise.
Time When Twists Are To Blame: DANCE OF SHADOWS (this one’s probably a mild spoiler. Maybe)
So I’ve heard quite a few mixed reviews about DANCE OF SHADOWS. Just check out the reviews on Goodreads – they’re seriously all over the place – So I wasn’t quite sure where I would fall in line with that. Usually when the reviews are all over the place, I tend to fall on the side that doesn’t like the book, but I still wanted to give it a shot. So I did. I started it and all the ballet lingo totally reminded me of Center Stage. When it started to turn darker, it reminded me of what I picture Black Swan to be like (anyone seen it? Is that accurate?) and I was like, “Wow this is interesting!” I was actually digging the beginning and I loved the mystery. Keyword: mystery. I was thinking this was about Vanessa going back to school to investigate her sister’s disappearance. BUT there’s a twist (which I will not divulge) that’s a definitely genre change-up and I was just put-off by it.
How Did It Affect My Opinion? To be fair (or maybe unfair) there were already things about the book that were kind of annoying me, so once the this plot twist came along and totally switched the genre on me, I wasn’t happy. For some people, I bet they’d be like “Whoa, that was an awesome twist in this story! I totally didn’t see that coming!” And that’s where I got upset. I totally didn’t see that coming. Because of that, it seemed like a far reach to me and made the end a little too cheesy instead of totally awesome. *shrugs* I feel that that’s the make-or-break factor of the story and the people who are coming up with great reviews liked it and the people who end up with disappointed reviews obviously didn’t. Like I said, that wasn’t the only thing that didn’t quite sit right with me, but that’s to discuss later in my review!
BUT WITH THE BAD TIMES COME THE AWESOME TIMES
Now. There are also times when the mix of genres turns out to be TOTALLY AWESOME. Three different genres? Four different genres? SURE. YES PLEASE. And other cases where there I totally misinterpreted the genre, but the book was so much better than what I thought it was supposed to be!
Time When I Mixed It Up… But It Was Even Better! HOW TO LEAD A LIFE OF CRIME
If you guys haven’t read HOW TO LEAD A LIFE OF CRIME, I highly recommend it. When I first read the summary, it said that it was a school for the criminals – A place to learn the darker sides of life and to fit in with other kids in a world where you never fit in before. For some reason, the way it was worded, I thought it was going to be a superhero-type story. Maybe it was the cover (sheesh, apparently that has a lot to do with how I perceive a book) or just the way the summary was written, but turns out there are no superheroes in this book. We unite with the broken, the corrupt, and the criminally insane and it makes for an amazing and gripping (and violent) story.
How Did It Affect My Opinion? I was actually a little relieved that it wasn’t a superhero story. I loved that all of this was happening in the here and now. Not some dystopian or future world, not where our characters have supernatural powers – This could all really happen and we would never know it. It was exciting, thrilling, and at the same time, horrifying. I absolutely loved it and loved how I felt like this could really happen (although I really, really hope it doesn’t).
The Time Where Tons of Genres Came Together To Form a SUPERBOOK: CINDER
I loved CINDER. Who would have thought? You can say cyborg Cinderella any day and I would never, ever have picked up this book. Thanks to my fellow bloggers, I did, and I’m so happy I listened to them! To me, CINDER was a crazy but perfect mix of genres. There’s the fantasy aspect from the fact that it’s based on a fairy tale, the dystopian element of New Beijing, the sci-fi aspect of cyborgs and androids (and subtle Star Wars references), AND there’s a romance. Phew. That’s a lot, but so perfectly blended that it created one giant ball of AMAZING.
How Did It Affect My Opinion? Clearly, I loved it. The different genres and different feels definitely came together so well and really enhanced the story instead of distracting from it. Now I neeeed to read SCARLET!
Okay friends, now it’s time for some feedback. Has this ever happened to you??? Am I the only person who’s suffered from the phenomenon of genre miscommunications? I can’t wait to hear what you think about my cases and what books you’ve felt this with!