February 7, 2014

I Totally Saw That Coming and That's OKAY

Fact: I don't like coffee. I just like saying Coffee Clutch in my best and deepest New York accent. Considering I'm a New Yorker, I'm pretty freaking good at it. So I've got my tea and I hope you have your heated beverage of choice, because it's time to gab the day away.

So you know when you guys are reading a book and things start to happen and it hits you:

"OH. I know what the big twist is gonna be. Like, I see the clues and feel the build up and this is clearly what's going to happen, I just know it. She's gonna stab him in the back or he's gonna turn out to be evil or they're secretly related. That's what's going to happen, yes, I know."

And then, inevitably, that twisty thing takes place.

Every now and again I'll read a review where someone is all mad because the book was predictable or they liked it less because they could guess what was coming next. And I think sometimes I'd like more of a surprise as well, especially if the big twist has something to do with a murder mystery (because, like, that's kind of the point of that).

But, more often than not, I honestly don't mind if I can guess what happens next.

For me it's not so much about what happens, it's about how the characters deal with what happens. It's also about how the author lets that big twist change the rest of the book. Like, yeah, she's a backstabber and he's evil and they're all related, but what does that mean for the plot? It's still super dramatic, even if you've guessed it, especially since so much of the book is still so unpredictable. I mean, it's not like there are laws a good book has to follow in order for it to be a good book (except maybe some kind of beginning-middle-end structure, and sometimes not even that).

I feel like this is my mindset because I've gotten really good at guessing what's going to happen in books. I mean, when you read lots of books, there are only so many car accidents, cheating boyfriends, and kept secrets that are going to surprise you. But that doesn't mean I'm not still totally enthralled with the drama. That doesn't mean I don't cry when the big twist happens because it's so emotional and the way the character is dealing with it totally breaks my heart. Just because you know something's coming, doesn't mean you don't have a reaction to it when it does happen.

Example of books that were predictable but still brought the feels just as well as any unpredictable book:
  • Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen (Totes saw a lot of what happened here and in Lady Thief coming and my heart is still lying in a ditch somewhere, that's fine.)
  • My Life Next Door had this crazy build up and I could tell it was going to happen but I didn't want it to and then it did. (Thank GOD the ending happened like it did or I SWEAR, I would still be mourning.)
  • If I Stay already had it's sequel, Where She Went when I read it, so... (BUILT IN SPOILERS FOR EVERYONE.)
  • Cinder followed the Cinderella story pretty closely. Scarlet had a twist I definitely didn't want to believe, but we knew it. Cress tells a story it feels like you grew up with. And yet. (AND YET!)
  • If I Lie really did have many lies it could be telling but even though I knew my face was wet. (Face, why were you wet? What's the about?)

Oh, and none of this is today I don't get surprised sometimes. Here are some of those examples:
  • I never know what's going to happen in any Maggie Stiefvater book. (Seriously, this woman's brain is so far above mine intellectually, I'm just lucky I can keep up once things are revealed.)
  • Shadow & Bone got me so hard. (If you know what the later books are about, not so much anymore, but I didn't even read the Shadow & Bone description when I started, so O.O.)
  • Graceling just kept packing the punches. (I mean, REALLY with that book.)
  • The Something Strange and Deadly series kept me guessing at every page. (Possibly because I had no idea what could happen next. You're so tricky, Susan Dennard)
  • Through the Ever Night destroyed me. (Although I wasn't too surprised by anything in Into the Still Blue and I loved that one too!)

And there are probably a dozen other books that totally pants'd me or really, really didn't pants me but still punched me right in the feels over the last year, I'm just not thinking of them right now. But, really, what I'm trying to say is, "this book was so predictable" isn't really something I see as negative unless the way the characters behave around said predictable twist is annoying or stupid. Because, really, something being predictable just means you can maybe relate to said situation. Or that I'm reading a books from authors who use similar tropes - tropes I really, really enjoy. OR that I'm a genius. And who doesn't like a book that makes you feel like a genius?

Do you have a problem with predictable books? Do you not really care? Maybe you like predictable books because they allow you to brace yourself. Why do you think you feel one way or another about them? And what are some examples of predictable/surprising books you want to add to my lists? Please give me all of the answers in the comments below!