I'm reading a book at the moment which isn't bad, or it wasn't bad, until the author had a central policeman character make a particularly pompous announcement - apropos of bugger all in terms of the progression of the story - about dirty scruffy scumbag street people, and well, I'm suddenly arguing the point with the central character and telling him to stop being such a bloody prat.

So I'm really really put off - I think because the comment was so out of left-field and seemed like a bit of a ploy to make the central policeman less fuzzy, more hard edged or something. But then again, is it a political statement subtly introduced by an author trying to push something down my throat... either way I'm well put out and well put off about now.

Go on, have a whinge, what's put you off recently?

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I think it would be okay for a character to say that if the comment were balanced out, in the name of conflict, by another character with more liberal attitudes.

I was a little put off recently when a PI did something very foolish and dangerous--just for "fun"--at a lover's request. They were both drunk, but it still seemed out of character and contrived. Trying to amp up the tension in a low-tension scene.
Usually the most off-putting thing for me is the injection of some political statement into the narrative, whatever the statement is. It takes me out of the story and makes me think the character is just a mouthpiece for the writer's political views, not a character in his or her own right.
I agree, politics is all very well if you're reading something set firmly in the political world (Shane Maloney does a great set of lines about the Liberal Party that undoubtedly annoy Conservatives to the point of hysteria - but his central character is a Labor Party mover and shaker - it would be weird if he wasn't having a mild go on occasions), but I read a thriller a while ago which just had a political agenda that belted you over the head for no good reason and, well, it read like a cheer-squad manifesto - and it didn't need to, it had great potential without all that overt barracking for "one side" of a viewpoint.
I agree, or if the comment has some relevance to the current storyline but it just hung there, like that smell the dog sometimes makes when you've got friends over for dinner - nobody comments, everybody tries to pretend their eyes aren't watering....
I'm not sure if this quite counts, but it's been on my mind the last few days because it occurred in a book I'm loving otherwise.

It's this: I'm getting tired of reading about divorced dads obsessed with their work who have a hard time seeing their kids.

Okay, I know it happens. I know it's not uncommon, and I know it creates tension. But it's also starting to feel way overdone to me, and it feels too easy to me. To me, it was the one thing that annoyed me in The Wire, McNulty's problems seeing and looking after his kids. (Of course, aside from that, I love The Wire! -- and, to be fair, it was used in a very cool way in the scene where McNulty has his kids tail Stringer in the market).

Anyway, I've found that when I get to a scene where suddenly a dad is being chewed out for not seeing his kid, or is brooding about how he's gotta see his kid more, or is promising his ex-wife he is going to be there Saturday, promise, I just want to throw the book across the room. It completely knocks me out of the story.

Now, maybe this is my own idiosyncracy, and no doubt my own personal history may influence my feelings on this. But it bugs me when I see it now, and it seems like I'm seeing a lot.
Yes, agendas put me off. Lousy grammar also puts me off. Formulaic protagonists put me off. And knock-offs of the latest best seller especially put me off.
Knock offs - oh boy are you right - take something that worked and made somebody a squillion and repeat it over and over and over and over and over and over again. Same as not being able to move in a bookstore for 3,000 different editions of the same book just on the off chance that there is one sucker in the world who hasn't bought a copy (except me of course - I have a gene which makes me allergic to being marketed to).
I'm a science geek. Recently I was reading a book that's on a lot of bestseller lists and honestly, I was very disappointed-the science was crap. There was one very basic error that even a layman could catch and the rest, well I knew what they were talking about and I couldn't keep it straight. I was horrified-how was the average reader supposed to follow all of this if I couldn't?

It's becoming more and more obvious in the rush to get medical thrillers (and just health-related books) out that basic research and editing really isn't being done. Very frustrating.
What cheeses me off?

Dialogue that sounds like the characters are reading it from a tele-prompter. "As you know, Bob, the stethoscope is best used hooked up to the positive terminal of the oscilloscope."

Following on from that, technical details that serve no purpose other than showing what the author knows. Unless the story is based around it, keep the technobabble to a minimum.

"Redundant dialogue tags", he explained gently.

Tacked on romance. Just because they're working on a case together doesn't mean they have to work on each other.

'He said / said she' inconsistencies. Pick one form and use it.

100 pages of characters going about their daily lives with tidbits of 'the case' thrown in at the end of every chapter. Or Harry Potter spending 300 pages at home, getting told off by his uncle and auntie before he heads off to Hogwarts and the story begins.

Alternating plotlines that end on cliffhangers. Every. Single. Time. This is exactly why I can't bear to watch Heroes. Or why THE DA VINCI CODE has made me make sure to never read Dan Brown again.

Okay, time for me to lay off the Coke. :)
Serial killers put me off. Novels about them seem generic to me. All telling the same story basically. Also stories about brutalized children I find hard to take.
Same with me. Also books based around abductions that like to describe the captive's torments in gruelling detail.
What puts me off is when I feel that some or all of the characters behave not as real people would but in whatever way solely to satisfy the author's plot needs. That and incompetence on the part of the main character as a means of injecting humor into the story. I can't stand nitwit boobs in real life. Why would I want to read about them


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