By Grace Gardener
So many books and so little time to read them! Nowadays, with digital libraries and booksellers, we have access to literally millions of books. Nobody is going to read that much in their lifetime, which makes the choice very difficult. Every now and then, it’s nice to stop focusing on the “to be read” list and look at the “never to read” list. The choice becomes so much easier when you can get rid of some options. So, here, in no particular order, is a list of books I will never read.
The Game of Thrones series, George R.R. Martin (warning for sexual abuse)
To be honest, I don’t know too much about these books other than that they are fantasy. The show apparently has a lot of nudity, sex and violence. From book reviews, I have gathered that the gore and sexual content are very severe, including romanticisation of nonconsensual sex (yes, I’m avoiding certain words). That’s typical for more adult fantasy books, where a predatory man forces a woman to love him until she ends up actually falling for him somehow. Obviously that makes it okay. Added to that there’s a lot of character death. Not just of minor background characters, but of named, so-called “main” characters. That’s fine for me, until pretty much everyone dies. Why would I even let myself get attached to any characters when I know their chances of survival are practically nil?
The Secret History, Donna Tart
This is an older book that has resurfaced in the last few years. It’s a dark academia book, which means it has an academic setting with dark themes. The plot is as follows: a student wants to study Greek under a professor. Since this professor is such an expert, he is in very high demand. He only wants a small class, so the student will have to compete. For some reason this involves a ritual. Either way, the reason I won’t read this book is because its main idea is that we should question everything. Personally, I feel like this is a bit pretentious – a problem I see with a lot of so-called philosophical, academic genres. In The Secret History, morality becomes just another philosophical idea you can believe in or discard at your will.
The Red Queen series, Victoria Aveyard (warning: infanticide)
In this fantasy series, royals use superpowers to oppress people. Eventually, the people revolt, I think. Either way, what I do know is that all the fans adore a male character called Maven. They call jokingly call him the prochoice king. Why? He kills a baby. Some fans try to defend him by saying it was one of his soldiers who did it – all Maven did was put a note in its dead hand! According to the fans, Maven is not a monster; he just does some bad things. But in the end he always chooses the female main character above everything else. Of course she should end up with him!
The Twilight Saga, Stephanie Meyers
I was still rather young when this book became popular. I remember it was everywhere. Eventually I got it from the library. And I was bored out of my mind. I genuinely do not know how people got through this book when barely anything happens for most of the first half. I got as far as Edward revealing he’s a sparkly vampire and I already knew Jacob was a werewolf, but even that knowledge wasn’t motivation enough. Maybe one day I’ll watch the movies, but that’s about as far as I’ll go for laughs.
The Cruel Prince, Holly Black
This may sound a bit prejudiced – and it is – but usually when a book features fairies, it seems some weird stuff is going to happen. In this book, the main character Jude has been kidnapped by fairies. She’s the only human at a fairy court and is often shunned or treated badly by them. So she decides that if she can’t be better than them, she’ll “become so much worse”. That’s already enough, but for me the main reason I don’t want to read this book is because of the relationship between a man called Carden and Jude. My main takeaway from fanart is that he’s a coward. In all of the fanart Jude is in a dominating position. Regardless of gender, it just seems toxic. But his cowardice mainly comes to play when he decides he does not want to be a king regardless of his being the crown prince. Jude tricks him into becoming king anyway because she wants to rule. In the end, he gets to lay back while she does all the ruling for him. Personally, I find lazy cowards unattractive. He also has a tail, which does not help his case.
Anything by Neil Shusterman
Yes, this is a bit harsh. It’s also fully justified. I have read Neil Shusterman’s books in the past, namely the Unwind series. The premise is as follows: prochoicers and prolifers in America started a war. It went on for so long that they had to agree on a compromise. For some reason the compromise was that from now on abortion was illegal, but you could “unwind” a person once they turn 12 and recycle their organs. This makes perfect sense if you don’t think about it for too long. You’d also think this would make the books very prolife. They were not. A lot of things made no sense and the morality of the issue was only discussed a few times. In reality, the author seems to have wanted a cool, original premise upon which to build a teen dystopian story. He didn’t really bother with actual content. From what I’ve seen, all of his books are marketed as philosophical, but they are not really. The premises sound good, but I’ve learned that the payoff is nonexistant.
Honestly, it feels good marking off some books I don’t want to read. Sure, my TBR (short for “to be read”) is through the roof, but at least it’s not as long as it could be. And sometimes, that’s good enough.