Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Good, the Bad and the Underdeveloped

A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author. ~ G.K. Chesterton

I'm reading Holly Lisle's latest book, "I See You" and am loving every minute of it.

In contrast, I recently read another romantic suspense novel by a favorite author (both book and author shall remain nameless since I am about to dis them) that I couldn't read past the third chapter.

I've figured out one of the big reasons why I love one and hate the other: characters.

I know and love the characters in "I See You": they're vivid, real and likeable. I really do care what happens to them -- all of them. Even the secondary characters are my friends now (which is distressing, because I'm certain that one of them is the bad guy... Ms. Lisle has done her job well).

The other book had well-rounded characters with unique features and quirky natures. But I. Didn't. Care.

Why not?

That is what I can't figure out. Characters from both books were well rounded. It was clear that both authors had done their homework and knew the folks in the book inside and out, and thusly so did I. But one had me hooked on them from the first couple of lines, the other book I closed without getting a resolution and never looked back. One book I'll remember and want to revisit, one has put me off one of my previously favorite authors.

And I can't put my finger on it. Both plots were interesting, both had a murder right at the beginning, both heroine's were threatened anonymously by the killer almost immediately and had big, strong, yummy men running to help. Just writing this entry makes me want to go grab my "I See You" book and dive back in.

And therein lies the thing that makes an author a bestseller. That special something that you can't buy and you can't fake. And only a few authors really have it. I want it.


Whatever it is.

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