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It Just Doesn't Do It For Me.

Recently there was a thread that digressed into two opposing sides:

Those that like vampires.

Those that hate them.

And neither side is wrong. It just boils down to individual tastes in books and fantasy. Vampires are prevalent right now, and some folks make anything with fangs an 'auto-buy' and some avoid them like the plague. Me, I think I fall somewhere in the middle. Now post-apocalyptic urban fantasy? I'm there with bells on.

But here's my shameful confession about what I dislike:


Wizards REALLY just don't do it for me. There's something inherent that I dislike, and so I avoid books that I know involve wizards, even though I am well aware that I'm missing out on good writing. I've never read Harry Potter. Heck, I've never read Harry Dresden. Count me out on anything that involves magic wands or familiars. There's no reason behind this, simply personal taste. People give me weird looks when I mention this. How can you NOT LIKE HARRY POTTER? That's like saying that you don't like apple pie or I-pods.

But I just don't care for wizard stories.

Now, that's not saying that I won't read a book about wizards or warlocks or witches or whatever. I've got Anya Bast's WITCH FIRE in my Amazon shopping cart, and I'm eyeing Yasmine Galenorn's trilogy with interest. But it takes a lot for me to overcome my natural apathy for wizard-kind.

So here's a question for everyone out there. Tastes are different, and whether it be vampires or werewolves or demons (or even the dreaded wizards)...

What's the fantasy element that makes you steer away from what might otherwise be an excellent book?

Jill Myles


( 56 comments — Leave a comment )
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Aug. 9th, 2007 03:28 pm (UTC)
>Wizards REALLY just don't do it for me.

me, neither

My real irrational pet peeve, though, is half-human, half-pretty-much-anything. Nnnot in the sense of werewolves. One human parent, one something-else parent. Especially the half-vampire thing I've been seeing recently. Half-vampire? WTF? How the heck does that work? (I will admit that part of my problem there is that genetic vampirism is another of my knee-jerks.)

Faerie is basically okay with me (maybe because there's long-standing precedence), but other than that, it tends to strike me as really, really gimmicky.

There may be--probably are!--excellent books out there that do it and I may be--probably am!--doing myself a disservice with the knee-jerk response. But man. Looks gimmicky.
Aug. 9th, 2007 03:38 pm (UTC)
I'm okay with half-human/half-Other hybrids, but when it starts becoming half-vampire/half-valkyrie, half-werewolf/half-faerie, etc, I start twitching. That's where the hybrids start becoming gimmicky to me.
(no subject) - irysangel - Aug. 9th, 2007 03:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - buymeaclue - Aug. 9th, 2007 03:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 9th, 2007 03:28 pm (UTC)
I can't think of any fantasy elements that will steer me away from a book.

Otherwise, its usually kids. In most books, they're morons, and I want nothing more than to see them die. They seem to have the brain power of a kid roughly half the age their supposed to be.

Of course, there are some good books out there with kids as the protags. Suzanne Collin's Gregor the Overlander books are a prime example. I found them to be better than Harry Potter. HP wasn't bad, but peaked with the third book. This last one seemed like it was ghostwritten by Robert Jordan. I've been told that The Darkness Rising series is excellent, but I couldn't force myself to finish the first book because of the kids.
Aug. 9th, 2007 03:41 pm (UTC)
:intrudes shamelessly:

The two best books in The Dark Is Rising Series are The Dark Is Rising and The Grey King - the kids in that are v. well written and the supporting adult characters are excellent. Bran in Grey King has a moment that's absolutely heart-breaking (and I don't usually dig on kids either).

I'm guessing you read Over Sea, Under Stone, which is okay. Greenwitch features the same kids and it's a little more mature in terms of what it's trying to show.

Sorry. I love that series and it's the one I tend to beat people with!
(no subject) - templarwolf - Aug. 9th, 2007 04:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - redheadedali - Aug. 9th, 2007 05:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - irysangel - Aug. 9th, 2007 03:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - templarwolf - Aug. 9th, 2007 04:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - robinellen - Aug. 9th, 2007 04:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - robinellen - Aug. 9th, 2007 08:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 9th, 2007 03:35 pm (UTC)
Now post-apocalyptic urban fantasy? I'm there with bells on.

And I'll be right there beside you! :D

As for the fantasy element that makes me run away screaming: "Stupid farmboy/girl is really a hidden prince(ss) who must save the world using the Awesome Plot Coupon of Awesomeness!" That's more of a high/epic fantasy trope though and not one you'd normally find in urban fantasy. It doesn't matter how good the book is, I'll pass right on by.
Aug. 9th, 2007 03:54 pm (UTC)
And that's like a staple of high fantasy now (much like the sarcastic, kick-butt chick is for UF).
Aug. 9th, 2007 03:35 pm (UTC)
Vampires. I find them dull and not the least bit creepy. I don't understand good vampires or such.

Were-anything. Sorry, but human to animal transmog has also been overdone. It's festishizing animals and amounts to a weird form of zoophilia.

Bastard children with hidden heritage. I hate, hate, hate the idea that the protagonist might discover that he/she is the bastard child or descendent of royalty/wizards or whatever. C'mon. It was okay the first time, but now is trite.

Reincarnation. Ugh. Just ugh.
Aug. 9th, 2007 03:55 pm (UTC)
Not a big fan of reincarnation either. To me, it's like the character was just cheated out of their own life and randomly slapped with someone else's baggage. No thank you!

I think a lot of people like the 'hidden heritage' storyline because it's an instant way to turn the plot on its ear. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. In my own geeky experience, I loved this plot in the Knights Of The Old Republic video game...but it ruined the game for my husband (who hated it). Go figure.
Aug. 9th, 2007 03:39 pm (UTC)
Anything where a sexy vampire king has placed his secret mark on a nubile young heroine without her knowing and much will they-won't they ensues.
Aug. 9th, 2007 03:49 pm (UTC)
I'm always amazed to find that in contemporary fantasy there are still vampire lords and werewolf chieftains and elf queens. Why never assymmetric federations or timocracies?
(no subject) - tmthomas - Aug. 9th, 2007 03:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lankywriter - Aug. 12th, 2007 12:04 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 9th, 2007 03:39 pm (UTC)
For me, it's fairies and elves. They just never appealed to me.
Aug. 9th, 2007 03:45 pm (UTC)
What's the fantasy element that makes you steer away from what might otherwise be an excellent book?

Dragons. Every book I've read about dragons has essentially been a take on Dragonlance and/or Anne McCaffrey. There's only so much repetition and romantcisim of the scaly creatures I can take before the sheer blah of it all crushes my will to live.

Vampires, were-whatevers, faeries, necromancers and wizards I can all cope with (despite the fact that there's too much sameold same old in the market at the moment). But dragons are where I draw the line.
Aug. 9th, 2007 04:37 pm (UTC)
Ditto on the dragons. Elves are another one I'm not crazy about, but if a book has a dragon on the cover, the likelihood of me picking up that book pretty much plummets. I may be missing a whole bank of quality reading, but I gave Anne McCaffrey a chance and I think I'm just definitively not a dragon person.
(no subject) - mdhenry - Aug. 9th, 2007 04:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 9th, 2007 03:46 pm (UTC)

I know, and that's like half the genre, too. I especially can't stand when I'm going along in a perfectly fine vampire novel and someone introduces themselves as a fairy or half-faerie or fey or whatever. For some reason the meantion of fairies in that kind of context will make my suspenders of disbelief snap.

--Tate Hallaway
Aug. 9th, 2007 03:48 pm (UTC)
For me, were-anything that's not a wolf. There are werewolves that I can get along with and that's it.

Witches, not so much either.

Wizards, don't like.

Vampires...I don't like the majority of portrayals out there.

I'm picky :D
Aug. 9th, 2007 03:54 pm (UTC)
Chosen ones.

Magic schools.

(Huh. Now that might explain why a certain series doesn't much do it for me!)

The first because usually there's no good reason for most chosen ones to be, well, chosen; and because I tend to think saving the world is a group effort. The latter, because I instinctively don't much believe in the sort of magic that has nice neat rules; for the sort of magic I do believe in, a sort of apprentice system seems to make a lot more sense.

Though good enough writing can trump these. But it has to be really good writing, not just good enough writing, to do so.
Aug. 9th, 2007 03:59 pm (UTC)
I've discovered recently that I can't do high fantasy anymore.

Alternative names, Renaissance wizards, dragons, elves, anythin that smacks vaguely of D&D is right out.

Yes, there are great books out there I'm missing. I don't read Harlequin or Westerns or suspense thrillers either. Can't read them all.

Aug. 9th, 2007 04:01 pm (UTC)
I generally don't seek out fangs or fur -- or epic fantasy. I like books that are relatable to me (like magic and such) but not so much books that have long, unpronounceable names (especially with hyphens or apostrophes). I think I mostly am drawn to magic, and if that encompasses other fantasy, then good :)
Aug. 9th, 2007 04:07 pm (UTC)
I don't think I have any categorical turn-offs. I'm not a big "vampires, YAY!" person, but I'll go for a vampire story if it sounds intriguing and not just a copycat bandwagon jump. I'm leery of time travel because for the most part it over-romanticizes the past, but my all-time favorite book, To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, is a time travel. I'm a little leery of witchcraft presented in a religious context. It just all depends on the story and the writing, though, and many of my favorite things fall into the categories I might list as not being fond of.

I guess the closest I have to a categorical no is anything too dark and scary because I am a big, huge WEENIE with an overactive imagination and I don't like being so scared that I have to leave the lights on all night and jump at every little sound. Scariness would be the one plot element that might steer me away from an otherwise excellent book (and even there, I might be tempted if the rest of the story sounded like something I'd like). I try not to have any "Ewww, I don't do (fill in the blank)" lists that might keep me away from good books.

Shanna Swendson
Aug. 12th, 2007 12:46 am (UTC)
OMG, Shanna, I love Willis's Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog. Her best ever, though Bell Whether was awesome, too.
Aug. 9th, 2007 04:27 pm (UTC)
Elves, oh my god, Elves. I'm so sick of elves.

I'm also not a big fan of ghosts as characters in novels.

These days, demons/angels seem to be pushing my buttons, too, but that might have to do with my athiesm rather than any other particular issue.
Aug. 9th, 2007 05:41 pm (UTC)
I'm not a fan of zombies. Not sure if I've really seen all that much DUF featuring zombies (the occasional mummy or Anita Blake book maybe) but they just don't do it for me. They're not a deal-breaker, and I actually have World War Z in my wishlist on Amazon, but I don't get excited and jumpy about zombies like I do with vamps/weres/fae/witches.

I also get frustrated when reading fantasy and all the names are something like T'dyss'lrr'hea (yes I made that one up). Strange combinations of letters and apostrophes really throw me off, esp. when ALL of the names are crazy like that. And I'm sorry but names like Frodo, Vanyel and Seregil work just fine. Irk! Oh the irk!
Aug. 9th, 2007 06:22 pm (UTC)
t'm'thom'as suggests the upcoming release from mdhenry re: a fresh (but still moldering) take on zombies.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 9th, 2007 06:01 pm (UTC)
People who have a Destiny-- they were Born Under Special Circumstances, and due to this they have special powers and are required to save the world or whatever. It's been done so often that at this point, if I see it I just roll my eyes and move on. I want my heroes to be proactive, and deciding to help save the world on their own, not forced into it by the fact that the stars were aligned a certain way at their birth.

The most recent novel in a series I adore did this with the main character, and I was pretty irritated about it. But after ten books I've got a lot invested in it emotionally, and I'm going to keep reading despite that. If it had happened in the first or second book, though, I might not have bothered to continue.
Aug. 9th, 2007 06:26 pm (UTC)
Names I can't pronounce (whether of characters or places). Hero/ine finding out s/he has a great power now that she's reached puberty and must save world.(those two eliminate most of today's fantasy). Otherwise:

Elves, dwarves, etc in their "traditional" (aka, LOTR-esque) roles. I can take them in the story, but please leave JRRT-ness out of it.

Wizards/warlocks/sorcerers. Surprisingly I don't mind witches though. Go figure.

Stupid people, or big government agencies that are idiots. (that almost ruined the Transformers movie for me)

Talking swords/other weapon. O.M.G.
Aug. 9th, 2007 06:33 pm (UTC)
I don't suppose "suckage" is a fantasy element to steer clear of...?
Aug. 9th, 2007 06:34 pm (UTC)
I think it should be....
(no subject) - antonstrout - Aug. 9th, 2007 06:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - irysangel - Aug. 9th, 2007 06:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - antonstrout - Aug. 9th, 2007 06:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 9th, 2007 07:17 pm (UTC)
I would name a couple, but the truth is...my views changed on at least one type of character once I picked up and read a really well done book. So I guess my response is...I never say never, because I've had the right kind of story change my mind. *g*
Aug. 12th, 2007 03:23 am (UTC)
I agree with you, Patrice. I never say never, either. The idea of super heroes turns me off, but you know what? I kind of like the show Heroes, so a good book about a super hero may turn me around. It's all in the execution. 8^)
(no subject) - patricemichelle - Aug. 12th, 2007 04:27 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 9th, 2007 08:39 pm (UTC)
Sadly, I feel that way about the fae. There are exceptions to the rule, but I rarely buy books featuring the fae as main characters. Yet, if it's in a movie, I love them. Go figure.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 9th, 2007 11:13 pm (UTC)
Have you tried reading Lois McMaster Bujold's latest fantasy? In "The Sharing Knife: Legacy" there are no dragons, elves, dwarves, lords, kindoms, or destinies. What little magic there is happens to be pretty passive to the point of underutilization. It's more like a western crossed with a romance. The fact that the story is set in a post-appocolyptic mage war world lends it just a hint of "Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome" feel.
Aug. 9th, 2007 11:19 pm (UTC)
>What's the fantasy element that makes you steer away from what might otherwise be an excellent book?<

Tolkien rip-offs. Anne McCaffery rip-offs. Magic Teachers and Sage Advisors that just happen to show up in a timely manner. Any "well loved" trope that has entered the realm of cliche.
Aug. 10th, 2007 12:14 am (UTC)
Chosen Ones -- unless the book is exploring the conflict between fate and free will.

Supposed geniuses who don't think past the first or second consequences of things.

D&D races. Intrinsicly evil races. Dark Lords. Anything where I can hear the dice rolling in the background.

Vampires are a hard sell for me, but not automatic turn-offs.

Aug. 10th, 2007 01:45 am (UTC)
I stay away from books that have funky-ass-names that are UNPRONOUNCABLE!!

ex: sh'na'~rar or `ablkdi-daldn

If I cant say it? I sure aint reading it...
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