Friday, June 28, 2013

What Helpful Warning Labels Would You Like to See on Books?

by Sara N.

It's been a rough few weeks for dogs in my literary world. No exaggeration here: The last five consecutive books I read have all included a dog being killed.

Won't somebody please think of the puppies?
Photo source.
I wasn't shocked to see it in the first three books, which were suspense/thriller/horror novels. (No titles, as I don't want to spoil anybody on some of these newly released books; email me if you want a full list.)

Because I take animal deaths in fiction hard, I picked up a book in what I thought was a safe genre: historical romance. Guess what? Doggie death. You betrayed me, Regency England. The fifth book, a frothy, hot new fiction release? Surprise dog-fighting ring!  Book No. 6, which I'm reading now, already has one Welsh corgi MIA and one murdered goat.

This is really too much. It's starting to feel like a cosmic joke on me, and I swear to you, the next book I read, I'm going to Tweet the author first to get his or her assurance that it's pet murder-free.

Anyway, it got me thinking about how much I'd like a warning label on books that feature animals deaths. I'm not saying I would refuse to read a book with that plot point, but it's information I'd like to have as I decide what to pick up next.

So what warning labels would you like to see on books? I'm not talking about "Warning: Adult language"-type labels. I'm talking really useful stuff. To wit:

Cruel Animal Death Warning — As mentioned above, a helpless animal dies of non-natural causes.

Carousel of Characters Warning — This book has so many characters that you'll struggle to keep them straight for the first 30 percent of the book. This is especially true in a fantasy setting where everyone's names are non-traditional.

Mary Sue Warning — This one's pretty obvious: The main character is practically perfect in every way and may have some type of ability that makes her the specialist special snowflake in the firmament.  Gagging and eye-rolling may ensue.

Embarrassing Dialogue Warning — Seriously, did the author try to read any of this dialogue out loud? No human being talks like that. You will be embarrassed for every character involved in this malarky.

Love at First Sight Warning —Characters feel an instant, overwhelming attraction to one another and immediately declare that their love is eternal. The audience recognizes this as simple infatuation, but the characters will never listen to reason.

Ridiculous Alpha Warning —The lead male is domineering and bossy and abrasive. The author thinks it's an attractive character trait, but he comes across like a drunk bully at the local watering hole.

Seriously Unhappy Ending Warning — One of the leads dies. You may as well know this going in. The happy couple you're reading about? Their relationship ends in premature death, and it is a serious downer.

Green Eyes Warning – This book is so well written that you'll be bummed about your own lack of skills and accomplishment. Jealousy and self-doubt will plague you as you bask in the glorious prose of this talented stranger.

Gun Fetish Warning — The author will have characters ramble on for pages, lovingly describing the gun type, caliber, ammunition and accessories. This is awesome for the audience members who are big into heavy weaponry and torture for the rest of us. Especially common in zombie fiction.

Magic Fixes Everything Warning — The rules of magic in this book are not well defined. As such, it can be used as a deus ex machina that will solve all the characters' problems that seemed insurmountable just a few pages earlier.

Asshole Warning — Every character in this book is an asshole. You will not enjoy spending time with any of them.

Depressive Funk Warning — This book is well written and thought provoking, but it is depressing. Prepare to walk around in a sad fog for days after you finish it.

The Kitchen Sink Warning — The author throws in so many plot twists and complicated rules for the world he or she has created that it becomes a mess of bad guys, universes, magical system and motivations. Prepare for a head-scratching mess.

50 Shades Warning — This books is 50 Shades of Gray. It is terrible.

What warning labels did I miss? What would you add to the list?
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  1. I'd like the following warning:

    *Unnecessary Love Triangle warning- Seriously, we're trying to save the world from an oncoming apocalypse and you're still trying to decide who you want to be with? Focus!!

    *Ridiculously Stupid Choice That Is Unlike The Character warning- Despite being a genius and showing common sense, that character still insists on picking up the strange hitchhiker. Really?!

    *Squick Warning. Your mileage may vary on the Squick but it could be rape/threat of rape or gore. Also could be writer going on triad about their own beliefs that completely take away from the book.

    *Cliffhanger ending. I'm so tired of reading great books that never warn you that they're part of a series and end with a cliffhanger. I'll still read them but I would like a little warning before I journey ahead.

    1. Wow, YES. Those are all great, and necessary!

  2. Cliffhanger is a biggie, there should be a warning> i want a chance to wait till the next book is released

    Rape/sexual torture warning- argue, I don't want to read about this for entertainment, give me a clue.

    Child Abuse- please a heads up on this.

  3. Series about to be discontinued without the author being able to tie up all the lose ends warning.