I love a great suspense story. In a book or in a movie, it doesn’t make a difference as long as it grabs me. And let me tell you, I was recently grabbed by author Chevy Stevens and her work.
I’ve seen all kinds of adjectives and descriptions of books out there – page-turner; un-put-downable; a furious read. But what makes a story into a page-turner? I think this is a very personal thing because I’ve read books and watched movies that others have claimed were the best thing they’d ever encountered.
And I’m sitting there thinking, “Are we even discussing the same story?
I do, however, believe there are certain elements that are absolutely required to hook a reader and keep them from yawning halfway through. Or, worse, in the early pages of the novel. This is the thing that Stevens does so well. I’ve read Still Missing and just recently finished Never Knowing and gotta say – this woman’s got a gift.
But here’s the thing. There was something that happened in Never Knowing that bothered me. It was unexpected but it felt off. Maybe it was, for me, a little too unexpected. Or, I dunno, manufactured. Yeah. That’s it. It felt manufactured. This didn’t in any way detract from the storytelling, because Stevens is amazingly good at it. But it did make the book linger after I’d finished it in a way that made me uncomfortable.
That got me to all kinds of thinking. Sometimes books stay with you because they’re just so good. And sometimes books stay with you because they’re just so bad you couldn’t finish them, or you finished them and wished you didn’t. And then there are books that are so incredibly good but that veer off course, if only for a few pages, that leave you wondering why the story had to go in that direction. Oh, you enjoyed the story and all that, but something about it doesn’t sit quite as perfectly as you expected it to.
Is this a bad thing? When this happens, has the author kept his or her implied promise to entertain you?
Depends, I guess, in how you look at it. If an author does his or her job, in my case I’ll keep on loving their stories and keep on buying their work. But if the stage is set and those throw-ins continue book after book, how will I feel then?
So what do you think? If your expectations of a book are turned and the story heads in a direction other than the one you thought it would take, how do you feel about it? Does manufacturing a scene kill the suspense?
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