Opinions of a Novice. Or, I Feel Grouchy Today.

You know, if I were to have written Flowers in the Attic I would have changed one thing. If I had been the author, then there would have most surely been some point where the protagonist, Cathy, found and confronted the evil grandfather that she and her siblings had been so cruelly hidden away in an attic from from. I would have loved to have read a spectacular confrontational scene where everything comes together--the grandfather, the abusive grandmother and the mother who is trying to murder her children.

Now this should tell you one very important thing. This:

I am not the author of Flowers in the Attic and nor am I qualified to be.

Flowers in the Attic is a best seller. The author (who passed away when I was five,) and publisher really aren't going to benefit greatly from my opinion. Still, I think that Cathy confronting her grandfather would have made a spectacular scene. However, this was not the author's vision when she sat in bed late at night with her typewriter night after night. A scene where the children confronted their grandfather would not only have changed the ending considerably, it also would have buggered up any chances of a sequel where Cathy gets revenge on her mother. This was also the major mistake made by the scriptwriters of the 1987 film adaption of Flowers in the Attic, which ends with the children confronting their mother on her wedding day. The ending was basically panned by fans and critics alike and for one good reason. The scriptwriters tampered with a hit. It also ruined any chances of there being a film adaption of the sequel.

So what does all this mean. Well, as you know, I review books. Lots of them. I read a lot more books and I read a lot of other people's reviews of book. The majority of reviews I come across are always going to be well-written and fair. But sometimes, I come across some things that really annoy me. As some of you may remember in my recent review of Gameboard of the Gods, I had a bit of a crack at some of the reviewers on goodreads who felt that the author should have stuck to writing YA novels about vampires. Umm, excuse me. I think the author has a right to choose what subject matter she writes about. She doesn't owe you anything. I saw a similar outcry when J.K. Rowling released The Casual Vacancy. It seemed that some readers couldn't understand why the author of Harry Potter would suddenly want to write a novel about small town politics that was, essentially, a criticism of middle-class England. Again, Rowling doesn't owe you anything. Sure, it's disappointing when your favourite author who you've grown up writes a book that you have trouble connecting with (or dare I say it, understanding,) but it doesn't mean that they should stick with one subject or do something simply because you're a fan and you think it would be a good idea. Yes, I understand that reviews are subjective, about freedom of speech and by all means people should give an honest opinion, but I do wonder at times, do some of these people actually think, or look outside of the realm of their own surprise or disappointment? Are they judging the book on its own merit, or are they judging for not being the book that they wish the author had written?

Maybe. Or maybe not.

Bonus question: Do you think authors should stick to writing in the genre they are most famous for?


Andrew Leon said…
It's Phantom Menace syndrome. "You suck, because you didn't do what I wanted you to do/do it the way I wanted you to do it!" Most people are incapable of looking beyond their own expectations and completely unable to even think about what objectivity means.

Authors should write what the want to write. Unless they've agreed to write something specific for pay. That does not mean, though, that just because you have paid for a forum project that that gives you the right to dictate future projects (again: Phantom Menace).
Kathryn White said…
Agreed. Totally.
Unknown said…
Okay, I really need to read some 'Andrews.' Everyone tells me I'd love it, and I've just never gotten around to it. Seriously!
Kathryn White said…
Do it. I highly recommend the early books which were written by the original author--Flowers in the Attic & it's sequels, My Sweet Audrina and also the Casteel series (though half was finished by a ghost writer after the authors death.)

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