Every now and again, I like to read a romance novel to amuse myself, or when I don’t want to exercise my brain that much. I don’t expect a lot out of genre romances, but the one I finished most recently was so horrifically bad I think I can honestly say I have never read a worse book. I really wonder how Johanna Lindsey’s Captive Bride (1977) even got published in the first place.
1. Adverbs. So many adverbs. In the first fifteen lines of the book, there were five adverbs. In other parts of the book, adverbs were so prominent that I stopped paying attention to the story and started counting them.
2. Not much description of setting. Parts of the book were set in Cairo, but there was so little description of it, and the description that was there was so cliched, I couldn’t picture the setting very clearly.
3. Dialogue tags. The characters were always “screaming hysterically” or they “shrieked” or “snapped” or “whispered.” If they “said,” they typically “said harshly” or “said happily” or “said merrily,” etc.
4. I burst out laughing at parts where I think the author wanted me to cry or be outraged. I felt like I was watching a very bad soap opera, or an episode of Maury or The Jerry Springer Show.
5. With a title like Captive Bride, I don’t think it needs to be said that there’s quite a bit of Stockholm syndrome here. To me, that’s not exactly the most romantic thing in the world, but hey… I guess that’s what some women fantasize about.
6. Characters acted way out of character. Near the end of the book, a character I thought was perfectly nice and mentally stable turned into a psychopath with a jealous bloodlust.
What makes all this a little better was the knowledge that Captive Bride was Johanna Lindsey’s first book. I’d be interested in reading other books by Lindsey, only to see if she’s gotten progressively better since her first attempt. I’m sure she has, or else she would not be as well known as she is.
So… my questions for you: What are the worst books you’ve ever read? Why were they so bad?