1. Science fiction that is sketchy on the science. Now, we are not brainiacs, and we don't need detailed theorems and chemical equations. We are also willing to come in with a reasonable "suspension of disbelief". But, it needs to make sense. If we, with our "C" average in all science classes, can spot problems, you have some serious polishing up to do.
2. Cover art that doesn't match the characters. Would the people who design the books please READ THEM first?! recent example: We Hear the Dead. Who exactly is that supposed to be? Demure, ladylike Maggie, or young, innocent Kate? And we won't even start on the whitewashed covers.
3. Extraneous love interests. Nothing wrong with a good romance, if that is actually part of the story. Too often, however, authors/publishers feel they have to throw one in, ruining a book that was just fine on its own, just because said book is for teens. Author Liane Shaw jumped twenty points in our esteem with her comment on this post, and we are still awaiting news on her next title, still scheduled for this fall we hope...
4. Overly hyped books that don't live up. (Across the Universe - need we say more?) Sometimes, dear publishers, your resources would be better spent on editing than on publicity.
5. Book merchandise. Now, this isn't meant to be a sweeping dismissal of all book-related products - after all, our youngest reader's room is decorated in storybook characters, complete with Curious George wall quilt and stuffed Berenstain Bears. Nothing gets our hackles up, though, like reading a Charlie and Lola book in storytime, and hearing someone (usually a parent) exclaim, "Oh, they made a book out of the cartoon!"
6. Permabound books. Not to disparage the company, but you know the covers we mean - the boring, bumpy, usually beige covers that seldom include artwork and retain dirt like a three-year-old. For some reason, a generation of librarians decided these were a much better option than buying a new copy when things wore out. A subsequent generation of readers was less than impressed, and they are slowly being weeded out (we can't even move them off the book sale cart!)
7. Clothing descriptions, especially in 'contemporary' fiction. "cause, guess what? In three years, your book is no longer contemporary. You shot any chance of kids relating to your characters down the road when you spent a paragraph discussing how her leggings matched her headband. Plus, too much focus on clothing = shallow character = I don't care what happens to her.
8. Stupid main characters. I like to feel a little smarter than the protagonist, but not too much. If I figure out who the bad guy is on page three, I'm not going to read past page ten. (Pleasantly surprised by Virals, btw, which I should be reviewing tomorrow).
9. Fact checking. Does that go without saying? If we are publishing nonfiction for kids (or for anyone) can we please make sure the author knows what he/she is talking about? That the pictures match up with the text? That the grammar is better than that of a third grader?
10. Celebrity authors. For every Julie Edwards (loved Mandy!) there is a Madonna (ugh) or a Jamie Lee Curtis (moralistic obvious blech) or a (cringing-at-fingernails-on-chalkboard) Maria Shriver (speaking of books I can't move).
Whew. Looks like we reached ten just as we were getting a little too snippy. Your turn now! What pet peeves do you have about books - covers, illustrations, storylines, anything? Snipe away, and we'll return with a more positive post tomorrow:)