There’s no question about it: I’m an avid reader, usually am in the middle of at least two books at a time (one upstairs and one downstairs), have a house filled with books and keep taking more out of the library.
That said, there are certain things that drive me crazy when I’m reading a book, and will make me either stop reading the book or decide never to read anything else by the author. Probably most readers have their own private lists, but here’s mine:
1. When I discover at the end of the book that this was not, as it appeared to be, a stand-alone book, but the first book in a series. I don’t mind reading series. In fact, I love many of them. I just want to know, when I’m starting a book, whether the story is going to be resolved in this book or not, so I can adjust my expectations. When I get close to the end of the book and I’m wondering, “How on earth is the author going to make this work?” and then the answer turns out to be, “The author is not going to make this work in this book; you’re going to have to read the next one,” I am not a happy camper and I’m very unlikely to read the next one.
2. When an author has other characters tell you how wonderful the main character is, instead of letting you figure it out yourself from what the character actually says or does. This usually has the effect of turning me against the main character just out of orneriness. Really, when one character says to the main character, seriously and without irony, “You are your own Holy Grail,” and means that as a compliment, is there any reason to continue reading that book? Or anything else in that series (and yes, I am not making that quotation up, sad to say)?
3. When an author resolves a serious plot issue by pulling something out of thin air, suddenly giving the main character knowledge or abilities that had never been mentioned before but which turn out to be exactly what’s needed for the character to save the day. This is not necessarily deus ex machina, but sometimes it comes pretty close.
4. Related to #3, when an author bestows all kinds of powers and abilities on one character (either the protagonist or the antagonist), such that no human being would ever have all those powers and abilities together. Rigging the game in favor of one character or another annoys me immensely!
Those are my deal-breakers. To win an Advance Review Copy of a new book (one of the many goodies I acquired at Book Expo America), comment and tell me what authorial sins turn you off from a book or series you read.