Narrator Beware: Limit the Whining

smiley-tearsRecently, I picked up a book that is wildly popular.  I’m seeing it all over the blogosphere.  A friend asked me to read it and give her my take on it.  It’s middle grade fiction but she worries that it is too dark.  She worries that ubber dark is a new middle grade trend.

No, I’m not going to name the book but that’s because I don’t like to publicly pan books.  I checked Goodreads and based on the reviews it seems like readers love it or hate it.  Me?  I hated it.  I couldn’t get past the whining.  The book was only four disks long — something over four hours — and I made it through 1 disk but felt like I’d slogged my way through 10.  I didn’t finish it.

This is the second book lately that I have rejected based on a whiny narrator.  The first one I actually finished because it was for book club that if we weren’t discussing it in a group I wouldn’t have bothered.  I made it through the book but I had to switch from audiobook to hard copy.  Why?  Again, I whiny first person narrator.

Now both of these girls had cause to whine.  Lots of characters do.  Face it, there are enough bullies, abusive parents, vengeful wraiths and more to torment every narrator known to literature.  But, especially if your book is an audiobook, you need to limit the whining. As the reader, I can tell that the narrator’s life is stinko without being subjected to a long, ear wrenching narrative about everything that has gone wrong for the past 12 years.  Really.  Let me come to the conclusion myself and I’ll empathize with the character.

As an audiobook fan, this has been wondering.  Is it the story that annoys me or the voice actor?  I can’t quite decide.  But I do know this — limit the whining or lose this reader.  Period.