Smugglivus 2010: Airing of Grievances

2010 is over, 2011 has begun, and Smugglivus is nearly complete! Which means that we must also undergo another very important ritual…

The Airing of Grievances
(in which we air out any dirty laundry from 2010. Warning: plenty of swearing and spoilers ahoy)

In no particular order, these are the things that really pissed us off this year.

1. Overhyped Books

Publishers, there IS such a thing as overhyping your books. When we see one book all over the place on pre-packaged blog tours with guest posts at every single website that will say yes (regardless of whether or not the blog is a suitable fit for a particular book), chain emails every other day, marketing material that promises the book is the Next Twilight or the Next Name of the Wind or is the next big thing (Twilight Meets Gone With the Wind With Zombies IN SPACE!!!!!), it actually causes the opposite reaction to what you are aiming for. We tend to stay away from these overhyped books because they are almost always garbage. Yes, ok, sometimes hype is spot on (for example with The Passage by Justin Cronin, one of Thea’s top 10 this year), but most of the time it creates unreasonable expectations and we have been burned too many times to count.

One perfect example is last year’s Matched by Ally Condie. We saw it everywhere as early as 6 months prior to publication because of its shocking multi-dollar-digit advance, the movie deal, and being touted by newspapers/magazines as the next!best!thing! in Dystopian fiction. Well, it wasn’t. It felt more like a carbon copy of an earlier book (The Giver by Lois Lowry), just with a Love Triangle. Come on now.

2. Posts on How To Blog

We have seen myriad posts about Blogging Rules around the Internets last year and we tried to stay away from the conversation as much as we could – because, frankly, these posts are typically made of…GAAH. List after list of what a blogger should or should not do: how to behave, how to contact who and when, how to get ARCs, how NOT to blog for ARCs, how publishers CARE about what we do, how publishers DO NOT care about what we do, how being concerned about hits is WRONG, how Marketing is EVIL, how doing giveaways and blog tours are akin to skinning one’s cat, how we need to be more critical, how we need to be less critical, how blogging should be FUN, how blogging should be PROFESSIONAL.

Wanna know what we think? You gotta do what you gotta do, dudes. Forget what other people say and do your thing. That’s all.

3. Literary Fiction

The world of Lit Fiction gave us a lot of food for thought last year and not always in a positive way. We are obviously Genre Fiction readers and for better or worse do not read a lot of Literary Fiction. Mostly this is because, well, we tend to think “literature” is rather pointless in its gloominess and navel gazing. But if you think we think lowly of Lit Fic, then wait until you learn what Lit Fic thinks of us, genre readers! Check out this post published in The Guardian.

And Ana actually tried to read some Lit Fic this year, and the result was not pretty. The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson was shortlisted for Booker Prize and billed as comedy – but in Ana’s opinion, it failed miserably after about 50 pages, comprised mostly of endless lines in which the main character (male) kept describing his woes at not having a good wife to die on him. Seriously.

Then Ana tried again with the older, highly acclaimed Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami which featured talking cats, aliens and whatnot (because you know, that is not Genre Fiction at all), plus Incest and murder and a most annoying tendency not to answer anything, plus endless conversations about music that went nowhere – it was just a mess of gigantic proportions.

But those are nothing compared to:

3.1 Literary Fiction – The Wtfuckery

So, Ana got this book Skippy Dies by Paul Murray because 1) it came highly recommended by several bloggers 2) it was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 3) it was supposedly, despite its title, a comedy (albeit a “dark” one).

Internets, Ana did not laugh.

It begins with Skippy, this 14 year old boy dying. He is one of several boys who attend a catholic boarding school in Ireland (*inserts the SOUND OF DOOM*).

After the prologue, the story proceeds to follow several characters, including Skippy in the days preceding his death.

In summation: the boy’s mother is dying of cancer, his father won’t talk to him and they pretend she is not dying of cancer, he is sort of bullied at school because he is so small, one of the priests WANTS to sexually abuse him (but won’t because he is still atoning for the other rapes he committed several years ago in Africa) , the only person he trusts is the swimming coach (who after the boy goes to look for him to cry about his mother, drugs him and then proceeds to sexually abuse him while he is asleep). Not that we know that until about 2/3 of the book, but we know that something happened to Skippy.


Anyways, poor Skippy is falling apart and no one fucking notices – teachers, friends, psychologist – until he takes these pills and dies.

And then the adults at school, even thought they know about the abuse, just go all: oh let’s be all hush-hush and not tell anybody because after all the coach is such A GOOD MAN.

How about NOW??? LAUGUING YET?

Every single adult in this book is a creep or a jerk. The main “hero” learns about the Skippy’s abuse and agrees to shut up about it. Every single kid is either a drug addict, a bully, or plain crazy-psycho. There is this one kid who thinks only about rape and then rapes this girl who allows it because she loves him so much – we spend quite a lot of time inside his head.


Every single female character – adult or child – is portrayed as walking, talking vaginas – the extent of their participation in this novel is how they can use their vaginas to get things.

IN WHAT WORLD DOES THIS CONSTITUTE A COMEDY???????????? Because let us tell you: Ana sobbed like a baby because of what Skippy went through, did not laugh once and actually read the entire book, all 700 pages of it, just to see what would happen hoping that at least someone would be arrested because of what they did to Skippy, but then it just ……ends. NOTHING IS DONE, HIS PARENTS NEVER FIND OUT, ONLY THE TEACHERS KNOW and they do nothing.

And this was not set back in the 60s. This is set in 2010.


4. Movies That Sucked Huge Donkey Balls

4.1. Clash of the Titans – Remake

Aka the Movie that Made Ana Go Apoplectic. A remake of one of our favourite movies of all time (mind you, not because it’s excellent, but because it is so crappy it is actually good)(Thea’s addendum: I think the original was excellent, but because of the Harryhausen special effects, not the story!). But we didn’t go apoplectic because the acting was supremely bad. Or because the visual effects were actually WORSE than the first version’s stop motion ones (the first Medusa was SO much better). No, she hated it because the mythology was WRONG!!! WTF was that all about Zeus being all emo and WOE IS ME MEN DO NOT LOVE ME? WTF was that all about Perseus not hooking up with Andromeda thereby NOT founding Perseid dynasty which is one of the founding myths of the Greeks ?

Learn this Internets: You can not mess with Greek Mythology. It is just plain WRONG. (Unless of course, you do it intelligently, not in such an aggravating manner just for the sake of it).

4.2 Supposed Geekiness That is DECIDEDLY NOT AWESOME; aka Scott Pilgrim sucks huge donkey balls

A disclaimer: this is Thea’s rant (Ana, like most people in the universe, loved Scott Pilgrim).

I think it’s safe to say that both of us are Geeks. Thea LOVES video games, comic books, all manner of speculative fiction, movies, conventions, superheroes, etc. Thea also loves Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. But Thea was not peeing her pants with excitement when the trailers for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World came out, because it looked kind of…well, tryhard-ish and lame. Isn’t everyone TIRED of Michael Cera yet? Why does slapping on some word graphics and neon visuals set to garage band tracks make everyone go crazy with bliss? Thea simply didn’t get the excitement.

So, Thea refrained from watching Scott Pilgrim in the theater. She waited until it came out on redbox and coughed up the whopping dollar to rent it – only because everyone in the freaking universe, from the supposed target audience of 30-ish geek dudes to firmly NOT-geekish folks loved the film and were praising from here to infinity.

So Thea watched Scott Pilgrim. And, internets, Thea was just as mystified after finishing the movie as she was when the trailers first came out.

Scott Pilgrim is, simply put, disgusting. He’s disgusting in appearance – with that rare shade of pale and his toothpick skinny I-can’t-believe-he-isn’t-collapsing-under-the-weight-of-the-bass-guitar-he-is-supposedly-playing physique, not to mention the annoying fifteen year old pre-pubescent voice and general “oh look at me I’m so pathetic SOMEONE has to find me cute…right?” look. Even worse, he’s disgusting in character (which exacerbates the appearance thing) – he’s a pathetically apathetic, chickenshit, misogynistic asswipe. This one critic put it best by articulating Thea’s biggest problem with the movie: “[Scott Pilgrim is] singularly fixated on…shallow visions of women as one-dimensional objects to be either obtained or discarded.”

YES. This. Knives deserved better. And let’s face it – in what universe would Ramona ever, EVER be with a guy like Scott – who has no personality, no life, ostensibly no money, and is not even the tiniest bit physically attractive?

Thea will say that the visuals and the editing were cool, and the secondary characters were awesome fun (Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans and Brandon Routh in particular) – but the whole story is ADD nonsense. And this is coming from someone that owns every major game console to have come out in the past 15 years – Thea LOVES video games. Thea is a huge geek. Thea is a part of the so-called target audience…and yet Scott Pilgrim felt gratuitous, stupid and, well, soulless.

And now Thea will retire because evidently EVERYONE IN THE UNIVERSE loved this movie.


Because really, what would this list be without the TV show that has consumed our lives for the past six years? We love LOST. We started The Book Smugglers because of LOST! We’ve spent countless hours theorizing, spoiler whoring, debating, and contemplating the overall meaning of the island, the losties, and HOW exactly The Powers That Be (TPTB) would be able to tie it all together.

And, dudes, it is with pain that we say that while we wouldn’t give up LOST for anything in the world and the final season earned spots on both of our Best of TV lists, the final season of the show was a hot mess.

First, we hated what they did to all the characters we’ve known and loved over the years. In particular, we hated what TPTB did to Locke. Ultimately, Locke’s fate was to die alone, hungry for approval and full of his desire to be “special” – but just to be used by Smokey as Locke was used his whole, sad life? There’s no doubt that Terry O’Quinn is one badass actor, and his role as FLocke/theLockeMonster was awesome – but in that awesomeness, it’s important not to forget that the character we fell in love with was the broken but determined man that wouldn’t let anyone tell him what he couldn’t do…only he was tossed aside like so much garbage.

We hated what TPTB did to Sayid, letting him fade into obscurity, and really never giving the poor dude a break (first with Shannon, then he’s with Nadia for a nanosecond before she’s killed). We hated what they did to poor Claire (just that terrible wig they made her wear for the duration of the final season is an egregious enough offense). We hated what they did to Sawyer and Juliet, who are both awesome characters on their own but were forced into a weird relationship because of the demands of the clinically insane Jater audeince. Of course, we hated the ongoing, sniveling, tear-filled saga of Jack and Kate (and we suppose Aaron too, because yes, Kate needs a baby, that’s the only way to redeem female characters on this show).

We hated the shift of attention from the BIG PICTURE to so much nonsense – the weird Temple of Doom with the fountain of life and the Japanese dude with the baseball and his herbs and shit, the decision to give Alpert a whole freaking episode devoted to the mystery of the Black Rock in the jungle *insert massive eye rolling*. We hated the decision to give us a Jacob and MIB (still an acronym because HIS NAME IS NEVER REVEALED) childhood episode with the weird mom from Juno, just to uncover the mystery of Adam and Eve (who OF COURSE are characters that we haven’t even met until this point) and the magical light of the island (which we’ve NEVER seen nor heard of prior to this episode but is apparently TEH BIG SEKRIT OF TEH ISLAND) and is the light of good inside of every man *gags*

It became very, very clear that at this point, the writers were literally pulling storylines and “answers” out of their asses. And it did NOT smell pretty, dudes.

Most of all, we hated the way things were boiled down to the most simplistic elements – because at the end of the day, it turns out that LOST was really just about “GOOD” versus “EVIL” and WHITE versus BLACK with fucking crappy religious overtones and THEY WERE ALL DEAD AND THIS SHIT IS PATHETIC. All the mythology? All the electromagnetism and Dharma and Hanso and Time Travel and Healing Properties…

It. All. Meant. Nothing.

We would never give up the show, and we still finished the series with joy – but there was a lot of bitterness, too. We wouldn’t trade LOST for anything, but we can’t help but point out that the show’s final season – and the show’s ultimate “explanation” – had a lot of really big problems.

And that’s it! Our 2010 grievances are aired, and our 2011 slates are clean. Are there any gripes y’all have had for the past year that you want to get off your chest?

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  • Amy @ My Friend Amy
    January 4, 2011 at 1:15 am

    Okay I definitely know to skip Skippy Dies now!

  • Trin
    January 4, 2011 at 1:24 am

    Thea, I must say I 100% agree about Scott Pilgrim. The movie wasn’t so bad, but really, Michael Cera? And what kind of geek breaks up with a girl like Knives anyway? πŸ˜‰

  • Niveau
    January 4, 2011 at 1:31 am

    I agree with you completely about Matched. Also, literary fiction in general, and more specifically, the women-as-vaginas mentality to which so much of literary fiction seems to belong. Also also, Scott Pilgrim. I would’ve griped about them myself, but now y’all have kindly gone and done it for me!

    Though I have one gripe to add, about a specific piece of genre fiction which everyone and their dog seemed to love, so I will not name it since I seem alone in this: book – you know who you are – I can honestly say that you were the most upsetting piece of literature I’ve ever read. You literally made me sick to my stomach, yet for some reason, everyone else loved you as much as they love cake. Did you bribe them with it, or something? Because I just don’t get the love, and I feel so very ripped off! Also, kind of queasy just from thinking about you. But at least you didn’t contain any rape, so I guess you beat Skippy Dies.

  • Andrea
    January 4, 2011 at 1:42 am

    The rants, they are good.

    Thea – what video games do you love? I’ve just belatedly started playing Alan Wake, which is looking way cool (though their paralysed mouths are messing with my head).

  • Anonymous
    January 4, 2011 at 2:01 am

    I love your persistance and dedication…

    1. we tend to think β€œliterature” is rather pointless in its gloominess and navel gazing…And Ana actually tried to read some Lit Fic this year.
    2. Skippy Dies… Ana sobbed like a baby because of what Skippy went through, did not laugh once and actually read the entire book, all 700 pages of it…
    3. Thea was not peeing her pants with excitement when the trailers for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World came out…So Thea watched Scott Pilgrim…
    4. Lost; the TV show that has consumed our lives for the past six years…It. All. Meant. Nothing.

    I love a martyr (or two); well done, fantastic blog, keep it up, happy 2011!

  • pidute
    January 4, 2011 at 2:41 am

    i do soooo love when you guys rant 😈 !!!
    is it wrong of me to want you to do it more often?

  • Ana
    January 4, 2011 at 2:51 am

    @Amy – And can you believe it’s being made into a movie? By Neil Jordan? *headdesk*

    @Trin (and Thea)- You guys, I love Michael Cera *sad* I think he is adorably geeky πŸ˜†

    @Niveau – *highfive* but now I am curious as to which movie you are talking about *ninja*

    @Andrea – sometimes it’s good to get things off our chest

    @Anon – That’s us! Dedicated and persistent till the end. Thanks for your lovely comment! πŸ˜€

    @Pidute – Dude, you are back! *hugs*

  • Sabrina @ about happy books
    January 4, 2011 at 2:57 am

    Wow, if Skippy Dies is supposed to be a comedy then I don’t want to know what a tragedy would sound like. Definitely not my kind of book.

    The how to blog posts annoy me every time I read them. I especially dislike things like “the truths about blogging”. Blog and let blog sounds like a good motto to me.

  • Jennifer (An Abundance of Books)
    January 4, 2011 at 3:53 am

    I was not a Scott Pilgrim movie fan, I thought MC should NOT have been cast as Scott Pilgrim at all. However, I did enjoy the pop culture-ness of the graphic novel series (but not as much as my husband). Parts of the movie were done well, with actual scenes lifted right from the books. Otherwise, meh. But hey, give the books a try. Scott still isn’t a great guy, but parts are enjoyable. (Knives was better in the books)

  • Michelle
    January 4, 2011 at 3:58 am

    I love you guys! Really I do! I read Matched thinking it was going to be some momentously awesome fantastic epic read that I was going to pine for the sequel on the moment the last page was over. Yea, not so much. Liked it well enough but honestly….not much different and new with it. It wasn’t ground breaking.

    I think we all know I’m not a litfic girl. Kudos to you for trying to read some this year, y’all are better women than I. I simply won’t bother because I know it will be akin to being forced to eat salmon until I vomit (*shudders at childhood memories of the horror*).

    I do believe there is something to be said for providing blogging guidance (especially for those seeking it out, maybe new bloggers) BUT I agree…..there was so much out there this year that felt preachy and lectury and written for the dramatic purposes of creating controversy and driving traffic. **gags** I guess it all comes down to what the topic is and how it is ultimately written (constructive vs. dramatic).

    Great list ladies! Happy 2011. πŸ™‚

  • Andrea
    January 4, 2011 at 4:16 am

    On the Lost front, the original auditions for the series were going around a while ago and people were wondering why everyone was auditioning for the Sawyer role (_everyone_ auditioned for it). Turns out that Jack was supposed to die in the first episode, but the test audience responded so well to him that they kept him alive. Rumour has it that before that, Kate was meant to be the main character.

    That made me glad I faded out round the third season.

  • KT
    January 4, 2011 at 4:29 am

    re: Lit Fic

    Lit Fic has great stuff and terrible stuff, just like Genre fiction. It’s kinda just as closed minded to wave it all off as navel gazing as it is to think all genre is mindless clichΓ©. A lot of it is hugely overhyped but pretty good if you ignore that (Never Let Me Go winds me up because of people who don’t read SF thinking it’s super original, but it’s a good book anyway.)
    I’m kinda biased cause I did a lit MA but love Genre fiction; it’s ALL literature. That Guardian article makes me want to throw something at the guy’s head. But it’s not that he’s wrong about ‘LitFic>Genre’, it’s that the ghettoing of it is actually less founded than it should be and by insisting they’re such different beasts it denies one can be influenced by the other, or even improved by the other. Neither is better than the other, they’re just different flavours of the same thing.

    re:Scott Pilgrimβ€” it might be better if you’ve read the comics. He IS a bit terrible, but Ramona is a mess as well. It got hyped because it’s a well loved comic with nice art, fun characters, witty dialogue and a bunch of geek references… having it’s film adaptation done by Edgar Wright who was kinda perfect for it (Cause the book is pretty much ‘Spaced in Canada with music and as a comic’). Sadly the film isn’t as good as its component parts though, I can see why it didn’t totally float your boat… but it might be worth having a read of the books because Scott’s loserdom is addressed much better there, and much more is made of his attempts to sort himself out.
    Also, Cera really doesn’t fit a lot of the book fan’s idea of the character, he’s meant to be over confident and oblivious, not nervous and pathetic. I was wondering how the film comes across if you’re not already a fan of the book. It sounds like ‘not so well’.

  • Ana
    January 4, 2011 at 4:45 am

    It’s kinda just as closed minded to wave it all off as navel gazing as it is to think all genre is mindless clichΓ©.

    Oh yes agree, this is why we said that we tend to think of it as navel gazing but we still keep trying to find the ones to love. πŸ˜‰

  • KMont
    January 4, 2011 at 5:09 am

    Best rant ever. Or, rater, all yalls rants are good. πŸ˜‰

  • Jodie
    January 4, 2011 at 5:14 am

    Love the grievances! School that remake – one of those films I hid from and did not even consider seeing, because y’know what Liam Neeson can just about pull off Aslan, but he is not godly like enough to be a Greek god. Did no one learn from remaking The Poseidon Adventure?

    I like lit fic and this year I want to read more of it (along with lots more sci-fi and fantasy) but in 2010 I went right off it because I kept coming up against so many books like the description Karen Healey posted a while ago:

    ‘A male professor feels unsatisfied with his life! His cold-hearted intellectual wife doesn’t understand him. He has an affair with a beautiful free-spirited student. The end? Is there ever an end? Are WE the end? Do we EYEROLL at the end?’

    (change out professor for any other profession)/ books described as hilarious which were at best a bit sarcastic

    / books that claimed to be an examination of the inner life of a man, or the general human condition but to me seemed to be about how having a penis is the single important focus of life.

    So this year my goal is to learn to filter out this section of lit fiction and focus on all the stuff that has something of interest to say (like Sea of Poppies for example).

  • Mia Marlowe
    January 4, 2011 at 5:33 am

    Your rant reminded me why I usually bypass LitFic. It’s almost universally depressing and generally proves the over-examined life is not worth living. Give me an HEA any day.

  • ceilidh
    January 4, 2011 at 5:34 am

    I completely agree with the overhyping mess. I haven’t read Matched but all the publicity for it, plus the frankly obscene advance Condie got, put me off it, same for Andrea Cremer’s Nightshade (although part of my cynicism for that book also came from the choice to have the male romantic lead be at the forefront of the facebook publicity campaign – I guess they think girls only care about books with cute boys. I still think true hype is organic and can’t be recreated although I am sort of fascinated by what publishers in YA are going to do next.

    As for Scott Pilgrim – enjoyed the movie mainly for geek references and supporting characters, hated Scott and Ramona, Knives deserved better.

  • Nymeth
    January 4, 2011 at 5:35 am

    Hahaha. I agree with much of this. I love plenty of books considered literary fiction (we’ll have to agree to disagree on Murakami, Ana :P) but I find the concept and the term pretty ridiculous; there are good and bad books everywhere in pretty much the same proportion, and yep, there’s literature in the genre and YA and comics ghettos too. Also, I laughed out loud at that description Jodie posted.

    I haven’t watched Scott Pilgrim the movie, but I didn’t get on with the comics at all – and I’m also a geek who loves videogames! The gender stuff is better in the books by the sound of it (the female characters are actually well-rounded human beings), but the whole concept of fighting exes is just….no.

  • Cara McKenna
    January 4, 2011 at 5:36 am

    I too sat dutifully through the remake of Clash of the Titans and was disappointed, but only because I watched it expressly to see Vincent Regan shirtless and angry and brunet (a la 300), and he was none of those things. Wasteful casting, I screams!

  • Nancy McGregor
    January 4, 2011 at 5:36 am

    I agree with all of the above! Give me a few hours and I’ll come up with some truly big disappointments for 2010.

  • Guinevere
    January 4, 2011 at 5:37 am

    Yes, yes, yes.

    I really hated Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. I am a big geek, and I expected to love it. My husband (also a geek – I mean, we met in engineering school!) and I walked out of the movie theater feeling so CHEATED.

    And, I like Michael Cera, but I hated his character in that movie. Misogynist jerks don’t do it for me; it’s not any more appealing in a geek than it is in a jock.

  • Ginny
    January 4, 2011 at 5:49 am

    Totally agreed about Lost. I loved Sayid, he was so badass ( snapping a guy’s neck with his feet while his hands were tied? Fucking awesome) yet complex in his search for redemption. What the he’ll happened to him? First he goes completely weird under those drugs, reminding me of a bad impression of Captain Jack from PotC my friend does, then he sudden become ‘evil!’ & never seems to get his humanity back.
    I always hated Jack & Kate’s ‘will they, won’t they?’ bullshit. Kate just seemed to use people & Jack was far too much of a goody two shoes.
    That all said I loved the sideways story line. When they all met to move on together I cried a little.

  • noodles
    January 4, 2011 at 5:58 am

    I actually like Murakami. Methinks you have read the wrong book (I dunnoe, it’s one of the three from Murakami i have yet to read), perhaps Norwegian Woods (romance) or Wind Up Bird Chronicles(my favorite and his most famous novel) will be better. Murakami is not everyone’s liking though. ah well.

  • Ana
    January 4, 2011 at 6:00 am

    @ Ana and Noodles: Yes, I have been told that I read the wrong Murakami too. Don’t know…didn’t feel like an author I would like to try again. πŸ™

  • Rachel Aaron
    January 4, 2011 at 6:02 am

    I 100% agree with everything you guys said about literature. I was an English major and I hated pretty much every modern book I had to read. I hated the misogynistic characterization (seriously, with a few touted feminist exceptions, why do all women suck in these things? I don’t know any women like that.), I hated the dull plots (can things happen in literary novels?), I hated the endless conversations that went nowhere. UGH. I hated it all. And I had to take both the modern American novel AND World Literature of the 20th Cent., which should have been called European Literature since we never got off the continent. I hated it all so much, you have no idea. (Well, actually I can see you have a very good idea.)

    Ok, spleen vented. Thank you for a great post!

  • Kristina
    January 4, 2011 at 6:16 am

    LOL you crack me up!! I’ve been a lurker for awhile {happy to be out of lurkdom} and I just had to post. Skippy Dies?? I agree….W.T.F? Who writes something like that?? And Lost? I hate to admit that I’ve never seen an episode and let me just tell you *I* was mad about the ending you just described!!

    Thank you so much for the laughs this morning, I really needed it =)

  • Marcus
    January 4, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Here’s the thing: what you call “too much hype” really isn’t. It only appears that way because you visit all the sites that talk about the book, know all the blogs on the tour, read the book world news, etc. Yes, to die hard book people, it seems like overhype. But die hard book people are, sadly, in the minority. The average book reader doesn’t take in all the same media that you do. Statistically, if you see an ad for MATCHED fifty times, the average reader has seen an ad once. ONCE. And marketers hope it was the right ad (meaning the one that convinced them to check it out). It’s basic marketing strategy: you MUST blanket every possible venue to hit the largest number of people. The very small percentage of die hards are going to get inundated and, yes, there’s the risk it will alienate them. But they’re a small percentage (again, sorry to say).

    Another thing about MATCHED? Most of the hype was in the form of reviews. A lot of reviewers read it and a lot loved it. That’s something the publisher has no control over. Sure, they hope that every single person who receives an advance copy will mention it somehow. That never happens. But with good books, the odds are better that many of them will. I agree, it’s easy to get sick of something when you’re exposed to it constantly. I went into AVATAR with a bad attitude because I was tired of seeing the commercials. But, really, the only commercials I saw aired on the Daily Show, and because I watch it nightly, I got an overdose of AVATAR. If I’d switched to PBS or some other channel, chances are I wouldn’t have gotten overexposed. It’s all in the media you choose to absorb.

    Don’t blame publishers. Just like anyone else trying to market a product, they have to cast the widest, yet most targeted, net possible. It just happens that die hard book people have to suffer a little from overexposure as a result. Suck it up.

    Oh, and SKIPPY DIES rocks. It’s hilarious.

  • Meredith
    January 4, 2011 at 7:56 am

    Double true on #2 and #3! My own rant would just be an endless tirade against all of the J. Franzen fawning the media elite have done this year. Guy writes a novel after nine years (that’s a lot of navel gazing) and we’re supposed to bow down and worship him? Um, not so much. I have never understood his appeal and I hope it takes another nine years before we have to listen to all the Franzen love again.

  • Angela
    January 4, 2011 at 8:00 am

    When people were buzzing about Matched finally being published I was in shock – I was sure it had been published weeks, maybe even months earlier, judging by the hype. They definitely hyped it way too much, and way too early.

    Also: The Scott Pilgrim movie sucked so much. I watched it with a bunch of (dude) friends and was just disgusted by the time the movie was done – the whole plot revolved around denying Ramona the chance to make her own choices about who she dated. WTF? Also, hell yes Knives deserved better. Having Scott realize that in the last five seconds doesn’t redeem him of the last two hours of doucheyness.

    Also also: Final season of Lost sucked. Which in retrospect made most of the other seasons suck, because it’s now clear they were never actually leading to anything.

  • Debbie
    January 4, 2011 at 8:03 am

    I felt the same way about Matched. I thought it wasn’t bad but not the epic book the marketing blitz made it seem like.

  • Noobling
    January 4, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Totally agree about Scott Pilgrim. By all means I should have loved it, but it just didn’t mesh. Didn’t help that I couldn’t believe that any girl would like him. Nor did I think Ramona was all that; she was pretty but pretty dang dour.

  • April
    January 4, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Matched did nothing for me either.

    And I agree about Scott Pilgrim too. I don’t think any character in recent years has ever annoyed me as much as Scott did both in the movie and the graphic novel series.

  • ???
    January 4, 2011 at 8:51 am

    I commented int he wrong place earlier. Just wanted to know what happened to your joint review from yesterday.

  • Mia
    January 4, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Okay, I don’t 100% agree with Scott Pilgrim. I actually enjoyed the movie. However, I do agree with your analysis of Scott Pilgrim the character. He was kind of a d-bag and, to be honest, I thought Ramona was kind of boring. Why exactly did she need Scott to fight her battles for her anyway? On the other hand, Knives was amazing and actually had a character arc where she changed and evolved, unlike anyone else in the movie. The other side characters were fun and amusing as well (especially Kieran Culkin). If they just could have killed off Michael Cera right at the beginning.

    Anyway, while amusing Scott Pilgrim was definitely style over substance.

  • KB/KT Grant
    January 4, 2011 at 9:45 am

    I choked up at the end of Lost. I felt it was a perfect ending, especially how Jack and his father came to terms with one another.

    I am so so sick of over hyped books, especially in the YA genre. Nothing is original anymore! Same old crap where publishers are throwing away crazy amounts of money for books that will never reach the heights of Twilight or The Hungers Games. The cycle has passed and the next few years will be very lacking for YA overall.

    I really want to read about Skippy, but more for the tragedy, not the funny that seems to be missing.

  • shannon
    January 4, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Murakami is probably one of my favorite authors ever, but he’s certainly not for everyone. Kafka on the Shore is one of his less accessible books, but I don’t believe there are any aliens in the book. Usually his books focus on ghosts or a link to the spirit world, which I believe has strong roots in Japanese culture (I’m no expert though). I recently read South of the Border and West of the Sun, and I was shocked because I HATED it. It was the only book of his that I really didn’t like. Sputnik Sweetheart featured a lesbian couple, but I don’t think it’s his best either. My favorite book is the Wind Up Bird Chronicle and a close second would go to The Wild Sheep Chase. None of his books have concrete answers in them though so you can’t go in expecting that.

  • tori aka ggs_closet
    January 4, 2011 at 9:56 am

    LMAO!!! Brilliant post. I thought about getting Skippy Dies but I think I’m going to RUN not walk past it. The overhype of Matched and Delirium put me off both books. I felt that if I did read them I would have to like them or fear public stoning. *sigh* My life is complicated enough.

  • alana
    January 4, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Marcus is right in the sense that not all people will think something is “overhyped” if they don’t follow a lot of book blogs. For the most part this is the only book blog I really follow closely (cause of posts like this) and I can’t remember hearing anything about Matched. So in that regard, I agree.

    But I do think this brings up the issue of why book bloggers pick certain books to review and how much pull publishers have in regards to shaping book blogging. I’m sure this is an old concern, but it’s interesting to think about.

  • Tiah
    January 4, 2011 at 10:18 am

    I find it sad that book like Matched get so much attention and movie deals and the book isn’t that great. Meanwhile there are fabulous book I have read that I’ve never heard of before. I can’t tell you how many books I have found on blogs and just browsing the store that have been the best books I have ever read. Ever. And they get no love.

  • Christine
    January 4, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    I almost don’t believe your plot summary of Skippy Dies, yet I know you wouldn’t lie to me… and you don’t even tend to exaggerate. Wow. Just wow.

    Does it make you feel better if I tell you that I wasn’t even aware of any hype surrounding Matched?

  • April (Books&Wine)
    January 4, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    I tried a few episodes of Lost earlier this year (on Netflix instant, season One). I stopped watching as I didn’t understand it at all. Maybe I’ll try it again later.


    I’m going to avoid Skippy Dies, as if it tries to make rape seem funny, or sexual abuse, that’s messed up. Really messed up.

    I do like the blogging advice posts, mainly because I like to leave long winded responses. La di dum.

    Also, seeing as how Ana and Thea weren’t born yesterday, I’m pretty sure they know that as book bloggers they are an exception to the general reading public and do have way more interaction with publishing hype than the average Joe. Pretty sure they don’t need the marketing lesson.


    Happy New Years!

  • Emily E
    January 4, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I liked Matched. So there. 😈

    This post made me almost die of laughter, though. Especially posts on how to blog. Isn’t the point of blogging that you can do whatever you want?..

  • Grimalkin
    January 4, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    My own personal Airing of Grievances would be very similar. I agree with everything you two wrote! Especially that Scott Pilgrim is utter poop! I would rather scoop my cats’ litter box than watch that horrid piece of misogynistic trash.

    But to answer your question, my other gripes are that I’m tired of steampunk, zombies, and genre-mashups (like Pride & Prejudice & Zombies). Vampires and werewolves are officially on notice but only because I don’t read that much monster fiction.

    Happy New Year! May 2011 be filled with original and exciting ideas. πŸ˜€

  • Steve Aryan
    January 4, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    You’re not alone. Scott Pilgrim is utter balls. It looks awful, it sounds awful, it does not appeal at all to me on any level and I am a geek. My friend point blank refused to loan me his copy of the comics as he knew I would hate them so much I would either burn them and then eat them, or rip them up and feed them to my friend.

    For the same reason I stayed away from the ‘Rules of blogging’ lists. Again, utter balls. Can you tell it’s the first day back at work and I’m tired and not feeling very eloquent? πŸ˜€

  • Estara
    January 4, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    The emotional posts of love & hate, they are the particular brilliance in the glitter of this blog!

  • danielle
    January 4, 2011 at 2:17 pm


    i love michael cera. he’s adorable.
    i have a poster of Clash of Titans’ (2010) medusa on my wall with a bunch of sharpie mustaches on the snack faces(:

    mhm. that’s all i got.
    haha, chickenshit.

  • willaful
    January 4, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    I have the world’s most embarassing mom crush on Michael Cera and loved (most of) the movie.

    Agreed on virtually every other point though.

  • Pip Hunn
    January 4, 2011 at 3:23 pm


    It’s not often that a blog post makes me actually do a spray-take across my brand new MacBook, potentially ruining thousands of dollars of technowizardy from my inability to constrain both laughter AND agreement.

    Nice. Post. Madam.

    Y’know, Scott Pilgrim totally gravel > faced at the movies, and I’m not sure why. Like you said, every geek and his blog were hyping this like there was no tomorrow. I went to see it at the movies, and I do think it was worth seeing there, if only for nicer sound and the excuse to bury my head in an oversized bucket of popcorn every time Cera started to talk. If you surgically removed him from the movie, it’d be about perfect.

    Also, I secretly kind of want Gone With The Zombies In Space.

    I hate Literary Fiction, too. It seems like such a whiny genre for people who’re too stuck in their own depressing worlds to get out and have fun in better ones.


  • Kathleen
    January 4, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    I loved Skippy Dies. It isn’t the plot overall that is hilarious, and of course the way you summarized it is not designed to highlight the funny.
    And it’s not supposed to be solely a comedy; it’s a great novel because it is tragic and beautifully written and funny.
    I cried and laughed throughout.

    I’m going to avoid Skippy Dies, as if it tries to make rape seem funny, or sexual abuse, that’s messed up.

    It doesn’t. At all.

  • Louise
    January 4, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Did I write this? I had to check the byline to make sure it wasn’t me writing this entire post. Hear, hear.

  • Kristen
    January 4, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    100% agree about posts on “how to blog” or arguments about blogging and what bloggers should do. There have been way too many arguments and posts and dramas about various “issues” this past year. Yes, definitely, people should do their own thing and worry less about what everyone else is doing – and stop getting offended by a comment someone else made.

    Also agreed about Lost – I did not like the last season very much at all. In fact, it’s made me like the series as a whole a lot less (but then I didn’t like the first season, either, just the middle seasons so I’m certainly not its biggest fan or anything).

    I haven’t seen/read the rest to agree or disagree. πŸ˜‰ Due to all the ‘meh’ reviews about Matched, I haven’t picked it up yet.

  • Ari
    January 4, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    So this is going to sound horrible but I started laughing at around the second paragraph of Skippy Dies because I could just tell it was NOT going to be funny. And it’s so awful that it was advertised as a comedy that I just cracked up.

    I so so agree wtih overhyped books and the posts on HOW TO (BOOK)BLOG. Oh my goodness those posts irritate me to no end. It’s not that hard and blogging is supposed to be what you make of it or whatever. Just do whatever floats your boat within reason, just act like you have some home training. Stop getting mad at people who write short reviews or really long reviews or get a lot of ARCS, etc. Whew. I just got a grievance off my chest πŸ˜‰

  • Alison
    January 4, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    RE: Lost

    OK, I must defend my beloved Sawyer and Juliet. As a hardcore Kate-Sawyer shipper from the very beginning, I was very skeptical about that pairing, but it totally worked for me. Their reunion scene was hands down my favorite part of the finale.

    But I agree with you one pretty much everything else. One of my biggest gripes was Jack’s characterization. While it was an ensemble drama, Jack was, to a certain extent, the POV character. Which is kind of a big deal. He started off the show feeling like he had to save everybody and then spent six seasons learning that… he was supposed to save everybody. How is that character growth? What was the point of *anything* that happened to him during the series? Frustrating.

  • Steph Su
    January 4, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    LOVED THIS POST. Loved the Double Facepalm picture, the overhyped books thing, the “litt-ruh-chah” snobs.

  • Lynossa
    January 4, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Hahha, I agree with you. With all the hype about Matched, I thought it was released months ago. I guess most bloggers wants to be cool because they review a book that not yet out there?
    And also about HOW TO BLOG. Seriously? double facepalm. Who the fudge are you telling people how to blog? Its like telling people how to right their diaries. major big fails. Perhaps some of them wants to help because they got tired being asked the same question over and over again about ‘tips’ to blog. In my opinion, write what you want!!! You want to write a review for bad book, do it! You don’t want to put pictures on your blog, do it! It’s yours! The worse thing could happened is some people might stop reading your blog, but I think it worth the pleasure of writing things that you like instead of feeling forced to write according to what the ‘expert’ said.

    Thanks for allowing me to rant. And yeah, I think you read the wrong Murakami, try Norwegian Wood πŸ˜€

  • Anonymous
    January 4, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    OMG YES. About Scott Pilgrim! YES. Yes. YES. I hated that movie. And I have never fully articulated why. And you just did for me. Thank you. Also, Skippy Dies sounds horrible. I love genre fic and lit fic, but I dislike the hatred that often comes from lit fic readers for genre readers (and sometimes vice versa). I have to agree that I liked Sawyer and Juliet together. I also think I feel the same way about the ending of lost. It just wasn’t satisfying. And that makes me sad πŸ™

  • Lu
    January 4, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    That anonymous comment at 7:22 is me!

  • debp
    January 4, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    I loved what you said about lost. I bought my son a shirt that said I watched lost for 6 years and all I got was a lousy ending. It was my apology for making him watch it with me.He kept saying that was how it was going to end. I kept saying that they wouldn’t have spent all that time and effort just to have that terrible an ending.

  • raych
    January 4, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Booksmugglers, you are in my head, airing my grievances. Guidance posts on how-to-blog are ok, if overabundant, given the crop of new bloggers that sprouts up daily being all, How do I do this. It’s the Thou Shalts and Thou Shalt Nots that keeeeel me. I read one that was all YOU MUST RESPOND TO EVERY COMMENT ON YOUR BLOG and then also you should probably visit every commenter’s blog and leave a comment on THEIR blog and if someone follows you you should follow them back because it’s common courtesy and HOLY SHIT WHO HAS THAT KIND OF TIME? And doesn’t following people who follow you make your list of people you follow into (essentially) a list of people who follow you and what the hell point is there in that and HULK SMASH! Do not tell me how I can and cannot blog. This is my sandbox.

    Phew. *wipes forehead* I appear to have exorcised some demons. Keep calm and carry on.

  • orannia
    January 4, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    I know I hardly ever post, but…I love you guys! *hugs*

    And I am never, ever, EVER going to read Skippy Dies!

    Oh, and if this helped – I have never heard of Matched πŸ™‚ And no, I’m not joking ❗

  • Arhcadia
    January 4, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    That post was worlds of awesome. Thanks.
    Just one thought on LOST (too many hours of my life already spent ranting…) – i could have forgiven all of the last season’s foibles (yes, even the literal plug in the island) if not for the last five minutes of the final episode. They walked into that church – and all that that implied – and they lost me. No pun intended. What a waste of a parallel reality. And what about Jack’s placeholder son – is he just stuck in purgatory limbo forever while everone else moves on? He was just there to fill time? Urgh. *deep breath*

  • jennygirl
    January 4, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    The entire post was hilarious. Loved it.
    The only thing I can comment on is your LOST grievance. You covered all the bases your lines of

    “It became very, very clear that at this point, the writers were literally pulling storylines and β€œanswers” out of their asses. And it did NOT smell pretty, dudes.”

    was right on point.
    Not sure how I feel about hanging in there all that time. As much as I enjoyed it along the way midway through season 6 I felt cheated. Knew I wasn’t going to get answers but watched anyway. I don’t just conflicted, obviously πŸ™‚
    Excellent way to end 2010 and begin 2011 gals!!!! πŸ˜›

  • Isabeleeta
    January 4, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    I think that the person who wrote the article disparaging genre writing was out of line, because writing in itself is hard, regardless of the genre. What bothered me most about his smug stance on literary fiction is that he believes somehow that lit fiction is “better”, but history has shown us that it is not necessarily so. A story like “Gone With The Wind” could easily be considered genre. In fact Jane Austen herself was disregarded as just a woman writer, writing simple novels for women and fulfilling women’s fantasies about romance and such. I’m sure this Edward Docx wouldn’t consider Austen just another badly written genre writer. Another example: Frankenstein. When Mary Shelley wrote it, again, it was a serialized novel, popular, which today we would consider genre, yet, it is considered literature, it is read in many literature classrooms and it is indeed considered the parent of all sci-fi literature. The Moonstone, considered the first mystery in the genre, is studied in many 19th Century literature classrooms, and it is considered as much a classic as Jude The Obscure or anything written by DH Lawrence. What makes this Docx think that genre writing is not good writing? Or that it is easily written and formulaic? Thrillers especially, and good thrillers, take imagination, lots of it. God knows there are thrillers that fall flat, even if they follow a formula. Just like literary fiction, genre writing can be good or bad. Most of it bad, sure. But so is literary fiction, which is why being a successful writer is for the most of us but a dream. What makes me the most angry is that Docx dismisses all genre lit as irrelevant. I beg to differ.

  • Heather (DarklyReading)
    January 5, 2011 at 9:14 am

    Love the rant and the liberal use of donkey balls. I am also a big fan of Hot Fuzz but Scott Pilgrim.. not so much. πŸ™‚

  • Do your thing « Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog
    January 6, 2011 at 12:40 am

    […] Smugglivus 2010: Airing of Grievances: We have seen myriad posts about Blogging Rules around the Internets last year and we tried to stay […]

  • rawrrbot
    January 6, 2011 at 2:23 am

    Nice rant. I love rants.

    I felt the same about ‘Lost.’ Right before the final season started I got Netflix — literally went and subscribed to Netflix when I found out all the seasons were available — and sat through every. single. episode. so I could “get” the final season (cause I’d missed quite a bit overall). Come to find out, I did it all for nothing. The whole show was like a water slide… we’re in a raft going around sharp turns, taking small dips and just waiting to be dumped into the water, only to land on grass. Wow, that analogy there…

    I disagree about Scott Pilgrim, though. I thought it had great actors, nice comedy, a cool soundtrack, and awesome visual effects. Michael Cera definitely isn’t hot by many people’s standards, but I don’t think Scott Pilgrim is supposed to be hot. All the gripes people have with the movie seem to be A. The fact that it’s Michael Cera and B. that Scott is a toolbox, which he is; but that’s not a movie flaw, that’s kind of the point. I read the comics and the movie pretty much covered it.

  • Bella F.
    January 6, 2011 at 5:40 am

    I enjoy Michael Cera but agree completely on the film Scott Pilgrim; that movie sucked big donkey balls b/c it tried to hard and the Scott character was an @sshat. But I loved his roommate,lol
    K. Culkin did great. ps, I havent heard anyone outside my bf say big donkey balls in so long!hahaha luv it πŸ˜†

  • Patty
    January 6, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Love your thoughts…but I loved Matched…but I loved Halo, too and tons of people didn’t.

  • Gerd D.
    January 10, 2011 at 11:17 am

    It really shouldn’t, but it makes me a happy bunny to see that my suspicions about the “Lost” writers claim that the whole story already stands weren’t unfounded.
    They had no clue what they where doing… btw. did they ever bother to explain the Polar Bear?

  • Amy @ My Friend Amy
    January 10, 2011 at 11:58 am

    The DVDs have an added 11 minutes that gives explicit answers to major questions.

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