After reviewing The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, I found myself doing some readerly soul-searching. Why, exactly, don’t I enjoy Gothic novels or soap operas?
I know I’m turned off by constant plot twists and hyped-up interpersonal drama, and I tend to get exasperated with soap opera characters because their behavior bears so little resemblance to the way actual human beings act. But … does someone who reads as much sci-fi and fantasy as I do get to complain about lack of realism in a book? It seems almost hypocritical, really. Hand me a book with spaceships and talking spiders and I’ll happily suspend disbelief, but if a soap opera character experiences a miraculous recovery from incurable paralysis I’m all, “ugh, like that happens in real life.”*
I’m starting to wonder if I just have a genre block when it comes to melodrama. I know I’m not the only one who can’t seem to get into a particular genre. For example, I don’t really see my mother, who loves thoughtful novels about families and friends, liking anything with a spaceship on the cover. My best friend rolls her eyes at miserable anti-heroes but loves a good Jane Austen romp. And I’ve met more than a few people who dismiss all fantasy as “dragon-ridden crap.” (For the record, I don’t think it’s bad to have a genre block, but let’s try not to be snobs about it, OK?)
Do you have a genre block? And do you think there are any Gothic or soap-opera-y novels that might win me over despite my prejudices?
* This is the key reason why I haven’t watched any Downton Abbey this season. It went from “superior period drama” to “soap opera with antique clothes” with alarming speed.