We all have them. We have authors we love. We have authors we just can’t stand. We have some guilty pleasures that we don’t like to talk about. This week I’d like to share an author who resides in all these categories somehow.
James Patterson is one of the top bestselling authors of the last many years (how many, I don’t even want to think about it…it’s been too long). He’s written a fucking shit-ton of books and has some controversy surrounding that number alone. I could go on and on telling you the little I know about him. I won’t though. It’ll bore me just as much as you.
The reason I picked Patterson for this week’s author is because for some reason, no matter how much I hate this author’s work…there’s a series that I keep reading. That’s right, I’m a hypocrite, but I embrace it.
James Patterson is famous for his Alex Cross series. He wrote the first one in ’93 and hasn’t stopped since. Book NINETEEN comes out sometime this year and book 20 is set for sometime next year…and it’s not like he doesn’t have books coming out before this/in between, because he does.
How does he do this? He has 18 books already in one series over the last 20 years. But he also has a total of roughly 100 books out in that same time-frame. (Only a few were written before the beginning of the 90’s so I’m putting it as his career really started in the 90’s.) Some critics (myself included) feel that his output rate is due to having SO MANY co-authors. Co-authors to me aren’t a problem, at least with most books. Hell, I’m loving the Pendergast series written by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. Those books are great. I enjoy their solo work as well. But Patterson have numerous co-authors, who to my knowledge are relatively unknown. Again, this isn’t always a problem. Someone needs to give them a push.
My question is: how much of a push does their help give Patterson? It is HIS name that people remember, not most of these other co-authors. But whatever…that’s just some beef I have with the author. As the title says…this is Authors We Love, so I should start telling you all what I actually enjoy about this author.
The first James Patterson book I bought wasn’t from his normal genre. It was the more romance oriented book, Sunday’s At Tiffany’s. Two reasons I got this one was because there wasn’t another standalone book of his at the bookstore, and I really liked the blue on the cover. I read the book the day after…yes it only took me about a day, especially at the time this was uncommon. I didn’t care for the book. I think there was potential for it story-wise, but it was lacking something.
I didn’t want to kick Patterson to the curb after only one book, especially since it wasn’t his normal type of book. So just last summer my aunt had a bag of books that she was going to donate. But before she did, she asked if I wanted any of them. What I found inside the bag was the first three books in Patterson’s series with Michael Bennett as the main character. They were Step on a Crack, Run for Your Life, & Worst Case. I figured “hell, free books, why not try him again.” Well I’m glad I did because for some reason I was glued to these books.
Over the next week I read all three books and really wanted to get my hands on the newly released 4th book. It wasn’t in paperback yet, so the chances of getting a newer book like this at my used bookstore were slim. The waiting game started. For the time being I bought a few more of his books. I read Swimsuit and felt similar to the way I did about Sunday’s At Tiffany’s. Then later on I found a copy of Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas. This is a book my girlfriend said I should read. She said she really enjoyed it, back when she was around 12 years old. But again….same feeling at the end.
Something was missing…and while I feel that I felt slightly like this for the Bennett books, it wasn’t as strong of a feeling…but what was it? I think the simplest way to put it is DEPTH. I think the story, characters, and many other elements in James Patterson’s books have lacked depth. This doesn’t let me sympathize with the characters enough, or even in the slightest bit. I’m not looking for the greatest American novel from this guy (I don’t think he has the skill to do that), nor do I expect it out of anyone else. I just expect something beyond the very surface level depth that I got with his novels.
Before I finish off this post, please read this (late) disclaimer): You can like Patterson all you’d like. Be my guest. As I said, I like something about him even if I can’t place my finger on it. I’m in no way trying to say I’m better than people who like him, either. (I know how some people can get and I felt this should be put out there. I like you all no matter who you read or do not read.)
In conclusion, I bought and read Tick Tock, book 4 in the Michael Bennett series. I enjoyed it almost as much as the first three. I’ll probably buy and read the fifth one that comes out some time this year.
The real conclusion I’ve come to is this: I think I don’t like James Patterson at all. I think it’s actually Michael Ledwidge that I should make this “Authors We Love” post about. He’s the co-author on this Bennett series and I think he might be what makes the books a little different from the others. To try to prove my theory, I bought a book that he wrote without a co-author. It’s a similar genre as well. If I enjoy that book enough, I think that’ll be proof. Then I’ll have to go back to this post and add more on him 😉
I hope you enjoyed this weeks post. It’s a little different that others, but I had a fun time writing it. As always, I’m looking for guest posts for the early post for the week. Just email me to let me know if you’d like to do one. Thanks to everyone who’s been following a long. I’m enjoying sharing with you 😀