Instrument of Slaughter

InstrumentofSlaughterby Edward Marston (But not really. See below.)
Allison & Busby Limited 2013

Method of selection: The title. Is Instrument of Slaughter. Look at it. It actually says that. And there’s clip-art, too.
First sentence: The meeting was held in secret.
Worst sentence: The meeting was held in secret.
People who enjoy this book might also enjoy: when the tip of their penis touches the toilet water, silly hats, leprosy
Words in the publisher’s name that are obviously a diversion tactic: “Limited”. They clearly accept any manuscript, including ones written by cats. Shitty cats.

Other reviews: None. I’m the only one stupid enough to review this.

Shitty book writers always put long, boring and completely unnecessary descriptions of their main characters in the first three pages of their shitty books. They believe we don’t know what people look like. They sound like this:

Guy Dudeman was tall and thin with untamed curly blonde hair and worked in a barn with a cow named Zoe, while his partner, Ugly Manfat, was short and stout with a very small beard and blue eyes and a dick coming out of his forehead and every time he sneezed he gave himself a black eye.

Will any of these details ever be relevant to the story? Will the two be playing basketball? Will they be participating in a bag race and be out of sync? Perhaps they will be going on double dates with conjoined twins and come to blows over how high to hang the sex swing, but it turns out Manfat got another black eye over nothing because the conjoined twins are actually conjoined transvestites and don’t speak any English and Thai has no direct translation of “sex swing” anyway. Edward Marston devotes a whole paragraph this way on just the second page:

Hambridge was a big, ugly, misshapen, red-haired young man with freckled features and a look of permanent bewilderment. Alone of them, he came from a family of Quakers. Price, by contrast, was shorter, slighter, darker and of middle height. Proud of his Welsh roots, he was at once the most genial and combative member of the group. He worked as a cook for the Great Western Railway, travelling, for the most part, between Paddington and his native country.

Middle height? Do shitty writers realize when they type these things that someone will one day have to read them? Why do they insist on saying nothing instead of something? I can see how it’s weird to be proud of your Welsh roots, but the rest is just meaningless filler material.

We also learn about Ablatt, who was a “tall, slim individual with striking good looks and a confident manner”, and Leach, who was a “thin, pallid, fair-headed young man with a nervous habit of looking to left and right as he spoke”. Three pages in and I’ve already forgotten their names and what they look like, and it never mattered to begin with.

Another dead giveaway of a shitty writer is they use fake names, so that nobody can find them and beat them. “Edward Marston” is a pseudonym of Keith Miles, who has also written as “Conrad Allen” and “Martin Inigo”. But his plan didn’t work, thanks to WikiLeaks.

One last note: On the inside front flap is listed the price of this book: £19.99. For those of you who don’t know, that’s like $3,000 in American money. This book is more expensive than bladder cancer, though it’s debatable which I’d rather have.

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)

Life of Pi


by Yann Martel
Mariner Books 2003

Method of Selection: It needed to be said.
First sentence: My suffering left me sad and gloomy.
Worst sentence: …the three toed sloth, such a beautiful example of the miracle of life, reminded me of God.
Reason I didn’t read this 10 years ago when everybody was reading it on the subway, if they weren’t reading Life of Bees or Salt: I had many video games to play.
Number of gods I believed in after reading the first three pages: 0.0094043887
Other reviews: None. I am the first reviewer of this book.

This book claims that it will make you believe in God. But instead it made me believe in shoplifting. The first pages of this book are taken up by an exposition of the narrator’s life as a student and some basic information about the life of three-toed sloths. I couldn’t help but make the obvious pun while reading how slow and plodding and slothful the writing is. It’s not that he’s bad, but that he’s boring. And I bet a lot of you agree with me.

Strangely, I felt compelled to read further, to see what happens with the tiger in the lifeboat and why it doesn’t eat the narrator (an event that doesn’t start until page 105, from what I could tell). I felt compelled not because it reads well, but because I know so many people love this book. Even Barack Obama likes this book (probably a libral conspiracy to take my guns). Some director with too much time on his hands even made a movie based on it with a fake tiger and some real tigers. And that is what scares me. Art ceases to be art when it cannot be appreciated on its own merits, when one only appreciates it out of social obligation. Perhaps many people thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish (many people also enjoy being peed upon), and perhaps many people were moved by its supposed spiritual elements. But how many people slogged through it and felt stupid for not enjoying it? I even feel somehow threatened just by going against the grain and not liking three pages of it.

To those who claim to have been moved spiritually by this book, I would suggest you were likely due for a spiritual movement already, and were reading Life of Pi by coincidence when it happened. Correlation, but not causality. I was having a bowel movement while I read it, but I do not claim that Yann Martel caused my shitting. Peristalsis and a very bad burrito did that.

Some may question my methods, saying that three pages isn’t enough to render judgment, but to them I say that the first three pages of a book are its most important, and if an author can’t make them fantastic, there’s little hope that he will suddenly turn it around for the following 316 and I will be transformed.

I would also like to point out that Yann Martel got the idea of crossing the sea with a giant jungle cat from a book review he read of another author’s story, called Max and the Cats, about a refugee who crosses the Atlantic with a jaguar. Not that stealing is such a big deal, although it takes some of the edge out of the premise to me. Also, it strikes me as too cute that this book has exactly 100 “chapters”.

This is a shitty book. A shitty book that made its author and everyone affiliated with it very very rich, and I’m sure none of them care at all what I or the millions who hated it think. I don’t know the mechanism that causes this. But I plan to find out. I’ll let you know.

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)

Demon’s Door

by Graham Masterson
2010 Severn House Publishers

First sentence: He tried to shut the front door really quickly so that Tibbles wouldn’t escape, but as usual Tibbles was much too nimble for him and fled through the gap like a shadow.
Worst sentence: A yellow butterfly flickered past him, close enough for him to have swiped at it, if he had wanted to, and usually he would have, but this morning he remained aloof.
Even worse: Summer was a shiny young blonde, stunningly pretty, with huge blue eyes and a little snub nose and naturally pouting lips.
It goes on like this: This morning she was wearing a tiny strapless top in strawberry pink wedge-shaped sandals to match her top.
Then you realize you weren’t paying attention: Summer isn’t summer, Summer is actually a girl, not a metaphor for summer, and you understand fully why your life is a shambles.

Graham Masterson is considered one of the bestselling horror novelists in the world right now. What you may not have known is that Graham Masterson, which is almost certainly a made-up name, is also a prolific writer of sex instruction books, with 27 titles listed on Wikipedia, including How To Drive Your Man Wild In Bed, How To Drive Your Man Even Wilder In Bed, and How A Woman Longs To Be Loved. If Graham Masterson writes sex instruction like he writes fiction, there is going to be some shitty shitty sex going on tonight.

This book opens on a man talking to his cat. Then he talks to a pole dancer. Then you go fill your eyes with glass so you’ll never have to read anything this bad again. But it occurs to you that there may be an audiobook version, so you fill your ears with super glue. And then you realize there may be braille versions of this book, and even though you dropped out of braille class, you slam your fingers in a car door until they fall off. And then you are finally happy.

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)

Kill The Dead

by Richard Kadrey
2010 Harper Voyager

Method of selection: It has “kill” in the title.

First sentence: Imagine shoving a cattle prod up a rhino’s ass, shouting “April fool!”, and hoping the rhino thinks it’s funny.
Worst sentence: God said, “Let there be Light, and cheap take-out Chinese,” and the Grand Central Market appeared.
Number of African children who died of malaria, which is easily and cheaply treatable, while I was writing this review:  About 40
Percentage of you who  will fact-check that number: About 10
Percentage of you who will do anything about it: A number statistically insignificant from 0
Percentage of you who think this is HILARIOUS: 100

Other reviews: io9, The Mad Hatter, The Guilded Earlobe, David Forbes

Richard Kadrey is a quirky writer. And I use that word as insultingly as possible. With a first sentence like that, I was sure this would at the very least be an entertaining read. Instead it’s sophomoric. Not quite “puerile”, like a James Patterson novel, but definitely at that level where I actually had to make sure this wasn’t young adult fiction.

Kill The Dead is a vampire novel, so not very original. There is nothing Richard Kadrey can do with vampires that the Twilight saga hasn’t already done. And with much better-looking people. But Kadrey’s writing is almost insulting to the reader, borderline offensive. He writes quirky sentences like:

Cue the sheep who stand around pointing and the Captain Americas who run to help.


[she] wants to get out of the sun before she turns into chicken-fried steak.

The whole first three pages take place in the narrator’s head. It isn’t a story it’s a monologue. And it’s about vampires and how they’re hard to kill. Kadrey writes with this inside-joke snarkiness that reminds me of chick lit. Every other statement is snark and forced wit. None of it is funny, and nothing about this book is compelling. My health insurance member handbook is more spellbinding, and funnier. I dare you to read the outpatient benefit limit table and not laugh.

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)


by Ted Bell
2006 Atria Books (Simon & Schuster)

First sentence: He had never expected to survive the sinking of his boat.
Favorite sentence: Food and drinks are prohibited from this section of the library.
Three pages of clichés: the river a quiet mirror, endless jungle, fallen silent, the peace was suddenly shattered, a rain of lead, engulfed in flames, sold to the highest bidder
You might also enjoy: contact sex with your cats, soccer

Other reviews: What James Reads, Large Print Reviews

Oh Atria Books, can you produce anything that isn’t shit? I’m starting to feel bad for suggesting that Atria is just a front for a meth lab, because that horribly disparages meth labs and the hardworking men and women who strive to create a pure product that brings joy to so many. Atria Books is more like a terrorist organization, which wants you to die, and is willing to sacrifice themselves to make you die.

This book begins with a prologue, which in a work of fiction is like a middle finger to the reader. Is the prologue important to the story? It wasn’t good enough to be a real chapter, so surely I can skip it… Will it contain a useless sideshow prequel that sets the mood of the main plotline? Or is it just some crap that didn’t fit anywhere so you tossed it there?

I elected to skip the prologue and start at chapter one because nothing comes before one except zero. And zero is the part where I am sleeping, which is a better use of my time than this book was.

At first it wasn’t clear if this was a shitty book or not, but then I saw this sentence, like a dead shitty giveaway:

The river was alive with death.

Oxymorons like this are tricks hacks use to make you think they are clever, but this is the most cliché-infested writing I’ve ever seen. Reading along further, Bell inserts an inexplicable vernacular apostrophe that completely stalls your thought process:

When he heard the explosion for’ard, and felt the yawl stagger and founder…

I must have glanced back at that for’ard twenty times because I couldn’t believe it was really there.

I will give Ted Bell credit, though, for packing in a lot of action in three pages. Here’s what happened in that span:

  1. a boat travelling on a river hits a mine and gets strafed by machine gun fire
  2. the survivor enters the water only to be attacked by a “water boa”
  3. he is then captured by indians and sold into slavery
  4. he fights off his captors and escapes
  5. he fakes his own death, then jumps back into the river
All that in just three pages. And yet, Ted Bell is such a shitty writer I was bored by this story.
(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)


by Emma Donaghue
2010 Little, Brown and Company

Method of selection: One-word titles

First sentence: Today I’m five.
Worst sentence: There’s the stain I spilled by mistake getting born.
Anthropopomomorphised objects in  first three pages: Wardrobe, Bed, Skylight, Lamp, Rug, Mr. Five, Rocker, Watch, Duvet (really???), Mirror, Kit, Shelf, Bath
Things I’d rather read: the dedication plates on park benches, toaster instructions

This book is written in a bit of a vernacular. It’s also written from the point-of-view of a five year old, which is similar to, but stupider than, a vernacular. Even talented authors rarely write vernacular well, and five-year-olds are not the best writers anyway, so you can guess how I feel about this book, in spite of its unique story.

As the book opens, a child and his mother share a small room, where the child anthropomorphises and capitalizes everything, eliminating articles, so when they talk they sound like cavemen, or stereotypes of Native Americans:

  • Ma leans out of Bed to switch on Lamp.
  • I jump on Rocker and look at Watch.
  • When are presents meant to open?
  • Why are the eyes of the me shut?

There’s 320 pages in this book. I’ll never make it.

I don’t know five-year-olds who talk like this. But I only know maybe thirty or forty five-year-olds, or I did but now they’re buried in my basement. What I worry about most (besides the Children of the Basement reanimating and stealing all my Juice Boxes) are Emma Donoghue’s two young children. She clearly hasn’t been talking to them and they may need to be liberated.

The concept of the book is actually a great a idea: a woman imprisoned in a tiny room with her young son tries to make the room liveable for him, but he is oblivious until he starts to notice what is going on. But why a five-year-old? Wouldn’t a nine-year-old at least have been better, so we didn’t have to slog through all the caveman talk? I don’t want to call it shitty, but as you can see my hands are tied.

The synopsis says this book is shocking, exhilarating, riveting, deeply human, and always moving. The best book I ever read wasn’t all those things. Why would a publisher lie just so you’ll buy their shitty book?

Other reviews: One Minute Book Reviews, Book Lover Book Reviews, Novelicious, Shelf Life

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)

Playing With Boys

by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez
2004 St. Martin’s Press

First sentence: There were times that made me s’dang proud to be a Mexican I wept ’til my mascara melted — say, when Vincente Fernandez sang “Cielito Lindo” for the Republican National Convention in 2000.
All-time worst title for a book: “Playing With Boys”
Only way to make it worse: “Playing With Little Boys”
Way to make it funnier: “Playing With Boys While Dressed as the Easter Bunny”
Way to make it a horror novel: “She Played With Boys”
Way to make it a tragic but ultimately heart-warming story of an impoverished black family during the Jim Crow era of the Deep South: “Mamma Played With Boys”

I was unaware that Mexican-Americans are important. I thought they were just dishwashers. But Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez makes the argument that they have other important roles in our society, such as mariachi bands. She lays this out in a collection of essays disguised as fiction. I know she is an essayist because there is no story here, just a desperate female narrator using a tongue-in-cheek way of addressing the reader as “darlin'”, as “y’all”, and through frequent parenthetical statements which are supposed to be funny, but are instead the opposite of funny.

The opposite of funny is holocaust. And that’s what this book is. A holocaust. For my dignity.

I have no beef with chick lit, but someday I hope one of its many authors will explain why they have to write their books as if all their readers are high school sophomores. It’s degrading.

Other reviews: Fresh Fiction, Book Reporter

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)

The Perfect Poison

by Amanda Quick (Jayne Ann Krentz)
2009 GP Putnam (Penguin)

First sentence: Lucinda stopped a few feet away from the dead man, trying to ignore the fierce undercurrents of tension that raged through the elegant library.
Clichés in three successive sentences, written while the author was eating a frozen lemonade:cool and composed, as cold as ice, chill her to the bone
Pairs well with: oatmeal, dry toast, iceberg lettuce, lite beer, unsalted nuts, dental appointments and broken marriages

Jayne Ann Krentz needs to spend more time creating characters and less time writing 122 shitty novels. Krentz is another author of “genre romance”, a genre we last met with Spellbound by Patricia Simpson. But rather than being shitty and charming, this is just shitty and crappy.

In three pages she introduces the following characters:

  • a Scotland Yard Inspector who is stout, cheerful, has a voluminous mustache and a “psychical gift” for noticing small clues at a murder scene
  • the “severe-looking” spinster sister named Hannah Rathbone
  • a handsome man named Hamilton Fairborn, with his “well-modeled” jaw
  • a coterie of offended Victorian ladies

I wasn’t sure if I was reading a novel or playing a game of Parker Brothers Clue. It seems Jayne Ann Krentz gets her novel ideas from watching Masterpiece Theatre knockoffs on the Mexican PBS (which is likely acronymed “BSP” or “SBP”).

Krentz has published six to seven thousand novels (the exact number is not known by modern science) under seven different pseudonyms, in part because she is so embarrassed about everything she writes, and in part because she has killed six other authors, all of them shitty, and assumed their identity. The editor of her page on Wikipedia (who is really Krentz working under the pseudonym “James Patterson”) points out that “Krentz created the futuristic romance subgenre, and further expanded the boundaries of the genre in 1996 with Amaryllis, the first paranormal futuristic romantic suspense novel”. Paranormal indeed.

I considered suicide once for every verb in the first three pages. Luckily shit hardly happened or I would be dead right now.

Other reviews: Jandy’s Reading RoomWorking Girl ReviewsPenelope’s Romance ReviewsMore Vikings

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)

Zero History

by William Gibson
2010 GP Putnam’s Sons (Penguin)

First sentence: Inchmale hailed a cab for her, the kind that has always been black, when she’d first know this city.
Idiotic clauses (see below): Glyphed in Prussian blue…a smoother simulacrum of its black ancestors…its faux-leather upholstery a shade of orthopedic faun.
You will enjoy this if you are also a fan of: eating your boogers

Perhaps I am too dumb to read William Gibson. I know what all these words mean, but they don’t fit together. It’s as if William Gibson chopped up a thesaurus with a hatchet and hammered the pieces together to make a novel. Every time I come across one of these clauses, like, “multiply flapped and counterintuitively buckled” I wait for a light to go on in my esoteric brain, the part that enjoys Baudrillard and jazz (I don’t enjoy jazz but I pretend to like it for all the jazz pussy), but instead I just groan and get sleepy. By the second page, I was in a coma.

It shared a richly but soberly paneled foyer with whatever occupied the other, westernmost, half of the building.

William Gibson, you are trying too hard. Clever, richly-appointed prose has a place, but you give your reader’s imagination no room to expand. You fill out every passage with stumbling blocks like, “Japanese herringbone Gore-Tex” and “one might have ridden a horse without having to duck to clear the lintel”. Every time you write something, your reader has to think about it. If this were a poem, it would be perfect, because we know it’s going to be over by the end of the page. But this goes on for 401 more pages! And besides being an obstacle course to read, I can safely estimate that at least 200 pages of this shitty book are unnecessary filler, which means you skimped on story.

Go back and read Hemingway. He wrote prose like this:

I woke up with a headache and took a drink. I farted. It burned. Then I beat my wife. She cried.

It’s simple, it tells a story, there’s implied tension, emotion, even humor (especially the part where he beat his wife — what a clown!). And best of all it has no confusing speedbumps like, “the floor plan gave evidence of hesitation”. You don’t have to write exactly like Hemingway, but there’s probably a happy medium.

And lastly, I don’t see why people make such a big deal about you inventing the word “cyberspace”. I’ve never said the word “cyberspace” in my whole life except when I was talking about William Gibson and his shitty books.

Other reviews: Mostly Fiction, Iceberg Ink, Big Dumb ObjectCity of Tongues

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)

Mister B. Gone

by Clive Barker
2007 Harper Collins

Selection method: Wanted to find non-shitty non-Stephen King horror fiction. Failed.
First paragraph
: Burn this book. Go on. Quickly, while there’s still time. Burn it. Don’t look at another word. Did you hear me? Not. One. More. Word.
First, page 2: What are you waiting for? You don’t have a light? Ask somebody. Beg them.
First, page 3: What’s the problem? Why are you still reading?
Most totally idiotic: …the book sat somewhere through the passage of many centuries in a pile of books nobody ever opened.

I was convinced that Mister B. Gone was young adult fiction, and that the library had misfiled it. It’s not, because Clive Barker thinks you are retarded. In fact, this is considered “metafiction”, which isn’t even a real word (see my feelings on “meta” in general) and I guess that is supposed to impress me. Instead of being impressed, I took up arson. And I was BAD at it.

I read through the first three pages of warnings about how evil this book is just to find out how shitty it could get. It didn’t take long, with the narrator revealing, “Yeah, I’m a demon.” Yeah, you’re a shitty book. Clive Barker must be taking writing lessons from James Patterson now. There was nothing compelling, suspenseful, scary, or macabre in those first pages. The only good thing I can say about it was that there were no spelling errors. And the cover design was nice, but that was the work of Mary Schuck, whose career is now ruined.

Even if Clive Barker were to claim this was young adult fiction, I would never let a child of mine read it. I wouldn’t want them to grow up thinking it’s okay to write this way. Clive Barker may have even sensed that this book was shitty, and so in a stroke of genius, spent three pages telling you to stop reading and burn the book, which is so meta my nuts just exploded from a hipster orgasm.

Don’t read this book. It is shitty. Put the shitty book down. Now. Burn the shitty book.

Other reviews: Fantasy Book CriticWhat We’re Reading Now, No Room In Hell, Morbid Outlook

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)