Truth or Die

James Patterson Truth or Dieby James Patterson but really by Howard Roughan
2015 Little, Brown and Company

Method of selection: There was only one way out of the library…read three whole pages of this shitty book, or DIE.
First sentence: Had it been anyone else, any other woman, the moment might have registered upward of a 7.6 on the Emasculation Scale, or whatever it takes to rattle a man’s self-confidence until he crumbles.
Worst sentence: Claire suddenly grabbed my backside, rolling me like a kayak.
People who read that sentence and are like, “ah yes, kayaking. Say no more.”: white people

Other reviews: Matthew R. Bell’s BookBlogBonanza, The Writer’s Inkwell, 20Something Reads

The prologue has three chapters. THE PROLOGUE HAS THREE CHAPTERS. You know how much I hate prologues. This book has three. In a row. Prologue creep is a real thing, and in another generation James Patterson (who I’m confident will still be alive, still letting other people write shitty books for him), will be creating books that are 100% prologue. The book will just end when the prologue ends, because nothing Patterson wrote was good enough for the real story.

I skipped the whole thing.

A common trick shitty book authors like to use is setting up a big secret — something the characters of the book know about, and talk about, but which you, the reader, don’t understand. But then the author tells you, and it’s stupid. Such is the case for the first pages of this book, when two characters, a couple, are discussing some ridiculous secret thing the man said in bed once that was super funny. Oh the suspense. Please tell me. I have to know. It’s killing me.

“I want to spank you like Santa Claus.”

Oh. That’s the thing? I thought it would be something, you know, interesting, given how much setup it got. But okay, then what? Patterson sets up another big secret:

She then leaned down to my ear and whispered a request that was easily the dirtiest thing I’d ever heard her say. Just filthy. X-rated. Obscene.

Really? So maybe she wants to drive to the Methodone clinic and pay twenty desperate homeless opioid addicts to beat off into her gaping butthole as she swallows ghost chili peppers whole so she can shit it out on your tiny pecker and then you fuck her with the filthy cummy possibly-AIDS-infested burning spicy shit in front of a bunch of little orphans on their only field trip of the year which is a McDonald’s? Is that what she whispered?

Probably not. There is no way James Patterson’s life is that interesting. And after that first secret setup, I’m not entirely confident this second one will be any better. Or maybe you couldn’t think of anything x-rated or obscene, because being spanked by Santa Claus is the best you can do, and you already wasted it on page two. Hell, that one line was probably the basis for the whole book.

But then, the chapter ends, after two and a half pages. I looked at the second chapter, and the story just continues there, as if it was simply going on to the next paragraph. They picked a totally arbitrary place to put a chapter break. So I thumbed through the book and realized it’s all written this way. The chapters are miniscule — never longer than three pages and many as short as one page. And the way the new chapters are indented down so heavily from the top of the page, there’s a lot of white space in this book. So I did some calculations.

There are 383 pages in the main story of this book. But the way it’s broken into tiny chapters, there’s only around 258 pages of actual text. There’s also 7 pages of useless lead-in publisher crapola, 13 pages of an excerpt of another shitty James Patterson novel written by somebody else, and 4 pages listing titles of all the other shit written by James Patterson but really written by somebody else. That makes 407 total pages between the covers in this book. Imagine if you purchased a 407 page book that had 258 pages of story, and 149 BLANK PAGES. I suppose you could use that space to pen James Patterson’s next novel, but you’d probably just be pissed they charged you for all that paper.

Little, Brown and Company suggests charging $28.00 for this piece of shit. And don’t call it a novel. It’s just a ream of shitty paper with some ink spilled on it. It’s also a ream in that it reams out your dignity and reams out your bank account. If you need paper, you can buy 5,000 sheets of higher quality paper from Staples for about the same price.

$28.00. God. The people who buy this book hardcover will have to work three straight hours cleaning up a little brown to pay for it. Hopefully they don’t forget to buy food for their kids. Oh wait, James Patterson is writing young adult fiction too. Kids can live on shitty paper, right?

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

Started Early, Took My Dog

started-early-took-my-dogby Kate Atkinson
Reagan Arthur Books (Little, Brown) 2011

Selection method: Wanted a book with “dog” in the title.
First sentence (sort of)
: Leeds: “Motorway City of the Seventies.” A proud slogan.
Worst sentence: Ken Arkwright had seen more than most but remained avuncular and sanguine, a good copper for a green girl to be beneath the wing of.
SAT words in that sentence: avuncular, sanguine
Animals I would rather be eaten by than read this book: shark, zebra, lamprey, parrot

Other reviews: Booking Mama, The Review Broads

On the inside flap of this book is praise from a critic from Time magazine. He calls Kate Atkinson “uncategorizable”. I feel sorry for him not to have this category checkbox I have here on my WordPress site. The category is “Shitty”. It’s not “Super Shitty” or “Not Shitty” and certainly not as shitty as books by James Patterson. But it’s definitely shitty.

There are a lot of references to 1970’s British news and pop culture here. A lot. The Black and White Minstrel Show, John Poulson, Bye Bye Baby, Baby Goodbye, Donald Neilson (“the Black Panther”, but not the cool American kind), Harold Shipman, The Dick Emery Show, Steptoe and Son, Mike Yarwood. That’s just the first two pages. I don’t know what any of those things or people are. I’m guessing a bunch of British pensioners do (in America, “retirees”). And I’m guessing minstrel1British people are actually more racist than their American counterparts. The Black and White Minstrel Show, pictured at left, ran for twenty years, ending in 1978. These people needed some fucking Sesame Street.

Getting back to the book, the first chapter opens “1975: April 9“. So all the references were not necessary. I remember 1975. I was dead.

With all these unfamiliar references, and all the cheeky Britspeak (like “PC” and “bloke” and “Jesus H. Christ” and “cheeky”) you might think it difficult for an American to decode its shittiness. Not so. A shitty book is shitty in every argot (in America, “dialect”. In Georgia and north Florida, “funny talkin'”). Kate Atkinson is crafty enough with her sentences, but a book with so many news and pop references can only appeal to one small segment of the population: racist British news junkie pensioners. In 20 years, they’ll all be dead and this book will be useless. Even if the writing were spectacular it gets completely lost in this mud of bollocks you once watched on BBC One.

My Pro Tip of the Day: if you’re going to write a period novel, keep the references to the fewest necessary to tell the story. Don’t tell us about the shows on TV unless someone is actually watching that show and then gets stabbed or has their mother kidnapped and made to watch The Dick Emery Show  while being stabbed by a pensioner in blackface. Something with stabs.

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

Kill Me If You Can

by James Patterson
2011 Little, Brown

Method of selection: This week’s #1 NYT bestseller

First sentence: Some people are harder to kill than others.
Alternative uses for disposed copies of this book: drop from helicopters to soak up flood waters, build a world-record stack of James Patterson books, throw at James Patterson at readings — aim for the dick

Other reviews: Book Loons, Always With a Book, Book Reporter

James Patterson must be stopped. He is a cancer on a rotting leprous vestigial limb of literature’s swollen anus. With time he will consume all other authors like a black shitty hole, and we will see him “co-authoring” works with Joyce Carol Oates and Maya Angelou. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read my review of Toys.

I seriously want to know what this man does with all his money. He can’t actually spend it all. Nobody can spend the amount of money James Patterson makes. Does he eat it? Does he pay flunkies to shovel it into furnaces which heat his mansions? Perhaps he has devised a method of removing the cotton content from US currency and uses the cotton for clothing for starving African orphans, who he then eats. I’m not saying James Patterson is a cannibal, but he probably is a racist.

There is actually no reason to even explain what happens in the first three pages of this book. There is a ghost dressed as a homeless guy. He has a Glock and tries to shoot another guy. I’ve seen better writing from stillborn babies. I’m sorry if that sounds like I’m disparaging stillborn babies by comparing them to James Patterson, but it’s not my fault your baby died. You’re just a bad person. Stop crying. You look really ugly when you cry and I don’t sleep with ugly girls or failures so you’re hurting your chances.

My god James Patterson brings out the worst in me. I think I need a therapist.

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through the link 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.)

The Pale King

by David Foster Wallace
2011 Little, Brown, & Co.

First sentence: Past the flannel plains and blacktop graphs and skylines of canted rust, and past the tobacco-brown river overhung with weeping trees and coins of sunlight through them on the water downriver, to the place beyond the windbreak, where untilled fields simmer shrilly in the AM heat: shattercane, lamb’s-quarter, cutgrass, sawbrier, nutgrass, jimsonweed, wild mint, dandelion, foxtail, muscadine, spine-cabbage, goldenrod, creeping charlie, butterprint, nightshade, ragweed, wild oat, vetch, butcher grass, invaginate volunteer beans, all heads gently nodding in a morning breeze like a mother’s soft hand on your cheek.
Words in that sentence that are also names of bluegrass bands: cutgrass, foxtail, wild oat
Words in that sentence that are also names of shitty rock bands: shattercane, jimsonweed, wild mint, dandelion, muscadine, goldenrod, creeping charlie, ragweed, vetch, blacktop, downriver,
Words that are shitty metal bands: nightshade, rust 
No. of children in Africa who died of malnourishment while David Foster Wallace was writing that sentence: One zillion.

The reason David Foster Wallace hung himself in 2008 was that he had written most of this book and finally realized that it was shitty. That first sentence takes up half of the entire first chapter. The first three pages are mostly white space and I was forced to read a whole extra page just to get a sense of where DFW went wrong. I can reasonably say he went wrong by exiting his mother’s womb.

The first character we meet is named Sylvanshine, which I believe is Elven, or if not, then very very gay. From what I can tell, this is a story about an accountant. Wow. DFW is a genius.

I have never understood the cult surrounding this man. The guy wore bandanas and his books are shitty and I say that having read not just one, but zero of them. It is amazing that a man can write so much and have so little to say. This book would be better shredded into packing material — more entertaining, too. The publishers should have left this unfinished novel unfinished and not besmirched DFW’s name further.

I feel a little bad trashing a dead guy, but last I checked, corpses couldn’t defend themselves, and suicide is cheating.

Other reviews: Literary Sluts, Writerly Life, 26 Books, Of Books And Reading

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


by James Patterson
(Actually by Neil McMahon)

First sentence: When I arrived at President Hughes Jacklin’s inauguration party that night in the year 2061, I was flying high, happier and more self-satisfied than I had ever been.
Greatest tagline ever: The one with the most toys…dies.
Note from the publisher: James Patterson’s Toys is a thriller in a hyperplane — with a hero who rivals both James Bond and Jason Bourne.
Statement that can be proven false simply by reading it: That one.

This book was written by a mutated slime mold fungus, or perhaps a reindeer. It is not possible for a human being to compose this book, because it uses an alternate form of communication that induces instant sleep instead of joy and wonder. It is written in English, which is probably the highest compliment I can pay to this work of fiction. However, I am unable to tell you what the first three pages are about. And even if I were capable, telling you would be an act so inhuman, it is specifically listed as a Crime Against Humanity in the Geneva Conventions.

In doing a little research on James Patterson I learned that he is a liar. He doesn’t actually write books. He published nine books in 2009 and another nine in 2010. That is not possible for a person, not even for a mutated slime mold reindeer. Instead, he lets other people write the books, and then he revises them. So he isn’t an author, he’s an editor. A really bad one. And that makes me feel bad for Neil McMahon, who has to have his name attached to this. I’m betting the McMahon’s first draft was much better, but he probably made a lot more money by letting James Patterson wipe his butt with it.

I also learned that James Patterson has a Masters in English from Vanderbilt, which I’m guessing selects their students using a divining rod. His masters degree is likely printed on toilet paper. Or perhaps English was just easier in 1970. There were less words then.

Even Stephen King hates this guy. This book is shittier than all other shitty books. I had to add a special category because it insults the other shitty books.

Other reviews: A Writer’s Review, The BookBag, The Mystery Site, Red Adept Reviews

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