The 50-Page Rule: Round 1

We apologize for the silence, dear followers! I’ve been stuck in the middle of midterms and preparing for a major paper for the past two weeks and Usagi just got a job (yay!). With all that going on, it’s been difficult to find time to read and write reviews,

Like most of you, I buy more books than I actually read or have the time to read as a busy blogger. There are some books I’ve owned for two years and STILL have yet to read because shiny new books I can’t wait to read catch my attention. To cull the herd and make sure I’m still interested in what I have on hand, I pick up a few books and invoke the 50-Page Rule. The title is almost self-explanatory: first fifty pages of one of a book I’m no longer sure I want to read. If I like it, it’s for keeps. If I don’t, it’s time to get rid of it. Some of you have your own variations on that, right? You may even have the same rule.

Here are just a few of the books, both upcoming and already released, I’ve gone through in my latest invocations of the 50-Page Rule.

House of Ivy and SorrowHouse of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple
April 15, 2014 (HarperTeen)
352 pages

Verdict: GOODBYE

Though I wasn’t a fan of Whipple’s first novel Transparent, I have a soft spot in my heart for stories about witches and this sounded like fun. Though I have a reputation for being a tough, curmudgeonly blogger, I’m quite nice and decided to give Whipple’s writing a second chance.

Right off the bat, Jo’s voice reminded me of the narrators from Kiersten White’s novels in a bad way. Immature, not really suited to the storyline, irritating… Her prose remained unremarkable and the characters looked like they would go the same two-dimensional route as those in Transparent did. That signaled the end of my attempt at House of Ivy & Sorrow and probably with Whipple’s novels in general.

This is just a pet peeve of mine, but I rolled my eyes when Salem came up as a place important to the witches, some of them lived there but left when the witch trials went down, etc. It feels like entirely too many witch stories HAVE to make a connection to Salem. Apparently, there are few places witches can reside otherwise.

BlythewoodBlythewood by Carol Goodman
October 8, 2013 (Viking Juvenile)
496 pages


Blythewood and I got off to a rough start. The first two or three chapters take place as our main character is caught up in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire as one of the workers, but it calling the factory Triangle Waist tripped me up. What, the book couldn’t get such a well-known name right? I’ve only ever heard it called the Triangle Shirtwaist and it took some research to discover Triangle Waist is correct but rarely used when referring to the fire. Now that issue is a mere niggle.

Once I got past that, I found myself surprisingly invested in the story. Ava’s life as presented in the first fifty pages really, really sucks. Her mother is dead, she’s stuck working in the factory, the man who started her mother on the spiral toward her death is starting to show up everywhere and may have had something to do with the fire, the best friend dies, and someone tried to make the world think Ava was dead too while they hid the drugged-up girl in an asylum for five months. I sighed in relief when she got out of there and the eponymous school seemed on the horizon.

I’m definitely interested in seeing where Ava’s story goes. I’d like her to get more characterization so I care about her as a person, though. I feel like all these horrible things that have happened to her are manipulating me into caring about her even though I don’t actually know her yet. It could be worse, though.

If You Could Be MineIf You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan
August 20, 2013 (Algonquin Young Readers)
256 pages

Verdict: …SURE, WHY NOT?

This was one of the keepers I was more hesitant on. I love the idea dearly, but I don’t care much for the characters and have serious issues with the writing. Though I feel lost in her culture, I’m okay with that because immersion and all. Besides, I started figuring it out.

What bothers me is how often she’s telling us what’s going on, how she feels, and stuff like that. Sahar has already fallen hard for Nasrin, so we don’t get to see/hear any reasons why Sahar loves over and why they work together. That makes it difficult to care about where the characters are going.

Buuuut, like I said, I love the idea and the slowly-building conflict even if I don’t like the characters or writing. I get bored reading about white people and their problems in America sometimes.

Perfect Lies by Kiersten WhitePerfect Lies
February 18, 2014 (HarperTeen)
240 pages

Verdict: GTFO

I didn’t need the full fifty pages to figure out I no longer wanted to read this. I was fine with all the jumping around in the first book, but here, I wasn’t sure what their reference point was. One day after what? Five months after what? Probably the day Fia “killed” Annie, but I was already too annoyed with the writing style and characters to care much.

Blythe of Finding Bliss in Books got to this first and loved it, which is pretty much confirmation I won’t like it. If she gets to a book first and loves it, I’m probably going to hate it. I call it the You First Curse and I learned my lesson after The Treatment, thank you. Ridiculous, yes, but it usually works.

I really don’t understand why I keep giving Kiersten White chances when I’ve figured out her books aren’t for me. Like I said earlier, I may be a tough, curmudgeonly blogger, but I’m often nice. In this case, too nice.


4 thoughts on “The 50-Page Rule: Round 1

  1. I think I might have to copy your fifty page rule. I’ve been usually doing a 50% mark test before I DNF anything, but sometimes I think I just waste time with that policy.

    • Oh God, I can’t imagine having that policy with longer books. D: 50% is my cutoff for when I can rate a book I DNF. 50% = rating. Since none of my ebooks have page numbers, I’ll read 10-20% of those as a 50-Page Rule substitute.

  2. I just read a few chapters of a couple of books the other day and was super irritated with the writing, so, DNF. Life is too short and there are too many good books I want to read out there! 🙂

  3. Pingback: 50 Pages of Grey | Drink First, Write Later

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