by Kristine Coblitz
I find it interesting that devoted readers have particular pet peeves when it comes to what they will and will not tolerate in books. For instance, some people refuse to read books where children are placed in jeopardy or killed. Others won’t read about grisly murders or crimes set in their hometowns. For as many topics as there are to explore in fiction, you’ll always find a group of readers who are opposed to the topic and will refuse to read a certain book based on that opposition.
I’m a pretty tolerant and open-minded reader. There’s not much I won’t read, except for anything related to history. (My apologies to all the history buffs out there.) But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a pet peeve when it comes to fiction. For me, it all comes down to animals, dogs in particular.
I have a hard time reading books in which dogs are killed or hurt, especially if it’s done with gratuitous violence. I once read a novel (written by a male author who will remain nameless but who is a household name) about a dog who served as a guardian and companion to a woman who lost her husband. The dog was a major character in the book and symbolized the main character’s growth and how she came to terms with her husband’s death. I grew to love that dog. But then the author did the unthinkable. Without warning, in the last chapter, the dog was brutally shot to death. Bam! I was so upset that I flung the book across the room and refused to read another book by the author.
When I read a suspense or thriller novel with a dog involved, I am suspicious and hesitant to continue reading in fear of what will happen to the dog. I’ll even go so far as to admit that I will look up the author’s website to see if the he or she is a dog lover before reading any more of the book. (It’s fair to say that most dog owners won’t murder their fictitious animals on the page, although there have been some exceptions to that rule.)
I write suspense fiction and have done my research, so I know the reality. Most serial killers or criminals have a history of animal cruelty and to explore a villain realistically in these novels, you have to touch upon this area. I’m hesitant to include animals in my books for the reason that some readers almost expect them to die. Sorry, but I can’t kill my furry friends, even in fiction. Thankfully I don’t have a problem knocking off people or else I’d have to find another genre.
So what are you pet peeves when it comes to fiction? What will you not tolerate in the books you read?