Thursday, March 24, 2011

Who Did What Where Now?

On the heels of my rather negative review for Wither, and because it played such a dominant role in me not liking the book, I wanted to talk a little bit about one's suspension of disbelief.

What is your suspension of disbelief? If you don't already know, it's when you're reading something (or watching, or listening to) and what's going on is so grossly beyond reason that your disbelief is triggered. But if you're entertained enough, usually you can trigger the suspension, and push that disbelief to the side for the sake of a couple hours of entertainment.

But there comes a point in whatever it is you're watching or reading that you will no longer be able to do that. The illogical and nonsensical becomes so overwhelming that the suspension just gives up and your disbelief reigns supreme, destroying whatever enjoyment you may have derived from your given form of entertainment.

Everyone's breaking point is different. For some it doesn't take a lot. For others it has to be blatantly obvious. But it all usually depends on what you've ultimately immersed yourself in. For me with Wither, so much science was stepped upon that I just couldn't take the rest of the book seriously. The entire world of Wither just didn't make a lick of scientific sense and I couldn't notch up that suspension enough to override it. There were too many 'buts' going on that kept knocking it away. But a lot of people had similar issues that I had with Wither going on with Lauren Oliver's Delirium, which I loved. There, for me, the good in the book vastly overrode the bad. Not enough nonsensical stuff was snapping out at me to draw me completely out of the story. So I was able to put up my suspension shield and go on loving it.

Don't even bring the Twilight series into this discussion. I'd wear out my keyboard.

So what it is for you? Which books (or movies) eroded your suspension of disbelief enough that you could no longer enjoy the work? Do you have a specific area that really gets to you if not done right (my soldier boy, for instance, gets a chapped ass when movies don't get military stuff correct, or when characters have shitty gun technique)? Some stuff out there is so outrageous that you know going in it won't make a damn bit of sense; but you loved the hell out of it. What were they? Despite the fact that that's a completely different animal (because you're going into it knowing it's outrageous instead of thinking it's actually going to make sense). What would actually chap your ass enough to put down a book or ultimately not like it?


Elie said...

I loved Wither, but I understand where you were coming from. The closest reference I can make is Drought- too many variable just didn't add up. But in the end, I still finished it and kind of enjoyed it. So much of it has to do with the writing. When I come to a book like that I think to the author, convince me, make me believe. I am, admittidly an easy sell.

Liviania said...

I can ignore a lot. For instance, I just started Wither and I like Rhine. But I'm actively having to ignore the dumb premise. (I'll ignore your review for now, since it might tip me over the edge.) (Seriously, they genetically modified everyone in one generation? When they need to make babies, they kill 80% of the girls they capture? No one is educating the populace and selecting to breed for intelligence in order to produce researchers and doctors?)

To me, the factor is juicyness. If a book is beyond ridiculous, I'll generally enjoy it if it's supposed to be beyond ridiculous. I don't expect my soap opera type story or my superhero type story to be very realistic. It's harder with something like a dystopia, that's supposed to reflect problems in our own society. Therefore it needs something else salacious to get attention. In Wither, I'm kind of interested in the child-brides aspect. But annoyed DeStefano is ignoring all sorts of interesting questions. (Forget escaping the palatial mansion to go back to sleeping with one eye open and half-starving. Do you want to bring children into a world to die at twenty or twenty-five? Would you keep yourself from getting pregnant? Would you work to improve the world for them? How about becoming a revolutionary? Women are precious commodities in this world. Use that to gain some political power. Also, if there are fewer women than men, shouldn't the women have multiple husbands? Why are the lower class men fine with the Governers getting seven women to themselves?)

Jessi E. (The Elliott Review) said...

I was in total suspend mode for Wither. I do understand this concept. For instance, in the movie Legion, I just couldn't get over how drastically all the demons presented themselves and the whole idea of God sending evil angels to attack humans .. I guess a lot of my disbelief comes with religious things maybe... I ended up thinking of that movie as more of a comedy or something.

My husband pretty much hates all TV and movies because he just doesn't get the idea that these things are FICTION. He can never suspend it for anything! Poor guy!

Sabrina said...

When I enjoy the story and characters I'm ok with overlooking a few weird things.
For example in the book I'm reading right now there's one scene when a character thinks something that doesn't fit to the timing but I'm ok with it because the book is very entertaining and I enjoy it.

When a book is just ok for me I get annoyed easily by little things that don't fit or make sense.

In tv series like CSI or NCSI I get annoyed a lot by how often stupid and illogical things happen.

Like you saud, it all depends on if I enjoy a story or not.

Jan von Harz said...

Great post. I am one of those people who love to suspend my disbelief and consequently, have a high tolerance for some of the inane things I find registering in my brain as I read or watch TV and or a movie. Since I have yet to read Wither, I cannot comment on this one, but I sure will be thinking about this post as I read the book!

BooksforCompany said...

l think, for me, it takes a lot. Even if l am questioning a few things l kind of think it is expected with a book which is based around a totally different world from what we know. But l know what you mean, sometimes things are too 'far out there'.

Yan said...

You know where I stand on FUTURE IMPERFECT.

I haven't read Wither, it's on my TBR, but I'm having that moment where a good lot of people love the book that I'm petrified of not liking it personally. Just read Liviania's comment and briefly recalled your review, which only makes me more scared. Sometimes when authors throw in scientific jargon I tend to believe it because a) I would assume that the author did proper research or b) it's a fantasy world and some things they might have skewed to fit into the novel. However it really does depend on the author's writing style for me. If it's a clunky style I tend to argue with the world and the what-ifs more.

I've been told that my common sense may be lacking, but even I know when you dig yourself into a grave, fill it with random bullshit, and then call it "original" or "creative". I think there's that line where it is a novel idea or it's that idea no one has written down because it makes no freaking sense. The latter of course is Future Imperfect; a novel that will forever make me go WTF.

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