Or: Why I don’t care if I can predict things in books.
If you’ve seen it, you might know that I don’t always read series in order. In a way, this is sort of like a continuation of that post.
A very common criticism I see people give books is something like, “I was able to predict the ending.” I completely understand why many people would find that to be a problem. Part of the appeal of books (I think) is having your expectations shaken. “I didn’t see that coming!” is usually seen as a good thing if pulled off well.
The thing is, though, I don’t necessarily care if a book’s ending is predictable. Sometimes it’s fun knowing that I’ve guessed what’s going to happen. I don’t know how the author will write it. I don’t know how they’ll develop the world, what consequences they’ll decide to show, etc. A book is more than just its plot. Just knowing the plot of, say, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley doesn’t mean I’ve read it. (I haven’t read it yet by the way.) The plot might be very exciting, but the execution and everything else might bore me to tears. Or the complete opposite.
Another small issue I have with the predictable=bad mindset is that it sort of treats all books as needing to have shocking twists and reveals. Or even just red herrings and misdirections. Books like that can be great, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a straightforward story. Some might say that predictable=boring, so they’re less engaged. Understandable. However, like I said earlier, sometimes it’s fun knowing you were right.
When I reread a book, I don’t say to myself, “Yawn. I saw the ending coming from a mile away.” Instead, I become more invested in the book. “Oh, the part is coming up!” “Hey, I never noticed the little clues and bits of foreshadowing the author included in the beginning. That must’ve been pretty neat to catch on a first-time read.” When I read a series out of order, I might already know how an earlier book will end. I don’t know how the book will get to that ending, what the prose will be like, etc.
So the moral of the story is: I don’t necessarily find predictability to be a bad thing. I understand why many others do, though. It’s just not something that bothers me. If anything, it makes me more invested because I don’t have to worry about trying to figure things out. Instead, I can just enjoy the ride. If my expectations are shaken, cool. If they aren’t, oh well…not a big deal.