Years ago my local branch of CPRW had a president who would spend five minutes at each meaning introducing what he would call a wall-banger book. Karl would hold the book up and explain why it fit the derogatory description. What he meant by wall-banger was that he'd purchased the book but it was bad, he would quit reading and throw it off the wall. He always ended his spiel by doing just that.
My husband is a painter and he can tell you what kind of damage throwing something at the wall can do. He has to fix little dents and dings in walls all the time. But the idea behind Karl's demonstration is legit without the tossing, of course.
What kind of things make a reader set aside a book without finishing? A slow plot. Nothing happens for pages and pages. Maybe it's backstory or world building filling those pages that turn a reader away. Or perhaps one of the characters is lost in introspection. That's okay for a little bit, but if it goes on and on .... I'll probably toss it aside especially if it get the feeling that nothing is ever going to happen.
Perhaps the writing is too simple, reading like a fifth grade storybook. Yes, I'm usually smarter than a fifth grader. If I'm reading a YA or MG book, then I expect appropriate prose but I don't want it in an adult novel. Or just as bad, writing that is too flowery as if the writer wants to impress me with their vocabulary or ornate turn of phrase.
Then there is a premise that is too bland to care about. The problems facing the protagonists just aren't compelling enough for the reader to care. The obstacles are big enough, the antagonists aren't threatening enough or are ill-defined.
Sometimes the plot is too confusing. Perhaps too many threads are tangled together. Or too many characters are involved with too many POVs. Maybe the created world is confusing or perhaps the names of places or characters are too similar and difficult to pronounce. Things within the plot such as the magic, science, technology or invented laws are poorly explained and it leaves the reader confused. All these things result in a book toss.
Perhaps the biggest reason for me to put a book down are issues with the characters. Perhaps they're dull and boring. I know people like that in real life, I don't want to read about them. Or they're unlikable. Is there anything worse than a whiny protagonist? As a reader, you just want them to grow up. Occasionally a characters comes across as unbelievable as in no one could be that naive or no one could be that forgiving and kind. Even the antagonist can be too unbelievable.
I recently read a book by a fantasy author whose previous series I had really enjoyed. I stayed with it for more than half the book but then decided I didn't have time to waste on a book I really didn't like at all. Bland characters, slow plot and vague, boring threats. But I didn't damage any walls with it. It will find it's way to a used book store.
It also reminded me that just because a book is published by a big fantasy publisher like Tor, it doesn't mean it's a good book. On the flip side, just because a book is indie-published or published by a small press, doesn't mean it's not better than many of those books filling the shelves in B&N.
Hope you got to see the Lunar Eclipse last night. It was cloudy here. My current favorite show, Once Upon a Time, turned last night and later this week, Sleepy Hollow will return. Good times.
Don't forget to get that short story finished and sent for the IWSG anthology. It's going to be great!
Have you started and not finished a book lately? Did you see the Super Moon get eclipsed? What favorite show returned this past week or so? Please don't say Monday Night Football.