I recently read a relatively well known book, and while the premise was AMAZINGLY clever—the book fell flat.
Far narrative distance. The story was told through a series of letters. This has been done well before (Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is as great example), but in this book I just read I never connected to any of the characters. The narrative distance was too far. I was never part of the action. I was told what happened afterword in a detached way—“We kissed on the peir. It was very passionate.” Okay, I guess if you say so. Wish I was there :)
No voice: I couldn’t tell the characters apart. I got so annoyed with this that I made it into a game. I tried to guess who wrote the letter before I got to the end. Some letters were so boring I just skimmed.
Contrived word choices: Some of the word choices the author used were ridiculous. I’m a fan of cool words—but only if they add something to the story. Why say laconic when brief works just as well? I can understand that it can be important to character voice or story flow to use big words, but it didn’t work here.
I learn something every time I read—what to do—what NOT to do. I understand that writing is subjective—so maybe I’m wrong, but whether I am or not—good and bad books make me a better writer.