You've Been Warned!

Could this cover get any worse?

Why yes, Virginia, this cover could get a whole lot worse...check it out:

On another note, I love working in libraries. Not 'cause of the stinky patrons or the moldy books (okay, I love them, too), but because other librarians are such freaky cool people! A colleague of mine recently took time out of her day to compile a list that I think should be shared. I'll let her tell you herself (stolen directly from her own blog):

YOU'VE BEEN WARNED (no, really, you have)

James Patterson's You've Been Warned is the current best-seller on The New York Times hardcover fiction list.

Number One.

Can I tell you how scary this is?

My coworker, Lauren, and I were flipping through it this morning, and we were in hysterics as we read various passages aloud. We could turn to any page and find at least a dozen ridiculous one-liners. It's the kind of book that makes one yearn for the witty, polished prose of a Danielle Steel or a V.C. Andrews.

Then we began reading just the last sentence of every chapter. They were all very--cue scary music--DUN DUN DUNNN!! And the more we read, the funnier they got.

Naturally, we decided that they needed to be collected.So I typed up a list of the last line of every chapter in the book. And the amazing thing was that the story actually made sense this way. Lauren pointed out that it's like that speed reading technique they teach you in high school, where you only read the first and last sentence of each paragraph and, supposedly, that gives you the gist of it. So this is like speed reading on speed.

Now, I am not claiming to have the World's Best Taste in literature. In fact, I'm pretty easy to please. I can usually find something redeeming about whatever it is I'm reading. I like Faulkner just as much as I like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. In fact, I probably like the Sisterhood more, because I've actually read them all.

I'd also like to point out that I actually HAVE read a full James Patterson novel. A few of them, in fact. I found the first two Alex Cross books, Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls, entertaining (I liked the movies, too). But then he started kidnapping every member of the Cross family. Bringing back serial killers from the dead. Chasing his hero with tigers AND vampires--in the same novel. And not cute teen boy vampires like Edward Cullen either. I mean, what the heck?

Then he began publishing every novel with another author, like he can't even be bothered to write his own books anymore. He has a new release nearly every month, and I have trouble trusting a writer who must spend like two weeks, max, working on a book.

I'm sorry for being snarky here, but I'd like to point out that on Amazon, as of this minute, Warned has 93 customer reviews, and a whopping 62 of them gave it one star. Some choice quotes:

Noirgirl:"All the paragraphs.Are written.Like THIS!BOO!"

Karen Honeycutt: "I am very pissed off that I wasted money on this."

Robert Stovall: "Weird and boring"Nuff Said: "Holy Moly ! This is so not a good book!"

Cricket: "This is by far the most disappointing book I've read in years."

BOOKLOVER: "James Patterson should be ashamed of himself."

deeper waters: "A waste of time and an insult to one's intelligence. There is nothing redeeming about it....not the plot, writing or the characters."

Ronald E. Pagels: "This is probably the worst book I have ever read."

goldencz: "It was HORRIBLE!!!!"

N.R. Cronce: "James Patterson Schlock Doctor"

J. Crace: "James, buddy, you're getting too far out there--even your devoted fans hate it!!"

H. Gore: " YUK!! I can't believe I read the whole thing!!! "

Anyway, here it is. The last line of every chapter in James Patterson & Howard Roughan's You've Been Warned (Little, Brown and Company, 2007). All italics and punctuation are theirs.

I'd like to think there are a lot of good creative writing exercises here. Rearranging the sentences so that they form paragraphs and a new story. Turning it into a poem. I think the coolest thing would be You've Been Warned, Last Sentences: The Graphic Novel. I'd totally do it if I could draw. And I loved Lauren's idea of a page-a-day calendar. (Hmm, what's my inspiration for today? Flip. Oh, "And I think that burning smell is back too." Excellent!)

Note: If you were planning on reading this book, please go no further. Need I say there are spoilers?

You’ve Been Warned (“Fear is just the beginning”)

James Patterson & Howard Roughan

I raise my camera again, and—
The music is inside my head.
“Lord knows you don’t want to piss off that boss of yours.”
I scream at the top of my lungs.
And that’s when someone does.
And he loves it even more when I join him there.
So innocent.
See? I’m back in control.
It’s time to hit the darkroom.
And I think that burning smell is back too.
And I know just where to go.
It’s the maître d’ again.
But when he finishes, everyone reaches for a pen.
This is no dream.
“Don’t wear it to work.”
“Good answer,” I say.
The camera slips from my grasp, falling to the pavement.
“Detective, remember? Homicide.”
Gee, I can’t wait.
“Want to join the Maytag club?”
“I’m coming!”
“Don’t look now,” says Beth with an elbow to my ribs, “but I think that guy is checking you out.”
“Let’s dance,” I say to the girls. “It’s my night.”
“I’m not kidding around. You’ve been warned.”
I guess Kristin Burns doesn’t want to talk to me after all.
But what I’m looking at sure is.
He wasn’t letting me win now, though. Obviously not now.
My father’s been dead for twelve years.
This is no time to be alone.

Actually, this should have been my first call.
“I still want to know what happened to you at the Falcon Hotel. Kristin? Kristin?”
What’s up with that?
I’ve got somewhere to go after all.
Pictures lie.
That just isn’t possible, but there he is.
He’s opening the door!
“Can you keep a secret?” he whispers.
We’ll be fine.
He puts his shades back on, nods, and then turns away.
Utter. Freakin’. Amazement.
And then I’m screaming at the top of my lungs.
“Do you think I can borrow some clothes?”
“Speak of the devil,” she says.
“Because you do now.”
“No,” he says, leaning in close. “That’d be your soul.”
“No one’s ever forced to dance, are they?”
If only Penley weren’t in the picture.
It’s called breaking and entering.
To Michael and Penley’s room.
Shoot Michael.
Leaving me and Penley.
Oh, the irony.
It only reads 1.
And he looks dead.
“On how well you know your way around Brooklyn.”
He’s barely had a chance to look at the first one when I realize…we’re not alone.
“She thinks you’re a devil.”
All it takes is the ponytail.
“Allow me,” he says.
“How many times do you have to be warned?”
There are four people… Don’t hurt them.
Everything goes black.
That’s easy. “Dying.”
Before he was murdered in my hometown of Concord, Massachusetts.
The wretched look on his face says it all.
“Help, Michael, you have to save me!”

And unfortunately, that’s not exactly good news.
Right into my darkroom.
“And I know what you did at the Falcon Hotel. Both times you were there.”
And I mean everything else.
“You’re right,” I say. “Only that’s not her husband.”
And I remember who used to say that—my dead father.
At least I think I am.
With a zoom lens.
Otherwise known as Falcon Hotel.
All because of what I hear.
Praise the pencil!

“I could kill the bitch” is his answer.
“You’ll see.”
As I head home to my apartment, I get this awful, gnawing feeling that somehow I already have.
The note’s dated today.
No, just very, very desperate.
And then—what can I say?—I faint.
There was even a photo of his body being carried out in a long black bag.
Just then, I feel a pair of eyes on me and I nearly jump out of my skin.
“It’s okay, Dad. I understand.”
There’s one left.
So—why am I crying uncontrollably? Is that why Michael isn’t at work?
“Where else would he be?”
What’s with the camera?
Who’s Michael talking to?
Then he absolutely blows my mind.
God is in the details.
Then, something does.
The pathetic truth is—anything is possible right now.
Michael has a gun pressed to his forehead.
“You and I have a lot of acting to do, Kristin.”
Make that one dead.
Don’t think, just shoot.
And instantly I realize—that makes three bodies.
Let go of the gun.
“Exactly,” comes a voice I recognize.
“I’m doing all the talking here—and this is your day, Kristin.”
But then—don’t think, just shoot—she takes my picture.
And I’m screaming, screaming, screaming, screaming…
“She’s alive! This woman is alive! She just winked at me.”

Thanks, Stephanie!

So, JaBBiC readers, what's your favorite last line? Mine is, "Don't think, just shoot." Covers just about everything.


Unknown said...

"Praise the pencil"

Honestly ... that was bloody brilliant. What more can I say? Oh! I know ... the "angel" covers: more like "angel bride of chuckie" covers. *shudder*

Anonymous said...

my favorite is "The pathetic truth is—anything is possible right now."

and that's towards the end of the book

Anonymous said...

“She’s alive! This woman is alive! She just winked at me.”

All I can think right now is that that is the most terrible closing line I have ever read in a book.


andys said...

I agree with mAlice - what the hell kind of ending line is that? Hell, what kind of LINE is that?!

I now imagine someone screaming in utter terror, at the top of their lungs, "It’s the maître d’ again!" AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hilarious. I would buy this graphic novel.

Bryan R. Terry said...

Mine comes down to a tie between the Yoda-like Zen-esque syntax of: “Detective, remember? Homicide.” and the awful juxtaposition of “Want to join the Maytag club?” with “I’m coming!” which makes the "Maytag club" sound like a sleezy laundromat version of the mile-high club.

JackiAnne said...

I liked "And he loves it even more when I join him there." The whole thing read like some disjointed dream sequence that just went on forever and ever.

BTW, I kept losing count...how many chapters are there in this masterpiece?

DocTurtle said...

peri1020: I think there are 110, but I may have double-counted one of those two-liners.

What freaks me out about these quotes is the many of them that are written in the present tense (e.g., "Everything goes black," "Then he absolutely blows my mind"), as though to make the action seem more real and visceral. It really just makes it sound like a methed-up seventh grader wrote it.

"It only reads 1" might have to be my favorite, simply because I can hear it being read by Nigel Tufnel in his matter-of-fact "This one goes to 11" voice.

yellojkt said...

My mother reads these trashy bestsellers and when she tries to describe the plots I just roll my eyes. Thanks for passing on this important Reader's Digest condensed format. I know I'm not missing anything. And how short are the chapters? Kurt Vonnegut writes longer (and better) mini-chapters.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I remember reading "Kiss the Girls" at some point after the movie came out. At the time, I thought the story idea itself was good, but the writing subpar (and in some parts, patronizing - I don't really need to be told that U2 is a rock band, thank you very much). As such, I never read any of his other books. It seems as though I should be grateful. The collection of last lines, though - hilarious!

Toonhead said...

I can draw, not in a graphic novel format, but in a cartoon style and I must several of those lines inspired some nice visions of single panel cartoons. I've been a bit dry for the past few months. I think I now have material for 110 single panel cartoons. I'm printing this out and getting to work.

For proof of my skills check out http://www.aperfectworld.org

Anonymous said...

For a single one, I have to agree with malice. Personally, I like them best coupled together:

“I’m not kidding around. You’ve been warned.”
I guess Kristin Burns doesn’t want to talk to me after all.

And I think that burning smell is back too.
And I know just where to go.
It’s the maître d’ again.

It kind of reads like some weird teenager's diary. Don'tcha think?

Pete said...

It's impossible for me to choose just one out of this truly godawful list, but I'd lean toward one of the many camera references, which are undoubtedly (having not read the novel) painfully belabored metaphors for guns and shoot-em-up mayhem.

Anonymous said...

I love this! This must be done with more books!

Why does it seem like every single sentence could start with, "Hmmm.."?

“Want to join the Maytag club?”
“I’m coming!”
Now that's just dirty.

Anonymous said...

I just got done reading a book that might be even schlockier, "The Darkest Evening of the Year" by Dean R Koontz, which may be the most laughably, and badly overwritten novel I've ever read (my grandmother gave it to me for Christmas because I used to read him when I was in high school. Bless her. Really. She never read him, so how would she know better?).

Dudes and ladies, it is SO BAD. Every sentence is a paragraph. Sentence/paragraphs like these (the last of the second chapter):

Amy remembered a winter night with blood upon the snow and a turbulence of sea gulls thrashing into flight from the eaves of the high catwalk, white wings briefly dazzling as they soared skyward through the sweeping beam of the lighthouse, like an honor guard of angels escorting home a sinless soul.

God, it wants to be so goood. The whole thing just gets worse and worse as it keeps going, ridiculously overdrawn psychopathology mixing feverishly with PSAs on puppy farms and golden retriever-centric animal rescue.

Sorry this is so long. I just had to vent , and I figured this may be the place for it.

talpianna said...

Just found this blog via a link in a comment on Jenny Crusie's blog. I'm reminded of a book called A Stone, a Leaf, a Door, in which passages from Thomas Wolfe's novels are arranged as verse.

This is SO just like that.


Anonymous said...

I want a government arts grant so I can do the graphic novel. In the meantime, I think this text would make a swell party game: You go around the room; every person reads one line. Every time it can be lewdly construed, everyone takes a drink.

The Titanic should have had such an icebreaker.

the.effing.librarian said...

[first "angel" cover blurb]
"As a child, young Tammy Faye couldn't decide whether to follow in the footsteps of Shirley Temple or Alice Cooper..."

Anonymous said...

Your site has won a Blog of the Day Award (BOTDA)

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Thank you,

famous quotes

Anonymous said...

My favorite is:
“She thinks you’re a devil.”
All it takes is the ponytail.

Anonymous said...

The angel doll looks like it came from a Tim Burton movie. Which is really not so bad, especially compared to that iceman cover from a while back.

Anonymous said...

I'm partial to, "And I’m screaming, screaming, screaming, screaming…"
That just about sums up what I'd be doing right now if wasn't speechless with shock at how bad that was. I knew Patterson was bad, but I didn't know he was that bad. I feel dumber just having read that.

the.effing.librarian said...

now that you're one of the 10 blogs to read for 2008 (lisnews), quit slacking and get your ass back to work. congrats.

Stephanie Perkins said...

Hey, Maggie! I'm glad to see that so many people enjoyed this.

Lovin' your blog. Hatin' the angel. I ran across it while weeding the other day, and prayed that it hadn't been checked out in a while so that I could withdraw it. No such luck. Poop.

Unknown said...

My local big-box bookstore has its own James Patterson section, with a chain-made title card on the shelf and everything. That's right, the fiction genres are now: General Fiction, Mystery, SciFi/Fantasy, Horror, and James Patterson.