Suspend your disbelief

Have you ever been completely jarred out of a story by something so wrong, you just can’t accept it in that story’s context? You have to sit back, process and then try to put the pieces back together to go on.

I’ve just been reading the second book in a series, romantic fantasy, set in medieval sort of times, but in a make-believe place, so the author doesn’t have to get too hung up on historical accuracy. It’s very enjoyable read, slightly more substantial than fluff (which incidentally saves my sanity on regular occasions) but still a very easygoing happy ever after story. Except … when the author (and to her credit, she’s only done it once per book so far) has one of her characters say something that is SO modern in terms of form of expression, it literally throws me out of the story. I land with a thud and it’s really not fun.

To be fair it’s not as bad as a casual adventure game I’m playing at the moment. The gameplay and story are good. They have to be, given the setting is historical Persia (and one of the characters is rather strongly reminiscent of the Prince of Persia character) but both he and the female main character sound like they’ve been dragged (reluctantly) straight out of a SoCal high school. It’s the first time in years of playing these sorts of games that I’ve muted the voices as well as the music. Just too annoying.

There’s also the lack of understanding of cultural nuance, and not bothering to check with someone who can help. Another romance book (they do seem to be the worst culprits) is set in the US, American author, writing what she knows, all good so far. The problem hits up on page two when she introduces her arrogant, aristocratic English hero, who comes from a long line of British nobility.

And yet is somehow called Trevor.

Nope. I’m not English and even I know that’s not a happening thing. Trevor is the mega billionaire who’s hauled himself up from the coal mines, or is the illegitimate son of some English aristocrat and a maid. It is a strong, proud working class name. It is not one you’re going to see in Debrett’s.

*Correction, there is a ‘Trevor’ in Debrett’s, Trevor Robinson OBE, and here’s one section of the interview with him:

11. If you could change one thing about Britain today, what would it be?

Reforming the prison system. I had a tough background and witnessed intelligent people I knew getting locked up.

He very helpfully reinforces my point, the name and the background of this character do not go together and it would not have been that hard to find a random Brit to check it with. Hell, just throw the question out on Quora and you’ll most likely find out more than you ever needed to know about both the name Trevor and the art and fashion of naming children in the UK.

One last one that isn’t a romance and is so insanely far-fetched as a concept I can’t believe I ended up having problems with only a minor plot point. I guess I can swallow a lot when it comes to a cracking fun story, but the ridiculousness HAS to be consistent.

This is a YA series (sadly unfinished) in which the cheerleaders at a US high school are actually all underage CIA (FBI? who does which?) agents. Yep, insane, but as I said, hugely fun and good characters. The lead character is the stereotypical cynical, smart computer hacker who is reluctantly recruited to the squad (and secret agent-hood). The story bounces between foiling evil undercover plots and high school politics, including big dramas around the votes for prom queen.

For various reasons, it looks like our girl is going to win, instead of the head cheerleader (ooeeerrr). All the votes are done online (um, hello), and yet it’s the love interest football captain – yes, this hits all the cliches square in the nuts – who ‘saves’ her by hacking into the system and changing the votes. Let’s reiterate, she’s a secret agent computer hacker (who apparently got though the Pentagon’s security when she was 14) and she didn’t think to do that herself?!??!?!

Like I said, I can cope with ridiculous, in fact I enjoy it. It’s inconsistency I have issues with.

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