Has subtlety been forgotten? Spoilers: it seems so, yes.

I just started listening to ‘The Girl with all the Gifts’ as recommended by a member of my writing group, and so far it is quite intriguing and really well written. However, one of my peeves has shown up to irritate me, and although I don’t foresee it as a sign of more to come, it still annoys me when it happens.

I was not entirely sure what this book was about when I started it. I prefer going into things completely unknown, I think it is more entertaining. So from what I could gather in the first few pages, it is set in some kind of post apocalyptic world, and some super-smart children who also sometimes want to eat flesh are being taught in an underground bunker/jail of a school.

I was able to figure this out mostly without being told directly. Except when I was.

In the opening, Melanie, our protagonist, is describing some of her teachers, and their different personalities. One of them she describes as hoarding the blue sticky tack that one puts posters up with, saying ‘once it’s gone, its gone!’ I thought ‘ooh, hmm, resource scarcity? Are they at war, or in a bunker?’

Then in another scene, she asks a different teacher a question about the population of some city, and he seems to get depressed and mumbles ‘it doesn’t matter’ as if by mistake. ‘Ahh,’ I thought, ‘I think I’m getting it.’

But then.

The teacher basically looks directly into the camera and goes on to say “The population is zero! There’s no one out there! Our text books are 30 years old!” in so many words.

Oh. Great. Thank’s for telling me all that.

The satisfaction of figuring out a hidden secret in a story is sort of ruined after being told it like you are a struggling child.

As I continue to read this story, it is really good and that little reveal is not relevant to the plot overall, so is just an annoyance for me, but it could have been avoided so easily!

Anyway, as I’ve said before, please treat your readers as if they are at least as smart as you are. It will make your writing much more enjoyable.



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