Something I see people regularly mention are “auto-buy authors”. I know plenty of people have these; where they read a few books by an author, and are blown away by all of them, and therefore feel compelled to purchase every book an author buys, even if you don’t know what it’s about. Mine are Julia Ember, V.E. Schwab, & Michael J. Sullivan.
But recently, an author I trusted wrote a book that personally harmed me, and I realized that this post needed to be written sooner, rather than later.
I have only have three examples for this post, but before I go into that, I figure I should explain this some more.
What I mean by “Authors Aren’t Infallible” is exactly what it says. Authors aren’t infallible, and personally, I think the whole “auto-buy authors” are a bad idea. Authors are human, and they can make mistakes. They can unwittingly do something wrong, even if they’re your favorite ever author.
In this post, I’ll be using one example which is an author who has good intentions, but never gets it right. I haven’t read them, and I don’t plan to–and this one doesn’t relate to the “auto-buy author” thing that I keep mentioning, but I just feel like this person needs to be mentioned. The other two examples are personal “auto-buy authors” that have failed and personally harmed me.
* I apologize in advance if this post ends up being long. I have a lot to say.
Example #1 – Robin Talley
Robin Talley is a well-known author that is often recommended for her diversity which is included in everyone of the books pictured to the right. Lies We Tell Ourselves is about a interracial, F/F relationship in the civil rights era. What We Left Behind is about a long distance relationship between a girl and a genderqueer person. As I Descended is a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, with queer couples. And, last but not least, Our Own Private Universe is about a bisexual girl and her relationship with another.
All of these books have been mentioned to have problematic features, especially for the ones that the books were supposed to be about. (Except Our Own Private Universe. I haven’t heard anything yet about that one, but because of the first three books, I don’t trust it. Personal opinion, again.)
But see, Robin Talley acted with no malicious intent, and was honestly just looking to include diverse representation that wasn’t often included in books. But she made a mistake, because that’s what people do. She made three mistakes, but maybe she learned, with this newest novel.
Example #2 – John Flanagan
If you’ve been following my blog for long, you’ll know that John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series is basically what crafted me into who I am. But I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned what happened with this series that still affects me today.
Book 12, The Royal Ranger separates itself from the rest of the series, because not only does it take place 15-ish years after the end of the 10th (the 11th was a series of short stories), but there is also a new character and some *surprise* deaths that affect the plot of this one.
While I won’t get into the plot, I will explain what hurt me. Topics like drug use and slavery were tackled in previous books, but never went in-depth; and this time, Flanagan decided to go for grief and depression.
If you’ve also been following me for a while, you’ll know that I’ve been taking antidepressants for over a year now. I am mentally ill, with more than just depression.
One of the beloved characters from the series ends up going off on the depressed character, saying that they need to get over their depression and grief, and start working again. That they needed to forget what happened and that, while it mattered, he needed to realize there was nothing he could do and he should just give up. It was literally said, within a childhood favorite, middle grade novel, that someone needed to get over their depression.
While I loved all of John Flanagan’s books, this book still haunts me whenever I glance over at my shelves, because I do still own my copy. It’s like telling someone that they don’t matter.
Example #3 – Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Does this come as a surprise? I’ll try to keep this one brief, because I have reviews of both books that are in question.
Everyone knows Sáenz’s novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I wrote a review just raving about it, which can be seen here. So when I heard that Sáenz had The Inexplicable Logic of My Life coming soon, I was ecstatic!! And I even won an ARC in a giveaway!!!!
I was appalled with what I found, and the fact that the same author could have written one of my favorite books ever.
I realize I rambled a lot during this post, but I wanted to get everything out. Authors can have good intentions but fail miserably. And hopefully they’ll grow out of that.
But sometimes a trusted author also screws up, and that can be worse.
8 thoughts on “Authors Aren’t Infallible”
I absolutely agree! I used to have auto-buy authors but not anymore. Sáenz is a good example because I think Ari & Dante is amazing but I’ve heard awful things about The Inexplicable Logic, so much that I removed it from my TBR. Also I heard Our Own Private Universe was also problematic in regards to its bi rep :/
Thank you for letting me know! I didn’t want to thrown Talley under the bus by assuming OOPU is problematic, but I guess if the third time isn’t the charm, why should the fourth be? And yes, Inexplicable was SO disappointing.
What an insightful post. I think you’re absolutely right that authors are not infallible and that each book must be looked at with fresh eyes. If we give authors a pass because they’ve done well in the past, we risk allowing inaccurate representations to slip through.
I’ve read Aristotle and Dante, and I’ve been meaning to read Inexplicable Logic for an upcoming book discussion at the library where I work. (It’s an academic library that exclusively studies children’s and YA lit, and the librarians there take great pains to identify and recommend books that have authentic, diverse representations and avoid stereotypes.) I’m interested to hear what everyone else thinks about it, after hearing your opinion and reactions to it.
Thank you! And I know that others have said similar things that I have about Inexplicable, and I would link their reviews if I was on desktop. (Maybe later?) Inexplicable was such a disappointment, too :/
This post makes an important point. Authors aren’t perfect, even if they’re our favorites.
Exactly! Thank you!!
No problem 🙂
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