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Among Others
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2013 Reads > AO: Misleading description?

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Katie (calenmir) | 211 comments The description of this book is as follows:

Startling, unusual, and yet irresistably readable, Among Others is at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and SF, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment.

Raised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic, Morwenna Phelps found refuge in two worlds. As a child growing up in Wales, she played among the spirits who made their homes in industrial ruins. But her mind found freedom and promise in the science fiction novels that were her closest companions. Then her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, and Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled--and her twin sister dead.

Fleeing to her father whom she barely knew, Mori was sent to boarding school in England–a place all but devoid of true magic. There, outcast and alone, she tempted fate by doing magic herself, in an attempt to find a circle of like-minded friends. But her magic also drew the attention of her mother, bringing about a reckoning that could no longer be put off…


Which makes it sound like it will be far more action-packed and feature her mother far more prominently than it did. Frankly I think I would have liked the book described better than the actuality.

Do descriptions like this that are a bit off bother y'all or do you ignore them and go into books a little more blindly to avoid spoilers?

I see this happening more often and to a greater degree in movie trailers as they try to appeal to different demographics but I think a more on the nose description would have appealed just as much to readers of this book.


Michele | 1154 comments Strange, because everything described there does happen, but it does come across like the book will be faster paced. I think it's the diary style that slows it down and takes away a lot of the suspense - she can't die if she's still writing, and there's a lot of the other stuff in her life that seems to distract. But I really liked the novel as is and didnt even think about the blurb once I was reading it.

I do find really misleading blurbs to be annoying usually.


message 3: by Andrew (new) - added it

Andrew (ajw315) | 7 comments I think that description is the only thing that explicitly states the magic is even real, and that it would play any real part to the book.

But then how do you sum up what is essentially a diary of a 15 year old girl with family issues who reads A LOT?


Kevin | 701 comments I don't think that description is misleading. Everything in there actually happens in the story (or rather most of it happened as set up for the book's actual story).


Katie (calenmir) | 211 comments Ok KevinB, in a very strict sense the description is technically true but the phrasing still sets up different expectations.
Andrew, I think the summary starts off spot on in the first paragraph. The second paragraph makes you think that "magical battle" will be more...on-screen I guess. The last bit could have been rephrased to say her attempt at magic "brought about consequences she wasn't prepared for" or something and left it more vague.
Michele: I agree the diary style takes away some tension and slows it somewhat but I did really like Mori's voice and the novelty of that format.


Greg | 83 comments I find that description to be completely true I even agree with the "unusual, and yet irresistably readable" though that tends to be opinion. I can see how you would expect more action and if that's what you are looking for be disappointed but there is nothing in the description that promises that.


message 7: by Pickle (new)

Pickle | 192 comments in Iain M Banks Excession it states:

'Two and a half millenia ago, the artifact appeared in a remote corner of space beside a trillian tear old dying sun from a different universe. It was a perfect black body sphere, and it did nothing.'

To say it did nothing is a complete lie as when we are first introduced to the artifact we are told it does nothing but react with the mesh of time/space. Hardly nothing imo


Brendan O'neill | 17 comments I decided to go into the book without reading the description this month and I have to say I enjoyed this approach because there was no expectations to what type of book it would be. I also really liked not having little spoilers that descriptions always give.

Obviously this would not work most of the time but for a book club where I'm planning to read something whether it's in my in my safe zone or not it worked really well.


Pamela D (funisreading) | 42 comments I read the book blurb before I jumped in and as I read the book, I just kept going back to it and wondering why this was the blurb the publisher went with. Although the author says that the magic is real, the reader could interpret the book in a multiple of ways. I am surprised that the publisher committed to the "definitely fantasy" label versus being a bit more vague to get the general fiction crowd to read the book too.

As other posters have noted, everything in the blurb happens. It just seems like the voice of the book and the voice of the blurb are way too different.


message 10: by Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth (last edited Jun 05, 2013 05:04AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth | 1840 comments I tend to stop reading anything about a book once I've decided to read it, since such things are usually written to entice, and their job is already done, so I didn't fully read the blurb, but I agree that it does sound a lot more action packed than the book actually is. Somehow, by scanning over it and glancing at the cover I had gained the impression that the book would be exactly as it was in tone, but if I'd read it properly my expectation would definitely have been different.

I agree with Pamela that the voice is too different from Mori's.


Katina French (thatdarnkat) | 48 comments I agree there was a disconnect between the blurb, at least in terms of tone and expectation-setting. But blurbs always tend to have that Don LaFontaine "IN A WORLD..." tone. [Shrugs.]

It's very similar to The Night Circus in that way, where the blurb sort of implies a Harry Potter "dualing wizards and epic battles" thing, while the execution of the "battle" in the book is much subtler than that.


message 12: by E (new) - rated it 1 star

E | 16 comments I agree, I felt misled by the tone of the blurb but it makes sense that the publishers picked it because I purchased the book based on that blurb. So their tactic worked to sell sell sell, at least on me. If the blurb had said "the story of a young woman listing books she reads and who she purchases buns for at school, with the occasional appearance of magic" I probably never would have picked it up let alone bought it.


Katie (calenmir) | 211 comments E wrote: "I agree, I felt misled by the tone of the blurb but it makes sense that the publishers picked it because I purchased the book based on that blurb. So their tactic worked to sell sell sell, at least..."

Bwahaha, great summary!


Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth | 1840 comments E wrote: "If the blurb had said "the story of a young woman listing books she reads and who she purchases buns for at school, with the occasional appearance of magic" I probably never would have picked it up let alone bought it. "

Well now, that very much depends on how you imagine that blurb. In my head, it is read in the voice of 'that guy' who reads for movie trailers. I know you know the one; it's all deep and dramatic. It sounds GREAT!


Katina French (thatdarnkat) | 48 comments Ruth wrote: "In my head, it is read in the voice of 'that guy' who reads for movie trailers. I know you know the one; it's all deep and dramatic."

That would be Don "Thunder Throat" LaFontaine. ;) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_LaFo...


Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth | 1840 comments Katina wrote: "Ruth wrote: "In my head, it is read in the voice of 'that guy' who reads for movie trailers. I know you know the one; it's all deep and dramatic."

That would be Don "Thunder Throat" LaFontaine. ;)..."


:D Thanks!


message 17: by Art (new) - rated it 5 stars

Art | 190 comments I agree with what people said. I don't think the blurb is accurate to the tone of the book. I understand that the blurb sells the book but I get really annoyed when this happens because it's really counter productive.

I mainly purchase books based on blurbs and when the blurb isn't accurate I am usually disappointed as it's not the book I thought I was buying. Similarly, I sometimes miss out on books because the blurb has sold it to the wrong audience.

I think a more accurate blurb means a more satisfying read.


message 18: by Rob (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rob | 33 comments I didn't like this book because the blurb compared it to Tolkien.


Katie (calenmir) | 211 comments Rob wrote: "I didn't like this book because the blurb compared it to Tolkien."

Well played.


message 20: by Neil (new) - rated it 3 stars

Neil | 165 comments Didn't read the blurb before I got it but it does make the book sound more action packed and exciting than it actually is. Then again that is kind of what the marketing blurb is supposed to do.

There wasn't really much magical battling going on. Did anyone else keep thinking that they would rather have been reading about what happened before the car crash rather than what happened after? It seemed like a more interesting tale.


message 21: by Louise (last edited Jun 11, 2013 12:13PM) (new) - added it

Louise (louiseh87) | 352 comments Neil wrote: "There wasn't really much magical battling going on. Did anyone else keep thinking that they would rather have been reading about what happened before the car crash rather than what happened after? It seemed like a more interesting tale. "

Weirdly, no. Its one of those things where my imagination of what happened, based on the hints given, is probably way better than anything that can be conveyed in text. Like the Time War in Doctor Who.

It's also very rare for the fall out of such events to be dealt with, but accounts of such events are two a penny :)

I can't even remember if I read the blurb. I pay very little attention to them usually. They're intended to sell the book and if the book is already in my hand, I don't really need it.


AndrewP (andrewca) | 2432 comments Rob wrote: "I didn't like this book because the blurb compared it to Tolkien."

Yeah, that's very ironic because in the book Mori discounts a book by Stephen R. Donaldson for exactly that reason.


Ariel Stirling | 80 comments First off, I hate when a blurb is completely unrepentantly off! It feels to me like a sleazy salesman trying to get the hard sell.

Also, while I used to buy books partly based on the blurb, these days I use some combination of Goodreads discussions, reviews, and group picks and friends' recommendations and what's on sale on Amazon. Admittedly this has led to a few craptastic reads, but I don't feel as guilty about Lemming a book if it was free.


message 24: by D.J. Wilde (new)

D.J. Wilde | 9 comments I don't like being misled. Take how they tend to market M. Night Shamylan (sp?). The trailers I saw pumped Lady in the Water as a horror film and it was far far from that. His twists just feel like con-jobs to me. I hope no one ever tries to sell my work like that, I know it would reflect on me. I take this thread as an education. Thank you.


message 25: by Anthea (new)

Anthea Sharp | 11 comments Ruth wrote: "Katina wrote: "Ruth wrote: "In my head, it is read in the voice of 'that guy' who reads for movie trailers. I know you know the one; it's all deep and dramatic."

That would be Don "Thunder Throat"..."


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQRtux... Five voiceover actors, one limo - great stuff!


Katina French (thatdarnkat) | 48 comments Anthea wrote: "Ruth wrote: "Katina wrote: "Ruth wrote: "In my head, it is read in the voice of 'that guy' who reads for movie trailers. I know you know the one; it's all deep and dramatic."
v
That would be Don "Th..."


That is wonderful! I love how the Disney guy sticks out like Mr Rogers at an action movie convention...


Katie (calenmir) | 211 comments http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuxApR...

Speaking of movie trailer voice overs...


message 28: by Scott (last edited Jun 17, 2013 12:09PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Scott | 312 comments I agree the blurb is a bit deceptive as to the pacing. But it is true.... Nothing in there is a lie (ignoring the opinion parts about readability, etc). But that deception is based solely on reader expectations, which in the end are the reader's alone (even if it is what the publisher wanted). As my favorite radio host is fond of saying about angry e-mailers, Tweeters, etc, "I don't make you angry. You make you angry."
And, like Mori, with Donaldson, you can't blame the author or book for what the publisher's advertising people say about it.


Katie (calenmir) | 211 comments Scott wrote: "I agree the blurb is a bit deceptive as to the pacing. But it is true.... Nothing in there is a lie (ignoring the opinion parts about readability, etc). But that deception is based solely on reader..."

Yes the expectations are the reader's, but they aren't based on nothing. Just like I'm sure that radio host isn't saying only inoffensive things in a soft, kind voice. Communication between people, whether written or audible, is always a tricky, complex thing...how effectively and accurately a message gets across is not only the receipient's problem. The originator does have some responsibility for their tone and wording.
I don't blame the author at all, but how the book is marketed is, to me, an interesting aspect to discuss.


Fiona (deifio) | 95 comments I thought we'd actually find out more about what happened when the twins confronted their mother and about how Mor died. But we don't actually know that much about that, even after finishing the book.
I guess the blurb was a bit misleading for me in that respect.


message 31: by Dennis (last edited Jul 03, 2013 08:43AM) (new)

Dennis (haleowl) | 7 comments The blurb was written by the publisher who is trying to sell the book and may have thought it would sound more appealing if made out to have an action packed plotline. Among Others is not an action or plot driven book yet I would rate it as one of the best books of any genre I've read in the last decade. So does it matter if the publisher's blurb set out to entice some readers who might not have given it a go if they were given a completely honest description of the book?

I guess it comes down to whether you enjoyed the book or not. If you normally get swayed by the thought of an all action plot but having started the book you read it on its merits and enjoy it then you'll be inclined to forgive the publisher for mildly misrepresenting it. If on the other hand you really didn't get on with it you are less likely to be so forgiving, BUT (i) publisher's blurb should be taken with a pinch of salt anyway and (ii) if you're going to read a book then read it for what it is, not the write up. Isn't that the point of having forums like this one? To get real people's opinions as opposed to sales blurb?


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