One of the things I find most challenging about picking up a new book is getting used to the narrator. It can take me a while to get accustomed to their diction and rhythm. I just finished Hyperion by Dan Simmons and while I really enjoyed the book, it was a hard read for me because of the rotating cast of narrators. 

Since it took me so long to read Hyperion, and some of the chapters were quite technical, I decided that I wanted a palate cleanser before I dive into my next “serious” book (TBD). I scrolled through my Kindle library to see what cheap or free cozy mystery downloads had been sitting there for a while.

I ultimately chose one about a “feisty female police officer” tracking down a serial killer who litters their victims’ body parts around town. It has an average of 4.02 stars on Goodreads and my Kindle estimated I’d finish it in less than three hours. Perfect.

When I tell you that I had to put it down after two pages because the fat-shaming was out of control, I am not exaggerating.

The feisty female cop’s partner was introduced right away, and the only things I can tell you about him are that he’s fat, sweaty, and has huge pores.

Maybe there’s a great character in there, one built on traits other than his size, but I just couldn’t stick around to find out after the terrible first impression. 

A lot of the reviews of the book mention how funny it is, and this whole thing reminded me of Mindy Kaling’s Six Rules for Writing, which focus on kindness. And while her rules are for writing her characters (and their motivations and actions), I think they can also apply to how a writer treats their characters. We see a lot of comedy come from cruelty, but it’s so much more interesting, realistic, and humorous to arrive at conflict from kindness. Sure, the protagonist’s partner can be fat, but it makes for a lazy and cruel punchline and certainly shouldn’t be the only thing a reader learns about him.

Life’s too short to be mean or read books you don’t like.

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