What is it about bad literature? You know it’s bad, and yet, sometimes, its very badness is compelling. Take the Twilight series, for example. Stephenie Meyer’s vampire tale is bad, on a number of levels (all of which I will expound upon another day). Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones is also bad (despite those who think it is good). Similarly, for all its wink-wink nudge-nudge “black comedy”, American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis is, at the end of the day, a bad book. All of these are self-indulgent in the worst ways imaginable.
And now I’ve found (unsurprisingly, really), another bad book: The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger.
It’s not the non-linearity of the story that prompted me to proclaim this The Worst Book I’ve Read Since Twilight; what designated The Time Traveler’s Wife a Bad Book is that it shares with Twilight a discomforting love story. Like Edward and Bella, Henry and Clare are unlikeable characters. It also shares the dubious distinction of the creepiness factor: while Edward stalks Bella, a middle-aged Henry finds himself confronted with the younger version of his future wife, Clare. Although the reader is aware of Henry’s proclivity for showing up unannounced at various times during his past with Clare, it is still jarring when a naked Henry seemingly materializes out of thin air, appearing virtually at Clare’s feet.
The time travel is not the problem — at least, not in and of itself. However, it creates a problem: the story jumps around so much that it is difficult to become invested in Clare and Henry, let alone the multitude of characters that make guest appearances at different moments of their lives. Halfway through the book, I find myself impatient to get to whatever it is that happens when Henry is forty-three that makes him stop time-traveling. I want him to stop for a minute, look around, and tell me what the point is so that I’ll care.
And yet, despite all this, I continue to read. It is, like Twilight, crack-fic. It can’t do anything good for you, and yet you cannot stop. It’s best to not start.
Just say no to crack-fic.