Bad Narrative: The Five Worst Novels of 2011

By Dan Bergstein

Perhaps it’s petty to list the worst novels of the year, but I assure readers that this list has nothing to do with my inability to sell my novel, “A Prayer for Jonas” to a publisher.  (It’s “Indiana Jones” meets “The Help” meets the videogame Tetris. Looking for an agent or someone with a printer and plenty of ink cartridges.)

Here are the worst works of fiction of 2011:

Deathline, by Hank Knight

Horror novelist Hank Knight’s book is about a horror novelist, Jeremy Solad, who is writing a horror novel about a horror novelist named Gertrude Willow, who is suffering from writer’s block. The odd part is that while Knight’s novel is drivel, Gertrude’s book-within-a-book-within-a-book went on to win the Sacramento Publishing Award and is being turned into a Lifetime Original movie, much to Knight’s chagrin. Knight has said in several interviews, “Guys, you don’t get it! You’re totally missing the point. Come on!”

Love Isn’t Fare, by Gladys Jones

Chick Lit strikes again. The twist is that the protagonist, Alicia Flyrt, meets the man of her dreams when the two strangers share a taxi, but Alicia doesn’t catch his name. To find him, she takes a job as a cab driver in hopes that her Prince Charming will one day hail her. It’s a cute story, as Alicia deals with a wide variety of eccentric cab passengers on her quest for love. The troubling part comes with the unnecessary, though brutally honest, Euro-crisis subplot.

Tree Imperfect, by Eugene Prendergast

While most alternative-history novels prefer to ask, “What would happen if the Nazis won WWII?” Prendergast is more interested in asking the question, “What would happen if the US Wilderness Act of 1964 was never passed?” The answer, according to book’s author, is the formation of a lawless continent rife with sinister sex, rampant crime, and a race of cybernetic bears called H’liucks. While the concept is original, Prendergast’s prose becomes far too preachy toward the end when he finishes each horrific description of a violence and tragedy with, “See!? How messed up is that?!”

Vamp7re, by V. V. Eels

The world doesn’t need another vampire novel, but Eels attempts (and completely fails) to make something new by introducing a series of original rules for her creations. As explained on the fourth page, “Vamp7res can only feed on women during the three-quarter moon. Vamp7res are fast but cannot tie knots. They glow in the dark when they lie. They can’t tell time and hate the smell of boats. A Vamp7re cannot bite you if it’s almost your birthday. Vamp7res can only be killed with wheels or hoofs. They can go out in the sun, but if they say verbs in direct sunlight, they will die … as will their best friend. Vamp7res are good at kissing and can turn anything into a ladder. If a vamp7re touches milk, the milk will turn to glass. And they have great difficulty spelling the word ‘bureaucracy.’” When the author was asked why she spelled vampires with a 7, she answered, “Because of a love. Also, Vamp7res can communicate with clouds and tusked animals. And they can see the future of most water fowl.”

Storm Ranger: The Becky Rothschild Chronicles Book 18, by Tracy Sinclair

Eighteen books into the popular YA series and author Tracy Sinclair has run out of ideas. In this volume of supernatural babysitter Becky Rothchild’s adventure, the main character must fight an evil envelope, and she spends eight chapters describing how she would have changed the final season of “Frasier.” As usual, Becky is helped along by a cast of new friends including Mr. Man (a man who “wears jackets”) and a new love interest named Sex Joe. The reader gets conclusive proof that Sinclair’s heart isn’t in her writing during the final chapter, in which Becky defeats the evil envelope by using her heretofore unmentioned magical yam, which “does stuff that you can’t even imagine.”

Dan Bergstein writes a lot of funny humor writing.