Protagonists I don’t want to read about – Part 2.

This is a continuation of last week’s post where I talked about some of the protagonists I don’t want to read about. After that post, I had an interesting discussion both on Twitter and Facebook about the different tropes that rub the readers the wrong way, so I decided to continue the series.

 

  1. Miss Perfection.

 

This protagonist is absolutely perfect. She has the perfect looks, and usually through no particular effort of her own. She has the perfect family. She has the perfect job, which she is very good at (even it this job is just being an administrative assistant). She has no flaws, of the author gives her a quirky but rather endearing flaw.

 

For example, I read a book a few years ago about one of those perfect heroines. I think the author realized that she had made her protagonist a bit too perfect and decided to compensate this by making her clumsy. It would have worked too, except her clumsiness never manifested itself during moments where it could become a handicap or add tension to the story. She could trip and fall walking down the stairs every time she was with her love interest and the poor guy had no choice but to dive and catch her, but God forbid her fumbling with her gun or tripping an alarm during a critical action scene. This made her clumsiness seem very tacky and unnecessary.

shut-up-miss-perfect-and-get-over-yourself

My problem with perfect protagonists is that they are extremely boring to read about. Perfection leaves no room for character growth. Plus, I don’t know about you, but I find it extremely difficult to relate to perfect people. Not mention that they just don’t feel “real,” because perfection doesn’t exist in the real world.

 

I much rather read about flawed and broken characters that feel like real people than perfect cutouts from the glamor magazine covers.

 

  1. The Chosen One.

 

There is a legend, or a prophecy, or the ravings of a mad fool foretelling the coming of the Chosen One and our protagonist fits the bill. Or everyone around her thinks that she fits the bill.

 

Now I have no problem with the concept of the Chosen One per se, but I do have a problem with the execution. Most authors feel like if their protagonist is the Chosen One, they don’t need to work that hard to make her a unique and fleshed out character anymore, because hey, she will still save the world (prevent a war, marry the prince, bring peace and prosperity, underline whatever fits the current story).

Chosen_One

Often it leaves the reader with a very boring protagonist who just floats with the current towards their inevitable fate, and we don’t understand why all the supporting characters fawn over this non-entity. The protagonist makes no decisions or mistakes, doesn’t grow as a character, but relies on everyone else to get her where she is supposed to go.

 

Ironically enough, these books have a lot of secondary characters that are much more interesting and fleshed out than the protagonist, probably because the author actually had to think about their backstory and behavior since they weren’t the Chosen Ones. Those characters I wouldn’t mind reading a book about.

 

  1. Mature professionals behaving like hormonal teenagers.

 

You see these protagonists a lot in fanfiction, but I’ve encountered a few specimens in actual published book as well, much to my amazement.

 

These protagonists are positioned as thirty-something professionals who are very good at their job and who have seen and done everything under the sun, and are supposed to be hardened if not jaded. Yet their behavior does not add up. They throw tantrums like a five year old that had been sent to bed without ice cream. They go into full blown hysterics or spend a good part of the story moaning about the horrors they saw or did, the unfairness of life, their scared past and other angsty stuff.

 

In some extreme cases they lash out without thinking or get extremely jealous or disparaging of other female characters, especially if they dare even look at their love interest. And my absolute “favorite” – start suddenly admiring the masculine physique or their companions / antagonists right in the middle of the action. Really? If you are in the middle of sword fight and your brain is busy undressing your opponent, chances are very good that you’re gonna end up with a sword in your stomach.  In other words, they behave like hormonal teenagers, not mature women.

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Now I am usually more tolerant of that in fanfiction because most authors are teenagers, so that’s how they think and how their peers behave. They simply don’t know any better yet. But to see this in a professionally published book? Even if it’s targeted for the young adult market, the author does her audience a great disservice by presenting them with such protagonists as role models.

 

So there are some more of the protagonists that drive me up the wall. What are your thoughts about this? Do you agree or disagree? Any other particular tropes set your teeth on edge? I want to  hear from you.

Cupcakes, Trinkets, and other Deadly Magic y Meghan Ciana Doidge.

Stars: 2 out of 5.

 

I was so excited when I picked up this book! For once, the protagonist is not an almighty witch, but just a half-witch who prefers making cupcakes and a trinket or two to conquering the world of magic! “How refreshing,” I thought. I like trinkets. I love cupcakes (maybe a little more than I should). And I was really looking forward to reading about a down to earth heroine for once.

 

Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed. Jade turned out to be one of those protagonists I don’t really want to read about: the special snowflake. She seems ordinary at first, but ends up being so unique that the author flirts dangerously close with the dreaded “Chosen One” trope.

 

Her father is unknown but it’s hinted throughout the book that he is definitely not human, which makes her half-witch, half-something else and this something seems to be powerful. Her family lied to her to keep her past and abilities hidden, supposedly for her own protection, but no justification for that is given in this book. She can sense and identify other people’s magic and that makes her extremely desirable for other magical beings for some reason? Once again, no justification is given as to why that would make her important. And there is a hidden portal in the basement of her bakery only she can open.

 

Oh, and I forgot to mention the plethora of extremely powerful, extremely magical, and extremely hot-looking guys that seem to fawn all over her throughout this book for no other reason than her magical uniqueness. Because the author makes sure to tell us that Jade is no great beauty.

 

Story-wise the book is pretty straight-forward as well. Magical beings are found murdered and Jade’s trinkets have been found on all the bodies, so naturally she is suspect number one. Queue a lot of running around with (or away from) some really hot really magical guys and poking at things that don’t need to be poked. I guess that’s supposed to be an investigation. Funny how Jade never things about looking closer to home for the culprit.

 

And that’s my other problem with this book. The ending is predictable and the antagonist is hinted upon with such heavy strokes that she might as well have been jumping up and down and holding a board saying, “I’m the villain.” Yet Jade is totally oblivious of this until the very end, which made me groan and wonder at her lack of brainpower and observation. It’s one thing to be trusting and another to be willingly obtuse.

 

This book gets 2 stars instead of 1 because it was well-written. I didn’t see any glaring grammatical errors and Jade actually has a voice, even if it’s an annoying one at times. And it is an easy read – I finished it in a little over a day. Unfortunately, it’s just as easily forgotten because of the little substance this book has.

I wouldn’t recommend it. There are plenty of better paranormal romance / urban fantasy books out there worth reading instead.

 

Protagonists I don’t want to read about – Part 1.

onceuponatime

 

The idea for this post (or what more likely be a series of posts) was born after I posted this book review, probably because the heroine in this book was a perfect example of a protagonist I don’t want to read about. So I thought about writing a series of posts about the different types of protagonists that drive me up the wall, make me want to throw the book at the wall, or just make me yawn and go, “Yeah, whatever.”

 

I think that it’s very important for me as a writer to be aware of what kind of protagonist makes me put a book down as a reader. So I thought I would share my personal pet peeves and ask my readers about theirs.

 

So without further ado, let’s start at number 1.

 

1. Too stupid to live.

 

This one that makes me grind my teeth in frustration and gives me the desire to whack the protagonist on the head with something heavy to put him or her out of their misery. All this protagonist does is make one stupid mistake after another during the whole book. Mistakes that land her in very dangerous situations, I must add. Amazingly enough, not only does she survive those situations, but she also refuses to learn anything from it. Special mention if those stupid mistakes are the ONLY thing that drives the story forward.

 

This one is just… GRRRR!!! I understand that a good story derives from characters making mistakes. But I’m a firm believer that there needs to be a logic behind those mistakes, and they must not seem like mistakes at the time. And no, rushing into the den of the enemy all alone and without telling anyone where you went (when your allies warned you about staying away, I might add) is never a good idea. There is no logic that can explain that apart from the idea that the character probably has a death wish.

 

Now I need to point out that I am not against the character making mistakes. By all means, let them get burned, let them do something and get smacked in the face by the consequences. But the characters need to LEARN from those mistakes, they need to EVOLVE. Those mistakes need to fuel the character progression. Otherwise it feels like this image here:

 

If you keep banging your head on the wall, chances are your head will crack first.
If you keep banging your head on the wall, chances are your head will crack first.

If all your character does is bang her head against the wall and doesn’t even pause to think that maybe finding a door or a window would be more productive… well, I don’t want to read about that.

Unfortunately, this trope usually goes hand to hand with another one of my pet peeves.

 

2. The “strong” female protagonist turns damsel in distress.

 

This is another cringe-worthy case where the protagonist is portrayed as a strong female protagonist, tough as nails, kicking butt and taking names all days of the week, doubly so on Sundays… Yet when push comes to shove and she finds herself in a dangerous situation (that might or might not have been of her own making due to stupid mistakes from point 1), she suddenly becomes completely useless. Queue the love interest / male side character(s) who ride on a shining steed to save the day.

 

I especially “love” the protagonists who can’t keep their mouths shut during the whole sad event and mouth off to their captors as well as their rescuers. If I was the antagonist, I would have gagged them, or just killed them outright rather than listen to that. If I was the love interest, I would probably rethink my priorities and the reason behind my affection toward this particular protagonist. Especially if she was kicking and screaming that she had everything under control and that I didn’t need to intervene while I dragged her from her imminent death… yet again.

 

Help, where is my knight in shining armor?
Help, where is my knight in shining armor?

This last trait of character brings me to the final point in today’s post.

 

3. Everybody loves her (usually for no reason at all).

 

We all have seen those protagonists. All the males in the vicinity seem to fall in love with them almost at first glance. They can do no wrong in their eyes, no matter how rude, pushy or disrespectful the protagonist are… or how many stupid mistakes they make throughout the book. Usually those books are also filled to the brim by handsome, strong men and the distinct lack of other female characters (at least positive ones). If there are other female characters, they usually hate the protagonist’s guts, are villains or sluts or both.

 

I think this distinct lack of positive female characters is due to the fact that they would paint our “perfect” protagonist in not a very flattering light, so instead of actually working on the character, some authors simply eliminate the competition. The Symphony of Ages books by Elizabeth Haydon are a perfect example of this – everybody loves Rhapsody, even those who say they hate her.

 

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I’m always so sad when I stumble upon a book like that, especially if the characters show at least glimpses of personality from time to time. Imagine how more profound and tridimensional the protagonist could have been, if she had real female friends, was allowed to have flaws and didn’t have the whole male population fawning over her.

 

Pfew, so those are some of my least favorite character tropes, though definitely not all of them, because listing them all probably necessitates at least another post or two. Those particular characters drive me up the wall, but what about you? What kind of protagonists make you groan and roll your eyes or close the book and move on?

Wicked Misery (Miss Misery book 1) by Tracey Martin.

Stars: 2 out of 5.

I’m always apprehensive when I start a new series, because you never know if you will like the world and the characters. And I usually try to stick with the series for at least 3 books or so before I decide to drop it, because the first book has the difficult and thankless task of introducing the reader to a brand new world. So even if I am not particularly trilled with book 1, I am more than willing to discount some of my misgivings and give the series another chance by reading book 2… That is if I like the protagonist enough to stick with him / her for another book.

Unfortunately, that is not the case with Wicked Misery.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I loved the worldbuilding for this series. The fact that we have a different kind of supernatural beings than vampires or werewolves is rather refreshing. It’s also interesting to read about a world where the preds and other supernatural beings are known and more or less integrated into society.

My problem with this series is the protagonist, which is a deal breaker when you are stuck observing the whole story through her eyes. Jessica Moore is a classic case of how the character has to constantly do stupid sh@t to drive the story along. I mean, I understand that the protagonist has to make mistakes, get burned and rise to the challenge, but a good protagonist also has to LEARN from those mistakes and get better, or at least not repeat them over and over again.

In Jessica’s case, she doesn’t seem to learn. AT ALL. And while this might be endearing the first time or two, it gets extremely annoying by the end of the book. She is in deep trouble, framed for a series of gruesome murders, wanted by all sorts of powerful people because of that. Yet, she absolutely refuses to listen to the people who try to help her with this problem. People whom he ran for help in the first place, I might add. It’s like she landed this whole mess on the satyr’s lap, then can’t seem to manage to stay put and let them deal with it. They tell her to hide and lay low, but she runs off to meet with a goblin who might or might not have pertinent information for her instead… without telling anyone where she is going. Ok, that might work once as a plot device, but later on in the book she pulls the same trick again and goes barging into a Fury bar on her own without telling anyone about again, in the middle of a Griffon raid designed to find her btw.

That’s not endearing anymore, that’s called having a death wish. The fact that she seems to emerge from those encounters unscathed and with no consequences at all indicates poor planning on the author’s part. The fact that Jessica’s little escapades are the only thing that drives the story forward also makes me want to put the book down.

My other problem with this book is the romantic relationship between Jess and Lucen, or what will probably become a romantic relationship between them in later books. It doesn’t work, at least not how it’s written. He is a satyr, so a pred whose whole nature is to incite lust in humans. Jess feels that and despises him for it. In fact, even though she run to him for help, all she does during the whole book is belittle and denigrate him, at least in her head (and since we are in her head, we get to read all of it). Then by the end of the book, after a plot twist I won’t tell you about, her ability to sense preds is dampened and she realizes that she still lusts after Lucen. Light bulb moment for our protagonist – so that wasn’t entirely him, I really want him! So it’s okay to finally be with him. News flash, honey, the fact that you want to jump his bones does not a strong relationship make. Especially since you haven’t really changed your opinion on what he is and what he does.

I think that’s my biggest problem with this book – Jess hasn’t really evolved by the end of it. As a person, I mean. Sure, she learned a bit more about her powers and decided that she would use them for good rather than evil, but that’s as far as the character development went. And since she wasn’t a character I was particularly interested in following at the beginning, it doesn’t make me want to follow her into the next book.

So my verdict for Wicked Misery is – interesting world building, but the protagonist is not my cup of tea. I wouldn’t recommend this series to my friends. There are plenty of other excellent series to read instead.

What makes you put a book down and never pick it back up?

This would be my living room if we didn't have ebooks.
This would be my living room if we didn’t have ebooks.

I’ve always read a lot of books, as you can probably see from the new book reviews coming up on my blog every Friday. Until I started writing myself, I’d never took time to analyze what makes me stop reading though. What makes me groan in frustration, shrug in indifference, or simply close the book and never bother opening it again.

Well, my reading list has skyrocketed since I started getting review requests from self-published authors, so a lot more books pass in front of my eyes. And I think I might have grown a bit less tolerant when it comes to sticking with a book or putting it down. I used to read the first 50 pages to give the book a chance before I decided whether I was going to finish it or toss it. Now I usually stop after Chapter 1. And in the case of several books, I couldn’t get past the first few paragraphs.

So it got me thinking, and I tried to differentiate the few things that will make me stop reading a book every single time. And once I was done with my list, I thought it would be interesting to share it with my readers, because isolating the problems helped me look at my own writing critically as well. Hopefully, you will also find this useful. So here we go. What makes me stop reading a book?

 

  1. The story takes too long to start.

Maybe I’m the product of this age when so many things clamor for my attention that unless a story grabs me from the get go, I will likely put it down and go look for something else. So when a story starts with a long prologue that usually doesn’t have anything to do with the story itself, it’s sure to dampen my enthusiasm. If Chapter 1 starts on a dream or the character reflecting about weather or some mundane things and nothing happens for the first 5 pages – chances are  I won’t bother reading any further.

And I came upon a few books that did exactly that – start with prologue, then a dream, then the character wakes up and makes coffee, reflecting about the nasty storm outside his window… for over 10 pages. I don’t know if the story picks up after that, because I yawned, closed to book and moved on to something else.

I tried to read a book by a fellow indie author who had requested a review, and I just couldn’t get into the story. I felt so bad about it that I stuck for five whole chapters. But during those chapters, absolutely nothing happened that had anything to do with the actual story. The character went to work in his book store, then went to his birthday party, had a weird dream and finally met with a friend for lunch. Yes, the character was doing things and moving around, but after 5 chapters I still had no idea what the story would be about. So I had to pass on that book, even if I felt extremely bad about it.

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  1. The protagonist has no voice or all the narrators sound the same.

Voice is extremely important, because we see the world through the protagonist’s eyes, or through the perspective of several characters if the book is told in alternating POVs. If we are going to stick with this story, we need to like the character telling it, or at least be interested in what he or she has to say.

I can forgive a lot of things, like a slow dragging narrative, if I love the character’s voice. It’s like some real life friends who cannot tell a story without going on tangents all the time, but you can’t help laughing at their words, because of the way they go about telling the story.

But I have noticed that in most of the self-published books I came across the characters have no voice whatsoever. I don’t know if the authors rushed to publish their work without polishing it, or if they didn’t have a very good grasp on their characters, but the result is a dry and lifeless narrative from a protagonist that has less life in him or her than a cardboard cutout.

 

  1. Head hopping or messed up POV.

This one will make me drop the book like it’s on fire. I have no problem with alternating POVs, heck I read the Song of Ice and Fire and there are A LOT of different characters narrating several parallel stories. But for the love of God, the Maker, the Creators, Buddha or any other deity out there, please don’t switch POVs in the same scene. Don’t hop from head to head in the same damn dialogue. Just DON’T.

Head hopping is annoying. It’s confusing as s&^t and it makes my head hurt after a while. It also makes me want to throw my Kindle at the wall or set it on fire just not to have to put up with the story (I don’t do that, because it would get very expensive very fast). Heck, that’s one thing I can’t forgive even fanfiction authors, and I can forgive fanfiction authors a lot of things.

So pick the character who is narrating a particular scene and stick with him or her. If you need to give another character’s perspective on the same events, by all means start another scene for that. But don’t flutter from head to head like a humming bird on crack, unless you want to give your readers motion sickness.

Lost

  1. The book hasn’t been edited.

Notice how I put this point way at the bottom? That’s because if I love the story and the character’s voice, I can forgive poor grammar and some misplaced commas. I can even get over some wonky formatting problems. But if the book looks like the author hadn’t even bothered to run a basic spell check, yet alone hire an editor, chances are that I will quit reading, no matter how good the story is. Because I can’t keep myself immersed in a story if I stumble over misspelled words every other sentence, or if my fingers itch to pick up a red pen and start correcting everything. And I’m not even a native English speaker! I can’t even imagine how painful that would be for those who were born speaking English.

And it’s so sad because unlike the other three points in my list, this last one can easily be remediated if the author hadn’t rushed the publication and took time to find an editor. I know editing services are expensive, but some editors accept fair trade as well instead of money. And not going through this essential step and investing to get it done properly will hurt your book and your credibility in the long run.

 

 

Pfew, that turned out to be longer than I planned! Anyway, those are the four points that turn me off a book every time. What are your pet peeves? What makes you close a book and put it aside?

Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega book 1) by Patricia Briggs.

Stars: 4 out of 5.

While this book is the first in the Alpha and Omega series, it’s set in the same world as the Mercy Thompson books and has a prequel in the form of a short story that explains how Charles and Anna met. I haven’t read either of those. Cry Wolf was my first introduction to this world and these characters, and I was surprised at just how much I loved them.

I think it mostly has to do with the fact that their relationship is exactly the sort I like to read about. It’s a solid partnership between two mature, albeit damaged people who make actual efforts to work through their problems together and gain each other’s trust and acceptance. Amongst the sea of one-sided, often abusive relationships we see in the paranormal romance books nowadays, stories like that are a sip of fresh water on a parched throat.

It also has a lot to do with how wonderfully complex those two characters are.

So many things could have gone wrong with this relationship. Charles is his father’s Enforcer. He has the reputation of a ruthless killer, ready to put down anyone who threatens the Alpha’s rule and the safety of the pack and not lose sleep over it. He is feared and even covertly despised even by his own pack because of what he does and how seemingly remorseless and even emotionless he is about it.

He rescues Anna from a horrible situation, but at the same time, he yanks her out of a town where she had at least some kind of support system: a job, a few acquaintances that might have been friends, the familiarity of the big city. Now she has no job, no money and is in a werewolf village in the middle of nowhere with nobody to help her if things go wrong. In other words, she is absolutely and totally dependent on him.

When I first picked up the book, I was scared that this would turn into one of those toxic and abuse relationships with Charles being the typical “alpha male” – possessive and jealous, disregarding Anna’s wishes and opinions and depriving her of her own agency for her own protection. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case at all.

Charles might lead a violent life and be forced to do horrible things out of duty to his Alpha father, but he is always treats Anna with respect. She is his mate, but that doesn’t put her in a subservient position in his eyes. To him, she is an equal partner in this relationship. She has a voice and an opinion that he listens to.

Anna is also not your typical female protagonist. She doesn’t go through life kicking ass and taking names. In fact, she is not a fighter at all. And, surprise of all surprises, she actually thinks before she opens her mouth, can assess a situation and knows when saying nothing might be the best course of action. She is the slow and steady river current to Charles’ firestorm. A soothing presence that can ground him. She helps him remember that no matter what the rest of the pack thinks of him, he is not a monster. That all those glances of fear and barely veiled contempt are directed at the façade he has created, not the man that hides behind it.

It’s never a one-sided relationship, because they both give as much as they take. They complement each other and manage to build something beautiful out of the broken pieces of their lives.

… and this is the first review in which I managed to wax poetic about a love story while saying absolutely nothing about the actual plot! It’s not because the plot was lacking depth, I can assure you. It’s just that it paled in the face of those two wonderful characters, at least in my eyes.

So would I recommend his book? Definitely. But I would suggest reading Alpha and Omega short story in the On the Prowl anthology first, otherwise the beginning of the book might seem a bit confusing.

 

Let’s go to the gun range or things we do in the name of research.

gunrange

I’ve already mentioned the adage “Write what you know” in some of my other posts. I wanted to add “learn what you don’t know whenever you can” to that as well. So when all my colleagues at work decided to go to the gun range to start the new fiscal year “with a bang,” of course I jumped at the occasion!

Now I come from Europe, so I have never shot or even held a gun in my hands before. Yes, I know, for some of my American readers, that’s very hard to believe, but guys, we don’t carry guns in Europe. You can’t just walk into a convenience store and buy a hunting rifle. I’m sure there are such things as gun ranges and hunting clubs somewhere in Europe, but I would be hard pressed to point you in the general direction of one.

So for all purposes, I am a complete gun virgin. Everything I know about handling and shooting guns comes from the TV shows and movies I saw and books I read, which, as most of people familiar with guns would agree, is usually far from reality. But at least I knew the basics: always point the gun downrange, always assume the gun is loaded, put your finger on the trigger only when you are ready to shoot. If it jams, put the gun on the counter and scream for help. Okay, that last one is an Elena rule more than a real safety rule, but it worked like a charm when it happened to me!

Thankfully, most of my co-workers are retired military, so all of them own guns and are more than willing to bring them AND let others play with them as well. And are more than willing to spend some extra time with little clueless me who doesn’t even know how to load a gun, fumbles with the safety and is rather vague about how to hold a gun, how to stand and how to shoot… In the end, much fun was had by everybody, I think.

But for me, the main reason for this trip was research, even if it was a fun research. So here are a few things I learned about guns that TV and books couldn’t tell me.

 

1. Dang the guns are loud!

You never hear that in the movies and TV shows. I shot a 22, a 9 mil semi-automatic and revolver and several riffles, and I can tell you that those earplugs they give you at the gun range are absolutely necessary. Even the little 22 caliber sounds loud and the 9 mil is even louder, and the riffles would make your ears bleed without protection. Not to mention that you feel the “thump” of air when the gun fires like a wave in your entire body. Rather disturbing the first time it happens.

So now I wonder how people in the movies can go through a gun fight and then have a chat with each other in normal voices? Their ears would at least be ringing after all that, so they would be shouting!

 

  1. Either aiming is hard or I’m just challenged like that.

For a first time gun user, everything is difficult. First you need to load the gun, then you need to figure out how to hold it properly, then you need to find the safety and take it off (and the location of that safety is different on all gun models as well, to add to the stress). Then you lift the gun to eye level and try to aim it downrange to actually hit your target. I have to wear glasses to drive, because I’m nearsighted, so seeing my target had been a bit of a challenge. The whole scene went like this:

I aim very carefully and press the trigger. The 9 mil semi-automatic fires with a loud bang and the muzzle jerks upwards because I didn’t expect it to do so and hadn’t really gripped it hard enough.

“Oh wow, headshot! Not bad for your first time” my boss says. It’s his gun, so he’s been hovering behind me protectively, scared both about his possession and his office manager.

“I was aiming for center mass.”

“Erm, well… good job anyway.”

 

  1. Watch out for the recoil.

The characters in books and movies must have a steel grip on their guns, because the muzzle barely moves when they fire. How do they do that??? I mean, even the smallest 22 jerks upwards a bit when I fire, no matter how hard I grip it, with both hands at that. When I tried the 9 mil, my muzzle was all over the place after each shot, and I didn’t even try the “Dirty  Harry” gun one of my co-workers brought, because just looking at him shoot it I KNEW it would hurt my wrist. And I still have a bruise on my shoulder from one of the rifles.

Not to mention that after 2 hours of shooting different guns, I felt like my hands were about to fall off. They don’t tell you that in the books…

 

So all in all, I think my field research trip was successful indeed, and very fun at that! I actually enjoyed it, even though I wasn’t sure I would. And I certainly have a new respect for firearms. They are lethal, but also beautiful and powerful.