Okay. This book I was reading. It claims to be about choice. The epigraph was the most cliched poem about choice ever written. I went into this book expecting the main character to make some sort of choice that would drastically influence the plot and her character development.
What I got was character whose path was laid out at her feet, and a plot that was so predictably bland it almost wasn't worth reading.
The two options of her "choice" were obvious: Good and bad. Should she go to the dark side, or fight for the rebels? I read the summary for this and thought, "Oh, cool! We could get some legitimate inner struggles and character development and what if she picks the dark side how awesome would that be ahhhhh!"
As soon as I started reading, I knew my hope was pointless. From almost the very beginning, it's obvious that the MC is going to go to the good side. And throughout the book, it gets clearer and clearer that there is absolutely no possibility of her switching to the dark side.
There is no choice made, because she never considered any other option. She was firmly set against the "wrong" path the entire time.
And when she "picked" the "right" path, there were no consequences. The regular sorts of action sequences happen, but no one was permanently injured. No one was killed. No one lost anything. And by the end of the book, you'd think the world would be hunky-dory forever and ever and everyone lived in the world of rainbows and sunshine.
Point is: if you're going to make choice the main theme of your book, then give the MC A CHOICE. A big one. Give them good reasons to seriously consider both sides. And then, when they pick one of those sides, make consequences happen. Every. Single. Choice. Has a consequence. I want to see them. I want to see the characters in pain. And if it's a big choice, I want it to be long-term consequence. Preferably series-plot-altering consequence. A consequence "shock wave" if you will.
And I want to be able to see that consequence coming. Just a little bit. I want a hint of it on the horizon, because that's what's going to keep me reading. I want to see the shit flying toward the fan. And I want to know that when it hits, it's going to hit big.
[What about you guys? Read a book about choice that gave you the finger and told you to hit the road?]