What throws you out of a story? For me, it's finding that a dead person is telling the story. I suppose this stems from an a piece of advice offered by a horror editor. He asked a simple question, "How can a dead person tell (write) a story?" Maybe if you know up front that your narrator is dead it doesn't feel quite so gimmicky. You know that ending, "Oh, by the way, I'm dead."
So what brought me to this topic? I just finished reading "Peace Like a River" and two chapters from the end I read this "Here my terrestrial witness fails.". I wanted to throw the book up against the wall All the while I'd been reading and the kid telling the story was dead...or was he? Of course the ending fit with the theme of the book but by then I didn't really care. The author hadn't played fair.
I don't think I've ever been so disappointed in a book. Not only was the narrator dead, but there were so many loose ends left that I wanted to scream. I'd heard so many good things about this book that I truly wanted to love it, but the final three chapters just killed the book for me.