The other day I read this novella which had more than half a dozen characters who did nothing. They all had distinct names and family relationships, but they were indistinguishable from each other. If they spoke at all, they said the same thing, in exactly the same way. None of them advanced the plot, all they ever did was provide the backdrop against which the story was enacted. And yet, they were there, and I had spent precious minutes trying to get them sorted out.
How can I possibly critique the story without running the risk of losing a friend?