Five Popular Books I Felt Ambivalent About
Or, The Hype Fails Me Spectacularly
I reckon everyone knows what it is like to have the book hype fail you. That novel that’s been plastered all over your Goodreads feed for weeks, that all your friends are raving about turns out to have boring main characters, a glaring love triangle, it’s saturated with purple prose and terrible metaphors, or it’s just flat out boring. Whatever the reason, you try this massively popular book and just think Jesus, I have massively missed something because man, this is terrible
I virtually never buy a book based on just hype or impulse, I’ll look at a few reviews on Goodreads and Amazon and carefully read the back. Somehow, these five popular books managed to pass the review checks and still turned out to be very disappointing in my experience. A similar article on less popular but equally bad books can be found here.
In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake. She got caught.
Throne of Glass
A controversial first choice, Throne of Glass sounded right up my street: deadly assassin, fantasy setting, royalty, a praised writer. Instead I got a cliche infested snooze fest with a main character more concerned with dresses and boys than being an assassin and staying alive. I also recall her being very I’m not like other girls, which never goes down well with me. After enjoying Maas other series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, I do plan on giving this series another shot, but I was absolutely unimpressed by Throne of Glass.
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers.
Seraphina probably isn’t as high profile as some of the other books on this list, but it’s a reasonably well-known book and has solid reviews. Unfortunately, I’ve tried to read it three times and never finished. I love dragons! Seraphina is all about dragons! So why couldn’t I get into this at all? I’m not sure because, in theory, it checked all my rave boxes but managed to be memorably boring.
It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.
The Scorpio Races
I love The Raven Cycle. It ranks up there with my all time favourite YA but The Scorpio Races? Nah. Not even close. It’s got deadly horses, a vicious race, a girl struggling to prove herself, it’s written by Maggie Stiefvater but none of this could save the boring, romance-saturated, lacklustre Scorpio Races. Absolutely nothing happens for ages but, for some reason, all of my Goodreads friends love it (just checked, my average friend rating for this is 4.06). Yawn.
An orphan’s life is harsh — and often short — in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains — a man who is neither blind nor a priest.
The Lies of Locke Lamora
The Lies of Locke Lamora is the biggest disappointment of the list. It’s got a band of petty thieves, heists, morally grey main characters, is endorsed by some of my favourite writers and has comparisons to The Name of the Wind by Rothfuss. None of this got me past page 50. It was confusing and boring and tedious and it makes me very sad because, despite the skew of this blog towards YA, fantasy is my favourite genre, I love it like nothing else. The Lies of Locke Lamora, however, I did not love, I didn’t even manage to care. Perhaps some other day I’ll struggle on. But not this day.
At seventeen, Norah has accepted that the four walls of her house delineate her life. She knows that fearing everything from inland tsunamis to odd numbers is irrational, but her mind insists the world outside is too big, too dangerous. So she stays safe inside, watching others’ lives through her windows and social media feed.
Under Rose-Tainted Skies
Every so often I make an active effort to diversify my reading; in this case, I picked up Under Rose-Tainted Skies because of the main character with OCD, agoraphobia and anxiety. Whilst it has an insightful and respectful portrayal of these issues, the book itself is directionless with flat characters and an even duller, insipid romance. I enjoyed Am I Normal Yet?, a book with a similar focus, much more. I’m just glad I borrowed Under Rose-Tainted Skies rather than buying it.
Which popular books have you found disappointing?