So this kind of topic is something that is my guilty pleasure. I love watching people rant about books that they hate, even if I love them. I know how frustrating it is as a reader to go onto Goodreads and just find pages of reviews gushing over books that, let’s be honest, you thought were a pile of crap.
This post is by no means an attempt to get you to hate a book that you love, or me shaming you for liking books that I don’t. Opinions and tastes differ, and that’s awesome. These are just my picks of books that I really just could not get on with, the books that are still under my skin sometimes years after I finished them, and not in a good way. I’ve linked these books on Goodreads so that if you’re curious you can check them out yourself or read the more positive reviews. Definitely don’t rely on my opinions to form yours though – after all, there’s a reason that these books are popular!
The first book that I hate is I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. Me and this book did not like each other. It kept me irritated by having stupidly long chapters and boring characters and I retaliated by threatening to throw it out of the window. The writing style felt like it was trying too hard, like it was expecting me to be blown away by the fact that you couldn’t tell what was reality and what was being made up. This was a DNF for me. I gave up in the middle of the third chapter, like 160 pages in. 160 pages in. Good concept, over-ambitious execution and it put me off attempting anything else by this author. Maybe I’m not advanced enough of a reader to understand whatever it is that Nelson was trying to say, but I just didn’t see the point in bogging down what could have been a really awesome story with metaphors every couple of sentences. Also, what was with that British character saying ‘mate’ all the time? Speaking as someone who has actually lived and has family in both urban and rural parts of England, that is just lazy and stereotypical. Just a teenage girl fantasy guy written onto the page. Didn’t like this book at all, sorry.
Another book that I just really did not get, and that I’ve started to dislike more and more as time goes on and I reflect back on it, is Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I love fairy-tale retellings. I love them especially when they’re kind of not what you’d expect, so the idea of Cinderella as a cyborg in New Beijing? I was all over that. I expected culturally sensitive, racially diverse, feminist Cinderella with kick ass plot twists that would keep my on my toes. I did not get. I can’t really speak for how representative this book was of Asian culture, but it didn’t feel like the author had really paid it much attention at all. It felt like New Beijing was just another setting, instead of a well developed country with customs, laws and cultures all of it’s own. Prince Kai, not really sure what he seemed to be doing the whole time – too much flirting and not enough ruling my young friend. Aside from the actual retelling being kind of rubbish, the plot twists were completely predictable. I didn’t feel like the villain was given enough substance to make her actually threatening. My overall emotion whilst reading this book was ‘meh’. The whole time through the story I felt like I was just waiting to be surprised and blown away by this book that everyone had been raving about, and I just did. not. get. it.
This next book I’m actually kind of scared to say that I hated. Almost with a passion actually. It’s Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Yup. My honest opinion was that this book was kind of arrogant. It was character driven, which is fine, but Cath as a main character was just so bloody unlikeable that I wanted to shake her. Now, there were things about her that I related to being a person who had to move to university and come to terms with the fact that my anxiety is worse than I realised in the safety of home. Eating granola bars in my room because I didn’t want to face the kitchen in my flat, been there. Accidentally come off as being really rude because I just wasn’t really able to interact well that day? Done that. I related to bits of her. But bloody hell if I didn’t want to tell her to get a grip as well. By this I mean sacrificing the potential for passing her damn degree because her readers wanted the last Simon Snow chapter. Scorning and hating her sister for acting like an average college student (seriously, what was her crime? Getting a little too drunk and making bad choices? That’s most college age students).
Also, I was expecting this book to be a kind of a love letter to fangirls out there, or fanboys, but I don’t think Rowell got it. She just didn’t. I have been a hardcore fangirl of something since before I can remember, and was getting involved in fandom since I was about 12 and got my first laptop. I read fanfiction since I was about 14 or so. I have made friends through fandoms, I have engaged in conversations, and fandom rewatches of shows. Gotten excited about spoilers for books and TV shows. I have never written a fic that has a whole legion of fans, and while I’m sure there are some out there there those authors are few and far between. They’re not the majority. And even those authors take part in the things I enjoy to do as a fan. It was as if Rowell just browsed Tumblr for an evening and decided to write a book based on what she found. I’ve also never been stupid or cocky enough to think that my Klaine fanfic is good enough to be submitted for a grade. Seriously Cath, what planet are you on? I didn’t relate to her as a fangirl and I didn’t relate to her as a person with anxiety.
Some bits about this book were good. The side characters were good. Levi was good, tbh I thought he deserved better than Cath. Wren was interesting too. I loved their dad and the twins relationship with him. The Simon Snow passages didn’t bug me as much as I expected, and I enjoyed Carry On despite it not being the most mind blowing of books. But for me that wasn’t enough to save this book. Didn’t like it. Don’t get why everyone does.
The final book is another DNF for me, and I’m not sure if it’s even really that popular. Enough people have reviewed it positively though so I’ve decided it is. That is We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach. I picked up this book in 2014 I think. I had never heard of it before but was intrigued by the concept that I bought it anyway. Read through the first bit quite quickly on the bus and thought I liked it. Once I started to get further into it though I realised that the characters were all pretty one dimensional. I stopped caring about these teenagers who were basically walking stereotypes that you would find in The Breakfast Club, and by about halfway through the book I was rooting for the asteroid that was flying right at them. The book wasn’t memorable for me at all, except for being kind of crap. I didn’t even have a Goodreads review of it, so I must have decided it wasn’t worth my time. Either way, I managed to give it away to someone and hope to never be tempted to try it again. If anyone has recommendations for any similar books to this, I would be grateful because the concept was really intriguing to me.
So that’s my rant over! Let me know what you thought of these books, and possibly if you think I should give them a chance or continue with the series. Or if you hated them too, was it for different reasons? Again, sorry if anyone took offence at my opinions, that wasn’t my intention, but I’d be interested to hear if you disagree with me!