When the hype fails you | books I didn’t end up loving

In the bookish community, we’re well aware of the dangers of the hype train. It’s incredibly exciting to see people anticipate a book’s release, or to hear all your favorite bloggers and vloggers talk about the same book. It peaks your interest in the book too, and might lead to you discovering a new favorite novel. Some of my favorite books are ones I never would have picked up without a little push from the online community.

However, there are downsides to hyped books as well. We’ve all picked up a book everyone raves about, and ended up disappointed because it just didn’t read our high expectations. Can you really blame us for expecting the best, though? When it seems like every person you know has given a certain book a 4- or 5-star rating, you expect to fall in love with it as well. It’s those high expectations that do us in, people. The book might be good, but we were expecting something great.

Today, I’m talking about some books that disappointed me. These may not be bad books, but I just didn’t end up loving them as much as I was hoping or expecting to.

 

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
This is a very recent read for me. I picked it up after seeing it was one of the nominees for the Goodreads Choice Awards in the mystery and thriller category, which is one of the genres I want to read more of. I somehow find it really hard to be truly captivated and thrilled by mystery/thriller books, and this was no exception. It wasn’t necessarily boring, but I was just annoyed with the main character throughout the majority of the book. She kept saying that she needed to prove that she was right, and that she would figure it out on her own, while downing bottles of wine and abusing medication at the same time. “I need to keep a clear mind! This bottle of wine will help.” Yeah, sure.

An Ember in the Ashes (Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabaa Tahir
An Ember in the Ashes is such a hyped book! I find that YA novels, especially YA fantasy, are very susceptible to the hype train in the online bookish community. When this first released, everyone kept raving about it. They adored the Roman Empire-inspired world, the brutality, and the romance in this novel, and it popped up in quite a few favorite books of the year lists. I finally read it in 2018, and was quite disappointed. I did love the world and the brutality, but was not a fan of the ratio of action and romance. The romance took over here, and I was not on board with it.

 

The Girls by Emma Cline
I think this was a case of misunderstanding what the novel is actually about. When this released, so many people were talking about it. It was a historical fiction about a girl who got involved in a cult – like the Manson family. I’ve always been fascinated by cults (don’t judge me), and that synopsis really sold me on this book. However, I believe this novel is more of a coming-of-age story that involves a cult. The actual Manson family stuff doesn’t come in until 70% of the way through, and I was very uncomfortable with the focus on sex this book had since the main character was only around 14. I understand that may have been (historically) accurate, but it made me uneasy either way.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
For a while in 2017, this book was everywhere. It was one of the most read thrillers, not to mention the amount of times the trailer for the movie was shoved down my throat. I finally decided to read it when I saw a copy at my local library. Wow, am I glad I borrowed it from the library instead of buying it. This book was so utterly boring. Just like The Woman in the Window it features a female protagonist who is only unreliable because she’s an alcoholic.

 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Classics are probably some of the most hyped books, as generations of people have loved them. I haven’t read many English/American classics because I grew up in Belgium where they obviously aren’t required reading. When I first wanted to give them a try, I figured I’d start with The Great Gatsby. It’s a very short book so I thought it would be a somewhat easy read. Boy, was I wrong. It took me 3 days to read about 140 pages because this book is so utterly boring. Nothing happens! At all.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
At this point in time, Milk and Honey has received some mixed reviews. When it was first released, however, everyone loved it. I haven’t read much poetry because I always feel like it goes way over my head, but I do want to broaden my reading horizon and include more poetry works in that. Why not start with one of the most popular collections right now? Sadly, this book didn’t work for me. I didn’t connect with the poems, and I guess I’m not a fan of the incredibly short poems that are just one sentence. Nothing against this style of poetry – we all like different things – but I didn’t love it.

 

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Like The Great Gatsby, this book seems to be universally loved. People adore the novel, and they adore the movie adaptation of it. All of the praise it has received made me pick it up and try it for myself. To be honest, I thought this was just okay. I don’t really understand why everyone loves this book so much? If this is one of your favorite books, please message me on Twitter or email me so we can talk about this! I simply don’t understand.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany & Jack Thorne
We’re going out with a banger. Oh, this book… Or should I say, this play? Before everyone comes at me, I know this is a play and that it wasn’t written by J.K. Rowling. I also knew that before starting it. That still doesn’t make this a good book/play. It invalidates so much of the original series out of convenience which is just lazy writing. Don’t even get me started on the obvious queerbaiting in here. I can’t deal with it.


In all these instances, the hype surrounding these books partly caused my disappointment in them. I think that if I hadn’t gone into these with high expectations, I would have enjoyed them more – aside from The Cursed Child. Have you read any of these books? Which books were negatively impacted by the hype for you? How can be battle the hype? Waiting for years to read the book clearly didn’t help me either, because that’s what I did with An Ember in the Ashes… I could use your tips!

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24 thoughts on “When the hype fails you | books I didn’t end up loving

  1. Olivia-Savannah says:

    I didn’t like The Great Gatsby at all! I thought Never Let Me Go was just okay so the hype failed me there too. I haven’t read Milk and Honey but I read her other collection, and I now know insta poetry is just not for me (even though I love poetry!) So sometimes the hype does work for us… sometimes not. I am hesitant to try An Ember in the Ashes but maybe?? One day?

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  2. Ayunda says:

    I’d have to disagree with you about Never Let Me Go. I ADORED it, but maybe it’s also because I read it ages ago and wasn’t really aware of the hype surrounding it, therefore had lower expectations for the book. But I’m so sad to hear your thoughts on The Girls! I really want to pick it up and I’m still going to read it, but I’ll remember to not have too high expectations from now on 😉

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  3. Maryam (@thecurioussffreader) says:

    I’ve read three of the books mentionned here (Never Let me Go, The Great Gatsby and An Ember in the Ashes) and I also found them disappointing. I wasn’t expecting much from An Ember in the Ashes even if it was hyped, The Great Gatsby I had to read for an English class and it left me underwhelmed but the one that failed me the most was Never Let Me Go, it had such a strong premise and it fell completely flat for me!

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  4. Rachel says:

    I agree with all of these (the only two I haven’t read are An Ember in the Ashes and Cursed Child) except for one because Never Let Me Go is literally my favorite book of all time! I definitely understand why it’s not for everyone as it’s a rather quiet and understated book and with the amount of hype surrounding it I’m sure a lot of people expect something more grandiose altogether, but to me it’s the single most perceptive book about what it means to be human that I’ve ever read. It’s just one of those books that got under my skin and I found it so quietly haunting and unsettling. And Ishiguro is my favorite author, I just love how he writes!

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  5. Sara says:

    “Never Let Me Go” is one of my favorite books. I love it because it has such a quiet, thoughtfulness to it. I’m a big fan of Ishiguro’s writing and I think this novel is so beautifully written. To be fair, I tend to like literary fiction novels that are introspective and narrative-driven, which I know many are not a fan of. I also just like the dystopian story. It’s really interesting to me and, while maybe the concept isn’t unique, the application of it and the way the story is built is. I hope that solves some of the mystery!

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    • Jolien @ The Fictional Reader says:

      I usually really like literary fiction novels too, and I’ve never been someone who needs the plot to drive the book forwards, as I tend to focus on the characters more. I just didn’t connect with anything in the book. Maybe the writing just wasn’t for me. I’m happy to hear you love it though! 😀

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  6. thewolfandbooks says:

    I’ve seen so many people talk about The Girls but I don’t think it’s for me. I own the first two books of the Ember in the Ashes series and the hype kind of scares me. I have pretty high expectations of it. Great list!

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