Welcome back to Top 5 Tuesday, where my goal is to make as many people upset as possible. This week’s topic is most likely going to do that, since I’ll be talking about over-hyped books that really didn’t live up to their (and my) lofty expectations.
As always, this weekly meme is brought to you by Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm, and we’re all better people for it, despite the fights it undoubtedly instigates every single week.
Without further ado, let’s go!
#5 — The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
I spent the majority of this book wondering when it was going to get good. Okay, the kid steals a painting after a bombing in the art museum. His mother dies in the bombing. He goes to live with his alcoholic/druggie father. And things just drag on, and on, and on. I remember reading an article (which I can’t find now, of course) explaining that Kindle and Apple track how far people get into books before putting them down and not picking them back up again. The Goldfinch was one of the ones where people maybe got 1/3 of the way in, maybe 1/2, and then they put it down and it starts to gather dust.
There’s so much in this book that could be cut out completely, and yet it just drags on. Unnecessary plot lines, things going where they didn’t need to go… I’m starting to get worked up again just thinking about it. And the book won a major prize! (That’s the main reason I picked it up.) I think people read things, don’t understand them, and think, “Oh, if I can’t understand it, it must be super scholarly and intelligent so let’s go ahead and award it this top prize!”) I own it, but I’m thinking I might have to purge it when I go through my boxes of books I need to get rid of. (What? Yes, stay tuned.)
#4 — Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
With the announcement last week of a new set of short stories set in the realm of Alegaesia, it reminded me of the disappointing end to Paolini’s dragon rider series. I will say that I’ve only read Inheritance once, but I’ve read Eragon and Eldest about ten times apiece, and each time I read them I get a little more grumpy. I guess I’m losing the charm of them, or I’ve read all of the books that Paolini stole tropes from and can no longer see Eragon as new and exciting.
All Inheritance does is kill a bunch of people in spectacular ways, mostly just rewriting deaths from other books and putting a new character in place of the one that died earlier. I wasn’t too excited about the build-up to the “big bad” either, because it was just… meh. All in all, for a series that had been going on for the better part of a decade, it just didn’t wrap up in a satisfying way for me. It was like he rushed it too much and just wanted it to be done.
I’ll probably still pick up the short story collection, because I’m a masochist like that.
#3 — Looking for Alaska by John Green
I should probably preface this with the fact that this was the first — and only — John Green book I read. One of my friends suggested that I read it, because it was the absolute best book she’d ever laid her hands on. I’d taken several of her suggestions in the past and they’d all been pretty good, so I was excited to get my hands on this one.
And what do you know? It’s just another boring white guy writing about manic pixie dream girls he wishes he’d known in high school. It wasn’t anything scintillating as reviews have gushed about it, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. It wasn’t even written well. You could tell the “plot twist”/ending from the very beginning of the story. I’ve flipped through other John Green books and come to the same conclusion: the guy has figured out how to play the emotions of younger teenage girls to make them think that what he’s writing is romantic when it’s really not.
Also, one of my friends went to high school with this dude, and said he was a grade-A jerk all the way around.
#2 — Illuminae by Jay Kristoff & Amie Kauffman
This is the book that has made me swear off reading anything by Jay Kristoff, ever. I cannot stomach even the mere thought of reading something else written by this guy, when Illuminae was such a disaster. It had such promise in the beginning, but add in completely predictable plot lines (up until the final twist, that is) along with one of the worst main characters I’ve ever read (although the title of “Worst Main Character Ever” goes to my #1 spot, which we’ll get to in a moment).
It had such promise, as I said, and fell utterly flat. I’m still ranting about this book over a year after reading it, and for good reason.
#1 — Artemis by Andy Weir
I wanted to like Artemis. I really, really and truly did. I had it pre-ordered, and when it came out on NetGalley I put in for it and somehow managed to get a copy for myself. In a way, I’m glad I did, because it meant I got to cancel my pre-order so I wouldn’t spend money on this awful book.
After the smashing success of The Martian, I assumed Andy Weir had figured out the rules to his success and was going to have a repeat of it with Artemis. I’m sad to report that that’s not the case, because whereas The Martian was funny and relatable (as relatable as someone living in space could be), Artemis introduced painfully unfunny characters, rigid and awful female stereotypes (obviously we only ever think about how sexy we look and how we can use that to our advantage over men!), and a main character that made me want to scream. I really liked the plot of the book, but the main character was literally one of the worst main characters I’ve read had the displeasure to read about, and I read all of the Twilight books.
Okay, so that got slightly more rant-y than I wanted it to, but rest assured, every single one of these books is on this list for a good reason. If you’ve got any questions, or if you wanna debate with me, go ahead and look for me in the comments! I look forward to it!
And as always, keep reading.