I usually only post about books I love on my blog but this post is a bit different as I’m sure you can tell from the title. Today, I’m going to be discussing the 5 books I believe to be hyperbolically overrated as far as the online book community is concerned. Let me preface this by saying that these picks reflect my own opinion and also some of these books, I actually enjoyed reading. Inasmuch as I enjoyed books such as A Court of Thorns and Roses (it’s hard to fault a steamy fantasy romance retelling of Beauty and Beast) I didn’t love it to the point that warrants such sweeping popularity that makes it and the others on this list some of the most talked about books in mainstream online book spaces.
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah. J. Maas
This is one of those books I decided to read after seeing it highly rated by multiple readers on social media. There were so many posts and discussions being had about it that I couldn’t ignore the FOMO any longer.
The story is a steamy Beauty and the Beast retelling. It’s about a girl called Feyre, who can often be found hunting in the woods to ensure the survival of her family, until one day she kills a wolf belonging to the fae realm and as punishment, is forced to live in the cursed kingdom of Tamlin, who like the rest of those who live in his court, always have their faces obscured by masks. Feyre eventually warms up to Tamlin and decides to help him fight the evil curse that threatens him and his people.
I love the escapism of this novel and what some readers might deem to be a superfluous writing style, I thought was beautifully ornate. So obviously I liked it, not least of all the temperature-rising steamy bits but in comparison to the level of online hype for this book, I was disappointed. IT WAS JUST OKAY PEOPLE!
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
The Starless Sea is a book I didn’t realise was popular until after I read it. I received it as a birthday present last year from two close friends, giving it the highest praise. Unfortunately, the only thing I liked about this book was the cover (…okay, and maybe the first 200 pages).
Set in Vermont, it follows the story of a reticient university student, the son of a fortune-teller, who has an affinity for video games and whose name, ZACHARY EZRA RAWLINS, was repeated enough times as to be unwillingly committed to my long-term memory. He discovers an ancient book of stories, full of obscure symbols, in which there lies a strange mystery and it leads him to a magical underground library and a world of portalled doors.
I initially loved reading this book. I love the idea of an intricate web of different stories all converging into one. But then the heavy, wordy prose began to weigh it down with excessive descriptions of every corner and inch of every room, from the light fixtures to the skirting boards. It was also completely overcrowded with symbolism to the point of poor execution.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
If I had to pick a book that I’m 100% positive everyone in the online book community has either read or heard about and that practically dominates book social media To. This. Day I would probably say something like, “That’s easy, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo of course!”
The story is about a character called Monique Grant, a humble journalist who is shocked to learn that the iconic Hollywood actress, Evelyn Hugo has requested her specifically to write her autobiography. Monique discovers that the star finally intends to reveal to the world the truth about her seven marriages and more crucially, her true love. But little does Monique know that her ordinary life and that of this most acclaimed star will cross in the most tragic of ways.
In keeping with popular opinion, I also enjoyed this novel. I thought the writing was flawless and that it perfectly encapsulated the veneer of glitzy Hollywood life. It’s also nice to see a book with bisexual representation receive so much widespread love because bisexual stories are still very much obscured in the mainstream. But compared to stories I believe to have so much more weight and substance, I am puzzled by the level of hype for this book.
Heartstopper Vol. 1 by Alice Oseman
It’s official. The Heartstopper web comic series turned graphic novel book series by Alice Oseman has captured the hearts of YA readers everywhere……..except mine (and all the other hipsters).
Heartstopper is about the blossoming romance between two teenage secondary school boys; Charlie and Nick. Charlie is an openly gay brainiac who wears his heart on his sleeve because of the traumatising experiences he’s had with homophobia. He meets Nicholas, or Nick for short, whom he feels an instant connection to, but Charlie fears that these feelings won’t be reciprocated. Little does he know just how much of a liking Nick has taken to him.
The widespread obsession with this graphic novel shows that the vast majority of the readership that occupies book spaces online are typically younger females. So generally speaking, unless you belong to that category, this won’t be your cup of tea. I enjoyed Heartstopper for what it was; a sweet, candyfloss romance aimed towards making young hearts swoon. I also enjoyed the individuality of the artwork but as to why this book has attracted such electric hype levels, I’m completely stumped. It’s cute but predictable, sweet but cloyingly so. I just wish we read more manga.
The Broken Earth Trilogy: The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
And to end this Overrated Books book post, the fifth book, fittingly, is The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin.
The only other Jemisin book I’ve read, namely, A Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (the first book in the Inheritance Trilogy) was so incredibly flawed as to be unreadable. But I was hoping that The Fifth Season would fare better, considering the level of hype attached to this book on social media.
It is an an intricately woven, apocalyptic book set on this fictional Continent called the Stillness, ironically named due to its flippant dynamism. Every few or hundred years of so, a Fifth Season occurs which are these powerful shakes that are so deadly, they have been known to wipe out entire civilisations. It is under these circumstances that we meet these beings called ‘Oregenes’ who are hated by regular people because of the their ability to wield the terrible power of the earth and trigger cataclysmic shakes.
I loved the imaginativeness of this story and how the three story arcs converged at the end, but I was disappointed by everything else.
So, the moral of the story is; Avoid books that are overly hyped! If you want to of course, there’s absolutely no shame in wanting to read books that are on trend. Personally, I’ve become wary about reading Bookstagram or Book Twitter or Booktok favourites because they all turn out so disappointing when levelled against the acclaim. I much prefer lesser known / hidden gem books SO with that in mind, next week’s post will be all about Underrated books, make sure you don’t miss it!
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