In an age where social media influencers are paid to review products, it’s hard to avoid internet hype. I’m sure we’re all guilty of buying a product based on what others have to say, and when it comes to books, I am no exception. Seriously, if you look at my bookshelf, I have a whole shelf dedicated to books I’ve read because of the hype surrounding them.
Like with anything, though, our opinions of things that have been endorsed differ once we’ve had a chance to try them for ourselves. Sometimes things really do live up to the hype surrounding them, but at other times, we’re left questioning what other people saw in the book. If we’re being honest with ourselves, we all do that with books, right?
In this blog post I am going to be discussing just a few of the most hyped books on my bookshelf including my real opinions of them after reading them.
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Turtles All the Way Down by John Green: ★★★★★
“Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living with the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts”.
If you haven’t heard of this book before, you’re probably living under a rock. The hype over this book when it first came out was insane, to the point where I couldn’t go on social media without coming across it. If I’m being honest, though, the hype only made me wearier about buying it, not less. If it wasn’t for my impulsive personality, I’m pretty sure I still wouldn’t have read this book.
However, I’m glad I did listen to the impulsive side of my brain on this occasion, as the book ended up being one of my favourites of 2017. I’d even go a step further and say it was one of my favourite John Green books of all time.
One of my favourite parts about this book was how authentic the mental illness representation was. John Green, a sufferer of OCD himself, was able to portray the condition in a realistic way without romanticising it and making it seem like a disorder you almost want to have. While there’s definitely a place for easing the pain of mental illness upon sufferers and readers, it’s also important to make people aware of the reality of the situation, which this book does amazingly.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steve Chbosky: ★★★★☆
“Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlies must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.”
It might be surprising to hear that I’d already read this book by the time the movie came out. It was actually the hype about the writing style in writing communities that convinced me to give this one a read. Writing a book that consists completely of diary entries is something that can go very wrong if not done carefully. However, Chbosky was able to get inside the head of a teenager and pull off the storyline effortlessly to create an easy read.
When I first read this book as a young teenager, I wanted to shout, “someone understands me!” upon completing it. I’ve always been someone who prefers to observe a situation before I jump right into it, and it was nice to know I wasn’t the only one. By the amount of people calling themselves a wallflower after the movie came out, it seems I’m not the only one.
If I could think of a downside, it would be that this book didn’t have the same effect the second time around. As someone who loves re-reading books, it was a little disappointing to realise I didn’t enjoy it as much. However, that’s completely preference, and I’d definitely recommend reading it yourself to formulate your own opinion on it.
The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon: ★★★★★
“The Sun is Also A Star follows protagonist and Jamaican-American teenager Natasha as she meets and falls in love with Korean-American Daniel on the day she and her family are due to be deported.”
This book might not have been recognised on the same scale as John Green, but the young adult community still had a lot to say about it. The diversity of the characters, and the effortless way the writer introduces cultures a lot of people aren’t aware of drew lots of people in. I wasn’t an exception. Give me a book where I can learn about something and not feel like it’s being pushed down my throat and I’m all for it.
This book flowed so nicely that I was able to finish it in three days, and I’d happily go back and read it again if I had the time. I wouldn’t normally go for books that are heavily based around romance, but I’ve got to say, even that felt authentic. I even found myself rooting for them towards the end of this book!
If I Stay by Gayle Foreman: ★★★☆☆
“[…] One February morning, Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.”
I had so many expectations for this book before I started reading it. I had heard people comparing it to the likes of TFIOS in terms of heartbreak, which gave me preconceived ideas of the plot that may have influenced my dissatisfaction with the end result. That’s the problem with over-hyped books; you always hold them on a pedestal, and when they don’t live up to it, it can be so disappointing.
Instead of feeling heartbreak over the decision main character Mia was forced to make, I really felt nothing. That might make me sound completely heartless if you’ve read the book yourself, but I found the characters so underdeveloped that it was hard to really get into it. It was a nice, short read, but I’m not too interested in finding out the rest of her story in the sequels.
The Casual Vacancy by J.K Rowling: ★★☆☆☆
“Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils… Pagford is not what it seems.”
This book literally took me months to read from start to finish, and I’m not usually a slow reader. However, with 600 pages to get through, and a plot that moved incredibly slowly in the beginning, it was hard to enjoy. It seemed like J.K Rowling was almost more interested in talking about the backstory’s of the characters than starting the plot, which only really started to pick up around page 300.
After page 300, things weren’t too bad. The story flowed better, at least, and the plot started going somewhere. It felt like I was reading a story I could’ve enjoyed had the first 300 pages been edited out, but alas, they weren’t. The ending was probably the best part of it, and not just because it meant I’d never have to pick the book up again. If you have the patience for such a long book, I’d definitely recommend it, just for the ending.
Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned in this post? What did you think of them? Do you have any other books you read because of the hype?
Thanks for reading, and until next time,
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