I think I’m probably sort-of middle ground when it comes to hype. If I see a book everywhere and it has glowing reviews, I might pick it up, but only if it looks interesting. I’m unlikely to bother with it purely on the basis of the hype, but I can be swayed into picking it up sooner than I may otherwise have done.
With that in mind, let’s have a look at the books that I’ve read which did live up to their hype.
Books That Lived Up To The Hype:
1) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I don’t tend to read a whole lot of crime/thriller books, so I was slightly dubious when everybody else was reading and loving Gone Girl. I probably wouldn’t have picked it up if I hadn’t been hearing how amazing and how different it was. Luckily, in this case, I did sucuumb to the hype and Gone Girl ended up being totally different to anything I’d read before. I need to get round to reading Sharp Objects and… the other one soon, actually.
‘I’ve tried to think of something to balance out this slightly gushing review, but I genuinely can’t think of anything. I wanted to be reading it all the time, and when I couldn’t read it I was plotting desperately how I could get back to it. To sum-up, I can’t think of anybody who wouldn’t like this book.’
2) The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
This one feels like a bit of a cheat as I actually read it before the hype (she says smugly). It seems to be everywhere now, which I’m glad of because it’s amazing, and because the author seems like a really nice person. Regardless of when I read it though, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is DEFINITELY worth every drop of all the hype it’s currently getting.
‘There are so many dark twists and turns, and ingenious plot points, that I genuinely gasped out loud on more than one occasion. It’s brutal and fascinating and does not go where you think it’s going to.’
3) The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Conversely, I was late to the party with The Song of Achilles. It was a good year or two after its publication before I finally picked it up, and that was after constant nagging from friends and the blogosphere. It was amazing and I cried on a train.
I’ve read Circe now as well and, while I enjoyed it, I don’t think it was as… emotionally affecting as this one.
‘I don’t think this review has actually helped much as I’d have achieved much the same thing by posting a picture of myself with a pathetic expression and a wad of tissue. If you take one thing away from this though, let it be that The Song of Achilles is far more than a dusty retelling of the Trojan War – it’s a beautiful and realistic story about a demi-god and a human, and their everlasting love.’
4) Scythe by Neal Shusterman
I think Scythe classes as being ‘hyped.’ I certainly seem to have seen it around quite a lot… Anyway, I loved it. I didn’t really know what it was about when it was first released, but as soon as I clicked that it was about the institutionalisation of death, I was on it. I loved the premise, the worldbuilding and the execution (ha!). I ordered and read Thunderhead pretty much the second I’d put Scythe down.
‘I was actually pretty happy with the ending as well. It’s a self-contained book, so there’s no cliff-hanger ending or loose threads. The next book, Thunderhead, is more of a sequel, I think. The same characters and the same world, but the plot has moved on slightly. That’s perfect in my eyes, and it makes a refreshing change. I’d ordered it before I’d even finished Scythe, naturally.’
5) The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Ohhhh, I loved this. I think I’d read this one at the very beginning of the hype as well. I’d actually bought it by accident, but it ended up being the best accident ever. The cover looks like it should be chick-lit, but it’s not. Instead it’s an Audrey Hepburn-esque figure recounting the story of her seven marriages with a few twists along the way. I didn’t want the book to finish and I could easily have read another two hundred pages of this.
‘There’s one colossal twist that’s revealed reasonably early on and I absolutely did not see it coming. It’s honestly a wonderful idea and it’s written so beautifully. It’s subtle and not at all sledge-hammery, and also quite believable for the time period.’
6) Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
Alright, so I haaaaaaated Nevernight when I first started reading it. I nearly threw it across the room and it was touch and go as to whether I was going to DNF it or not. I just could not figure out what was going on, and the reason for all the hype eluded me completely. I’m not sure at what point it picked up, but I ended up falling in love with it completely. The hype was deserved, but I’m not sure why more reviews don’t mention the appalling beginning.
‘There’s a very dry and occasional sense of humour towards the later parts of the book and it’s really amusing at times. It’s mostly present in the footnotes and the conversations she has with her shadow. Again, I felt that this was a little forced at the beginning but by the end it had settled down a little and I really enjoyed it.’
7) The Power by Naomi Alderman
I definitely read this one right in the middle of the hype, which I wholeheartedly agree was deserved. It’s not the concept that’s clever, the women being able to shoot lightning out of their fingers, but the way it’s executed is. The shift in gender perceptions, and the indignance of some men, is just… perfect. And upsetting. And thought-provoking. Arrrrrrrrgh. Read this please.
‘I almost cried at some parts. They really affected me and I read in a sort of stupor. The other parts that really made me sick were the reaction of the men to the new state of affairs. It’s actually quite well balanced, in that the male gender isn’t described to be generally stupid or or evil or even whiny, but the outward reaction of a few is fascinating and sickening. Much like the real world.’
And Books That Did Not:
8) Warcross by Marie Lu
This book was fine. The type of ‘fine’ where you can’t really talk about it without a one-sided shrug and a mild lip curl. It’s just that I’d heard an awful lot of hype about Warcross and I’ve more or less forgotten it already. The plot was alright, in a Ready Player One sort of way, but if the narrative mentioned that the main character had rainbow coloured hair ONE MORE TIME, I was going to chuck it out of the window.
There was also a significant amount of InstaLove and a good few plot holes that weren’t explained. I really wanted to like this book as the plot sounded so interesting, but it just didn’t live up to the hype.
9) Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Sigh. Here’s where this list gets controversial.
I’d actually had the foresight to borrow this book from a friend, purely because I suspected that it wasn’t going to live up to the hype. I’d heard that it was completely unique, ingenious magic system, realistic characters, blah blah blah.
But no! It’s not! Again, this book is fine. I liked the setting – the African-style background; I’ll accept that that was something a bit different. But the magic system is exactly the same as in a hundred different YA books! Honestly, it is no different! The characters are flat (I liked Amari but wanted to throttle the rest) and the plot is ridiculously generic. I just don’t understand what it is with this book.
10) Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Oof. I’ve just read my review and I was not happy.
I have seen this book everywhere, and everybody loves it. I’ve heard how emotionally scarring the end it, and how beautifully written it is, and how amazing the plot is. I mean… yeah, alright, the plot is pretty great. Fair enough.
But the pacing, writing, length and ending are all terrible.
‘Yes, Laini Taylor’s writing is pretty. It flows beautifully and much of it is very quotable. It holds up very nicely when compared to a lot of other similar novels. The problem is that it hides a lot of lazy plot development. Characters frequently ‘just knew what they had to do,’ or ‘suddenly realised what it all meant,’ and I wanted to beat my book against the table every time it happened.’