One misconception I’ve discovered as a reader, reviewer, and blogger is that I’m supposed to love every book I read. When I peruse blogs or scroll through my Instagram feed, there is an overwhelming majority of positive reviews, especially surrounding new releases and books everyone else seems to love.
Positivity is a good and welcome thing, but I’ve often felt internal pressure to misrepresent my opinions in a more favorable, benevolent light. This makes total, pure sense: we want to be positive pillars of the blogging and reviewing community while supporting those brave enough to publish their work.
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But this is entirely unrealistic. Not all books are created equal, and we have the license to hate something that we didn’t enjoy. Whether for grammatical or thematic reasons, or purely because the protagonist was annoying, it’s okay to think a book is less than satisfactory. To perpetuate this theory, I’m sharing the reasons why I hated these popular books.
Before we begin, here is a series of rapid-fire disclaimers: if I list your favorite book, I’m neither attacking you or the author. In fact, I’d love to debate the merits of these books, so if something I say contradicts your opinions, leave me a comment. I don’t hate all of these books. Included in this list are books that I found disappointing and books that did not live up to their hype.
Here are popular books that I disliked:
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
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I’m ripping off the bandage and discussing the most controversial book on this list: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco. This book was highly anticipated prior to its publication, as was its sequel Hunting Prince Dracula and as is the to-be-released conclusion, Escaping from Houdini. In spite of the hype, I was seriously disappointed in the lack of character development, the basic cultural inconsistencies, and how tropes ran rampant throughout the story. I could barely stomach the first book and am not planning on continuing the series.
Related Post: My Spoiler-Free Review of Stalking Jack the Ripper
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
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Ah yes, another controversial pick. The Belles was released in February and, in spite of the gorgeous cover and enthralling synopsis, this book fell short in every way. Protagonist Camellia was anything but interesting, and the opulent worldbuilding created more questions than answers. What the cast of characters has in diversity they lack in development: they were prototypical and bland in every sense. Even though my expectations for The Belles were high, it is probably the most disappointing book on this list.
Related Post: My Spoiler-Free Review of The Belles
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
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If you’ve been following me long enough, you know good and well that high fantasy is far from being my cup of tea. Even though I read The Hobbit in eighth grade, the same rules applied. Rather than marveling at the detailed maps and the intricately-crafted world, I found the density of the prose incredibly restricting; I had to trudge through the pages to finish. I’m not going to honor this book with a reread to assess the validity of my opinions because I don’t think I could survive this book a second time.
The Circle by Dave Eggers
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I picked up The Circle in preparation to watch the movie adaptation, which was yet to be released when I started reading and was enticed by the technology-centered alternate version of our society. Protagonist Mae is a new hire at Internet company The Circle and describes the less-than-savory details she uncovers during her employ. The writing was well-done and thought-provoking, but the pacing was disproportionate and far too drawn-out for a narrative that should have been a page-turner. Overall, The Circle was far too dense and descriptive to be truly enjoyable.
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The Program by Suzanne Young
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Unlike most of the aforementioned books, I hated this book intensely. The world was constructed, the characters were lackluster, and the plot was downright offensive. I’ll stop there before I go on a rampage about my hate for this book. I didn’t finish the book and don’t intend to give it another try.
Related Post: Why I DNF’ed The Program
What popular books do you dislike?
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26 thoughts on “Popular Books that Annie Disliked”
I absolutely know what you mean. When I blog hop, I feel that most of the reviews that I see are positive. There are so many 4 and 5 star reviews out there, a handful of 3 stars, and even fewer 2 or 1 stars. Even when I dislike a book that everyone seems to love, I feel the pressure to soften and sugar-coat my opinion. However, I do feel like posts like this, as well as negative reviews, are helpful because they do allow readers to make an informed decision about whether or not they want to pick up a book.
I haven’t read any of the books you’ve listed here, but I’ve definitely seen the hype around them! One of my unpopular opinions is that I am not too much of a Laini Taylor fan. Although everyone seems to love her writing style, I find it boggled down by lengthy descriptions and flowery words :’)
Thank you so much for reading and linking to my post!! I’ve never read Laini Taylor but will keep your perspective in mind—I like flowery descriptions so long as they don’t interfere with the plot and narrative. I’m planning on reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone soon so I’ll see how it is!!
You’re welcome Annie 🙂
Although I am not used to Laini Taylor’s writing style, I do think the world building in her novels are brilliant. Hope you will like Daughter of Smoke and Bone 🙂
I agree! I just can’t get into Laini Taylor’s books.
Oh! So it’s not just me (phew!) 🙂
Another great review post! I had nearly forgotten that you don’t particularly care for high fantasy and that still disappoints me because it means you’ll probably never voluntarily pick up my books when I finish them! (Sad face) Lol I’m just messing around, but thanks for another entertaining read, I wanna know more about why “The Program” wasn’t good!
Oh I’ll definitely pick up some high fantasy so long as your name is on the cover!! It’s one of the genres I wish I appreciated more—high fantasy seems like a lovely adventure and I sometimes feel like I’m missing out on a great experience, so I’m willing to give it a try if you have any good books to get started with the genre. If you’re interested in reading more about why I didn’t like The Program, there’s a link in this post (and my review index) where you can read my thoughts. Thanks for reading!!
The Hobbit is the only book I’ve read of these. It was a little hard for me to get into. 🙂 I think I’m the only person who doesn’t like Marissa Meyer’s books.
I enjoyed the Lunar Chronicles but I understand why someone wouldn’t enjoy her writing—it’s a bit of an acquired taste 🙂 thanks for reading!!
I LOVE unpopular opinions and negative reviews! I wish people did more posts like this. I find that as long as a person is respectful, as you have been, criticisms are much more constructive than gushing positive reviews. I actually don’t pay attention to overwhelmingly positive reviews anymore, I just don’t trust them.
Thank you so much for reading!! I totally agree—having a variety of opinions out there is so important, especially because reading experiences are seldom entirely positive or entirely negative. Opinion is measured on a subjective spectrum, and I’d love to see more in-between opinions.
Oh I agree with the Hobbit! I actually fell asleep while reading it. Granted I was in sixth grade…at camp…and it was late. But still! I found it so incredibly boring. I understand that it’s basically a literary masterpiece and especially for fantasy but I just couldn’t get into it.
Exactly!! It’s so difficult to judge fiction when you know the writing is high-quality, but you can’t find yourself tumbling into the world.
Thank you for saying this – I definitely don’t like all the books I read, but if I really hate a book, I’m unlikely to review it. I hate the whole bandwagon gushing about books that are just average and often completely avoid the books that are getting the most hype.
Love that perspective!! I think following hype is a science: on one hand, people are excited about a book for good reason (probably because it’s quality literature), but there’s also the chance that readers are basing their judgments off the synopsis or cover, which can skew perceptions even before reading the book. Hype can be beneficial, but it can also hinder the reading experience.
It is always so interesting to read posts like these!! I loved Stalking Jack the Ripper, but I see your point of view. The others I haven’t read. I’ve heard The Program is awful!
I think some people just don’t want to spend their time on talking about the books they didn’t like. I can understand that sentiment as well. Most bloggers write reviews as a hobby, so they want to spend more time talking about stuff they like.
I do write negative reviews as well.
Also, a negative review is not necessarily a bad thing. I did pick up a book recently because of a 2 start review. The person listed a lot of stuff she hated about the book, and those things were exactly the things i was craving 😀 I loved the book at the end.
I’m really struggling with the rest of The Hunger Games trilogy (the first book was okay, but not great, in my opinion), I think I’ll be DNF-ing Outlander and I’ll give To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before another go, but I have the suspicion that I’ll probably DNF it.
I have a copy of Outlander but haven’t started it yet!! It’s quite dense but hopefully worth the hype🤗
Yeah… My sister and mother-in-law love the series and rave about it, but there’s some problematic stuff in the novel with regards to sexual assault that I just can’t let go of.
Your blog has already inspired me to expand my sections of book reviews! Since I enjoy your content and blogging style, I decided to nominate you for the Mystery Blogger Award! I would be thrilled if you would accept. 🙂 If not, this is simply my way of saying your blog is great. Here’s the link to my post if you are interested! https://neveridlydreaming.wordpress.com/2018/03/17/mystery-blogger-award/
Ahh thank you Emily!!!
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