I thought it was about time I would do one of these to throw some diversity in with all the book reviews I’ve been doing the past few days. I am bombarding my website with new reviews going up, because I have been dragging my pretty behind and let the pile become about 8 books high. As of now, I only have to do Illuminae & Gemina and I will be all caught up. But first!
After talking for a long time about books I love reading, it is time for some unpopular opinions. We all have them, and don’t we just like to find out what those of other people are. I am telling you up front I’m not going to #sorrynotsorry for every category, so if you do love the books I’m putting up, let’s agree to disagree and find something else we both like so we can fangirl together.
Popular books or series I wasn’t feeling
I don’t care for this series, I never have. I have read the first book and found it absolutely not to my liking. It has too much The Bachelor in it to appeal to me. I liked the premise, and I am a fan of beautiful ball gowns. There were people who specifically advised this series for me. But what I don’t like is a book filled with girls fawning over a guy they don’t know. America may point this out, but she does it too and that is not called making a point. It is thus very predictable, and breaks no ground on storytelling. It doesn’t try to, I know, but if I were to read something like this, only that would save it for me.
I found the love triangle to be of the most cringeworthy sort, and the only time it became mildly interesting, was when war threatened to break out. But that too reminded me too much of The Hunger Games, on which a lot of the bones of this series have been built, and enough is enough. I found – for the first book at least, I never read The Elite or The One except for the synopsis – that it was a surface read. I will say that I think Kiera Cass is an amazing person. I follow her on social media and watched an interview with her at a YA event last year. She is so funny and happy, and I just love her and her sassy quotes. This series, however, is not my cup of tea. I am a real fan of dystopian fiction, and this is not that.
Honorary mention: Did I Mention I Love You? OMG, how bad is that writing. I can’t even. I wrote like that when I was sixteen too, don’t get me wrong. I understand perfectly why it’s bad and there is no reason to think she won’t become great as she continues to grow and learn. But it was so hard to read.
Books or series I enjoyed more than the masses
I don’t remember how I came across these books, it was probably an automated recommendation from one of the sites I order my books off of. I liked the premise, I bought the first book when I was ordering a bunch more. And it blew me away. It was such great storytelling, such fresh ways of approaching problems and. So. Damned. Insightful. In every way, from personal trauma to interplanetary politics about race and discrimination. It blew my mind, it really did. I loved the second book just as much, and the third as well. It is one of my absolute favourite reads in 2016. I thought it was awesome.
Honorary mention: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I think a lot of people didn’t like it because they expected the eighth Harry Potter book by Rowling. It is not. I expected nothing of it, and found I really enjoyed the read. I ship Albus and Scorpio SO HARD.
A failed love triangle / an OTP I didn’t like
A love triangle is one of the most horrible tropes ever invented, I tend to avoid them as best I can. In some cases, it works, such as Mary E Pearson’s The Remnant Chronicles, in which the girl is not caught in indecision, but the third party is still holding out hope. What Sarah J Maas does, also works. You can be in love and consider them your OTP, and then realise that they are not what you need, or you change, and you find someone who fits the real you far better. So I am going with an OTP I didn’t like for this one, because I get tired even TALKING about love triangles.
The one I found I really wanted to change, was Liv dating Henry in the Silber series by Kerstin Gier. I mean, really? You choose the bland guy who also turns out not to trust you with the details of his life, all the while telling you he loves you and wants to be with you? And that while you have a very hot stepbrother under the same roof with you, who has a horrid girlfriend, who is helping you and protecting you even though you aren’t family. How is this girl seriously not with Grayson?
Honorary mention: Harry Potter series. Draco should have ended up with either Harry or Hermione. That’s all I’m saying. There was a whole redemption arc waiting, right there. If you want a Draco-Harry spinoff, I full on recommend Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On, by the way. For background, read Fangirl first.
Popular genres I rarely read
I care absolutely nothing for New Adult or erotic fiction. But at the same time I freely admit that I am 31, and I have been-there-done-that with NA. Bad boys are far behind me right now, it’s the men with giggling babies on their arm that turn me into a mess these days. When I was younger, late teens and early twenties, I had this whole phase during which I read those Candlelight/Harlequin type romances, about society girls getting kidnapped by fierce Highlanders or pirates. I seriously read two of those a week at some point. And when I got a bit older, I had this huge gritty fantasy erotica phase. It was all Anita Blake and Merry Gentry for at least a year. But as I said, I outgrew these genres long ago. I have fond memories of that time, but I have no wish to revisit it, or my teenage angst to be honest.
Honorary mention: thrillers. I do read this genre, but only if my mom tells me there is a book I can’t miss out on (seriously, she eats them, I think. I simply can’t keep up with her demand for new titles). But mostly thrillers don’t do it for me, with the notable exception of Agatha Christie. I would marry that woman if she weren’t dead.
Beloved characters I don’t like
As much as I love the Silber books, I hate the Ruby Red trilogy by Kerstin Gier. And that is because I hate Gwendolyn. Truly, with a passion. That character stands for everything that is wrong with how women are portrayed to other women. I do not care that she is supposed to be a sixteen year old girl. Even sixteen year old girls should know when they are in a bad relationship and how to learn to think for your damned self. If you want the entire rant, I reviewed the books here. I would have loved these books about time-travelling, were it not for the truly awful lead character.
Honorary mention: Mistborn series. I have absolutely no connection to Vin. I loved Kelsier and thus I loved the first book from Brandon Sanderson’s flagship trilogy, but I never made it through the second book, let alone the third. Vin puts me off so badly.
Popular authors I can’t get into
I can’t get through Joe Abercrombie’s books. It is too gritty for me, and nobody gets any happier or even necessarily better from the situation at the end of the series. They just continue on. Nothing changes. Well, not much, after a whole lot of misery. I do need to have something to root for, and Abercrombie refuses to give that. My brother loves these books and because of his enthusiasm, I tried again, but found I had to give up again too. He told me how it ends and I’m glad I didn’t struggle through three books only to get to a place different, but no better, from the beginning.
Honorary mention: George RR Martin. Same as with Abercrombie. I do need some hope, someone to root for, some injustice to right. I can’t read a book in which everyone is unlikable and people end up pretty much the same as they have always been.
Overused tropes I’m tired of seeing
I would really like it if the next protagonist isn’t from humble beginnings. Who then finds out something crucial about themselves lifting them up and thrusting them willingly into adventure and a better life (after averting a prophecy or crisis or evil king). I would really like it if the next protagonist is pampered and perfectly happy or content with their lives. Who want to keep it as is, but who then have to take up responsibility and adventure. I have had enough of people being thankful for being discovered and given chances, who understand how to be humble and handle power because of their upbringing.
Is it so hard to ask to challenge yourself, as an author, to write about someone who likes who they are and suddenly having to do something out of their element because people say they need them? Who make stupid mistakes and might even be power hungry. Not as a villain, as a hero. Seriously, take a look at every YA protagonist out there, you can’t unsee as to how many of them this trope applies. Even if their situation now is worse than what they had before, then they will always have endured worse than the other people around them. Just as long as they are special in their hardships, right?
Honorary mention: the love triangle. Ugh. Die already.
Popular books or series I won’t read
I have no desire to read the Divergent series. It became popular so quickly on the heels of The Hunger Games and was marketed as the next big thing. I let that scare me off, and then I watched the first movie. I don’t know if the books are as bad in storytelling as the movie was, but it completely cured me of any desire towards this series.
Honorary mention: Twilight. I can’t even express how much I don’t want to read this book. To me, it’s the Fifty Shades of Grey of YA books. It is guilty of all the overworked tropes, has a horrid heroine and seriously: I can never forgive Stephanie Meyer for making vampires sparkle in the sunlight. I am a die-hard Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan and there are some things you just don’t do.
Movie adaptations I prefer to the books
I don’t have to tell any of you that movies are very seldom better than the book it came from. The exception I am willing to make is Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. I do want to add that I love Tolkien as a scholar on the fantastic. His essay about it is one of the cornerstones for my bachelor’s thesis. And I tried reading the books, but they are just so slow. I don’t think I ever even made it to Rivendell, I just gave up from sheer boredom with all the walking and the describing of the walking and the grass.
Honorary mention: The Host. As I mentioned above, I have no desire to read anything by Stephanie Meyer, but I was curious about this story. So I watched the movie and liked that. It’s not really fair, because I can’t compare the two, but I wanted to see the movie and I didn’t want to read the book. So it does count in a way.