Thursday, February 16, 2017

My Unpopular Opinions on (Some Very Popular) Books



I saw this blog post idea ages ago on the Lady Okie blog (who saw it originally on this blog), and I've had it in my head ever since that I wanted to do one myself (so thanks to Amanda and Kate for the inspiration!).

I've been thinking for awhile that I wanted to do a book post that's all about the books that DIDN'T really do it for me (since that's just as much fun to talk about as the books that do!), and I thought this was a fun format in which to do it.

Here goes:

1. A popular book or series you didn't like.

Where to even start? I feel like I have several. Twilight, obviously (since I've bashed Twilight a bit in the past here on the blog), for its cheesy writing and absolutely terrible climax/resolution in the final book. I will give Stephanie Meyer props for coming up with a cool idea (as well as some interesting plot twists along the way), but the execution was decidedly botched in my view.

I also completely hated the ending of the Divergent series, which made my already-lackluster feelings about the series even more dismal. I just felt like I never really cared about any of the characters, and there wasn't enough fleshing out of scene and setting to make me really feel present while I was reading--I had to keep going back to remind myself of who the characters were and where everyone was currently located. Yeah, not a fan.

And, while we're on endings I hated, I've got to put in that the third Hunger Games also ruined the series for me. I rather liked the first one, but the books went decidedly downhill from there. Guess I'm just a stickler that the ending must be decent in order for me to have any positive feelings about the book.

And, finally, to put at least some books on here that aren't part of a young adult series, I just finished The Course of Love by Alain de Botton (which has a fabulous rating on Goodreads), and I have to say, I was EXTREMELY disappointed by it. The book is a blended genre novel where the author weaves the story of an ordinary marriage with nuggets of philosophical-like insights on love and marriage, and how they change over time. So many people were saying that they wanted to buy this for every couple about to get married, but I was thinking by the end that I wouldn't be recommending this book to anyone. Not only did the section/philosophy on adultery anger me to no end, but I found the two main characters pretty boring and not very likable at all and the whole book to be excruciatingly slow and dull. I definitely had to force myself to push through all the way to the end.

A couple more books worth mentioning here---

I loathed Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things (for the main character's absolute obsession with her unsatisfied sex drive and the fact that it was waaaaaaay too long for the story line), Gregory Maguire's Wicked (which the Broadway musical was based on), and Julie & Julia (more on that later).

2. A popular book or series that everyone else seems to hate but that you love.

I've been listening to Modern Mrs. Darcy's podcast (What Should I Read Next), and a lot of guests on the show have mentioned how they really didn't like Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch. While I agree with their assertions that the middle section situated in Las Vegas is unbearably slow and not much to my liking either, I absolutely LOVED this book as a whole. The more I hear from people who have actually read it, though, the more I'm realizing that I definitely seem to be in the minority.

3. A love triangle where the main character did NOT end up with the character you wanted him/her to.

Hmmm...well, in Twilight, I thought that Bella didn't deserve to be with either of them, so there was that. And yeah, I didn't like how the love triangle ended in Hunger Games, either, although that had more to do with the fact that the ending felt rushed and that she seemed to end up with Peeta out of convenience, not out of any real depth of feeling.

And I know not as many people have read this series, but in the Matched trilogy, I actually kind of liked the other guy better, although I didn't necessarily have strong feelings either way.

Basically, as long as the main character isn't an idiot and the ending is well done, I'm usually at peace with whoever she ends up with.

4. A popular book genre you rarely reach for.

I don't think I've ever read a Western, and I also don't do much horror or mystery. I'm a self-classified Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), which means I'm very affected by things like violence and gore and the like, so any books that are too intense or that have too many triggers for my sensitive points, I just don't do (like the Jodi Picoult novel I just abandoned--Small Great Things--because one of the main characters literally made me feel physically ill every time the story switched to his perspective).

It's for that reason that I had very mixed feelings on the hugely successful debut novel Homegoing, about the two Ghanian half-sisters (one who is married to a wealthy Englishman who deals in the slave trade and the other sold as a slave herself)---as the story followed their posterity through the generations, I just found it to be so absolutely depressing and disturbing that I had a hard time enjoying my experience of reading it (and honestly, the only reason I gave it as high of a rating as I did on Goodreads was because I knew she was trying to make a point with all the disturbing and depressing stories, and the story was very well-written, too).

5. A popular or beloved character that you do not like.

I've already established that I pretty much despise Bella from Twilight, so no surprises there. I also didn't like Katniss very much by the end of The Hunger Games trilogy because I felt like she was broken and never managed to get it all together again.

Oh, and both the main guy and his love interest in Love in the Time of Cholera (the classic by Gabriel Garcia Marquez) were both completely unlikable to me. In fact, that book was a huge disappointment for me in general (and is another book that I would never, ever recommend to anyone).

6. A popular author that you can't seem to get into.

This answer will surprise some people, but I'm going to say Kate Morton, which is a shame because I think, for the most part, that she does a great job with weaving a compelling story and creating memorable characters (and I like her writing style, which is saying something, seeing as how picky I can be when it comes to that). However, I was SO DISAPPOINTED by the ending of The Lake House (because everything just wrapped up WAY too neatly and, to me, was highly unbelievable) that it kind of turned me off of her indefinitely, especially since many fans of her work have confessed that all of her books have rather tidy endings.

I also know a lot of people are huge Liane Moriarty fans, and while I found the one book of hers I've read so far entertaining enough (The Husband's Secret), her writing style consistently bugged me throughout (for feeling too lighthearted for the darker subject matter), and it's made me not in any rush to pick up any of her other works for the time being.

7. A popular book or series you have no interest in reading.

Oh, there are several. I never did read any of Dan Brown's stuff (including The Da Vinci Code), and I have no interest in reading The Girls (the huge hit from last year about the girl living in a cult).

As far as series go, I'll probably never get into the Maze Runner series, and I know for a fact that I'll never pick up anything in the 50 Shades of Grey series (seeing as how I despise the romance/erotica genre and avoid it at all costs). And although I do plan on eventually reading Ender's Game (just because it's such a classic), knowing myself well, I probably won't go past that first one in the series.

8. A movie that was actually BETTER than the book (going against the popular saying that the book is always better than the movie).

I was highly disappointed by the book version of Julie & Julia (which I read first), but then I ended up absolutely adoring the movie (and watch it all the time). I guess it kind of makes sense, though, because I thought the blogger had a brilliant idea for her yearly project, but I just thought that the writing wasn't executed well (which was something that a good screenplay could override).


And now---it's your turn! What are some of your more unpopular book opinions? 

***Oh, and if you want to follow me on Goodreads and see more of my ratings and reviews, click here.


15 comments:

  1. Yes! I love this topic! I also did not care much for the Twilight and Divergent series.

    Love in the time of cholera (Ew I still get riled up thinking about it- the main character was the ABSOLUTE WORST. I took this book on a long backpacking trip in the wilderness and there is NO way I would’ve finished it otherwise)

    Pride and Prejudice or anything by Jane Austin (I wanted to like it so much, but I just didn’t. I get the Elizabeth/Mr. Darcy obsession but I just don’t see why these books have been so successful for so long!)

    A Wrinkle in Time (I read this kids? book as an adult and it was weird and uninteresting)

    The Davinci Code (I read this before I figured out that I don’t care for mystery novels and I really didn’t like the crazy ideas in this one)

    Matched (zzzzzzz)

    Little Women (this one is hard… I liked Meg as a character but everyone else was so flat and dull. I wonder if I would’ve liked it as a kid?)

    Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children (Meh. I liked the creepy photos idea but the story didn't do it for me)

    The Giver (WHY IS THIS BOOK SO LOVED?!)

    The Other Boleyn Girl (meh- drama involving affairs doesn’t interest me)

    The Magicians (someone told me it was Harry Potter for grownups- WRONG)

    The Count of Monte Cristo (I forced myself to make it through the audiobook and it was not worth it! The movie is so much better!)

    The red tent (meh)

    The alchemist ((zzzzzzz)

    His Dark Materials series by Phillip Pullman (I read this like 10 years ago and I STILL don’t get why people LOVED this series)

    A Game of Thrones (There is a lot happening and somehow it is still so boring!)

    The Maze Runner (zzzzzzz)

    Gone Girl (hated ALL the characters in this book)

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    1. Oh man I actually really enjoy the GoT books. But I totally understand why they aren't for everyone. I probably wouldn't like them as much but my husband is big into that genre so I've gotten into it too somewhat. And I think you're supposed to hate all the characters in Gone Girl. lol!

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    2. Little Women?? Dagger to the heart! Haha. I did read it as a kid though and I read it every year around Christmas. Perhaps me being such a tomboy when I was younger, I just really connected with Jo and her character. Plus I love Alcott's writing style. I'm with you on The Giver though, I don't understand the magic.

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    3. I have to say that The Other Boleyn Girl makes me mad for a different reason, it is totally historically inaccurate and made up and the author claims it is accurate and well researched. If it is historical fiction, acknowledge that is is fiction.

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  2. I HATED The Great Gatsby. HATED. A guest on WSIRN recently had it in her top 3 favorites, and I've heard so many other people sing its praises. I should've prefaced this by saying that while I absolutely love to read, I don't care a lot about the technical aspects of literature (theme, mood, etc.). I just re-read my summary of the TGG in my book journal, and my final sentences read, "Awful people making awful choices. Some classic." ;) I just remember thinking that every single character committed either adultery or murder. Anyway, I'm with you on Liane Moriarty. I've read two of her books, but I didn't love them. My complaint is that she holds back some huge secret for the entire book, but she writes as though you already know it from the very first page. I just wanted to scream at her to tell me the secret now and let me enjoy the rest of the book!

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    1. I read TGG as a sophomore, and all I remember about it is that I thought something pretty similar (about the characters not being all that likable). Then again, a blogger I've followed forever lists it as one of her favorites, so I'm half-tempted to give it another chance and see if I can catch more meaning out of it as an adult...

      And YES on the Moriarty thing...it's like when you were a kid and your friend would tell you that they have a huge secret, but that they can't tell you...it's the worst! ha ha

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  3. I am the super unpopular opinion for admitting this, but I hated Frankenstein and The Scarlet Letter. I read the Da Vinci code and it was ok, but I couldn't finish Angels and Demons. I do like Liane Moriarty, but I haven't liked her most recent books because they all follow the exact same pattern and take too long to get to the "big secret". (Seriously, her newest book you don't find anything out until you're 75% of the way through.) I also read The Maze Runner because I hadn't heard of it and the movie looked cool. WORST SERIES EVER. If you like good endings, do NOT pick that one up. All it does is open up question after question and when it ends you still know literally nothing. I kept reading the series because I wanted to know what the heck was going on, and I was severely disappointed.

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  4. The third Hunger Games book was a disaster, IMO. I know the series was unrealistic anyway, but that book was insanely crazy and I WANTED HER TO END UP WITH GALE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.

    Love in the Time of Cholera was awful. I'm sorry you read it. I'm sorry I read it. I'm sorry anyone reads it.

    I would recommend you try Laine Moriarty's What Alice Forgot and see what you think about that. I really, really liked it. Maybe it was just my state of mind at the time? I don't know. I totally agree with you about the balance of a dark subject matter with her quick-paced style. It didn't work for me in Big Little Lies, but I liked What Alice Forgot.

    Also, is The Lake House the only Morton book you've read? If so I wish you hadn't started with that one! I totally agree the ending was too nicely wrapped (and I like a wrapped ending).

    I read the first Maze Runner book and the first Divergent book and hated both so no for the rest of those series for me! I don't get why Divergent was so popular. ALL the characters annoyed me and I just wanted them to all die. Seriously.

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  5. I LOVE hearing people's unpopular opinions! Even when I hold a popular opinion! ;) For what it's worth, I totally agree with you about "Wicked"; I didn't even try "The Course of Love" because of the adultery plot point (though that isn't a dealbreaker for me ... I mean, I loved "Anna Karenina"!); and I have to disagree with you about His Dark Materials and the romance genre (there's a lot of dreck, don't get me wrong, but that's true about a lot of things!).

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    1. Adultery doesn't necessarily kill a book for me either, but in this one, a book all about what love REALLY is like in marriage (supposedly) and just the way it was rationalized as being a fairly normal/expected part of a long-term relationship...it just really bugged me.

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  6. haha - I love your thoughts on it - & agree with most of them. I do like Twilight but I get it - Bella got on my nerves so much. I just want a series based on Charlisle & Esme :)
    & YESS to Hunger Games. that 3rd book was HORRIBLE - HORRRRIBLE.. & I still dont get the point of her ending up with Peeta. I never ever felt like she really ever loved him. So dumb.

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  7. The Catcher in the Rye, Wuthering Heights, and Emma. I just absolutely despised the title character Emma. It was a struggle to get through that book, although I think most Austen novels are pretty enjoyable.

    I agree with Lady Okie that The Lake House wasn't the best choice for a first reading of Kate Morton. I didn't like that one nearly as much as the other one of hers I read. Although I do think you still wouldn't super love her other stuff.

    Another note-I decidedly do NOT like the sci-fi genre. However, a friend pleaded with me to give Ender's Game a try. I must say I did actually really enjoy that one. So if you ever do give it a shot, there's hope you may like it.

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    1. I think Emma can be a little exasperating, but I actually rather enjoyed it (but then again, I'm a bit forgiving where Jane Austen is concerned, ha ha).

      And all I remember about Wuthering Heights is that it definitely wasn't what I thought it would be. I'd heard all these people rave about it, but I didn't really understand the draw of it either (although I actually am tempted to try it again now that I'm a bit older---the timing of when we read books is SO important).

      And we'll see on the Kate Morton...right now, my immediate to-read stack is too compelling to try it out for awhile...

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  8. I actually really enjoyed Hunger Games, but I completely agree about the ending. It reminded of the way I would sometimes work on a paper in college for so long and just like word vomit on the last page because I was so over it.

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  9. I can't get into Liane Moriarity either. I read What Alice Forgot and since everyone raved about it I had such high hopes, but I didn't like it and it didn't make me want to read anything else of her's either. I think my unpopular opinion about a series would be Harry Potter. I just did not like it. I only read the first book, and after I tried it once, I decided to give it another try a few years later because I wanted to badly to love it. But, I didn't. Maybe I'll try one more time!

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Thanks so much for leaving a comment! I love reading your thoughts :)

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