Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books That Should've Been Awesome... But Weren't

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is a freebie, which means we can pick whatever topic we like.  I've read quite a few books recently that sounded like they should've been really great: the premise was strong, and the story should've been amazing.  But, for whatever reason, they just didn't work for me.  So I'm going to make my topic: Ten Books That Should've Been Awesome... But Weren't.

Ten Books That Should've Been Awesome... But Weren't:

by Marissa Meyer

This whole series has an amazing premise, and I'd heard such good things about it around the blogosphere.  However, I found the first book to be extremely predictable and lacking in world-building, and the second book was full of infuriatingly oblivious characters.  It's too bad, because the concept of setting classic fairytales in the future with cyborgs, androids, spaceships, and genetically modified soldiers seems like it should make for a great read.

The Girl with Glass Feet
by Ali Shaw

So there's this young woman who is slowly turning into glass from the feet up.  Sounds like the great beginnings of a fantasy, fairytale-esque story, right?  I had high hopes for this book, but it turned out to be a literary wannabe rather than an enjoyable, high-concept fantasy.  Nothing was explained.  The characters were ridiculous.  And it was just weird for the sake of being weird.

More Than This
by Patrick Ness

This book should've been great.  It looks like it has everything: diversity, philosophical questions, sci-fi elements...  But after reading it, I'm just confused and annoyed.  The diversity wasn't handled well (reverting to stereotypes), the philosophical questions were never really answered (leaving the reader to decide what the heck was going on... if anything), and the sci-fi elements turned out to be pretty derivative (The Matrix, anyone?) and not all that logical.  I know there are a lot of people who are fans of this author, but I doubt that's based on this particular book.

by Anna Katmore

In this quasi-retelling of Peter Pan, a girl is sucked into Neverland, where she meets Peter, the Lost Boys, and Hook.  The author had the good idea to make Peter and Jamie (Hook) brothers, and that could've offered some really interesting directions for the story to take.  Unfortunately, it also meant that the two boys had to be fairly close in age, which gave us a teenaged captain of a ship (not realistic) and a hot love interest for our heroine to make out with.  And that was pretty much all that happened for the last part of the book.  What a waste of a great setup!

The Shadow Society
by Marie Rutkoski

This book about parallel worlds and the creatures that live there could've been really good... if it hadn't been plagued by some standard YA stereotypes and tropes.  What's with all these young guys in books who have the life experience and accomplishments of someone twice their age?  It would be like the FBI being headed by teenagers.  It's not realistic, and every time I come across this in YA books, I just want to roll my eyes.

A Tale Dark & Grimm
by Adam Gidwitz

There are probably a number of books out there like this, that use a number of fairytales (rather than just one) as the basis for the plot.  I've read three now... and this one was by far the weakest.  While I do like the inclusion of all the fairytale elements, and using the framing device of one story in particular, I did not enjoy the way this book was written, with the author continually breaking the fourth wall.  It came across as condescending.

(In case you're curious, the other books like this that I read were E. D. Baker's The Wide-Awake Princess and John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things.  They entertained me in ways that A Tale Dark & Grimm just did not.)

Throne of Glass
by Sarah J. Maas

I'd heard so much about how awesome this series was that perhaps my expectations were just a little bit too high.  I wanted to read about this kick-ass assassin who liked pretty dresses just as much as skewering her enemies on her sword.  And I might have liked the book if a) Celaena (the assassin) had actually done any assassinating, b) she wasn't a complete twit, and c) we didn't have to read about each and every dress in eye-gougingly exquisite detail.  I expected more plot, smarter characters, and fewer descriptions of Celaena's gowns.  At least, that's what all the gushing led me to believe...

A Time to Dance
by Padma Venkatraman

I usually like novels written in verse, because they can develop characters and evoke a sense of place with so few words.  But this novel, starring teenagers and set in India, was a major disappointment.  The basic premise was okay, but I found the setting to be very weak (it could've been set anywhere) and the characters spoke in such stilted, unrealistic dialogue that I just couldn't see them as people to care about; they just didn't seem real.

by Neal Shusterman

The premise of this one sounded awesome, but it turned out to be disturbing and full of WTF moments.  I don't mind ideas that make me think, and I thought this book would offer quite a few of those.  Unfortunately, what I was thinking most of the time I was reading was along the lines of, "Why?!  That doesn't make any sense at all."  I was left with the impression that the whole plot was cooked up for shock value, and nothing more... and that was a disappointment, because had some of the issues been handled better (i.e., more realistically), it could have been an entertaining and thought-provoking read.

Vivian Versus the Apocalypse
by Katie Coyle

When a book about the Rapture begins with a girl coming home to find her parents missing and two person-sized holes in their bedroom ceiling, you might think you'd be in for a great story about the end of the world.  But you'd be wrong.  What you're going to get instead is the most boring road-trip ever, populated by annoying characters (some of which appear to serve no purpose whatsoever), and a completely unrealistic story about a cult that's inexplicably managed to brainwash the majority of the most powerful nation on the planet.  Obviously, I wouldn't have picked this one up at all if I didn't think I was going to enjoy it.  But it ended up being one of my worst-rated reads of all time, and I'm still angry about wasting time reading what could've been an interesting take on the Rapture... but wasn't.

What books did you think were going to be amazing but didn't live up to your expectations?


  1. *hides because loves so many books on this list* hehe, it really does suck when a book completely lets you down, right?! I HATE THAT SO MUCH. And I hadn't heard of that Peter Pan retelling and I want to cry, because it sounds soooo good and that's such a shame it didn't live up to your expectations. I might peek at it on Goodreads though because I'm SO obsessed with Peter Pan. xD

    1. I know... there are a lot of favourites on this list. Heck... that's why I read them! I thought they'd be good!

      Neverland was disappointing. The cover was so cute, too! Oh, well...

  2. Throne of Glass was definitely meh compared to the rest of the series, so I totally see where you're coming from. I also found Vivian Apple to be pretty average - although my expectations weren't that high to begin with.

    1. I've heard that about Throne of Glass. But, then again, I heard that about Scarlet (of The Lunar Chronicles) and I disliked that book more than the first. So I don't know what to think!

  3. I love Unwind, it's one of my favourite books, but ah well, not for everybody. I will agree, I wasn't that keen on the first Throne of Glass but they get so much better! Seriously, the second was great (she actually kills people!) and the third was even better. You should give the rest of the series a try, they're so much better than the first book.
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/19/top-ten-tuesdays-5/

    1. I know a lot of people like Unwind. I thought I'd like it, too... but it just had too many plot holes for me to take seriously.

  4. Omggg you didn't like TOG either!! I'm sooo happy now, almost everybody I know loves it. It was an okay book, but the second book was just a disaster for me. The characters are just annoying, I liked Chaol but I hated him in the rest of the books. <3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

    1. Oh, dear. I didn't mind Chaol so much in the first book. At least, he was less annoying than some of the other characters. He gets worse? Yikes. (Yeah, we're in the minority since we're not crazy about that series. I might try reading the second book... but I'm going to try not to expect too much!)

  5. Oh, yeah, it really sucks when everyone else seems to really LOVE a book and you just can't get into it. But there's not really any point in pretending, right? I felt basically the same way about Cinder, but I stopped about 1/2way through. I keep thinking that I might try again because lots of people with similar taste to mine love it.... but maybe it would just be a waste of time. :-(

    1. Trust your gut. It's not one of those books that has a super-exciting twist near the end that changes everything, so if you didn't enjoy the first part, you're not missing much by skipping the last part.