I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but I actively (or passively, I guess, since I never post or comment on anything) follow BookTube, which is, for those that don’t know, the YouTube community that deals with books. The Unpopular Opinions Book Tag is one of my absolute favorite tags to watch, so I thought I’d give it a try doing it in written form. This tag was created by The Book Archer on YouTube, so I’m linking her original video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYfgq8HgDc0.
Basically, this tag consists of nine questions dealing with some of the more unpopular views on some of the more popular books out there. So, without meaning any offence, let me get right into mine 😉
Question 1: What is a popular book or series that you didn’t like?
There are a lot of these, so I’ll just mention some of the really big controversial ones.
One book I absolutely did not like and where I do not understand the hype at all is Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. I thought that the characters all seemed like whiny, bland replicas of every YA character I had ever read about before and barely anything seemed to happen in this book. The characters were constantly on the run, but the being on the run itself seemed to be the only plot apart from the romance, which also did not stand out from any other YA romance I’ve read. We did not get much background on the world itself and how it got to be this way, I did not understand the political system, and on the whole, I just found this to be stereotypical and boring. I also absolutely hated all the crossed-out sentences. They felt like they were over-dramatically trying to convince me of Juliette’s state of mind and I just didn’t like how they distracted from the actual writing… I did, after a long wait, decide to pick up Unravel Me last year because everyone kept saying the series gets better and because everyone adores Warner and I wanted to know why, but while I did think that the sequel was better than the first book, I was not very impressed either. We’ll see if I ever pick up Ignite Me in the future, but I doubt I’ll ever read the new books that are coming out.
Another book I did not enjoy at all was The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I know, I know – I can already feel the hate. However, to make things a little better, I can see why people would like this. The writing wasn’t bad, and the serious topics dealt with were well handled. In this case, I just could not connect to the main character Charlie, other than to feel bad for him about what he had suffered. I just found his outlook on life absolutely dreary and depressing (which may be the point, but it just made me feel dreary and depressed, too) and the few things he did enjoy, such as the Rocky Horror Picture Show, meant nothing to me. In this case, I think this was just not for me. Maybe I also would have liked it more if I’d read it earlier (I think I read this in twelfth grade), but by that time, I’d read other books dealing with similar topics that I liked a lot more, so I was just extremely disappointed by this.
And finally, a few other books I will only briefly mention:
The Catcher in The Rye by J.D. Salinger: I hated this book with a passion – it took me forever to read, mostly because I disliked Holden so much. I can see how some teenagers might relate to him and how he’s actually only putting on a façade in order not to let people see how alone in the world he feels, but that didn’t stop me from disliking him. Plus, I did not need that description of toenail-clipping – ugh…
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson: I found this somewhat unrealistic concerning other characters reactions, friendship, and the portrayal of psychological support for teenagers, and I also thought this was only depressing.
A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin: I made it through this book and the sequel, but then decided I wasn’t going to put myself through hundreds of pages from points of views of characters that I hated and found extremely boring (ahem – Catelyn Stark) just to get back to one chapter from a character’s perspective that I actually liked (mainly Arya and Daenerys, and sometimes Jon Snow). I might give it a second chance sometime though…
The Long Way to A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers: see my most disappointing books of 2017 for more in-depth thoughts on this
The Heir and The Crown by Kiera Cass: Just…no. The Selection Series already wasn’t a masterpiece and had a pretty glaring lack of world-building, but it did make a nice guilty pleasure read back when I was in ninth grade. But The Heir and The Crown? They don’t even have a slow-building romance, the main character is a brat with character development that happens way too suddenly to be believable, these books add absolutely nothing new to the world-building, and the plot is just recycled from the original series.
The Wolves of Mercy Falls Series by Maggie Stiefvater: Twilight, but worse basically sums this up. Although I do have to admit that the relationship is a bit healthier than in Twilight… Maybe Maggie Stiefvater is just not for me. Everyone also really loves the Raven Cycle and while I didn’t hate it, I just thought it was okay.
That’s probably enough to have made me a few enemies already, so I’ll leave it at that. Just know that there are a lot more books in this category.
Question 2: What is a popular book or series that everyone else seems to hate, but you love?
Honestly, while there are plenty of books that fall into the category of others loving them and me hating them, there aren’t really any that fall into the opposite category. Maybe that’s because if everyone seems to hate a book, I won’t really pick it up and read it in the first place. However, just so that I have something here, I’ll mention a few that people seem to have split opinions on. I really like: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (Though I don’t like the ending of the whole series), The Host by Stephenie Meyer (I think this gets a lot of hate because of Twilight, but it is so much better. There are still a few problematic relationship things going on, but overall, I really like this book and have reread it several times), and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (I’ve heard many people say that this is their least favorite book in the trilogy – they don’t like that there are no action-packed games in it, they don’t like the PTSD some of the characters are suffering from, they don’t like the deaths, they don’t like a particular vote Katniss makes at the end. All I can say is that I think this book is brilliant. It has by far one of the most honest and best portrayals of war and trauma that I have ever read about, is brilliantly political, and if you’re rooting for more games, doesn’t that make you look at how creepily like the Capitol we are as a society? This is one of the best conclusions to a series that I have ever read.)
Question 3: What is a love triangle in a book or series where the character did not end up with the person you wanted them to or an OTP (=one true pairing) that you don’t like?
***SPOILERS FOR THE THRONE OF GLASS SERIES***
I absolutely hate Rowan and Aelin, both in terms of the love triangle situation and as an OTP. I loved the romantic relationship Celaena and Chaol were starting to build in Crown of Midnight, how they were slowly gaining each other’s trust and looking out for each other, and I liked that in Heir of Fire, Celaena had one male friend who was not madly in love with her. But, alas, that did not last. Instead of a relationship built on trust, we get a relationship that Sarah J. Maas keeps swearing is built on trust, but that we see no evidence of (remember that ending of Empire of Storms?). Instead, their relationship is built on the basis of fae hormones, plenty of male snarling, growling and other male actions and facial expressions (try counting how many times Sarah J. Maas uses the word male in her descriptions – once you start seeing it, you will never read her books in the same way again), and, of course, some velvet-wrapped steel action. No, this is definitely not a relationship I would want. I was so bitter about this when I first read Queen of Shadows, but now that I have also grown to hate Aelin as the series went on, I no longer like her with Chaol, either. However, Aelin and Rowan together are just the most annoying, self-absorbed, sex-driven and power-hungry couple that I can imagine, and I absolutely detest them. Sorry, not sorry.
Question 4: Which popular book genre to you hardly reach for?
I have never read any erotica, nor do I ever see myself reading any (except, perhaps, to make fun of it). I also rarely ever read romance books. Although I do enjoy a good romantic subplot, I’m just not that interested when the sole plot of the book is focused on the romance. I like it when there is a bigger picture, some high stakes that the characters have to face together. Which is probably why fantasy is the genre I read the most of. Also, I hardly ever reach for Westerns or books that have Western elements. Of the few that I’ve read and of the few movies I’ve seen, there hasn’t really been one that I thought was more than okay, and somehow, I just never find myself being drawn to this genre. If you have any good recommendations, let me know.
Question 5: What is a popular or beloved character that you don’t like?
I could go with Rowan again for this one, but I decided to mix things up a bit. While I don’t hate him, I’m not particularly fond of Jem Carstairs from the Infernal Devices Series by Cassandra Clare. I don’t know why exactly, but to me, Jem has always seemed bland. He is nice enough, but it always seemed to be on a bit of a superficial level and the only things we really learn about him is that he has an Asian background, that he plays the violin, and that he’s sick. Jem’s whole character can be condensed down to those points and to people who are protesting and telling me how kind he is: why does he not know what is going on with Will and why does he not see how distressed Will and Tessa are about their love situation? Will is his parabatai and his best friend and Tessa is supposed to be the girl Jem loves, so how does he not notice anything is off? When my best friend is worrying about something, I notice, and our problems are probably a lot less serious than in the Shadowhunter world. So, unfortunately, I am not the biggest fan of Jem. Which is also why I may be the only person on Earth who does not like the way the love triangle is resolved. It just felt like a cheap attempt to make all sides happy, instead of true commitment. I know, I am very alone on this…
Question 6: Who is a popular author you can’t seem to get into?
I’ll have to go with Pierce Brown for this. I enjoyed Red Rising while I was reading it, but I wasn’t blown away. Then, I read Golden Son and getting through that was an absolute torture. I was so bored and kept counting how many pages were left and, to be honest, I have forgotten almost everything that happened. I’ve been trying for over a year now to pick up Morning Star, since I already own the book and might just as well finish the original trilogy, but I just can’t motivate myself to do it. Even though that’s the longest I’ve ever owned a book without reading it (excluding my collected works of Shakespeare and Schiller – I chip away at those a bit at a time, since they’re absolutely enormous and as much as I love their writing, I don’t want to be only reading classics for about a year…). I don’t know what it is. I love original dystopian stories and I love science fiction, especially when it’s set in space. Everyone raves about how action-packed and exciting this series is. Yet, somehow, I can’t seem to get into Pierce Brown’s writing.
Question 7: Which popular book trope are you tired of seeing?
Instalove, no question about it. For one thing, I hate how unrealistic it is. Please clear me up on this if you know any differently, but who on Earth would fall in love with a complete stranger in less than a day and be ready to sacrifice their life for them in less than a week? It makes absolutely no sense. In a week, I probably wouldn’t have even talked to the stranger yet, at least not about anything deeper than what they think of the food or the weather or bla bla bla. Definitely not the kind of conversation that would make me even remotely ready to sacrifice myself. Also, I love slow-burn romances, especially the hate-to-love or friendship-to-love type, and if there’s instalove in the book, it deprives me of getting that. I will take the love triangle or all the girls who are not like other girls if I have to, but instalove will immediately lessen my liking for a book.
Question 8: What is a popular book or series that you have no interest in reading?
Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins. I know many people like this, but whenever people talk about it, it just sounds like a very average YA book, so nothing about it has really hooked me so far. Also, lots of people have said that the other two books in this series are rather bad, so I’m not going to read a book I’m not very interested in anyway just to get to two more that even people who liked the first one didn’t enjoy. However, who knows what the future may bring? I will normally read anything people give to me and I’m open to having my mind changed, so I will never say never for certain. For now, though, I have absolutely no interest at all.
Question 9: The saying goes the book is always better than the movie. But which movie or TV show adaptation did you prefer to the book?
There are so few of these that I might as well mention all of them:
The 100 by Cass Morgan: This is one of my favorite TV series with wonderful character depth and development, but the book (I only read the first one) is a tangled mess of every YA cliché out there, and has hardly any depth at all.
Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard: Not that the TV series is a masterpiece or anything. There are huge plot holes and a lot of it is just plain ridiculous. However, I can’t deny that it’s addicting and perfect after coming home from a long day at school or university. I got really attached to all the characters and while I didn’t have high hopes that there would be a satisfying conclusion, I did have fun trying to figure out the mystery. The books, however… They were not well written, and I didn’t care for any of the characters at all. At least I didn’t during the first four, which, if I remember correctly, is all that I managed to read before DNFing the series.
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton: I love Michael Crichton’s work, and Jurassic Park is no exception. It’s just that in this case, I think the movie was even better. Although I did enjoy some things in the book more (the raft ride was cool, Ian Malcolm’s character had a lot of interesting things to say, and there were fractals in it, which just made my math nerd heart all the more excited!), I have to give the movie credit for some of the changes it made. I liked the romantic side story it introduced between Dr. Grant and Dr. Sattler, I liked the children’s characters way more (honestly, book Lex is one of the whiniest children ever), and I liked the ending more. Still, the novel is excellent, too, so I’d recommend both 😉
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren: Again, I love the book, but I love the TV series starring Inger Nilsson as Pippi more. I just think it managed to add a lot more depth to the characters and also added some fun new side characters that weren’t in the book. My siblings and I rewatched this series constantly as children and I can only recommend it (although I have never seen the English dubbed version, so I can’t speak for that). In fact, all of Astrid Lindgren’s books have excellent book to movie adaptations that stay very true to the books. Still, Pippi Longstocking is the only one I’d say I like more than the book.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien: In this case, I’m not sure if I like the movies more than the books, but I do definitely like them equally. There are a few things from the novels that I would have liked to see in the movies, too, especially the more fun aspects like the songs or Tom Bombadil. However, on the whole, the movies are a very faithful adaptation and I very much appreciated seeing the Fellowship travel on screen rather than having to read pages and pages of descriptions about them traipsing through the woods. I also thought that the siege of Minas Tirith dragged extremely in the books, but I didn’t have that issue in the movies. In this case, I also recommend both.
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher: I think what the Netflix series did really well here was give a lot more depth to the side characters in the story. In the book, they had next to no depth at all and we only got to see the horrible things they did to Hannah. The TV show is a lot less black and white, which is something I really appreciated.