Bookworm Confession, Reading

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).

And, just because I haven’t added enough books to this yet, I also quite disliked The Neopolitan Novels (by Elena Ferrante) by the time I was into the second book. While the books read quickly enough, I found that I HATED all the characters by the end of the second book, and I couldn’t bring myself to read the last two in the series. I also just found the whole series beyond depressing, with nothing really to redeem any of the characters, so this is one series I definitely don’t plan on pushing through and finishing. (And I’m TOTALLY in the minority on these books—seriously, go look on Goodreads, and you’ll see that these books have INSANELY high ratings. I just don’t get it.)

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).

Also, I tend to avoid the romance genre in its entirety (though I’m not against a good love story–as I did a collection of my favorites here–just against the stereotypical romance books with their ripped-bodice covers and such).

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.

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