It’s autumn. Leaves are falling, the nights are getting longer, and there’s a chill in the air. It’s the perfect weather for a roaring bonfire. And you know what we do with bonfires?
We roast things.
Look, we’ve all been there. A close, trusted friend (or – gasp – a family member) recommends a book to us. They claim it’s the best use of ink since the first Bibles rolled off of Gutenberg’s printing press. And you trust them, so you decide to give it a try.
And you don’t like it.
Maybe you don’t hate it – maybe you’re just apathetic about it. And then when your friend/family member asks you what you thought, you’re caught in an awkward position. Do you risk your relationship by telling them the truth, or do you lie to spare their feelings?
I’ve read more than my fair share of what I would call “overrated” books. Not all of them are bad books – in fact, in many cases, I think they’re pretty decent works of literature. But the more I think about them, the less I like them. And mostly, I just think they need to be taken down a peg or two.
So gather around the campfire, readers. I’m about to roast some books.
The Selection series by Kiera Cass
File this one under “I liked it when I read it like seven years ago but the more I think about it the less good it seems.” The Selection is like The Bachelor meets the story of Esther (sorry, my ex-homeschooler keeps coming out) in which thirty-five girls must vie for the prince’s eventual hand in marriage. It’s not a terrible book per se, just has a lot of wasted potential. So much political intrigue is hinted it, but it’s only used when it’s convenient for locking the love interests in a secluded bomb shelter or something. You know. For plot.
The covers are pretty though.
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Confession: I don’t actually have very strong feelings about Steelheart. I liked it well enough – I wrote a whole blog post about it a few years ago – but I never became a huge fan of the series. I think my expectations were just too high in this case. There weren’t any major flaws or cliches that made Steelheart terrible, I was just underwhelmed. I guess I had hoped for something more… epic (pun intended), and what I got was a fun, superhero-y adventure that I quickly forgot about later.
Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz
This is from my espionage phase (who am I kidding, it’s not a phase). Think James Bond for teenage boys, but probably worse. There were parts of these books that intrigued me: the gadgets, the evil schemes, the strategies. Sometimes I even liked the characters. But unfortunately, Alex Rider fell into the trap of focusing on one (1) character and ignoring the development of all others for the sake of giving him a mediocre personality. The only interesting people in this whole series are Yassen and Jack. Change my mind.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
It pains me to put this book on this list, but the truth must be spoken. I wanted to love Ready Player One so much. You all know I’m a gamer, so a novel focused on a virtual reality video game seemed right up my alley. This looked like the Holy Grail for small nerdy me. And I was let down. Granted, I wasn’t in the target audience. Ready Player One is definitely intended for men who grew up in the 1980s, not for a teenage girl. But I’ve read plenty of other books where I wasn’t the target, and I enjoyed them just fine. The problem was more that Ready Player One alienated me as a female reader by turning every female character into a one-dimensional stereotype. Read Warcross by Marie Lu instead.
Maximum Ride series by James Patterson
Why is this series around, and why won’t it die? It’s been resurrected what, like three times? Can you revive something that wasn’t even alive in the first place? Is James Patterson even a real human or just an computer program that read a bunch of crummy YA novels and then composed one of its own? I don’t even know what made me read these books in the first place. Maybe some part of my teenage brain knew that James Patterson was a big-name author and that a “good” reader ought to read his books. I wish I had never cursed myself with this series. If I could erase any book from my memory, it would be Maximum Ride.
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
This makes two terrible book-to-movie adaptations starring Alex Pettyfer, who is completely irrelevant but it’s still weird. Anyway, like many of the other books on this list, I Am Number Four looked promising. Aliens? People like aliens! The Area 51 raid was a meme for a reason. But the story’s delivery didn’t just kill my hopes for the series, it dragged my hopes into an dark alleyway, beat them with an aluminum Hello Kitty baseball bat and then left them there to die. This book takes too long to get to its point, is full of cliches, and in general just takes far too much mental effort to read.