I’ve been away from the blogosphere for a while now but I’m still on Goodreads. I see books floating around all the time. The hype is still very much present. Even though I’ve mostly avoided the hype train, there are still books or series that I’ve become invested in over time and I hold them (or the author) to a certain standard.
I don’t know if I’m jaded or what because this year, so far, I’ve been kind of disappointed with almost all of my most anticipated books. There hasn’t been a single new release that has ascended me to pure joy like some YA books of the past (Six of Crows, ACOMAF, Lady Midnight, A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Skyward…) and some of the past hyped books really aren’t cutting it for me.
I really wanted to love all of these, but they were just one step shy or hundreds steps shy of what I expected.
This book and I didn’t quite get along. I believe it took me about a month to get through and not because of the size. An 800+ page adult sci-fi space opera? What more could I possibly ask for? Unfortunately, the book very much felt like a sci-fi written by a fantasy writer. Too much fanciful descriptions and not enough hard science or tech talk. I didn’t care for any of the characters, the name the aliens were given was laughable, and the action felt stilted and dry. None of the relationships felt earned or cultivated enough. Every character lacked depth and emotional dimensions that I could sympathize with or understand. I was bored 100 pages in and I never really roused from the stupor.
I love Graceling. It’s one of the books I reread more frequently than others. Before reading Winterkeep, I made it my mission to reread the books before diving into this new installment. I came away still loving Graceling, liking Bitterblue more than I did originally, and liking Fire far less than I originally did. Bring on Winterkeep! Wow, was I disappointed. It’s almost as if Kristin forgot how to write her characters. I didn’t care for the new character, Lovisa, and the older characters didn’t seem like themselves, especially Gideon who seemed to be crying every other page. I became bothered by the fact that there are hardly any positive takes on parental units in Cashore’s books and even though all her books express a sex-positive image, there was a peculiar focus on sex in this book that wasn’t as organic as the other installments. The fox was cool though, and the world-building was solid, as well. The plot? Not so much.
I was really excited for ACOSF since Cassian and Nesta were a potential couple I needed to see come to fruition. I was expecting a romance for the ages. I did not get that. All the characters didn’t seem like themselves in this one. Granted, it was from Nesta’s POV, but even Nesta seemed different. My opinion of Cassian dropped exponentially after finishing ACOSF since none of the thoughts in his head were useful or meaningful. And both Rhys and Amren seemed more asshole-like than usual. The plot was incredibly flimsy and it was obvious Maas was more excited about writing smut than she was about writing an actual story. The friends with benefits to romantic partners angle can work out if given enough time and attention, but that didn’t happen. I did enjoy Nesta’s mental health journey and the positive relationships she formed along the way, but everything else in the book fell flat for me, especially the romance, since it seemed completely absent.
I listened to the audiobook of this and even though the narration was outstanding, nothing on God’s green earth could convince me to like Julia. I don’t think I’ve ever been so bothered by an MC before. Her POV was painful in that every word that came out of her mouth was petulant, judgmental, and just plain mean. There were some cases where it could be forgiven (consideration of mental illness and the pressure of cultural expectations) but most of the time Julia’s thoughts and actions were inexcusable. The secondary characters were whip thin and flat. The author played into more stereotypes than I expected and not to subvert them. Also, the story tries to do too much, tries to cover too many important topics all at once without really committing to most of them: cultural expectations and pressures, immigration, rape/sexual harassment, income discrepancies, racism, mental illness, suicide, illicit sexual relations, LGBTQIA+ prejudices, underage sex, etc. The focus simply was not there.
For some reason I had been seeing this book float around on GR for a little bit last year. Little did I know that Booktok (that’s a thing now, I guess?) had been hyping this book up, comparing it to Knives Out and Ready or Not. I enjoyed both of those movies immensely, so naturally I gave this one a try recently. I listened to the audiobook and that was my first mistake. It would have been fine if the narrator had avoided attempting to imitate a Texan accent like the plague. None of the Hawthorne brothers sounded like real people and it was distracting. Besides the narration, the book fell flat for me because it was boring. The beginning was compelling and fast-paced, then it devolved into a slow, bloated middle, topped off by a dull and predictable ending. There weren’t enough puzzles or “games” and the insta-love triangle detracted from the narrative.
I’m trying not to be too judgmental about these books but I really can’t help it. I’m noticing the flaws now that I’m not reading as many 5 star reviews on blogs or on GR. I’ve been expanding my reading horizons to see if I can find more enjoyable reads and, so far, that’s been helping a bit. My best bet is to just read whatever interests me and try to not jump on the hype train all that often 🤷🏽♀️
Trying out more adult fiction has improved my reading experiences lately and I’m also trying to read like I did back in the day. Find a book, read the synopsis, determine if it’s a yes or no, and give it a try! I always found some hidden gems going about it that way 😄
Did any of these books disappoint you as well? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for stopping by! Until next time! 💖