This week on Broke and the Bookish, the topic for discussion is expectation. No matter how many blogs you read, or Instagram accounts you follow, you’re bound to see a few books overlap between them – building the hype, and expectations alike. Here are five books that blew my expectations out of the park… and well, five that left a less reputable impression.
Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin: Even though I’d read the book description for Fever Dream, I had a feeling it would be a hard one to nail down before reading. And boy, was I right! Fever Dream blew me away from the very get-go – full of mystery and emotional strife, just when you’ve figured it out, Schweblin throws you for another loop. I’d read several reviews on it before reading, so I knew it would be good, but still, I wasn’t quite expecting it to be SO GOOD!
The Hike by Andrew Magary: The Hike could easily have been the biggest let down of the year. It had a little mention on the blogsphere at publication, enough to spike my interest, but then it kind of dropped off the radar. Between the self-hype and a six-month-long wait for a library copy, my expectations were extremely high for this one, which made it all the more surprising when The Hike became one of my most favorite reads of 2016! If you’re into the weird, you should definitely check this one out!
The Noble Hustle by Colson Whitehead: I recently picked up a copy of the audiobook at random, not really expecting anything from the title, but recognizing the author from his more recent novel, The Underground Railroad, I figured it would be good. Instead, I was blown away by the different facets an author can hold. If you’re in a reading slump, or need a good a laugh, I’d highly recommend The Noble Hustle, but also because Colson Whitehead is a gem of a person.
Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal: Again, another random audiobook from the library. It’s amazing how many hidden gems I’ve found scrolling through the Available Now section on Overdrive. The premise was intriguing from the start, a young girl who inherits a love for food from her father, but what I found was even more surprising. A totally unique thread of multiple viewpoints and a ridiculous cast of characters who feel like someone you know; Kitchens of the Great Midwest is a delectable treat to read.
Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West: Another YA fantasy with fairy tale flare, I wasn’t expecting to be wowed by Kingdom of Ash and Briars, especially with its promise to unite Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, AND Mulan. Yeah, you read that right, Mulan… how could that possibly work? Oh, but West ties them all together flawlessly, like they were always meant to belong to the other. That plus an ancient race of shape-shifters and an all-out war between them, Kingdom of Ash and Briars might be the best YA fantasy you’ve never heard of.
The Not So Impressionable:
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders: An early read from 2016, I hadn’t seen it mentioned much online, but seeing it in the “New” section at the library I figured, why not? Turns out, a lot of reasons support the not side of that argument. Even in the fantasy realm, the friendship between the two main characters is too far-fetched as they continuously cross each other paths and force a reconnection time and again, followed by an unbelievably over-hyped ending where everything is magically fixed with little effort on their part. I expected so much more…
To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin: I so wanted to love this book! Romance, Paris, the Eiffel Tower… it should have been an un-put-down-able love story, but instead, I met characters who took miscommunication to a frustrating extreme. I lost interest in no time, but the ending was definitely worth the days of force-reading required to reach it.
Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin: Set in a future post-apocalyptic world after a devastating epidemic caused by electro-magnetic pulses, technology has been abandoned, but Nell decides to go against the grain in order to prove its worth. Full of contradictions, I still have so many questions about Nell’s world – What’s it like in the city? How was her project received? I could really use a sequel to tie up a few loose ends.
The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney: One of my most anticipated reads from 2016, The Nest was destined for disappointment. Following the Plumb siblings as they squabble over what to do with the family “nest”, I couldn’t find a single character I liked. Each selfish in their own way, reading The Nest is like watching girls in college fight over who gets a larger allowance.
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund: After weeks of seeing wintry Instagram posts featuring the History of Wolves, with its stunning cover of birch trees, I finally picked up a copy from the library. I couldn’t have picked a more frustrating read! The story is intriguing, but the untidy ending seems rushed and incomplete.
What novels did you love more/less than expected?