Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Dangers of Hype and YA Blasphemy

If you're a YA enthusiast, chances are you've gotten wrapped up in hype at some point. You start hearing about a book all over various blogs. The buzz gets a little louder and Goodreads reviews start showing up, and they're all good. The cover is just sooooo gorgeous and the premise makes you want to torch all your WIPs because you know you'll never be able to think up something that awesome.

Then release day comes, or, if it's an older book, you finally get your hands on it and have time to read it. So you do. And...'s just not that good.

You feel bad. You want to cry. You expected so much, but the delivery just wasn't all you'd hoped for. The clouds didn't open up, a beam of sunshine didn't envelop you as you read, you didn't have any life-changing epiphanies while reading.

This is happening to me right now. I'm no stranger to the feeling of being let-down by hype, but right now it's on a much bigger scale. I'm delving into some of the older books of an author I like, an author that's considered YA royalty, and I'm just not enjoying them the way I'd hoped I would. From what some bloggers and reviewers say, it doesn't feel like I'm reading the same books they did. It makes me really, really sad.

It also makes me feel blasphemous.

If I tell anybody I don't like these books, the books everyone else seems to adore, will I not be allowed to join the cool kids' clubs? A lot of bloggers nowadays are scared to voice negative opinions on books because of that whole YA Mafia thing last year... if I write a less-than-glowing review of these books, will everyone hate me? Do I have to lie, pretend I liked it, fake a smile when I talk about it?

I don't think I should have to. I have legitimate reasons to dislike the books and I have a right to express myself, right?

At least, I think I do.

Have you ever felt like this? Either blinded by hype or scared to write a negative review? When I'm done reading all the books by this author, I want to review them all together in a vlog -- what do you think about that? Should I?


  1. Yes, we've definitely been let down by hype. It's always a bummer, and it's also part of the reason we've mostly stopped reading hyped books. Not forever, but at least until the hype dies down and moves on to another title.

    We don't review books publicly -- except to gush about ones that we truly enjoyed -- so we don't struggle too much with the fear of retribution. But we also don't think anyone should be afraid to say (respectfully) what they think! (We also don't think there's really a YA mafia...)

    We LOVE seeing less-than-glowing reviews -- not b/c we like bad books or hurting anyone's feelings, but b/c we like to know the TRUTH about things, and we like people to express their real opinions. We respect that.

    We think your vlog idea is perfectly fine. It sounds like your main concern is about a few older titles that you don't like, which is not surprising. Like ANYONE in ANY job, writers get better as they go (usually). Perhaps you can highlight some of the recent positives as well.

  2. Yup, it happened to me too to be let down by a book that got a lot of hype. It's kind of depressing, really!

    It also happened to me not to like an author's books at all, and she was a NYT bestseller! Blasphemy indeed!:)) I didn't write a review, but I mentioned on goodreads that the series wasn't for me and what bugged me about the writing.

    I guess it happens to everyone from time to time - we can't ALL love the SAME books out there! I don't know what's the fuss about with this YA Mafia, but as long as you are polite and respectful, I think it's ok to express your honest opinion on why you didn't like a book.

    You made me curious about this author, I'm looking forward to your vlog!:D

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  4. That happens quite often, I imagine. That's why I take the safe route, and instead of buying hyped books, I just check them out from the library. ;D

    I really think it's all about your preference on what reviews you write and post. If you're not comfortable with posting negative reviews, then don't stress out about it and write them. As they always say, it's your site, do what you want!

    Personally, I will post negative reviews. But I always, always try to be as positive as I can. i received a couple of books for a review that I didn't realize until later were self-published. Even though the writing was horrible, I still picked out elements that were actually good and really tried to focus my reviews on the positive, and be nothing but respectful to the author.

    I also tend to avoid reviews of the book I'm currently reading until after my own review. I've read them beforehand, and had the reviews totally change how I approached a book. I wasn't happy with how that went, so I just avoid them like the plague now. ;D

    I think your vlog idea sounds great! They're always so much fun. I'm really curious about this author now.

  5. A vlog review sounds awesome! I feel this way all the time. I don't read too much (but I am trying to change that) and it's mostly because I can never find a good book. I'm just critical, and I'm always really afraid to admit that. I'll read something and think, "this is supposed to be good? I don't get it." I understand what you mean.

  6. Happens to me all the time. I say go for it. Who can get mad at you for expressing your opinion as long as it doesn't offend anyone?

    I know it's rude to ask, but what book is it?

  7. This happens to be a lot. I feel like you do. Like I can't admit that I didn't like the book. I see it on favorites lists and think, "Come on, there is NO WAY that you felt that way about that book." Sometimes I buy into the buzz from other authors who got their hands on an ARC months ago and they've been touting it as the greatest thing ever for weeks. And then I read it, and I think, "you lied!" Like these other authors promoted it so that when their book is due to come out, they get the same hype. And then I get a little mad. After I feel like a jerk about that, I try to remember how incredibly subjective this business is. And the same reason I get a full request from agent A and a form rejection from agent B, is a lot like why there is hype around books that I don't at all understand sometimes. :)

    I think if giving honest reviews is something you are comfortable with- AWESOME! I love when people have the guts to say what they actually think about a book, even if it's less than stellar. Just because a book gets a not so great review, doesn't mean that I won't buy it. I personally feel like I can't give negative reviews on my blog. I talk about the books I love, and if I don't love it, I leave it out. But that's me, and I'm a wuss! ;) If you want to talk about it, more power to you!! I'm trying to suffer my way through a book now and I doubt I'll finish. I've been trying to read it for months because it had so much hype around it, but I've also failed to make it through this particular authors previous two novels, so I think she just isn't for me....

    Good luck!

  8. I've heard the suggestion to never write a bad review, and I think it's bunk. If you can't express your actual opinion about a book, why review it at all? I pay a lot of attention to reviews before I buy a book, especially on Goodreads, and you know what? I actually go to the icon that lists how many 2-star reviews there were and read all the 2-stars first. Then I read the 3-stars. I usually stop there. Because I know all the one star reviews are going to say: "This book sucked," and all the 5-star reviews are generally going to say: "OMGTHISBOOKISSOOOOOGOOD!!!XD!!!!!!"

    2-4 star interviews are people who are trying to evenly weigh the book and give some useful input. I'd love to see a quality book review vlog.

    I think what "not posting a negative review" is trying to accomplish is simple author-bashing. I wouldn't say anything I wouldn't want to own up to if I met someone at a conference, but "I thought your book did not live up to its hype because of XY and Z" is nothing to be ashamed of.

  9. oh i really try to ignore hype

    and i am often disappointed ~ i think maybe as i am an older reader of YA sometimes popular books are not necesarily the YA books i enjoy or find merit in

    i don't feel ashamed of not liking books though. i am probably only one of a few people who didn't like DIVERGENT. i couldn't even finish DELIRIUM and there are countless more examples. it doesn't worry me though and i don't feel bad about it :)

    (on the opposite side, a lot of my fave books prob don't appeal to the general mob but i love them dearly :D

  10. I HATE when that happens. And it happens a lot with me. IDK, I'm torn about your question. I don't think you should ever sugar coat something you don't like, and as long as you're respectful about how you say it, being negative about the book and not author, I think it can be done well.

    BUT, I'm also a firm believer in being nice or saying nothing, so personally, I only sing the praises of the things I like and don't talk about the things that I hated or disappointed me. That way, you're promoting the good and quietly hoping the bad fades away from other people not talking about it either. lol.

  11. Please don't hide your true feelings about something popular to stick with the crowd. We all bring our own perspectives to what we read, and that's part of what I enjoy the most about reading - sharing perspectives, debating, learning what others have taken from something they've read. A vlog sounds like a great idea. Looking forward to seeing it! :-)

  12. Ugh that happens to me ALL THE TIME! I think it's because I tend to be super picky as a reader. Either that or I have strange tastes. But there are sooo many books that have been hyped like crazy that I either actively disliked or thought decent but not THAT great. I don't do book reviews, which is good because most of them will probably be like "oh I guess it was ok but I didn't like it that much" and I don't want to be a book basher, you know?