Thursday, November 17, 2011

The tragedy of high expectations

Do you all ever hear about a really hyped up book, get super stoked to read it, and then find yourself underwhelmed?

("I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever be just 'whelmed'?"/"I think you can in Europe."  NAME THAT MOVIE.)

That happened awhile ago, and thanks to the Blog Rule that you never, ever rip on a book on the blogosphere (unless it's like The Grapes of Wrath or something and Steinbeck is too old, dead, rich, and not on the Internet enough to get his feelings hurt) if you want to someday exchange your mere Writey Pants for a Ballgown or Tuxedo of Author Awesome, I'm not going to say which one.  (Thanks, Paranoia Penguins!)

But, gosh, that book had such promise.  I tore through the first half, completely engrossed, and then somewhere in the middle I started thinking ...

Is this really happening?  

Did ____________  (character name) really just ___________ (action) with ___________ (character name) without so much as ________________  (action) first?  Son of a ______________ (expletive).

I can see the ending coming from a mile away.  Is it really ...?  Yup, it is.

There's going to be a sequel, right?  Because this is a lot of back story.  And I mean A LOT.  We're setting up the sequel here, right?

Why did so many people recommend this to me?  Did they not finish it?

Am I off-base? Am I the only one who thinks this went off the rails at the 2/3 mark?


Am I being too harsh?  I mean, I did absolutely love the beginning.  Am I really moderately satisfied, but just disappointed that the level of awesome was not maintained, and mistaking that feeling for irritation? 

Was the bar just set too high from the get-go?

The problem is, now that I'm looking back on it, a lot of those things don't bother me anymore.  I mostly just remember how awesome the first half was and that, yes I didn't love the ending--but I don't think I actually hated the ending.  I just didn't like it.  And with a book that hyped, I expected total  adoration from cover-to-cover. 

This happens to me all the time with movies, but rarely with a book--probably because books don't get as much hype as movies period, unless their titles kind of sound like Larry Cotter or Shirl with the Wagon Igloo.  (For the record, Shirl also disappointed me.)

Anyone else in the same boat (with a book they may or may not choose to name specifically)?


  1. 10 Things I Hate About You!!!! I totally thought that before reading it, HA!

    I'm dying to know what book that was, because I'd probably totally agree with you...

  2. This happened to me with Graceling. Ugh.

  3. I love 10 Things I Hate About You. Great flick.

    I felt that way about a certain sparkly vampire series. And yes, fine, I might be going to see the movie tonight (NOT at midnight), but that doesn't mean I loved the books. I thought they were much ado about nothing.

  4. I have recently felt this way about a particular book too. It is currently stuffed in my drawer under better books.

    I am contemplating ripping its cover off.

  5. I am currently reading a book, I really, really hope I end up loving. It's been hyped to me as SO awesome, and I really want to like it. But, I'm not loving it so far. Oh, and I am dying to know which book your talking about.

  6. Crap. Someone beat me to the 10 Things...answer. Anywho, yes. It happens to me all the time (last time was 2 weeks ago.) And , Shirl disappointed me, too.

  7. 10 Things, but I bet someone else got that already.
    I recently read a book I heard a TON of hype about it while I thought it was... okay... it didn't like up to the hype for me.
    Ah well. Everyone's got their own faves.

  8. Now I'm curious which book it was! LOL I read one a while ago that got so much hype and when I was finished reading it I felt ... nothing. Hate it when that happens.

    And I love 10 Things I Hate About You. ;)

  9. I think the deal with public book critiques is to get specific. If you don't like it, make sure people know its your opinion. Bad reviews can be a good thing, because it tells you where your audience isn't.

  10. My problem is I abhor the book... and still read the sequel. Didn't like Shirl either. And still picked up Shirl who Weighed a Tire. Let down. You'd think I'd stop before the third. But I didn't. And I can't think of any clever rhymes for it either.

  11. Funny, Ru, but I just finished an uber-hyped novel that launched into Epic Back Story Mode about two-thirds of the way through. I wonder if we're thinking about the same one...