Literary letdowns

I’ve recently heard from some friends who have been disappointed with critically-acclaimed, wildly popular books. In some cases, I’ve recommended the book on the wrong end of a vicious verbal barrage. Imagine this:






Toss in a few more obscenities for good measure and now you get what I’ve been dealing with recently. First it’s THE CORRECTIONS by Jonathan Franzen. Next, it’s INFINITE JEST. Even a couple of my most memorable childhood books have been slandered during this, the merriest time of year. If one more person puts down ENDER’S GAME or HATCHET

At first I thought my friends were being a little too harsh. They couldn’t see any of the, ahem, silver linings, in the aforementioned books. Then I thought back to those times I too had experienced that hollow feeling that follows the breaking of high expectations. We’ve all been there. Every one of us has cracked open a book hoping to turn that last page, clap the back cover closed, and look up to a new world with a fresh perspective.

It rarely happens. And we’re let down. Now’s the time to share. Let’s get all of the whining out the way right now and enjoy the rest of the holiday season. What books didn’t live up to your expectations?

4 Responses to Literary letdowns

  1. Jessica says:

    I had the experience of hearing everyone rave about one series that is HUGELY popular (I won’t name it simply because I don’t want be rude), including a good friend of mine. In the past my friend had recommended some books I absolutely loved, so I trusted her judgement. Sadly, I HATED the series. I was 100% pissed off by the time I finished them (I’m one of those people who has to finish a series once I start it). I just couldn’t get behind an unapologetic rapist and murderer as the love interest no matter how ‘hot’ and ‘sexy’ he was, not to mention an idiotic MC.

    There were a few other let downs, but that was the one that I feel stole time from me. It wasted both my money and time.

  2. Gill Avila says:

    I remember reading a Robert McCammon book where the denoument was that the protagonist and antagonist were twins separated at birth. Within 3 seconds I went from surprise that the writer dared try that cliche to sadness that the writer had to pull that dated stunt to rage at the agent and editors for letting that lame stunt go through. I threw the book so hard that I dented my wall, and I’ve never read another of his books.

    • D. C. DaCosta says:

      Your reaction is similar to mine when I finished “The Horse Whisperer”. What a load of improbable tripe!

      But, by golly, what a page-turner!

  3. Hillsy says:

    Before I found I have fundamental problems liking YA books, I read rave reviews of a number of novels that turned out to be thoroughly insipid (for me):

    Harry Potter (philospher’s stone), didn’t get it. Thought it was mediocre at best. Preferred the film.
    His Dark Materials? I could rant for effing weeks about that.
    The Painted Man was poorly hung together on shock tactics and premises I couldn’t buy (Ooo look, rape. Ooo look, incest. Ooo Look, a 9-year-old who’s more capable than anyone else in the book).
    The Left Hand of God: After the hype, well, I nearly gave up reading….

    Through that I’ve learned I just don’t “get” YA (BTW I’m not a book snob. I love fantasy and sci-fi, preferably heroic and far fetched. There’s something about the way YA frames its character motives and plots that I just don’t buy into. I’d also nail my left hand to Rush Limbugh than read Ulyses). But at the time I read the hype and thought “you know this sounds fun ” and ignored who the targetted audience was – it was swords and dragons and magic and who cares if it was YA or adult!.

    I now have a MUCH greater respect for the subtleties of genre.

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