Books we wanted to love (but couldn’t)

This post isn’t about books that were flat-out bad. This post is about books that should’ve been great, that we should have gone SQUEE over, and that just weren’t all that, in defiance of all prediction.

Fly By Night:  This was so close. It should’ve been a big hit. And indeed, it was ok. Why did I not love it? I just don’t know. Partly I didn’t like one of the characters… maybe it was the writing… I did like it, but am somewhat lukewarm.

Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke. This book had every element that I should have loved. But it went on waaaaayyyy too long and I hated most of the people in it, and it wasn’t cheerful, and I wanted the plot to go a different way, and all the events were unrelentingly dismal like the characters, and it needed tightening.

The Good Fairies of New York, by Martin Millar. How can something blurbed by Neil Gaiman be unenrapturing? Too many info-dumps, that’s how. Yes, you did your research about Scottish music! Great! Now shut up!

We had some discussion about The Magicians and Mrs. Quent and this list.  In the end we decided it was too much of a miss to be a near miss.  The nicest thing we can say about it is that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies steals less material from P&P and is more open about the theft.  The people who loved the book had obviously not read any of the classics it stole entire characters and plots from without so much as a wink or nudge.  They were great literature the first 20 times we read them, you know, in Jane Eyre?  And not so in need of editing. (For how to do a GOOD job of stealing from the classics, we recommend Deanna Raybourn’s The Dead Travel Fast, which we loved.)

#2 adds:  Can I mention the last 3 Harry Potter books, or is that heresy?

Have you had any near-misses?

11 Responses to “Books we wanted to love (but couldn’t)”

  1. Sandy L Says:

    I think it’s awesome that you actually wrote bad reviews.

    Most (not all) people out there must be afraid of losing incoming paid offers. Rock on Girlfriend.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Just developing our street cred. No, actually it hadn’t even crossed our minds. We don’t think we’ll be doing sponsored reviews. Reviews of FREE books, yes, we’ll do those. Please send them! (We already have done some for LibraryThing.)

  2. Everyday Tips Says:

    Oh no, don’t hate on the last 3 Harry Potter books. I admit, a good chunk of book 7 could have been eliminated. (Evil necklace, Mean Ron, Mean Harry, Evil Necklace. For kids that accomplished so much, they sure were dumb about the evil necklace.) I actually appreciated book 5 more the second time around. Maybe I am getting dumber?

    There have been a lot more movies that I was disappointed in than books. For instance, I HATED the Big Chill, but everyone else seemed to love it. Maybe I was too young, I don’t know, but I would have been better off napping instead.

  3. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    No no, not hate, just… it seemed like the editor had made a conscious decision not to bother editing them. They could have used a lot more editing; the previous books in the series were much tighter. Wanted to love, but really, they could have been so much better.

    (Also I didn’t like the way that he’s plucky Harry end of book 4, and sullen teenager beginning of book 5, even though NO TIME passes between the two books. Sure, sullen teen, but at least lead up to it! Maybe 3 days of shocked sorrow leading to angst or something. Another editing problem I think. This part of the comment is MHO, and #1 may not agree.)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      #1 here: It was awfully angsty, but so was I in high school, so I sighed and put up with it. I have nothing bad to say about the HP books!

      • Sandy L Says:

        I actually didn’t like book 4 because of Harry’s bitchyness. My husband reminded me that teens have a lot of emotions and we used to explode about dumb things, so I guess it was true to form, but I still got annoyed by it when reading it. I did like all the others though.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Sure, teenagers are angsty, but usually they lead up to it. If she’d left out a couple of months in between books I’d have been ok. OR if she’d shown the path to angst, even if just a day or two… some sort of internalization that changes him from plucky boy wonder to emo. But no. New book, totally different character. Bad editing. Yes, bad things happened to him at the end of book 4, but he was still the same old Harry at the end… some transforming should have been shown or time elapsed.

  4. Money Reasons Says:

    Perhaps I’m lazy, but I always cherry pick the most popular books, and even then I’ll listen to them in the car as I drive (to work, vacation, etc…) via an audiobook (love em!).

    The only series (of fiction books) that I’m thinking about reading in the next year is “The girl with the dragon tattoo” series. But that will be based on whether my wife recommends them or not :)

    • Roshawn @ Watson Inc Says:

      @Money Reasons
      I have book reading habits too. I typically gravitate towards non-fiction. However, when I do read fiction (rarely), it is often something that I know isn’t necessarily the highest quality per se but is very enjoyable (i.e. James Patterson). This strategy works for me.

  5. Time To Read Some Great Posts! | Everyday Tips and Thoughts... Says:

    […] Grumpy Rumblings of the Untenured shares some books that they wanted to love, but just couldn’t enjoy. Do you ever read any books that really disappointed you? […]

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