1.19.2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY | BOOKS THAT WEREN'T WHAT I EXPECTED


This week's Top Ten Tuesday on The Broke and the Bookish is: Top Ten Books That Weren't What I Expected. This week was a freebie - meaning I can choose any topic I want. And because I've read a few books in the past year that really surprised me, I thought this would be a good chance to look back over some of them.

For the Better: 


Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel
The Martian - Andy Weir
Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn


The Girl On the Train - Paula Hawkins
Reality Boy - A.S. King

These books weren't what I expected for a few different reasons. Either the story went in an entirely different direction than I anticipated (Gone Girl), they were much more amusing (The Martian), the writing was more beautiful than the genre usually delivers (Station Eleven and The Girl On the Train) or the story just wasn't what the jacket blurb led me to expect (Reality Boy). But these all have one thing in common: in spite of (or because of) these surprising turns, they were all excellent.

For the Worse:

 
Roomies - Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
These Broken Stars - Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Going Bovine - Libba Bray


Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins
The Vacationers - Emma Straub

Now for the books that underwhelmed me. These ones were seriously over-hyped (These Broken Stars), had good concepts or settings with poor execution (Going Bovine and The Vacationers), had plots that didn't impress me, or characters whose personalities or behaviour turned me off (Anna and the French Kiss and Roomies). Again, there's one common thread: These all had so much potential. In all of them there was a great idea, a truly fantastic character or a whimsical setting I wanted to lose myself in. Which, I think, contributed to them standing out as being disappointing - books that universally suck I quickly forget about!

What about you guys? Do any books stand out to you as having completely turned your expectations upside down? Did you experience any of my surprise while reading these books? Share in the comments!

18 comments :

  1. I'm glad that you enjoyed Gone Girl. I know it does split opinions. Hype really can ruin a book! A great list this week! My TTT

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    1. Well, I don't know if "enjoy" is *exactly* the right word for Gone Girl, but I admire it, while simultaneously disliking pretty much every single character. It was hard to read (the movie is excellent and a bit easier to take as it's less of a time commitment) but also worth it! Hype can be such a double-edged sword. Without it, there are many wonderful books that I would have missed out on... but then there are the ones that so don't live up to it! Thanks - heading over to yours now! :) (I love Freebie weeks because it's exciting to see what topics everyone picks!)

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  2. I'm glad you ended up enjoying Gone Girl! Such a good book. And I'm really looking forward to reading The Girl on the Train!

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    1. Gone Girl was such a unique reading experience! I recently watched the movie, too, and I thought it did a fantastic job of sticking close to the book - and the casting was excellent. The Girl On the Train was different in terms of plot, but the feeling of reading it was kind of similar. Uncomfortable, yet fascinating. I'd highly recommend it if that's your cup of tea! Thanks for stopping by! :)

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  3. Ooh, I really want to try Reality Boy at some point! I loved Broken Stars so sad you didn't...but at the same time I understand. It was actually completely not what I expected!
    Here's my TTT!

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    1. Reality Boy was beautiful. I mean, it was horrible, but beautiful. It lacked the whitewashed brush strokes so often present in YA, particularly when it comes to young love. I loved how complex his family was and how well King teased out the main characters. I'm not doing it justice, but I'd definitely recommend it if you like your YA gritty and with more than a hint of crazy.

      You have no idea how much I *wanted* to love TBS!! I had heard so many of the bloggers I love and admire (like you!) rave about it, and I was so expecting to be amazed and awed. Have you ever heard wonderful things about a book, read it, not liked it and spent the next month wondering what is wrong with you? That was my experience with this book. Except I'm still kind of wondering. I have no explanation for it, and it still upsets me. Ugh, I don't wanna talk about it anymore.

      Cookies? Cake? Beer?

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  4. Hi. That's an interesting topic. I read so many raving reviews about 'Anna and the French Kiss'; I thought I should give it a go. Now I'm contemplating.
    Oh I didn't know 'The Martian' is amusing. There's a movie coming out this year and I left it out of my top ten most anticipated book-inspired movies (a topic I chose for today). Feel free to check it out: https://ssreaderscorner.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/top-ten-most-eagerly-awaited-book-inspired-movies/

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    1. Hmmm. Anna and the French Kiss... it was a very personal thing for me. It's hard to tell you why I didn't like it without spoilers. Let's just say that the way two of the characters behave regarding their romantic entanglements really turned me off. I don't think it was a bad book, but my issue was that because the book is about 90% about this particular romantic thing. I hope that gave enough info for you to decide if it's likely to bother you or not without spoiling anything! It's really a personal thing, it's not badly written or anything. I do think that it's better suited to younger readers of YA just in terms of the way it's written and the situations described, too!
      The Martian is HILARIOUS! I loved it so, so much! It's kind of dry, sarcastic humour, but man, I literally LOLed many times.
      Thanks for stopping by! :)

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    1. Thanks! You're welcome to steal it next Freebie! :)

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  6. I was hugely underwhelmed by Anna and the French Kiss as well. It was showing up on so many "Best of" lists on so many blogs that I felt I had to check it out. I wasn't really missing out in the end!

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    1. You're like the first person I've talked to about it who didn't love it! What was it about the book that didn't work for you, out of curiosity? For me it was the way the characters behaved towards the people they were in relationships with. Major turn off. I'm also in my 30s, and though I love reading YA books, every once in a while I do come across one that I just can't jive with because it's too immature - this was one of those books for me. I think I would have liked it more had I read it when I was younger, though I also worry about the messages it's sending about fidelity and responsibility in relationships to those who haven't yet gained very much experience with them!

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  7. I just got Station Eleven and I'm so EXCITED for it, not so much for the UK paperback cover though. Gone Girl surprised me in a great way too, and I'm waiting to hear back on approval for The Girl on The Train! R x

    My TTT: https://confessionsofabookgeek.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/top-ten-tuesday-book-bloggers-i-give-my-love-to/

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    1. I have to admit - the Canadian cover is a large part of why I picked up this book! I mostly started reading out of curiosity, but man am I glad I did. It was easily one of my top books of the year. I don't know if it will necessarily be everyone's cup of tea, but I loved it. Likewise Girl On the Train - it's a bit slow to start, so give it a bit longer than your average book to win you over. It's worth it.

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  8. I ordered The Girl on the Train for my library because I kept seeing such wonderful things about it. As soon as it came in it had a hold on it, which I was both happy and sad about. I can't wait to read it!
    I did my TTT on reasons to read comics. :)

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    1. I hope you get your eager little hands on it soon! It was so much more interesting and well written than I expected. A little slow to get going, but worth sticking with. Heading over to visit your post now - and thanks for stopping by! :)

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  9. The Martian! I can't help but use an exclamation point whenever that book is mentioned.

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    1. Me too! It's such a hard sell for those who haven't heard of it. Everyone *thinks* they know what it's going to be like. But they never, ever do. It's always SO MUCH BETTER.

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