I’m sure we have all encountered those books. The ones that, on paper, sound perfect for you. A potential new favorite that contains all of the things you love to read. Maybe everyone who has similar reading tastes has read it and loved it, so you know you will, too. So you read it, and it’s somehow… you don’t love it. Something about it just doesn’t speak to you. You and this new book are not soulmates, and you’re left disappointed. And it’s fine. It happens.
Today, I thought I’d talk about a few of the books that I was one-hundred percent expecting to love… and didn’t. I still really enjoyed most of these books, but they just weren’t five-star reads for me. So, just to clarify so I don’t get hate about this (because there are some very popular books on this list), I’m not saying these are bad books, they’re just books I liked less than I was expecting. If you love them, that’s great and I’m not going to argue with you. If I’m being honest, I wish I’d loved them, too.
The Bear & The Nightingale by Katherine Arden
I think this might be one of the more controversial books on this list. Everyone seems to adore The Bear & The Nightingale. I truly thought I would, too. I love historical fiction, and mysterious magical elements, and girl power storylines (especially in historical fiction). But I did not connect with this book at all. I didn’t hate it, but I also didn’t enjoy it. It was just kind of meh for me. And I honestly remember very little about it, even though I tried to push through and read the second book in the series, too. Which I did like a little better (I think), but it still didn’t really do anything for me.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman is and always will be one of my favorite authors. I have read almost all of his books. If someone asks me what my favorite book is, I always say Neverwhere, because that’s the book that made me see writing differently and I love it so, so much. I enjoyed American Gods and Stardust and The Ocean at the End of the Lane and The Graveyard Book. And I thought I would love Coraline – which gets so much hype – just as much. But I just didn’t. I didn’t dislike it, but it’s also probably my least favorite Gaiman. Which is fine. I genuinely think that how much everyone loved this and how much I love some of Gaiman’s other books kind of set me up for a least a little disappointment here.
Vengeful by V. E. Schwab
Schwab’s Vengeful is one of my favorite books. It’s dark and brilliant and just so clever. Naturally, I was looking forward to the sequel, Vengeful. Unfortunately, this one just fell a little flat for me. I just didn’t click with Marcella, a new character with a pretty big role. I just really wanted more Victor and Eli – that dynamic is why I loved the first book so much. I ended up giving this one four stars (probably more like three and a half, but I rounded up). So, clearly, I didn’t hate it. It just wasn’t quite as incredible as Vicious is. To be totally fair to Vengeful, I did read this during a crappy month, so that might have affected my reading experience. I do want to reread this at some point because of that. But, honestly, I still don’t think this will be a five-star read for me.
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
I feel like everyone read and loved this book. When it came out, it was everywhere you looked. And, while I haven’t read The Bone Season, I decided to pick this up. It sounded really fun – an adult LGBT fantasy with dragons. I also liked that it was a standalone. So I read it, and my feelings about this book are just “meh”. It was fine. It didn’t excite me, but I also didn’t dislike it at all. I was just a little bit bored. Which isn’t what you’re looking for in a fantasy. It had so many elements I enjoy in books, but it didn’t click for me. I didn’t feel excited to keep reading, I just wanted to get it over with because it was sort of putting me to sleep. It was honestly extra disappointing because there wasn’t really anything I disliked about this book, it just wasn’t for me.
Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler
The rest of the books on this list, I liked. At least a little bit. And I was really expecting to like this one, too. Modern retelling of one of my all-time favorite Shakespeare plays? Yes, please! (In case you missed it, I did do a post where I read retellings of my top five plays – and read and ranked all of Shakespeare’s plays.) But, since I read this for a post in which I read the lowest rated books on my TBR, I shouldn’t have been too surprised what ended up hating this book. One of the reasons I love The Taming of the Shrew is because it’s surprisingly feminist (especially for it’s time). I thought a modern retelling would emphasize that, but it did the opposite. Hard no from me.
That’s it for this post! I hope you enjoyed it! Have you read any books you expected to love and didn’t? What are your thoughts about the books on this list?