The Hype, the Hope, and the Hesitation: On Reading Massively Popular Books

Book blogs raved about it, it was on the forefront of so many Top 10 lists, and even my friends were encouraging me to read it. And because I had ten dollars to spend and Attachments by Rainbow Rowell was sold out, I caved. I finally bought the book Cinder.

Cinder

And I then finished Cinder. On the same day, at that. It was that good. I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would. Don’t get me wrong–I love fairy tale retellings, and this one was definitely one of the more unique ones, but I just never really cared for the story of Cinderella.  (Never mind that Just Ella, another Cinderella retelling, is one of my favorite books. I read it in middle school because it was one of the only on my teacher’s bookshelf that I hadn’t finished.)

So while everyone went on and on about Cinder, I was busy with books like The Sisters Grimm, and the Looking Glass Wars. (Both fab.) And then people kept talking about Cinder, and I began to feel so jealous because what was I missing out on? What if the book really is great? And turns out, it was. Cinder was a spectacular twist on the original boring, slightly drippy tale of Cinderella and I loved it and if I had another ten dollars I’d buy the second book now, too. But after I finished Cinder and realized that the hype surrounding it had been hyping it for a reason, I began thinking about the nature of book-hype, and how it affects different readers. Because while I usually am more compelled to buy a book when everyone is talking about it, I’ve noticed many bloggers write that they are reluctant to read books because of the hype. And I can kind of see where they’re coming from. When everybody is raving about a particular book, the standards are impossible high, which often leads to disappointment. But the curiosity to find out what everybody is talking about always convinces me to buy the book, and in truth, I’ve found some of my favorite books by just going with the flow. Of course, just like anybody else, I’ve been let down by a book that so many people love, and I think that, in a way, that’s a really cool thing about books. That what a hundred people choose as their favorite book could be a letdown for one person, and that one person’s favorite book could spark nothing but antipathy in a hundred people. Books are all subjective; they mean something different and strike a new chord in every person they meet. They are like music for the eyes.

In any case, I digress. Because I was thinking about books and the hype that surrounds them, I found myself wondering what books I read because of the hype, and whether or not I think they deserved the hype. I also started thinking of books that deserved more hype. So I decided to tell you my personal example of each. Feel free to leave your own experiences in the comments!

 A book that you read because of the hype: Cinder, of course! As I said earlier, the only reason I read the futuristic retelling of Cinderella was because everybody was going glowy over it.

A book that you declined to read despite/because of the hype: Well, I don’t really choose not to read books that everyone else loves. Usually, hype makes me excited. But a book that I didn’t read that has a lot of hype would be the Maze Runner by James Dashner. (Whoah. Just noticed that the guy whose most famous book is the Maze Runner has a last name that includes the word Dash. Just whoah.) I probably will eventually, though. It’s just not that important to me.

A book that deserves the hype: Hmm. This is hard. Because a lot of books deserve the hype. But the one I’m thinking about right now would be the City of Bones. I started this series years ago, when it was still popular but not insanely, movie-out popular like it is today. But, like I said, it was popular and as I read it I remember thinking ‘well, no wonder.’

A book that disappointed: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross. It seems like so many people were giddy about this book, but to me the best part was the cover. Finley had two different personalities, and I didn’t care about either one.

And finally:

A book that deserves more hype: Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde. I absolutely loved this book when I was in middle school. It takes place almost exclusively in a virtual reality world where the heroine has become trapped, and follows her attempts at escape through the only means possible: winning the game.  The writing was witty, the main character was likable, and there was a dragon! Despite all this, I don’t think it was ever super popular, although it has a strong Goodreads score. So, yes, you should check it out.

So, my questions to you: Does the hype surrounding a book affect the likelihood that you’ll read it? If so, does it influence you in a positive way, or a negative way? Also, what books deserve the hype, and which ones don’t? Let me know in the comments, below! 

‹Oh, wow. Just realized this was my 42nd post. I shall take this time to pay homage to Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

 

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26 thoughts on “The Hype, the Hope, and the Hesitation: On Reading Massively Popular Books

  1. I just found ‘Cinder’ in the clearance section of a bookstore, and I’m really excited to read it! Sometimes the hype makes me hesitate, but other times it doesn’t. It actually took me a looooooong time before I started reading ‘The Hunger Games’, but I enjoyed the series for the most part after I finally gave in. I’m actually currently reading ‘The Maze Runner’; it’s okay, but it’s not something that I’d run around telling people that it’s a must-read. I still have a little less than halfway to read, so maybe it’ll get better.

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    • Yes, it’s really good! One of my favorite fairytale retellings that I’ve come across!
      Yeah, I get what you mean. I read the Hunger Games because I really liked Collins’ first series, Gregor the Overlander, but I wonder how long it would have taken me to read it if I hadn’t known about her other books.
      Yes, hopefully it will get better! I heard the beginning starts out slow, but that the ending was much more intriguing.

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  2. I wasn’t expecting to like Cinder as much as I did when I read it too, because I’m not a big fan of Cinderella tho. The moment I finish reading it I had to start reading Scarlet (also a very good book). I bought the Maze Runner but I just don’t feel reading it yet, I’m trying to have a “YA break”, any book suggestions?

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    • Yes, same here. In terms of fairy tales, I much prefer Beauty and the Beast, and Little Red Riding Hood over tales like Cinderella and Snow White. I do want to read Scarlet, now, and then the third book, as well.
      Hmm, if you don’t feel like reading YA at the moment, I would suggest American Gods. I finished it last week (it’s fantasy) and it was great. Or, if you’re looking for something without fantasy, try Gone Girl. I know everyone raves about that one, but it also deserves the hype.

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  3. Awesome post. I read Maze Runner when it first came out because I liked the authors other series(13th Reality) but I still think it’s one that doesn’t live up to the hype, also that whole Dash/Runner thing? Mind blown.
    My most recent disappointment with a hyped book would have to be If I Stay, I just didn’t like it very much. An author that I think deserves more hype is Cinda Williams Chima, she’s my favorite YA Fantasy writer. =)

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    • Thanks!
      Hmm, I haven’t heard much of anything about 13th Reality. Perhaps I’ll check that one out before (or, if) I read Maze Runner.
      I kind of agree with you about If I Stay. I thought it was nicely done, but it wasn’t really my cup of tea. I can see why it would appeal to those who like contemporary fiction, though.
      Ah, she’s the one who wrote the Warrior Heir, wasn’t she?! The book was on sale at my local HPB for only a dollar, but I didn’t end up buying it because I had no idea whether it would be good or not. Well, that’s disappointing. Hopefully I’ll be able to track it down one day!

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  4. I was the same way with Cinder! More because I just didn’t think the whole robot/space thing would work for me, but since I love fairy tales, I tried it and was completely blown away! It’s so funny that you were talking about the whole hype question because I’ve always wondered the same thing. I’m actually doing an English/Psych research project on the way people perceive books and how that might affect their reading taste. So I really enjoyed hearing your thoughts about that, and your tag questions were super fun!

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  5. I know what you mean when I heard about Cinder I was like, cyborg Cinderella, seriously? But Cinder rocks! I hope you get to read Scarlett and Cress, they’re really good. Lots of people like Scarlett the best, but I liked Cinder and Cress.

    I try to read hyped books if they look good to see what everyone is talking about, but about half of the time I’m disappointed. I think I set my expectations too high.

    I read one of Vivian Vande Velde’s ages ago, but I haven’t found any other books by her. Maybe I’ll have to check Amazon for Heir Apparent.

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    • Yeah, haha. I like books set in the future, and I like cyborgs…but with Cinderella? Turns out it’s just like those sea salt macarons or something–seems weird but totally works.

      That’s good–I’ll be able to look forward to both Scarlett and Cress, then. Because I love little Red Riding Hood, but Cress looks really cool (especially since she appeared in the first book).

      Yeah, I try and make myself not set my expectations above average, but sometimes it’s impossible, you know?

      Yes, you definitely should! It’s a really good book!

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  6. Confession: I JUST finished reading The Hunger Games, and I put it off specifically because of the hype. I like to wait until everyone’s read it and the hype has pretty much died down. Then, I feel like I have more freedom to be honest with myself about what I think.

    I really liked The Hunger games, but the first few chapters didn’t thrill me. They were kind of slow, and I had a hard time getting used to the first person present tense. But from the Reaping onward, I loved it!

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    • Hmm, the honesty thing is a factor that I haven’t heard a lot. That’s really interesting, and I suspect it’s true with a lot of people. When everyone else is gushing about a story it’s hard to be the one that’s just like ‘meh.’

      Yes, after the Reaping it’s a non-stop thrill ride!

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  7. Hype can affect me in both ways. If everyone is blogging about a book/series, I’m way more likely to go out of my way to buy it. Hype can definitely affect my expectations of the book though. I decided to read If I Stay before the movie comes out. Everyone made it out to be this absolutely amazing and lifechanging book. The hype got to me and I had crazy unrealistic expectations about it, and the book ended up not meeting them. I liked it definitely, but I would have MORE if I didn’t expect so much from it. It’s a double edged sword. Reading hyped up books can be a good risk or a bad one!

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    • Yes, I’m on par with you. I usually try and buy books if it seems like the world is talking about them, but even though I try and keep my expectations average, sometimes I just can’t help myself.

      Yes, If I Stay was really good, but not life changing for me, or anything like that. I liked it enough that I want to read the sequel, but not enough that it’s at the top of my to be read list. It is interesting to think about whether or not you’d like a book more or less if it wasn’t so hyped up. Maybe one day someone should do research where they assign a book to 100 random test subjects, making it out to be the best book in the world to fifty, and saying nothing to the other half. I wonder whether, on average, one group would prefer the book?

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  8. Okay, a book that deserves amazing hype is Zero by Tom Leeven. The cover is well.. gross and off putting but the story is amazing! One of the best contemporary stand alones I have read. I mean, its about an art student and a drummer.. what isn’t there to love? I think it needs more attention than it has.

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  9. I felt similar about Cinder. I really only read it because everyone was talking about how great it was. When I first heard about it, I thought it was stupid, and then one time I saw it at Barnes and Nobles a couple months later and I thought it seemed really cool. I thought it was great. I’ve realized I’ve read a lot more hyped book than I thought I have. Most I do really like. I’ve only had a couple that I didn’t. I read The Maze Runber and it was really boring. You’re not missing anything by having not read it. I don’t think there’s any that I won’t read and most of my favorites are pretty hyped up. In fact, if they don’t have hype, I won’t remember them as much.

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    • Yes–it took me a long time to get around to it, but I’m happy I finally did!
      Hmm, that’s what several people have said today. I feel like most of the hype I’ve heard about the Maze Runner comes from Goodreads, but that most people that I talk to feel much more ‘blah’ about it.

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  10. I still really need to read this book!!! I’ve heard so many good things about it and can’t wait for when I finally get to it (so many books, so little time! ^^’). Loved reading your review, thanks for sharing! 🙂 I’ve only just started getting back into blogging after a busy end of semester and summer, so I’ve got a lot of catching up to do!

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  11. I remember the big hype over Twilight, which influenced me to read it but like you said, it sets impossibly high standards. Although it was a compelling idea and Stephanie Meyers is really successful, the writing just didn’t do it for me.

    I’m usually skeptical of hyped books but do think some deserve the hype. I’ve heard good things about Cinder and that it reminded readers of Sailor Moon (apparently the author is a fan of Sailor Moon too). I also love Sailor Moon, so it gives me high hopes about it. I usually look at reviews on Goodreads, which seem to be right most of the time 🙂

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    • Yeah, I know what you mean. Some books just have standards that are impossible to meet, and so the actual book can’t help but fall short.

      Yes, I heard that about Cinder/Sailor Moon as well! I only wanted a couple episodes of Sailor Moon when I was younger, and don’t remember much of it, but I heard they’re making a re-make of it?

      Yeah, a lot of the times I’ll use Goodreads, too. Usually just to make sure the book doesn’t have like a one star rating, haha.

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