The Literary Phoenix

Funny, the damage a silly little book can do. Especially in the hands of a silly little girl.

top-ten-tuesdays

Top Ten Tuesdays is hosted by the ladies over on The Broke and the Bookish.  This week’s theme is “More/Less” and encourages participants to discuss ten book that they wish had more of less of something in them – writer’s choice!  Check up the other linkups for more great books!


Books get a reputation.  The ones on the best seller’s lists… the ones that everyone is reading… it’s easy to get caught up in the hype.  Some books are extraordinary as they seem, and others… just don’t seem to measure up for some people.  And that is okay.  It doesn’t mean they’re bad books.  Usually, it just means that you’ve heard so much about them that they just weren’t the revolutionary piece of writing you’d hoped for.

The following ten books are books I enjoyed enough.  I wanted to love them.  So many people did!  But I just didn’t.  They were missing their “muchness,” to borrow a term from Alice in Wonderland.  I wish I liked them more.  I wish they had more “muchness” for me.

Looking Glass Wars by Frank BeddorLooking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

Alyss of Wonderland’s rule has only just begun, but the Queendom and her White Imagination are already under threat. Someone has resurrected the brutal Glass Eyes, and they are attacking Wonderland on all sides. Has renegade Redd Heart freed herself and her assassin Cat from the prism of the Heart Crystal?

Doesn’t that description sound like the book should be exciting?  I thought so, too.  When I reviewed it in back in 2011, I gave it three generous stars.

I love Alice in Wonderland and desperately wanted to love this series.  The imagination parade alone had me sold on how excellent this story could be.  Unfortunately, I found the characters flat and boring.  I didn’t care what happened to any of them, and I really wanted to.

This complete ambivalence continued when, years later, I picked up the sequel Seeing Redd.  Add a love story that takes over the original plot… and I’m done.

Inkheart by Cornelia FunkeInkheart by Cornelia Funke

Mo, a gentle bookbinder with an extraordinary secret, and his daughter Meggie love books, yet he has not read aloud to her since her mother disappeared years ago. After a mysterious stranger visits them, Mo tells Meggie they must go into hiding. But why? – and from whom?

There are a handful of books-to-film where I really loved the movie, but couldn’t get into the book.  I know that the film adaptation of Inkheart has more than a few skeptics, but I can’t get past the intrigue of the story.  And, yes, I’m even okay with Brendan Fraser.  I loved the idea of literally reading a story off the page and I’d had good luck with reading books after viewing the film in the past – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams most notably.  When I picked up Inkheart, I don’t know.  It just felt a bit… understated.  As though something was missing and I just couldn’t get into it.

I felt similarly about Reckless, so I think perhaps my issue may have been with Cornelia Funke’s writing style.  Nonetheless, I definitely wished this book was much more… muchlier.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. MaasThrone of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

After she has served a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, Crown Prince Dorian offers eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien her freedom on the condition that she act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

A friend of mine at work was trying to get me to read this book for well over  year, soI picked up the audiobook version.  This one is all over lately – everyone is reading it, talking about it, and more to the point… everyone loves it.  But me.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked Celaena and thought Nehemia was excellent, but again with the love triangles and predictability!  This book was definitely illustrated to me as the next Harry Potter (why do people do that?) and it needed much more… bigness.  It blends with so much else of what’s available right now.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra ClareClockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

When sixteen-year-old orphan Tessa Gray’s older brother suddenly vanishes, her search for him leads her into Victorian-era London’s dangerous supernatural underworld, and when she discovers that she herself is a Downworlder, she must learn to trust the demon-killing Shadowhunters if she ever wants to learn to control her powers and find her brother.

So I’m one of those people who read Draco Dormiens and all Cassandra Clare’s Harry Potter fan fiction before she was famous, and before it disappeared off the internet.  I really liked it (high school)… so why can’t I get into her books?

I think it’s the steampunk.  Or the writing.  I’m not sure.  I just don’t care about the characters.  I even tried the Shadowhunters television show, and the movie… and I just can’t.  Everybody who likes YA Fiction is into her series, but not me.  And I know that the Clockwork Angel isn’t part of The Mortal Instruments (it’s a prequel), but it’s all I’ve read and I found it grossly underwhelming.  For me, this one really did not live up to the hype.  I gave it two stars in my review.

The Final Warning by James PattersonThe Final Warning by James Patterson

Driven to the wastelands of Antartica, each day brings a new threat for the flock. Danger is never far away and while fighting to save their own skin, they have a new mission to undertake – one with devastating global consequences.

James. Patterson.

I suppose one of the costs of putting out half a dozen books every year is that the quality degrades.

I always thought the Maximum Ride series was interesting; I read it in college when i would have been better suited for middle school, but I liked it enough that I bought and still have the books.  It’s certainly a lot different than the things that were coming out then, and are still coming out now.  It’s like a little piece of nostalgia from the Animorphs days.  I even quite liked Max.  But man.  Book four killed it.

Whatever fun magic that was in the first three books was burned to pieces as Patterson went on a crusade to save the planet.  This is a noble cause… but for goodness sakes, be a bit more subtle about it!  This feels like a novella that should have been an eBook, not an actual part of the central series.  It need to be much more grandiose, like the three books preceding it.  Add on the fact that everyone seems to love James Patterson, and we have a book severely lacking in muchness.

The Lost Symbol by Dan BrownThe Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Symbologist Robert Langdon, summoned to Washington, D.C. by his mentor, finds himself plunged into a clandestine world of Masonic secrets, hidden history, and secret locations–all of which seem to be dragging him toward a single, inconceivable truth.

I know for some, the whole Robert Langdon series is a let down, but I rather like it.  I particularly like Angels and Demons and thought Inferno was fairly interesting.  Because of the success of The Da Vinci Code, anything in this series floods the market with hype, but The Lost Symbol didn’t do it for me.

Compared to his other books, this one felt impossibly long and underwhelming.  The stakes were raised to feel impossibly high, but they didn’t pay off in the same way they did in the other three books.  This one needed more muchness to sit on the same level as the rest of the series.  Oh well – I guess you can’t win them all!

Marked by PC Cast and Kristin CastMarked by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast

The House of Night series is set in a world very much like our own, except in 16-year-old Zoey Redbird’s world, vampires have always existed. In this first book in the series, Zoey enters the House of Night, a school where, after having undergone the Change, she will train to become an adult vampire–that is, if she makes it through the Change. Not all of those who are chosen do. It’s tough to begin a new life, away from her parents and friends, and on top of that, Zoey finds she is no average fledgling. She has been Marked as special by the vampire Goddess, Nyx. But she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers. When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school’s most elite club, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny–with a little help from her new vampire friends.

For a little while, this series had major hype.  It came out when I was a senior in high school, but I didn’t read it for another four years.  Maybe if I had read it then, I would have liked it.  It’s one of the few books I have ever given a one star review because I felt like the authors went with all the biggest cliches, and gave vampires (oh that’s right, vampyres) no justice.

I still can’t figure out why people loved it so much.  Definitely not as muchly as people made it out to be.

Matched by Allie CondieMatched by Allie Condie

All her life, Cassia has never had a choice. The Society dictates everything: when and how to play, where to work, where to live, what to eat and wear, when to die, and most importantly to Cassia as she turns 17, whom to marry. When she is Matched with her best friend Xander, things couldn’t be more perfect. But why did her neighbor Ky’s face show up on her match disk as well?

When The Hunger Games hit it big, the market flooded with dystopian novels.  The same thing happened with vampire novels and Twilight, so I should have been prepared.  I wasn’t.

The cover of this book is gorgeous, and folks were saying such nice things about this world a little reminiscent of The Giver and it was getting good reviews.  I suppose I could see as a younger reader how it might be wonderful, but this is another one I read just out of college and I found the characters underdeveloped and the love triangle exhausting.  Actually, I find all love triangles exhausting.  If this one wanted to be as big as The Hunger Games, it would have needed to step up its game a bit and be more original.

Just… consider this an overview for most dystopian series that came out after the Hunger Games… The SelectionDelirium, etc.

The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten WhiteThe Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White

Sixteen-year-old Isadora, the mortal daughter of Isis and Osiris, is sick of being in the middle of family drama so she jumps at the chance to leave Egypt and start a new life in San Diego with her brother.

For whatever reason, I really loved Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy and its sequels.  I really like Kiersten herself – I followed her blog when she was still actively writing in it, and I still follow her on Twitter.  I love her sense of humor.  More than once, I’ve purchased books she’s written for friends.  And I really, really wanted to love The Chaos of Stars… but I didn’t.

So here’s the thing – and the fault is all mine.  I want everything Kiersten White writes to be wonderful and perfect, because I think she’s wonderful.  I want it all to make me laugh. But, at the end of the day, she’s still a YA writer and needs to cater to her audience.  Which is not me.  For this one, I think the muchness needs to come from me.

I still do have to give her credit – she’s putting out stuff that’s a lot different than most YA fantasy writers are putting out right now!

The Casual Vacancy by JK RowlingThe Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock and the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen.

A little over a week ago, I wrote in my Book Blogger Hop that I couldn’t remember a non-self-published eBook that I didn’t finish.  Well, I’ve remembered one.

We Potter fans waited so long for Rowling to write us anything and The Casual Vacancy was what we got.  And I wanted desperately to finish it, to be happy she was writing adult fiction for adult readers!  To have more of the mind that was behind my childhood.  I needed to like this book with such a thirst….

I hated it.  I hated it.

Not only was it not Harry Potter (okay, okay, I didn’t expect it to be) but it was unrelateable for me, and it was boring.  Frankly, I didn’t care who died when, where, how, or why.  I wanted some magic and The Casual Vacancy was just about as far from magic as one gets.  And I do like crime shows!

So yes.  For me, this one needed to be much more muchlier.  And a lot less… casually uninteresting.


These ten books hit me as incredibly underwhelming in the wake of their hype, so I know this is a bit of a downer post, but all I thought of when I read the prompt was “muchness”. Much more muchness.  Maybe I just need to go back and revisit Alice in Wonderland!

Fortunately, each of these books is balanced out by another I really love, most in the same genre and some by the same author (Harry Potter, Angels and DemonsParanormalcy).  The authors won’t get it right every time for every person, and that’s okay.  It’s good that they are reaching out to others.  Whether I liked them or not, each of these books is art and something for even the most successful writers to be proud of.

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “More Muchness – #TTT

  1. ChandaReads says:

    I agree about Clockwork Angel; I didn’t even finish it. I was very underwhelmed by The Mortal Instrument series though too.,

    1. Rhea says:

      Agree completely. But if nothing else, I’ve got to admit her covers are fantastic.

  2. I’m not much for fantasy or dystopian, but Matched was good. And, not expecting HP I really liked Casual Vacancy. I know many hated it–that was to be expected since it just wasn’t HP. But I’m a writer–I get it. You want to do something new. I listened to Inkheart with the fabulous Lynn Readgrave reading. Magical! I adored it. Second book, different reader, couldn’t get thru it. I did enjoy the movie–and I’m predictably a “book is better” snob. But the movie was good! Very interesting list this week.

    1. Rhea says:

      Oh don’t get me wrong, I definitely respect her going out there and writing what she was feeling instead of just catering to the fans. 🙂 A lot of people really liked The Casual Vacancy, and that’s good for them.

      I want desperately to like Inkheart, because the idea of the story is incredible. Maybe I’ll try the audiobook to see if it settles better with me! 🙂

      1. It’s ok to just not find it fun. It happens. There are plenty of other super books out there!

  3. Maraia says:

    Comparing Throne of Glass to Harry Potter makes me cringe so much. I really don’t see the similarities at all! Especially since ToG turns into paranormal romance that really isn’t appropriate for a YA audience. Anyway, I expected way more from that series, too.

    I couldn’t finish Casual Vacancy, either. It felt like someone was stomping all over my childhood! It was as if J. K. Rowling wanted to let out all of the swearing and crudeness she’d been holding back while writing a YA series. I mean, I don’t mind swearing in books, but in this case it felt overdone and forced. Her murder mystery series is fantastic, though!

    My TTT

    1. Rhea says:

      You know, I just recently found out about the murder mystery series – I’ve got to check it out soon. 🙂

  4. Grace Xie says:

    I don’t like comparing HP and ToG because they are totally different!! They’re on totally different levels or awesomeness! lol I agree with you on Matched, I had a lot to say for that one 😄 Great list 🙂

    1. Rhea says:

      While I didn’t love Throne of Glass as much as you, you’re absolutely right – they’re not the same sort of story at all! Thank you for stopping in. 🙂

  5. Throne of Glass gets a lot better after the first book!
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/top-ten-tuesday-95/

    1. Rhea says:

      I was still considering the second book, because ultimately I did like Celaena. I just don’t think it lived up to the hype it was given by my friends. 🙂 Thanks for the head’s up, though – I’ll keep that in mind.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: