Hi everyone! I’ve had a great week watching the Olympics and cheering on all the Team GB athletes and I also got my first #otspsecretsister package this week which was really exciting. I was also in Bath with my friends on holiday at the beginning of the week, we spent Saturday to Tuesday there and had a really great time! Anyway, for this week’s topic I’m going to be talking about something that all of us book bloggers know very well, and that is the hype monster. You know, when a book first comes out and everyone loves it and they’re all telling you how good it is and how you just have to read it and then you do because you get all excited hearing all this praise. Then the inevitable happens. You read the book and even if you like it, it’s never as good as everyone has been saying and you wind up disappointed because your expectations were too high. Every time a book is hyped up, you go into it thinking that this is going to be one of the best books you’ve ever read because everyone is praising it so it must be amazing and of course you’re going to be disappointed because no book can live up to that.
Hype is a little bit unfair to the book actually because it gets your expectations up so high that it’s impossible to meet them and while the book might actually be very good, hype sets your expectations so high that you are bound for disappointment. You might actually have liked the book if you had gone into it with no expectations but hype makes that much more difficult, not impossible, after all if people didn’t like hyped books then they wouldn’t be hyped, but a lot more difficult than if you went in with no expectations at all. In some ways it’s easier to read less popular books because fewer people have heard of them and therefore you go in with no expectations and you can only be pleasantly surprised (though I have to say, since starting blogging there are very few books that I go into having heard nothing about them. but that’s another discussion post for another time!) when you like them. You can also feel like it’s unfair to more underrated books that are really good, perhaps even better than the hyped books but because they aren’t being hyped up by either bloggers or publishers no one is hearing about them. It’s unfair to the author too because they haven’t necessarily written a bad book, the hype has just heightened readers’ expectations to a level that is impossible to meet.
One of the major problems with hype is that not every book works for every reader. Yet, when everyone is going on about how amazing this book is and they want you to read it, everyone is telling you you must read this book and so you cave because you feel like you’re missing out on something and yet you just can’t enjoy the book because it’s not a book that works for you. This happened to me when I read The Fault In Our Stars, I read it because I’d heard everyone talking about it and although it’s not the kind of book I usually like, I read it because I felt I was missing out on something but I just couldn’t enjoy it because it’s not the kind of book that works for me and that’s not the book’s fault, but if it hadn’t been so hyped I probably wouldn’t have read it. Now don’t get me wrong, this can work both ways, as hype may get you to read a book in a genre you wouldn’t otherwise read and you might really like it, but in my experience, I’ve found that I’m pretty set in my genre preferences and I know what works for me and what doesn’t, so, it’s likely that if I read a hyped up book in a genre I don’t read often, I probably won’t like it. It’s not necessarily the book’s fault, it’s just not for me but hype makes you feel bad about not wanting to read it where you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Hype can also ruin books in genres you like though and even by authors you like. An example of this for me was when I read A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas. I love the fantasy genre and I love Sarah J Maas as an author, her Throne of Glass series is one of my favourite fantasy series, so when I read A Court of Thorns and Roses, I was fully expecting to like it because I had heard such good things about it and I already knew I liked the author’s previous work. However it wasn’t anywhere near as good as I was expecting. I’m not saying I would have had a different opinion on it if it hadn’t been hyped as I would have still had the same problems with it, but I wouldn’t have felt as disappointed because my expectations wouldn’t have been so high. Hype is actually one of the major reasons (aside from length) that I still haven’t read ACOTAR’s sequel, A Court of Mist and Fury because it has been raved about so much and I don’t want to be disappointed like I was the first time around. Hype also ruined the first book in The Lunar Chronicles series for me, everyone had been telling me, you must read The Lunar Chronicles, it’s amazing, so I read the first book, Cinder, expecting it to be brilliant and found myself seriously underwhelmed.
You also have to actually read the hyped up books in order to have an input on whether the hype is worth it or not and there are so many hyped books out there that everyone is telling you to read and you have to weed through all of this to figure out which ones are worth trying and which ones aren’t (after all, none of us have the time to read all of the books, much as we’d like to!) and it’s very confusing and quite difficult to decide which hyped books it’s actually worth taking them to read because everywhere you turn there will be someone yelling at you “READ THIS BOOK, IT’S INCREDIBLE!”, so even just deciding which hyped books to give a chance to can be a bit of a challenge!
I also hate feeling like a black sheep when it comes to hyped books that I don’t like and feeling like if I express my opinion then everyone is going to hate me which makes me nervous about saying that I don’t like a book everyone else loves (more on this in next week’s discussion post!). I mean that’s not going to stop me from expressing my negative opinion about a book, I’m a book blogger after all, my job is to give my honest opinion about the books I read, but not liking a hyped book does leave you with a rather unpleasant feeling of guilt. Like there’s something wrong with you and you’re not seeing something that everyone else is. And yes, internally you know that not every book is for every person and that your expectations were too high and the hype ruined it but that doesn’t stop you from feeling slightly guilt that you didn’t love this supposedly amazing book. You also can’t help but feel slightly left out because you know you are part of a minority who don’t feel the intense love for a hyped book.
I also tend to find that hype kills my desire to read a book now rather than gets me excited about it, I feel a building feeling of dread, unless it’s a book that’s part of a series that I love because even if it’s in a genre you like and it sounds like a book you would really want to read, there’s a nagging voice in your head going “Don’t trust the hype”. If I find the description of a hyped book really interesting, I will probably still read it but the hype tampers my excitement a little.
Obviously there are good things about hype too, it’s not all this horrible black hole of sucky disappointment. Hype leads people who might not otherwise read so much into reading because everyone is talking about a certain amazing book and then they might read more and anything that gets people reading cannot be all bad. It also gets people talking about books and gives bloggers lots of things to discuss (after all if it wasn’t for hype, I would not be doing this blog post!). It’s a nice thing for the author too if everyone is talking about your book (though I would imagine probably a little daunting also) and it’s also a nice thing for us bloggers to be able to share our excitement for certain books and just as a reader in general, it’s nice to read books that other people like because then you can talk to other people about them and flail about them together (not having people to talk with when you love a book is the worst, you have to do all this internal flailing and all you really want is just one person to share in your excitement. This is one of the reasons I love blogging so much, before this, if I read a book that my best friend hadn’t read, I had to flail alone, now I get to flail with all you lovely people!).
Hype also helps you find books. It’s a lot easier to find the books that everyone is excited about than it is to find the books that no one in the book blogging community has heard of, and while those reads can often be more special because you have no expectations so it’s a lovely surprise when you love them, it’s so much more difficult to find those hidden gems than it is to find the books that everyone is talking about. I’ve found some great books through blogger recommendations, most recently, VE Schwab’s books (read and loved A Darker Shade of Magic, am currently reading A Gathering of Shadows and have bought Vicious and This Savage Song), so clearly hype cannot be completely wrong because there have been books that have got lots of praise that I have loved. So whilst there is a lot of reasons to hate the hype, there are also reasons to be grateful for it. It’s human nature to want to talk about something that you love and want everyone to love it, so hype is quite a natural thing really that just results from people loving something and wanting to share it with everyone.
So whilst I do hate the hype monster and I don’t like having my expectations raised so high that I am usually disappointed and I do prefer to read books that I know less about because I have no expectations (or at least I did before blogging, now that I blog, I feel like there are very few YA books that I know absolutely nothing about), I have to grudgingly admit, that hype is not always a bad thing and that I have read hyped books that I have enjoyed. I still think that hype is dangerous though and that you cannot fully trust the hype monster. More often than not, the hype will disappoint you.
So over to you, how do you feel about hype? Like it? Dislike it? What hyped books have you read that you enjoyed? Which ones have you been disappointed by? Let me know in the comments!
My next discussion post will probably be next week, if I can get myself together and manage to post it before I go away on Sunday (going to Harry Potter Studios, so excited!), if not then it will be up the week after. In the meantime though, my next post will probably be my new Top Ten Tuesday post on Tuesday, so stay tuned for that!