Friday, May 06, 2011

Friday Fun: Unpopular Opinions

There's something liberating about expressing an unpopular opinion, in owning that you don't like something that everyone else likes.  Especially, I think, when it comes to books.  You don't want to rain on someone's parade, but sometimes, you can't help it, because you really don't understand why people like a certain book.

For example: I read Wither this week.  It's a book that's gotten quite a bit of buzz lately in the blogosphere, with several reviews posted--like at My Friend Amy, Galleysmith, and Backseat Writer.  It's gotten a big push from its publisher, one that has paid off in positive feedback from readers and reviewers.

I know that I say I strive to review positively, and that's true.  And I can't deny that Wither has an intriguing setup.  But it left me cold.  My biggest problem is that it felt padded.  It's the first book of a trilogy, and I know that naturally means there's a fair amount of exposition, of setting up the pieces for the eventual payoff that will come in future books.  Yet even with that being said, it still felt like there wasn't enough action to fill the pages.  The pacing moves in fits and starts, unable to gain momentum.

Other things bothered me as well.  Why did the females have a shorter life span?  Why was Gabriel kept out of sight for dozens of pages?  Why does Florida suffer from both devastating hurricanes and raging blizzards?

I know there's many people who greatly enjoyed this book.  But I forced myself to finish it, and it's unlikely that I'd read the next volume.  It can be difficult to venture that unpopular opinion, not only because you're going against the crowd but because you're making criticism of someone else's work.  I usually try to fall into the "If you can't say anything nice . . . " school of reviewing, so if I don't like something, I don't review it.  Yet I'm sure I'm not the only one to read something that everyone's raving about and go, "Really?"

So be brave and voice an unpopular opinion!  Any books that everyone love that you dislike, or vice versa?


Anonymous said...

Great post!

I'm not one to write a review about a book that I didn't like and try to cushion it. Sometimes it's hard to do this when so many other people have liked a particular book. For example, I reviewed Bumped by McCafferty for VOYA and I really did not enjoy it. I had plenty of support on why I did not think it was a great book, but it seems like a lot of people did enjoy it.

Either way, I think it's important to remain true to yourself and how you feel about a book, whether it's positive or negative.

Robyn Lucas said...

I think unpopular opinions give a balanced view. All to often reviewers (book bloggers, etc) jump on a bandwagon if they think its "the next thing" without thinking about it and critically analyzing the book.

I agree. Wither started great, but left too many questions. Not sure if I'd read more of that series.

Liz B said...

I liked Wither -- didn't mind the pace. Actually, I liked the lingering pace. I do have a lot of questions about the world, and how it works, which if this was a standalone I'd be bothered by. Instead, I'll be bothered if they aren't addressed in the series.

Amy said...

I enjoyed the book, but I agree there were tons of holes and unanswered questions. Good for you for keeping it real, though!

Amy (ArtsyBookishGal) said...

Thank you for linking to my review! :)

Honestly, I would love to interview the Lauren DeStefano to ask her about the holes. I did consider that the females didn't live as long and were considered less "valuable" as a testament to history's portrayal of women as the weaker sex. And in a dystopian society, things do seem to revert to the "old days."

As for the weird weather, I also chalked that up to the fact the whole rest of the world was destroyed. Knowing that WITHER is part of the Chemical Garden triology, I hope that some of the holes would be ironed out.

Personally, I am honored that you linked to my review and do not fault you for yours, nor do I feel insulted. But I understand why you would feel this way because readers who are passionate about a book will troll your blog, send you hateful emails, and write downright terrible things on your reviews. NO ONE needs to be abused or harassed for not liking a book or having a different opinion.

Different people like different books and different aspects of books, and that's OK. So you didn't like WITHER, I'm sure there's a book you love that I find terrible. I'm just glad you're being honest, especially knowing that you could get slammed.

To answer your questions, yes, there are plenty of books I don't like and I read reviews and everyone's like, "This book is so life-changing." I think, "Wow, I thought it was total crap." Naturally, I wouldn't write, "This book is total crap," (though sometimes I'm tempted.)

Sometimes it's about all the hype many can buy, you know?

Liz B said...

Oh! And let me tell you, if there isn't a Big Secret Revealed about Gabriel I'll be a bit annoyed. A handsome young teen as the server for a bunch of young teenage girls who are locked on a floor? Who thinkns that is a good idea? What was he doing in the basement? And the great escape plan of "go to the nearest movie theatre and fall asleep."

Ahem. But I'm willing to wait & see if these are addressed in future books.

Melissa Rabey said...

Thanks for all the different viewpoints, everyone! Jessica, Robyn and Amy(ArtsyBookishGal) all make good points about how reviews that don't follow the crowd offer a valuable service, even if you feel you're going out on a limb to offer them.

I hope, like Liz and Amy, that the holes get filled in future installments, if only to strengthen the overall story.

Olga said...

The two books that immediately come to mind are Bitter Is The New Black by Jen Lancaster and Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. Both got a lot of buzz but I didn't particularly care for either.
I do like to see positive and negative reviews for books, like Robyn said earlier it gives a balanced view.