I try to avoid books surprising me. As in, I do everything in my power to avoid books that I think will be bad, and therefore tend to go into books with pretty high expectations. But, every one in a while, something will be completely unexpected – good or bad. These are those books.
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Sometimes you thought a book would be good. And then your notion of what “good” is and what books can be are blown out of the water and you’re ruined for all other books and have to just re-read that one amazing one forever now.
The most recent book to do that to me was The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. I read it back last September and have not shut up about it since. There’s just so much to love about it: how sassy and sarcastic the characters are, how the plot had me constantly screaming what the actual fuck (but in a good way), and hello, can I go to Camorr please?
Another fantasy that blew me away is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It was the tenth grade. I had been reading like I was going through the motions, and was wondering if there were really any books out there that I could ever obsess over or if I had read too many books. Then I borrowed this from the school library on a whim and devoured it overnight.
Because I don’t know what I like, I actively resisted reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone when I was nine. Ha. Ha. Ha. Nine-year-old me was stupid.
I also had zero expectations for Front Lines by Michael Grant. It seemed cool because it was about female soldiers, but I had no idea how amazing it would be and how well it would capture the camaraderie of war while still showing the horror of it. Such an under-hyped series.
And, finally, I got Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book for two dollars at Value Village. I had never read Neil Gaiman. Not even Coraline. No idea what to expect. And I finished reading it with this sense of balance and harmony and bittersweet wonder that I have yet to find with another book.
Speaking of great and terrible, one of my earliest book disappointments was A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. I was so sure I was going to love it since I had loved Libba Bray’s The Diviners. But it was slow and dull and I’m still not sure how I finished that slog of a book.
Also, if we want to go less for “what disappointed me” and just “what was absolute garbage”, RoseBlood by A.G. Howard was probably the only book I have ever read which I can confidently say I found no redeeming qualities in. Well, I liked its cover. But the story inside was weird and bad, and this is coming from someone who kind of loves Phantom of the Opera.
A book that wasn’t terrible, just underwhelming, was City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. I remember in middle school when Mortal Instruments craze was at a peak. Even now, tons of people love the whole Shadowhunters universe. And I don’t hate it! It’s fun! It’s fluffy! It’s also pretty forgettable. I was so hyped for those books and I was really surprised I didn’t adore them like what felt like everyone else.
Also on the Harry Potter theme, I was surprised by Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Because I hated it, and I didn’t know it was possible to hate Harry frickin’ Potter.
And, finally, Allegiant really surprised me. I’m sure you all know why.