2008-03-04

Overrated and Underrated Books

I saw this thread over on FantasyBookSpot and was intrigued. They, in turn, were intrigued by a post somewhere else (read the link in the very first post).

I'll admit...I've only heard of one person mentioned (Borges), but I've never read any of his stuff.

Meh. No big deal.

Anyhoo...this stuff is in no particular order.

Overrated Books

Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card

Although I finished it, it was tough going. I don't remember much about it, except that it alternately bored and angered me. I think the main thing was that I couldn't connect to the main character of Ender. I've read other reviews of this book, and it seems that the younger you are, the more you "get it". Or something.

American Gods, Neil Gaiman

This wasn't an easy one for me to pick, because I loooooved Neverwhere; I will go back and read that one at some point. American Gods, though, was a disappointment. What I remember from this one is that this one god, who is now physically on earth, loves sex like there's nothing else to do on this planet. (My guess is a lot of men feel that way, ;-), but it should be interesting than what I read.) Mr. Gaiman also throws in a lot of product placements, which ticked me off. The most annoying thing, believe it or not, was the endings of the few chapters I read: I loved those! He expounded on old gods and goddesses and what they might think about the physical world...but that wasn't the main thrust of the story. Too bad. If the chapter endings were the actual book, I think I would've enjoyed the story. Bummer.

The 4th book of the World of Time series

I know, I know, it's probably not nice to put this down, what with the author no longer in this world. (May he rest peace.) But after reading the first 3 books - in fact, the 3rd book was exceptionally well done - I opened the 4th book with relish. Round about chapter 4 or 5, I just couldn't take it anymore - Nynaeve (I think) pulling on her braid endlessly, and the huge descriptions of everything known to man and womankind - it was just too much, and I put the book down, never to open it again. Maybe his later books were better, but after trying to get through that book, and I just couldn't be bothered with picking up where I left off. (I eventually gave away all of the WOT books.)

Underrated Books

This is a tough one for me. I've only come up with 2 books (one's a series, the other eventually will be a series).

The Fifth Ring (trilogy), by Mitchell Graham

I saw this on Amazon, and I bought it because...well, the cover looked kinda cool. ;-) Not the best thing to go for (because wonderful covers can make up for a crappy story).

But it proved to be a good buy. It's the typical reluctant hero who comes by a darkly magical ring, etc. The difference is in the writing - it's super, with finely realized characters, mostly unstereotypical (a battling priest, who's very good at fencing, is one of the most interesting characters I've come across). The 2nd book in the series, The Emerald Cavern, I didn't find quite as good as the first, but it was decent. And the last in the series, The Ancient Legacy, was also quite good. BTW, by "finely realized characters" I mean that the characters made mistakes; characters that are all-knowing (read: Mary Sue) are irritating to me. I mean, who the heck out there is perfect? (Besides me, I mean. ;-))

Magic Lost, Trouble Found, by Lisa Shearin

I'm not sure if this is underrated in the entire fantasy reading world, but I feel like it might be. This is my favorite book that came out last year (and I read a few debuts last year; something new for me :-)). I couldn't get over the quick pace, the humor, the kick-ass heroine, and the overall writing skill of Lisa Shearin. Raine is an elf who gets caught up in something she shouldn't have gotten caught up in, something that could cause her death sooner rather than later . (Check out the reviews on Amazon, and my own review here .) It doesn't sound like much, but it's a must read as far as I'm concerned. It's so well done, I can barely wait for the 2nd book to come out in April. And this from something I bought on a whim because, again, I liked the cover. ;-) If there was any hype about this particular book, it was well deserved.

What About You?

Any books that you think don't live up to all the hype? What about those that you think should get more attention?

~Nancy Beck

5 comments:

April said...

Sex and the City. I LOVE the TV show, but I think that the author's writing style is horrible. I was disappointed.

I can't think of any other's right now, but I'm sure there are others.

Nancy Beck said...

For me, it was easier to come up with the overrated ones (I thought of a couple more earlier this morning) than the underrated ones. That's because the overrated ones are hyped up the wazoo.

The underrated ones? Well, since I don't work for a bookseller or publisher, how the heck would I know? ;-)

Liz Brooker said...

Overated... and a huge disappointment to me -- The Quest by Wilbur Smith. I bought it when my flight was delayed (story of my life), because of the back blurb, and I quote "SMITH IS A MASTER" -- Publishers Weekly. I think that quote may have been cut down from what it should have said, (my opinion only) Smith is a master of the art of how NOT to write! It's dreadful, to the point that I'd be ashamed to present it to an agent as a work ready for publication!

Sarai said...

Overrated: JR Ward's Vampire series, this story gets such high feedback from everyone but I was unable to get through the first.

Underrated: Lara Adrian's series about vampires.
Hardly anyone mentions this series or if they do they compare it JR Ward and they are complete opposites.

Nancy Beck said...

@liz - Egads! How awful! Isn't it amazing how some authors (the multi-published ones) can get away with sub-par work?

@sarai - Thanks for dropping by the blog! :-) Wow, you must really be into vampire stories. The only ones I knew about (off the top of my head) were the obvious ones: Ann Rice's stuff and the Anita Blake series.

Doesn't it suck about the underrated stuff? Makes you want to slap people upside the head and ask them: "Do you only stick with the bestseller lists?" Some of my best purchases (or borrowings) were because of bloggers who decided to read and review books that weren't necessarily on the bestseller lists.