Novel Thoughts: The Hype Monster

Posted by Jessi (Geo) on January 29, 2014 | 44 Comments



The Hype Monster

You know what I’m talking about – when everyone loves a book and it gets all these glowing reviews, and everybody is DYING to get their hands on it; so your hopes for the story end up rising higher and higher until they’re just so high that the book probably couldn’t live up to your expectations even if it was the greatest book ever written?

Yeah, you know exactly what I mean. As a book blogger, the Hype Monster is unavoidable. We’re surrounded by reviewers and it’s nearly impossible to close our eyes and ears to the hype. Everybody wants the newest coolest sounding book (with the best cover), and the excitement levels get so high that you’d think the book was gold plated! We all get caught up in it, but my question is: Are we setting ourselves up for disappointment?

If you didn’t know by now, I am the black sheep 75% of the time. Most of the ‘popular’ books and series I read I end up not liking. Unearthly, Sweet Evil, Tiger’s Curse, Poison, The Grisha, Vampire Academy, Goddess Test, If You Find Me, Nightshade, the list goes on and on…but the most recent is Angelfall. I was so excited to finally read that book because I hadn’t seen any bad reviews; nearly everyone gave the book 5 stars, and everyone was raving about how it was so different (which it was, in a way) and how it was just amazing. When I finally read it, I was horribly underwhelmed. Did I set myself up for that disappointment? By listening to everyone else, I went in expecting this amazing, mind-blowing story. If I had gone in with lower expectations, would I have enjoyed it more?

I like to know what the community thinks of a book before I read it, because if it’s absolutely HORRIBLE and has an average Goodreads rating of, say, 3 stars, I can brace myself for that. Lower my expectations. In the case of books that not many people like, it works. Sometimes I end up liking them more than most people. But, is that because I went in with lower expectations than others? Or that it just worked for me and not for them? (Or am I just too picky?) Sometimes it’s hard to tell how the hype influences you as a reader. 

What do you think? Chances are nearly all of you can relate. How do you avoid hype? How do you keep it from affecting the way you read?

Jessi (Geo)

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44 responses to “Novel Thoughts: The Hype Monster

  1. No matter how hard I try, hype is always going to get to me. It practically crawls under my skin and ugh. I read Unhinged recently and saw all the 5 star reviews so I was almost certain I’d love this. However I guess partially to the reason why I didn’t love it was the hype. So yeah, I do feel we set ourselves up to disappointment–though unintentionally.

    Fabulous post, Jessi! <33

  2. Aaw, bummer you didn’t like Angelfall! I get sucked in by hype a lot too. I see so many amazing reviews and then maybe one bad one every now and then. So I get super excited and then when I read it it doesn’t live up to my expectations. But when I read too many bad reviews, I feel like I pick out things that I wouldn’t of if I didn’t read that particular review. I hate reading reviews but I love it too. Book lover problems~

    • Haha yup, book lover problems! It does suck wondering what you would have thought about it without seeing other reviews. I usually try to steer clear of reading any of the books I’m planning on reading soon because I don’t want outside influence in my own reading and reviewing!

  3. “you’d think the book was gold plated!”
    Not gonna lie, my first thought was “shit, I’d give 50 Shades five stars if it came gold-plated.” I guess I can be bribed.

    I know what you mean about Angelfall, though. I was willing to go along with the hype at the start, but as the book went on, the shine wore off. (And the utter lack of female spies being sent to an angel base that *lets in females without question* still ticks me off. You see a place with *that* as a security hole and still send in *male* spies? Why? Okay enough of hijacking your post with a rant.)

    Actually, I think being as picky a reader as I am helps me avoid the hype-disappointment. I already know I’m going to be more critical than most of the reviews I read, so whenever someones says “he’s the swooniest ever!” or “the writing was so magical!” my first reaction is “ORLY? Well, we’ll just see about that.”

    Although the sheer volume of hype for some books still gets to me. I swear, These Broken Stars is on my TBR purely because everyone and their dog has been talking about it for the better part of a year.

    • Ahahaaa I could totally be bribed, too ;D

      Now that you mention it, you’re right! I didn’t even think about that! There were too many other irritations to distract me.

      Same here! I tend to hate most of the books that everyone else loved, so I kind of go in skeptical when I see really high ratings. But somehow I still manage to get my hopes up too high!

      That one I did love. It’s not for everyone, but the hype was founded for me!

  4. I always tell myself that I’m not going to let hype dictate what I read, but when I see a book getting amazing reviews on all of my favorite blogs, I usually will pick the book up. Sometimes it will live up to my expectations and sometimes it won’t.

  5. Shannon N.

    Hype is hard. I generally go into to book NOT expecting to be blown away. So few books really do. If reviews are generally positive, then I can be swayed to read a book I normally wouldn’t. But sometimes I just don’t see what people see in a particular book. I’m sad you didn’t like Angelfall (or a lot of the books you mentioned actually because they are some of favorites). But maybe if you are drawn to a book, go into it cautiously optimistic, especially if it is a genre you generally dislike. :)

    • Shannon N.

      Actually, I take that back…the only two books out of your list I would give 5 stars too is Angelfall and The Grishna series. I had a similar problem as you to The Goddess Test – the reviews went on and on about how it was an amazing book, but when I read it I was dumbfounded over how so many reviewers could think it was such an amazing book. To the point where I wondered if they were paid off? LOL

    • I am a very tough rater. I actually don’t read books in genres I don’t like but it’s hard to tell from the synopsis if there will be things I don’t like in the story, like instalove or bad world building.

  6. This has happened to me so, so often. With Reboot, and Silver Heart, and the Temptation series, and Mind Games…so many. The best trick I’ve found recently is to just NOT read reviews if it’s a book I’m totally psyched for and have (for review/etc) but haven’t read. I can chat with people about it but not reading the reviews REALLY helps keep my expectations a bit lower.

    • Aw, Reboot? That makes me sad! Mind Games had some pretty meh ratings, but surprisingly I enjoyed it! It didn’t stick with me, but it was a cute fluffy read. And yep, I try to stay away from reviews of the books I plan to read soon because I don’t want them to influence my opinion!

  7. What I do, is I will look at the star ratings and ignore the review so it can’t hype me up. Then I find one or two bad reviews and will read those. That way, I know what bad things to expect. I find it keeps me realistic about the book.

  8. I really struggle with hype too. I try to ignore it, but it usually isn’t easy to do and I end up raising my expectations and often getting let down.

  9. Fantastic post, Jessi! I wrote a discussion post about book hype a while ago and scheduled it and everything and I had some of the similar fears as you. Like if you lowered your expectations, would you have liked it better? I also feel weird if I love a book that everyone else hated because I feel like somehow I missed something, but if I hate a book that everyone liked, I also am like “did I miss something??” And then I start questioning myself and my judgement and it’s a huge mess lol. I try not to look at the reviews, but sometimes I don’t expect to read a book until after I’ve seen tons of reviews for it everywhere! >.<

    • Ohh really? When is it scheduled? I’d love to compare thoughts!
      I’m fine with loving a book that most hated because it kind of feels like a hidden gem! If it has generally bad reviews, I love to be surprised in a good way :)
      The other way around, though, that’s just freakin’ disappointing! Unfortunately, I find myself to be the black sheep 75% of the time. :(

  10. Sam

    I soooo know what you mean! That happens to me all the time. It’s hard not to get excited about a book that EVERYONE else is gushing and raving about. But, then if you don’t absolutely love it, it’s completely disappointing. Hype and expectations definitely have a lot to do with how I end up feeling about a book. I could like a book without hype about the same amount as a book with a ton of hype and my whole feeling afterward would be different if I wasn’t able to completely fall in love with the book. It kinda sucks, but I think that’s just the way things go, ya know?

    This is why I still haven’t read Delirium by Lauren Oliver yet. It’s been sitting on my bookshelf for what feels like forever, but I have been avoiding actually reading it mainly because of all the hype. So many people love the series. But, I read Oliver’s Before I Fall and wasn’t a big fan, so it’s kind of intimidating. I still have really high hopes for Delirium, but I so badly don’t want to be disappointed!!

    • It really is! To tell you the truth, I wasn’t a huge fan of Delirium. I enjoyed it while I was reading it – I think I gave it 4 stars – but it didn’t stick with me or leave a lasting impression. Looking back, my feeling for the book is just ‘meh.’ It wasn’t anything special, but I did really like the concept!
      I’m sad that you didn’t like Before I Fall, I loved that one! There were a lot of people that didn’t like it, though! It just worked for me. :)

  11. I couldn’t have said things better myself, Jessi! I also disliked a bunch of popular books like Sweet Evil, Of Poseidon, Angelfall, Defiance, etc. Whenever I come across books with an average rating higher than 4, with high ratings from reviewers I trust, I get all excited and grab myself a copy at the nearest possible time. And then if I end up hating the book, I begin to question both humanity and myself. Is it them, or is it me?

    Great post Jessi!

    • Oh thank goodness it wasn’t just me! Sweet Evil to me was just pure AWFUL, and I don’t really see how anyone can love it (or how anyone can love that asshole Kaidan for that matter). But to each his own! I did enjoy Defiance, though!
      I don’t think it’s them or you, I think it’s all just a matter of varying opinions! It does suck, though. I always feel kinda bad when I’m the black sheep =/

  12. There is nothing worse than having high expectations for a book. It rarely ever meets them. So I kind of take it all in stride – people loved a book? Great, I’ll see what I think of it. I don’t expect much one way or another. If people hated it? That’s really the only time I lower my expectations. Because I still want to give the book a shot and see what I think of it.
    But it really is hard to ignore the hype. I think my only advantage is that I’ve been reading books for so long without knowing what anybody else thinks about it – that when I do read other opinions, I’m like, okay. That’s nice.
    Like with Vampire Academy? I didn’t even know that existed. I can’t even remember how I came across it. Plus there’s the issue of only having Twilight to compare to it. Stuff like that changes your opinion of the book.
    So I guess I’d say – go ahead and get excited about a book. But once you start reading let go of it all. There is no such thing as “no expectations” but you can certainly be neutral enough where you can love or hate it regardless of what others say.
    Did any of that make sense? Aha

    Really good topic, though! Totally relatable (:

  13. This has happened to me too. There was so much hype with the first Hunger Games novel, it didn’t live up to my expectations. I loved it but at the time, it wasn’t the 5 star book I thought it’d be.

  14. Great post! I know what you mean about wondering if you’d like it more if your expectations weren’t so high.

    I guess this is one of the reasons why I love reading ARCs. If I’m the first one to read something, there aren’t 50 million 5 star reviews to hype the book up. So I usually go in with no expectations (or just moderately high hopes if the synopsis sounds epic) and I’m able to enjoy books more.

    Also sometimes I wonder about the other way around. If I read a book that has a ton of 1 or 2 star reviews and go in expecting to hate it, does that mean I will hate it? If I hadn’t seen those reviews would I have been more open minded? Would I have liked it more?

    • Yeah!! Sometimes it kind of scares me to be the ONLY person that’s read it, but it does help with staying away from the hype!

      Yep, same here! But some of them are just so awful that you can’t help but hate them…like Revolution 19!

  15. I wonder about this too! I honestly feel bad because I will love a book so much and I know I’m hyping it. Am I pushing it too far? Am I maybe ruining someone else’s enjoyment because of my constant flails?

    I know that expectations have backfired on me a lot. This happened with The 5th Wave for me. I didn’t get an arc and read so many glowing reviews. The moment that book went on sale I bought it and read it that night. I was underwhelmed. I always will wonder how it would have felt had I read it without expecting it to be the best book ever.

    Great discussion post and I’m sorry you were let down by Angelfall. :-(

    • Aw, that’s a shame about 5th Wave! That’s one of the few I ended up loving despite all the hype. But yeah, expectations do tend to backfire, it makes me sad :(

  16. I’m feeling you! I recently read Angelfall for the same reasons and it definitely did not live up to the great expectations which were set by all of the hype! Black Sheep forever! Have you ever had that moment when you confess your dislike for a popular book and get murderous glares? For example, I didn’t like The Fault in Our Stars By John Green *Cue horrified gasps and exalaims of “Don’t you have a heart?”* seriously, I’m sick of the disgusted glance which gets thrown in my direction. If looks could kill, I would be dead a million and one times over.

    • Ahahaa I know EXACTLY how you feel! I get those kind of things with Sweet Evil and Unearthly. *shrugs* Everybody has their own opinion! I don’t think it’s awful that you hated TFIOS. I liked it a lot, but it didn’t blow me away like I thought it would, and I can see how it wouldn’t be for everyone!

  17. The hype monster totally affects how I read! I think, more than anything, it encourages me to dig deeper for flaws that I normally would overlook. Or I’m hyper sensitive to things about it that do bother me, because I went in thinking I would love every aspect (like everyone else).

    I read a couple hyped books recently, months after the hype had died down (Tiger Lily, Pivot Point, Scarlet) and I found that I really enjoyed all of them – two of them were 5 star reads from me!

    So I think I’ve learned that, at least when it comes to hyped up books, I need to let the hype fade before giving them a shot so that I don’t pre-judge them based on my unreasonable? expectations.

    • Same here! As if I’m not critical enough already >.< Ohh nice! I'm kind of afraid to read Tiger Lily. It has crazy good reviews, and I just get the feeling I'm going to be a black sheep... That's a good idea. I think for me it would be hard though because I'm a mood reader, and the hype gets me excited; so when it dies down I don't know if I'd still want to read it!

  18. Yep, all of this. The hype monster has burned me a few times, though I’m not nearly the black sheep as much as you are! I didn’t like the Unearthly series, the Divergent series, or Angelfall. I think I’m usually about 50/50 on the really hyped up books. But even though it’s about 50/50, the 50% of books where I’m the black sheep are such crushing disappointments. It’s one of the reasons why I try to avoid all reviews before I read a book for myself: partly to avoid other bloggers’ opinions biasing my own, and also to avoid the hype. Of course I can’t avoid the hype from discussions in the community, either on Goodreads or Twitter, but I think it does help to lessen it a bit.

    • It is crushing for sure! Especially if it’s the ONE book you’ve been dying to read and it just doesn’t live up to your expectations :(
      Yep, true! I always avoid reading reviews (other than to glance at the rating) because I’m afraid of their opinion subconsciously influencing mine. But it’s hard to hide from hype when EVERYONE on Twitter/Instagram/Goodreads is buzzing about it!

  19. Ok first off… YOUR LAYOUT IS AMAZING!!! Holy smokes, I need to stop reading posts in my email because how freaking long have you had this?!?! It’s wonderful. Blue & Grey are my favoritest favorite colors so I could just stare at this all day long <3

    Anyways onto the hype… I hate hype. Honestly, it's just been ruining things all the time for me. I've gotten to the point where I don't even read any new reviews until I've already read the book. If they are older releases I don't mind reading reviews for it because it's not being shoved at you from all angles but for new books… I've stopped sadly. I didn't love Golden by jessi Kirby… and I think it was because of the hype.. I actually can't think of any off the top of my head but there is definitely more! I'm sad you didn't like Angelfall :( You're right there is seriously NO bad reviews on it so I just expect it to be mindblowing… hopefully I do enjoy it when I get to it.

    I actually like when your the "black sheep", I enjoy your reviews because I never know which rating I'm going to see when I look at it! it almost becomes generic when you look at a popular book and see that it's 5 stars and 4 stars from everyone but then you almost always have different thoughts and I LOVE IT! Like with Into the Still Blue… I loved that you and I had agreed on the Cinder aspect, I felt so alone in that I wasn't head over heels and then you posted your review :)

    Anyways I've gone off on a tangent now that is almost not even related to this topic, lol.

    Great discussion as always Jessi!

    • Thanks, I’m glad you like it! I just changed it yesterday, you didn’t miss anything :)

      It’s definitely a good idea to avoid reviews before you read! I usually try my best to do this out of fear of their reviews influencing my opinion in some way, but I’m susceptible to buzz on Twitter/Goodreads/Instagram. Darn social media!

      Aw well thank you! Sometimes I worry that I’m pissing people off and alienating my readers by ranting about books I loved *cringes* but I will still be 100% honest anyway! And YES! There were so many 4 and 5 star reviews and everyone was raving about how it was such an amazing end to the series…I’m so glad I wasn’t alone!


  20. It sure is difficult to avoid the hype surrounding some books when you read a lot of book blogs. It’s even tougher when particular books are on the NYT bestseller lists or some other lists that apparently bestows universal acknowledgement of greatness upon books. Most of the time I try to ignore the hype when I read a book but I do think I tend to be harsher with those books in my own reviews. This is why I prefer to wait out the hype if missed reading a book before it got hyped up. I think that’s why I enjoy reading debuts so much, there’re generally less expectations when it comes to those books.

    • It really can be! And YES, it’s very tough when they’re best-sellers, because they had to achieve that status through popularity, right? But I feel like there’s a ton of NYT best-sellers that I didn’t really care for =/
      Sometimes I wonder if being a book blogger has made me more critical!

  21. I’m sometimes influenced by raving reviews, because it makes me set the bar SO high that it’s almost impossible for the book to live up to that. That’s why I try to stay away from reviews when I know I’ll be reading that book soon. Most of the times, the books everyone is crazy about also works for me. I did have some where I ended up being the black sheep, but I don’t care about that. We can’t all like the same things :) I often have a book I completely fell in love with that everybody hates, that just happens.

  22. I know what you mean. I never liked Harry Potter which is, like, the most hyped book ever. I DNF’d The Raven Cycle. And the latest one; Trial by Fire. It’s not that I disliked it totally, but it didn’t live up to the hype for me. Ever since I’ve been thinking about wether I would have liked it more if it hadn’t been for the hype. Maybe, maybe not,the point is the hype introduced me to a lot of incredible masterpieces, but some it ruined.

    I’m sorry you didn’t like Angelfall. I’ll tel you even though I loved the first book, the second one better. If you completely disliked the first, I don’t think it weights enough nevertheless.

    Great post!

    • I DNFed The Raven Cycle too! I want to finish it someday, but at the time I just couldn’t get into it. And it’s such a popular book :(
      Trial by Fire was…okay, I guess…but definitely not worth the hype! I didn’t think Angelini’s other book was, either…it was so awful I DNFed that one too. Ugh, yes, it does tend to ruin books…

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