Five Ways To Deal With Books That Don't Live Up To Its Hype

For the past few weeks, you've been hearing about this book over and over again in the blogging community with practically everyone giving it a four star rating or higher. Everyone's ranting and raving about just how great it is with a lot of CAPSLOCK and gifs and exclamation points! Every time you mention the series, everyone's practically screaming at you to "READ IT NOW!" When you finally do decide to pick it up and read that book, you end up with a barrage of strong emotions: Disappointment. Regret. Self-loathing. There's a little bit of guilt in there as well, but you have no idea why everyone loves this book.

I'm sure everyone's been in that situation before, or at least has been through something similar. It's not that all books that are hyped up are bad. There are legitimate reasons, after all, why a book would be popular, and the book blogging community practically thrives on word-of-mouth buzz. But what exactly am I supposed to say when I end up disapponted by a book that everyone loves? 

It's a bit of an awkward situation, but here are five common ways I talk about books that don't live up to its hype:

1. Lie (By Omission)
This isn't something I use often, but sometimes I really don't want to hurt the feelings of the person who recommended it to me so I tell a white lie. I don't exaggerate and say it's the best book I've ever read, but mentioning that I read the book and liked a few certain parts of it wouldn't be too far from the truth. Maybe if I only talk about the parts that I did like (however few they may be), I might be able to convince myself that the book wasn't all that bad in the first place.

2. Tell It Like It Is
If I really hate a book, I just hate it. There's really nothing I can do to change that, so I might as well tell everyone how I really feel. You'd be surprised how cathartic it could be just to rant about something you feel strongly about. When I do decide to tell it like it is, however, I try to make sure I include actual constructive criticism rather than just bashing the book senselessly.

3. Use A Compliment Sandwich
What exactly is a compliment sandwich? It's exactly what it sounds like: you sandwich a criticism between two compliments to lessen the blow. For example: "I liked __________, but I really hated how __________. I still liked how you __________ though!" The compliments can either be insincere or real, it's up to you.

4. It's Not You, It's Me
This is probably the most common way I deal with books I dislike. Since everyone has different tastes, I'm not going to dismiss a book completely just because it didn't match mine. Even though it wasn't for me, that doesn't mean you shouldn't try it. Maybe there's just something wrong with my taste.

5. If You Have Nothing Nice To Say...
Don't say anything at all! If I don't mention the book at all, then no one will ask me about my thoughts on it. If no one asks me, then I won't be put in this awkward situation in the first place! Problem solved! This might sound easy, but it's actually really hard.

These are how I talk about disappointing books, but how do you react? Do you do the same things I do, or do you have a completely different approach? Let me know in the comments. 


  1. Thankfully this doesn't happen too often for me, but it has been an issue in a couple of recent books like Pivot Point and Legend. They're not AWFUL books, but for the level of hype I'm just like ... really?!
    Like you said though, everyone has different tastes, and I think that's a huge thing in situations like this. Taste accounts for everything and it's more likely people that like it are going to rave about it, and a lot of people who don't like it probably won't bother to post a half-hearted review.

  2. Reviews from a BookwormJanuary 9, 2014 at 3:01 AM

    Haha, I love this post. I feel the exact same way when I read a book that everyone else loves and then I end up hating. I think the best example of that would be Code Name Verity, I was so scared to write my review because so many people had recommended it to me! But, I hated it and I couldn't bring myself to lie about it... so I just went for it. It really is cathartic to let it all out; that's the method I use the most.

  3. Angel (Spare Reads)January 9, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    I think I have been on the other side of the table a lot too when you recommended a book you love so much to your friends and didn't get the same response back. It is definitely disappointing, but I also enjoy the discussion came out of that in which you critique together and possibly more extensively on every aspects of the book. It certainly makes you grow as a reader :)

  4. Leigh (Little Book Star)January 9, 2014 at 9:48 PM

    I used to that that often, but now, I don't really care anymore if that book is hyped and everyone loved it. I'll just blatantly say I didn't like it and list my reasons. Also, if I liked something, I will of course say it, but overall, I just disliked *insert book here*. I just don't like to sugar coat my reviews anymore.

  5. I felt the exact same way about Legend. To me though, I find it easier to write negative reviews for books I didn't like than glowing reviews for my favorite. I'm just never sure if I should publish them in case it upsets anyone.

  6. Oh, totally! I really like to take my time with reviews of books I love, to make sure I do them justice. Positive reviews require a lot more effort. I mean, I still put effort into negative reviews, but because my heart isn't in it as much I write them quite quickly and easily.

    I think it's good to write negative reviews though and as long as you don't attack the author or anything, then negative reviews can be just as useful to readers. I like to read negative reviews because it can warn me ahead of time about things that may annoy me. As long as there's some tact / constructiveness in the review and it doesn't try to be malicious, I don't think it'd upset anyone :)

  7. I used to kind of move around the fact that I didn't like the book- I would always up play some of the okay-ish points of the book. Now I kind of just speak my mind. If something doesn't live up to the height for me and someone wants to discuss the book- I just see that as an opportunity to see the book in two different lights. Plus it makes for a great debate :)