Raise your hand if you’ve ever been personally victimized by misleading book covers.
I think it’s fair to say that one of the most important factors that plays a role in one’s reading choice is the cover, despite what we like to tell ourselves. Whether we like to admit it or not, the initial attraction to a book stems from it’s cover. But if there’s one thing that I’ve learned, it is to never judge a book by it’s cover. Seriously, don’t. Here are my top five picks for books with beautiful covers that sucked. SPOILER ALERT!
5. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Oh it hurts to have this on my list. The Divergent trilogy is one that started off so amazingly, investing millions of readers, only to piss off everyone throughout the series progression. If I’m being honest, I wish I had stopped at the first novel. Divergent ended pretty conclusively and I probably would have loved Veronica Roth more if I had, however her marketing team sure has a way of making you feel like you NEED the second and third novel. I’d also like to point out the beauty that is the covers of the Divergent Trilogy. Needless to say, I have no will power and gave in, which really didn’t do me or Roth any good in the end. There were a lot of things that I didn’t particularly enjoy about Allegiant, one of the most prominent things being the alternating points of views of Tris and Four. If I’m being honest, I should point out that I did not notice that I was no longer reading from Tris’ perspective, partly because I don’t read chapter headings, but mostly because Tris and Four sounded exactly the same. Four was no longer badass and strong in the first two novels. Instead, he was very emotional and driven by his own fears and insecurities, making him unable to make rational decisions. Once I realized that there were alternating perspectives, I knew that something would happen to our dear protagonist Tris, and I still was not mentally prepared. I cannot express how annoyed I felt when I read that Tris had sacrificed herself. I mean, it was very much a Tris Prior thing to do, considering how selflessly reckless she is, but it still felt out of place for me. I’m not against character deaths. I feel that if they are done properly in a way that fits the plot and character development, they can be very meaningful and revealing. However, Tris’ death felt as though it didn’t even matter. The way Roth gave Tris an ending seemed very un-Tris like despite her fundamental character. Yes, Tris is very selfless, and yes, it is clear that Tris would do anything for the greater good, but she almost seemed to want to die. If she had died while in battle, that would have been more believable to me. It felt as though Roth was in need for a shock factor and this was the best that she could come up with. Tris’ death overshadowed the entire novel and is really the only thing that I remember from Allegiant. But hey, the internet basically exploded after Tris’ character death, so kudos to Roth.
4. Wither by Lauren DeStefano
When sitting down to write this mini review, I must be honest that it was pretty hard to remember what actually happened in the novel, for the sole reason that I could not get over how boring this novel was. The story takes place in a dystopian world where a botched effort to create the perfect race has left males with a lifespan of 25 years and females with 20. While geneticists are trying to find an antidote, young girls are being kidnapped and sold as brides to bear more children in order to restore and maintain the population. 16 year old Rhine is sold off as a bride to Linden. In fear for her future, she works to escape to freedom in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy. From the get-go, I already had a few issues with the novel. First of all, I found it quite contradictory how women are seen as these essential wombs in order to keep humanity alive, yet the females who aren’t chosen to be married off get killed. I was also not entirely sold on the idea of the shortened lifespan. I found it hard to believe that something in one’s physiological makeup could just switch on after your 20th or 25th birthday that would cause you to die before you saw your next birthday. Science is not that specific. I think that it would have been more believable if these people were slowly dying their entire lives rather than living a healthy life up until their last birthday. I guess my main issue with this novel is DeStefano’s botched job at world building. It doesn’t seem like she has fully worked out the hows and whys of her dystopian world which makes it hard for readers to really be sold on her idea and plot. The characters were also dull and underdeveloped despite their harsh reality. The romance in this novel also felt very forced and superficial, and just didn’t work. Nothing about this novel was convincing to me which made it extremely hard to enjoy. Although the premise was interesting and had potential, it was not executed well. This novel is mediocre at best.
3. The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Cassandra Jean
“There was also the fact that sometimes vampires committed crimes worse than murder. They committed crimes against fashion.”
– Magnus Bane, The Bane Chronicles
First, let me say that I love Cassandra Clare. Second, let me say that I hate this novella. This saddens me to the core because I absolutely love all of Clare’s novels. With all of the controversy over Clare’s writing, it hurts for me to side with the opposition. In The Mortal Instruments novels, Magnus Bane was definitely in my top choices for my favourite characters. I loved how witty and sarcastic he was, and when I heard that an entire novel based around his character would be released, I was stoked! Not to mention that the cover is absolutely stunning. This novel is a collection of short stories that are meant to satisfy Magnus Bane fans and to reveal more about his character. However, I found that most of the short stories seemed more like fillers for there to be content than to really do anything for readers. Thinking about it now, I didn’t learn more about Magnus. And though I can appreciate scenes from different perspectives, that’s not what this novella delivered. Perhaps it’s the fact that there were several different authors, so Magnus’ voice was not consistent and true to how fans remember it. All of the characters that fans of The Mortal Instruments learned to love didn’t seem like themselves. It feels as though Clare just needed more content to make more money, so she threw together this half-assed piece of work. It was clear when Clare wasn’t writing due to minor inconsistencies that ultimately took away from the quality of the novel. It felt very much like a fanfiction rather than a piece written by the author herself, with no consideration to plot and pacing. I was highly disappointed considering how much hype surrounded this novel and how much I was anticipating it.
2. Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
I know the saying goes “Never judge a book by it’s cover”, and really, I should’ve listened. Unfortunately I was blinded by the beauty that is this cover and must admit that I was initially attracted to the cover art. After reading the synopsis, I was so sure that I would love this novel. However, the contents inside are to put lightly, a waste of time in my opinion. It started off quite beautifully with an Afro-Asian protagonist, which I really appreciated, and what sounded like an original plot. It follows Madeline who is essentially allergic to the world outside of her sterile home. But when Olly moves in next door, her entire perception of the world changes. Suddenly her content with never leaving her house dissipates, and she wants more than she has. And though I did find this novel to be more cheesy than sweet, I have to admit that I’m a sucker for cliche boy-next-door, girl-meets-boy contemporaries. But one thing that I absolutely cannot stand is insta love, and this novel is heavily laced with it. I also didn’t particularly enjoy reading from Madeline’s perspective. Though I wouldn’t consider contemporary as my favourite genre of books, I can appreciate a well-written one, one that makes me feel for the characters. A good contemporary novel makes me sympathize for the character, makes me fall in love as the protagonist falls in love, makes me feel something – anything! But honestly speaking, I really didn’t feel for Madeline despite her situation. I thought she was a dull character who was very selfish which some argue makes her more complex, but I argue makes her more annoying. As the novel progressed I was left with endless plot holes and began to find myself rolling my eyes. What started out as a cute, easy read evolved into a painful drag of a novel. I can not believe this novel goes on for 310 pages just to have an unexpected, unexplained plot twist. Get this; she was never sick in the first place.
Are you kidding me? You’re telling me that I spent almost 300 pages just to discover that her entire life has been a lie? No, not okay. I mean sure, her mother is revealed to be mentally ill which led her to make this choice, and yes I can sympathize for her, but still. This plot twist felt very rushed considering how it was revealed in the last 10% of the novel, and is what really drove me over the edge of hating this novel. It just felt very cheap to me how Yoon built this relationship between Madeline and Olly that felt very impossible and unusual (and interesting) only to turn it into just another young adult contemporary romance. I just felt like it was a very lazy route to a happy ending.
1. The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle
This is probably the most sexist, anti-feminist novel I’ve ever read. Here’s what I got from the novel; Girl decides to stop living for her parents. Girl meets guy. Girl decides to start living for guy instead. Wren is portrayed in the worst light, seen as a passive, giggling, innocent virgin, which Charlie is extremely attracted by. Not only did I find the romance extremely flat since Charlie was already in love with Wren from the beginning, but it was also based on extremely sexist and misogynistic views. “A guy should be a guy, and a girl should be a girl, at least when it comes to doing it.” is an actual quote from the novel. Yeah, enough said. Charlie was also extremely possessive of Wren, getting jealous and angry when she would hang out with her friends instead of him. Wren isn’t any better by getting upset when Charlie chooses to hang out with his disabled, bullied brother. Later, Wren also begs her boyfriend of 2 months to basically leave behind his entire life just so that he can come to Guatemala with her to “protect her”. After all of this, Wren decides to leave behind her entire life and throw away any goals and dreams she’s ever had for herself – university, Guatemala, everything – just so that she can be with Charlie. If there’s anything I hate, it’s when people change who they are just to please their significant other. There’s also a strong emphasis on sex throughout this novel with many detailed scenes. However, I found it quite contradictory that a novel so pro-sex contains slut-shaming. I also hated every single character in this novel. They were all weak and self-absorbed, and it was extremely evident that an adult was trying to narrate the voice of a teenage girl. “Holy pickles, Wren, he’s totally cute.” I mean, does Myracle SERIOUSLY think that teenagers talk like that? There’s really nothing else to this novel but romance, if you can call it that. Wren and Charlie’s relationship was extremely unhealthy and shouldn’t be praised or portrayed as one that young readers should aspire to have. There’s really no way to understand how terrible this novel is except by reading it, but I would not wish that on anybody. This book is hands down the worst book that I’ve ever read. I want my brain cells back.
Lesson learned. Do not judge a book by it’s cover. Sometimes you’ll be pleasantly surprised, but most of the time you will be disappointed.