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Hyped books! With so many out there every single year, all that hype can be a blessing or a curse. When a great book intersects with a boatload of hype, readers are happy and sales can soar. It’s a win, win! On the flip side, when pre-publication hype gets readers excited, anxious to dive into a book, and then it disappoints, it almost hurts. As a reader you might feel a little cheated having expected SO much and then the book not quite delivering. When you cross a book like this with a favorite author and it gets down right painful! Today, I’m sharing a dozen hyped books from 2020, half lived up to all that hype, and the other half didn’t quite do it for me.
2020 Books That Deserved the Hype
- Long Bright River by Liz Moore – Even before 2020 began, there was a lot of buzz around this book. Word was that is was a truly SMART thriller, something that feels like a rarity at times. It did not disappoint with Moore delivering a twisty story of two sisters who grew up in the same sad house, but ended up in very different places: one a cop, the other a drug-addict living on the streets. (my review)
- My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell – This debut about a woman haunted by the relationship she had with her high school English teacher had many people talking. The chatter grew even more intense when it came out that the story was in part based on the author’s own experience. (my review)
- Untamed by Glennon Doyle – This book was being talked about EVERYWHERE last spring. I initially avoided it because I’ve struggled with nonfiction this year, but when I finally listened to it on audio, I got why everyone was talking about it. Doyle’s writing was so inspiring, so uplifting, and exactly what we needed in the midst of COVID’s first peak. (my review)
- The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett – Sometimes when an author’s debut was a mega-hit, like The Mothers (my review) was for Bennett, her sophomore novel will get a lot of prepublication buzz. Sometimes that buzz is deserved, but many times it’s not. I’m happy to say that The Vanishing Half deserved every one of its early accolades. I actually liked it even more than her debut. (my review)
- Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam – It seemed like in late August and September everyone was talking about the new book by Alam. It was said to be strange, mysterious, thrilling, brilliant, a MUST read. For me it was all of those things and much more. It’s so nice when a book truly lives up to its early hype! (my review)
- The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwarz – I did not succumb to the swirl of hype surrounding the publication of this book because I DO NOT read fantasy. Then in mid-October I hit a sort of mini-slump, not finding any books to connect to. I read review after review by people who loved Addie. Finally, I decided to try it and within pages, I completely understood that the hype was well, well deserved. (my review)
2020 Books That Didn’t Deserved the Hype
- Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore – I heard about Oona months before it was published and had to hold myself back from reading it too early. When I finally did, I was a little disappointed. I grew frustrated with a girl who seemed to keep making the same mistakes over and over, and at times felt like I was slogging through her story. (my review)
- The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel – It’s hard to explain how much people were looking forward to this book from the author of Station Eleven, a book beloved by many. I was desperate to get my hands on a copy, but then the story was just okay. It didn’t meet my almost breathless anticipation, leaving me disappointed and a little sad. (my review)
- Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell – I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how much pre-publication hype Hamnet got because I wasn’t really very interested. Then I started seeing A LOT of love for the book on Instagram, so decided to give it a try. Usually, those high accolades bode well for me, but not this time. O’Farrell’s book was again, just okay. (my review)
- A Traveler at the Gates of Wisdom by John Boyne – When we have an author on such a high pedestal, the fall can be painful. The Heart’s Invisible Furies (my review) was my Best Book of 2017 and I’ve loved other Boyne books, so like everyone else I was rabid for his newest saga. Did I read the entire book? Yes. Was it incredibly creative? Yes. Was it strikingly original? Yes. Did I love it? No. (my review)
- The Night Swim by Megan Goldin – This book was everywhere last summer including an August Book of the Month selection. Everyone (except me) seemed to loved this thriller about two rapes, twenty years apart. Rarely do I dislike a book as much as The Night Swim. I still don’t get why so many loved it! (my spoiler discussion)
- Anxious People by Fredrik Backman – Here we have yet another favorite author who people were eager to read in 2020. Pre-publication promised a quirky book about a botched robbery, an open house and an unusual cast of characters. Backman delivered all that, but with angst, I again have to say, “It was just okay.” (my review)
Which 2020 books do you think deserved,
OR didn’t deserve the hype?
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