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Let’s talk hyped books. Every year certain books seem to get a lot of hype. Sometimes it starts well before the book publishes and other time it’s a major blitz at the time of publication. It starts with the publishers, but these days it often continues more organically with readers via social media. Hype can be a wonderful thing for some quieter books, or for new authors, but it can also be a bit of a curse. When a book gets a lot of hype, expectations from readers grow higher and higher, and sometimes a book that is actually very good feels like a disappointment because it wasn’t quite “that” good. Sadly, that was the case for several of the books on the second half of my list today. So, let’s take a look at the dozen books that for me both did and didn’t live up to their hype.
2021 Books That Deserved the Hype
- Too Good To Be True by Carola Lovering – This twisty little domestic thriller wasn’t even on my radar until I began seeing everyone rave about it. That always raises my interest level. It was a Book of the Month choice and a Kirkus Starred Review, so I took a chance and ended up loving it. This is a book that who’s title actually said it all. It truly was too good to be true! (my review)
- The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton – This book was on my radar long before it published and was one I included on my Winter Preview 2021. Opal & Nev comes from a smaller publishing house and sometimes that makes it difficult for a good book to get traction, but not this book. It was star reviewed by everyone, blurbed by Jason Reynolds and Ta-Nehisi Coates, and a Book of the Month selection. So many people were talking about this book and with very good reason! (my review)
- When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain – Hype around a new book by the great Paula McLain was no surprise and it was everywhere on Instagram last spring. That, combined with the fact that her new book was not historical fiction (as we’ve come to expect from McLain), but instead a sort of literary mystery could have been a disaster. Instead, it was even better than all its hype! (my review)
- The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller – Let me start out by being very honest. I loved The Paper Palace, but also recognize that many people didn’t. That alone has blown up this book’s hype. Conversation around a divisive book has to be good for sales. It’s also been highlighted everywhere including July’s Reese’s Book Club pick and blurbs by Meg Wolitzer and Mary Beth Keene among others. For me, all the attention was very well deserved. (my review)
- The People We Keep by Allison Larkin – This book has had legs. People were talking about it in August when it first published, and I still see it all around now in December. It was another BOTM pick which helped, but in the end it was mainly people talking about and praising The People We Keep that really sold it. Ground swell hype led many to fly through the story of a troubled 17-year old trying to find out where she belongs in the world. (my review)
- We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride & Jo Piazza – I think this might be the MOST hyped book of the year. It comes from a successful writing team and covered sensitive topics of race and police shootings. It was a GMA Book Club pick, an Amazon Book of the Month, on almost every fall book list, and the authors appeared on many podcasts. All that attention was well deserved because the authors delivered a well-written, thoughtful, and timely story that appeals to many readers and will help get people talking. (my review)
2021 Books That Didn’t Deserved the Hype
- The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson – This book got a ton of hype. It was on all kinds of “upcoming best books” lists, was a starred review on Publisher’s Weekly, an Amazon Best Book of the Month pick and a BOTM selection. My expectations were high and then this books was just blah for me. I felt like the whole premise of the story was overblown making this book such a disappointment, I didn’t review it here! (Instagram Review)
- We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker – I initially had no interest in reading this book. Then I started seeing it everywhere on Instagram, over and over. SO MANY people said it was their favorite book of the year. Eventually, all the hype got to me and I read it. Now I liked the book fine, but not nearly as much as I expected to based on all the hype around it. (Instagram Review)
- What’s Mine and Yours by Naima Coster – This book was a Read With Jenna pick, an an Amazon Best Book of the Month pick, and a BOTM selection. It seemed like everyone was behind it and I was excited to read it, but for me it was good, but not THAT good. Even though it was a little slow, I enjoyed it, but not as much as the hype had me expecting to. (my review)
- Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney – This book not only had a lot of hype around its publication, it also had a great debut, The Nest, to live up to. Read with Jenna picked it for their April book and Amazon loved it, too. Again, it was fine, but fine isn’t living up to the hype. I finished the book feeling disappointed. (my review)
- Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid – I know. This seems like a strange choice for me to place here, but I have to. I love Taylor Jenkins Reid and I enjoyed Malibu Rising, but I expected to be blown away by it. I wasn’t. For months everyone was talking about this book: Jenna, Amazon, BOTM, and everyday readers. It was one of my MOST highly anticipated books of the year, so even though I enjoyed it, in the end I was disappointed. (my review)
- Falling by T.J. Newman – last summer the hype around this book on Instagram was out of control. It seemed like everyone loved it. Multiple publications talked about it as “the thriller of the summer.” Even though it didn’t seem like my type of book, how could I resist? Well, I couldn’t, but I should have. I expected Falling to deliver much more than it did! (my review)
Which 2021 books do you think deserved,
OR didn’t deserve the hype?
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