Mini Reviews – Did These Books Live up to Their Hype?

Do these books live up to their hype?

Have you ever been tempted to read a book because of the hype surrounding it?

I’d like to think that I wouldn’t read a book solely because of it being popular, but I’ll admit that the hype surrounding a book can certainly nudge me towards it. The way it works is that I’d hear about a book somehow… but initially, I wouldn’t be interested in reading it. However, due to its popularity, I’d keep hearing about it and would slowly grow intrigued based on some of the specific things people say about it.

Recently, I’ve been wondering about how many of the novels I pick up at least in part because of their popularity are actually worth reading. So for today’s post, I collected some much-praised books I consumed in 2021 after hearing wonderful things about them, even though my initial excitement for these books was low. Let’s see how they fared, shall we?

The Troop by Nick Cutter

What did the hype say? Whenever I looked for horror recommendations, The Troop kept appearing on my radar, so despite it not catching my eye at first glance, I slowly but surely caved in and purchased a copy it. I was told that this book would be creepy and brutal and unforgettable – a truly good horror novel, all in all.

Did it live up to the hype? Kind of? Unfortunately, while I liked The Troop, I wasn’t as impressed with it as I expected to be. Certainly, it was disturbing and utterly disgusting at parts, however, I was never once scared while reading it. I don’t have an issue with gore and grossness, but that’s hardly the reason I love horror, so simply put, The Troop wasn’t my cup of tea. Nonetheless, I still liked it and gave it four stars, knowing full well that the main reason why I didn’t like it – i.e. it isn’t my type of horror – is on me.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

What did the hype say? To be fair, I’ve seen some mixed reviews of Gods of Jade and Shadow, but nonetheless, most people in the blogosphere adore this novel, so I had really high hopes for it. I heard incredible things about the characters and the romance in particular, so those were the main things I was looking forward to.

Did it live up to the hype? Sadly, this one didn’t work for me. As much as I wanted to love this one, I ended up finding it boring. Even as I could see the author putting down the base for the romance – the part I was the most excited about – I couldn’t get into the story. 46% into Gods of Jade and Shadow, I made the decision to give up on it and honestly? I don’t regret that choice. I think it’s better to DNF and leave unrated a novel that is not working for me than to give it a low rating when I finish it.


Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

What did the hype say? I’m fairly certain that Anxious People is Backman’s most beloved book, so it’s safe to say that there’s a lot of hype surrounding it. I kept seeing people call this one of their all time favorites, which made me really excited to read it even though I didn’t know a lot about the plot of the novel.

Did it live up to the hype? Absolutely! Anxious People is one of the easiest five star ratings I gave out in 2021 and a novel that I’ve since then recommended to multiple friends. It’s such an entertaining but also deeply touching novel – a combination that I rarely see, especially done so well. A brilliant novel, through and through.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

What did the hype say? I’ve heard nothing but great things about Miracle Creek prior to picking it up. The things that people highlighted the most about this novel was how complex and twisty the mystery was and how well-written the characters were.

Did it live up to the hype? After reading Miracle Creek, I can confidently say that yes, everyone that said that this book is fantastic was right. I loved that, even as I started to put together the mystery a bit before it was revealed, I felt totally compelled by this novel. I could barely put it down and I was so invested in the mystery because it and the characters it affected felt real. This was another five star read.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

What did the hype say? Out of all the books on this list, All Systems Red is the one I was the most afraid to read, because me and sci-fi novels don’t usually get along. However, this series has so many fans and has received so much praise that I felt like I couldn’t pass it up. What convinced me more than anything was the way people were describing the main character and the fact that I saw multiple people call these books comfort reads.

Did it live up to the hype? I’m pleased to say that I’m quite into the Murderbot series. I’ve read the first four novellas and I’ve enjoyed all of them immensely, even if none of them managed to cross into five-star theory. My main issue – and only issue, really – is that I wish the supporting cast was more fleshed out. I feel like the novella-length of these stories doesn’t offer enough space to truly get to know these characters, which is disappointing because they all seem interesting. The next book in the series is a full-length novel, so I’m hoping that might be a five star read.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

What did the hype say? Deanna Raybourn is such a beloved historical mystery author – not only by people in general, but by me as well, so including this title in the post feels a bit like cheating. The reason why I included it here is that yes, I bought this copy because I love Raybourn, but sometime while waiting for the sequels I lost interest. In the end, the main reason I picked it up was the hype.

Did it live up to the hype? Simply put, no, it did not. While I expected fun characters and an interesting mystery based on the reviews, I found a mystery with ridiculous twists and characters that I didn’t care about, even by the end of the novel. The other thing is that Raybourn is great at slow-burn romances, so I was excited to start a series where it takes the characters multiple books to get together. Imagine my disappointment when I didn’t feel any chemistry between the main characters. Overall, A Curious Beginning wasn’t a good book, and it probably won’t make me continue the series. I rated it three stars, but given how much I disliked the ending, even that seems generous.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

What did the hype say? I don’t typically read dark academia, so whenever a dark academia novel crosses my radar, I need a lot of convincing to actually pick it up. Thankfully, there was plenty of hype surrounding Ace of Spades when it was released earlier this year. I heard incredible things about the characters, as well as about how tension packed the novel is and how it handles institutional racism and homophobia.

Did it live up to the hype? Yes, 1000%. I adored Ace of Spades, basically from the very first page. It’s one of those books that instantly grabbed my attention and didn’t let it go until the very last page. I loved the way it addressed privilege, racism, and homophobia, all things that are frequently left unaddressed in dark academia. If there are going to be more dark academia novels like this in the future then I’m ready to embrace this genre.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In conclusion..

Even though some of these books didn’t work for me – or didn’t work for me as much as I hoped they would – I don’t think I ever let the hype steer me into completely wrong direction. Maybe that is because, as you could see from the post, I only really cave into the hype when certain aspects of a book actually appeal to me. I doubt I’ll ever read a hyped book that seems totally different from what I enjoy.

Let’s chat!

So, do you let the hype influence what you read? Do hyped books typically live up to your expectations? What are some hyped books you think deserve all the love they’ve received? What are some that absolutely do not deserve their popularity?

17 thoughts on “Mini Reviews – Did These Books Live up to Their Hype?

  1. I’m happy to hear that Ace of Spades lived up to the hype!! It’s the only one I’ve read myself and adored too. I’m also glad to hear you enjoyed Anxious People, because Backman tends to be a master at destroying me emotionally. Did you know that there was a Netflix adaptation releasing soon (for Anxious People)?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ace of Spades was fantastic, even better than I expected it to be based on the hype. 😍 Anxious People DESTROYED me so be prepared for that for sure! Omg, no I didn’t know!! I’ll have to look into that and see when it will be released because I always thought that this story would be great on the screen!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ohh, I love the idea for this post! 💕 YES to the Murderbot Diaries!! I saw a lot of hype for them and didn’t know anything about them, but I picked up the audiobooks by chance and immediately got obsessed! It is sad that they are so short, so I hope you’ll like the full-length novel. I’m about to start reading Ace of Spades on audiobook, so I’m glad to see that you like it so much 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah this is such a great idea for a post, I love it. I’m so happy you ended up enjoying Ace of Spades! It’s true that this book has had a LOT of hype all around and sometimes, that’s a bit scary. This one was incredible, though, I adored it as well! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I totally agree with you! Hype can make me MORE interested in a book that I initially was, but if a book doesn’t sound like my thing, it doesn’t matter how much hype there is. I just won’t read a book if it’s not for me!

    I actually picked up several books due to the hype this year, and actually Anxious People was one of them! Most of them really did live up to the hype, although there were a few exceptions. However, I never felt truly misled by the hype even if I didn’t enjoy the book. Usually it was me and the book not meshing rather than the hype mismarketing the book to me. So I probably will continue to pick up a hyped book here and there to spice up my reading, but only when it sound like my thing in the first place!

    Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I feel the same way! I’m not going to pick up all the hyped books, but the hype has led me to lots of great titles / authors, like Fredrik Backman. At first glance, his books didn’t appeal to me all that much, but I kept seeing them around and decided to try A Man Called Ove, my first book by him. I’ve since read most of his works and loved each and every one of them.

      Liked by 1 person

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