It’s not you, it’s me: When it just doesn’t work

Posted 28 February, 2014 | Mary @ TheBookSwarm | | 32 Comments

You know when there are books that people rave about, that so many readers enjoyed, and you just…don’t? It happens, of course. That’s the great thing about books — they speak to different people on different levels. Just because a book doesn’t work for one person, that doesn’t mean it’s not going to work for anyone. On the contrary! When people say they don’t like a book, personally, that makes me curious about it. Isn’t that why we love books? Because you never know what you’re going to find when you open those pages (or turn on the ereader) and dive in.

HALF BAD (Half Life Trilogy #1) by Sally Green
YA Fantasy
416 pages, hardcover
Available March 4, 2014
Publisher: Viking Children’s Books
Review copy provided by publisher for honest review

Witches, England, a really bad bad guy who also happens to be the main character’s father? Sounds like a match made in heaven! Unfortunately for me, this one was a big no. I couldn’t connect with the main character. At all. I really wanted to root for him but…I couldn’t. Also, I really disliked how the witches factions were Black (bad) and White (good) and we were pounded over the head how horrible the Whites were and how bad yet misunderstood the Blacks were. Yes, there’s white and black magic but, in this story, it was all somehow magnified in this book until it felt, well, racial in tone. 

DANGEROUS by Shannon Hale
YA Science Fiction
400 pages, hardcover
Available March 4, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Review copy provided by publisher for honest review

Space Camp, a journey to outer space and an encounter with alien technology? Plus, a really cool cover? Again, sign me up! It started out well. Maisie (adorable name!) is smart and intriguing…until she absorbs a token. Until the whole batch of Space Camp kids absorb a token. Until they all gain special powers. After that, it turns into one hot mess. Bad guys galore, all wanting to use the kids, the kids turning against one another, lots and lots of death, people on the run…it’s just too much. Too much, I tell you!

ALL THAT GLOWS by Ryan Graudin
YA Historical Fantasy
463 pages, paperback
Available now (February 2014)
Publisher: HarperTeen
Review copy provided by publisher for honest review

I’m a huge sucker for stories based in the whole Fae mythology so a story about a Faery Guard who falls for a prince while protecting him from dark magic sounded right up my alley. Unfortunately, the prince is a shallow dick who doesn’t deserve this Fae’s protection, much less her love. Plus, I get a little squicky feeling when characters with this large of an age gap fall in “love”. Emrys is hundreds of years old and Prince Richard is a teen. Um. No. Besides that, the storyline wasn’t original enough to keep my attention — I skimmed at least half of the book because, well, I didn’t want to DNF another book but because, yes, I did want to see if she’d give up her Fae-ness and magic for the spoiled little boy.

About Mary @ TheBookSwarm

32 Responses to “It’s not you, it’s me: When it just doesn’t work”

  1. I only noticed yesterday that the red swirly stuff (blood?) on the Half Bad cover made a face. Creepy. I did have All That Glows on my TBR but decided to remove it.

  2. Most readers weren’t a fan of Dangerous or All That Glows, though I’m sad to see you didn’t enjoy Half Bad. I think it’s been over-hyped, but I still really liked the concept and the emotional upheaval throughout the novel. Wonderful reviews, though, Mary!(:

  3. I have 3 basic no’s for reading – I don’t do ghosts, mermaids, or faeries. Something about them I just cannot get into. I don’t know why, it’s my own hang up.

    I hate when I feel like the black sheep for not liking a book everyone else raved about (Mara Dyer, anyone?). Makes me feel like I’m an idiot for missing something. Like my feels are broken.

  4. I struggled with Half Bad and Dangerous as well Mary! I ended up giving Half Bad a 3.5 because there were some things I liked even if I didn’t care for the random second person POV and greatly disliked the pseudo love interest. I couldn’t finish Dangerous unfortunately. It’s be a while since that’s happened, but I got to page 50 and just couldn’t continue. And Danny said All that Glows didn’t work for her so I didn’t even bother with that one. So disappointed though because the cover is GORGEOUS:)

    • Well, a 3.5 is definitely not a bad review so you liked it more than I did. I was highly disappointed by ATG, especially because the pretty cover sucked me in!

  5. Dangerous doesn’t at all sound like the sort of story I’d expect from Shannon Hale, and I’ve been wondering whether it would be a hot mess. Sounds like it’s probably not be for me. After reading a few negative reviews of All That Glows I lost all my enthusiasm for that one pretty early on (sigh, such a pretty cover!). I’m still cautiously curious about Half Bad, but it’s a shame you couldn’t connect with the main character. Hopefully it will work better for me. Great minis! Sorry these didn’t work for you.

    • I know! I’d liked other Hale stories but Dangerous just…wow. No. And I hate when a pretty cover holds a disappointing interior. I’m hoping you like Half Bad because reviewing something negatively always makes me sad!

  6. Oh, no! I was a little excited for HALF BAD and DANGEROUS. But HALF BAD now sounds half bad, and I hate the racial-ness, so I think I’ll pass. I’ve read mostly negative reviews for ALL THAT GLOWS though, so no surprise there!

  7. Absolutely agreed–I don’t have 100% compatibility with anybody I know, so I would be missing out if I ever dismissed a book soley because of one person’s review. The beauty of getting to know other bloggers is that you do get a sense of their tastes and whether yours aligns with theirs, but from time to time you are still surprised!

    As you know, Kim is right there with you with the HALF BAD thing, and so am I–I never got past a few chapters. I wasn’t a huge fan of ATG, either. Oh well, onto the next! I’ve been a white sheep sometimes in a sea of black ones, too. 🙂 Keeps things interesting.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    • It’d be a little scary if we were 100% compatible with someone else reading-wise. I follow so many different blogs that I read a wide variety of reviews, which is great. And I’ve definitely liked books that so many others have hated! See, I think that’s why we love books so much. You really never know what you’re going to get.

    • Yep. Kate and I have scarily high compatibility–90% or so the last time I checked, but even we disagree on books from time to time. And you’re right, that’s why it’s fun and necessary to read a lot of different blogs.

  8. I totally agree with you, Mary. Not all books are for everyone and that’s why I love reading a variety of bloggers reviews to get a wide feel of some books. I had a hard time with All That Glows too, for the same reasons that you did. I appreciate reviews that state why the book did not work for the reader as much as those that lead you to 5 star awesomeness!

    • I’m right there with you on reading a wide variety of reviews and definitely appreciate those who tell *why* a book didn’t work for them. Just trashing a book? No. Explain.

  9. I haven’t read any of the books you listed but the majority of the reviews I have read are similar to yours so you aren’t alone.

  10. Usually it can depend on why someone DNFs a book, but like you… it often makes me curious. Now the first 2 you made me curious, but the last one not as much. I have a feeling I would feel the same. Oh and the book I reviewed and loved today got mixed reviews with a lot of people dnf’ing it. I felt it was because it was very sci-fi and not everyone loves that. 🙂

  11. That’s too bad about those first too. I was kind of curious about them. It’s probably good though, I really don’t need to add to the TBR!

  12. I didn’t read the last one, but have not heard positive things. I liked Half Bad better than you, but I agree the B/W divide wasn’t written well. I didn’t see much actual difference between them. But maybe that was the point? Interesting comment on it feeling racist. It definitely did. Poor Nathan! And I agree about Dangerous “hot mess” is the perfect description. So much happens in this book that I just couldn’t understand. It just gets out of control. I can’t believe I read the whole thing!