Hype is a thing. Sometimes it pushes you to read books that you end up loving. Often, it pushes you to read books that you end up disliking (or even hating). And sometimes, the hype pushes you farther away from the books the hype is all about.
In my case, too much hype will push me away from an author’s entire catalog, especially when I’ve previously read books by that author and wasn’t particularly impressed by them. It’s like that song that was kinda catchy at first, and then you heard it at every turn and ended up hating it two weeks after it came out.
I don’t listen to a lot of popular music, so my reaction to the latest popular-but-annoying song is usually, “I don’t know what you’re talking about”. But books? Yeah, there are definitely some authors where the hype has put me off their work entirely. I might have even loved the books when I first read them.
But that was then.
This is now.
So in no particular order, here are some authors whose work I probably won’t read again, just because I’m tired of hearing about them.
He’s the master of horror. I guess. If memory serves, I’ve read 11.5 of his books. Why did I read so many of them if I didn’t like them? I have friends who love them. Like, really love them. Gushing like a geyser kind of love whenever King’s books are mentioned.
And me? I mean, I finished eleven of his books. You might think I was a big Stephen King fan. But I mostly read them because those gushing friends gushed so much about them that, even though I thought the previous book was ‘just alright’, I kept thinking, ‘maybe this will be the one that really hooks me’. And they never did.
Why didn’t I just move on to something else? Have I mentioned that I grew up in a little town with a little library before the internet was the big thing that it is? Yeah. I applaud that Little Library on the Prairie for many things, but they didn’t have the greatest variety when it came to adult books. What they had was plenty of Stephen King, and during the summer I had plenty of time. While I admit that the first couple of books of The Dark Tower series were compelling, I gave it up after repeatedly falling asleep while reading The Wolves of the Calla.
Now, no matter how often I hear friends and BookTubers gush about Stephen King, I give his books a hard pass.
I hear that The Lightbringer series is great. And every time a reviewer starts to talk about it, they begin with that deadly phrase, “It has a fantastic magic system!”
Yes, I know my favorite genre is fantasy. And yes, I know that fantasy novels have magic in them. But if an author has to spend a significant portion of the book explaining the intricacies of their very complicated magic system, I lose interest. If I wanted to read a ‘how-to’ guide I’d go and read one of my camera manuals.
My lack of interest in The Lightbringer series is not solely inspired (or uninspired?) by the fact that every review I’ve seen gushes over the magic system. I’ve also read Weeks’s Night Angel trilogy. I thought it was alright. I didn’t like it enough to want to delve into a five-book series of 3,500 pages.
Back in 2012, a friend recommended that I read The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear. So I did. I thought they were pretty darned cool.
Seven years ago.
Now that I’ve had some time to reflect on the series so far, I can’t help but see how a lot of things about the first two books in The Kingkiller Chronicles bothered the hell out of me.
(mild spoiler alert)
- Kvothe’s obsession with Denna. Kvothe spends an absurd amount of time
stalkingfollowing Denna like a lovelorn puppy and wondering why she won’t give him all the attention he craves. Does he honestly not see what Denna is, or is he just convinced that, because he’s the Main Character, Denna will obviously fall in love with him and forsake everyone else she’s ever known?
- Felurian. The sex-fairy who captures men and has sex with them until they are exhausted and dies, captures Kvothe who does not end up dying because he’s apparently too darned cool for amoral fairies to do with as they will, like they have been since time immemorial.
- The magical school. Maybe it’s because I’ve been out of school for a long time. Maybe it’s because my years in school were not the most enjoyable of my life. Whatever it is, I don’t really enjoy books that spend a long time in a school (Harry Potter being an exception). And Kvothe spends a lot of time being a complete dimwit at school.
While book three of The Kingkiller Chronicles has a release date, I will believe that when I see it on the shelves in bookstores. I also doubt that it will be the final book in the series, as Rothfuss left an awful lot of Kvothe’s history up in the air at the end of The Wise Man’s Fear. As I would need to reread the first two books to refresh my memory about the details, I think I’m going to let the rest of the Kingkiller books go. Too much time has gone by, and I just don’t care about them anymore.
I’m not opposed to Sanderson. I have a lot of respect for the guy, and I enjoy listening to the podcast, Writing Excuses, that he co-hosts with Mary Robinette Kowal and other wonderful writers. Where authors like George R.R. Marting and Patrick Rothfuss drag their feet and say things like, “Well, I’m producing a TV show and doing all these other things, so I can’t write”, Sanderson puts out multiple quality books each year, co-hosts a Hugo-award winning podcast, goes on book tours, teaches writing classes, AND he’s raising a family.
I’m pretty sure he’s a robot.
I have nothing against the guy. I’m even interested in reading book three of The Stormlight Archive, which is the Most High Epic Series of High Fantasy Epic Series (each book is something like 1,000 pages, and he has ten of them planned…).
It’s the rest of Sanderson’s work that I’m losing interest in, just because so many people gush about it. Primarily the Mistborn books. I read the Mistborn trilogy when it was relatively new. I think book three, The Hero of Ages had just recently come out. I thought the world was interesting, the characters were engaging, and the ending made me go, “Huh. I wasn’t expecting that.” But it’s nowhere close to being my favorite book, and it’s not something I want to read again.
The Mistborn deluge I keep encountering on BookTube reminds me of a water balloon fight: It’s fun when your friends lob a few at you on a hot summer day. It’s even refreshing. But when everyone and their dog decides to throw everything they’ve got at you, the game quickly goes from refreshing to making you want to run away screaming.
So there’s some shade (salt? tea? shady salty tea?) for you on a hot summer day. And remember: You can read whatever you want. That doesn’t mean I want to read it, too.