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A Reader of Fictions: Top Ten YA Books/Series That I Think Are Highly Overrated

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Top Ten YA Books/Series That I Think Are Highly Overrated

Or, Ten Books I Secretly (Well, Not Anymore) Judge You for Loving

I didn't feel like doing this week's Top Ten Tuesday, and I've been wanting to do this post for a while, so here goes. I tried to stick to really popular books, the ones I see people raving about on Twitter that make me headdesk.There are a lot of bad YA books that I could rant about, but I'm trying to stick exclusively to the inexplicably (to me) popular. I left Twilight out because it's been done to death.

If you're going to feel the need to troll when you see your favorite series maligned, please just don't read. Just because I hate the series, doesn't mean I won't read your blog or think you're an idiot automatically, I promise. You're welcome to defend your favorites, even encouraged, just do so in an intellectual manner, please.

Alright, get ready, because I'm putting my judgmental face on RIGHT NOW.

Dis-Honorable Mention: Possess - Gretchen McNeil
I won't talk about this much, but it was part of the inspiration for getting this posted. I read this recently, and was totally disappointed in it. When I went to post my review on Goodreads, I saw that only like two other people felt the same way. This is always alarming, because you wonder if you're missing something.

10. Beautiful Creatures - Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
In this case, I've only read the first book in the series, so the rest of the books might be better. I will never know, because there's almost no one I would believe enough to want to risk reading another. I thought the romance came straight from the Twilight handbook of cheesiness: a mysterious transfer student, attraction, oh-no-we-can't-be-together-for-your-safety, INSTALOVE. Oy.

The book is told from Ethan's perspective, which is an interesting change, except that he really didn't read like a boy. The plot wasn't anything spectacular, either.

9. Life As We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeffer
We had to read this for one of my MLIS classes. I was looking forward to it, because one of my friends liked it. Well, I didn't. I wanted to throw it across the room at several points. The writing wasn't great, although that could be Miranda's fault (as it was told in her perspective). Of course, I hated Miranda as a heroine. She was whiny and stupid and selfish. I'm okay with selfish characters, so long as they own it, but Miranda would be selfish (temper tantrum-y and unaware) and then whine about how guilty she felt. Ugh and double ugh.

What I really couldn't get over, though, were a couple of inconsistencies I noticed in the narrative. One I remember was that she wanted to be asked to a dance by some guy she had a crush on, and he asked her. Later, she was mad at him for not asking. Lol whut? This could be an editor fail, but whatever. If you want to try dystopias, definitely don't start here.

8. Firelight - Sophie Jordan
An awesome concept guarantees that I'm going to want to read your book. Dragon shifters? Hell to the yes. Unfortunately, the way they were done didn't make any damn sense. I complained about this in my Firelight review. It's weird that Jacinda would start shifting while making out with Mr. Sexypants. Wouldn't he notice that her mouth was no longer human. I mean, dragon facial anatomy is REALLY different.

For some reason, I read book two, Vanish, as well. It didn't get better. The whole series is love triangle-tacular. The book isn't really about the fantasy aspects, which may be why they're not especially well thought out; it's about romance. Jordan is a romance novelist turned YA author, and it's very apparent from her writing. Plus, Jacinda's another should-be powerful heroine who ends up thinking about boys all the time.

7. Anything by Cassandra Clare
Okay, I freely admit that I have enjoyed everything I've read by Cassie Clare to varying degrees. I've read five of her books, and they were all fun. Even though, I think on them with distaste, I still really want to read more of them. This is why she's prominently featured in my list of books that are like crack. However, I do not think her books are good or that they deserve anywhere near the fandom they have. I do not get why people are so obsessed with a ship that was possible incest for like two and a half books. Also, why did they not just get a damn blood test? I have wondered this time and again.

What really irritates me is the crazy fandom. I mean, in and of itself, I'm not bothered by the fact that people enjoy her books. I get why they do. The scale of obsession with her books, though, is excessive to the nth degree. TMI, an appropriate abbreviation for this series, is constantly trending on Twitter, because there are so many damn fans. Jace and Clary, the worst characters in the series imo, are so many people's OTP (One Time Pairing, or ultimate ship). I'm pretty sure that if for her next book, there were only one ARC available, you could seriously offer it up as a prize in a battle royale and people would go for it.

I would also like to point out again that her second series is pretty much identical to the first, although set in steampunk England. Despite my judging, I do ship Alec and Magnus a lot. And, to be honest, I do really want to finish reading the series I've started, but I will not be doing so. Since all this plagiarism stuff, I'm taking a firmer stance.

6. Lisa McMann's YA Fiction
I've read five books by Lisa McMann, and I do not plan to read any more of her young adult books. I actually liked The Unwanteds, her MG title. My main issue with Lisa McMann is her writing. In her YA books, finding a complete sentence is really difficult. She writes almost entirely in fragments, because, apparently, this is how she thinks teens think. I know that people do not always think in complete sentences, but I still think this is exaggerated. I also think it's complete b.s. that the writing is more complex in the MG book than in her YA fiction.What does this say about Lisa McMann's opinions of teens?

I actually liked the first book in the Wake Trilogy, which is why I read all of it, but I really don't think it went anywhere. I totally drew the line after reading Cryer's Cross, though. That was a big ol' pile of WTF. Seriously. It was about a magic desk. Just no.

5. The Iron Fey - Julie Kagawa
Before I get ripped to shreds by Kagawa fangirls, I want to preface this by saying that I did love The Immortal Rules, largely because it was a complete departure from the tropes of The Iron Fey. If you read my reviews of the Iron Fey series (I got through three books and a novella), you'll watch me progressively getting more and more annoyed with the series.

If you look at my review of The Iron King, I actually enjoyed it. I thought it was cute and funny, and I enjoyed the Shakespeare references. Meghan was a bit of a weak character, but she just learned she had crazy powers, so, surely, she was going to step up in the next books. Unfortunately, no. Despite having enough power to easily vanquish most of the enemies she comes across, it never occurs to her to use her strength until she has no choice. Because, clearly, it much better to be saved by a man if you can.

I also loathe the love triangle with every fiber of my being. From book one, it was exceedingly, embarrassingly obvious that Meghan was going to choose Ash. Broody ice prince will beat out the funny, sarcastic, supportive guy who's always been there for you any day, obviously. I think Ash is boring and has a big stick up his butt. Puck has his issues, mostly because he really is rather like his namesake, but he has a personality, and does not deserve to be used by Meghan the way that he is. I also think that in the real world, he would have gotten over her since he didn't stand a chance.

4. Wolves of Mercy Falls - Maggie Stiefvater
My experiences with Maggie Stiefvater have all been pretty much the same. I've read 4 of her 6 books that are currently published, and, though, by and large I haven't enjoyed them much, I will keep reading them. I'm a masochist, you say? Well, that may be true. Her concepts are just so mind-blowingly amazing. I can't help reading them.

My issue is with her characters. In both Linger and Lament, the heroine made me insane. She's one of those bored, cold girls that every dude wants. In the case of Lament's heroine, she also has a sassy, sarcastic best friend with a crush on her; book two of that series was my favorite of Stiefvater's books because it was from his perspective. Grace was just so boring. I could not handle it. Sam too. They were made for each other, in that they both make me want to take a nap. Put them together and they're so disgustingly happy I want to barf on everything. They have ZERO internal issues in their relationship. I hated them so much I was happy whenever something happened to wrench them apart. The only reason I made it through two books in Wolves of Mercy Falls was that Cole and Isabel were much more interesting in Linger.

3. Hereafter - Tara Hudson
I read this one almost a full year ago, and I still can't get over what a steaming pile of dreck it is. I'm sorry if you liked it, but I hated every single thing about it, except, maybe, the cover. What completely destroys me is that so many people loved it. Pretty much every review I've seen of it has been four stars or more. What I want to know is what book they read.

Since I have a review up for this one, I don't think I need to reiterate why so much, but I just want to mention again the cheesiness of the writing and that Joshua regularly made out with his invisible girlfriend in public. What what what.

2. The Maze Runner - James Dashner
Everyone loved book one and talked it up so much that I borrowed it from the library and read it. While I wasn't over the moon about it, I did enjoy it and, had I been blogging at the time, probably would have rated it 3 stars. My main issue with it was that it seemed a bit like mindless action and we weren't getting any DETAILS on why things were happening.

Enter the next two books, The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure. I got progressively more pissed off as I kept reading. Nothing happened plot-wise in book two really, other than that the MC found a new lady friend. The only reason I kept reading was to see if Dashner would ever really offer any explanations. short answer: NOPE.

1. The Forest of Hands and Teeth - Carrie Ryan
While I was in library school, I read The Forest of Hands and Teeth, because everyone was fangirling over it everywhere. There was pretty much only one thing I liked about it, which was the fact that the Mary realized that crushes don't necessarily transition to love. The zombies and plot line didn't strike me as anything special, and Mary, other than her lack of romanticism annoyed me a lot. So, I didn't like it much (I would probably have rated it 2.5), but it was okay.

Then I read book two, in which I learn that Mary fell in love with guy one of the love triangle who she super wasn't into, which was ANNOYING. What makes me so angry about The Dead Tossed Waves is that it is, in essence, precisely the same book. And most people did not notice. Needless to say I didn't read further in the series, but I did read a short story she wrote for Zombies vs. Unicorns, set in the same universe of course, and was not impressed.

I find her books to be needlessly melodramatic, love triangle overdose, and wholly unoriginal (even amongst themselves).

Note 1: Can we talk about how dismayed I am that The Maze Runner series and The Forest of Hands and Teeth series show up on so many best dystopias lists?

Note 2: Carrie Ryan and James Dashner have both written a book for the same upcoming middle grade series. If I go to hell, I'm pretty sure reading that series would be part of my punishment.

To sum up,

What books/series do you dislike that everyone else in the world seems to love?



Blogger Naga said...

Twilight is like.. the ultimate overrated series, when it really shouldn't.
And The Wolves of Mercy Falls is absolutely awful. I didn't like the first book one bit, i'm not sure if i'm gonna continue reading this series, but really i must be like one in a million that hates this series.

Read into hiding

May 29, 2012 at 1:38 PM  
Blogger Aly said...

Hahaha I know what you mean about Cassandra Clare, and I don't know why I never thought about a DNA test. I can't wait until the series are over, so I can finally be done with them. I liked them more than I did when I first started reading them, but I don't see the hype as well.

May 29, 2012 at 1:40 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, Twilight's just been complained about before. I also didn't include it because I feel like by now it has about as many haters as lovers, so I don't feel alone on that.

But yeah, Stiefvater has some serious fangirls. Glad I'm not alone!

May 29, 2012 at 1:40 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, I feel you all the way. I do not judge people for being sucked in. It's just the people who think they're the BEST BOOKS EVAR where I'm like COME ON.

May 29, 2012 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger Kayla Beck said...

I'm one of the Possess fans (I'll own it), but I think it's because it didn't scare the crap out of me like most Catholic-based, (s)light horror novels do. As for the others, I've read Shiver and City of Bones. I didn't like either. I read Linger, which I liked a lot more, but I'm not rushing out to get Forever. I just don't care enough. As for TMI... *sigh* I KNOW that the incest thing turns out to not be a thing, but it's still just plain icky that they are probably going to moon over each other in subsequent books before the reveal. I may live near the Arkansas state line, but it's not THAT close.

As for my picks for the overrated books, I'll just say one. I'll rate books fairly high, even if I don't like them. I don't like a lot of things, and I'd be the meanest book reviewer ever if I based things on that. (Which is never going to happen, as I am a librarian.) My stars come from writing, world-building, characters, and whether or not I kept going. ANYWAYS, I do not get all of this Amanda Hocking hype. Sure, she self-published some books and sold millions. Kudos for her on that one. I read the new edition of Switched, and I'm horrified by what it had to have been before a few editors got a hold of it. *shudders* It was not for me at all, but I see all of these people going nuts over it. WHY?!

May 29, 2012 at 2:24 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I haven't read any Amanda Hocking, but I'm skeptical, not because she came out of self-publishing, but because she has like 85 books. I hadn't heard of her until like a year ago and she has so many books out. She and Kailin Gow seem too prolific to be that good. Writing takes time. Just to be clear, I haven't read their books, and I do want to try a Hocking book, but I'm definitely not sure if I'll like them.

It's rather laudable that you rate books for general merit rather than your own opinion, which definitely explains your system compared to mine. I rate based off of my opinion alone. I do try to point out the things you mentioned and to make my biases clear. Hopefully, people with similar taste will be able to use my ratings as a gauge. Otherwise, if you really dig into a review you should be able to see how it might work for you from that.

May 29, 2012 at 2:31 PM  
Blogger Ashley @ Ashley Loves Books said...

Sooo I haven't read most of these (8 out of 10...or 9/11 including the dishonourable mention), but I've always been skeptical on the Forest of Hands and Teeth, Beautiful Creatures, and the Iron Fey series. Everyone goes so batshit nuts over them, but something about them puts me off. While I want to read them just to see what's going on, I don't think they'll be hopping to the top of my list soon.

I also kind of agree about Cassandra Clare books. I'll admit that I read all of them, I totally want Clary and Jace (the incest thing was super weird though), I am definitely on board the Alec and Magnus pair -- but the fandom is crazy! I had no idea it was that insane until I ran across this random message board where one poor soul was like "I didn't really like it" and there were like 8234897234 ensuing comments of people just TEARING the girl apart. I googled a bit after to find out the whole drama with the author, and it's just...daaaamn man. I love books, but I don't get like that. Ridiculous. She's doing a signing in my city in a few months and I'm kind of scared to go.

May 29, 2012 at 3:00 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

You pretty much summed up the fandom perfectly. That's why it's on the list. I probably liked those books more than the others on this list judging solely on entertainment value, but I am terrified of the fandom.

May 29, 2012 at 3:27 PM  
Blogger Kristin (Book Sniffers Anonymous) said...

I've only read a few of the books mentioned, thank god! LoL I do agree with you on them although like you, I still continued to read them. I liked the first Firelight but Vanish was just too mopey for me. All she did was whine the entire book. I added my favorite quote in my review which just happened to sum up my feelings on the book as well.
The Clare books... those I just don't understand. I was a little creeped out by the incest part. Then I decided to read her new series and that just blew my mind. Not in a good way.
Last but not least Shiver. I read the first one. Thought it was interesting. Read the second... wasn't too bad but by the third I think I just skimmed it. I am one of those people that once I start a story I need to see it through.

May 29, 2012 at 3:35 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Bahahaha, thanks for including those links, and the Cassian quote is PERFECT, you're right.

I really could not believe the number of people who read Clockwork Prince and DIDN'T notice it was book one with new names. Oy.

I couldn't make it through Forever. I started reading and I just could not take another moment of Sam and Grace, even to find out what happened to the other two characters I actually sort of liked.

May 29, 2012 at 3:38 PM  
Blogger Brenna said...

Soo I haven't actually read a number of these (apparently I'm underread? Hmmm) but for the ones I have read, I'd say you're pretty spot on. I've enjoyed Cassandra Clare's books (I prefer Infernal Devices, but that's because I'm a sucker for the setting) and I like Iron Fey as well - but they're definitely not as amazing as they've been made out to be. ESPECIALLY Clare's books.

It does make me sad to see so many readers who will only stick to those very popular, overrated books and never take the time to discover all those hidden gems that are out there.

But I really liked this post, I always find it an interesting topic to read about!

Brenna from Esther's Ever After

May 29, 2012 at 4:00 PM  
Blogger Kayla Beck said...

The number of books is another reason why I question her writing skills. I assume that if they're being vomited out, they're not being edited. I may give Hocking another try with Wake since it's being traditionally published.

I know better than to review books on my opinion. I have absolutely no structure, and my box is very, very tiny. I could probably choose 50 books that I would happily read and reread exclusively for the rest of my life. My friends who have read the majority of those books - even those with similar tastes - are always at a loss to why I enjoy them so much. It's a strange mix, and I truly believe that no one obsesses over Piers Anthony as much as me (though I'm not nearly as bad about it anymore).

May 29, 2012 at 4:07 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Wow, I've been so lucky so far! Everyone agrees with me. I totally will not let this go to my head. *head swells up to gigantic proportions*

Definitely on wishing people would branch out more, although, obviously, I read a lot of the popular stuff too, so how much can I judge?

Thanks for stopping by!

May 29, 2012 at 4:41 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I would be super curious to see that list. I haven't read any Piers Anthony but he's on my list. Would you recommend a particular one to start?

I could probably read that many over and over and be happy too, but I also like reading ALL THE THINGS.

May 29, 2012 at 4:45 PM  
Blogger Andrea @ Love is... said...

Some of these I've heard of & some I haven't, but I'm totally with you on the Maggie Stiefvater books! I never seem to link them when I read them, but I keep going back for more. It's got to be something about her writing that I just don't connect with.

Good to know about the others!

May 29, 2012 at 4:50 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Love those gifs!

This may be my masochistic streak talking, but I still want to read Shiver. It hurts so good!

I liked the first book in the Life as We Knew It trilogy, but the second one was made of fail, at least in my opinion. I'll probably still read the third, though, because I am a glutton for punishment.

Completely with you on Maze Runner. I really enjoyed the first book, but I read it when YA was still nouveau to me, so I may not like it as much if I re-read it (which I don't plan on doing), as I loathed the second and third books.

Totally with you on City of Bones, too. I've only read the first book, and I don't understand the hype at all. Same with Forest of Hands and Teeth. (I don't know why I'm writing in sentence fragments today...haha!)

As far as books that I don't like are concerned, I have to admit that I wasn't really a big fan of Slide, and everyone else seemed to have nothing but wonderful things to say about it. I know there are others, but I just can't think of them at the moment. I'll be back!

May 29, 2012 at 6:30 PM  
Anonymous Audrey (Bibliosaurus Text) said...

I don't really disagree with much you said. Still, I've really enjoyed Beautiful Creatures (Southern gothic charm), The Iron Fey (just fun stuff for me), and Forest of Hands and Teeth (although the first book was by far the best one). But yeah, thanks for calling out the Wolves of Mercy Falls. I've read all three, and just. don't. get. it. Same for the Maze Runner, although I thought part of that might have been poor audiobook narration.

After reading your opinions, we're still cool, aight!?

May 29, 2012 at 8:56 PM  
Blogger Kayla Beck said...

Ahhh, Piers Anthony... Heh... Let me see which I would find the least embarrassing example of my intense love affair. I do enjoy the Xanth novels a lot, and you may kinda understand if you like fantasy. The first is Spell for Chameleon, but its not close to being a favorite. I read Dragons Don't Dream when I was a little girl, so I related to the main character in a major way. Maybe you should try Castle Roogna, if you want to try that path? If you like sci-fi, read Split Infinity. On a Pale Horse is the first in my FAVORITE series, and it's only what I can describe as a theological treatise. It broke through my VERY conservative upbringing and truly changed my brain.

I will say that the later books are gag-inducing because of the really old men with disgustingly young girls, but I enjoy nearly everything published until the mid-nineties.

May 29, 2012 at 10:47 PM  
Blogger kara-karina@Nocturnal Book Reviews said...

Completely agree on Cassandra Clare (couldn't finish book #1) and Iron Fey (didn't read and don't want to read anything past book #1). However I did enjoy Carrie Ryan because I love the creepiness and zombie chasing bits, the atmosphere was fantastic in all three books despite character flaws. I also adore Maggie Stifvater because her books to me feel really grounded and realistic despite being so poetic. It's the beauty in tiny little details. :)
Great post!

May 30, 2012 at 10:34 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, I wish I could make myself stop. If only a good premise = awesome book.

May 30, 2012 at 11:18 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Heather, for shame! But, yeah, I'm not surprised you still want to read Shiver. I mean, it has a pretty cover, which means you must read it, right?

There is no way I could read another Life As We Knew It book.

I hate that James Dashner wrote a prequel. It's like maybe, just maybe, he'll explain wtf was going on. I WILL NOT FALL FOR THIS TRAP.

Glad you agree with me!

Yikes. Slide is sliding right down my to read list.

May 30, 2012 at 11:20 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Awesome. Glad we're cool.

Southern fiction has never been a favorite with me. It's rare when I like it.

I can see why people like The Iron Fey, but not why they love it soo much. People ship Ash and Meghan so hard, and I think they're both so annoying. Oh well.

I don't think Maze Runner was just the poor narration, although that certainly couldn't help. Then again, the writing isn't great, either, so maybe it did.

May 30, 2012 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah,the zombie bits were okay, but I just couldn't get past the myriad other issues. Zombies have been done well other places and with better stories, and yet this series gets the most love! Go read Rot & Ruin or the Newsflesh Trilogy instead!

Yeah, I get why people like Maggie Stiefvater, but they just don't resonate with me. I wish they did.

May 30, 2012 at 11:23 AM  
Blogger Nori said...

So, you know I like most of these....But, I get what you are saying and even am finding myself nodding along with a lot of your comments. I also had serious issues with Cryer's Cross and Life as Knew it. So, I guess I really agree with you on two...Lol. You already talked me out of reading two more (Hereafter and Possess, though I own an ebook version of one of those). And I loved Maze Runner. I love that it's about a boy. Most dystopias are about girl survivors, and it's nice to have a book to recommend to boys who loved the Hunger Games and Percy Jackson.

I really don't get the hype of the Vampire Diaries books. I love the show, but the books were so awful! Also, don't understand why a lot of people liked Eleventh Plague.

May 30, 2012 at 11:15 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Haha, I know you love them Nori. But we didn't have the same tastes at all.

There are quite a few dystopias with male protagonists, Nori. Or, at least, I can think of a few. I'm pretty sure the Patrick Ness series has a male MC. Gone has a lot of points of view. I would still recommend the book to some people, because I know others enjoy it, but, personally, I think it's the equivalent of a brainless action film. Who needs plot when you can have more 'splosions?

I have not read the vampire diaries! Yay for me! I don't plan to.

May 31, 2012 at 8:04 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

"Slide is sliding right down my to read list."

I see what you did there...

June 1, 2012 at 4:53 PM  

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