The book blogging community is known to be an opinionated bunch (just one reason I love it so much), and with that territory comes some pretty polarizing reviews. You know what I’m talking about; the reader in question either sang the book highest praises or had nothing positive at all to say. Personally those are my favorite kind of books, as it’s pretty easy to pick out whether or not the story will work for you. With that in mind I’m so excited for this Top 5 Wednesday theme, which is all about aforementioned polarizing books. So without further ado, let’s get to it!
Enter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia
One of my favorite books of 2016, Enter Title Here, is also one of the first that springs to mind when I think “polarizing books”. Because from everything I’ve seen, you either love Rahul Kanakia’s debut…or you hate it. And I think that’s just in the nature of such a story. Protagonist (or, more aptly, anti hero) Reshma is never intended to be likable. In fact, she’s a pretty terrible person most of the time. Her incessant conniving and manipulation is to blame for a lot of the 1 and 2 star rating out there, as it is a lot to stomach much of the time. But if one can (such is my camp) I’m willing to bet this story hit a lot of high notes for you. What I would recommend when picking this one up is to read the first five pages. If you find them off putting and sort of terrible, stop. Don’t do it. If they’re hilarious well, this story probably swings to just the right side of polarizing. And, let’s face it, odds are you have more than a little Reshma Kapoor inside of you.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Though Red Queen still received overwhelmingly positive reviews, there’s a very large community split on their opinion. What I think it really boils down to is how much YA dystopia you’ve read over the years. Me, having been a poster child for the soft sci-fi craze of circa. 2010, had pretty much seen it all by the time Aveyard’s debut hit shelves. Which also means I could spot every cliche, every blending of stories, and each trademark storyline from 100 pages out. It quickly became tedious and dull, hence the low rating. Had you never read The Hunger Games or Divergent or Legend though it would make for a perfectly entertaining 350 pages. This is where the main fissure comes from, in my opinion, but it also might have to do with when Red Queen came out. With sites like Goodreads being so accessible in 2015, it was easy for a reviewer like me (who was on the fence but already leaning a certain direction), to click on a very negative review and have a bulleted list of all the reasons I shouldn’t like said book. I think my opinion would be slightly more positive had all its shortcomings not slapped me in the face. Anyway you cut it though, it’s impossible to deny this book is polarizing in the blogging community.
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
I read Everything, Everything last year on a recommendation, before there were many reviews out yet. But as they rolled in I found myself in a small, but very vocal, minority. That being people who didn’t enjoy Nicola Yoon’s debut. Though I don’t despise it the way many reviewers seem to (it’s undeniably entertaining), I for sure can’t join the leagues of four and five star raters. Similar to Enter Title Here I think this fissure is owed to a single aspect of the story, in this case it being the ending. I don’t really think any reader truly loved it, but rather how much were you able to overlook it. In my case I thought it was shoddy craft and a cheap trick for an otherwise solid story. Many others were deeply offended by it’s portrayal of mental/physical illness. Either way the line in the sand had been drawn, and readers needed to decide where their opinions stood. It’s rare to find a contemporary that is so polarizing, but look no farther than Everything, Everything.
Every Magical Realism Ever
Bone Gap, The Accident Season, Imaginary Girls. All magical realism. All very split opinions. The genre in itself begs to evoke strong feelings, be them positive or negative. Perhaps this divide is displayed best when discussed in terms of The Raven Boys. Though I’ve never read Maggie Stiefvater’s much beloved piece of magical realism (I belong firmly on the “not for me” side of things), after reading a few reviews it quickly became obvious Stiefvater’s work is as hardcore as they come. If you’re not willing to decipher quasi metaphors and symbols for the entirety of the book, step away. And I know that’s been a major hold-up, at least for me, as I need a little bit of something concrete to base my opinions on. Thus far the only book that’s worked for me is Bone Gap, but I’m always on the lookout for that to change. If you too struggle with finding goodreads genre, let me know a read that defied the odds and hit all the right notes!
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay, definitely the most polarizing title on this list, did not earn that title without good reason. As the conclusion to one of our generation’s most successful series, millions readers were watching where Collins would end things for Katniss and Peeta. Unfortunately, it was far from unanimously positive. For my part I hated it. And I had thousands of negative reviews out there to console me. Looking back five years later though, I can’t say how my opinion stands long after the fact. I definitely think I judged it emotionally rather than technically, and didn’t separate it enough from the prior two books. Having gone back and read a few pages, I think it works perfectly well as a standalone. But as an installment? Very different from what fans had come to expect. Odds are if you read and enjoyed Mockingjay, you probably weren’t that big of a fan of the trilogy in the first place. With that in mind, I’d love to go back and see how my opinion has since changed.
What books do you find most polarizing? Do you agree with my list? Let me know in the comments!