Friday 14 March 2014

Book Hype: Do You Buy It? Have You Been Burnt By It?

A bunch of hyped books that I didn't fall in love with

 *Warning! This post includes some discussion on plot development in We Were Liars by E.Lockhart that you may want to avoid if you haven't read the book.

Ah, book hype. Don't you just, um, hate it?

I'm not talking about reader hype here - that'll come later - I'm talking about marketing hype. Let me tell you, if I've been burnt once, I've been burnt a thousand times by those emails and adverts heralding the 'must read' titles of any given year. I used to be pretty good at avoiding books that were publisher-hyped. I mean, of course everyone 'in-house' is going to say good things about a book they are publishing. It's a no-brainer. And so, in the past,  I was always wary of any kind of excessive marketing hype.

But lately, I keep falling for it.

Last week I read what are most certainly two of the most hyped books of 2014: We Were Liars by E.Lockhart and Half Bad by Sally Green.

In its defence We Were Liars has garnered just about as much early-reader hype as it has publisher hype. And, We Were Liars is a good read. But it's not The Best Book You'll Read This Year, nor is it Amazing, nor will it Change Your Life.

I mean, I don't think so. You might.

Also, I have a quibble with the marketing hype for We Were Liars. The publishers are desperate, DESPERATE,  not to have anyone reveal any spoilers for this one; I've had emails about this. Maybe you have too. They've even set up a dedicated Tumblr where you can join a 'Read-and-Don't-Tell Alliance' in order to encourage readers to not reveal the ending of the book. All that this does (in my opinion) is make certain curious readers look for answers and predict twists. Now, if I had never heard a thing or received an email about We Were Liars and I picked it up at the book store, would I have liked it more? I really don't know.  Would I have been lulled into a false sense of security by the glorious summer setting of We Were Liars and been a little more shocked by certain happenings? Possibly. No, definitely.

The marketing hype for We Were Liars is huge and omnipresent, and it did lead to me reading the book, so in that respect the hype worked. I just have a feeling that in their hopes of not giving all the spoils, the publishers have, in fact, given all the spoils.

And what of Half Bad? It's Sally Green's debut novel and has already sold in 42 languages worldwide. The press release for Half Bad calls it the literary franchise of 2014 and goes onto say that 'Half Bad will do for witches what Twilight did for vampires.' So, no pressure, huh?

Half Bad didn't work out for me. I should have listened to my head because this book initially wasn't on my TBR for 2014. But instead I listened to the hype. And I wanted to like Half Bad (it started off well), but sometimes the hype surrounding a book elevates reader expectations to levels that no book can ever live up to.

Have you been burnt by marketing hype? If so, what books didn't work out for you? Or do you think that marketing hype is a great thing. Maybe it's because of  this kind of publisher hype that you've found some of your very favourite reads. This totally happens too.

Marketing hype is possibly what led me to picking up Gone Girl and Divergent - two books I really love -although I think that reader hype played a large part there too. I didn't read Divergent until a year after its release - and that was pretty much the same as Gone Girl. Maybe from now on I should let the hype die down a little before I pick up books like We Were Liars and Half Bad

Reader  hype is totally different animal to marketing hype. If a book shows up on my radar purely due to reader hype, I generally know I'm onto a good thing. Case in point: On Dublin Street by Samantha Young, which was originally self-published, and loved by EVERYBODY on Goodreads, so much so that it was picked up by a traditional publishing house.

Anna and the French Kiss is another book that was really championed by the blogosphere on its release, and I have yet to encounter anyone who didn't fall in love with that one.

But reader  hype doesn't always work out for me, either (maybe I'm just really picky!) I picked up Fangirl due to the fact that almost everyone I know loved it. Me. I liked it OK. But I didn't love it. I guess it didn't help that I found the fanfiction parts of the story pretty unnecessary.

A couple of my favourite reads have from the past while have been books that I really didn't know anything about until I was offered them for review. I don't usually accept books for review unless I already have them on my wish list, but sometimes, I take a chance, and sometimes taking chances really pays off. I love it when this happens. There are two books in particular that stand out as my great reading surprises for me.

Tempus by Holly Lauren
: When Holly Lauren contacted me regarding Tempus I admit I had never heard of the book. Added to that, my review list was full at the time. So, why did I accept Tempus for review? I'm really not sure. It may have had something to do with the author's warm yet professional approach and also the extract of the book included in her email. I was able to read that and decide. An extract helps. Also, I started reading Tempus just to check out a few chapters, and didn't put it down until I was done. So much fun. It's the best YA I've read in ages. I'll be posting my review later this month.

Impostor by Susanne Winnacker. This one kind of flew under the radar for me. I hadn't heard all that much about Impostor until I was offered it for review, and even when I accepted, it wasn't really top of my TBR. But Impostor is so, so, so good. I know a lot of my blogger friends think so too.

So, guys, let me know what you think of marketing hype? Are you so over it? Do you think it's sometimes too overdone, too in-your-face? I guess you could say: just don't read the emails. Just avoid the hype. But, as a book blogger who likes keeping up to date on the latest releases that's pretty much impossible! Or maybe it's not. Maybe you can recommend a way to avoid the book hype!

Have you picked up many a hyped book only to have been let down? Or does marketing hype totally work for you? Is it how you find your next great read?

Let me know about your experiences with marketing/publisher hype, reader hype and those books that may not have received a whole lot of hype, but which are very special to you.


  1. I really have no issues with book hype, I understand that there are people who are totally fangirl over a book and then there are one star reviews. Books are a personal experience!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

  2. I get nervous when a book has a lot of hype surrounding it. The problem with this is that it leads me to sometimes avoid a book for a long time, and then when I finally do read it, I end up liking it and wishing I hadn't let the hype scare me off.

  3. Of course! I'm all about reader hype and what makes one reader fan girl might not work for another reader. Marketing hype - which I mostly focus on here - is another issue, though!

  4. That has happened to me so many times. One of the main reasons I waited a year to read Divergent!

  5. Interesting. I tend to ignore marketing hype because, you know, a lot of the time it's fake. Created by people whose job it is to do that. A lot of the time, I actually go out of my way to ignore books I feel are being overly hyped, unless I see a lot of positive reader hype for it.

    So, reader hype. It's interesting. I don't think it ever puts me off books anymore, usually it enhances my desire to read it if I already wanted to, or it generates a desire to read it if it wasn't there. I can't remember being 'disappointed' by a book that was too hyped up. If a lot of people like a book a lot and talk about it, that's bound to generate hype but, as the previous commenter said, not everyone likes everything and to not like a book, or like it as much as others, doesn't mean anything.

    I actually really, really liked We Were Liars. For me, it is a book for 2014. I think the marketing campaign is clever, because they've turned something that would actually stop people reading the book (i.e finding out what the twist is) into a positive way to get reader engagement and promote curiosity. I also really, really loved Fangirl and I think a lot of the hype from that comes from the fact that a lot of people on the internet find it easy to personally relate to Cath and I think that if you aren't that kind of person, you just wont 'get' the book on the same level and so it wont be as stand-out. Same with the fanfiction, if you weren't a fanfiction fan, those bits are just not important, but if you WERE/ARE, then you just...get it.

    Hype is what it is, and it's a shame that that sometimes causes people to have unrealistic expectations, but it also causes people to read, and love, books they wouldn't ordinarily have picked up, and that is a good thing.

    (Wow, super long comment sorry!)

  6. Yep, I've been hit by this. I used to buy books just because everyone else was reading them and I felt like I wanted to read them too, but now I haven't read them and I'm shipping them off to my local charity shops. I have seen Half Bad around so much lately, that although I like the sound of the plot I'm almost not wanting to buy it because it seems almost shoved in my face. We Were Liars, I didn't know of that one until just before this post as someone had bought it. So as a mostly unbiased opinion of the book description, it doesn't sound THAT great. An okay summer read but nothing I'm running to the shops for.

    ★ Under The Mountain ★

  7. Jillian Raymundo15 March 2014 at 04:09

    Book hype is a hit or miss for me, but I have to admit, I appreciate it, because it's nice to hear other people gush about one particular title.

  8. Books On The Metro15 March 2014 at 15:31

    So many times. Ugh. Recent books that I've detested are Night Film and In the Woods. There is nothing more disappointing...

  9. ChristinaBookAddict15 March 2014 at 17:27

    I love that Statistical Probability is in your picture above, because I just finished that last week and was like huh? It was enjoyable, entertaining, but not swoon worthy for me. at all. I was thinking it was me or something. Regarding We Were Liars…I'll be reading that soon. I skimmed your "spoilers" and I am nervous to read it b/c it seems everyone really LOVES it or just feels sort of "meh" about it. I am really over the book hype. I tend to ignore it b/c half the time, I usually am disappointed. Impostor deserves more hype!!!! I can't get over how many people haven't read it…it definitely deserves more attention than it gets. Great discussion post, Leanna!

  10. These are some really interesting points. I tend to just try and go by the book's description or if it's by an author I already know I like. I have a few close friends whom I almost always agree with when it comes to opinions on books, so I'll take their recommendations, but I hate all the hype. I'm about to start Gone Girl and am nervous because everyone I know has loved it and I'm worried it's over hyped in my head.

  11. This is an interesting post.
    I don't think I've ever fallen for marketing hype, I never read a book solely based on the publisher's promotions.
    Readers' recommendations, though, I find it REALLY hard to resist. Especially after so many reviewers/book bloggers that I trust singing praises about a book (this is what happened to me regarding We Were Liars.... And I'm pretty disappointed by the story, too). Yes, not every hype proved to be as satisfying as I hoped it would, but I guess it's okay. Book hype helps when I want to choose which books to read next, but it doesn't really you much good in the term of what to expect about the books. Just be wary and try to keep your hope minimum, that's what I say. :)

  12. I have recently started to avoid over hyped books, especially ones with dystopian/paranormal elements, or books that are parts of series. I just feel like there are so much of those coming out these days that it is really hard to figure out which ones are the gems, and which are not. I have read We Are Liars, and quite liked it, though I do find the publicity hype around it quite ridiculous.

    Half Bad I own too, but I kind of have a feeling that I won't like it, for some reason. Fangirl I read about 6 months after it was released and after the initial hype, but I ended up loving it a lot.

    Very interesting post btw, it was a pleasure to read :)

  13. You're totally right on marketing hype, of course, and I used to be really good at ignoring it too. Lately I've fallen for it a few times. Must be more careful from now on!

    I wanted to love We Were Liars. I thought it would be a very 'me' book. And I did like it. I just didn't love it. I kept on looking for twists since I knew they existed, and hey, I found them. If I hadn't known about them via marketing hype I think I would have been very shocked!

    As for Fangirl - totally. I couldn't relate to Cath. I'm not a fangirly person and I have never read fanfiction. The character I related to was Cath's roommate.

    Love the super long comment, btw. :)

  14. I have a bunch of books that I bought because of hype and then never ended up reading them! Ha! I really need to stop doing that. I think Half Bad is very much an acquired taste: you'll either love it or hate it. I didn't make it to the end, but I might go back to it some time.

  15. Oooh! I haven't encountered many people who didn't love ANNA! I know people who didn't totally fall for Etienne, though, and yes, he's not perfect. I think boys can be just like that, though: oblivious to the fact that they are all kinds of yummy and just walking around breaking hearts. I like it when book guys (and guys in general) are hot-but-don't-know-it. :) I haven't read These Broken Stars, but that's definitely one that garnered a lot of reader hype!

  16. Ah, Night Film sounded so promising too. Shame it proved to be a disappointment.

  17. Impostor definitely deserves more hype! I can't wait to read the next book. I remember when Statistical Probability first released and everyone was going crazy for it. I just didn't get that at all. I'm really interested to see what you think of We Were Liars. I liked it, but didn't love it.

  18. I wish I could ignore the hype, but as a book blogger, I find it kind of impossible. I hope you love Gone Girl! I was nervous before reading it too because I was all like 'how will it ever live up to the hype?' But it did. At least for me. :)

  19. I'll definitely be more wary in future! I've only accepted a few books for review based solely on marketing hype, but mostly those few have not worked out for me. A lot of bloggers I know loved We Were Liars too - I just didn't find it anything amazing.

  20. Thanks, Milka! I think Half Bad is very much a love it or hate it kind of book. It just didn't work out for me, but I hope it does for you if you decide to read it. :)

  21. It took me ages to finally get round to reading Gone Girl but I was encouraged, once I found the time, by reader and media hype and thankfully it didn't disappoint! One I did hold off from was Divergent. I loved the Hunger Games and then all of a sudden spin-offs and books in the same vein appeared all over the place! I was wary but after hearing the reader hype and then finding out it was to be a film, well it really caught my attention but I was tentative of spending my money on what could be a rip off of a far superior series. Unfortunately I hated Divergent, the characters were shallow and the plot just didn't seem to have any originality - getting on my pedestal now - it is probably my age and perhaps I've grown out of YA novels but I cannot stand teen love triangles, they have been done to death especially badly written romance that is just thrown into the mix for the heck of it. When it aids the plot/characters and is well written enough to make me care for the characters then it's all well and good. Not so with this book and as a result I decided not to continue with the series. I'm now very wary of media hype and will probably be more cautious in book choices in the future!

  22. Yes, I loved Gone Girl too. Can't wait for the movie! I also loved Divergent, though. I know it has its faults, but it just worked for me. Divergent doesn't have any love triangle, though.

  23. I so agree about the marketing backfiring on We were Liars, that ridiculous editor's letter just pricked my senses and I actively went digging for clues and plot holes and unravelled the whole plot at 23% and spent the rest of the book rolling my eyes at the blatant clues on every page afterwards so while I enjoyed the writing the rest of the book was a complete let down for me.
    Apart from that instance marketing has really burned me but reader hype has with These Broken Stars as an example from recent memory. It's hard to avoid hype too when you're active on social media so I don't know how to combat it because let's face it we can't read ALL the books before anyone else! Great post!

  24. Thanks, Danielle! Yes, it's really hard to avoid the hype as a blogger and someone who is active on social media. I am right there with you: It was that freaking editors letter that did it for me too as well as an email I received along the same lines. Argh!

  25. Oh, We are Liars. I expected to be blown away by this one and I really, really wasn't. I don't always have an issue with hype but I sometimes do and it's usually in the case when the book is supposed to be PHENOMENAL! I only liked Golden and Dangerous Girls, two books that I heard tons of raves about. However, when a book is ranted about being hated, sometimes I end up liking it ;) I think the hype for We Are Liars is going to affect some people's reading experience. Granted, I was definitely shocked by the ending which is unusual for me but I dunno... I had a lot of problems with this one.

    I just added Tempus to my TBR though, it sounds amazing and Imposted is one that I have been on the hold list for at the library for quite some time !!!

  26. I think We Were Liars is just way too hyped for what it is! Then again, I know people who think it's the book of the year - different tastes, I guess! I haven't read Golden, but I've heard really good things, and I LOVED Dangerous Girls!

    Tempus is a good one. Just a really good, fun read! I'll have eBooks of that one to give away next week so check back for that! :)

  27. *guiltily raises hand* You've just met someone who wasn't really keen on Anna and The French Kiss. >_< I mean, I LIKED it, but I did not nearly LOVE it. I was a bit frustrated with the weird lack of communication and how Etienne kind of didn't notice he was breaking hearts all the time. *sigh* BUT I totally agree with you on this post! It's always hit or miss for me. I really enjoyed the These Broken Stars hype. I loved that book! It was everything plus more for me. ;) And Divergent...totally loved the hype. I tend to follow hypes because it's exciting and I'm a sucker for fangirling at every and any chance. ;)


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