Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Top 5 Tuesday: Books That Weren't What I Expected

This week I decided to switch back over and participate in Top 5 Tuesday, hosted by BionicBookworm!

This week's topic is: Top 5 Books That Weren't What I Expected

I couldn't decide if I wanted to go with books where I specifically expected one thing and was surprised by what it actually was or books where I really wasn't sure what to expect at all, but I still felt surprised by what I read (whether good or bad). So to "solve" this problem, I just decided to share five of each type! I may or may not be doing this because it's always hard for me to pick only five, but hey, let's just go with the five of each kind thing. :)

Books where I had no idea what to expect and was surprised (some pleasantly surprised, others not so much)

The Queens of Innis Lear     Master Assassins (The Fire Sacraments, #1)     I Love You Too Much
The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton:
I had no idea that this book was going to be such a beautiful and lyrically written story and I adored it. I knew it was a Shakespeare-inspired fantasy, but I just didn't expect it to be as epic and moving as it was. Definitely a great surprise!

Master Assassins by Robert V.S. Redick:
Genuinely had no idea what to expect from this book. All I knew going in was that Mark Lawrence had raved about it in a review and Patrick Rothfuss blurbed. I certainly didn't expect for it to become one of my favorite fantasy books!

I Love You Too Much by Alicia Drake: 
This is not at all the type of book that I normally read, but I received a free copy and I like trying things out of my comfort zone so I decided to give it a shot and I ended up being completely blown away it. I don't tend to cry much when I read books, but this book made me cry so much and took so much emotion out of me. I never expected it to affect me so much--it got to the point where I had to decide, "do I feel like crying and having my heart pulled out right now?" before picking it up because I knew that was going to happen. I never expected that from the description of this book.

Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy, #1)     All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella's Stepmother
Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan:
All I knew about this one was that it was supposed to be a Russian-inspired setting and that it was going to be a dark fantasy. That's all I needed to know to check it out, but what it ended up being was not quite that. It tried to be a dark fantasy story and it tried to have an awesome Russian-inspired setting, but instead it was immensely cliche'd, predictable, and honestly just uninteresting. It was not what I was expecting at all.

All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller:
So I had some ideas of what I might get from this book, but for the most part all I knew is that it was the story of Cinderella's stepmother and would probably be similar to other books like this. I was surprised to discover that it was written much more like a historical fiction novel recounting the stepmother's life from childhood to adulthood, with very little in the realm of 'fairy tale' atmosphere. I really liked this book and I'm happy with how it was written, but it wasn't what I expected at all!

Books where I had more specific expectations and the books ended up being far different from what I expected for one reason or another:

Black Leopard, Red Wolf (The Dark Star Trilogy, #1)     Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1)     Suicide Club
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James:
I was expecting an exciting, literary African-inspired fantasy that I would immediately love--Marlon James is a fantastic writer, what else would I expect? Unfortunately, I was so frustrated by this that I ended up DNF-ing it. It was literary, sure, but it was to the point that it just sound too pretentious, the plot was not engaging, and I just felt like I was forcing myself to read it. Definitely not what I expected!

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo:
I mostly enjoyed this book so this wasn't a bad 'misplaced expectations' situation, but it was still so different from what I expected. I can't actually say a lot of the reasons I was surprised because they might be spoiler-y, but the general setup and the secret societies in this were not quite what I was expecting and I had hoped that there would be a bit more of certain elements. Still, this was interesting and ended up being a mostly pleasant surprise, despite a few issues.

Suicide Club by Rachel Heng:
This is a sort of dystopia-type novel that basically wasn't what I expected because it was uninteresting and took a very odd plot line that didn't really fit with what I expected from the synopsis.

84K     Unbury Carol

84K by Claire North:
This wasn't what I expected due to the writing style. I hadn't read any of Claire North's books prior to 84K so I didn't know anything about her style, but this book was just not at all what I expected. This book is about a world in which you can essentially pay a fine for crimes committed, with the cost per offense going up as the crime goes up in severity (for instance, murder is probably unafforable for most of us). I thought this was going to be a really fascinating exploration of this idea, but instead it followed person's story in a way that I didn't anticipate and that wasn't overly interesting to me.

Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman:
I had the highest of hopes for this book, but it ended up being completely different than I hoped. The concept of a woman "dying" for days at a time and then coming back, as if stuck in random comas, was so interesting! So much could be done with this, but what I ended up reading was a drawn-out, too long, weird Western-genre style stereotype that I couldn't quite get into.

Have you read any of these books? What are some books that didn't end up being what you expected?


  1. I kept seeing Wicked Saints around when it came around and I was so drawn in by the cover but I never actually read it.

  2. 84K was a DNF for me, I was just so bored. And sad about it because I had heard raves about it going in. And I couldn't agree more with you about Wicked Saints. It did not work very well for me either.