Discussion: Expectations vs. Reality // Can Hype Ruin a Book?

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with Teacher of YA (check out her blog it’s amazing) about how Select by Marit Weisenberg didn’t seem to get a lot of hype either before or after its release. Instead, it just sort of slid under the radar, despite it being a YA book that I think a lot of people would genuinely enjoy (even you, maybe! read the review here!).  that got me thinking. Had the book been super hyped up before i read it, would I have given it as high of a review?

Hence the title of this post, and hopefully the content, also.

Is it possible that the more popular a book becomes, the fewer stars it will earn in reviews when compared with, say, a less popular but equally interesting book?

I’m not even sure if that sentence made sense, to be honest. But basically, I think that if a book has too much hype, everyone who reads it will expect too much, and rate it lower than they would have rated the exact same book if they’d never heard about it before.

For me, I think this is especially true with YA books. If i’ve heard nothing about a YA book beforehand, I’ll go into it with an open mind knowing there will probably be tons of cliches and tropes, but that it will still be fun/enjoyable to read. Then, I’m normally pleasantly surprised and give it 4-5 stars. HOWEVER the YA community has an interesting (i’m trying to use neutral adjectives here) habit of screaming very aggressively about books they enjoy. They seem to think that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of their faves, and so when I go into the book, I’ve only heard the gushing positivities. Then, the negatives are so much more pronounced, because I wasn’t expecting them/i assumed the book was perfect. And I give it fewer stars.

I don’t know if this is as much of a problem for other genres, mostly because non-YA books aren’t hyped on YA Twitter, where I spend most of my time.  Maybe if I hung out in Historical Fiction Twitter (is that a thing?) those books would be equally as ruined. Not sure.

This could also be 99% a Me problem. Just because everyone else loves a book doesn’t mean I will, and I know this, even consciously acknowledge it when picking up a hyped book. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m highly disappointed when a book doesn’t live up to the hype, and that when I’ve heard nothing about a book, I will almost always rate it optimistically.

This could also be a good thing, because it means authors who have less exposure will get better reviews and therefore eventually get more exposure. But it’s also negatively affecting the unbiasedness of my reviews.

For me personally,  I would rather read a book with little to no hype, and just see what happens, than pick up the book that everyone is reading and risk being disappointed by it. This is probably just the way my brain is wired. Other people might exclusively pick up hyped books because they have a “higher probability”  of liking them, and I guess this makes sense too.

There’s always a lot of discussion around hyping books, and so I guess i just wanted to add my two cents and recognize the fact that hype is not always a good thing.

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What is your opinion on hyped books? Do you tend to rate them lower than books nobody has ever heard of? Would you rather read a hyped book? What are your secrets to not getting your expectations too high?





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30 thoughts on “Discussion: Expectations vs. Reality // Can Hype Ruin a Book?”

  1. I generally buy a lot more books if everyone loves them and I’m honestly afraid, for some of them, I’m even afraid to read because they were so overhyped and I bought them without even being sure that I’d like them.. So now they’re just standing pretty on my shelves till I finally read them

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh, I love this post, Joce!! I 100% think that hype has a HUGE effect on my reading — if it’s hyped up, I’ll expect a lot from it. So I definitely think that if I hadn’t gone in with those high expectations, I might’ve liked it more! I think one example is Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue; I was expecting a 5 star read, but it unfortunately only got 4. (Which is still good! But not as great as I was expecting.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you May <3333
      I always have such high expectations, and i don't know how to change that! now even if i end up giving a book 4 stars, when i expected 5 it manages to be a disappointment

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I try to not let hype for a book affect me. There have been plenty of hyped books I’ve loved and not loved. We are all different. I have more of a problem when the ones that love it so much that they can’t or won’t listen to any criticism. Some really hyped books I will wait awhile to read, really depends on how soon my library will have it.
    I agree there are so many great under-hyped books out there. All we can do is promote the ones we like the best we can. I can’t see things changing much in the near future but who knows. With more people starting to speak out more about more things, I’m always hoping for the best.
    Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. thank you!
      I think you certainly have the right attitude, it’s just a hard one for many people to attain… if only there wasn’t always a wait list for books at the library, i’d be able to read so many more that i want!


  4. I tend to avoid hyped up books, although in the last few months I have been reading The Hate u Give, The Chalk Man, & The Cruel Prince, which have been so hyped I feel I’ve got to read them, but I ended up disappointed! I definitely agree with young adult books, the hype can be so huge you end up expecting too much, & perhaps not enjoying the book as much as you may have done.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Lots of hype around a book actually tends to put me off it as I tend to be quite contrary in my opinions. Maybe it is as you suggest though and my expectations are raised so high by the hype no book ever lives up to them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. oh yeah i could totally see not reading a book at all because you don’t think your opinion matches the “popular” one!! i have so much trouble figuring out which reviews to trust


  6. This is a really interesting topic, and I do feel like the hype around books can seriously effect how good they seem. I sometimes struggle to find books that are not hyped, like new indie favourites as there is a lot of more popular books to sift through! I don’t know if I can entirely see the effect that hype has on me, as it’s often hard to tell if I truly love a book, or just feel like I need to because of how good I’ve been told it is (the opposite problem to you!). I really struggle to give popular books low scores, for fear of a legion of angry fans, for example, it took me almost a week to drum up the courage to post my review of milk and honey
    ( https://bettybookreviews.wordpress.com/2018/02/22/milk-and-honey-review/ here if you’re interested…) as I feared talking negatively of such a popular book.

    I also feel like my inner critic is not as harsh on indie authors, even though I know that there work isn’t my favourite. This of course doesn’t help indie authors to grow and become better writers either, which isn’t fair on my part.

    Does anyone else feel the same way as me?
    Sorry for the ramble!


    Liked by 2 people

    1. thank you so much for commenting! I feel like i’ve never been afraid of writing negative reviews, but I totally agree that i’m easier on indie authors.
      it’s interesting that hype might make you rate a book higher!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Most books I’ve read recently were older books, so if they were hyped, it would have happened years ago and i missed it.
    The only hype-ish book i read this year was Beartown, but it was even better than what i thought 😀 Guess i’m lucky!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. It does happen in other genres as well. I’m sure plenty of people don’t underscribe the hype around Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn but I read this novel before it was a hype, I hadn’t heard of anyone around me reading this book, so I was very surprised it was such a great read. Hypes can put a novel on your radar which is great but it does create expectations. Sometimes I try to read a book when the hype has died down, but just as many times I can’t wait either and I do think the expectations beforehand do have an influence. Thanks for this post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank YOU for commenting! I also read Gone Girl before people started screaming about it, and I loved it, but now that literally every book of that genre is described by it, it would probably be not as good of a read.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I think hype definitely ruins a book for me! I wish I could avoid it! For example, The Chalk Man did very little for me when I thought it was going to be incredible because of everyone else shouting about it! I try to avoid joining the hype, but it’s not always easy 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    1. haha it’s so hard when I want to hype up a book, because I don’t want to get people’s expectations too high!! It’s so interesting how we hate hype but then we help contribute to it

      Liked by 1 person

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