Books I Read Thanks to Negative Reviews and Ended Up Loving

A couple of months back I talked about *all the positives with negative reviews* and one of the things I mentioned was how they can get you to EVEN MORE read books. And today I’m proving that point with a list of books that I read because of negative reviews. Sometimes you just need more of a kick to get to something you’ve been putting off; sometimes negative reviews point out things you might love! Here’s just some of the times it happened for me:

Hazel Wood– I have to admit, I was first lured into checking this book out because of the cover. Then I heard it was about fairy tales and my interest was piqued. Because it was an unknown author, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to give it a try, especially given some of the mixed reviews that were coming out. HOWEVER, when I actually read the reviews complaining about its slow pace, I stopped worrying, because while that criticism is valid, when I’m in the right mood for it, a leisurely plot is exactly what I need. And some of the other complaints were so invalid… I picked the book up in spite of them! Really glad I did because it’s one of my favourite fantasy reads!

Bear and the Nightingale– I was a little hesitant to start this because of all the hype. HOWEVER, I actually found negative reviews helpful in lowering my expectations. Not only did they make me aware of the slow pace before going into it, one review helpfully said the reason they didn’t like it much was because as an Eastern European they were so familiar with the stories it didn’t feel as cool as people were making out… For me personally this just added points for authenticity!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone– in the days before blogging, I heard good and bad things about this book. Ironically, I didn’t feel like I shared the same taste as some of its and in the end was more curious about what some of critics were saying… who knew I would end up raving about how much I love this book forever?!

An Enchantment of Ravens– the weird thing about this book was that I saw mostly negative reviews for it- and still my curiosity was there. In the end, reviewers arguing that it didn’t measure up to the author’s second book, Sorcery of Thorns, pushed me to read it sooner rather than later, because I figured I wouldn’t want to have that negative comparison in my head (funnily enough, while I love Sorcery of Thorns, I sometimes feel even more enchanted by Enchantment of Ravens– they’re both great books for different reasons!)

Cruel Prince– obviously I’d heard of this book because it was ridiculously hyped. And I’d read some good stuff by the author before, so I was vaguely curious. But what made me desperate to pick it up was actually someone critiquing it who didn’t like YA. Their candour pointing out everything they didn’t like made me realise “hey, this has all the ingredients of YA fantasy that I LOVE”. So, of course, I raced to get a copy and I’m really glad I did! If you need a fun YA series, then this will be right up your street!

Wilder Girls– everyone that’s read reviews for this book will know it’s really hit or miss. Naturally, I heard plenty of the criticisms before giving it a try. AND YET, I was so swayed by the concept, I didn’t care. It turned out the issues people had with it being gory and strange were fair… but the praise made sense too! For me, the good definitely outweighed its flaws! I’m glad I listened to my gut on this one.

Red Rising– okay, this is more of a case of my interest being SUPER HYPED that I didn’t feel I could read it. I was so scared of it not living up to my expectations that I talked myself out of reading it. But eventually I came across a review saying it took too long to get going… weirdly this made me more ready to pick it up! I figured even if I didn’t enjoy it at the start it would get better and my expectations were lowered enough to give it a go. Turns out I had nothing to fear because this was exactly my cup of tea!

Stranger on the Beach– weirdly enough, I heard about this book in a lukewarm review from someone who nearly always gives positive reviews. And even more strangely, when I read the book, I understood why she wasn’t crazy about it… BUT I also saw a lot of cleverness to the writing and I ended up incredibly impressed!

Catcher in the Rye– I heard so so many negative things. I went in assuming that I would be one of the many people that didn’t enjoy this book… but from the second I started reading I was pulled in by the voice. I saw instantly why people didn’t like it- however I also saw the realism and depth that had gone in to creating such a strong sense of character. Holden Caulfield may think I’m a phony for saying this, but

My Lady Jane– I was very worried about this not living up to all the acclaim- especially given how it can be really hard to gauge whether the humour will land. I stopped overthinking it after I saw some negative reviews saying they didn’t find it funny- I figured if I was in the same boat, I wouldn’t be alone. LUCKILY, the joke was on me once I read it, cos I thought it was hilarious. I shouldn’t have been so hesitant.

So, have you read any of these books? What books did you find thanks to negative reviews? Let me know in the comments!

41 thoughts on “Books I Read Thanks to Negative Reviews and Ended Up Loving

  1. I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone and even though it had some YA tropes that annoy me, it was so well written that I couldn’t help being moved by it.

    I want to read The Bear & the Nightingale, and like you, knowing that it draws on Eastern European traditional stories just makes it more appealing.

    I read Catcher in the Rye as an adult. I don’t know what I would have made of it as a teen. Probably would have found it too cynical. As an adult, I thought it was a really good portrait of a young man having a mental breakdown. I don’t feel like it has to say anything about society at large or about “the times” to be good. Turns out teenagers feel that way in every generation?

    I was interested in Red Rising because Romans in space! But then I found out that the whole premise of it was a vicious class war, which I cannot stand, and that it’s a long series, so I decided to give it a pass. In this case, positive reviews alerted me to something I wished to avoid.

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    1. I’m so happy to hear that!! I love Laini Taylor’s writing style- it’s just… unbelievable 😊

      Oh fantastic! Arden’s writing style is also lovely, so I think you’ll really enjoy that one!

      Same- now you mention it I might have had a different impression as an actual teen- that’s a good point. But yes, I also thought it was great as an adult.

      Oh that makes sense- I think that’s also a good point- sometimes I read positive reviews and realise the book is not for me!

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    1. Ah well fair enough- I have no idea why that book clicked so much with me, cos I do know a lot of people were less than enamoured by it. But something about it really charmed me- I think it was her writing style and the atmosphere of the story and I liked the world building as well… sorry I really did like that book! 😂 I’m glad you liked the other ones on the list 😀 I think they’re all amazing!

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  2. This is such an interesting concept for a post! I completely agree with you about The Catcher in the Rye. I can see why Holden’s narrative would be unappealing, but I enjoyed it and found it really entertaining.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, what a list! “The Hazel Wood” and “Wilder Girls” are must reads for me but.. i’m having a really hard time starting “The Cruel Prince”.
    Tell me it gets better..
    Sorry! Wonderful post, thank you for sharing it with us!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you loved both of those!! 😀
      Ah well I think maybe if it’s not clicking, might be a good idea to give that one a miss. For me, it sucked me in pretty quickly. But it’s okay if it’s not your thing! I think it’s hit or miss!
      No worries! I hope I helped!
      Thank you very much!! 😀

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      1. Any time!
        She just wants to be like them so bad.. I feel kind of annoyed that she’s not burning their world down around them. 😅🤭
        I kind of put it on the back burner for now. I’ll try to give it another chance later. Thanks!

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  4. The Cruel Prince is one of my favourites! In fact the entire Folk of the Air series I loved despite all the bad reviews floating around. I agree with you that I will never just write off a book because of a bad review. What works for someone might not work for someone else and that’s ok! Glad you managed to find and read some amazing things off the back of some less than glowing reviews 🙂

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  5. I think stumbling onto negative reviews of hyped books is a blessing in disguise. The hype sets you up for disappointment, whereas the rare negative review removes that pressure of expectation. The Bear and the Nightingale is still on my tbr list, but I remember reading mixed review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone only to completely fall head over heels in love with the book.

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  6. Loved reading this post – such a fun idea. I haven’t read any of these but a couple I’ve been put off due to negative reviews, so it’s interesting to hear your thoughts on them! My Lady Jane I’ve been unsure about reading because I haven’t read any historical fictions books before, but this has convinced me to add it to the tbr!

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  7. the cruel prince is so good!! I love that series! I also really want to read An Enchantment o Ravens even tho I’ve heard mixed things?? Great list!

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  8. The Hazel Wood is still on my TBR but I have to admit, I’ve been hesitant because of the bad reviews. Maybe I need to give it a try when I’m in the mood for a slower read. The Bear and the Nightingale actualyl surprises me! I’ve only ever seen GOOD reviews for it. I want to read that one. Also YES to Red Rising. Again I haven’t read it but omg it’s like people either LOVE it or HATE it and I’m scared to read it. I need to get on that one though and figure it out lol I remember loving Catcher in the Rye in high school but it’s been a minute since I’ve read it. I need to reread that one. Happy reading!

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