TOP FIVE WEDNESDAY – Disappointing Eye Candy

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I recently stumbled on this GoodReads group that proposes a weekly meme whose aim is to give a list of Top Five… anything, as long as they are book related. It sounds fun, and something I can manage even with my too-often-limited time.

This week the topic is: Disappointing Eye Candy, or the books that looked beautiful, but were awful.

Well, I guess this could mean that the covers looked attractive, but the contents were not, but I’m going to push the envelope a little, here: covers are important, indeed they are a book’s first calling card, but they work hand-in-hand with the back-cover blurbs, in my opinion. And sometimes the promises of both remain unfulfilled.

A word of warning, before I start with my list: these books don’t really deserve the term ‘awful’, it’s just that they simply did not work for me, and they crushed my expectations in a major way, but that does not mean they are essentially bad – just not what I expected them to be.

AURORA: DARWIN by Amanda Bridgeman

This is indeed a case in point: the story focuses on a ship’s crew headed into unknown dangers, as they try to integrate old hands with a group of newer ones. The main problem here came from poor characterization and the premise that in the future the role of women in space would be regarded as a mix between a curiosity and an intrusion into an all-male territory. In my opinion, a quite anachronistic concept, developed with some questionable characterization choices.

A CROWN FOR COLD SILVER by Alex Marshall

Again, great expectations and a premise that had all the elements to draw me into a story of adventure and revenge, with a fascinating female figure as a protagonist. Unfortunately, the story felt quite uneven both in pace and in characterization, and not tight enough to keep me reading on.

DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth

Here I know my opinion might clash with that of the many fans of this series, but not even curiosity about a much talked-about book turned into an equally famous movie was enough to make forget what I perceived as the flaws of this story, mainly my irritation with the central character and her shallow (to me) motivations. The too-used tropes of the genre did not help, either…

THE DAYLIGHT WAR by Peter Brett

In this case, after enjoying the first volume in this series, and finding the second one acceptable – even though not as compelling as the first – I discovered that what had started as a compelling story with a unique premise, was turning into the semblance of a soap opera with a fantasy setting, one that had lost all the peculiarities that had captivated me at the beginning.

THE MARTIAN by Peter Weir

Once more going against the current, I did not enjoy – nor finish – this widely acclaimed book because I could not connect with the main character who came across as the kind of guy who tells silly jokes at a party and expects everyone to laugh at his wit. In my opinion, the potential for an exploration of the human soul in such a situation were both overlooked and discarded in favor of a humorous note that did not ring true for me.

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Posted on January 27, 2016, in Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. How about a Top 5 of just Misleading Covers? Here are two books that actually contain decent stories but for which the cover just didn’t work:

    The Ballad of Beta-2
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ballad_of_Beta-2
    I got the paperback with the cover on the left. The story inside is a _juvenile_.

    The Mindwarpers
    http://www.amazon.com/Mindwarpers-Frank-Russell/dp/B00LBFCKSI/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1453939327&sr=1-3&keywords=the+mindwarpers
    This is more a spy drama with SF elements than a full SF story. And there’s not a spaceship to be had. Not one. The story itself is not bad, though it does have a few logic issues.

    I’m sure you folks can think of other examples. 🙂

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  2. Daylight *shudder*, but yes! Col cover! 🙂

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  3. I’ve only read The Martian on this list, but I did love it, so I guess we’re not in the same camp there. But I was never that interested in reading A Crown for Cold Silver. I’ve heard other bloggers struggled with it too.

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    • The Martian seems to have neatly divided its readership in two, those who love it and those who… don’t. I’m glad I was able to at least enjoy the story in movie form: just for once I found that the movie was better than the book. First time ever… 🙂

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      • I enjoyed The Martian; I considered it “actually decent!” though I don’t think I ever came close to “loving” it. It’s not without its faults, however. E.g., I thought the rescue attempt by the Chinese was just prose filler, to add a few pages.

        And the novel’s first line had to be, from a business standpoint, just plain stupid. It probably cost Weir 10,000 sales. No exaggeration. Of course, now that he’s gotten a movie deal out of the book, it hardly matters.

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  4. I disliked Divergent with a passion, though I really enjoyed The Martian. I don’t even recall how I felt about The Daylight War, which probably tells you I was quite ambivalent about the story, though that series does indeed have the most gorgeous covers. And I was so disappointed by A Crown for Cold Silver, especially since my review copy came with the tagline “It was all going so nicely, right up until the massacre”…I thought it was going to be awesome, but in the end I was just bored.

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    • Exactly my reaction with “Crown”: I could not care less for the characters and what happened to them. And to think that it started so well!
      Or maybe I kept unconsciously comparing it to “Best Served Cold” and found it wanting…

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  5. I’ve just finished The Daylight War.. and at the start I was so worried – I honestly couldn’t really cope with the ‘I love you Arlen Bales’ which occurred with ridiculous frequency – but I think the ending won me over. It’s saying something though when it takes me a year to read from start to finish! And you’re right, it was something too close to a drama… particularly the first half of the novel.

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  6. I did enjoy The Martian, Divergent – only read the first in series so a bit ‘meh’, Crown for Cold Silver just didn’t appeal to me for some reason and The Daylight Way – well, I’ll get to it eventually, I’ve read the first two and enjoyed them but I think this one has had quite a few negative reviews and it’s so chunky it just put me off. Which makes me feel bad – I do need to find the time to see how I feel about it!
    Lynn 😀

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    • Peter Brett’s Demon Cycle started with so much promise that the letdown feels even more disappointing: while I loved book 1, I felt some faint alarms ringing with the second and they became blaring sirens in this one 🙂
      I look forward to your comments once you get to it!

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