As I never read books I think I’m going to hate – with one exception at the beginning of this list – I’m going to talk about books I thought I wouldn’t care about much that I ended up really liking.
Too Like the Lightning
Maybe to say that I loved this is a stretch, but it definitely did surprise me.
I hate-read this book. I hate-read it because there was no way something as convoluted and heavy as this really got published and won awards. I had to reread the first chapters ten times to even understand what was going on, it made me feel like I didn’t even know the language I was reading in, and I hated the narrator.
It’s objectively nearly unreadable.
But you know what? The excessive worldbuilding pays off, hating on the narrator was one of the best parts (how many paragraphs of this did I annotate with “shut up, Mycroft” or something like that?), and I honestly think this annoyingly slow-paced and disturbing trainwreck of a book is actually brilliant. I ended up giving it four stars.
As I said in my review a year ago, to properly review it and explain what exactly made it work like it did I’d need to reread it and there’s no way I’m ever doing that. But I still recommend it! (…I want to see what other people think of this, mostly. Feel free to hate me afterwards!)
I didn’t love the first book in this series, Labyrinth Lost. I didn’t love it, and it was queer, and I knew its sequel – which followed Lula, a character that in the first book didn’t do anything for me – wasn’t going to be. I read it anyway because it fulfilled a challenge in a readathon, and I’m so glad I did.
This is a novel about the dark side of the intensity of teenage love, about letting go, about dealing with grief, and it’s creepier, more introspective, and more mature than Labyrinth Lost. I think the “more mature” part helped a lot, because I definitely thought “I’m too old for this” when I was reading the first novel (…and I was 16 at the time; it felt like upper middle grade to me).
The Light Brigade
I went into this book thinking I was going to like it, because it’s written by Kameron Hurley, and The Stars Are Legion is one of my favorite books (it got me into adult sci-fi, which is… my favorite genre, even though it’s not the one I read the most).
Then I read the first chapters, and realized immediately that I was actually going to hate this: it’s one of those very bleak books about war in which nothing good ever happens, which I hate reading – depressing fiction is not something I ever get anything from; I love dark books, but I hate when they’re also grim and bleak. (I’m here to have fun!)
I bought it anyway, because favorite author, and I trust my favorite authors. And… it turned out being a good idea? The ending was wonderful, and so was the message, and I didn’t leave this book just with a vague sense of dread and disgust towards humanity. I don’t know if I’d recommend it, because it’s still 300+ pages of Pure Ugly™, a confusing kind of Pure Ugly™ (…it features continuous time jumps), but I think it’s a really clever book.
The Dark Beneath the Ice
The Dark Beneath the Ice got a lot of lukewarm-to-bad reviews, so I didn’t think I was going to like it at all. I tried it just because I thought the cover was nice and because I had heard it was f/f – which it is. And I don’t even like horror that much! (Or: so I thought).
When I started reading it, I immediately started connecting with the main character on a level I never had before – because in my opinion this has the best representation of anxiety I’ve ever seen in a novel, even though it’s told through a paranormal metaphor – and I started worrying because everyone said the ending was weak.
I thought this wasn’t going to stick the landing, but it did. I’m just going to say this: I understand Marianne so much that I wish I didn’t, and if you’ve been through what this novel is about – avoidance of everything, including yourself if you can manage it – the ending will make a lot of sense to you. (Also, the romance was great.)
I liked The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden, but I heard nothing about this one and I requested it just because the previous book by this author was great. And when I read the ARC, I ended up loving it.
This book is set in one of the most imaginative worlds I’ve ever read about (alternate history fantasy South Africa with demons, where gender isn’t a binary by default), it’s full of plot twist I could have never seen coming, it’s funny, and it often makes no sense, but I loved it. Publishers: acquire more funny, unusual diverse fantasy that doesn’t take itself too seriously, please.
Also, the characters were walking disasters and they grew on me even though I hated them at the beginning.
Are there any books you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up liking? Have you read any of these?