The Unpopular Opinions Book Tag

I’ve seen this tag around so many times and I always want to do it but I never remember to.  Steph just posted it and I couldn’t resist this time.  I’m sure this goes without saying, but, beware of unpopular opinions?!

1.) A popular book or book series that you didn’t like.

51gy2mlxabl-_sx328_bo1204203200_All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood.  Alright, here we go.  People love this book and defend it so passionately, but the whole time I was reading it I felt like my skin was crawling.  In this novel Greenwood depicts a relationship between an adult man in his 20s and a child who’s aged 8-13 for the bulk of the story, and I just could not get on board.  This crossed a line for me.  Because of power dynamics inherent to that kind of age gap, a child is not capable of consenting.  Period.  I don’t care how mature she is, how much life had screwed her out of a proper childhood.  I failed to find the romance and the magic in this story.  Greenwood certainly brought more nuance to the subject than I had thought was possible, but this just wasn’t for me.  I was also very underwhelmed by the writing style, alas.

2.) A popular book or book series that everyone else seems to hate but you love.

9669332I sorted my read bookshelf on Goodreads as rating – low to high, and it made me sad to see that this was the lowest. Donnarumma all’assalto is an interesting examination on industrialism and the working class in 20th century Italy, which was the focus of my modern Italian lit course that I read this book for.  But since I sincerely doubt that this book has been translated into English, it’s kind of a lame answer. So I will also include….

30753832The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo.  I’m not sure why the Goodreads rating on this one is so low.  Maybe the comparisons to Room and Everything I Never Told You ended up hurting it.  Granted, it’s not much like either of those books, but I thought it was strong in its own right.  It’s about a high school girl who witnesses the kidnapping of one of her classmates, and struggles to come to terms with it.  It’s a quick, interesting read.

 

3.) An otp that you don’t like.

31931941Shamelessly copying Steph here.  Eliza and Wallace from Eliza and Her Monsters.  I loved this book, but I hated the way Wallace treated Eliza throughout it.  To me it felt like he was projecting his ideal of the dream nerd girl onto Eliza without actually getting to know her.  And then his behavior at the end was beyond uncool.  Sorry dude, but I do not sympathize.

 

4.) A popular book genre that you hardly reach for.

YA.  I only read YA when a book has been recommended to me by someone who gets my reading tastes.  Because for every YA book I like, there are about ten that I don’t.  The odds aren’t very good, so I have to be discerning about which ones I choose to read.

5.) A popular/beloved character that you do not like

23437156 22299763Matthias Helvar from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.  Oh, Matthias.  It’s not that I hate him as much as I think that he is one of the most boring characters who’s ever existed.  His redemption arc is so straightforward and basic, and while the rest of the characters in this series feel like real, three-dimensional people, Matthias just feels like a YA trope.  A YA trope with the personality of stale bread.

6.) A popular author that you can’t seem to get into.

10956 2187Jeffrey Eugenides. I’ve only read two of this man’s books (The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex, in that order), and they remain two of the worst books I’ve ever read.  There’s just something about his writing style that is so grating to me, and I can’t help but to feel like his books address themes and subjects which are somewhat outside of his grasp.  Not a fan.

7.) A popular book trope that you’re tired of seeing.

The beauty and the beast trope: attractive woman sees the inner beauty of an unattractive man and they live happily ever after.  Funny how it never seems to happen the other way around.  Why is the concept of a handsome man falling in love with an unattractive woman so uncomfortable to us?  (If this is something that interests you, I’d recommend the Italian novel Fosca by Ugo Tarchetti!  Which inspired the musical Passion by Stephen Sondheim.)

8.) A popular series that you have no interest in reading.

Anything by Cassandra Clare or Sarah J. Maas.  Again, I will occasionally dabble in YA fantasy… but both of these authors strike me as being a bit too YA fantasy.

9.) The saying goes “the book is always better than the movie,” but what movie or tv show adaptation do you prefer more than the book?

4954833Brooklyn by Colm Toibin.  The book was… okay.  Toibin is a good writer, but I thought it was sort of difficult to get into the head of the main character, Eilis.  In the film, Saoirse Ronan’s fantastic performance brought this character and this story to life, and made me care in a way that I really hadn’t while reading the book.  It’s not a bad novel, and I’d recommend reading it, but it’s just missing that ‘it factor’ that the film has.

Tagging Chelsea, Callum, and Hadeer.  But feel free to pass, obviously.

What did you guys think of my choices?  Comment and let’s discuss!

46 thoughts on “The Unpopular Opinions Book Tag

  1. Omg I don’t even care if I haven’t read “All the Ugly and Wonderful Things”, I’m still judging it like hell. That is seriously a book I’ll never pick up. Just reading the negative reviews have been enough for me, I’m shuddering. No thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • GOOD CALL!!! I tried to go into it with an open mind because I’d seen SO MUCH acclaim for this book that I was like…. okay, there has to be something more to this than the summary suggests?? But no, it’s literally a relationship between a 24 year old man and an 8 year old child. And it’s a relationship that we’re actually meant to root for, unlike something like Lolita which is thoroughly fucked up, but that is THE POINT. Humbert isn’t a hero, but Kellen is, and I found it all the more disturbing for that fact.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Same, I had it on my TBR for a while because I kept seeing great reviews. And I was like “it can’t possibly be about this relationship” but then I realized – hey, it is! And then I read the negative reviews and just, ugh. And I do want to read Lolita because as you say, it’s meant to be fucked up. This one on the other hand is fucked up but I’m under the impression it’s supposed to be okay and something nice even, like. What.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ugh, exactly. This was my lesson that there are some books I just need to stay away from, no matter how much acclaim they’re getting. I highly recommend Lolita, though! It’s just a story about a very disturbed man and it doesn’t claim to be anything else. It’s not easy to read by any means because the subject matter is still very difficult, but the fact that the story isn’t romanticizing pedophilia makes all the difference. This is a great piece of fiction about a fucked up individual vs. this is a very fucked up piece of fiction about a supposedly good individual.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I know right, ughhh. Like I do try not to judge a book and I’d rather read something for myself with an open mind, but I have to draw the line somewhere. And in this case I’m judging everything about this book real hard lol. I definitely will get a copy of Lolita asap! I know a little about it but I’m definitely interested in finally reading it. Like you said, it’s messed up but it’s not trying to romanticize pedophilia.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Very interesting list. I am really intrigued by “Fosca” now, and will be looking forward to reading it. I agree with you that the society is obsessed with the notion “a beautiful female falls for an ugly but good man”. To suggest vice versa here is like suggesting black is white. It will be great and refreshing to read any novel which challenges this mode of thinking. Also, even though I liked the novel “The Virgin Suicides”, I see your point too. Sometimes it does feel like this novel is more like a screenplay, than a book. Also, a good choice on “Brooklyn”. The ones for me which come to mind here are “The Quiet American” an “The Painted Veil”. I just did not like those books, but I really enjoyed and loved the films – (2002) and (2006) respectively.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I haven’t read Fosca in its entirety yet (though it’s quite short), but I have the novel in Italian and hope to finish it before the year is over. It’s such a fascinating subversion of this trope. There’s a film adaptation too that’s quite good, Passione d’amore by Ettore Scola, I’m not sure if you watch a lot of foreign films but it’s worth checking out.

      It’s been so long since I read The Virgin Suicides that I’m sometimes tempted to give it another chance, but I can’t get over how strongly I disliked it the first time. You’re right, it did feel very cinematic. I still haven’t watched the Sofia Coppola film but I’ve heard great things, so I’m tempted to give that a shot.

      I haven’t seen or read The Quiet American, either. I’ve read The Painted Veil and sadly think it’s one of the weaker Somerset Maugham novels. I usually love him, but that novel really didn’t work for me. I do really want to see the film as the general consensus seems to be that it’s better than the book.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I absolutely love foreign-language films – in Italian, Spanish and in French in particular (love compiling lists on them too), so thanks a lot for a suggesting a movie! Btw, I was really impressed by Coppola’s film “The Virgin Suicides”, the soundtrack there is particularly good. So it is definitely worth a watch.
        I reviewed both “The Painted Veil” and “The Quiet American” films, if you are curious. Also, you may be interested in my other list: “20 Great Book to Film Adaptations”, where either a director or an original writer was female: https://dbmoviesblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/28/girl-power-20-great-book-to-film-adaptations/

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, that’s great! I really need to watch more foreign language films. I’ve seen so many in Italian because I did my degree in Italian lit/history and had to take a whole course on Pasolini and other Italian cinema, but I feel like there are so many other classic foreign films that I’m missing out on.

        I’ll definitely check out your lists and reviews, thanks for the link!

        Liked by 1 person

    • One thing that can be said for Brooklyn is that it’s a quick read! So it’s worth checking out if you’re interested. It was a very solid 3 star book for me – I liked it, didn’t love it. I’ve only read one other Toibin and that was 3 stars as well. I’m going to keep going with him though, I like his writing style a lot and I feel like I just haven’t found the ‘right’ one of his books yet.

      Thank you!

      Like

    • Also I’m reading some of the reviews for All the Ugly and Wonderful things and like??? I have a 13 year-old sister so maybe it’s just because of that but I don’t see how a relationship between a GROW MAN and LITERAL CHILD can be anything but manipulative

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is 100% manipulative. Like, the main character is a ‘nice guy’ or whatever but there is an INHERENT POWER DYNAMIC in that kind of an age gap that imo means he took advantage of her, period, end of discussion. The fact that the little girl initiated a lot of it means absolutely nothing. She’s an abused child with no parental figures in her life, of course she’s going to cling to the one person who gives her the time of day. God, that book makes my skin crawl. Oh god, it would be even harder to read with a sister that age, though 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t get the comments sayings it’s not manipulative, because it totally is?? Like if she’s an abused child, she’s going to want to spend time with the guy who gives her attention and is nice to her, and it’s his responsibility to not take advantage of that. I would never let my sister be in a relationship with a guy that much older than her, no matter how “”””nice”””” he was until she’s also an adult

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s exactly it!!!! It doesn’t matter how much she’s throwing herself at him (which is coming from an extremely misguided place of being attention starved), it’s his responsibility to say no. AND ANOTHER THING about this stupid book – there’s ONE adult in Wavy’s life who sees the relationship as disturbing and illegal and wrong, and she tries to get Wavy help but she’s ultimately vilified by the narrative because she didn’t ~get their true love~ GOD!!!

        Oh my god and have you seen those disturbing fan graphics that people make when you look at some of the 5 star reviews??? With pictures of older guys and cute little girls… ugh, shudder.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s so frustrating!! I mean I can understand Wavy vilifying them, but SOMEONE needs to say “too bad, you’re a literal child and this needs to stop.”

        The part that also gets me is the reviews keep repeating a line that I think is from the book (I haven’t read it so I’m not 100% sure) that’s something like “Wavy was Wavy, not some young girl” and everyone loves that quote but it’s so incredibly disturbing??????? Like I literally felt nauseous when I first read that because like you’re just making excuses? She is a young child??? She IS a little girl??? Please stop trying to make her into this fantasy thing and realize that you’re being predatory????

        Liked by 1 person

      • OH MY GOD I KNOW. She IS a young girl – that is 100% the point. I am all about weird and unconventional relationships in fiction, but I’ve got to draw a line somewhere, and this is it for me.

        Usually when I hate a book this much I’ll say ‘but you should still read it and see what you think, you may like it even if I didn’t’ but in this case I just…. nope. It is about a romantic and sexual relationship between a grown man and a child. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. It’s a book that sexualizes children and attempts to blur a line that we don’t need blurred, and it makes me so angry and sick that young teenage girls may read this book and see this relationship as romantic.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I also wouldn’t have that much issue with it if it was seen as creepy. Cause I love Lolita, which is fairly similar, but Humbert Humbert is seen as creepy and predatory the whole time and anyone with a rational brain understands that he’s creepy. But with this one it just seems like people don’t see that??? There are so many people who are excusing it and saying that it’s not predatory/creepy/pedophilic or whatever but IT IS!!!!!!!!! Like you say, this really isn’t a line that needs to be blurred AT ALL

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lolita is one of my favorite books! And it almost seems hypocritical to say that, but the way authorial intent shaped these two narratives is so, so different, despite the similar subjects. Humbert is never meant to be seen as a hero – that whole novel is just a portrait of a very disturbed man, and I found it compelling and disturbing. The fact that I was supposed to sympathize with Kellen and condone his actions made me feel sick.

        What baffles me is that ATUAWT is so widely well received. It’s got a 4.11 on GR and won BOTM’s Book of the Year….. I definitely see where this book may appeal to SOME PEOPLE, but the fact that so many people are able to get on board with this just blows my mind?!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I adore Lolita and totally agree! My edition has an afterward by Nabokov and he says he wrote it in a way to make people feel uncomfortable and creeped out, which I don’t think was done for this book. I don’t think there would ever be a situation where I would sympathize with an adult who is in love with a child.

        That’s what gets me too! There’s SO MANY raving reviews and so many people who love it and condone it which blows my mind??? Like that doesn’t happen on Lolita AT ALL so why does it happen so often for this book??? AGHH people sometimes lol

        Like

      • Okay, I think I’ll give “All the Ugly and Wonderful Things” a pass. I’m not against reading books about pedophilia (just like I’m not against reading books about incest, rape, or any other taboo subject matter) but I don’t want to read anything that glamorizes child molestation. Ick.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Agreed completely. I think I mentioned this in another comment, but I actually really love Lolita, but the huge important difference is that we’re not supposed to find that story romantic, we’re not supposed to think of Humbert Humbert as a hero. It’s a book about pedophilia that doesn’t glamorize pedophilia. The same cannot be said for All the Ugly and Wonderful Things.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I own “Lolita” and I want to read it, I just haven’t gotten to it yet. I’ve seen some extremely mixed opinions! 🙂 Have you seen either of the movie adaptations?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I haven’t! And I’ll be interested to see what you think of it – it is understandably a very polarizing book and hardly a fun topic to read about, but it was disturbing and fascinating to me.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved both the book and movie of Brooklyn. I think I loved the book because I studied it in high school and read it more than once! It was a great book to study. But the movie was really good too, and explained things a bit better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh that’s so cool that you got to read it for school! I would have loved to have discussed that book in class. Again, I didn’t hate it by any means, I just connected with the characters in the film a bit better.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my god YES!!! I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who gets my Eugenides hatred. The whole time I was reading Middlesex I was getting more and more furious, because he’s a straight white man telling the story of an intersex person and it’s like, that’s not even the element of the story that he seemed to care about? He spent so much more time on the family history than on the main character’s struggle with his gender identity and it just grated. Like dude, this isn’t your story to tell, but if you’re going to do it then do it better than this. And The Virgin Suicides was just a mess. Ugh, I hate hate hate his writing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ughhh that’s good to know, I’m definitely never going to read Middlesex now. (Not that I had plans to, but still!) The Virgin Suicides was so… boring and weird to me. It’s so voyeuristic and weird and basically the definition of fridging women.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ugh good call. I hated The Virgin Suicides but I hated Middlesex like a hundred times more. And people LOVE THAT BOOK I do not understand it!!!!

        Omg I know, wasn’t it so weird??? Everything about The Virgin Suicides made me uncomfortable, and I don’t think it was in the way it was supposed to.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. YES Matthais aka stale bread. Perfect comparison. And I totally agree with you on the beauty and the beast trope…….at least give it to me reversed!! Or maybe two of the same gender? Just don’t make the “ugly” one pretty in the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ohhh you know that’s so interesting, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the beauty and the beast trope with two people of the same gender! Like I said, I can think of ONE story that reverses the trope, but it would also be a cool subversion to see a same sex couple. As long as the ‘ugly’ one doesn’t become pretty, you are totally right. Ugh, I hate it so much.

      Liked by 1 person

    • (Sorry, late reply) I definitely agree! Matthias is the kind of person I’d want to know in real life. But in fiction I can’t help but to be intrigued by the characters who aren’t necessarily great people, like Kaz and Inej and Jesper – for whatever reason, delving into their narratives and getting to the root of their flaws is much more interesting to me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree with that. I’ve noticed that we, as readers and as viewers, love to see layered and flawed characters because they provide the element of fascination and freshness that we may not be able to delve into in real life nor necessarily always have the time for. Nonetheless, characters like Matthias are pillars of support both fictionally and in reality. With these dysfunctional characters they end up making a surprisingly functional group. Each is needed, each brings their own gifts and perspectives that is needed for the heist. How fascinating the world is! XD

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s