The Dangers of Hype

To me, there’s three kinds of people who dislike hyped, so-called popular YA novels. The first of these is the reader that feels overwhelmed by the hype and has built up unrealistic expectations for how spectacular the novel is going to be. I’m sure you’ve been this person a few times, and haven’t enjoyed a novel purely because it wasn’t how you expected it to be and you were disappointed that it didn’t live up to the hype. Been there, done that. The second is the person that just genuinely doesn’t like the “popular” book. They read it, maybe even DNF it, purely because it wasn’t for them. They weren’t influenced in any way and they weren’t trying to make a statement. That’s when the third kind of reader comes in. The reader that dislikes the hyped book to make a statement. To be the only one-star review on Goodreads, who will write an absolutely scathing review of the novel to be “different”, even if it isn’t their entire honest opinion.

Am I one of those people? Have I become that person?

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Strange the DreamerThe dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Wow. Let me start off by saying that Strange the Dreamer was one of my most anticipated releases of 2017 — along with probably half the bookish community. While I’d only picked up Daughter of Smoke and Bone, one of Laini Taylor’s other novels, when the release date for Strange the Dreamer was announced, I couldn’t help but be swept up into the excitement for this one. While sometimes the hype surrounding a book can be detrimental if the reader’s expectations are set too high, it’s undeniable that it is a very exciting time in the bookish community. And not only that, but Strange the Dreamer was voted as The YA Room’s book of the month for April!

As soon as I opened up Strange, I was immediately captivated by Laini Taylor’s gorgeous writing style. I remember loving her writing when I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but I feel like her writing has hit a new high. It was simply sensational. Filled to the brim with lyrical sentences, poignant prose, and touching metaphors, it’s hard not to be swept up into the world she created. Strange the Dreamer is the kind of book that will have you jotting down quotes and beautiful sentences just so they can be seared onto your heart.

But once I got over the awe of how she could be such a talented writer, I realised that nothing much was happening in the beginning of the novel. There’s a lot of rambling and delving into memories that leaves us filled with a sense of wonder, but at the same time, wondering what’s actually going on. I did enjoy wafting through the narrative, but sometimes the confusion was overwhelming and made me feel like I had to take a break from reading it. I got lost in the beautiful prose, the lyrical sentences pulling me under. It was like drowning in cotton candy. It’ll taste good, but you’ll be drowning nonetheless.

I think one of the main things that contributed to me feeling as though I didn’t know what was going on at times was because of the world-building. The world Laini Taylor created was so unique and intricate, and as well as describing the characters — particularly Lazlo in the beginning — with such haunting beauty, she described the world in that way too. I’m just thinking of the gif of the kid from Matilda of the boy still pushing chocolate cake into his mouth even though he was beyond full.  That was me with Strange the Dreamer and all the glorious descriptions. The writing was unbelievably evocative and gorgeous, but sometimes it just became a bit much. And yes, I’m more of a savoury person, despite my constant references to sweets. Maybe I’m hungry. I think so.

After dropping off from the strong beginning, Strange the Dreamer only recaptured my attention at around page 150, and I only could confidently say I was enjoying it at page 350. That’s a long time to be reading something you feel pretty meh about. Undeniably, there were times I could have put this book down, and I’m ashamed to say it. I just didn’t feel any sense of immediacy from the plot and while I liked the main characters and adored the writing, it wasn’t something that I was constantly on the edge of my seat with. When Lazlo met Sarai was when things really started to pick up. I loved the fantastical and magical elements in it, and the romance was glorious. However, there was a little bit of insta-love going on there. Don’t get me wrong — it wasn’t bad insta-love, but it was just there. The insta-love didn’t make me hate the romance because the romance in itself was really well done and seemed realistic, so I wasn’t that phased. But if insta-love is a big turnoff for you, be warned.

The majority of people I’ve spoken to have adored Strange the Dreamer, so don’t let my criticisms stop you from picking up this book. It’s truly gorgeous, inside and out, but sometimes that’s just not enough for me. I loved Laini Taylor’s writing style and the way she was able to create such a intricate, glorious world, but unfortunately I felt overwhelmed by the wandering writing at times and lost interest. If you’ve loved Laini’s other novels, I think you’ll really enjoy this one!


4 Stars

Let's Talk

Have you ever been disappointed by a book because it was overhyped? What’s one popular book that you just can’t stand? Have you read Strange the Dreamer yet? Do you think it deserved the hype? Are you in love with Laini Taylor’s writing style? I’d love to know!

Thanks to Hachette Australia for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

You might like

Daughter of Smoke and Bone • A Darker Shade of Magic • Labyrinth Lost


29 thoughts on “The Dangers of Hype

  1. It’s a shame you didn’t love this book, I adored it. It’s my first time reading anything by Laini Taylor and her writing blew me away. I really want to get to her other books now after reading Strange the Dreamer

    Out of all the hyped up books I’ve read, the one I really didn’t think was worth the hype was The Mortal Instruments. I have only read the first two books and stopped, the first was just meh and the second was just boring and hardly anything happened in it. It’s one of the only times I have enjoyed a tv show or movie more than the books. I love the Tv show, but the books just aren’t worth it to me. I have heard people comparing it to Harry Potter, saying it changed their lives and things like that and I just can’t see it at all. Some people have said that the first books are kinda eh but it gets better, so maybe one day I will finish the series but at the moment I have no interest in doing so.

    • I’m happy that you loved this book! I do agree that her writing is beautiful, and you should definitely try her other novels! I’d love to hear your thoughts on them.

      I do admit that THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS have been hyped up, especially surrounding the release of the TV show, but I read them years ago now and thoroughly enjoyed them. I loved HARRY POTTER too!

      But yes, it’s disappointing when series are so hyped that you feel let down when you don’t enjoy them. I’m pleased you’ll be reading more of Laini Taylor’s work though! 💕

      • Seen as you’ve read The Mortal Instruments books I was wondering if Clary and Simon are a romantic thing in the books? because they are in the TV show and I have seen a couple pics on Pinterest with photos of them from the show and that people aren’t okay with this in the TV show.. I’ve only read the first two and they weren’t a thing in those books at least. I’m just curious. Because I honestly don’t like them on the show as a couple, I feel like they have no chemistry and everything was really quick and forced.

        And I’ll definitely be reading her work soon! I need to purchase them. I’m trying to get my physical TBR shelf down a bit first then I’ll grab them. So keen! 😊😊

      • There’s the hint of a love triangle in the books, but it’s always clear that Simon has no chance of getting with Clary. Their friendship in the books is adorable though! And I love who Simon ends up with.

        Haha I feel you! My TBR is always overflowing 😅 Enjoy!

      • Oh okay. Well I’m the show they are full on together for a while. Waiting for the next season to see how long it lasts. But it’s just an odd thing in the show. And yeah I really liked the friendship at the start of the show but then Simon was always sulking about not being able to have Clary and that’s when I started disliking him and now boom they are together. It’s kinda irritating.

        And mines not too bad, I am getting it down slowly though. 😂😊

      • I started the show before the books and really enjoy it. I have absolutely no interest in ever watching the Movie though. On Cassandra Clare’s website she said that she had absolutely no input into the movie and that is why it’s so different to the books. So I think I’ll stay away from that one!

        And I’m getting there. You’ll get there too! Well probably not because there is always new books!!!! 😁😁

  2. This is exactly what I felt like about The Fault In Our Stars. Although it was a good book, I didn’t think it was necessarily better than any other book I’d read before. Great post😊

  3. I’m almost always disappointed when a book is overhyped bc it will NEVER live up to the hype for me! When Flame and Strange and Wonder Woman are being touted all over the place, I get so excited, and I do like them…but it’s like I’m getting more love with the hidden indies I’ve been reading bc they are so original and have no tropes or come with a blank slate.
    I can’t speak for ALL books…90% of the time I tend to agree with the people about the book (not the over hype, but the book at least)…but it’s always nice going into a book you’ve heard nothing about so you can’t be let down.
    I’m reading Hunted right now (still haven’t formed an opinion), but The Monster of Selkirk was AMAZING! And no hype bc no one has heard of it.
    Love this discussion bc without hype, many books wouldn’t sell…but it also creates unrealistic standards when we sit down and read the hyped book.

  4. I’ve got a fourth category for you, someone who has heard all the hype and won’t pick up the book for at least a year because they anticipate a book being ruined for them because of it. That’s where I am with this book, it sounds like it would be my kind of book but I don’t want to be disappointed so I’ll wait until I forget about the hype 🙂

  5. I know what you mean about hyped books…you really do get caught up in the excitement of it all, and go into the hyped book with really high expectations. For me that was Caraval. I had heard so many wonderful things about it, but I ended up not really liking the book at all…to me it was very meh. I am currently reading Strange the Dreamer and I am really enjoying it, however I completely know what you mean. I just reached the 350 page mark and things are really just starting to happen…I actually can’t think of what happened before that lol. Great review, and sorry it didn’t fully live up to your expectations, it can be so disappointing when that happens!

  6. I’ve felt this hype let-down a lot with stories like Hunger Games and even Harry Potter – which isn’t to say I’m not a fan now, but with all the amazing things people were saying about them, I just expected them to be better :b And this sounds interesting; I’m excited to check it out!

  7. Ahh I totally get what you mean about this book just being So Much sometimes. I gave it 4 stars too and I did love it, but it took me a month to read 😂 because everything was just so intricate and I could only handle a bit at a time. There were definitely sections that held my attention more than others, but overall it was pretty draining. It was extremely creative though.

    Regarding hype, I can’t resist it. I do get worried I won’t like it, but I HAVE to read it for myself (I mean, unless of course there’s reviews coming out saying that it’s racist ect.) because I’m always super curious. There are a ton of hyped books I haven’t read yet though because my TBR is ridiculous 😂

    Great review, Sarah!

    • Thanks, lovely! Haha wow, I can understand why it took you so long to read it! It was beautifully-written, but some parts were extremely dense and others were lacking any sort of meaning, so it was something I had to concentrate on while reading.

      I’m usually a sucker for hype, but generally only for my preferred genres. If everyone on Twitter is raving about it, I find it hard to resist buying into the hype though, regardless! But I feel you – my TBR is monstrous 😂💖

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