Have you ever read a book by an author that becomes one of you all-time favourites, only when you go to read other things they’ve written, you find yourself disappointed? This happened to me only recently, and while I didn’t despise the other books, I felt that my disappointment was magnified because of how much I adored their other book. And those books are Solitaire by Alice Oseman and This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzie Lee.
Radio Silence, Alice Oseman’s second book, is a novel I can’t stop talking about. It’s the best book I’ve read all year, and it’s one I can’t stop recommending to everyone I know. It was incredibly relatable and one that I saw so much of myself in. The characters were genuine and real, and I love every single one of them and want to protect my adorable queer munchkins. But Solitaire was different. I hoped to love it as much as I did Radio Silence, but all I was left with was supreme disappointment.
In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.
My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.
Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.
I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.
I really don’t.
What I disliked about Solitaire the most was the protagonist, Tori. She just infuriated me to no ends. I get that she was meant to be real and honest and that’s why she might have come across as unlikeable, but I just couldn’t stand her. She definitely had some issues, but they were never addressed — unless you count the Manic Pixie Dream Boy that miraculously makes her actually like life. I also wanted to read more about Nick and Charlie because I adore Solitaire, Alice’s webcomic about them, but Charlie hardly played a major role in the novel. I just want more of Nick and Charlie. That’s all I want.
I didn’t even care about the plot. I didn’t care about the pranksters at Tori’s school, or her friends who she clearly hated, or her sad life that was a little too Emo Tumblr for my liking at times. I just did not care. My infuriation with Tori just monopolised my reading of this novel and with each page I turned, I thought about how it would never live up to Radio Silence. It was probably my own fault for loving Radio Silence so much and expecting to enjoy Solitaire just as much, but oh well. I’m still going to read Alice’s third novel, and my love for Heartstopper will never end. I just wish I liked Solitaire. Or found it tolerable, at the very least.
In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.
His brother, Oliver—dead.
His sweetheart, Mary—gone.
His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.
Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.
But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.
Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…
And then there was This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzie Lee, who wrote another one of my favourite books of 2017 — The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. I didn’t even know she had another YA novel out until I did a little bit of Goodreads stalking, and found that her debut novel was a Frankenstein retelling. I don’t talk about my love for classics enough, but Frankenstein is one of my absolute favourites. So when I heard that Mackenzie’s first novel was a steampunk retelling of my beloved Frank, I couldn’t say no.
What disappointed me about this book wasn’t that it was terrible, or that I hated it, but it was just how ambivalent I felt towards it. There was nothing that compelled me or made me desperate to read on. I felt like the story was predictable and I was constantly yelling at the protagonist about what he was so oblivious to. It was just infuriating. I wanted to know more about this character’s creation and have it tied to the original Frankenstein in the moral ambiguity of characters and the questions about monstrosity and nurture. I think I just expected way too much of this novel, and I was disappointed because of it — especially since The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue was one of my favourite books of this year.
So I guess what I learned from this experience is to not presume I’m going to love a book just because I adore the author’s other works. Sometimes, a book just isn’t for me — and that’s okay. The moral of the story, for me at least, is to treat each book like its own separate, complete thing and to try to not build up the hype unnecessarily. I guess that’s why I’m also kind of reluctant to read books by my favourite authors — because I think I’m going to be let down. It’s why I haven’t read The Archieved by Victoria Schwab, or At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson yet. But then sometimes I’ll devour the latest book from my favourite author in one sitting, like Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. I’m just a mess of excitement and worry, and if that doesn’t sum me up, I’m not sure what does.
Have you ever loved one of an author’s book, but not another? Are there any books you haven’t read yet because you’re scared you won’t like them? Or am I the only one with this fear? Please share your thoughts and validate my feelings about this!