Books are full of surprises. Sometimes that’s a good thing, and other times it’s a bad thing.
I don’t know about any of you lovely people out there, but most of the time I like to know what it is that I’m getting into. That’s why I look at the IMDb content guides for everything I watch. But with books there isn’t really anything for that so I never know how exactly I’m going to feel about things that go in in the book. And no, it’s not looking up spoilers, it’s different.
Today I’m listing ten books that surprised me in one way or another, whether it’s due to graphic content, or bad writing, or even good writing. Like I said, there are good and bad ways to be surprised by a book.
books that surprised me in a bad way
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis – When I was a teenager (which wasn’t that long ago no matter how old i feel), I was obsessed with Christian Bale. And when you’re obsessed with a certain actor you kind of make it a goal to watch all of the movies in their filmography, which I still have not done yet because I’m lazy and have other things I want to do. One of Bale’s most iconic roles is as Patrick Bateman in the movie of American Psycho, which is one of the most controversial books of all time. Why? Because it’s really violent. Me being the kind of person who is drawn to notoriety, I had to check out the book to see if it’s as violent as people say. It is. I was either 16 or 17 when I read this book and I was not prepared for how violent and gory this book is. If you want to check it out for yourself, just keep that in mind, as well as there being rape, animal cruelty, homophobia, misogyny, necrophilia, and cannibalism. I still can’t believe I finished it and thought it was a decent book.
The Host by Stephenie Meyer -What was most surprising to me about The Host is how much it’s like Twilight. The way one of the main characters acts towards the love interest is so similar to how Bella acts towards Edward that it’s a little grating. What makes it even worse is that the actual narrator is kind of interesting. I would say that it’s too bad that the sequels are literally nowhere to be found, but I don’t care about it that much.
Guts by Chuck Palahniuk – This is the only story by Chuck Palahniuk that I’ve read and it might stay that way if everything else he’s written is as horrifying as this. I won’t say what it’s about because I don’t think it’s appropriate to mention on this blog (which is saying something because i usually don’t have an issue with being vulgar), but I will say this: I am a cisgender girl, therefore I don’t have a certain body part that some people do have. But this story still made me cross my legs. Also, you can read it on the author’s website, but just take what I’ve said as a warning, this isn’t for the faint-hearted.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller – If you’ve been here for a long time, you’ll know that I have some beef with Frank Miller. Political beef to be specific. When I first read TDKR at either 12 or 13 I kind of liked it but was a little confused by it. When I went back to it years later, I thought it was a pile of flaming garbage. I hate Miller’s Batman. Instead of being a noble – but violent – hero, he turns him into a brutal thug whose only solution to crime is to beat everybody to a pulp. No detective work here, just violence. Apart from the characterisation being absolutely terrible, I can’t deal with Miller’s art and writing. The art is ugly af, and the dialogue is just horrendous. And repetitive. His writing is repetitive. And also racist, homophobic, and misogynistic but I don’t have time to get into that. Comic book companies of the word: please stop hiring this man.
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord – I’m not always in the mood for contemporary romance, but when I am, I kind of expect to have a good time. This book sounded like a good time. And then it turned out to be an incredibly frustrating time. I thought that this book was going to be a story about friendship and all the problems that come with that, but instead, it was a romance that features an arrogant, slut-shamer for the main character and a bland almost non-existent best friend who gets shoved out of the way for the uninteresting love interest.
books that surprised me in a good way
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo – I’m not the biggest fantasy fan in the world, especially when it comes to high fantasy, so when I picked up Shadow and Bone and actually liked it, it was a big deal to me. I still haven’t been completely converted to being a fan of the highest fantasy ever (you won’t ever catch me reading Game of Thrones or The Lord of the Rings), I am still willing to give the genre a chance because of this series. I still haven’t finished it yet but I will do this year because I am so desperate to catch up with Leigh’s books. Also, I met her once and she’s so nice!
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake – Another book from a genre I used to not like! When I was a teenager I would not go anywhere near anything horror related. I wouldn’t even watch Gremlins despite my parents telling me millions of times that it’s a kids’ film (it used to be rated 15 here in the UK, but I still maintain that it’s not a kids’ film), and I couldn’t go into the Halloween section in shops when I was a child. The fact that I wanted to read Anna Dressed in Blood considering how violent it can be is the surprising thing to me. Plus, it didn’t scare me too much! And now very little scares me in books, which is a weird side effect.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – The first few times I’d read the summary for The Raven Boys I just sort of brushed it aside because it didn’t sound like something I would enjoy and I actually thought the summary was a little confusing. BUT OH HOW I WAS WRONG. Listen, friends. It’s a little scary to venture out of your comfort zones, but there are times when it is worth it. And this was definitely worth it to me. The first book isn’t my favourite book in the series, but I am still glad I read it.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – This is a book that I bought because of the hype and when I read it for the first time I ended up soft-DNFing it (putting it down to come back to it later). But in my defence, I was going to Disneyland and didn’t have the time to read (or the energy, i was out like a light every night for once). When I did come back to it, I ended up reading it in two days. To put that into perspective, it usually takes me a week to read one book because I’m slow and want to do other things. This book was that good. I also read the next two books in the series in a similar amount of time.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – Even though I have a Masters degree in English, I almost always end up hating the books that I study. Believe me, most books that are studied for academic value are usually pretty dry and boring, but you can get a lot of context out of them. But they’re still dry and boring so they’re hard to enjoy when you prefer genre fiction over literary like I do. Frankenstein, however, is probably the first book that I had to study and actually liked (apart from Macbeth, but that’s a play). This is why we should study genre fiction, people, it’s just more fun.