I needah rant, gurl.
A few days ago, I was reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. It was pretty good. But I won't be reviewing it, for this reason: when I finished it, I was feeling distinctly disappointed. I guess I could say I felt cheated. The problem wasn't the book - it was the praise.
So, when you first pick up a book, it usually has
a) absolutely no praise on it at all
b) a crap ton of praise everywhere
c) maybe one back cover of praise
I have a bone to pick with the b) books.
Thoughts on Praise
When I first picked up True Diary, this is what I saw on the front cover: a National Book Award Winner medal. Occasionally, I will come across books with medals. But I have long since learned to ignore these awards, because of Rules, by Cynthia Lord.
Rules I read quite awhile ago. It's a children's book, but it's won a Newberry and a Schneider award. Despite this, it was really bad. So I learned to not trust medals. These days, a medal on a book doesn't affect me - it doesn't promise anything.
So when I saw the National medal, I didn't think much of it. I flipped it over and read the synopsis on the back cover. Also included on the back cover was a list of more awards won and some praise. It was a normal amount, and what you typically expect from most books. In other words, it looked like a c) book.
Now, if the publishers had just stopped there, it would had been a much better reading experience.
I open it up, and right on the first page is a list of 26 various books award wins/nominations. That's probably more than I've ever seen for any other book. My logic was that a book must be pretty good for so many others to be unanimous in liking it.
The next three pages consist of 26 paragraphs of page ranging from one to seven lines long. It was a lot of the same stuff, but it was promising.
By the end of it, I was like
I had really high expectations for this book. It was good praise, I saw things like "fierce observations and sharp sense of humor," "excellent in every way," "heartwarming and honest and wise and smart," "This book is so original, I laughed consistently from beginning to end." It sounded really promising.
I read it.
I did not cry once.
I did not laugh once.
I did not feel satisfied in any way.
The thing is, this book was really not bad. It was the hype surrounding it that ruined it. I was expecting a lot, thanks to all the comments. But it was unable to deliver. I doubt there are many books out there that can live up to all that praise, honestly. Had it stuck to just a few choice praises, I might have liked it more. Instead, someone's head got too inflated and they decided to dump every positive thing they had onto the book. It overwhelmed it. It ruined it. And it is a sad thing when that happens.
This is not the only book I've encountered with this issue. The same thing happened with the The Fault in Our Stars. I was expecting things from that book. There was a lot of hype. But alas! You all know my opinion of that particular novel.
This quote sums it up nicely.
"Rise so high, in mud you lie."
Thank you, Karnus au Bellona.
Raze the praise!