Book hype never really affected how I read books before, but I’ve come to realise it’s made me hesitant when approaching books nowadays, unless they’re from authors I know I’ll love. In light of that, I’d like to recommend a few books that definitely deserved the hype they got (or are still currently getting in some cases).
The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
How do you punish an immortal?
By making him human.
After angering his father Zeus, Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in NYC as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus’s favour.
But Apollo has many enemies – gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go . . . an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.
I haven’t had this much fun reading a book in a long time. Riordan is one of the authors I automatically read at this point but The Hidden Oracle went above and beyond my expectations with entirely new (and amazing) characters, and a plot that’s entirely original but still incorporates all the important mythological elements.
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.
Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.
Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.
In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.
I’ll admit, I picked up Truthwitch because of the hype, and I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I loved the way each individual story was woven into a larger canvas, and the characters that made them up were each precious in their own way.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Laia is a slave.
Elias is a soldier.
Neither is free.
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
Another book I picked up purely because of the hype, An Ember in the Ashes was one of the best books I read last year. While the plot is faced-paced and engaging, I was sucked in by the world, the characters, and the relationships between them.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.
When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
I don’t remember if Daughter of Smoke and Bone was all that hyped when it first came out, but it’s certainly incredibly popular nowadays. My first reaction towards this book was that it surprised me, it was nothing like what I expected from page one, but still managed to blow my mind. Honestly speaking, between the world-building and the characters, there was no way I could not fall in love with it all.
The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak
It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.
I’m pretty sure The Book Thief wasn’t all that hyped back in 2005, but it certainly is now (I’d even go so far as to say it might end up a classic in a decaded or two). Honestly, I can’t think of anything to say beyond the fact that this is an amazing book, and I’d recommend it to absolutely everyone, because it’s worth it.
There are many morebooks out that that deserve a spot on this list, but I figured I’d keep it spoiler free since most of the ones I’m thinking of are not the first book in a series or a standalone.
Have you ever read a book purely because of the hype? Do you think these books deserved it?