The Unpopular Opinion Book Tag was created by TheBookArcher. No one actually tagged me, and this tag is kind of old, but I came across it today on Booktube and I really wanted to join in.
If you don’t like unpopular opinions, this is probably not the post to read. If you disagree with any of my opinions, I’m happy to discuss them in the comments as long as you’re able to keep things civil. My opinions are based solely on my own personal preferences and should not be considered a personal attack.
1. Name a popular book/series you didn’t like.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (1991)
This is probably one of my most unpopular bookish opinions, and we’re opening with it, so that’s fun!
Outlander introduces us to Claire Randall directly after World War II. She and her husband Frank have been separated during most of their marriage because of their involvement in the British military–she was a nurse and he was an officer. They’re enjoying a second honeymoon in Scotland to become reacquainted with one another. After stumbling upon an ancient circle of stones, Claire is whisked back to the eighteenth century where she encounters Frank’s terrible ancestor Black Jack Randall. She’s captured by Scottish clansmen who distrust her because she’s British. (If you’re not familiar with British history, Scotland and England–not friends at this time. Not friends.) One thing leads to another, and she’s forced into a marriage with Jamie Fraser for her own protection. The story goes on from there.
I put off reading Outlander for several years, even though many friends recommended it to me. As a rule, I tend to shy away from books surrounded by this much hype, but I finally gave in and read it last February. I do usually love historical fiction, especially when it involves an element of time travel–in fact, this summer and fall I’m actually editing a fantastic debut novel by Becca MacLean Lyman that fits that very description–but I absolutely hated Outlander. And I don’t use the H word often.
First off, I didn’t love the writing. Gabaldon is one of the authors who seems to feel the need to prove they have a large vocabulary. I love learning new words, don’t get me wrong, but in Outlander, a lot of these large or unfamiliar words didn’t really fit the story. It was almost like paying for a $4.79 purchase with a one hundred dollar bill instead of the five that’s right there in your wallet.
I also felt the book could have been much shorter. I have no problem reading long books–War and Peace is one of my all-time favorite reads and it clocks in at over 1200 pages–but this story in particular could have been told in several fewer pages. There are a lot of scenes where the characters are eating or walking or what have you, and I don’t feel like they really contributed to the plot or to character development. The pacing could definitely have been better.
This book is also much more graphic than I expected, both in the love scenes and also in the acts of violence portrayed. I don’t really care for descriptive sex scenes. If there are going to be sex scenes in a book, I personally prefer for the focus to be on the characters’ emotions and feelings for each other, and I found the sex in this book to be too physically descriptive and too frequent for my personal tastes. Also, there is a lot of violence, particularly sexual violence, which is described in detail in this book. I understand that the author was most likely trying to show the reader how barbaric this time period could be, especially towards women, but it really just turned my stomach. Honestly, I wish I hadn’t finished the book, because there is an incident near the end that still makes me sick to think about over a year later.
Maybe I could have gotten over some of these issues if I’d liked Claire, but I really didn’t. Even though the narrative is in first person and we spend the entire book in her head, I really don’t like her or feel any kind of sympathy or pity for her. She didn’t seem to be too upset about her second unexpected, perhaps permanent separation from Frank, and she was entirely too eager to fall in love with someone else almost immediately. I didn’t understand her choices or motivations, and I didn’t really care what happened to her. The book ends on a cliffhanger, and I have felt zero interest in finding out what happens in the subsequent books.
2. Name a popular book/series that everyone else seems to hate but you love.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (1957)
Atlas Shrugged is one of those polarizing books that almost everyone who reads it has a strong opinion one way or the other. I probably wouldn’t say I love it in an ordinary conversation, but I do think it’s underrated. Ayn Rand was kind of crazy and had some pretty extreme views that I don’t agree with, but this book is probably the only modern book set in the United States that has this quality that reminds me of the classic Russian literature I love. There’s this absurdly large cast of characters, most of which feel more like ideas in an animated body than actual human beings, and all these intricate subplots that are so difficult to keep track of, but somehow it all comes together and it works. As wooden as the characters are, there are some really beautiful moments that it seems like most people skip over when they talk about how much they hate this book.
3. Name a love triangle where the main character ended up with the person you did NOT want them to end up with, or an OTP (one true pairing) that you don’t like.
The Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer (2005-2008)
I’m not really a Twilight fan these days–I kind of lost interest after reading Breaking Dawn, which I definitely did not care for–but even though I’m not really into the books anymore, I still get pretty ticked off that Bella and Edward ended up together. I thought that she and Jacob were much more compatible, and their friendship/relationship would have been much healthier. Plus, I never really cared for Edward. I thought he was a very bad example of what love looks like for teen girls–he’s very controlling, emotionally manipulative, and he pretty much stalks Bella for a good chunk of the first book. It’s just a little creepy, and I never really got why Bella cared so much about him.
4. Name a popular book genre you never read.
I love a good love story, but I have a hard time getting into a straight-up, old-school romance. I’ve never read the stereotypical paperback with the Fabio model on the cover, and I doubt I ever will. I also don’t read erotica, for reasons I mentioned in #1, and I don’t really read much in the paranormal genre, although what I have read I liked.
5. Name a popular or beloved character that you do not like.
Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series (1997-2007)
I don’t not like Dumbledore–I think he is a great character, and he’s obviously important to the plot of the entire series–but I’m not enamored with him as most people are. Especially in Deathly Hallows, I found myself really disillusioned with Dumbledore. It’s obvious that he meant well by Harry, but he made some grave mistakes that are kind of brushed over by most fans of the series. It’s difficult because in the earlier books he’s clearly the character that symbolizes the greater good, and sometimes even seems to stand in for a deity, but as the story progresses he becomes more and more questionable. I understand that Harry’s discovery of Dumbledore’s past mirrors real life, when we grow up and realize that our parents and mentors and personal heroes are all human and have all made mistakes, but it just felt too extreme in this situation. I wish he’d been humanized in a less severe way.
6. Name a popular author that you can’t seem to get into.
I’ve only tried to read one book by Rainbow Rowell–Carry On–and I DNF’d it at 6%. The writing itself wasn’t bad, but I really hated the story because it was basically a pretty blatant ripoff of Harry Potter. That being said, I’ve read that many Rainbow Rowell fans didn’t care for Carry On either, so maybe there’s hope for me in the future. I really want to read Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, and Landline, I just haven’t bit the bullet on any of those yet.
7. Name a popular book trope that you’re tired of seeing.
Especially in YA speculative fiction, I’m tired of the special snowflake female protagonist.
8. Name a popular series you have no interest in reading.
There are several that come to mind, but the two that really stick out for me is the Me Before You duology by Jojo Moyes and the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth.
9. The saying goes “The book is always better than the movie,” but which movie or T.V. adaptation do you prefer more than the book?
This assumption is often not true, and I’ve long discarded it. I have several answers to this question, all of which I’m planning to blog about in greater detail very soon.
Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer (1999) vs. ABC’s Flashforward (2009-2010)
Up in the Air by Walter Kirn (2001) and Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air (2009)
The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick (2008) and David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
The Firm by John Grisham (1991) and Sydney Pollack’s The Firm (1993)
Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell (2005) and Nora Ephron’s Julie & Julia (2009)
The Runaway Jury by John Grisham (1996) and Gary Fleder’s Runaway Jury (2003)
And I’ll admit, I have more! I just can’t think of them right now. I’ll be sure to blog them later, though!
So there you have it–some of my most unpopular bookish opinions! Be sure to comment down below with your own unpopular opinions. If you disagree with me on any of these points, I’d love to hear why! Let’s have a respectful discussion about it.