I’ve been reading this book that qualifies as “popular”, probably the most popular among its author’s works. Readers raved about it in their reviews, and it had a high rating on Goodreads, so I thought I’d give it a shot. It can’t be that bad, can it? Boy was I proven wrong.
After my less-than-pleasant escapades with a number of bestsellers that lured me with their pretty covers and abundance of good reviews, you would have thought I’d learn my lesson, but nope. I walked in headfirst, expecting to read something that will blow me away. That was nearly two months ago. I still can’t bring myself to finish this book because reading it feels like a slow and painful death.
Are you perhaps curious about the book? I know I would be too if I had read a similar rant. My answer will probably surprise a few readers (maybe turn away a few followers out of indignation), but the book in question is American Gods by Neil Gaiman. *ducks to avoid any possible wayward tomatoes*
I recognize that Gaiman is loved by many, and that American Gods is critically acclaimed and all that jazz, but no matter how much I try, I cannot bring myself to get over the fact that I hate this book with the passion of a thousand fires. I don’t care about any of the characters, I don’t like how everything is all over the place, the epic long chapters bring tears to my eyes and the events barely capture my attention. Eventually I started to skim. You could skip whole paragraphs in the book and still understand what’s going on, not that I care.
Does that make me weird? Does it mean something’s wrong with me? No, I don’t think so. Popular books are still books, and as with all books, some will like them and others won’t. The fact that the majority likes American Gods doesn’t mean there won’t be some who absolutely dislike it. There are people who hate Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Twilight, The Hunger Games… books considered extremely popular by today’s standards, but disliking them doesn’t make the people any less literate.
Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. Some fans get pretty defensive and may even go after these haters. That’s unfair. I doubt they’d like it if someone came after them for hating a certain book. You like what you like, and it’s likely that nothing will change your mind. Maybe as a writer I shouldn’t be so vocal about my opinion of other books, but I was a reader before I became a writer, and that gives me the right to express my displeasure.
I’m not going to give up on Gaiman yet. I’ve heard good things about him, and I loved the movie Coraline that was based on his book, so I’m pretty sure I’ll end up finding something to like. In the meantime, however, I’ll persevere. I can’t stop reading a book no matter how much I hate it. I’m just lucky I’m not reading it alone because… well, misery loves company.
Have you read American Gods? Do you like it? Hate it? What other popular books have you read and disliked?