Don’t Believe the Hype

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Have you ever heard everyone rave about a particular book but when you read it, you don’t understand what all the fuss is about? Here are a few popular books that I expected to love but ended up hating. Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS ahead!

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

I don’t think words can adequately convey how much I loathe this book. I had high expectations for Love in the Time of Cholera because over the years I had heard that this was one of the greatest love stories of all time. It even factored heavily into Serendipity, a great movie by the way, which borrowed themes from the book. However, when I finally read the book, I didn’t think it was romantic at all. Florentino Ariza falls in love at first sight with 14-year-old Fermina and basically begins stalking her Fatal Attraction style. When she marries a respectable doctor, Ariza turns into a total man-whore, sleeping with over 600 women, and never forming a lasting relationship because he still loves Fermina. This is supposed to be romantic? And the thing that really bugs me is that he blames Fermina for his self-destructive behavior. Fifty years later, at her husband’s funeral, he declares his love for her and later claims to be a “virgin.” I’m sure in his warped mind he’s a virgin because he never loved anyone else, but give me a break. Oh yeah, I should also mention that he’s a pedophile (at the ripe old age of 70 he becomes the guardian of a young schoolgirl and commits statutory rape – she later kills herself). I’m not making this stuff up. I guess the book is supposed to be about lovesickness, which is an affliction similar to cholera, but the whole thing just made me sick.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

This is another so-called love story that I’m just not crazy about. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of the Brontë sisters – Jane Eyre is my all time favorite book – but I was barely able to finish Wuthering Heights. The main characters are awful, hideous people and I just didn’t care about any of them. I expected Heathcliff to be a dark and broody hero a la Mr. Rochester, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. He’s a psycho, vindictive child abuser with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I know many people find Heathcliff and Catherine’s love/hate relationship to be full of passion, but I just didn’t feel it. They were two miserable, selfish people whose love (or obsession, if you ask me) destroyed many lives. Maybe I’m so turned off by this book because I was expecting it to be about love and instead it’s about the dark side of human nature. Whatever the reason, I’d like to just forget all about Heathcliff and Catherine and the havoc they wreaked.

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

I really liked the first three books in the Twilight series, but the fourth book… not so much. I know a lot of people like Breaking Dawn and I get that. When you read a series like Twilight, you can become emotionally involved in the story and attached to certain characters, and you develop your own idea of where you want the series to go. Sometimes it goes your way (for example, I thought J. K. Rowling ended the Harry Potter books flawlessly) and sometimes it doesn’t. I had my own hopes for how the series would end, but Stephenie Meyer clearly had something entirely different in mind. I won’t even get into my feelings about the name Renesmee and the idea of Jacob imprinting on a baby. Sigh. I’m just going to pretend the series ended after Eclipse and imagine that Bella and Edward went off to college together, and Bella gained a little more life experience before rushing into marriage/motherhood/eternal life as a vampire.

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  • David

    Great idea for an article Kristen.
    Love in the time of Cholera sounds positively awful. I actually had considered reading that but may give it a miss now.

    For me the all time classic ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, I lost interest after a few chapters and never read on. I will admit I was a much younger and not so much into reading at the time and I will be giving it another chance…at some point.

    Also, what about books you thought you would hate and loved, The Time Travelers’ wife, is one of the top of my head.

    I shall think more and try and remember the forgettable ones and report back!

  • Kristen

    David – I love your idea of flipping it around to books you thought you would hate but loved. I need to think about that one for a while…

  • Amie

    i loved to kill a mockingbird!