Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a topic and encourage fellow bloggers to list their own top ten answers. This week’s prompt asks us to list books that, implicitly or explicitly, were deceiving. Some of the suggestions given are books whose covers or titles don’t fit the content, books that were radically different than its summary suggested, or fluffy-seeming books that turned out to be dramatic. I chose to interpret this as both positive and negative deceptions.
1. Soulless, by Gail Carriger
In my review of this novel, first in the Parasol Protectorate series, I specifically talked about how the book’s summary and genre labeling are quite misleading. I’m sure it’s a great paranormal romance, but I was promised a mystery/fantasy/horror book, damn it!
2. Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
The third book in the Hunger Games trilogy takes on much more complex and confusing themes than even the previous two. I think readers who were expecting exciting romps through the Arena, with clearly delineated “good guys” and “bad guys,” were probably disappointed by Mockingjay. However, issues like the nuanced treatment of Katniss’s PTSD, the politics of creating an icon, and the betrayal of the public by their politicians made this, for me, a pleasant surprise.
3. Chicano, by Richard Vasquez
It had a ton of good reviews on GoodReads, was a bestseller during the 1970s, and was purportedly an unromanticized look at the lives of Mexican-Americans. But I hated Chicano. I didn’t find it a realistic or sympathetic portrayal of Mexican-Americans at all; instead, it played up many of the worst stereotypes and seems to indicate that Mexican-Americans will always be “the other” and will never truly be successful in the U.S.
4. Insatiable: Tales From a Life of Delicious Excess, by Gael Greene
Way too much about Gael’s flings with Elvis, etc. and not enough about cuisine other than French.
5. Circle of Friends, by Maeve Binchy
For a book that had been described to me as chick lit, Circle of Friends is incredibly powerful and mediates on the nature of friendships and the indelible marks that class makes on us. (Also, the movie looks pretty fluffy, and this is angst-central!)
6. The Emperor’s Children, by Claire Messud
According to GoodReads, this is “a dazzling, masterful novel about the intersections in the lives of three friends, now on the cusp of their thirties, making their way—and not—in New York City,” which is very true. However, it also packs a huge surprise punch at the end that many, including myself, did not see coming.
7. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
I was lucky enough to buy the book with a different cover than the truly hideous one showed here. Because if I had seen that one first, I probably wouldn’t have purchased it, expecting it to be a thinly-veiled rip-off of Starship Troopers, instead of the excellent allegory of the Vietnam War that it actually is. Really, that cover does a huge disservice to a wonderfully complex book!
8. Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez, by Richard Rodriguez
So I was one of a handful of students with Latino heritage at my high school, and I think because of that fact, my 9th grade English teacher recommended this book to me. At first, I was interested in learning about Rodriguez’s experiences as a cultural/ethnic outsider in the California school system, but it quickly becomes his own anti-affirmative action, anti-bilingual education screed. Being that I was pretty liberal, even as a 15-year old, this was definitely not the book for me!
9. A Million Little Pieces, by James Frey
Self-explanatory! Regardless of your feelings about the bounds of creative non-fiction, Frey definitely did misrepresent certain aspects of his story.
10. Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
If you’ve read this, you know that the ideas of deception and how we perceive reality are central to the plot.