When it comes to reading, I don’t always follow the crowd. Most of my TBR—the physical one and on Goodreads—contain books that are not so hyped up or well known on bookish social media. Initially, I made this list of books I enjoyed that were underrated or flew so low under the radar barely anyone knows about them. Only that proved to be a little too long….
The first three on this list were no-brainers, as they are well known polarizing books. The rest, I turned to Goodreads and went through all the books I marked as “read.” I arranged them by “average rating” and preceded through the list of books I enjoyed that, according to Goodreads at least, most others did not.
I don’t know why I feel like I have to do this, but I also don’t want to be blasted in the comments later. There may be spoilers in this post. So, read at your own risk.
Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Let’s just get this one out of the way: yes, I liked Allegiant.
I know why the overwhelming majority of people who have read it don’t like the finale of the Divergent trilogy. Most of the book is boring, leading to an ending that came out of nowhere (or so people think).
Truth be told, I went into Allegiant knowing the ending. While I agree with the consensus that it was overall boring, I appreciated the tragedy everyone else hated. Veronica Roth was, in my opinion, being realistic. In times of war, death happens. No one is immune to it. They honestly shouldn’t be, just because they are “main characters,” because that does not happen in real life.
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
My most recent read on this list, The Hazel Wood is a dark fantasy novel that came out in January and was hyped up for a lot of people. When it released, people either liked it or disliked it, with very little in-between. Those who claimed not to like it said their opinion lied within the main character, Alice, who is definitely unlikable. Others said it was the big reveal that it made no sense to them or they simply did not like it. Ironically, it is those two things that are rooted in my enjoyment of The Hazel Wood.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Another controversial book, I loved Me Before You for the same reasons other people had problems with it. While I understand it came off as ablest, I saw it for what I think the author was trying to say: the matter of choice. For someone like Will Traynor, a young man that lived one adventure after another, life as a quadriplegic was mentally and emotionally unbearable. Plus, he was more prone to getting sick and having to go to the hospital in his condition.
I watched my mother go through a similar situation. I know what poor quality of life that is. Louise did her best to convince Will life was worth living and she brought him happiness. But it did not change the fact that he was sick and there was no chance of recovery. Will had the opportunity to end his life on his own terms in a dignified way. That was his right.
Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
According to Goodreads, Wink Poppy Midnight has an average rating of 3.32 stars, low compared to my 4.5 stars. To be fair, it is not the kind of book for everyone. Much like The Hazel Wood, it is written like a dark fairy tale with three characters, one of them not very likable and another very quirky. There is an element of bullying in here that makes people uncomfortable, something I completely understand. The ending is not quite clean, either. However, I enjoyed Wink Poppy Midnight for the lyrical writing and the twisted fairy tale element.
City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson
The ratings for City of Saints and Thieves on Goodreads were not terrible. Only the average rating of 3.92 stars compared to my 5 stars says something. With the push for diversity in young adult literature, I’m surprised no one is talking much about City of Saints and Thieves. The novel is set in the Congo and follows a teenaged refugee seeking revenge for the murder of her mother. Problem is, I think, the author is a white non-refugee, so people didn’t take the representation seriously. But we cannot discredit Natalie C. Anderson’s work with refugees, where she got her inspiration for this novel. She used the book to educate young people on what is really going on in third-world countries. Something I totally support.