When Beloved Authors Let You Down

One of the most difficult times in a reader’s life is having to say that that an author (whose works they’ve previously adored and gushed over) has let them down. When what they once assumed to be “tried and true” – a guaranteed win – is no longer the case. This year has, surprisingly, been filled with such disappointments for me, especially with the three following books and once beloved authors.

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cover-armadaArmada by Ernest Cline
Published by Crown Publishing on July 14, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Aliens, Gaming, Adventure, Action
Source: Finished Copy from Publisher
Goodreads
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I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.

No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it. It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?

A definite sophomore slump. This book had so much potential, but too many of the pages were focused on exposition/introductions and the lead up to an epic battle that was anything but “epic”. The writing was fine, the main character was okay to tag along with, but I felt nothing because of the pacing and the actual lack of depth to any of the characters. The parts that could have ramped up the emotional connection were sped through too quickly, overshadowed by the “and then I went here, pop culture reference, and then we did this, pop culture reference, and then we did that, pop culture reference, etc…”

Want a better introduction into the geek-tastic mind of Ernest Cline? Read Ready Player One instead.

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Panic_HC_JKT_des4.inddPanic by Lauren Oliver
Published by Harper Teen on March 4, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Adventure, Mystery
Source: Audiobook from Library
Goodreads
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Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

With a title like that, one wouldn’t expect the story to be so… dull. But sadly, as I listened to Panic, I found myself becoming bored with the story and the characters and the game and the audio book reader. I found it all to be so predictable and lackluster and… dull.

I appreciated the message of overcoming fears and rising above. I did not connect with the the characters, though. And my inner-mom came out when I found myself wondering how the kids got away with such crazy stunts, year after year after year… I couldn’t suspend disbelief long enough to get into the tasks. I also couldn’t grasp some of the character’s motivations and the ultimate turns of events. So much that happened was not likely, AT ALL. Plus, I became tired after all the back and forth between character point-of views and flips between the present events and past events. Not like much was happening at any given time. The tasks themselves seemed to fly by, whereas inner monologues went on foooreveeeer…

And honestly? I prefer when Lauren’s stories *don’t* have a happily ever after. This story is wrapped up tight with a pretty pink bow at the end. It’s almost sickeningly sweet in all it’s fluffy bunny happiness.

All in all, Panic is okay, but so very, very dull.

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cover-hunterHunter by Mercedes Lackey
Published by Disney-Hyperion on September 1, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Dystopia, Adventure, Action
Source: ARC from Publisher
Goodreads
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I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Centuries ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were slashed open allowing hideous fantastical monsters to wreak havoc; destroying entire cities in their wake. Now, people must live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the evil creatures constantly trying to break in. Only the corps of teen Hunters with lightning reflexes and magical abilities can protect the populace from the daily attacks.

Joyeaux Charmand is a mountain girl from a close knit village who comes to the big city to join the Hunters. Joy thinks she is only there to perform her civic duty and protect the capitol Cits, or civilians, but as cameras follow her every move, she soon learns that the more successful she is in her hunts, the more famous she becomes.

With millions of fans watching her on reality TV, Joy begins to realize that Apex is not all it seems. She is forced to question everything she grew up believing about the legendary Hunters and the very world she lives in. Soon she finds that her fame may be part of a deep conspiracy that threatens to upend the protective structure built to keep dark magic out. The monsters are getting in and it is up to Joy to find out why.

DNF a quarter of the way through. I am disappointed in this one. The (extensive) world-building in the beginning is prolonged and barely even interesting. It’s as though Mercedes wanted to throw in everything that’s been done before, including the kitchen sink, and call it YA. Even with all the info provided, the world makes little-to-no sense. The mix of future America with fantasy creatures and magic sounds like fun, but in this case… it’s everything but. Plus, the main character has zero personality. Maybe that’s because all she has done in what I’ve read is (literally) talk to us, the readers, about her world and the people, memories and mundane details. And what’s worse is that she repeatedly uses the word “you” to address us (again, the readers). In a supposedly highly dangerous post-apocalyptic fantasy book it’s just… Weird. Weird that she even has the time to dedicate reminiscing with us, the invisible entity. Weird that the author doesn’t realize how much we could have seen for ourselves as readers, seeing as Hunter is faaaar from her first novel.

So, zero interesting story or characters and less than stellar writing… This one is definitely not for me.

animated-gif-thumb-down-gladiatorheader-leave-a-comment-02Have you read any of the above titles? What were your thoughts?
Also, which authors have disappointed you with their later releases?

21 comments

  1. Chantal says:

    I loved the Fallen series soo much but when I read her new series Teardrop it was so boring the concept was great but it was portrayed terrible.

    • Jenna says:

      Lauren Kate is an author who grew on me – her final book in the Fallen series was STELLAR, but the books before that were just “okay”. Then she let me down again with Teardrop. I understand I won’t always like everything an author writes, but that definitely does not make it any less of a let down. I feel you on this one.

  2. Lyn Kaye says:

    Hunter…..that was so painful. I kept forcing myself to read it, because I though “THIS HAS GOT TO GET BETTER.” I stopped at 20%, when the mind reader places his hands on his head to send a telepathic thought.

    I was done.

    • Jenna says:

      Oh my goodness, it wasn’t long after that when I quit, too! I was done, just DONE. How convenient, yes? And contrived. And just *tell* us that how it happened, just like you’ve told us just about everything else in this world and the story… Like we’ll just accept it all and smile and nod and actually ENJOY the story…

      DONE.

  3. Wendy @ Book Scents says:

    Ohhh yikes. :/ I’m really sad to hear that about Armada! I loooved ready player one! And oh no about hunter! I haven’t read mercedes lackey in a long while but I remember loving some of her early stuff! major sad face.

    • Jenna says:

      Ready Player One was PERFECT. I swear, it’s as though Mr. Cline wrote Armada while playing video games and eating cheesy poofs in his basement when he was eleven… Too harsh? That’s how I feel, though.

      I also remember Mercedes Lackey being much, MUCH better than this amateur attempt at YA.

  4. KJ says:

    I know that feeling all too well. Although I haven’t read any of the ones your refering to I was really disapointed with Evertrue by Brodi Ashton. She nailed the first two books and then it felt like she just wanted to get the last one finished. I felt similar with Lauren Oliver’s Fallen series.

    • Jenna says:

      I still have not read Evertrue. It’s everything that I’m hearing about it that is holding me back. One of these days I know I will read it – it’s sitting on my shelf – but until then I have too many other books to read first.

      I was the odd ball who actually like Requiem by Lauren Oliver… Call me crazy. Haha!

  5. Jen @ The Bookavid says:

    Did you mean: The worst thing that can happen, ever? It’s funny how I keep mentioning the same people over and over again when people ask me for my favorite authors, but in reality I’ve been mostly let down by their latest books. :/

    I absolutely loved Ready Player One and am really excited for Armada, but it’s kind of obvious that this wouldn’t live up to his debut. Typical “shitty second book syndrome”. Not even a fan of the concept, I would have loved for Cline to tackle a new subject or something. I hope he doesn’t keep writing about 80s video games forever.

    – Jen @ The Bookavid

    • Jenna says:

      Yeah… This is more about *all* science fiction/spacey/video game/movie pop culture, more-so than just about 80s video games, BUT… the (rehashed) plot does get boggled down by all the references. Unlike Ready Player One, which was lifted up by them. I hope you have more luck with the book than I did. I may still give the audio book a chance because Wil Wheaton, but I’m undecided.

  6. Emmah says:

    I haven’t read any of those books, but the author that has let me down is Sarah Ockler. I loved her first 4 books, but “#Scandal” was AWFUL. I’m so cautious with her now.

    • Jenna says:

      I have not read any off her books yet. But it does seem as though a lot of people like her newest Summer of Mermaids (or whatever the title is). I have heard a lot of negative things about #Scandal, though. Why do authors’ works have to be so hit or miss???

  7. Carina Olsen says:

    Goorgeous reviews Jenna. <3 Thank you for sharing about these books 🙂 And oh my gosh, yess. I hate when beloved authors let me down 🙁 It happens often, sadly. And aw, I'm so sorry that you had to DNF Hunter :\ The cover is so pretty. Hmph. I'm not trying it, hih 🙂 3 stars for Panic is still pretty good, though 🙂 But I DNFed it after less than 100 pages.. I think. I didn't write a DNF review of it back then, sniffs :\ But yeah. It was boring. And awful. And just so bad, lol 🙂

  8. SW says:

    Of the books reviewed here I have only read Panic, which I did manage to get through after much effort. It was quite a let down after reading the Delirium books right beforehand. Hunter was on my list of books to read but I think I my just skip it afterall. To this day though, I think the biggest let down was Allegiant by Veronica Roth. I don’t think I am ever going to get over how terrible that book was for me. I just loved the first two books and to have it end with that was just awful.

  9. Larissa says:

    I can relate to this, one that comes to mind in a big way is Harper Lee. To Kill a Mockingbird was my favorite book for a while, but after i heard what happens I can’t even bring myself to read Go Set a Watchman. Worse than being old Santa isn’t real, I’m telling you.

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