5. The Magicians by Lev Grossman. This is one where even I feel polarized. As in I still don’t know how I feel about it. While this is often advertised as the dark and gritty Harry Potter, to my utter delight, it turned out to be the dark and gritty Narnia. For most of the book, I was loving it. Tearing through it and just eating up all the references. Then the main character started being a selfish punk, and it kept getting worse, and I couldn’t understand why he was so blind to his own bad behavior. It resulted in some horrible decisions that made it feel like if you could step into the book and slap some sense into him, the whole thing would’ve been fine. I found that frustrating. As a result, I haven’t gone on to the second book. I side-eye it often and can’t decide if I want to endure it. Yet most of my experience with the first book was good. And I know I’m not the only one who has felt this way.
4. Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Classics are always going to see people in two different camps. Generally those camps are a) people who were forced to read it for school and b) people who read it on their own time and therefore enjoyed it way more. I’m in group b for this one. I chose it because I’d heard it was dark and strange, and a relative recommended it to me based on things I already like. So I loved it. I wasn’t on a time crunch to read it. There was no pressure. I didn’t have to sit in a discussion group and talk about how Simon represented Jesus and all that. I read it and enjoyed my time reading it. It’s one of my favorite classics for that reason, and it saddens me to see so much hate for it because people get forced to read this in junior high.
3. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. This book is not perfect. I’m fully aware it isn’t. For my part, I found it a bit rushed. It was clear that it was time to wrap things up, and it all moved a too quickly. But I think the main reason people rage about this book is it’s a downer. Not everything goes smoothly, and people die. It’s a very rough ride. But it’s also a dystopian world, and I expected much worse than what we received actually. I was content with this ending, and I was shocked to see how many people weren’t and still aren’t.
2. The Dark Tower by Stephen King. We’re talking the last book here. The very end to it all. Again, take a series with a lot of hype and then end it. Watch the masses in their various camps explode. At the time, I saw a lot more people who were simply dissatisfied and angry, and I didn’t understand it. These days I’m seeing a lot more readers like me, who felt it was the only way King could do it justice. He made the best possible choice when there were so many that could’ve backfired. I never expected the ending to be good. This is Stephen King we’re talking about. But it was hopeful, and that was enough for me.
1. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. You should’ve seen this coming. I only mention this book every chance I get. The polarizing affect here is most certainly due to content. It’s incredibly violent and sexual, and those two things merge as the book goes on. Patrick Bateman is the worst kind of person. His inner life, and the whole point of this book is to explore that, is a wasteland of hate for everyone that isn’t him. But those things don’t make the book unimportant or lacking in a message or poorly done. In fact, I’d argue it’s the opposite on all counts. It’s an illuminating work of transgressive fiction, even if it often brings out pure rage in its readers.
Thanks for reading, and as always, happy geeking!
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