The Grinch Booktag
Updated: Oct 27, 2019
As some of you may already know; I’m not the biggest Christmas-fan out there. For this reason, what better Christmas-post to write than the Grinch-booktag. The original tag was created by Sam from Thoughts On Tomes, a booktuber I personally love to follow and admire a great deal. I have altered some of the questions slightly, to fit my taste a bit more, but the original tag will be linked below as well.
1. Half the lights in the Christmastree are burned out: a series that started out good, but went downhill. The most egregious example in my own mind of this happening was a german series I read years ago called Das Tal by Krystyna Kuhn. It was a YA-thriller/mystery series that started out so suspenseful: it had a great setting, interesting and mysterious characters and a plot that really had me left with so many questions I needed answers for. The second and third book (to a lesser extend) continued this trend and my anticipation for the sequels to come out was actually rising each time. Until halfway through book 3/in book 4 I realized something: all these new mysteries and questions were being brought up, but none of them were getting answered… this only got worse until the “ending” which was one of the worst I’ve ever come across. Looking back on this series, it rests in my mind of a perfect example of “discovery-writing-gone-wrong”: an author who had a great premise in mind, started writing but had no idea how to end her story. Biggest disappointment of my teenage reading-years.
A second and more well-known example would be Sylvain Neuvels Themis Files. I loved book one, liked book 2, and found book 3 to be quite “meh”. With so much set-up, the pay-off and conclusion could do little else than disappoint.
2. Annoying aunt Sally won’t leave you alone: a book you didn’t enjoy, but everybody else does, so it never seems to go away. This one isn’t going to be a surprise to anyone who knows me: anything by Sarah J Maas. I’ve read three books by her and hated all three with a passion. I realize she has written two of the most highly rated and most beloved series out there, but I guess her work is just really not for me.
3. Your pets keep knocking over the Christmas decorations: a character that keeps messing up everything for everybody else. Side note: I secretly love watching pets destroy the Christmas decorations… Videos of cats climbing Christmas trees or knocking all the decorations off the shelves are my guilty pleasure this time of year, and my dog actually used to own a chew-toy shaped like Santa... For that reason I wanted to think of a character that messes stuff up, but doesn’t do so in a way that ruins the book for me, which was quite a challenge. I ultimately settled on Akiva from Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Half of the relationship problems in this book could be solved by Karou and Akiva simply talking to eachother, and Akiva’s refusal to do so just messes stuff up for everybody involved. Although this can be an annoyance that ruins a book for me, the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series has so much else going for it that I still loved it. The other plotlines, the worldbuilding, the great characters of Karou, Suzanna and Mick, and Laini Taylors magical writing style make it worth putting up with Akiva’s pigheadedness.
4. You hear your parents putting out the Christmas-gifts and learn that Santa isn’t real: a book you were spoiled for. Spoilerwarning for: the Harry Potter series (including Fantastic Beasts) and Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.
I’m usually pretty good at avoiding spoilers, but there seems to be a trend where I’m spoiled for every major plotline involving Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series. I was spoiled for most of what gets revealed in book 5, I was definitely spoiled (in detail!) for his death and most recently I was spoiled for the ending of Fantastic Beasts- The Crimes of Grindlewald, regarding the retcon about Dumbledores family. Not sure why, but I’m pretty sure there is a hex on me and this character…
Another case where I was spoiled, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book to much was Never Let Me Go, where dumb me accidentally saw the movie before realizing it was based on a book. The power of the book is in not knowing it’s set in a dystopian world when you go into it, and I definitely was aware of that from page one. It didn’t stop me from enjoying it even more than the movie, though. It possibly even intensified my experience with it, picking up on all the little crumbs of evidence the author leaves for the reader along the way. Proof of the fact that a book can still become a new favorite, even if you’re spoiled for it.
5. Cold Cold Christmas: a character you should care for, but you just don’t. Both main characters in The Fault in Our Stars… Yes, I’ve said it: I couldn’t care less about them. The Fault in Our Stars is one of my most hated books of all time, for very specific reasons. I’ve been planning on writing an indepth review of it for ages, but just haven’t gotten to it to this day. Once I do, you’ll be the first to see it here, but until then: I don’t care for any of the characters, nor what happens in the end. I wish I could say I was sorry, but in true Grinch-fashion, in this case I’m just not.
6. That scratchy, homemade sweaters: a book you own but aren’t motivated to read. I’m happy to say I don’t have an answer for this. I’m a student on a budget, living in a space with limited shelf-space, so I’m quite good at deciding what books I really want to buy and which ones I don’t. I’d love to have my own extensive personal home-library, but I think there is an argument to be made for quality over quantity. I make an effort to keep my shelves so that they bring me happiness to look at and I love/am excited for every single book on them. If I own a book that I didn’t end up liking, I’ll be sure to regift it to someone who will enjoy it, or sell it to a secondhand bookstore. I’m also lucky enough to have a great library nearby, which helps bring down the number of books I need to buy.
7. Grandma got run over by a reindeer: a character death you are still not over. I’ll try to keep this part spoilerfree, so in very vague terms: the one that happens at the end of The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. Even though I sort of saw it coming long ahead, I was in complete denial over the course of the entire book. I freaking loved that character, and I’m still not over it. Also: any dog-death in any book or movie ever. I don’t care who you are, what you’ve written, but if you kill of the dog we are done. It’s pretty much my one weakness when it comes to books. I realize it’s probably petty, but my heart simply can’t handle doggy-deaths.
8. The malls are overly crowded with holiday shoppers: a series that has too many books in it and should have ended sooner. I recently talked about this in my post-mortem of The Language of Thorns: I don’t like it when a series goes on to receive spin-off after spin-off, especially short-story collections or novellas that add nothing to the main story or world. In some cases, like Cassandra Clares Shadowhunter series or James Dashners Maze Runner series, I don’t particularly mind, because I don’t care too much for the main series either. In other cases, where I love the main series, I do resent the authors/publishers for using them as cash-cows. Language of Thorns was an example of such: I like the Grisha verse and love the Six of Crows, and I don’t think these series have too many books in them at all. I just don’t think it needed a shortstory collection, for any other reason than to make the publishers more money. The same goes, unfortunately, for J.K. Rowlings Wizarding world: the original 7 books were great. I didn’t need Tales of Beedle the Bard etc., and to me, it takes away from the magic of the world, rather than adding to it.
9. The Grinch: a main character you hate. Some of these I’ve mentioned before, so I’ll go over them quickly: Most obvious offenders: Hazel and Augustus from The Fault in Our Stars, Celaena Sardothien from Throne of Glass and Scarlett from Caraval (girl needs to stop whining and use her brain). I don’t have too many from books I’ve read this year, but if I had to pick one I’d say Safi from Truthwitch. I realize she was supposed to be sassy and brave, but she came across as selfish, impulsive and stupid and just got on my nerves all the time. More generally: I seem to have a low tolerance for YA-heroines that constantly feel the need to show their strength by being acting brash and putting others down. My bookish-Christmas wish would be for YA-authors to give us more diversity in strength among our characters, both mentally as well as physically. We’ve made some strides in the right direction but for sure have a long way to go.
That concludes me being an online-Grinch for the year: I shall now continue my antics and spread the Christmasblues among my family and friends. I’m only kidding guys (or am I…?)
I you’re celebrating the Holidays, I wish you a very merry Christmas/belated Chanukah/mid-winter Solstice/whatever you’re celebrating, and I hope you have great time with family and loved ones and ( receive some nice bookish gifts…) If you aren’t celebrating for whatever reason, a happy Tuesday regardless! I hope to see you back later this week for my End of the Year lists…