Sunday, August 5, 2012

Discussion Post: On Expectations

I got a little scared about picture rights and uses after reading some stuff this week so I decided to feature a picture that has nothing to do with the topic but a. makes me happy and b. is completely legal for me to use; neither the photographer nor the subject will have anything to say to me about it. This is my cat Aragorn who has lately taken to showing us his stomach, which we all take as an invitation to pet him because petting a cat's stomach is one of the best things ever.

On to the discussion topic, the first of three I have planned for the month!

Lately I have been thinking about how my expectations affect my enjoyment of a book and subsequent review. I think I will usually end up rating a book lower if I was expecting something different from what I feel I ended up getting. There are two main experiences I had recently that influenced this blogpost.

First was seeing a review from Jen Ryland about Auracle, a book I had never heard of. Based on the blurb, she "was expecting paranormal suspense" while the book "was more of a dramedy." As she points out, that's not exactly a bad thing but misleading publisher descriptions are one of the most frustrating instances. If I pick up a book looking for light comedy and end up getting something melodramatic that is trying to pluck my heartstrings, I will be upset. I think this is especially important for those of us who are mood readers. I like surprises as much as the next person but if I'm picking up a book whose cover and blurb suggest one genre, I will be upset to discover it is more like another and that is likely to be reflected in my review.

The second instance was in my experience of reading Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. After loving Graceling and Fire, I thought Bitterblue would be a slam-dunk read. My review is still to come but it was not to my taste. The expectations set by the previous books of Cashore were not met for me and this book probably received a lower rating than it would have had my expectations not been so high, based on my previous experiences with the author.

One last way I've thought about expectations is how other bloggers influence me. Sometimes bloggers like Jen give us a heads-up on how the publisher blurb is a bit misleading. But sometimes blogger recs lead us astray. Have you ever picked up a book after seeing it get rave reviews from some bloggers, only to end up thinking, "Did we read the same book? Why was this praised? She thought this writing was good?!" This seems to happen to me especially when I see bloggers gush over the latest YA paranormal romance with a drop-dead gorgeous dress on the cover only to find the heroine insipid and the love triangle frustrating.

These are all examples where I would probably end up writing a more negative review than if I had moderated my expectations. What about you? Do those misaligned expectations negatively impact your reading experience and review or are you able to separate the merits of the book from what you expected? What other situations with expectations and the reading experience have you encountered? And please note, I was somewhat focusing on the negative because I have had many times where books exceeded my expectations and led to great times.

Up next week: intertextuality in reviews


  1. This is such a good topic and thanks for mentioning me!

    I do get frustrated when the marketing copy and/or the cover don't fit the book.

    When this happens, I try to shift gears and be fair in my review, but I can't help feeling that I would have liked the book more if I went in with the right expectations. I love the term "mood reader." I can't say that I'm exactly a mood reader, but I am a mood eater, so I get the idea :) If I want salty, don't give me sweet!

    I recently read a great book, then went on Goodreads and saw a bunch of negative reviews. It seems that based on the comp titles, a lot of readers had gone into the book expecting action and fight scenes when the book was really more of a fantasy/romance.

    Love the idea of the discussion posts and look forward to the next one!

  2. Cute Picture!
    It isn't too often that I'm misled by jacket blurbs, but it is frustrating when it happens. Usually though, if the book is good I can enjoy it for what it is. I usually forget the book blurb before I get very far into a book anyway. My bigger problem is enjoying a book that has been too overhyped. When a book has been talked up too much beforehand it almost never lives up to my expectations. Generally it's better if I don't read it until the buzz has died down.

  3. I totally know where you are coming from on this. On blogger recommendations? It's taken me some time, but I've found a good group of reviewers I trust and it has gotten to the point where most of their recommendations work really well for me. I'm not sure how long you have been blogging, but it has taken me over a year to compile this list.

    I do think there are a lot of bloggers out there that will rate every paranormal romance 4-5 stars when obviously most of them are pretty mediocre. Some reviewers are afraid to be critical. It's really just a matter of what an individual chooses to do with their blog. I've unfollowed a lot of those blogs. But there are bloggers all over the spectrum. You just have to find the ones that work for you.

    And now I've rambled and I will go away. ;)

  4. I like blogger recomendations, but the book has to sound good to me in general. I tend to not buy a book that I wasn't sure about but everyon else is loving...but if a book sounds good, I might get it quicker with more rave reviews (like This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers which I recently bought). I understand about high expectations though...I try not to psych myself up when it comes to bigger books though so it doesn't dissapoint me too much if I'm not a fan in the end.

    Good topic,


  5. I am totally loving your discussion posts! You come up with really great topics and explain your feelings on them very well.

    I hate it when a blurb misleads me. It almost always results in my disliking the book more than I would have otherwise. My fiance avoids this by never reading blurbs, but I like knowing what I'm getting into. I like feeling grounded and knowing, to a point, what to expect.

    I do like finding bloggers whose tastes line up with my own (or are opposite enough that I know to avoid what they like and try what they dislike!) Sometimes I get wrapped up in the hype of a book I wouldn't like, but I'm getting a lot better at separating myself from the hype, looking at the actual features of the book and deciding if those features are for me. It doesn't matter how much someone adores the love triangle, because I probably won't. But, if a blogger I tend to agree with says they're not really bothered by that particular love triangle, then I feel like I can approach with cautious hopefulness.


Thank you for commenting-I love to read your thoughts! Feel free to leave a link to your latest post so I can stop by!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...