Sunday, August 5, 2012
Discussion Post: On Expectations
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