Discussions

Are these Popular Books worth the hype? // Ft. A Special Guest

Hi all!

Welcome back to my blog! Today, We will be talking about if these popular books are worth the hype! You may have seen it in the title, but we have a special guest on the blog today. I’ll be discussing some of these books with one of my favorite bloggers, Saima @ Stories With Saima!

Check out her post here!

Without further ado, Let’s get started!

Synopsis:

#A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

Thoughts:

Out of all the books listed on this post, We Were Liars has to be the most talked-about book I have seen. On all social media platforms, I have seen people either love this book or hate it. I was on the side of hating it. The premise seems interesting but it was an underwhelming story and had many flaws that I couldn’t just overlook. This story takes a different approach by using the writing style as a way to convey how the main character’s mind is broken. While this may have been seen as “introspective,” instead it ended up messing with a consistent pace.

There wasn’t really a plot. There was a subplot where Cassie, the main character, was trying to figure out what happened during the summer while she was 16. But even when this was happening Cassie wasn’t even trying that much and would give up when someone wouldn’t tell her. Most of the characters in this book had no personality, rather their own traits were being “rich” and “pretentious.” I even forgot the main character’s name. The only people who had remotely any personalities were the mothers and provided the only source of entertainment. 

Synopsis:

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding… six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

Saima’s thoughts:

A recent release, published in 2021, this book has already garnered so many fans and has been everywhere on bookish social media – from Twitter to TikTok to the blogosphere.

I know I’m one of the very few who read and disliked the book, so I’m aware I’m quite alone in these opinions. While the romance was fine, and I do understand why some people would enjoy it, I personally don’t think it stood out against other romance novels I’ve read. 

Truthfully, I hated that it was a romance between a student and a professor, even if they are both adults, solely because of the jokes made about Title IX which is a real and important thing that protects students and staff alike at educational institutions. I wish that there had been a better way around that, instead of poking fun of the obvious power imbalance. Overall, it’s a popular novel that I don’t understand the hype for.

Synopsis:

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

My Thoughts:

If you haven’t read this book yet, you’re truly missing out! One of the things that convinced me to pick this one up was the synopsis. The whole concept of it being a Romeo and Juliet story set in the 1920s with a Madness spreading around Shanghai sounded super intriguing and unlike anything I’ve read.


I was so invested in Juliette and Roma’s story. The romance was crafted so beautifully, and even though it is a Romeo and Juliette retelling, Gong added new elements to make the story fresh and innovative. The side characters were also so well developed that they could serve as the main characters if they wanted to. The historical setting added an interesting dynamic as it added more tension to the story as many sides grapple for power in Shanghai, which was a great commentary on Western colonization. Throw in the Madness, which was so creative like I would never think of that in a million years, adds even more suspense to the story.

Honestly, I could rave about this book for days as well as the sequel. Then, when I heard a spinoff about one of the other side characters, I almost fainted. Anyways, if you haven’t picked this one up, I suggest you do it sometime soon!

Saima’s Thoughts:

 I’m sure everyone has seen this book somewhere on social media – and it truly deserves all the hype and praise it’s been given. A Romeo and Juliet reimagining set in 1920s Shanghai sounds strange at first, especially with a supernatural twist added in, but Gong was able to create a thrilling retelling that immediately had me hooked.

With lyrical writing and compelling characters, this Romeo and Juliet retelling stands out from the rest. I loved all the characters and their dynamics, and how it delved into the blood feud between the families to really drive home the fact that Roma and Juliette are star-crossed lovers. The historical backdrop added so much depth to the story, and the monster that was plaguing the city was such a unique plotpoint that resulted in such a fantastic debut novel.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

Saima’s Thoughts:

This is a novel that I, along with many other fans of Schwab’s novels, was incredibly excited for. There was a buzz about it on Twitter, and I still see it a lot there and on Instagram and TikTok too.

As expected, Schwab’s writing was wonderful and imaginative. I enjoyed reading about Addie and her long life and the hardships she faced. I really felt for her loneliness, but Addie herself was not a character who I particularly connected with. I was far more interested in the other two characters, Henry and Luc, than her specifically. They added the depth and brevity to the novel that I wanted, which is quite a shame because I would have preferred if our protagonist was interesting in the absence of love interests too. However, I still think it was a great read and such an interesting plot overall.

My thoughts:

From what I’ve seen, you either love this book or hate it. I was on the side of loving this book. The writing in this book is executed so beautifully. It is more poetic and conveys so many emotions in every single word. I could see that Schwab has so much effort and energy to make it the best it could be.

I loved all the characters in this book. Addie was so passionate about her beliefs and kept trying to get what she wanted no matter what. Henry was also a great character to follow. He gets his section, and we get more to his character. We expect the book to be all about Addie, but it was a great surprise. The pacing of this story was not consistent at all. In the beginning, it is slow-paced and drags just a tiny bit. It starts to pick up but then gets slow again. A consistent pace would have been nice, but I enjoyed it!

A big thanks to Saima for joining me today on Inking & Thinking! I had such an enjoyable time working with you and I hope we can do this again in the future!

16 thoughts on “Are these Popular Books worth the hype? // Ft. A Special Guest

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