Overrated and Underrated Books

Nate Siegman

Books, the foundation of most pop culture currently, have varying levels of popularity ranging from completely overrated to unjustly underrated. Most people who discuss this talk more about underrated books and skip the part of discussion about overrated books. I think every overrated book has an underrated book, and vice versa, that has a similar enough plot to be comparable.

To start off, The Hunger Games is a series many people have read and enjoyed, but I think it is overrated due to the fact that the drama feels void of any emotion. The romance feels weak, and the ending is somewhat difficult to understand.

The drama of the story is generally about the titular Hunger Games, an event that makes teens fight to the death. Some of the death scenes feel empty and meaningless and some feel so overdramatized that it’s a wonder that the main character was not killed during these multi-paged scenes. I understand that no teen is prepared to witness death, but it’s survival of the fittest. Pausing for deaths isn’t going to go as smoothly in real life as it did in the novels.

The romance and love triangle felt weak at best. I also felt like it was trying to rip off some kind of a Twilight love triangle, to get fans to pick sides. It follows every trope of a love triangle with the “friend since childhood” romantic lead and the “barely know them until the novel” romantic lead, weakening it even more.

The ending is a bit of a mess. I felt like it could have been wrapped up without the extra drama added on. Without spoiling it, all that can be said is that the ending, if not the entire last book, felt quite a bit weaker than it’s two predecessors.

On the flip side, Quarantine is an underrated series depicting a similar life and death reality based around teens. Quarantine follows two brothers who try to survive in their high school after they became infected with a virus that kills anyone who is pre-pubescent or post-pubescent, as well as their school being hit with a missile that the government had used in hope to use to contain the virus. It then goes through the happenings when teens are left on their own with no rules or laws.

This story deals with disability, government inability, sociopathy, and large amounts of gang warfare and rebellions. This series places the reader into a dark, gritty reality where murder is commonplace and nobody is ever safe. This series is definitely not for children as there is immense violence and semi-harsh language. Overall, this book is a must-read if someone enjoys post-apocalyptic stories on a smaller scale, and wants to dive deep into what could happen when teens are completely abandoned by the world.

In retrospect, Percy Jackson and the Olympians isn’t as objectively flawed as the other overrated books that are mentioned here, but it does have some weaknesses that people tend to gloss over, primarily world building and pacing.

When it comes to pacing, it feels like some incidents are only there to lengthen the story and hint at things, but by the time those twists are revealed, the reader has already forgotten the hints of it, leaving the twist to be underwhelming and not as powerful as once intended.

World building feels weak because if the gods of Egypt, China, Rome, and Asgard already exist, why is none of that information known until a follow up series connected some of them? Magnus Chase crosses over, meaning it connects to other writings by the same author, but The Kane Chronicles used a graphic novel to cross over. But then, in the main storylines, none of those stories are ever truly mentioned again. These flaws aren’t super noticeable, which is why the series is still amazing in itself. This series has gotten really popular, but that works into the favor of Rick Riordan’s other writings, as they get a little more attention.

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard is also written by Rick Riordan, but is severely underrated compared to Percy Jackson and the Olympians. This series follows Magnus Chase, an einherji, a warrior in Norse mythology that has died and gone to Valhalla. He is 16 at the time he became an einherji, and is the son of Frey, the god of peace and sunshine.

This series takes the formula Percy Jackson and the Olympians used and uses it in a much more impactful way. The diverse cast of characters is full of interesting ideals and creates plots that were never seen in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. This series deserves just as much, if not more, attention than Percy Jackson and the Olympians and is a great read.

The last of the overrated books, Harry Potter is the most overrated of the three. Before this article gets a pitchfork driven through it, allow this opinion to be explained. Harry Potter is boring, overly detailed, much too long, and the fans have created a better universe than the original stories ever did.

Harry Potter’s boring tones come from overly descriptive scenes of being in class, eating in the dining hall, doing homework, and going on class field trips. These topics would make sense in the first book or maybe even the second, but this goes on for six books straight. In a novel about magic, not many people are really looking to read multiple pages about sitting at the dining hall and discussing homework. The concept was obviously to world build, but too much detail can be worse than some lack of detail, because at least with lack of detail fans can fill in the blanks.

The page count really shows how dragged out these books are. Books four through seven all have upwards of 600 pages, with the highest page count coming in book five, with a total of 870 pages. This just makes them drag on, as it all has to lead to one big climax, leaving most readers waiting for a climax that is sometimes just somewhat lackluster. Admittedly book seven is really good, but making it there can be an absolute journey, and not the fun kind of journey most novels take you through. It feels like you just took seven years of schooling yourself, not that you went on an epic journey to a magical world beyond our knowledge.

Nowadays, much of the popularity has come from the universe built by the stories, not the actual story presented within the novels. Many people just want to be part of that world, not just live in that one story. Some people don’t realize their love for the Harry Potter universe comes from the idea of that world, not the books the ideas came from. I can’t deny Harry Potter’s fame, but I can deny it the right to deserve that fame.

The Unwanteds is a series that has been described as “a mix between Harry Potter and the Hunger Games,” but it truly is so much more than that. The Unwanteds begins in a land called Quill, which has a “Purge” of all children at 13 who have been deemed “creative” which makes them one of the Unwanteds. After these children have been sent away, they are said to have been thrown into the Great Lake of Boiling Oil, but upon reaching that place, they find out that the executioner, a sorcerer in disguise, saves the children, sending them to Artimè, a world of creativity and magic, which is also mostly populated by living statues.

There’s always this interesting dynamic where, when the main character’s brother, who is one of the Wanteds, gets to tell his perspective, and it shows that he is a minor sociopath and almost unfeeling in nature. After the first novel, adventures ensue, and all six other islands are eventually explored, and twists and turns create a phenomenal series based around magic, fine arts, and creativity.

Overall, a book being overrated doesn’t make it a bad book, but it doesn’t hurt to point out the flaws in the series and give an alternative that’s in need of some attention. None of the books mentioned are terrible reads, but they just aren’t really my cup of tea. Some of these underrated books may just be a new series to love, so give them some attention and pick up a copy.