35 comments on “Underwhelming Reads

  1. ooh I’m interested in your thoughts about The Handmaid’s Tale! I enjoyed it on first reading, but after studying it at school, I found that it made a lot more sense, especially regarding the ‘historical note’ at the end and its links to postmodernism. I agree that The Girl on the Train was quite lukewarm – it was just a thriller?? a good thriller, but not a blow-your-socks-off thriller!

    • I definitely enjoyed aspects of it, and can understand why it’s so respected. I also read it during its resurgence in popularity (due to the TV adaptation, which I haven’t seen yet), so I also don’t doubt the huge amount of hype will have raised my expectations very high. It would be an interesting book to study actually; there’s certainly a lot to pick apart.

      And I’m glad I’m not the only one who wasn’t blown away by The Girl on the Train!

  2. Oh, I love this idea! I have the same concern about tags, I’m very self-conscious of the fact that I talk about the same books over and over.

    Obviously LOVE your assessment of The Handmaid’s Tale. I read it so long ago that I remember thinking there were plot holes but I’ve kind of forgotten the specifics, but all of the ones you mentioned ring a bell and they’re annoying me all over again. Like the reference to the Japanese tourists, obviously that’s meant to show that it’s ONLY America that’s evolved into this dystopian nightmare, but why would the rest of the world not only stand by to watch it happen (this part is a bit more realistic), but make a pilgrimage to gawp at these women who have been enslaved? And, as you say, how do they even have access to this super closed off and remote facility? Anyway, yes, let’s advance the feminist conversation past this book, PLEASE.

    • Yes, I feel like that too! A tag isn’t a tag if I haven’t mentioned Rebecca, Harry Potter, and Bird Box 😂

      It’s a shame its vast popularity means its flaws are often overlooked or brushed aside. I would never deny the important role it has played in feminist fiction/discussion, but it’s so not the be-all-and-end-all of the topic.

  3. TOTALLY AGREE about The Power, I was so underwhelmed by that book, and I really had to push myself to finish it. The farther I read, the more bored I became by the characters- I agree about the lack of nuance! It could have really been a fascinating read if I’d felt that I’d been introduced to any ideas or viewpoints that weren’t so obvious or simplistic.

    • It’s so gratifying when you find someone else who just didn’t click with a super hyped book! 😂 But yes, I totally agree that it all just felt too simplistic and surface level when it could have delved so much deeper.

  4. I have a tendency to not pick up books that are compared to other books that sold well. I’m always disappointed because I’m looking for similar themes. What the publisher really means is “we want this book to sell massively!!”

  5. Oof. The epilogue was actually one of my favorite parts of The Handmaid’s Tale. I thought it was a really effective device because it was so jarring to hear people talking about Offred in such a dry, detached, academic manner after we’d just spent the whole book connecting with her, and it kind of drives home how we can be indifferent to suffering as long as it seems distant, whether that distance is through time, space, whatever.

    • That’s definitely an interesting take! And that’s the beauty of literature, too. We all come at things from a different perspective, and so impart different interpretations.

      Thanks for your comment.

  6. I just recently read the Power and I gave it 4 stars but I also agree it was slightly underwhelming. I thought the ending was such a copout and totally agree with what you said about the discussions of gender

  7. I really enjoyed The Girl on the Train at the time I read it, but it’s not one of those books that’s held up in my mind. I had all but forgotten the story for it until I saw the movie. There are so many better thrillers out there, it’s a shame this one gets so much attention!

  8. I love both The Handmaid’s Tale and The Power so I’ll skip over those! I totally agree about The Girl On The Train. I was waiting for the big ending and I just thought ‘oh, so the most predictable thing is what happened’. Yawn

  9. I really enjoyed The Power, but I do have to agree with you about The Girl on the Train, because I just couldn’t gel with the unrelatable main character. It wasn’t a bad book, but it was quite underwhelming.

    • Yes, I totally agree! If the main character’s alcoholism had felt like a well handled, developed sub plot, fair enough, but it was so obviously just a means to draw out the mystery, which quickly became annoying.

  10. Oh, I like this idea for a post!
    I haven’t read all that many books on your list, but I did read The Girl on the Train – and I read like one thriller a year, so that does mean something. And yes, very readable but nothing groundbreaking (then again, I am really not a prolific thriller reader).

  11. The Handmaids Tale was something of a joke for me and a friend when we had to study it in school; not because we’re patriarchal idiots, but just because the book was pretty dull, and yet seemed to be praised very highly.

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