Bookish Listopia: 10 Popular Books That Lived Up to the Hype

Popular Books That Lived Up to the Hype

Posted July 31, 2018 by Amber in Memes / 24 Comments


Who among us haven’t seen books basically go viral and think “I should read that because everyone else is reading it!”?  While this can be super awesome and really get some great exposure for new books, this can also be a trap.  What if the book is just sort of okay?  What if you’ve been dreaming about this really cool-sounding plot and suddenly the book blows up because “OMG, Balthasar is suuuuuuch a hunk!”  but that’s not what you’re going into the book for and what if the plot is actually terrible and… just… ack!

Hyped books can be exciting, and they can be terrifying.  Luckily for us all, sometimes it pays off.  Sometimes, the books is even better than you expected.  And this isn’t just a phenomenon for new books – old and beloved classics have their own scary stigma about them.  Sometimes, you just gotta take the plunge.

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about those books that absolutely blew up… but were worth the hype.  We saw, we came, we conquered… and these books were totally awesome.


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

by J. K. Rowling

Series: Harry Potter #1
Publisher: Scholastic Press on June 26, 1997
Genre: Fantasy

Check out this book on Goodreads

Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.

Though Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it’s his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.

Full of sympathetic characters, wildly imaginative situations, and countless exciting details, the first installment in the series assembles an unforgettable magical world and sets the stage for many high-stakes adventures to come.

I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone when I was in fifth grade, two years after the story had already taken the world by storm.  I lived in rural New Hampshire (think: downtown was a one-room library and the post office.  We are talking small) so I didn’t know this book was all the rage.  I didn’t know that people were in love with it.  I didn’t know that Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was already out!  All I knew was that my best friend was reading it and best friends read books together.

I picked the book up from the school library, and honestly, it’s a whirlwind from there.  I don’t remember when I read books two and three for the first time.  All I remember was falling completely in love with the idea that somewhere out there, there was a school that taught magic and that there was a girl who read a lot of books and knew a lot of things and had friends and adventures and I could be that girl.

So – Harry Potter… worth the hype?  You better believe it.


Children of Blood and Bone

Children of Blood and Bone

by Tomi Adeyemi

Series: Legacy of Orïsha #1
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. on March 6, 2018
Genre: #OwnVoices, Epic Fantasy, Fantasy, Magic

Check out this book on Goodreads

Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

This is a newer release from a debut author this year.  I almost didn’t read this one because, honestly, I’m shallow and the cover didn’t really draw me in.  It’s the artistic style – there’s nothing wrong with it!  But … meh.  It doesn’t call to me.  Like I said – shallow.  But I had an Audible credit and I wanted to try and read more debuts this year and people seemed to be excited about it sooo why not.

I underestimated the heck outta this book.

Children of Blood and Bone is this really rich world with an entirely different feel than the fantasies I’m used to.  It has it’s own beating heart.  The characters are interesting and conflicted and relatable.  The tension of the ticking clock behind their adventure keeps the reader on edge.  I think that this series should be rated up there with the greats, like The Mortal Instruments, Twilight, and Harry Potter. It’s just that good.

Did this one live up to the hype?  Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.


The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind

by Patrick Rothfuss

Series: The Kingkiller Chronicle #1
Publisher: Penguin Books on March 27, 2007
Genre: Epic Fantasy, Fantasy, High Fantasy

Check out this book on Goodreads

“My name is Kvothe. I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I have burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during the day. I have talked to God’s, loved women and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me.”

So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature – the story of a hero told in his own voice. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man’s search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend.

Friends were trying to get me to read The Name of the Wind for ages and I just didn’t feel like it.  After much badgering, I put it on my TBR like “yeah, whatever, fine – I’ll read it eventually”.  I dunno, I just wasn’t getting that “this is gonna be a great book” vibe.  Besides, it looked a lot like A Game of Thrones and while that one was good to me, I didn’t feel like it lived up to the hype.

This is another Audible Success Story for me.  The Name of the Wind popped up as a $4.95 Daily Deal one day and audiobooks are expensive and since this one was on my TBR anyway, I figured I’d grab it.  Then I listened to it.  I have no regrets.

This book – this damn book – gives me so much anxiety.  In a good way!  Kvothe is the most frustrating character and I want him to succeed but apparently he just wants to make bad decisions so idk we don’t have a good relationship.  But loved this book.  Rich, traditional fantasy world with an interesting magic system and a main character you want to root for even though he is a petulant child.

This one definitely lived up to the hype for me, and I should have read it sooner.


Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

by Becky Albertalli

Series: Creekwood #1
Publisher: Penguin Books on April 25, 2015
Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance

Check out this book on Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Ugh contemporary.  Everybody loves Simon. Everybody.  Every book blogger of all time ever, ever, ever.  All the people say “Read Simon!”  I’m a contrary person, y’all.  I still haven’t read The Hobbit because my dad told me to, even though I know I will like it.  I make bad life decisions sometimes.

The only reason I read Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda was because it popped up as an Apparating Library Book Club read earlier this year and I kinda want to participate in a low-key book club?  And the movie was coming out, so, you know, whatever.

I liked this book.  I wouldn’t say that it’s the Best Book Ever, but it does live up to the hype.  It’s a great contemporary book, a great story, with great characters.  I recommend it highly.


The Lies of Locke Lamora

The Lies of Locke Lamora

by Scott Lynch

Series: Gentleman Bastard #1
Publisher: Bantam Spectra on June 27, 2006
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, High Fantasy

Check out this book on Goodreads

In this stunning debut, author Scott Lynch delivers the wonderfully thrilling tale of an audacious criminal and his band of confidence tricksters. Set in a fantastic city pulsing with the lives of decadent nobles and daring thieves, here is a story of adventure, loyalty, and survival that is one part “Robin Hood”, one part Ocean’s Eleven, and entirely enthralling…

An orphan’s life is harsh — and often short — in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains — a man who is neither blind nor a priest.

A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected “family” of orphans — a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.

Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld’s most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful — and more ambitious — than Locke has yet imagined.

Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men — and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game — or die trying…

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this book on a blog or on Goodreads and gone to add it to my TBR only to find it was already there.  Like A Game of Thrones or The Name of the Wind, this book seems to have a huge, passionate following.  And I was a bit nervous about it.  Honestly, I thought it was a pirate book for some reason and as soon as I learned it wasn’t, it lost some points with me.

Except it gained them all back because this book was crazy good, as long as you have a little patience and can keep the two timelines straight.  You know how people love to “kill their darlings”?  Literally everything bad that could happen to Locke, does.  Poor guy.

Lived up to the hype – definitely a good book.


Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables

by L. M. Mongomery

Series: Anne of Green Gables #1
Publisher: L.C. Page & Co. on June 1, 1908
Genre: Classics, Historical Fiction

Check out this book on Goodreads

“She’ll have to go back.” Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert had decided to adopt an orphan. They wanted a nice sturdy boy to help Matthew with the farm chores. The orphanage sent a girl instead – a mischievous, talkative redhead who the Cuthberts thought would be no use at all. But as soon as Anne arrived at the snug, white farmhouse called Green Gables, she knew she wanted to stay forever. And the longer Anne stayed, the harder it was for anyone to imagine Green Gables without her.

I grew up watching the Canadian mini series about Anne – the one with Megan Follows – and fell in love with her through that.  One of my friends absolutely adored these books and I’m pretty sure if Gilbert Blythe was a real person, she’d be with him in a heartbeats.  It’s an intimidating proposition, a classic book like this with an amazing adaptation and friends who fawn over it.

finally read Anne of Green Gables a couple years ago, and I am just enchanted as everyone else.  Anne Shirley is the type of person that grabs on to your heartstrings and won’t let go.

This one was everything I wanted and more.


The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

by Douglas Adams

Series: The Hitchhiker’s Trilogy #1
Publisher: Pan Books on October 12, 1979
Genre: Adventure, Classics, Humor, Science Fiction

Check out this book on Goodreads

One Thursday lunchtime the Earth gets unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass. For Arthur Dent, who has only just had his house demolished that morning, this seems already to be more than he can cope with. Sadly, however, the weekend has only just begun, and the Galaxy is a very strange and startling place.

For a novel that is so well beloved by so many that it has been converted to a television mini-series, a radio show, and a movie… The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is an intimidating little book.  I fell in love with the movie and was presented the book by a friend who couldn’t handle the fact that I liked the (apparently) terrible film (I still like it).

Hitchhiker’s Guide relies a bit on your sense of humor because it’s very witty, but for me, the hype was REAL with this one.  I love the commentary, I love the way things go wrong, and H2G2 has some of the best minor characters I’ve seen.  Will this book change your life? Heck no.  Will you laugh?  Almost definitely.

Don’t let the hype push you away… this is a genuinely enjoyable little book.


Ruby Red

Ruby Red

by Kerstin Gier

Series: Precious Stone Trilogy #1
Publisher: Arena Verlag on January 6, 2009
Genre: Historical Fiction, Science Fiction, Time Travel

Check out this book on Goodreads

Gwyneth Shepherd’s sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era! Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon—the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

Ruby Red was one of those books I feel like I’ve seen everywhere.  Nobody seems to talk about it anymore, not specifically, but it just manages to pop up and it seems like everyone really liked it?  It was on my TBR for a good six years before I finally read it.  I didn’t have any specific expectations for the book – at the time, I was really just powering through the backend of my TBR – and so I didn’t know what I was getting into.

Mes chers, people definitely love this book for a reason.  Gwen is so funny to me – and I’m glad I listened to the audiobook because the narrator was a hoot.  If you’ve heard about how people liked this book, or loved it when they were a little younger and you’re thinking that you’ve missed the opportunity – you haven’t!  Ruby Red is a silly, fun, magical time travel book and I’ll be reading the rest.

Hype? Deserved.


The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas

Publisher: Balzer + Bray on February 28, 2017
Genre: #OwnVoices, Contemporary

Check out this book on Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

I think this one jumped into the spotlight immediately because of its social relevance – Starr is a black girl who watched her best friend get shot by a policeman for no good reason.  Black Lives Matter is a still a hot concern in America, and The Hate U Give came out riding that wave.

And to say that totally undermines how important and well-written this book truly is.  The Hate U Give isn’t famous just because of Black Lives Matter.  It’s a really good, vitally important story about racism in a time and culture where we all need to check our privilege and treat one another better.  Angie Thomas’s writing is incredible.  Good plot, good characters, good worldbuilding.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – everyone should read this book.


The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars

by John Green

Publisher: Dutton on January 10, 2012
Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Check out this book on Goodreads

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

I have heard more “Ugh, I don’t understand the hype!” about The Fault In Our Stars than any other book.  Ever.  I came into The Fault in Our Stars already a John Green fan, so perhaps that helped.  But honestly?  It’s good guys.

John Green has a way of writing YA Contemporary that will stab you right in the heart.  Hazel and Augustus are sweet, kind, crazy, wonderful characters and the cancer will make you want to hug them forever because our society sees cancer as such a death sentence (not belittling that – sometimes it is.  But sometimes it isn’t) and these kids don’t deserve to die.  Don’t walk into this book expecting to find a show-stopping classic.  Go in expecting a really good story.

This one deserved a bit of hype, and I’m happy for John. 🙂


What books have you read that totally deserved the hype?

Did you hate any of these books?

How do you feel about reading popular books?

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24 responses to “Popular Books That Lived Up to the Hype

  1. harry potter definitely lived up to the hype (eventhough i’d only begin reading it after all the movies are out xD). and i just finished watching anne with an e (tv show) and i really love it so i’ve been thinking to read the book too. so glad you enjoyed it!

    Tiffany @ String of Pages recently posted: All About Hyped Books!
    • Amber

      I’m glad the Netflix show is bringing people to the books! 🙂 The books are so charming, and it’s a quick and easy read. Go for it!

    • Amber

      Aahhhh, I hope you read all three! The Hate U Give was such a wonderful, powerful read. Going into it I didn’t really believe the hype (I’ve sorta learned that a lot of YA releases get Twitter’s attention and sort of fade out) but *damn* it was well-deserved.

    • Amber

      Oh yes, and the audio edition is fantastic! The narrator was really well suited to Gwen’s character, I totally recommend it! 🙂

    • Amber

      I will be perfectly honest with you, for myself books 1 & 3 were INCREDIBLE but book 2 wasn’t quite so much up my alley… probably because I hopelessly love Anne and the second book was a larger world. BUT I do know that as series goes on, people *love* Rilla as well! 🙂

    • Amber

      Thank you! 🙂 I think that a lot of classics have hype, and Anne has such a big following of devoted readers of *all* ages – as it should! 🙂

  2. I have to admit that I had Children of Blood and Bone in the ‘Books That DIDN’T Live Up To The Hype’ section of my list this week…

    I’m completely on board with the rest of your list though, especially The Lies of Locke Lamora. The ending completely blew me away. I really need to get round to reading The Name of the Wind though. I’ve had it forever and never got around to it!

    Hanna @ Booking in Heels recently posted: Popular Books That Lived Up to the Hype (And Some That Did Not)
    • Amber

      That’s okay – not everyone will love it! 🙂 CoB&B was exactly my kind read, but it is long and rambles at times, so I can see where others may not like it.

      Locke Lamora… my goodness by the time I was halfway through I was so hooked. I can’t wait to see what the second book holds – have you read it?

  3. ‘What if you’ve been dreaming about this really cool-sounding plot and suddenly the book blows up because “OMG, Balthasar is suuuuuuch a hunk!”’ This is probably my biggest pet peeve – a book with an AMAZING plot and so much potential being ruined because suddenly the romance takes over, and usually it’s not a good romance?? It’s barely build up and abusive too?? Like?? If you’re going to put the exciting plot on hold for a romance, at least let it be a good one!

    Anyway, so glad to hear Children of Blood and Bone is worth the hype! It’s on my shelf and I can’t wait to read it 🙂

    • Amber

      Yes yes yes bad romance kills so many good books. I like a good, slow burn romance, but they really shouldn’t be forced where they don’t fit.

      I hope you love CoB&B! Let me know what you think!

  4. I REALLY need to read The Hitchhiker’s Guide at some point. I started it once years ago and got sidetracked, and never finished. I want to read it and then maybe check the movie out. I’ve heard the Gier books are fun too.

    • Amber

      Hitchhiker’s Guide *always* makes me laugh but British comedy is my thing. I hope you enjoy it. The later books get downright weird at times… but they’re still funny. 🙂

    • Amber

      It is *incredibly* hyped. I think Lord of the Rings is probably up there as well. I was expecting to see more of Twilight and The Hunger Games by their respective fans, and didn’t run into that a lot.

    • Amber

      Not yet, but my friends tell me the second book is where the real pirating starts (and possibly the source of my initial confusion). I definitely plan to read it!

    • Amber

      I hope you like it! It’s a long book, but the world is immersive – I loved it. I hope you do too! 🙂