I don’t agree with burning, binning or destroying books in any way; I am a serial book hoarder, who keeps books even if I hate them, just because I like having an extensive collection. However, I am going to pretend that I would be okay destroying any of my books, and am going to plough ahead with one of my favourite tags of all time: the book sacrifice tag. The whole point of this tag is to assign a book that you hated to each of the four unpleasant scenarios listed below, therefore nominating the book that you would ‘sacrifice’ if you had to make a decision. So without further ado, let’s roll!
Scenario 1: An Over-Hyped book. Let’s start this off with a Zombie Apocalypse! You’re in a book store, just browsing, when a zombie attacks! An announcement comes over the PA System saying that the military has discovered that the zombies’ only weakness is over-hyped books. What book that everyone else says is amazing but you really hated do you start chucking at the zombies, knowing that it will count as an over-hyped book and successfully wipe them out?
I have a love-hate relationship with over-hyped books; I either walk straight into the hype and end up adoring it just as much as anyone, or I develop a serious hatred for the book. In this instance, my over-hyped book is going to be ‘Divergent’ by Veronica Roth. I really, really do not like this series. Firstly, I think that Tris Prior is an incredibly weak, contradictory and hypocritical character – she has since made her way onto my ‘least favourite characters of all time’ list. There are some heroines, such as Katniss Everdeen from ‘The Hunger Games’, who I dislike due to a plethora of negative qualities, but who I ultimately respect for some, if not all, of their decisions. I truly do not think that Tris made one decent decision throughout the entire series. She is excessively hypocritical, criticising her brother for a mistake which was ultimately not any different from any of her own actions, as well as being prejudiced and judgemental to the point where I wanted to slap her. I genuinely cannot fathom how she is seen to be one of the strongest female heroines of YA books in recent years; I see her as a nasty, morally-deficient character who is quick to point out faults in others when she possesses the same, if not worse, qualities. This, of course, never boded well for the rest of the book. I think that the plot is incredibly pointless and confusing, that the whole war that the series circulates around is based around very, very weak philosophy and that the themes are distasteful. While I immediately assume that any book of this kind, with a war between different divisions of people, promotes equality, I truly think that ‘Divergent’ gives off a message that almost promotes judgement of other people. There is no conclusion that states that the factions are equally human, and instead we are faced with even more divisions between people being created as the series progresses. Also, Tris’ generalisation that almost all Erudites use their knowledge maliciously and that all Dauntless are brave and strong people who can do no wrong in the face of the war frustrates me. The argument Tris presents to us is completely and utterly biased, with no insight into any members of society who do not fit into her preconceptions. The whole idea of Divergence persistently promotes the fact that some members of society are born better than others. Of course, considering that every human possesses traits for multiple factions, you could argue how we are all Divergent, but I just think that in an attempt to produce a book with strong moral themes, a plot developed which actually has the opposite effect on me as a reader, and left a very sour taste in my mouth. My least favourite of the three books is ‘Insurgent’, but I would throw ‘Divergent’ at the zombies, as that is where the story began.
Scenario 2: A Sequel. Let’s say you’ve just left the salon with a brand new haircut and you are suddenly faced with a torrential downpour. What sequel are you willing to use as an umbrella to protect yourself?
This is easy for me, as there is one sequel (or later instalment in a series) which I hate more than anything. I also know that this is a very popular answer for this scenario. And that is ‘Mockingjay’, book three in the ‘Hunger Games’ trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Now, I am a complete and utter fangirl when it comes to the movies; they are quite possibly my favourite book-to-movie adaptations, and just films generally, of all time. The first two books of the trilogy for me were decent, but I feel that they always did lack certain character developments and subtle details that the films added fantastically. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed the first two books, and both earned 4 stars on Goodreads. However, ‘Mockingjay’ was nothing but absolute garbage to me. The pitfall of writing in a singular first person manner is that the story can only follow that said narrator. In the first two books, whilst still annoying me, this was overcome by the fact that the majority of the things I wanted to see occurred around Katniss, and the story Katniss was following was always interesting. In ‘Mockingjay’, I was desperate to know what was happening in the Capitol and in the Districts, and see the feelings of someone other than Katniss, who spent the majority of the book whining and moaning in a cupboard. This frustrated me, not only as we didn’t see the bigger picture of the war, but as Katniss’ story was so uninteresting that I focused primarily on what we could not see, rather than what we could. Many other issues that I don’t have the time or patience to go into here were the influx of seemingly hundreds of completely unimportant characters who I had no recollection of the second I finished the book (often even whilst reading), the complete lack of character development for the majority of the characters, Katniss’ increasingly irritating attitude and a vast amount of unnecessary actions, deaths and scenes that either devastated me, ruined my perspectives on characters or just left me plain bored (I can and will happily go into detail about all of this in my ‘Mockingjay Film versus Book’ discussion). Long story short, I finished reading ‘Mockingjay’ genuinely wanting it to cease existing so that I could create a much more pleasant series ending in my head, so I therefore would not care in the slightest if it got wet in the rain.
Scenario 3: A Classic. You’re in a lecture and your English teacher is going on and on about how this classic changed the world, how it revolutionized literature and you get so sick of it that you chuck the classic right at his face, because you know that this classic is stupid and it’s worth detention just to show everyone how you feel! What classic did you chuck?
Ever since I first read ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens, I had a deep hatred for it, however since studying it for class, I earned an iota more respect for the storyline, if not the writing. Over the summer, however, I had to read a classic which completely surpassed the hatred I had for Dickens, running away with the title of not just my least favourite classic, but my least favourite book of all time. The book that wins this hands down is ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald (clearly I think that books with ‘great’ in the title clearly do not live up to their name!). I just completely despised every page of this book. I hated the story, and found it completely pointless and really quite dreary, I found the characters to be completely insufferable, and I thought that a good 80 pages of the 120-page book were worthless bits of unnecessary information that I had little time for. I genuinely did not truly like a single aspect of this book, and I am wholly glad that my English course set text switched from this to ‘Pride and Prejudice’ last-minute, so that I do not have the opportunity to literally throw the book!
Scenario 4: Your least favourite book of life! You’re hanging out at the library when global warming suddenly explodes and the world outside becomes a frozen wasteland. You’re trapped and your only chance for survival is to burn a book. What is the book you first run to – your least favourite book of all time – the one book you do not fully regret lighting?
My least favourite book of all time is ‘The Great Gatsby’, but since I have already mentioned that one, I shall choose another almost-as-insufferable book. Therefore, for the book I would burn first, I choose ‘Peter Pan in Scarlet’ by Geraldine McCaughrean. This is a very recent ‘read’; I choose the term read a tad optimistically, as I literally skimmed the final 60% of this book. It is an official sequel to J.M.Barrie’s much loved ‘Peter Pan’, a story that many, many children grew up adoring, including me. I read McCaughrean’s sequel as I hoped that it would be an extension of the magic of Barrie’s original work. I truly believe that McCaughrean’s work couldn’t be more distanced from the original if she tried. It retained absolutely none of the magic I loved about the original characters. It was almost as if Peter had had a complete character overhaul; she took the slightly unsatisfactory elements of his personality and made them so blinding that they could not be overlooked. Tinkerbelle is missing for nearly the whole book, to be replaced with an almost-identical carbon copy, albeit male, who she would inevitably meet and fall in love with at the end. The whole concept of the return to Neverland was ridiculous, the plot twist at the end was blatantly obvious from day one, and the book was so dull that it never caught my interest to begin with, let alone lose it. I just feel like this book should be burned, so that it does not tarnish many children’s’ love of the original ‘Peter Pan’, which in my eyes shouldn’t have been touched, even if the proceeds from the book went to charity.
There we have it; the four books that I would be most likely to destroy if needs be. Thanks for reading, and I hope that some of you out there agree!