This Top Ten Tuesday we’re looking at the books that surprised us (in both good and bad ways). These aren’t random grabs, but instead are ones that we heard lots of good (or bad) things about, and decided to check out for ourselves. Sometimes it worked out unexpectedly well. Sometimes we wanted to put our fist through a wall. Ya win some, ya lose some, eh? See our list of surprising science fiction and horror books below.
Top Ten Tuesday is brought to you courtesy of Broke and Bookish.
Links lead to Goodreads.
For Better or Worse: Science Fiction & Horror Books That Surprised Us
1.) Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut. Given my previous experience with the man (Slaughterhouse Five) to say my expectations were low for Sirens of Titan would be a bit of an understatement. However, Vonnegut managed to make me snicker more than once and sit thoughtfully for a moment after I finished it. For that reason, I rated Sirens of Titan 3/5. And if you’re wondering why only 3/5, it’s because the man’s a douche who put a line in his book where a woman thanked a man for raping her. So, yeah. Moderately entertaining writer at times, but still never willingly reading him again. / BETTER
2.) Tales from the Midnight Shift by Mark Allan Gunnells. I read The Quarry by the same author and loved it. When I saw the ‘Tales from the Midnight Shift’ anthology I thought I would love it but, no, not quite. The stories were just meh and didn’t seem as well-written as The Quarry. Also, from the title, I kind of expected them to be midnight shift, job-related stories but I think there was only one like that. /WORSE
3.) Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I was expecting stuffy, staid attempts at adventure. What I got was loads better. Though there are definitely problems with Princess of Mars, I found it an easy going fluffy read that left me grinning when I was done with it. / BETTER
4.) Just Plain Weird by Tom Upton. I didn’t go into this story with any real expectations beyond a good story. I just did not enjoy it. The female character was supremely annoying. I think the author was going for cute and quirky but veered off into annoying and a bit psychotic. The story had way too many convenient deus ex machinas to it with no real explanations. /WORSE
5.) Tales from the White Hart by Arthur C. Clarke. Okay, so this one definitely came out of left field for me. Clarke’s writing can be absolutely fantastic, but it is rarely funny. So, I wasn’t expecting much when I picked up Tales from the White Hart. Figured I needed to give it a go, though. And it was in turns absolutely hilarious. /BETTER
6.) Redshirts by John Scalzi. This book managed to exceed my expectations and disappoint me utterly all in one book. But ultimately, perhaps because it ended on a disappointing note, I have to file this one under /WORSE
7.) Carnacki, the Ghost Finder by William Hope Hodgson. I bought this as a random free one and at first I didn’t think I’d like the writing style. The stories are told as though they’re being told directly to the narrator so in a way it’s like he’s talking right to the reader. It took a little getting used to but I ended up liking them a lot. I was bummed there weren’t anymore. /BETTER
8.) Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds. Apparently, Alastair Reynolds is fantastic with hard science fiction, and Pushing Ice is considered one of his best books to start on. I hate this book. I hate this book so much that I’m putting it on this list and I’m technically not even done with it. Not what I was expecting from a man as lauded as Reynolds is. /WORSE
9.) The Spirit Chaser by Kat Mayor. When I first got it to read (through this site but before I became a part of it) I initially didn’t see the ‘Paranormal Romance’ tag so when I did notice I have to admit I wasn’t that thrilled. I ended up loving the story. I liked the interaction of the characters, some of whom surprised me into liking them. I had to create a new shelf on GR because of this book. /BETTER
10.) New Tales of the Yellow Sign by Robin Laws. As much as I love the stories of Robert W. Chambers ( at least his horror stories) it can sometimes be that books that expand on an idea or world can be better than the source material. While I wouldn’t say this surpasses it exactly, I went into it not expecting to like it much. I thought it wouldn’t do the source material justice. That it certainly does and the stories aren’t so interconnected that a reader who has never read the originals can still enjoy them. /BETTER
What about you? What books would make your For Better or Worse listing for Top Ten Tuesday? Feel free to link (or just tell us) in the comments below!