Most overrated novels

5:28am

Over 100 posts
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.
The plot doesn't make sense, the characters are over-emotional, and the style of writing drags on forever. And it's spawned multiple bad movies. It's like a cancer.

Come on people, I know you've got more...
 

chronic

old and in the way
Over 1000 posts
A Confederacy of Dunces... not to say that it's not a good book, but all of the slobbering praise it's received led me to expect something better.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy... ick... bad enough to make me not want to read anything else he's written, ever.
 

Purple Stickpin

Billions served
A Confederacy of Dunces... not to say that it's not a good book, but all of the slobbering praise it's received led me to expect something better.
It is a good book, but you're correct. Over-rated has a colloquial association with being terrible, but something can be good yet over-rated. So much has been said about how great A Confederacy of Dunces is, you'd think it would turn itself into a roast beef sandwich and a six-pack when you're done reading it. I'm here to tell you that this does not in fact happen.
 

growing beard

Over 100 posts
The Lord of the Rings. Cliche, long-winded, and short on good lines.

...The Road by Cormac McCarthy... ick... bad enough to make me not want to read anything else he's written, ever.
Agreed. met a university type here in town who swore by McCarthy. did not do anything for me, though.
 

Bruno Dante

Over 500 posts
One-hundred years of solitude. Neither that magical nor realistic.
Someone bought this for me and I've had a couple of other people say that it's the greatest book they've ever read. I felt obliged to finish it because it was a gift and I don't like not finishing a novel once I've started. I fucking hated it though and it's not often I say that about a book. Another book that was hyped (it won the Booker Prize for some reason too) that I just couldn't get along with is Vernon God Little. The ending is particularly abysmal. A lot of people raved about The Alchemist by Paul Coelho too. It's a nice little story that'll kill two hours but that's it.
 

PhillyDave

“The essential doesn't change.” Beckett
Over 1000 posts
Salman Rushdie- "Midnight's Children". It's that writing style that uses 20 words to describe when 7 words would suffice. Ugh.
 

Stavrogin

Over 1000 posts
I recently reread On The Road and it was much better than I remembered it being. But it is overrated. Not his best novel, in my opinion. My favorite of his is the short novel, Tristessa.
How do you argue against something being deemed overrated? I'm not sure. On the Road had a huge impact culturally (Stateside at least) and then Kerouac ran counter politically to many who embraced his book. And they still loved the book. Overrated my ass.
 
Last edited:

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Over 1000 posts
You're right Stav -- in terms of cultural impact, On The Road was huge. I meant "overrated" strictly in terms of literary merit. I think it's very good, it's interesting, flashes of genius, etc., but it's not as good as it's cultural significance would suggest. Another novel with huge cultural significance is The Catcher In The Rye. Ask any mass murderer. I haven't reread that in decades and can't say if it's as good as all the hype would suggest.
 

Bruno Dante

Over 500 posts
When I re-read Catcher in the Rye fairly recently I still enjoyed it, but rather than being some character that my young self could relate strongly to, I thought Holden was a bit of a dickhead. Given Salinger was in his 30s when he wrote it, I wonder if that's the point. Or maybe I'm just getting cynical in my old age.
 
Not all iconic works are "great". Not all great works are iconic. Both Catcher and Road are good books but to me don't transcend their eras. High school reading lists and fauxhemians have elevated them beyond their actual worth.
 

Bruno Dante

Over 500 posts
There's a problem with assessing any work as being 'overrated' or not which you've touched upon right there. When a novel or whatever has a highly elevated status it seems to be a trait in almost everyone to make a comparison against that status as opposed to just rating the book itself. I'm not saying that's right or wrong as I think it's inevitable but it seems a bit unfair either way. I also think there's often a natural instinct to rebel against works which have been canonised in this way.
"Fauxhemians" by the way. I like that.
 

5:28am

Over 100 posts
I want to mention War and Peace. Why does this top the lists? It's too long, it's dull, the characters are forgettable, etc. Anna Karenina was much better, in my opinion.

When a novel or whatever has a highly elevated status it seems to be a trait in almost everyone to make a comparison against that status as opposed to just rating the book itself.
Well, this is exactly the problem. A work of art that is abstract or complex enough becomes immune to ordinary criticism. mjp summed it up very well here.
 

5:28am

Over 100 posts
I started reading On The Road earlier.

Not great writing, but it strikes a chord. There's plenty of times when Sal is doing something and I say, "Damn, that was me."
 

Skygazer

And in the end...
Over 500 posts
I agree; Catcher In The Rye is overrated, got to be the most anaemic Coming of Age book ever, I just never cared about or got involved with Holden at all. I read it when I was about 19 and had such great expectations about what it would reveal, he just annoyed me, got to be the most insipid anti hero ever.
On the other hand W Somerset Maugham: Of Human Bondage is the best in the genre, read it a long time ago, but you get put through an emotional wringer reading it, but I think I am the only person I know who has read the bloody thing.
 

esart

esart.com
Founding member
Over 500 posts
You guys are making me mad.

...but I agree - On the Road is kinda crappy.

What do you think about The Sun Also Rises? Overrated? Or beautiful?
 
For me The Sun Also Rises is a favorite book. It is obviously melodramatic and totally entrenched
in its era but I have read it maybe four or five times over the years. The thing is Hemingway was
fucking 25!!! when he wrote that and his genius is already apparent (to me at least). Jake Barnes
is a pretty ballsy (haha) character for such a young author. Overrated? No.
 

esart

esart.com
Founding member
Over 500 posts
As much as there are moments of The Sun Also Rises that make me want to pull my hair out, I agree, it will never be overrated.

When I think of overrated, however, I think of something more like, all of the Steven King books. Night Shift was the only good read, but even that one wasn't great. As a "writer" he is way overrated.
 
  • Like
Reactions: mjp

esart

esart.com
Founding member
Over 500 posts
I didn't read that one. I don't think I will though, sorry to say. There are SO MANY great books I have yet to read and I'm pretty certain I wouldn't waste my time on another King book after the handful that I tried back when I did. I was young then, dating someone who was into him, so I tried really hard to like it.

NO! I take that back! I was here to make an edit and was going to erase the whole post, but I won't do that. I'll just say this. I DID read Salem's Lot. It was the first of all the ones I read and I remember it being pretty good, then I read Night Shift, which I liked more. I also read The Stand, Christine, and The Dead Zone.
 
Last edited:
Top