Apparently reading the synopsis on the back of a book is not the normal thing to do anymore. People seem really surprised when I tell them that I always read synopses, and while it’s something I do to decide whether I want to read a book, it has backfired on me quite a few times.
These are five of the worst synopses I’ve ever read:
5) ‘Be Careful What You Witch For’ by Thomas Hoobler
‘Magic is a tricky thing. Especially when it comes from an ancient book of spells that jumps off a shelf into Olivia’s hands. Bad news for the popular girls in her new school who don’t like Olivia. But hey – now she can get the attention of her crush who’s more interested in comic book superheroes. And when she finds out her aunt is a witch, she imagines all her problems are solved. Unfortunately, not quite – what she conjures up is trouble. And the only one who can help her is an 800-year-old woman.’
I don’t know if this is misleading, so much as a mess. There’s so many things going on. And so many short sharp sentences. That is just doesn’t make sense.
I mean, everything in it actually happens, so that’s something at least?
4) ‘The Dead Boyfriend’ by R. L. Stine
‘R. L. Stine’s Fear Street series is back, and in The Dead Boyfriend he tells the frightening tale of teenage love – and how it can go terribly, murderously wrong.
Caitlin has never had a real boyfriend before. When she starts seeing Colin, she throws herself into the relationship with fervor. She ignores her friends who warn her that Colin may be a phony and that she is taking the whole thing too seriously. Caitlin is smitten. She doesn’t care if she loses her friends. All she wants is Colin. When Caitlin approaches Colin with another girl, she completely loses it. She snaps. Everything goes red. When she comes back to her senses, she realizes that Colin is dead – and she has killed him.
But if Colin is dead, how is he staring at her across a crowded party?
Terrifying from the first page to the last, The Dead Boyfriend is a heart-racing young adult novel from the master of teen screams himself.’
I don’t know if it was just an error that occurred every single time he was mentioned throughout the entire eARC that I read, but there was no Colin in this book. There was a character called Blade instead. So that’s a big no-no.
Having the wrong name littering the synopsis is bad, but even worse is having the audacity to call this book ‘terrifying’ rather than bland and yawn-inducing.
3) ‘Stealing Snow’ by Danielle Paige
‘Seventeen-year-old Snow lives within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she doesn’t belong there, but she has no memory of life outside, except for the strangest dreams. And then a mysterious, handsome man, an orderly in the hospital, opens a door – and Snow knows that she has to leave.
She finds herself in icy Algid, her true home, with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she’s destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change everything. Heroine or villain, queen or broken girl, frozen heart or true love, Snow must choose her fate.
A wonderfully icy fantastical romance, with a strong heroine choosing her own destiny, Danielle Paige’s irresistibly page-turning Snow Queen is like Maleficent and Frozen all grown up.‘
Okay, first off: dreams and nightmares are VERY different things.
Secondly, Snow is the furthest thing from a strong heroine that I’ve ever read. She’s a whiny, complaining girl who needs people to tell her what to do whenever there’s a problem, and who can’t make a decision for herself. Marketing this as ‘strong’ is a disgrace.
She also doesn’t really have choices – mostly because she refuses to make them, but also because she’s been locked in a mental hospital for her whole life AGAINST HER CHOICE and then is tricked and manipulated into going to Algid AGAINST HER CHOICE… Urgh.
Also, the ‘Frozen’ reference just because she has snow powers? That’s like comparing ‘Dracula’ to ‘Twilight’ because there just happens to be a vampire involved. Groan.
2) ‘One’ by Sarah Crossan
‘Grace and Tippi. Tippi and Grace. Two sisters. Two hearts. Two dreams. Two lives. But one body.
Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins, joined at the waist, defying the odds of survival for sixteen years. They share everything, and they are everything to each other. They would never imagine being apart. For them, that would be the real tragedy.
But something is happening to them. Something they hoped would never happen. And Grace doesn’t want to admit it. Not even to Tippi.
How long can they hide from the truth – how long before they must face the most impossible choice of their lives?’
Not all misleading synopses are bad. I’d picked up ‘One’ assuming that it was going to be a regular novel, so I was beyond pleasantly surprised when I discovered that it was told entirely in prose. The synopsis didn’t give that away!
1) ‘Canary’ by Rachele Alpine
‘Kate Franklin’s life changes for the better when her dad lands a job at Beacon Prep, an elite private school with one of the best basketball teams in the state. She begins to date a player on the team and quickly gets caught up in a world of idolatry and entitlement, learning that there are perks to being an athlete.
But those perks also come with a price. Another player takes his power too far and Kate is assaulted at a party. Although she knows she should speak out, her dad’s vehemently against it and so, like a canary sent into a mine to test toxicity levels and protect miners, Kate alone breathes the poisonous secrets to protect her dad and the team. The world that Kate was once welcomed into is now her worst enemy, and she must decide whether to stay silent or expose the corruption, destroying her father’s career and bringing down a town’s heroes.’
After this synopsis I was expecting to read an emotionally fraught and heart-wrenching novel, but when you consider the fact that it’s over 500 pages and the assault doesn’t happen until around page 450, it’s a completely different beast. It’s a high school drama dressed up like a book focusing on a serious topic, which means it’s miss-sold using this description.
I’ve noticed that it’s only books that I give low ratings to that have negatively misleading synopses. These especially seem to suffer with overselling, and that means there’s no way that the book can’t be disappointing compared to the expectations the blurb puts in place.
I hope you enjoyed this Top Five Wednesday! Are there any books who really misled you?