If you’re a teenager who’s lived through the pandemic, you’ve likely heard of TikTok, a social media platform that allows users to create funny, educational and entertaining 60 second clips. One TikTok subcommunity, BookTok, is a sanctuary for book lovers of all kinds, where creators share their reviews and discuss and joke about the books they have read or have been dying to read. BookTok creators make videos about character development, plots and over- or under-hyped books. Some creators even discuss the misrepresentation of minority groups and a lack of diversity in literature by highlighting underrepresented groups and topics by shining a light on amazing authors of color and LGBTQIA+ authors. If you have ever found yourself in a book slump, have struggled to find your next amazing read, or even to pick up a book at all, BookTok’s dramatic trends ranging from, “books that had me sobbing at 3am” to “books I would sell my soul to read again” might be able to help you out.
Let’s start off with what I would say is the best of BookTok, the books that deserve the hype they have been given. “It Ends With Us” by Colleen Hoover is one of those books and worth the read. Colleen Hoover is a fantastic story teller; every book I have read by her was a fast paced page turner with lots of emotion, plot twists and momentum. I think that’s because of two things: First, the frequency in which she uses plot twists and big reveals. Secondly, her use of motifs. It could be a small thing mentioned at the beginning of a book which by the end has huge significance, which helps you further connect to and understand the characters or the storyline. Although many people read for the romance, it was so much more than that. The book focuses on abuse and gaslighting, strongly conveying the author’s purpose of shedding light on the victim and how complicated it is for a person suffering from abuse. As Colleen Hoover writes in “It Ends With Us,” “Cycles exist because they are excruciating to break. It takes an astronomical amount of pain and courage to disrupt a familiar pattern. Sometimes it seems easier to just keep running in the same familiar circles, rather than facing the fear of jumping and possibly not landing on your feet.” Like most romance novels, I did find the writing borderline cringe-worthy. One reason was because of Hoover’s overuse of italics, which were used to emphasize the importance of words, but I found unnecessary. There was little subtlety about how the narrator was feeling and as the reader I felt that I was being told things I already knew over and over again. I mean, the main character is a florist whose name is Lily Blossom Bloom, so that tells you how subtle the book is. As the blurb would suggest, the main love interest is a walking red flag. Ryle(the main love interest)is a neurosurgeon and his only redeeming quality is that he’s always wearing scrubs, outside of work I might add. I don’t know that much about the medical field, but I feel like you should be changing out of your scrubs that you have been wearing at a hospital and maybe even performing surgery in before you go home. While Lily was all hot and bothered about him, I was just bothered about his lack of hygiene and overall personality. Josie Brandenberg, a sophomore at Kalama High School and a huge Colleen Hoover fan, says, “I would definitely recommend other Colleen Hoover books just because of how consistent her writing is.” Overall this book was a great introduction to the world of Colleen Hoover that has been given the right amount of hype.
Next on the list is “The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller. The Greek mythology retelling follows a young Achilles, the son of a cruel sea nymph, Thetis, and the legendary King Peleus. Achilles is strong, beautiful and irresistible to all who meet him, including Patroclus, a young exiled prince hoping to find a new home and purpose in his life. Brought together by chance, they create an unbreakable bond on Achilles’ journey to godhood and through the Trojan War. Madeline Miller portrayed Achilles and Patroclus as lovers, rather than writing a version like in the movie “Troy” where Achilles and Patroclus were straight men and cousins. As a “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” and “Heroes of Olympus” lover, I found this book to be a great reintroduction into mythology. For many people mythology can be intimidating because it can be confusing to follow multiple storylines and characters as well as boring to read, but this was not the case. Madeline Miller writes in such a beautiful way that makes you fall in love with not only the characters but the story, and the book was paced in a way that kept you reading. “The Song of Achilles” follows Achilles and Patroclus through their childhood into young men, and although I didn’t feel much connection to Achilles and Patroclus, I did love watching their bond slowly grow over time and how hard they would fight to protect one another. The book didn’t have me sobbing at three am but Brandenberg felt differently, gasping when I said it didn’t make me cry, “The ending had me bawling!” Like many relationships, the two had issues, but slowly realized the powerful bond they held. While Patroclus wanted the war to end, Achilles wanted the glory he received from fighting. “The Song of Achilles” deserves all the hype it has been given.The end has such a beautiful tone that makes you both sad and happy, and it’s an emotional rollercoaster. “And perhaps it is the greater grief, after all, to be left on earth while the other is gone.”
Lastly is “The Folk of the Air” series, more commonly known as the “Cruel Prince” trilogy. The books take place in the Kingdom of Elfhame, the land of the fae hidden from human civilization. The story revolves around the main protagonist, Jude, a human girl trying to find her place in the strange world of the fae. The writing was gripping, vivid, and fast paced, and I loved how complex the fae world was and how all three books were super quick reads. Because the main focus was on the fae politics and deception, it didn’t leave much room for the romance, which left it feeling forced. Carden, the Prince of Elfhame, is known to be arrogant, cruel and has done everything in his power to hurt and belittle Jude throughout her life, but once Jude gets the smallest glimpse of humanity in him she instantly has feelings for him. While I can’t deny enjoying the enemies to lovers trope, the way it was done in “The Folk of the Air” wasn’t my favorite. Another thing I didn’t like were the plot twists, because they were very obvious. “You could see the plot twists coming, especially in the last book,” said Brandenberg. “I do feel like it’s overhyped with what people say about it.” Despite this, she still enjoyed the book. “I gave it 4 stars because it was a well written book and I loved Jude and how powerful she was!” she says.
BookTok allows bookworms of all kinds to connect with new authors and find their next favorite books because the community is constantly featuring new content. This doesn’t just mean new books, but also old ones that have been given a new life. From mythology to romance to kingdoms with cruel princes, there is so much to be discovered in the world of BookTok! Although many of these books didn’t have me “sobbing at 3am,” I would without a doubt “sell my soul to read them again,” for the first time.