Dangerous Expectations

Expectations, we all have them. With new releases – movies, books, albums, you name it – comes anticipation, and with that anticipation, expectations of quality. Sometimes, our anticipation is so great that we expect more than we’ve been promised, and we’re eventually let down by the final product. Even if the product is good, if it’s not as good as we thought it’d be, well, we feel let-down, and the product seems worse as a result.

Sometimes, our expectations are met. Sometimes, they’re surpassed. I recently went to a pre-release screening of Toy Story 3, it matched the hype, and that was so fulfilling. It added to my satisfaction that my expectations were blown out of the water.

Sometimes, our expectations are not met. Soemtimes, they’re not our own expectations, but manufactured expectations. I recently sat down with the much-buzzed-about Beautiful Malice. And by ‘much-buzzed-about’, I mean Rebecca James has been called ‘the next J. K. Rowling’. Hers is the million-dollar manuscript – so, I was expecting something truly spellbinding, and rightly so. The hype had guided the way I approached the book, much like a good blurb or cover teases at a book’s contents, the way Beautiful Malice had been sold as The Next Big Thing shaped the way I read it.

It’s why, when I reached the back cover, I found myself asking, ‘That‘s it?’

While I read Beautiful Malice, instead of being 100% focused on the narrative, I kept looking out for ‘truly spellbinding’, and consequently… well, the Beautiful Malice I had imagined wasn’t the Beautiful Malice I eventually read.

The book’s hype hurt it. It literally stood in its own hype’s shadow, and honestly, comparisons to J.K. Rowling didn’t help.

But you can’t blame a publicist for trying. I wonder, though, if someone was given this book blind, with no expectations, no hype, no ‘next J. K. Rowling’ spin, what they would have thought of it? What would they have seen? And as the publicity machine works tirelessly around Rebecca James, you have to wonder, what does she think of all this?

Have you read Beautiful Malice? Has it lived up to the hype?

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William Kostakis

Blogger William Kostakis is an award-winning, twenty-year-old young adult fiction author. His debut title, Loathing Lola, was released in 2008.