BookTok Books: Are They Worth the Hype?


Courtesy WHNT News 19

Alice Wolf and Charlise Lin

#BookTok has amassed over 103 billion views, making it clear that BookTok, a subcommunity on Tiktok dedicated to readers, has gained quite the following over the past few years. The community was formed predominantly during the midst of quarantine in 2020, and is credited with directly impacting both book sales and the reading community as a whole. Creators, known as BookTokers, make videos to give book recommendations, talk about their favorite reads, and have discussions about books in general. This has caused many books in particular to quickly rise to fame and dominate bestseller lists. Some of these books in question happened to be over a decade old while others were fairly new in the book scene. With all of these books constantly circulating BookTok, we have to ask, which ones are actually worth the hype?

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black – 5/5

The Cruel Prince is the first novel in a trilogy full of magic, political intrigue, and is arguably one of the most notable young adult (YA) fantasy books on BookTok. We found this book to be incredibly engaging and were immediately hooked by the intricate world-building and fascinating characters. Our view is reflected by Sophomore Isobel Ganguly who, in regards to this book, said, “I loved the world and I felt really immersed in it. I rated it 5 out of 5 stars.” The Cruel Prince quickly became a BookTok staple for YA fantasy. It contains a perfect blend of slow-burn romance and thrilling action making it a real page-turner, which makes it a full 5 stars in our eyes as well. It will keep you on your toes and as Ganguly gushed, “I definitely think it’s deserving of the hype. I loved the book and was able to finish it so quickly.”

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes – 3/5

This popular mystery novel was released in mid-2020 and became a big hit with the BookTok community. We found this book to be very different from what we expected originally and, to our dismay, the thriller of it all tended to be overshadowed by the love triangle involving two rather uninteresting brothers and the whiny main character they were both enraptured with. Sophomore Sahaj Malik, who discovered the book through BookTok, was able to find good aspects in the book and said, “I thought it was pretty good. There was a lot of romance and I liked how there was a lot of action and thriller in it. Out of 5 stars, I think I would rate it around a 3 and a half or a 4.” We agree that the action and adventure were redeemable qualities and the twists and turns throughout the novel kept things interesting even when the forced romance seems unbearable at times. All in all, we’d give The Inheritance Games a solid 3 stars. It’s not completely worthy of the hype, however, it isn’t the worst BookTok has to offer.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover – 1/5

It Ends With Us is a contemporary romance written to express the dangers and realities of abusive relationships. Many people love the book for the message and believe that the topic was well handled and well written about, while some also enjoyed the simplicity of the way the story is told. However, on the flip side, many have also found that they didn’t like it at all, finding the writing style to be cringy and the abuse to be romanticized. We also agreed on the negative. The characters seemed unrealistic and oftentimes the abuse seemed romanticized in a sense. We believe that it’s a really good concept, however, the story wasn’t told to its full potential. Hoover’s first mistake was naming her lead character Lily Blossom Bloom and having her run a flower shop, making the characters seem cheesy and hard to take seriously. A Goodreads user by the name of “Olivia” summed it up, stating, “It Ends With Us has the bones of a powerful story but reads like a low-budget Hallmark movie pushed forward by ridiculous plot revelations.” 

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – 5/5

The Song of Achilles is a Greek mythology retelling that follows Achilles and Patroclus’ love story. This book has brought many a book lover to tears, as can be expected from any Greek tales which are known for their tragic endings. The Song of Achilles was, as Terra Linda English teacher Caroline McNally put it, “sad in a very beautiful way.” The storytelling in this novel is truly outstanding and beyond moving. The author, Madeline Miller, dove deeply into the story of Achilles and Patroclus and captured their love as they grew up beautifully. Sophomore Joy Perry described it by saying, “the characters felt like real people, not just like little two-dimensional paper dudes just walking along. They felt like actual people who would think that way and make those decisions.” The Song of Achilles has recently regained popularity despite being originally published over a decade ago in 2011. Much of the popularity is thanks to BookTok, and #thesongofachilles has racked up over 305 million views on TikTok. We fell in love with The Song of Achilles just like the rest of BookTok and definitely agree that it is worth the hype.

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood – 3.5/5

Incorporating the use of the fake dating trope and including a brooding hotshot love interest, The Love Hypothesis has everything the romance side of BookTok is prone to obsess over. Despite this, it didn’t stand out as much to sophomore Claire McCarthy who shared that she thought, “it was just ok. It wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read but there also wasn’t anything that stood out to me as terrible.” The Love Hypothesis is set in a university and follows two scientists who are thrown together after a chance encounter and agree to start fake dating. It was lighthearted and was a very easy read which means it’s a good pick for those who are just getting into reading and are looking for something simpler. According to McCarthy, this is one great thing about BookTok; the fact that it makes reading more popular and gives options to those who wouldn’t read as much otherwise. Because of this, we think that it is somewhat deserving of the hype it’s gained from BookTok.

Normal People by Sally Rooney – 2/5

Mind-boggling, that’s what Normal People was. It was chaotic and complicated, just as the main characters, Marianne and Connell’s relationship was. Throughout the course of the 4 years that passed in this book, they were on and off friends and on and off almost more than friends. Most of the reading community will agree with us and Goodreads user, “Jessica,”  as they state, “the writing lacks quotation marks, which makes the dialogue difficult to decipher.” Just as we the readers struggle to understand, the main characters also struggle to understand each other and where they stand with each other due to an extreme lack of communication. At times the author also showcased how even during their times being apart they still went through some fairly traumatic experiences. We found it to be an interesting concept, and agree with “Yun” on Goodreads when they say “This story has a very YA feel to it, where the characters are filled with angst and lack emotional maturity.” Overall we didn’t strongly dislike it, however the characters felt too dramatic and we sure hope that’s not what most “normal people” act like. Personally, we feel that Normal People wasn’t worth the hype that BookTok gave it as it was melodramatic and overly toxic.

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab – 5/5

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue is as Ms. Bedford says “I didn’t feel like I’ve read a book like that before. And I find it rare to find a book that’s not like anything else.” It was unique and intriguing. Addie Larue was a French woman in 1714 who dealt with the devil and was forgotten because of it. Her story was touching and heart-wrenching. She had to live with knowing that she’d never make her mark on the world, and would never be truly seen. Until she meets Henry, who to her surprise can truly see her, again, and again, and again. The storytelling was absolutely remarkable and simply stunning. It’s been popular on BookTok for quite some time, and others steered clear. Ms. Mcnally says “I actually stayed away from [Addie LaRue] at first because I had thought it was overhyped and had heard people say it was, but I do think it lives up to it.” We’ve found ourselves agreeing with Ms. Mcnally. The Invisible Life of Addie Larue is an outstanding read and is one-hundred percent worth the hype.


With all of this in mind, we also think it is important to diversify the selection of users of BookTok read and make sure they are consuming content that includes authors and characters of all backgrounds. McNally brought up how BookTok tends to circulate the same group of books, most of which are written by straight white authors, and how crucial it is that readers actively search for diverse stories to get more out of reading. “I go out of my way to follow people that I think I’ll like the recommendations of, so I see a lot of diverse books. I see a lot of queer recommendations, a lot of Black authors, etc, because I sought that out.” BookTok is certainly an incredibly helpful and impactful part of the reading community, and as Ganguly put it, “At the end of the day it’s just about the books you enjoy. No one’s going to like every single book they see.”