Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt

Oh Underneath, people have such nice things to say about you, and yet, I can't seem to finish you!  On first attempt I only lasted a few pages, but months later, after all the buzz from Mock Newbery contests, I made a second attempt.  I HAD to quit halfway through because you were so dark and depressing and you bored me to tears!

Oh yes, just as everyone says, your language is beautiful and lyrical, but you are about abused animals and a mean man without even an ounce of good in him.  I just could not take anymore.

And thus we must part ways.  It's not you, it's me.  I mean, you are beloved by many; do I have bad taste?

Dear readers, have there been any books beloved by many that you just can't stand?  Please tell me I'm not the only one!

36 comments:

Janssen said...

I am SO with you on this book. I finally finished it just to have finished it, but I didn't see it as the jewel and rare gem that everyone else is raving about. I don't know. . . I guess it just didn't do it for me.

I am Laura said...

I feel like something is wrong with me because I didn't like The Twilight series or the Traveling Pants series. Good that we all can have our own thoughts and opinions so that we are not all the same.

Kate said...

The Great Gatsby! Everyone loves it, and I hated it.

Ben Clanton said...

The Tiger Rising was one that I wasn't as impressed by but has received lots of praise. I still have The Underneath on my shelf. I hope I like it!

Casey said...

Despite everyone I know having finished the whole Twilight series in a weekend, I have been stalled in the middle of the 3rd one for almost 2 months. Not that I haven't read other stuff, I just keep losing interest after a chapter and putting it to the side. Also, I hated Catcher in the Rye and used to fight about it with my roommate's English major friend.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't finish it either, but had the same reaction as you. You are not alone.

Meg said...

AMEN! I am just trying to finish it as well to have finished it. I feel bad when a book is like that for me, almost guilty as well because so many raved about it, and because I LOVE reading. Anyways, we'll see if I get through it.

MotherReader said...

Our DC Kid Lit Book Club was divided over The Underneath. We appreciated the writing, but thought that it was pretty dark for the age group it was targeting. Reminds me of my other dark book that a lot of people loved and others hated - Edward Tulane.

Susan Mello said...

You described exactly how I feel about The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (The newest Newbery winner). I had it on my shelf to read and as soon as it won...I thought...I should read this book. Well, I am 104 pages into it and bored to tears. I honestly don't care about the characters or see the draw in the storyline. I guess I will have to finish it...because it won. I think the committee chose this book because of its popularity (recent criticism about choosing book that no one likes or reads).

Anyone else having trouble with this book?

Bridget said...

I, too, have been unable to finish The Underneath. I was worried because so many people think it's great. Perhaps it's just not my kind of book.

Shelley/Chain Reader said...

I have read such mixed reviews on this one, I feel like I have to read it to find out. One children's book that I hated was Stone Fox (a dog book) because the end was unexpected and tragic. I almost threw the book at the wall. An adult book that everyone loved and I hated was Pillars of the Earth. Actually, I didn't finish it I thought it was so awful.

Anonymous said...

i loved the Underneath! but i totally understand when a book just isn't for you. Still, I had to defend it, because to me, it was wonderful :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Ms. Stephanie Ford:

I was reading with interest your posts... and I want to know if maybe you could read the children books I've wrote and give me a critic to improve?

PS please excuse me for my english but it isn't my first language. (Don't worry, the books aren't translated by me)

Warm Regards and thanks for all,

Julián
todoquizas@gmail.com

Kelly said...

I finished The Underneath and loved it, but I see what you mean. It is dark.

I was initially put off by the cover. It seemed so cutesy. I think if the cover was a little darker to reflect what sort of story it is, that might help.

My .02, anyway!

Michelle from Cincinnati said...

I did not like Bridge to Terabithia, and my daughter (9 or 10 at the time) did not like it either. I thought it was depressing throughout, and I did not finish the book with any sense of hope. The imaginary world of Terabithia wasn't enough to lift the darkness for me.

BTW--I love this site! THANKS for running it.

Michelle

Holly Wilcox said...

Stephanie,
Your blog is amazing. Every time you put up a new book I request it from the library. I would have never know about them otherwise. Thanks so much!!
My daughter's favorite has been Fanny. She said the dolls that Fanny can't have are just like the
Bratz dolls that I don't want her to have. We read it almost every day- so it's about time I buy my own copy.
She also loves Ducks don't wear socks.
I'm a fan of Charley Harper's ABC's. The art is beautiful. I think the pictures would be perfect for nursery art.

Thanks again for sharing all of these! (You might not remember me- but we were in the Univ. ward together for a little while.)

Sharon said...

When I dislike a book that everyone seems to love I wonder if something is wrong with me, too. I gave up reading the Disreputable history of Frankie Landau-Bankes that so many enjoyed. Graceling is another many loved that I thought was okay, but not great. It's a good thing there are so many, many different books out there for different tastes. I really liked The Underneath, but I can't figure out who the audience is.

Kimberly said...

Runaway Bunny.... can't stand it. The way the mother stalks the child... I find it creepy not endearing. Also don't appreciate the illustrations.

Deanna H. said...

I just posted about The Graveyard Book. I edited my post several times to make it sound more "warm fuzzy" because I didn't want people sending me hate mail.

It's not that I couldn't stand The Graveyard Book, I just don't get why it won any kind of award.

Sherry said...

I loved The Underneath, but I'm with the other commenters on The Graveyard Book. I tried twice and didn't make it through.

Isn't it nice when someone else confirms your opinion, and one can feel not so alone?

Elizabeth said...

So glad you are still doing this. I have read so many good books I have discovered here.

amyh said...

I didn't even find the writing poetic. I thought it was repetitive and boring. I did eventually finish, though, and was reasonably satisfied with the redemption in the end.

denabelle said...

Thank you! I felt exactly the same way you did! I didn't make it very far into the book, because I couldn't get past the "ugliness" of the main character's actions and the situation. Animals are my weakness. In fact, you only have to say the title "Where the Red Fern Grows" and my eyes well up. I could see where "The Underneath" was headed after a few chapters and knew I couldn't go there, nor did I want to take my children there.

BERRETTS said...

I loved this blog and I miss you.

Sarah Goldstein said...

Stephanie,

I would love love love to get your book club reading THE CHOSEN ONE by Carol Lynch Williams. I'd be more than happy to send you a copy for review on your blog, for consideration---even a couple! Already teachers, librarians, and ya authors are going crazy in the blogosphere and on twitter... I'd be happy to send you more info about the book if you email me at sarah.goldstein@stmartins.com or just send me your address and I'll drop a copy in the mail!

Sarah Goldstein
St. Martin's Press

Bethel23 said...

Hi Stephanie,
I see this blog has been quiet since February, but I like the reviews and comments you've attracted.

We have a wiki dedicated to good children's literature at http://childrensbooks.wikia.com

Would you like to participate? We've got articles on nearly 300 books so far, and we appreciate new book listings or reviews at any time.

Regards, Pete & Andrew.

Anonymous said...

Reading the underneath right now along with my 11yr old daughter. Started reading it because she said it was strange. So far I am liking it,I'm finding myself wanting to find out what will happen next and very curious about the ending, so tempted to skip to the end and see what happens, but holding back the urge to do so for now. I also thought it was a little dark for the targeted age group I'm not sure what my daughter thinks of it, I know parts will be upsetting to her. We will see.

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