Skyscraper Syndrome: When Books Disappoint

Fun fact. My favourite word is skyscraper. I mean, when you really think about it, the word is so poetic.Today I’m going to talk about Skyscraper Syndrome, which is something I completely made up.

You know when someone recommends a book to you, or it’s really popular, and you’re just SO EXCITED TO READ IT?

And then you read it, and you try to like it, but it just…disappoints you?


The logic behind naming it “Skyscraper Syndrome” is that the idea of this book is built up in your mind, and people just keep building on it, until it’s so tall that NO book is going to be able to live up to that expectation. Which I think is sad, because maybe you would have liked it otherwise.

Sometimes, our favourite books are the ones nobody has ever heard of – we’re surprised they’re good, because we haven’t heard of them before, and because of that, we end up liking them even more.

Bear in the Big Blue House

(side note: does anyone remember this show? I used to love it! Welcome, welcome, welcome to the big blue house…)

Here are some examples of books where I fell into the trap of Skyscraper Syndrome:

1) Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

*wails* I’m so sorry, everyone! I tried to love it, I really did.

2) The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

I read the first…four, I think? And I liked them a little, but to be honest, only because I felt like I had to.

3) This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

So many people love this author! I didn’t really enjoy this book at all.

4) If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Don’t get me wrong – I really did like this book. But I read reviews of how people were sobbing, how it changed their lives…I just feel like I missed something.

But here’s the thing: these books are by no means bad. Often, it’s more a reflection of the reader, not the writer. I mean, writers put a lot of effort into writing. I would know. I’m not even published and it takes a lot of effort.


And then there are the books where I’m so glad Skyscraper Syndrome didn’t affect me negatively. Books like:

– The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

– Harry Potter by J K Rowling

– The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

– Splintered and Unhinged by A G Howard

All of these books could have induced the dreaded Skyscraper Syndrome. They are all hyped to the point of ridiculousness. I’m not sure why it occurs, or which books it affects most. Maybe it’s to do with your mood at the time, or the movement of the planets. Maybe the genre or pet peeves. There are a million possibilities.

I don’t really think there’s a way around it, because people are always going to be recommending books for me, and for the most part, people’s suggestions are great.

Does Skyscraper Syndrome affect you? 


30 thoughts on “Skyscraper Syndrome: When Books Disappoint

  1. Yup, totally. Actually I agree with you on all of these – I could never get into Cassandra Clare despite it being recommended everywhere, and If I Stay I thought was good but not ah-mazing. Some books that did live up to the hype were all of Stephanie Perkins books (esp Anna and the French Kiss), and Rainbow Rowell’s books. But you’re totally right, it definitely depends on the reader. Subjectivity FTW!

  2. I don’t often get affected by the Skyscraper Syndrome because I don’t often like the types of books that get the most hype. I read a lot of lesser known books in genres that aren’t necessarily popular, such as historical fiction. However, I did get affected with it when I read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I had heard such good things about the book and even though I liked it, I didn’t like it as much as I expected too. I actually have a book review for this book that will soon be posted on my blog. At the same time, I did love some of the books that I read that got a lot of hype. Two good examples are The Lunar Chronicles and The Book Thief. In my mind, these are just exceptional books, and they deserved all of the hype that they got.

    • I wish I could be like you. I give in to peer pressure too easily. “Read this book!” they say. “Okay!” I say. I hated The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. I think I maaaay be the only one. But yessss, The Book Thief is SO incredibly. Great examples 🙂

  3. I KNOW THAT SHOW. What is it called though? With the bear…and yes. I KNOW IT. (Gosh, that was a memory moment.) x)
    I think skyscraper syndrome used to be okay for me….now it’s usually a bad thing. I get so, so, so excited for books and then I read them and meh. It’s sadness all round. BUT, it can honestly go either way for me. If I hadn’t seen so many people hyping up Fangirl, I probably wouldn’t have gone for it, because I love contemporaries, but they’re sometimes hit-or-miss for me. I do like hypes because I discover cool books. :)) I doooon’t like having my expectations be smushed.

    • Bear in the Big Blue House! LOVED that show.

      This is definitely something we have in common. When I get excited, it’s RIDICULOUSLY excited. I don’t do things by halves. No, sir. But you make a good point about discovering books you never would have otherwise – I probably wouldn’t have read The Lunar Chronicles except for the blogosphere’s brainwashing 😛

  4. Okay, so first of all, I love this post. I especially love the name – “Skyscraper Syndrome.” It’s perfect. I hate this syndrome (hehehe), but I get it way too often. Fangirl was one of my biggest and most recent examples; the kissing was too much, and the characters too shallow for me. I was sooo excited to read this one, too, because I’d heard so much hype about it and everything, and then I was really disappointed. (oh and I used to watch The Big Blue House! I completely forgot about it too!)

    • Haha, I just decided it should be a thing. It’s a shame you didn’t like Fangirl, but that’s one part of Skyscraper Syndrome I hate – when other bloggers are disappointed you don’t like a book they loved 😦 so that’s a great example. Oh, I LOVED Bear in the Big Blue House. My childhood… 😀

  5. Great post. 🙂 I hate it when this happens. I happened to me when I read Graceling . . . Everyone seems to LOVE that book, but I think in a way I had hyped it up too much, so it fell short of my expectations. AHAH. The bear gif brings me back to my childhood . . .

  6. Ah this is one of the problems of reading those really hyped-up books sometimes – and it does happen to me as well! I love the name you came up with for it too. I agree with what you’re saying ‘If I Stay’, I liked it too, but I guess it didn’t get to me like I thought it would. Great post on something that most of us readers have experienced!

    PS. I loved watching ‘Bear in the Big Blue House’ too 🙂

    • I like naming things. For example my laptop is called Larry. No idea why. If I Stay was good but not, you know, amazing. I really want to see the movie though.

      (Bear in the Big Blue House was my childhood. Five points for knowing about it)

  7. Yes yes yes! I so get this! I got this with The Hunger Games, The Knife of Never Letting Go, If I Stay and The Perks, however, I did end up loving Cinder and The Fault in Our Stars, but I do think your right. The less you know about a book, the less it bothers you if you don’t like it and the more you like it if you do. ‘Skyscraper Syndrome’, it’s a good phrase, it’s going to join my ‘Disappointingly Nice’, ‘Mood Reader Reliant’ and ‘Annoyingly Enjoyable’ club 😉

  8. Great post! I haven’t really been affected by Skyscraper Syndrome that often. I usually end up liking, if not loving, hyped books! I remember when I was picking a book to kick off my blog with though, I chose Ask the Passengers by A.S. King because that had so many fab reviews on Goodreads and lots of five-star ratings. I thought I would love it. Ended up giving it two stars. So yeah, my blog sort of started with a Skyscraper Syndrome post. It’s been mostly uphill from there though!

    I haven’t read any of your Skyscraper Syndrome books apart from TMI, and I read those before they were hyped at all. I liked the first book, but the rest haven’t been that great and I finally stopped when the fourth one bored me out of my mind. I’m currently reading another book by Jennifer E. Smith, The Geography of You and Me, which was quite good to start with, but then fizzled out after the first few chapters. If it stays that way, I don’t know if I’ll read any of her other books. I really want to check out Throne of Glass though! I hope the Skyscraper Syndrome doesn’t affect me with that book. Fingers crossed!

    • Oh, you are so lucky! I wish I liked EVERY single book I read. That would be fantastic. Alas, my brain doesn’t work that way.

      If I read books before they’re hyped, I’m usually waaay more tolerant. So that affects my reviews. It just really disappoints me when books don’t turn out as good as they sound in my head. Incidentally, this also applies to story ideas..

      I hope you enjoy Throne of Glass! 😀

  9. Lol how odd that the books you mention you love, I got Skyscraper Syndrome for: TFiOS and Splintered. I don’t get all of the “woe is me, I sobbed for hours” for TFiOS. It was just “okay” for me, and I don’t think I’ll be seeing the movie.

    No disrespect, it just wasn’t for me.

    I also got sucked into Dorothy Must Die. Skyscraper.

    The books I’ve loved lately haven’t really been on many blogs at all. I don’t think anyone in the circle of blogs I visit has read Tsarina, and it doesn’t have many reviews on Amazon. But it was a fantastic book!

    Roll of the dice, I suspect.

    • And hey, I can totally get that. If I didn’t like TFIOS, I would probably be sooo annoyed at how much everyone talks about it. Like Frozen, come to think of it, which I didn’t like at all.

      Ohhhh, but I really want to read Dorothy Must Die! That’s a shame 😦

      I’ve never heard of Tsarina. But sometimes it can be even better to find an amazing book that no one’s heard of – it feels like it’s YOURS, kind of thing 🙂

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  11. Yes, I have this issue a lot actually! My biggest examples are the Fault in Our Stars and the Fifth Wave. That’s why as much as I like to see good reviews, I don’t actually read them, just the average rating. That way, I can tell if a book is worth reading but not giving me things to look for.

  12. Oh Gosh… I definitely suffer from Skyscraper Syndrome as well. And yes, a lot of my favourite books are relatively unknown.

    But more-so I suffer from Self-Skyscraper Syndrome. Where I pick up a book, read the blurb and instantly build up all sorts of expectations about what it’s going to be like and what’s going to happen, and get disappointed when it doesn’t live up to the expectations of my imagination. Self-Skycraper Syndrome, can that be a thing too? Or should we call it Book Blurberry Blues?

    • Oh my gosh yes, Self-Skyscraper Syndrome is a killer. I psych myself up so much when I read blurbs of books that sound good. And then I read them and…dammit, they’re not nearly as good as I expected. That should definitely be a thing!

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  14. YES! Great post. I call it the hype-monster. I’m so, so grateful that I read HP when it first came out so that I can fully love it and worship it, I’d hate to think that my opinions might have been changed post-hype.

    I think Skyscraper Syndrome and the hype-monster are impossible to dodge – because once you know, you know. Once you’ve heard/read/seen ALL the hype you can’t take it back and remove it from your brain to read the book from scratch. TFIOS was affected by the hype-monster for me. I still gave it 4.5/5, but I think it would have been a full-on amazing book to read pre-hype. It was like no matter how amazing that book was it was never going to live up to what I expected, because I obviously expected earth-shattering, I’ll never be the same again, I will love every second of this book amazing-ness. Don’t get me wrong, it was really good, just not THAT good.

    I read the Hunger Games and The Mortal Instruments before I started blogging – so that was good because I had zero expectations and fully loved them (though I do remember that TMI Book 1, the first few chapters were tough going, I was just plonked in this weird world and it didn’t flow too great, but then it picked up and there was no stopping me). I’m rereading TMI now in preparation for book 6 (which is already waiting for me on my shelf. I know. I’m late), and I’m worried that since becoming a blogger my opinion of it will have changed.

    The Throne of Glass and The Lunar Chronicles are on my list. These days if it’s a series/book I know I’m pretty interested in, I will skim a review and see what the final rating it, but I won’t look any further into it until after I’ve read it, then I’ll go back and see what the reviews said. I only really like reading reviews in full for books I’ve already read.

    God, I can really rant once I get started lol x

    • The hype monster indeed! I feel the same way about Harry Potter 🙂

      That’s such a shame about The Fault in Our Stars, which has become pretty much my favourite book – partially because I wasn’t expecting it.

      Book six of TMI! Wow. I stopped reading it after book four – hadn’t realised there were more of them, haha. I really like The Hunger Games as well.

      The Lunar Chronicles I really loved, but Throne of Glass…liked it, didn’t love it. And it happens so often with these hyped-up books, unfortunately!

  15. Skyscraper Syndrome deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeefinitely affects me. And most of the time, in a pretty negative way. I cannot think of any book hype that I have WITNESSED where I’ve read the hyped book and joined in the hype. I might really like the book, but I don’t think I’ve ever flailed madly over the book (at least when I’ve witnessed the hype before reading it).
    This was definitely the case with Throne of Glass and The Fault in Our Stars. And I almost kind of wish those books didn’t have so much hype because hype builds things up in my mind – even if I try not to let it do that to me. D:

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