Reviewing Booktok’s favorite reads


Crier’s War duology (Nina Varela): 4/5

The two books are both very fast and exciting reads with great writing that may sometimes toe the line of being a little too flowery. The duology follows the story of Crier, an Automae (artificially created humans that have grown to power and enslaved the human race), and Ayla, a human who works for Crier’s father and is determined to get revenge on him for the murder of her family. The technological and futuristic elements, along with the old-timey mystical undercurrents, create a beautiful blend between sci-fi and fantasy. Varela excels in her worldbuilding, giving away just enough to prevent confusion but still allowing for natural development. Conceptually, however, the world has very few unique aspects. The development of the romance between the two main characters was exceptionally well developed, as the characters themselves were very dynamic and strongly written. The books are written from both of their perspectives, which are distinctive enough to avoid any confusion. That being said, the two protagonists are the only exception of the otherwise weak and unmemorable cast of characters. 


The Song of Achilles (Madeline Miller): 4.5/5

The Song of Achilles might just be the most loved book on Tiktok. Despite its immense popularity, I was hesitant to read it due to the fact that it was a retelling of a popular Greek retelling. Since my Greek mythology knowledge is limited to Percy Jackson, I wasn’t sure how much I would understand and appreciate the story, not to mention that retellings often disappoint. However, Madeline Miller does a beautiful job in explaining the story. What stood out to me the most was Miller’s writing style, which can best be described as simple. To me, it was unique and clean, and I don’t think that beautiful writing has to contain flowery language and complex metaphors. However, it’s worth noting that many people interpret the writing as blunt and somewhat boring. The novel tells the story of Achilles, a Greek hero, from the perspective of his alleged lover, Patroclus. Miller balances heavy themes involving love, destiny and honor. For the most part, I found the characters well developed. My only criticism of this aspect is that Patroclus’ love for Achilles seemed to sometimes border on dependency. In some parts, it seemed that Patroclus’ entire identity revolved around Achilles and I would have liked to see more of his personality that Miller touched on. The story itself was beautiful, particularly the ending. Despite the fact that I knew how the story ended before even starting the book, it still caught me off guard and evoked heavy emotions. 


We Were Liars (E. Lockhart): 2/5

I was extremely surprised to see We Were Liars gain the “booktok hype.” To me, it has very few redeeming qualities. The book is about a teenage girl named Cadence Eastman, and how her seemingly perfect family has many more problems than they let on. The plot concept wasn’t necessarily bad, just executed poorly and underdeveloped. except for the big plot twist near the end of the book.  When I first read the book a few years ago, I loved the metaphors Lockhart used, but looking back they seemed forced, confusing, and made the main character sound overly dramatic. Overall, it was a weak attempt at beautiful and flowery prose. Additionally, the characters were pretty two dimensional and downright annoying. I found it impossible to sympathize with the main character, which is what Lockhart seemed so desperate for the readers to do. The main character undeniably faced many struggles, but it’s hard to sit through 242 pages of someone complaining. Perhaps Booktok should have left this book for its intended audience of middle schoolers, who I believe it would be better suited for.


The Cruel Prince trilogy (Holly Black): 2/5

The Cruel Prince trilogy was by far the biggest booktok letdown. I had high hopes for a complex fantasy world, a captivating plot, and interesting characters, but the book failed to come close to the glowing reviews people had of it. The story follows a human girl named Jude who lives in a faerie world, and the cruelty she faces from its inhabitants. The worldbuilding was poor and left me pretty confused. The characters were clearly meant to be morally gray and complex, really this just translated into them being inconsistent and having unclear motives. Conceptually, the plot wasn’t awful, but the development seemed forced and almost aimless at parts. The writing was decent, and there were some plot twists that I enjoyed. I would even say that some of the scenes in the book stuck with me in a positive way.