So I was in B&N this afternoon, killing time and looking for something decent to read over Christmas week. (Nevermind that I have a couple of years' worth of unread books at home โ€” the pile must be fed.) I was looking for something vaguely literary but also pretty much escapist โ€” what publishing folks call crossover books โ€” and so I spent a few hours buying seasonally-themed coffee drinks and wandering the aisles of literary fiction, SF, and mystery, largely to no avail.

I thought for a while about picking up a book that got a lot of press on io9 and various other SF/Fantasy outlets, like Tor and Locus: Samantha Shannon's The Bone Season. The author is super-young, but she's an Oxford grad, and the premise sounded interesting enough; I leafed through the first few pages and found the writing style to be evocative and assured, if a little derivative. But the more reviews I read online, including Annalee's take, the less of a sure thing it sounded, and once it became apparent that the novel was a sort of fanfic mashup of steampunk, Harry Potter, X-Men, and Jane Eyre, with a dash of Philip Pullman, the more ehhh it sounded. Shannon's novel received a lot of attention when it came out in the fall โ€” it's sold in the mainstream section, as opposed to SF or YA โ€” but it doesn't seem to have set the world on fire, though there are six โ€” count 'em, six โ€” sequels planned.

So my question is, what, if any, heavily promoted genre books (particularly by youngish, first time authors) have totally lived up to the marketing? There have been a lot of massively hyped crossover SF/Fantasy novels that got a ton of press and decent reviews, like Lev Grossman's The Magicians or Ernest Cline's Ready Player One that I just thought were just okay, and some, like Daniel Wilson's Robopocalypse, that were just not very good at all. I also have a bunch of similarly hyped books I've been meaning to read like Helene Wecker's The Golem and The Jinni, Toby Barlow's Babayaga, and Daniel O'Malley's The Rook, so if those stink, please warn me.

Anyway, I ended up picking up Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, which might have been the Bone Season of 2011, though most folks seem to like it just fine.