THE NOVEL YOU EXPECTED TO HATE BUT TURNED OUT YOU LOVED
I had a few candidates for this category, but I've decided to choose Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Looking at the reviews it's definitely one of those 'marmite' books where people either hated it or loved it.
"Pretentious twaddle of the highest order"
"It has been quite some time since I read something this exciting"
"It is belletristic masturbation of astounding proportions"
"I can find no fault with Cloud Atlas"
And so on...
I have to say I did feel a certain amount of trepidation when I first picked the book up. I normally hate anything that's described as 'gimmicky', but I like Mitchell's writing, so I dived in. And I'm happy to say I fall firmly into the 'love it' camp. Yes, I can see why people think it's too clever for its own good, and why some would think it pretentious. But I thought it was astounding.
I loved how the story, which is made up of six linked novellas, moved in towards the centre and then out again, moving from the past, through the present and into the future and back again. But that doesn't go anywhere near describing how good this is. It's like a literary matryoshka doll. (And I do realise that sounds unbelievably pretentious).
Not an easy read, but a very rewarding one.
And an honourable mention to House of Leaves.