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How Accurate are Goodreads' Recommendations? (Sadie by Courtney Summers and More)

Updated: Sep 13, 2020

When you mark a book as read on Goodreads they will recommend you another book based on that book (provided you enjoyed it). I chose three of my all time favorite books (all of which I rated 5 stars) and then read whatever book Goodreads recommended to me. I discussed similarities and, ultimately, deemed whether or not the recommendation was accurate/successful. I got this video idea from a comment left by Youtuber ahugebooknerd on another Youtuber's (BooksandLala) video. I linked both of their channels at the bottom of this blog.

1. Sadie by Courtney Summers

Based on: That I enjoyed Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

What Truly Devious is about/Why I enjoyed it:

A YA murder mystery taking place at an isolated boarding school. I enjoyed how atmospheric the novel was. I adored Stevie, the main protagonist, who suffered from anxiety/panic attacks like me but was also an intelligent, clever, and ambitious. I also loved the story telling format of both past and present day as well as the inclusion of the police reports.

What is Sadie About?:

Sadie a YA mystery which tells the story of Sadie Hunter whose younger sister Mattie was murdered. Sadie is out to find the man who did it.

Do I Feel This Recommendation is Accurate?:

Both Truly Devious and Sadie are YA mysteries with female protagonists. That being said, the girls themselves had very different motivations; Stevie wants to become a detective while Sadie wants revenge. Both novels had dual story-lines. Truly Devious' came in the form of present and past timelines while Sadie's had Sadie's first person perspective and that of a podcast investigating Sadie's disappearance. Sadie is significantly darker than Truly Devious and deals with topics such as childhood sexual abuse. I rated Truly Devious 5 stars and Sadie 4.5 stars. While I can't say that I 'enjoyed' Sadie due to how disturbing it was, I can say that I found the writing splendid and the narrative style brilliant. The two have enough similarities that I definitely think this recommendation was one which makes sense and was successful.

2. Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins

Based on: That I enjoyed The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

What Lady's Guide is about/Why I enjoyed it:

This is a YA historical fiction following Felicity on her quest to become a female doctor in 19th century Europe. Felicity is an independent, intelligent, determined woman. The novel is very feminist and features female friendships and is full of adventure.

What is Her Royal Highness About?:

This enemies to lovers YA romance sees protagonist Millie attending a boarding school in Scotland and falling for her princess roommate, Flora.

Do I Feel This Recommendation is Accurate?:

These novels have some similarities. Both are YA books (though HRH is romance while Lady's Guide is historical fiction) featuring highly intelligent female characters. However, while we see Felicity's intellect first hand, we are more so just repeatedly told that Millie is super smart. Additionally, both take place in Europe. While Felicity is asexual, her brother (featured in Lady's Guide and a main character in its companion novel) is bisexual like Millie. That being said, HRH is much more similar to Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. Both are romance novels featuring same sex couples. Both use the trope enemies-to-lovers, and both feature Americans falling in love with European royals. The only real difference is that Red, White & Royal Blue is new adult. Unfortunately, I ended up rating HRH just 2 stars. So, Goodreads' assumption that I would like this book based on my enjoyment of Lady's Guide was, ultimately, inaccurate.

Red, White & Royal Blue Review:

3. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

Based on: That I enjoyed The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan

What The Astonishing Color of After is about/Why I enjoyed it:

In this YA contemporary 15 year old Leigh's mother dies by suicide and Leigh believes she's transformed into a bird. Following what she believes to be her mother's wishes, she travels to Taipei to meet her maternal grandparents. I loved the poetic writing and careful handling of the difficult topic, as well as the exploration of one's heritage. What is Radio Silence About?:

This YA contemporary follows high school student Frances who is obsessed with school and getting into a good college. She's also obsessed with a sci-fi podcast created by classmate Aled Last. The novel follows Frances as she befriends Aled and becomes involved in his podcast. Do I Feel This Recommendation is Accurate?: Both are YA contemporaries, though Radio Silence lacks the magical realism elements of TACoA. Both feature multiracial female characters (Leigh from TACoA is white and Taiwanese while Frances is black and white) who are artists. Both do deal with mental illness as well, though I was disappointed with RS's handling of it. That being said, RS was much more similar in theme and writing style to another book I read this year, Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia. Both are YA contemporaries with female leads. Both deal with fan culture and see a creator of a viral web series who either befriends or falls for a creator of fan fiction/art. EaHM also deals with mental illness. I'd be much more likely to recommend RS to someone who is a fan of EaHM than I would someone who enjoyed TACoA. I ended up giving RS 2 stars.

Radio Silence Review:

Eliza and Her Monsters Review:

Final Thoughts:

I am going away from this 'experiment' with one book I rated very highly and will reread and two...duds. That being said, I can understand why Goodreads recommended the books that they did. I think I may try this again with my favorite genre, YA fantasy. However, I can't say that, from this experience, I recommend Goodreads recommendations, unfortunately.


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