Book titles by nature have to be interesting. They have to pull us in, make us want to read the book. And often, the way they make book titles interesting is by making them ambiguous. There’s intrigue in the mystery, intrigue that make you want to read the book and find out what the title means. Sometimes, though, there can be such a thing as too ambiguous.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about titles, and how I’ll often read titles and think at first, Wow, that sounds really beautiful and poetic! and then I think about it, and I realize, I have no idea what that actually means. So I thought I would share with you guys some of my favorites that I’ve seen recently.
The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan
Okay, this one has got to be my favorite. This one is just poetry. I mean, doesn’t it just make you want to know what After looks like? “Before” and “After” seem to be a consistent theme in YA, but this is my first time seeing After having a color. Honestly, I’m intrigued. But also confused.
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
I have been staring at this book in bookstores for eight years now, and I still have no idea what it is about. The cover, which features a single eyeball (a close friend of mine calls it “the snowy eyeball”), doesn’t help much. Sure, I admit that “Shatter Me” sounds really poetic. It brings to mind images of shattering glass, it probably makes you think of things being broken – although from the title, we don’t know what. We don’t know anything about what the story is about or even what genre it is.
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
Now, I feel like anything with the word “thing” in the title is just always going to be vague. “Thing” is probably the least descriptive word in the English language, because a thing can be anything, right? I mean, just read how confusing that sentence is! And “absolutely” and “remarkable” really do nothing to describe what the “thing” is, except to tell us that it’s really amazing, which is something we would have assumed anyway. Even after reading the book (which is great, by the way), I still have no idea what the “thing” is, or why it’s absolutely remarkable. Hank, I love you, but you can do better.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
“Objects” is another word that’s really vague. It’s more specific than “thing,” because it has to be something tangible, but it can still be almost anything. Now, these objects are sharp, but that honestly just makes it more confusing. Why can’t you just say “knives”? Or “sharp sticks”? Be more specific with your objects!
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Only John Green would get his titles from obscure Shakespeare quotes, which is why he’s an icon, but three reads later, I still don’t know what the heck this title has to do with two cancer-ridden teenagers. Unlike some other titles on this list, “the fault in our stars” doesn’t even have a literal meaning. Presumably it has something to do with fate (what a surprise), but we’re not really sure what. It’s okay, though, most of us will still buy it and cry ourselves to sleep regardless.
Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Here’s a crazy idea: why don’t you name the novel after the place she went to? That’ll tell me more about what the book is about than this title. “Where she went” would mean an endless number of things, and I don’t even know what to think with this title.
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
This statement is technically true. The sun is a star. However, what does this random factoid have to do with anything? Is this book a sci-fi about stars and the sun? (Hint: it’s not. It’s a YA contemporary). No, this is just another love story about two teenagers who believe in fate and stars, hence the poetic title. Like most vague titles, it makes you think, “Oh, that’s a pretty sentiment,” then “Wait. What?”
Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi
Can you outrun the wind though? That’s what I really want to know, but I’m not sure if this book really holds the answer. Even after reading the summary, I’m not sure how the wind is even involved. I get the feeling that “outrun the wind” is supposed to be some sign of power, like “oh, this character is so amazing, she can outrun the wind!” but frankly, I’m not impressed. I’d rather know what the story is really about, thank you.
Again, But Better by Christine Riccio
Again what? What are we doing again? I’m already confused. Sure, I can already tell this book is about second chances, but that’s all the information I have. I need more than a theme to pull me in; I need a story, I need a character. This title just doesn’t do it for me.
We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
This is another title where I’m confused about how it works. How do you set the dark on fire? It sounds good, but what does that mean? The tagline for this book is “Let Rebellion Burn.” I don’t know about you, but I’m getting some hardcore Hunger Games vibes here. I’m not sure what the obsession with fire is all about (not that I’m opposed to it). There seems to be a lot of fire and darkness involved, and I’m not sure how it all works in the story. Maybe the heroine has magic fire powers. If that’s the case, more power to you, girl.
Editors Note: I hope you enjoyed this fun list! To clarify, we are not judging these books by their titles. Many of these books are great and worthy of reading, but we can’t help but jest a bit at the ambiguity of some book titles.