30-Day Book Challenge: Day 8 - Most Overrated Book

The Fifth Head of Cerberus: Three Novellas - Gene Wolfe

This is a difficult question. There are many books that such a claim can be made for. Over 75% of anything which main promo tagline is "bestseller". Dan Brown. Your average fantasy series.


There are also many classics I dislike, but I still recognise their significance. I guess they still deserve some praise for that merit. (Even Werther.)


I decided to go with a book that has very high ratings and clout in relevant circles, but I couldn't find any redeeming thing about. It has an interesting premise, but it falls flat due to trying too hard and forceful extension. (It used to be a single novella; then the writer was told to add more so it could be published in a single book. We all know how that goes.)


I go into details in my review (fear not, it's one of those I managed to fix), but here's the breakdown: Wolfe enjoys a very good reputation in SF circles, particularly for his metafictional elements. His idea of metafiction here, however, boils down to hiding the clues for the reader to find. There is no meaning in it beyond being gimmicky. There is some attempt at touching the question of identity in the first (original) novella, but it's lost beneath all the winks and nudges.