This post is inspired partly by a video that Booktuber Katytastic made and that I now can't find. This would be so much better if I could post that video, but Katytastic posts many, many videos, and I don't have time to re-watch all of them. But I wish I did.
The gist of Kat's video is that sometimes, books get published in the wrong time. Her example was The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, published in 2013, after the Twilight/vampire craze was pretty much played out. Because of this, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown didn't get the hype it deserved--I read this book over the summer, and I completely agree. This book should have been huge.
Books that deserve to be bestsellers might not be, just because of when they're published. Example: Any dystopian book that's published right about now, on the heels of The Hunger Games and Divergent. Also, poor Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts, which is about two teens in a hospital who form a friendship (and, uh, possibly more? I haven't read it yet). I've heard so many people dismiss it as "just another Fault in Our Stars."
And, looking at the publication dates of a few of the (in my opinion) underrated books I've read and loved, I agree with this point about bad timing. I think if Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne and No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz hadn't been published at roughly the same time, they both would've had more readers than they did. And, though the publication date is not really the issue here, if I hadn't read The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey and Ashfall by Mike Mullin within a few weeks of each other, I would've enjoyed them both more.
[FYI: Monument 14: Crazy hailstorms and chemical warfare force a group of kids to seek refuge inside a chain superstore. No Safety in Numbers: A biological bomb forces the mall to become a quarantined area.
The Fifth Wave: Aliens are taking over Earth, and Cassie has to make a long trip by foot to find her little brother. Ashfall: Yellowstone erupts in a super-volcano, and Alex has to travel from Iowa to Illinois (on foot) to find his family. I would recommend all of them, but not at the same time.]
And maybe these books aren't the best examples of bad timing wrecking a book's chances, because I think they were all pretty well-received, but I'd hate to think that timing stopped anyone from reading them.
I'm trying to keep an open mind about books that are marketed as "The next Hunger Games," but it's difficult. If you call it the next Hunger Games and I've read The Hunger Games, what incentive do I have to read it? So I think I might just have to stop paying attention to blurbs like this now.
Form your own opinions! Read what you want, when you want. Don't avoid books just because you think you've read something like it before. If you have, then at least you tried. If you haven't, then it's a truly good book.