While I’ll wait next year to post my list of favorite novels in the hopes of finding a new favorite in these last few days, I hope I won’t have anything to add to this list, so here it is.
As my main goal for 2020 is reading less without feeling bad about it, I want to be able to spend less time on books I hate, so I’m going to think about what can I do to avoid books like these. But there are good news: while this list last year was of 15 books, today I have only 8, and this is already an improvement.
From the one I “liked” the most to the one I liked the least:
I wish I could tell you what exactly went wrong with this book, when Want was one of my favorite books back in 2017. Sadly, I don’t remember one thing that happened in here. Not one scene. I remember feeling misled because the cover implied there would be more Lingyi that there actually was (and with that, more of the f/f couple, but it never actually got any more development), but that’s it. Completely forgettable, and it shouldn’t have been, with that cast of characters.
#7: The Nowhere Girls
I didn’t get much out of this. One could say, it’s for young teens, but young teens deserve better than a book that preaches at them while botching things on the side – the portrayal of sensory issues was not good, and others have pointed out other things as well; the author tried to do too many things in too little space and with experiences she didn’t share. Lots of good intentions, but the story is boring and the romances are an unnecessary, underdeveloped afterthought.
For next year: no feminism 101 books.
#6: Girls of Storm and Shadow
This is not the worst book I’ve read this year, but it’s definitely the biggest disappointment, as Girls of Paper and Fire was one of my favorite books of last year. To me, it felt on many levels like something that was written in a rush, 400 pages of badly written filler with some small redeeming moments (the scenes between Lei and Wren are still the sweetest, even when they hurt). On some level, I wish it had been a standalone, but I know this sequel has been important to many as well, so… I just wish I had ignored it, mostly, and I don’t recommend it.
For next year: ignore sequels if the early reviews are bad since you tend not to like direct sequels anyway, and don’t get annoyed if they get pushed back; that might save the series for you, and publishing’s pace isn’t healthy for anyone.
#5: Here There Are Monsters
Another big disappointment, as Amelinda Bérubé’s The Dark Beneath the Ice is one of my favorite books ever. I didn’t get the point of this: it wasn’t creepy, it wasn’t meaningful (or: I didn’t get it?), it wasn’t interesting – it was just full of ugly things happening to teens, with nothing similar to catharsis anywhere in the book, and neither the resolution nor the characters’ motivations made any sense to me. Yeah, maybe I really just didn’t get it.
#4: After the Eclipse
As forgettable as it was predictable, focusing on the mystery and on the shocking aspects instead than on developing the characters. It was a quick read, sure, but it felt like a waste of time.
For next year: maybe I don’t like adult thrillers? I need to remember that they easily don’t work for me and that to pick them up I need a strong motivation (note: it might be tempting, future self, but “it has lesbians” is not a strong motivation).
#3: The Waking Forest
An overwritten, convoluted mess that didn’t seem to have a point and ended in a worse one than where it began. Also, books that get advertised as one thing and use the “it was just a dream” trope to become something completely different are the bane of my existence.
For next year: request less ARCs, and why read straight YA fantasy anyway?
It’s not that the way this book casually mangled the Italian language meant to mock bilingual ESL existence by implying “I’m English-speaking and don’t need to make any effort to get published in your country, your language is beneath me” but it sure does feel like that. Not my only problem, of course, but for that I’m going to link my review. I’m not going to waste any more time on this.
For next year: white men who write fantasy are put on pedestals without them needing to put any effort in anything, and I probably should remember it next time I consider picking up a fantasy book written by one. Also, why read Jay Kristoff.
#1: If We Were Villains
We don’t have any ground to complain about YA heroines lacking personality when Oliver Marks, or this whole cast of characters really, exists.
For next year: if the word “Shakespeare” is anywhere in the synopsis, I probably don’t want to read it.
Have you read any of these? What was your least favorite book of 2019?