Every year, we read books that make us disappointed, cheated, enraged or otherwise. We don’t love everything we read and sometimes, books get down in the bottom of the barrel when it comes talking about our end of the year reading. These books were ones I was excited for, but fell short for different reasons. I will have my reviews on each one linked so if you want to know more, you can check them out. But these ones sadly are at the bottom this year. I also didn’t rank them at all, since they all were underwhelming for different reasons.
1. Nothing But Sky
Rating: 2 stars
This was a recent read and it disappointed me. This 1920’s historical fiction book follows Grace, a wing walker who has big dreams and the clash she has with Henry, a young war vet who challenges her. I didn’t this book for three reasons: too simple plot, overly aggressive MC who has no full circle of development and the love interest losing his agency in wanting to pursue his dreams because he has to be with the girl. Tropes like this truly annoy me and take away my enjoyment fast.
2. All the Wind in the World
Rating: 2 stars
I wanted to love this book so badly, but we can’t always have nice things. This “death western” (according to the author) is set in the future where is practically gone and tells the story of how Sarah Jac and James, two lovers, go the Real Marvelous ranch and the consequences of going there. While I love Mabry’s writing and the concept of the future world, that didn’t save the story from a flat and unconvincing romance, insufferable MC and not enough explanation to satisfy the ending. I’m also not sure why it was nominated for the National Book Award. But I hope her next novel is better.
3. The Dire King (Jackaby #4)
Rating: 3 stars
Yep…this one hurts. This finale to a series I have loved since last year had left some to be desired. I get one element of the ending and why the author did it, but I still think it made a big part of the story void and not meaningful. I also feel like it took forever to get to the final battle, not enough people died (stop doing that!) and a bit too much humor. There was also two unanswered questions that also made me feel a bit cheated. But I definitely try this finale again when I re-read the series and I do look forward to the author’s next book.
4. Daughter of the Pirate King #1
Rating: 1 star
This started out fun, but really annoying for me. Alosa is one of the worst OP special snowflakes I’ve ever read about and almost every male character is an idiot or the “love interest.” I ended up skimming the last half to see if it got better, but…nope. I understand the elements that nod to Pirates of the Caribbean, but I’m getting of “wish fulfillment” or special snowflakes in YA…there’s too many.
5. Flame in the Mist #1
Rating: 1 star
This Feudal Japan YA fantasy novel bored me to death and annoyed me. Mariko is one of those characters who claims to be all intelligent. But when she’s wandering through the forest after her caravan gets attacked, is going to find food to eat? How does she navigate through a vast forest? Does she try to makeshift a weapon? How does she know about chemistry to make explosives? Sorry reader, you don’t get that explanation. All this girl does is puff herself up and talk her mouth off. Plus, she’s very disrespectful for that time period and didn’t feel like an authentic Japanese character to me for the time. While yes, it’s a fantasy novel, having respect is huge in that culture and offensive if you openly show disrespect and Mariko was one of those people. Plus the love interest was boring and not much of a personality. I also am not a fan of the author’s writing style, I don’t think she’s an author for me.
6. Before the Devil Breaks You (The Diviners #3)
Favorite: 3-3.5 stars, maybe 3.5-3.75
Now…I’m gonna say that this was my most disappointing book this year. This series is creative, thoroughly researched and creepy, but this volume disappointed me 😦 First off, the mental asylum element is NOT a main focus of the story like the synopsis made you believe. It was over way too quickly. Plus, all the Diviners were too OP with dealing with the ghosts. Then, the overall bad guy barely makes his presence! At any time, he could go himself and torture or kill major characters. But he wasn’t threatening enough. Also, while I understand how politics, religion and other things getting heated in the 1920’s, I still feel like it was too modern of a look at the time period. I just wanted more of the superantural stuff to take the front seat and feel the dooming threat on the main characters that the side characters suffer so much. While people like Blind Bill, Theta and Sam had some of the best arcs I’ve seen, the final book better deliver.
What are your disappointing books this year? Did any of these disappoint you or did you love them?