The 5 Most Disappointing Books I’ve Read So Far in 2020: Happy National Book Lover Day!

For some reason, I was scrolling through my old posts the other day.

I don’t know what overcame me, since my old posts are horrendous and I hate looking at them. But when I stumbled upon last year’s post where I did this same post, I immediately thought, “I hate myself. I am so insufferable. I am absolutely doing this again.”

So here I am, carrying on the tradition of naming most disappointing books of the year for National Book Lover day, apparently! I’m chaotic and also a mess so why not. I know some people don’t like to be negative towards books, but I personally need some way to get out my frustration about not liking these books, and that’s by complaining <33

Also, I know things are completely different in the blogging world where people are very respectful of others’ opinions, but god, please do not take these as an attack on your person if you love these books!! [insert that “that’s my OPINION” vine]

During the period of time between this post and my last post, there was a fatal explosion in Beirut. If you have the means to, please consider donating to the Lebanese Red Cross and/or share the link with others!

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LIKE A LOVE STORY

Like a Love StoryThis book was… a mess. If you want to know my full thoughts, read my (very rambly) Goodreads review by clicking on the book title. I’m truly one of the only people I know who’ve read this and didn’t adore this. There were just… so many strange things that happened?

A few things were/came off as transphobic, and the book hardly talked about trans people even though it discussed a movement trans people were vital to. Marsha P Johnson was mentioned once while Madonna got like 20 mentions, there was a character who told another to “get over” a slur, and the straight female main character made creepy comments about gay men.

This is an ownvoices gay Iranian book, and it does talk about great things about queer activism during the American AIDS crisis. I know a lot of people loved it, and I know this story is important to a lot of people. But it just made me feel really uncomfortable.

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COME TUMBLING DOWN

Come Tumbling Down (Wayward Children, #5)This is my second lowest rated book of the year! [heart eyes emoji]

It’s been no secret that I’ve struggled to really love the Wayward Children series, despite it being everything that I should love (whimsical magic! theme explorations! representation!). I was enjoying each installment a little more than the previous one, when BAM this one came along and I gave it 1.5 stars.

This book just felt absolutely useless: The plot was barely existent. I read it as an audiobook so when I checked to see how much I had left and saw that I was 70% through, I was genuinely shocked. I was like, how the hell have I gotten 70% through this and absolutely not one notable event has happened?? And then the one exciting event (the climax) lasted 1 second, which just felt even more unfair!

After I finished, I texted my friend who loves this series “what was the point of this book” and I think that about sums up how I feel.

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RUNNING WITH LIONS

Running With LionsI was really excited about the gay friends to enemies to lovers aspect of this, because that is everything I want in books!! But the development of their romance was done poorly, in my opinion; the basis of it wasn’t strong and you really need a strong foundation with this trope. I wouldn’t call this friends to enemies to lovers at all, actually.

Also. The writing. Oh my god, the writing made me want to slowly scratch a fingernail down my eyeballs, and the humor was just as bad. I also hated that the other characters of the sports team were not developed past maybe one trait. And not to mention how a male character was an asshole towards a girl who likes him but—no! He was just mean because he actually likes the girl back! Yes, I love when that happens to the only female character in the entire book.

There were some positives! I like the idea of a safe space in sports with a supportive team and coach, and bullying and body issues were discussed. But… I just had a very miserable time reading this.

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HARLEY IN THE SKY

Harley in the SkyThe first note I wrote down after finishing the book was “I didn’t care about the characters or anything that happened. that’s it that’s the review” and like… genuinely, this is how I feel about it.

My apathy towards this book is so bad that I don’t even feel super disappointed about not loving it—I’ve loved the author’s other books so much, so you’d think I’d be so sad about it, but I didn’t care about this book enough to even feel anything more than “meh.” This is just very focused on Harley, and when I couldn’t get invested in Harley or her growth, that meant I couldn’t get invested in the book as a whole.

The book as a whole was pretty well-written, especially in terms of Harley’s character and also the tackling of mental health issues! And others have truly loved this. But, as my review notes said (with much eloquence and correct grammar): “I didn’t have problems besides I just literally didn’t care lol.”

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THE MIDNIGHT LIE

The Midnight Lie (The Midnight Lie, #1)I know, blasphemy.

I think the hype for this book is really big on twitter, particularly with sapphic book lovers. And while I did like the romance, everything else was just so… meh? I went into it thinking it was going to be a fantastic book, and what I got was a good romance and a fantastically average book.

I didn’t hate this book! I gave it three stars!! But the plot lacked substance for me, and it felt like it was meandering until the very end. Overall, the book felt very forgettable, minus the ending and perhaps a few romantic scenes (which… I wanted so much more of).

I’ll be reading the sequel, since it ended on an interesting note and I’m intrigued to see where it goes. But I’m hoping things will, uh, actually happen in the second book!!

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BONUS: BOOKS THAT SURPRISED ME

Because I want to end this more positively, here’s a list of some books that pleasantly surprised me! I of course expected to enjoy these books, but I was surprised by just how much I ended up falling in love with them:

You Should See Me in a Crown  The Rise of Kyoshi (The Kyoshi Novels, #1)  Love From A to Z  In Other Lands

  • You Should See Me in a Crown: I talked about this before in my Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag, but I’ll say it again: The whole time I was reading this, I expected a 3-star book, but by the end I’d just loved it so much and gave it 4 stars!!
  • The Rise of Kyoshi: I knew I would love this one, because first of all ATLA, second of all (bisexual!) Kyoshi. But oh my god was this GAY!!! The simultaneous tenderness and fierceness of Kyoshi and Rangi’s relationship was my favorite.
  • Love from A to Z: This book was just so… heartwarming? I don’t really feel strongly about m/f couples outside of fantasies, but god, I love Adam and Zayneb so MUCH!! Reading this story just made me so happy; there are countless things to love about it.
  • In Other Lands: There’s something truly lovable about Elliott, the main character of this book. He’s a disaster bisexual, but he’s also so cleverly hilarious, and I think he really just stole my heart without me expecting it.
  • if you all wouldn’t kill me for mentioning The Poppy War everywhere… this is where it would be. she’s here in spirit

(If you’d like to know more of my thoughts on these books, I’ve written Goodreads reviews for all but In Other Lands!)


shall we chat

what are some of your most disappointing books of the year? (don’t be shy, everyone has at least one!) do you have the same or completely opposite opinions? what about books that surprised you?

p.s. reminder that you have a week left to vote in the 2020 Book Blogger Awards!!

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64 thoughts on “The 5 Most Disappointing Books I’ve Read So Far in 2020: Happy National Book Lover Day!

  1. I’m very happy to have read this post because now I have a better perspective of what to expect from these books, especially when I wanted to read some of them. I really wanted to read Like A Love Story! I couldn’t find a negative review of it until today, and I’m glad I did bc now that you mention that, I don’t want to read a book with that much problematic content.
    I also want to read The Midnight Lie and I think I still will someday in the future.
    Some of my disappointments so far this year are Wilder Girls and Last Girls. The pacing in both was so sloooow and I couldn’t connect with the characters.
    You Should See Me In A Crown was also a pleasant surprise for me! And also The Hating Game which is now one of my faves✨

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    1. this is so very late, but i’m glad you liked reading this post! i don’t want to completely turn off everyone from like a love story but… yeah it just didn’t work for me and made me feel uncomfortable 😔😔 and i hope you enjoy the midnight lie more than i did! <3

      ah, i definitely understand why you'd be disappointed in wilder girls! i enjoyed it but i agree that it was a bit hard to connect to the characters in that one (and i think it was just Super hyped in general too). i'm so happy you enjoyed the hating game!! <3

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  2. I haven’t read any of the books you disliked but it’s a shame about Harley considering how much I loved Starfish. And aaaah I’d planned to read Kyoshi in September so now I’m even more excited to get to it!

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  3. I actually had Like a Love Story checked out from my library but ended up not reading it and returned it because I had SO many other books to get to on my TBR, and now I’m happy I did!! Sounds super cringe and problematic. I’m so excited to get to You Should See Me in a Crown!! ♥

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    1. i actually had checked like a love story out twice from the library, and the first time i did i’d ended up not reading it either haha! but yes, i… definitely wouldn’t recommend it 😭 and ahh!! i hope you love you should see me in a crown, seeing so many people love it has made me so happy <3

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  4. uhm luv most disappointing reads this yearr, YIKES,,,the henna wars, tweet cute, darius, and, daughter of smoke and bone! i haven’t read any books on this list (and don’t plan to tbh) but i do want to read the midnight lie. i’m going to be buddy reading it soon with some peeps and i’m trying not to have too high expectations? i just want me some good sapphic romance tbh,,, also what is it with like EVERY ROMANCE EVER being marketed as an enemies to lovers. because when i read the book it’s some dry af romance with no flavour,,, sorry. people said tweet cute is enemies to lovers and honest to god it could have been and i missed it but i have now wiped that book from memory (BUT ALL I REMEMBER IS THEY DIDNT ACTUALLY HATE EACH OTHER AT ANY POINT can people stop lying to me)

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    1. ignore how late this reply is… looking AWAY from the henna wars and darius being in that list but absolutely @ daughter of smoke and bone, jesus christ that book is so bad. and wait did you end up reading the midnight lie 👁 and YEAH!! i think hate to love is a good term to use overall for that kind of idea but enemies really implies like… Enemies. but who said tweet cute is enemies to lovers, it is not 😭😭

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  5. oh gosh the shadows between us was another mediocre fantasy by a certain type of author. the poppy war and tdr surprised me b/c it blew me away with how nuanced and interesting it was. wicked as you wish surprised me because it dealt with challenging topics while also being something i would’ve liked as an elementary schooler. another book that didn’t necessarily disappoint me is city of brass b/c i liked the atmosphere, characters, and plot but not the writing style, so i am taking a break.

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    1. so sorry that this reply is late, but ahh i’m not surprised to hear that the shadows between us was mediocre to you! the blurb just… doesn’t stand out to me at all haha. and ooh what you said about wicked as you wish is really interesting!! and i’m sorry to hear that there was one thing that you didn’t quite love with city of brass, i am one of the few people who did not like that book at all 😭

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  6. oof most disappointing reads…my summer of love and misfortune takes the cake 😭 serpent and dove was another one for me – I was curious to see where I fell on the spectrum since people either hate or love it but I ended up just being indifferent. In some cases indifference feels even worse than disliking a book…I NEED to read The Rise of Kyoshi!! I’ve been staring at it on my library’s hoopla for months 😅

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    1. please pardon my lateness but… i have heard SO MUCH about my summer of love and misfortune, i’m so glad i never subjected myself to that horror 😭 and i definitely get what you mean!! i also thought i’d either love or hate the cruel prince but ended up feeling so indifferent about it lmao. and aah! i can’t remember if you’ve read the rise of kyoshi yet but i hope you liked/will like it!! <3

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  7. the way i think our book tastes are getting similar and similar, and i’m shaking my head yes at all of these, and then i see that midnight lie knowing damn well i was gonna try to read her this year…. a full journey, but i say thank you. also, i love your surprises so much. the only one i haven’t read is staring /my/ tall avatar lady, and i know i will love it for that fact alone.

    dare i say… loveless was my most disappointing (come tumbling down is close tho)
    and biggest surprise was 100% you should see me in a crown. (which thank you again…) 💕💕

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    1. ignore how so very late i am at replying to this, but the way we were both disappointed by come tumbling down… damn. (but i’m glad you loved the newest one coming out!!) and i know you will absolutely LOVE the rise of kyoshi, and tall avatar lady plus her girlfriend 🖤

      still so sad for you about loveless, but i’m so happy i could give you a bit of joy with you should see me in a crown (i still get all 🥰🥰 thinking of how much you loved it)

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  8. My most disappointing reads so far this year are Our Wayward Fate, The Bookworm Crush (tbh should have seen that one coming, the love interest’s name is Toff so), and Tweet Cute. I was really surprised by I Love You So Mochi and The Astonishing Color of After. The Astonishing Color of After hit me really hard. I thought it was so moving and beautiful. And I Love You So Mochi just made me really happy. I’m hoping I can find more new favorites later this year because the first half of 2020 kind of sucked reading wise.
    -Rose

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    1. TOFF…. what kind of name is that 😭 but ah i’m so sad to hear you were disappointed by our wayward fate! i’ve been wanting to try out gloria chao’s books but i’ve been hearing that a few of friends are disappointed by her books :((

      i’m so happy you loved the astonishing color of after and i love you so mochi! i’ve been meaning to finish the astonishing color but haven’t gotten the chance to 😭 i hope you find some favorite books in the last half of 2020!! <3

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  9. I love your snark so much, it gives me life. My biggest disappointments The Kingdom of Back and The Guinevere Deception (I didn’t hate The Guinevere Deception, it just wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be). There were other books I hated more this year, but I REALLY hoped I would love those books and they just…weren’t that great. T_T

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    1. oh no, i’m so sorry to hear you were disappointed by the kingdom of back!! i really love marie lu so i’m hoping i’m not disappointed by that one. and i totally understand that feeling!! i think this year in general has been lacking in books that i really love as much as i thought i would, which is understandable considering the state of the world 😭

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  10. Glad you enjoyed Love From A to Z!!!!!!!!! How many times do I have to say how great the disability rep was??? I need to read The Rise of Kyoshi (what you’ve said about it on Goodreads makes me completely intrigued!). I also wonder why no one sees how problematic Like a Love Story is????

    My most disapointing reads so far were Yes No Maybe So (even as a non-Muslim, I could see its offensiveness from a mile away), Mandala by Pearl S Buck (I usually love Buck, but goodness, she cannot write about India in a non-offensive if her life depended on it!), The Water Margin by Shi Nai’an (was there a scene that wasn’t an honour killing?), and Louise de la Valiere by Alexandre Dumas (BORING!!!! What happened, Dumas!??????). Oh, I wish my disapointments had not been for so problematic reasons…..I went into such a reading slump, you can’t even begin to imagine.

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    1. the disability and other representation in love from a to z was truly fantastic!! and aahh i hope you enjoy the rise of kyoshi if you ever get around to it, i truly loved it so much 😭

      and ah i’ve been hearing a lot more bad things about yes no maybe so! i’m sad that it had some harmful things in it :// and i haven’t heard of those other books you mentioned but i’m sorry that they disappointed you! i hope you’re out of your slump now, it’s so frustrating to keep reading books and have them all let you down aahh

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  11. I’m sorry these ended up being disappointing for you! I’m very intrigued by The Midnight Lie – as I always am by f/f fantasy – but it’s good to know before I potentially pick it up that the plot itself is a little… meh. My disappointing reads this year have both been fantasy sequels; I wasn’t a big fan of Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett, which I’ve waited over a year for, and then just last night I finished Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb and it’s left me feeling very slumpy. I need a palate cleanser asap.

    I’ve heard so many good things about In Other Lands! I need to pick up my copy soon, it sounds right up my street.

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    1. i hope you enjoy the midnight lie more than i did!! i honestly can’t tell if it was a me thing or a writing thing, since there are so many people who loved it that i feel like i was the only one who missed the train 😭 oh no, i’ve heard really great things about foundryside so i’m sad to hear the sequel let you down! sequel disappointments honestly are the worst kind of disappointments when you love the first book a lot :((

      ah yes! i hope you get the chance to read in other lands, it truly was such a great book <3

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  12. Agree about Love from A to Z being a surprise and a treasure!
    I liked Come Tumbling Down back in January, but at the same time all I remember is that it was a good audiobook to cook potatoes to; I remember what I liked about the potatoes better than I remember what I liked about this book, so you’re probably right about the plot.

    My most disappointing book of the year so far is The Priory of the Orange Tree. It found it dull, and yet I wish it had been a little duller – at least then I would have DNFed it instead of going through 800 pages of that?

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    1. so sorry this is late, but oh honestly same about come tumbling down! i would just listen to it while doing other things and retain absolutely nothing from the book, besides utter confusion about how it was over so quickly 😭

      oh no, i’m really sad to hear you didn’t like priory! i’ve been wanting to read it for a while now. but oh wow, i can’t believe you had the strength to read all 800 pages… i’m not usually a dnfer but i definitely would dnf that long of a book if i was bored!!

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  13. Ah it’s a shame these books turned out to be disappointing, May. I have seen a lot of positive things about The Midnight Lie lol. But I’m glad you loved You Should See Me in a Crown, I’m increasingly excited to read that!

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  14. Oh dear. I was really looking forward to reading Harley in the Sky. Now I’m nervous! But the Kyohshi books are wonderful! I just finished the sequel and I think it is as good as the first installment! I really hope we see more spinoff novels!

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    1. i hope you like harley in the sky more than i did, krysta! it seems like i’m really in the minority about it. and i’m so happy you loved the kyoshi sequel! i’ve had it for months now but i’ve held off on reading it for some reason — i can’t wait to finally get to it soon though <3

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