Welcome back to me being obnoxious again!
It has unintentionally become a yearly tradition for me to write up a list of my 5 most disappointing books of the year so far, specifically for National Book Lover Day on August 9, because I’m very annoying but cool like that. I love complaining almost as much as I love carrying on silly little traditions on my blog, so here I am with 2021’s list!
This year, I’m extra excited to talk about my most disappointing books. I’ve actually had an overall fantastic reading year—I swear I do love books—so that ended up making my disappointment over these books even more extreme! (And a random noticing but all of these are 2021 releases… something’s up…)
Of course, I don’t think it needs to be said but just in case: these are all my personal opinions, and if you like these, good for you! I truly wish I could relate!
I think there are more mixed reviews coming out for this book now, but unfortunately, when I started reading it, mostly what I’d seen were glowing reviews full of praise and crying for this book. So I expected to love and cry over this book, and… I did not!
I really didn’t care for Julie and Sam’s connection, and since their relationship was the focal point of the book, the whole story just fell flat for me. I think this book does a great job of portraying grief, particularly in how it differs for every person and the importance of learning how to let go. But I really did not feel that deeply affected by the book—I was sad because it’s about death and death is sad, but not sad because of this specific story. And you’re not emotionally invested in this book, you will probably be bored by it and find it repetitive, like I did!
I really feel like this book will be either complete hit or miss depending on each reader, so don’t get your hopes down if you’re anticipating this one!! But I personally was just so disappointed because I was expecting to be emotionally hit hard, and I felt barely anything. (I swear I’m not heartless.)
I’m an extremely picky book buyer: I take forever to decide what book to purchase, because if it’s not a book I’ve already read and loved, it’s a book that I think will become a new favorite book. Honey Girl was one of the books I bought wholeheartedly believing that it would be a new favorite—which is why it is extremely disappointing (and EMBARRASSING) for me that it did not.
The writing style didn’t work for me at all, which was my main issue. I kept getting annoyed by it (like WHY did the love interest call the protagonist by her full name every single time!! if my partner called me only by my full name I would LEAVE them!!!!). In general, it just felt like it was trying way too hard to be a Quirky Beautiful writing style, and maybe if that type of style was my thing I wouldn’t have minded the try-hardness… but alas.
There were some parts that I did like and felt emotionally touched by, mainly the parts where Grace was trying to find a way to live healthily. But I didn’t have a strong connection to any other parts of the book, especially the characters or the romance, so paired with my irritation over the writing, there wasn’t a lot I ended up enjoying.
Reading Jade Fire Gold was a wild ride. It started out roughly for the first 10%, and then all of a sudden I started to become invested when I was a third into the book. Which only made it more disappointing when I ended up not liking it!
I had a hard time connecting to and caring for the characters, particularly because the writing lacked emotion so their internal conflicts weren’t explored as deeply as they should have been. Also, their romance was supposed to be “slowburn” and it was genuinely anything but. It literally felt closer to insta-love than slowburn!! (I wouldn’t be as bitter about this if it hadn’t been marketed as a specifically slowburn romance.)
I had hoped that if I kept reading, I would end up liking it again, but unfortunately things just went downhill. The ending was rushed and anticlimactic, and in general, so many things—plot, characters, romance—were glossed over in order to squish it all into one book. I actually had thought there was supposed to be a sequel for most of the book, and I think it really would’ve benefitted from having one because… it’s a bit of an underdeveloped mess!
This is the only book on here that I rated positively, at 3 stars. I would have chosen another book to feature on this list that was under 3 stars, if not for the fact that I was expecting this book to be a complete new favorite and it… was not even close to that. The few queer southeast Asian books I’ve read mean so much to me, and I thought that this could be one of those, but unfortunately it wasn’t!
I’m not quite sure why I thought I would love this one considering I really did not enjoy the original story it’s based on (The Great Gatsby). My dislike for The Great Gatsby really worked against this book, because the book’s plot doesn’t differ from the original, so I 1) knew everything that was going to happen, and 2) was extremely bored by it.
I think what’s especially disappointing about this book is that it had so much potential. There were so many aspects I found interesting in the retelling (like the magic and Jordan’s feelings of internalized racism), and when they weren’t taken further I was so frustrated! Sometimes a book you were so close to loving can be more disappointing than one you passionately hate, and The Chosen and the Beautiful was unfortunately the former.
Speaking of books I passionately hate… here she is! To be honest, I had extremely low expectations when I started reading Gearbreakers, so I guess I can’t say I was actually disappointed when I read it and hated it. However, before I’d heard of certain negative aspects of the book that lowered my expectations, I was really excited for it! It sounded like it had everything I wanted, particularly in its Asian sapphic enemies to lovers and found family.
This book is really just vibes, trying (and failing) to execute the tropes listed above, and grating writing. The character arcs were okay, but I was so annoyed by the characters themselves and how hard they tried to be edgy that I couldn’t appreciate their development. I felt nothing for the romance, and there’s so little context or information about the world that it’s hard to care about the plot and the characters’ motives. And the writing is aggravating and try-hard, from the prose itself to its cringey dialogue. (An example of such dialogue is an exchange that goes like this: “Morning …[no response from others]… I said good morning” “you didn’t say GOOD hahahaha!!!!!!”)
If you want a glimpse into my reading experience, all my feelings over this book (disbelief, irritation, pure rage, etc.) can be represented by the Kindle note I made for one line in this excerpt: “YOURE 10 YEARS OLD AND FALLING TO UR DEATH AND THE ONLY THING UR THINKING IS THAT U WILL DIE WITHOUT A TAT????”
what have been the most disappointing books you’ve read so far? have you read any of these? were you also disappointed or were you blessed enough to enjoy them?