Hey everyone! I was sick the past week (and still recovering), but I’m back with another end of year list. Today we’re going to talk about the most disappointing books I’ve read this year.
2019 was an okay reading year. I read 100 books (a personal record!), but so many of my highly anticipated releases were a huge letdown. I also had quite a few DNFs (8 to be exact). There are a lot of books that I could’ve included on here, but I kept it short for the sake of time.
The ones that made it onto this list are books I thought I would love/expected great things from, but they turned out to be pretty disappointing. I have unpopular opinions, but I don’t feel like giving a disclaimer so I hope you enjoy and don’t take this personal.
1. King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
Eleven months later and I’m still SALTY and BITTER about how fucking disappointing this book was.
I was really excited about this and even rushed home from work on release day so I could dive into it because Leigh Bardugo is one of my favorite authors and Nikolai’s my favorite character from the Grisha trilogy. The fact that it turned out to be a big pile of disappointment was heartbreaking.
Nina’s chapters, which I was looking forward to, were boring and the ending irritated the hell out of me. It was so freaking lazy. On top of that, there wasn’t enough Nikolai. I ended up giving it two stars: one star for Nikolai. One star for Zoya. Biggest disappointment of the year. Not continuing the series. Read my review here.
2. Jade City by Fonda Lee
This book had all my favorite things: family, sibling relationships, and magic. Unfortunately, I DNF’d it at 212 pages. So much potential. So poorly executed.
The world-building was great and I liked the few sibling scenes we got, but most of the characters were flat, the magic system wasn’t explained, the plot meandered, the pacing was too slow, the action scenes were few and far between, and the multiple POVs was too much. I didn’t expect a book about fantasy with crime families to be so boring and repetitive. Read my review here.
3. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
I bet you didn’t expect to see Leigh Bardugo on this list twice. Neither did I.
Ninth House was atmospheric, the magic was cool, and the commentary on abuse and misogyny was beautiful. However, the book was mostly boring. It didn’t explain the occult or secret societies very well and it was pretty formulaic. I gave it two stars only because I loved Darlington and the side characters.
I’m distraught that I didn’t like either one of the books Bardugo released this year. If anything, these books made me think she peaked with Crooked Kingdom. Or maybe my love starts and ends with the Six of Crows duology. I don’t know. I feel disenchanted and devastated because she was one of my favorite authors. Since I won’t be continuing either of these new series, I think this is the end of the road for us. I didn’t have the energy to write a coherent review, but you can check out my thoughts here.
4. Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman
I loved Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman so I just knew I was going to love this book. Space and a band of misfits.
A lot of things felt forced with this book (humor, action, sibling relationship and that stupid mating bond). The characters were underdeveloped, unremarkable, and one-dimensional. On top of that, every single character had a POV. Every. Single. One. And none of them were interesting. I had to check the beginning of the chapter multiple times because I often forgot whose POV I was reading.
I ended up skimming a few chapters towards the end because I just couldn’t bother. It was nonsensical. The only things I liked about this book were Finnian and the heist towards the end. Only reason I gave it two stars. Read my review here.
5. We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
I thought I was going to love this book, but I couldn’t even finish it. I DNFed it at 115 pages.
I tried reading it for two months, but each time I found a stopping point (paragraph break, new chapter, etc.), I took a break or picked up another book because I was so bored. Eventually, I accepted that I wasn’t the right reader for this book.
Personally, I think it’s an impressive debut, but the writing was too descriptive and I wasn’t a fan of the female MC’s chapters being used for world-building. I understand that she was more familiar with the world and setting, but I wasn’t a fan of that. It made it difficult to get to know Zafira. Not enough of the characters in this and the pacing was too slow. I didn’t rate this because I don’t rate DNF books. Read my review here.
6. Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff
I’m going to take a page from my bookish friend Jess and officially consider this series a duology. I don’t know Darkdawn.
The first half of Darkdawn was an underwhelming, poorly paced, meandering travel adventure with quite a few cringey scenes, and an onslaught of sex scenes that felt kind of voyeuristic. The second half was better, but overall I was disappointed with the execution of this book.
I won’t spoil anything, but understand that the characters aggravated me to no end and I hated the ending. I think it cheapened the series. I expected more from a series that prides itself on it’s ruthlessness and grimdark-ness. A third of this book should’ve been cut. I gave it 3 stars. Read my review here.
7. The Girl The Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young
I think (?) this is the first time I wished I hadn’t received an ARC for a book. I was super excited for it, but ended up disliking it so much.
The Girl the Sea Gave Back was severely underdeveloped. The author used “fate” as a plot device for the romance, but didn’t spend time developing the relationship nor did she develop this new setting. Unfortunately, the whole thing felt recycled version of Sky in the Deep. Gave it two stars. Read my review here.
8. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
The reason this book is on this list is because it was so freaking unsatisfying. I predicted the twist very early on and it turned out that I was right. Normally, I like being able to guess the twist. This time though, I hated it for so many reasons.
The MC was frustrating, the title is kind of misleading, and the story was contrived. I felt super annoyed at the end. The story is creepy and atmospheric, but it just didn’t work for me. Such a letdown. Gave it two stars and didn’t even bother reviewing it.