I don’t set out to read books I don’t think I’ll like (most of the time). But it’s bound to happen – I pick up a book, expecting to like or even love it. And then I don’t. But hey, disappointment is a part of life, so it’s a natural part of reading. That said, it’s never fun to be disappointed by a book. But it happened. And today, we’re going to talk about the books that disappointed me this year.
A disclaimer before we start: these are not bad books. I know a lot of people love these, and that’s totally fine. They just weren’t for me. They’re not my least favorite books of the year (I’m not actually planning on making a whole post of that out of this year, because I didn’t dislike very many books). These are just the books that disappointed me this year because my expectations, for whatever reason, were just a bit too high.
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. I had high hopes for this one. I’ve been hearing about Samantha Shannon for years,and everyone seems to absolutely love The Bone Season. And then everyone was giving this such great reviews, I decided to finally pick up one of her books. And it was… just okay. This wasn’t bad, but it was kind of a slog to get through. I liked some of the characters, but not enough to really care about them. The story was interesting, but unnecessarily long, in my opinion (this book is massive). It just kind of fell flat for me. I didn’t dislike it, but I also didn’t particularly enjoy reading it. Which is a shame, because I really wanted to love an epic fantasy novel with dragons and a lesbian queen.
99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne. I read and loved The Hating Game a few years ago, and was really excited for Sally Thorne’s second novel. But talk about sophomore slump. This book was predictable in every way. Which, let’s be honest, a lot of romance is. I could have gotten past it if I’d liked the main character at all. I know Thorne had another book in the pipeline due to come out first which it seems like was cancelled completely. It might be the reason this book felt like it was written in a hurry. It was so mediocre that it had me questioning whether or not The Hating Game was actually as good as I remember. I might give Sally Thorne another shot, but this one definitely disappointed me.
Women’s War by Jenna Glass. I see the words “feminist fantasy” and that’s all I really need to know when deciding to pick up a new book. Where this book fell flat for me is that it’s supposed to be about women fighting for control of their own lives and bodies. And not a single one of them seems the least bit angry about how they’ve been treated. I did not come here to calmly discuss how things could be made better (because when has that ever worked?). Sure, there was conflict, but the motivations behind it made me just not care. At all. It wasn’t terrible, it was just ‘meh’.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I had such high expectations for this book after hearing people rave about it for years. It was even on my five-star predictions list for this year! (Spoiler: it was the only book on that list I did not give five stars – and I’m still a little bitter about it). I just could not get into this book at all. It was one of those books I could feel should have been better than it was. To be fair, maybe some of the magic was lost in translation (literally). But still, this just wasn’t my cup of tea. Which is so disappointing because it’s a book about books and I really wanted to love it. I ended up giving it four stars, but that was definitely a bit of a stretch (I debated giving it three stars for a while).
Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler. This is a retelling of one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, The Taming of the Shrew (of which the amazing 10 Things I Hate About You is also a retelling). Honestly, I didn’t have terribly high expectations for this one, but I thought it would be at least a three-star read for me. WRONG. I hated this book. You would think taking a 16th century feminist play into the 21st century would provide opportunities to make it more feminist, right? This book somehow managed to do the opposite. I couldn’t stand the characters, I hated what Tyler did with one of my favorite plays, and I just really didn’t like this book.
Obsidio by Amie Kaufman Jay Krisoff. I have really enjoyed The Illuminae Files. Illuminae was so much fun. Geminia was pretty good. But I don’t know if the novelty of the unique format wore off, because I didn’t love Obsidio. Honestly, I think part of the problem is that I’m realizing I don’t particularly enjoy series that focus on a different group of side characters in each book. I like when the same characters are central. This just wasn’t my favorite, unfortunately.
The Whisper Man by Alex North. This book was so hyped up this fall, and it sounded like a really great thriller. And the one thing you don’t want a thriller to be? Boring. This was so boring. I couldn’t get through the book itself, so I decided to give the audiobook a shot. And I still struggled to pay attention. It was not exciting. It wasn’t scary. I genuinely didn’t care who the whisper man was, I just wanted this book to be over. The premise had so much promise, and it didn’t deliver.
Those are the books that disappointed me most in 2019. With the exception of Vinegar Girl, I didn’t really dislike any of them. They just didn’t meet my expectations. If you loved any of these books, that’s great! You do you. I’m a little sad these weren’t my cup of tea, but I don’t regret trying them.
Were you disappointed by any books this year?