Hi all, Rose here with another superlative year end list. I figured this list deserved its own post. I penned this entry first in my superlative list, but I’m posting it after my favorite reads of 2016. 2016 was a rough year on many, many levels and that’s probably an entry that I could write in and of itself. However, this year wasn’t as big of a year for me in terms of bad reads. I think it was a combination of choosing more reads that I thought I would like and also reading less this year than I have in previous years. But I’ll admit this was one of the years that genuinely shocked me in terms of works that I outright disliked from authors I never expected to dislike work from, if that makes sense.
Let me first mention the Dishonorable Mentions – these are books that barely missed this list. Granted, there were things about these books that I might’ve liked in theory, but the execution wasn’t there.
“The 100” by Kass Morgan.
I’ll admit the reason I picked up this book was because I started watching the CW series of the same name. Reading the book felt very dry for prose and character development, plus cliches abound. The focus on the romances versus the sci-fi thriller aspects didn’t help. Good ideas, but terrible and lacking execution.
“Half Lost” (Half Blood #3) by Sally Green
This was a series that started with so much hype and still has quite a following, but for all the build-up, I thought this was a meandering mess of a conclusion for the series. Harmful cliches (Gabriel deserved better) and lack of connectivity really didn’t help matters much. I don’t think I’d ever return to reading it, and that disappoints me because there were some interesting elements within this series that had my attention, just never connected with me.
“All the Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven
My review of “All the Bright Places” on my blog (Warning: SPOILERS)
Oh “All the Bright Places” had the all the potential in the world to be a good book for me, but I honestly dread even thinking about it (and “Holding Up the Universe” for that matter). Mixed messages/contradictions with regards to dealing with disabilities in the narrative alongside predictable plot points and emotionally milking situations made me mostly frustrated, if not outright numb, with this narrative.
The last two reads are really popular and might hurt, but probably won’t hurt as badly as the forthcoming list, in order of descent to #1. Read below the cut for more.
10. “Dangerous Lies” by Becca Fitzpatrick
So, this isn’t the first time I’ve disliked a book from Becca Fitzpatrick. While this was a better effort than, say, the abysmally disappointing and WTHery of “Black Ice” for YA mystery/thriller/romance – it really wasn’t much better, either. I definitely think this book had the potential to be better than it was, because I could see some of Stella’s struggles. But Stella’s attitudes and assertions were totally messed up, taking me out of the narrative more often than not. I’m just going to quote this from my review:
This isn’t even a new thing for Fitzpatrick’s narratives on any level, from everything I’ve read from her thus far. I don’t expect a character to be perfect, and anti-heroes/heroines need their stories told too – that’s not the issue at all. Rather, it’s the fact I see the same stereotypes, same prejudices, same problems in every single narrative that Fitzpatrick has written thus far, and it’s annoying as crap to me. Same slut shaming and rampant girl-girl put downs, same stereotypes when it comes to characters of different nationalities or racial groups. Same…issues and it feels like a paint by numbers template to me at this point. *sighs*
09. “The Other Widow” by Susan Crawford
“The Other Widow” definitely had potential with its premise and character focal points. But the execution of this novel definitely didn’t deliver when it came to being an adult psychological thriller/drama. Sluggish pacing and pulling punches in the heat of the conflict made this a lackluster read despite intriguing places of character study. Disappointing to say the least, and probably one of the reads I was really looking forward to sinking my teeth into only to come out as unfulfilling.
08. “Don’t You Cry” by Mary Kubica
Not only was this adult thriller/mystery narrative plagued with odd grammar issues (an issue similar to Kubica’s debut of “The Good Girl”), but the story itself was full of plot holes, plodding pacing, and false points of tension that could be seen from a mile away. I honestly had little to say about the narrative because it disappointed me so much. (Shame, because the cover’s eye-catching and premise is pretty intriguing.) “Single White Female” this is not, more like a pale imitation.
07. “Glass Sword” (Red Queen #2) by Victoria Aveyard
I honestly don’t know how “Glass Sword” managed to be more disappointing than its predecessor, because it definitely had the chance to grow. Meandering pacing, poor writing, derivative YA dystopian elements, and a heroine who repeated herself one too many times regarding her TCO status and just didn’t give a lick about anyone but herself (she forgets her own family, for goodness sake!). I’d say this series needs an actual badass character, not a pale imitation of one. (Not withstanding they killed off one character I thought was pretty cool. Mare didn’t even seem invested about his death despite the novel telling me so.) Cameron was a bright spot in the novel for me though, and the ending was epic, though too little, too late to save the novel’s experience for me. I do plan on giving the follow-up novels a try, though it’s dependent on how the third novel strikes me as to whether or not I’ll finish the series.
06. “After the Woods” by Kim Savage
I understood the intention behind “After the Woods”, but it was a hot mess for execution. I usually love YA mysteries/suspense novels, and the premise seemed like the perfect frame for what could’ve been an intriguing novel, but rampant cliches/offensive stereotypes and careless diversions of attention from the main storyline ultimately culminated in a half-hearted twisty ending. I was definitely underwhelmed from the experience.
05. “The Anatomy of Jane” by Amelia LeFay
Grammatical and spelling errors can be the death of a novel for some people, and the fact that this self-published novel wasn’t even remotely fixed before it was put up for sale on Amazon definitely deterred me. (I read it as a galley, and I definitely wasn’t the only one who noticed the errors in tense among other things. Hopefully by now it’s fixed, but consider yourself warned before you buy.) Those issues aside, I don’t think this adult erotica/romance title would’ve been any better for me, given its offensive and cringeworthy quotations, lackluster characterization and forced humor.
04. “The Last Good Girl” by Allison Leotta
The problem I had with this novel wasn’t even the measure that I started it in the middle of a purported series. I followed the main character fine alongside her close inner circle. This book set great expectations for me because of its premise and my interest in adult mystery/case procedurals (plus the cover’s easy on the eyes). I was stunned that in a novel penned by someone who actually worked cases like this that it was an outright lie for promise and potential. The case itself was thinly drawn, had the description of the rape as “Bill Cosby style” and had such a non-ending that I’m thinking if the rest of the series is like this, I probably shouldn’t bother.
03. “Firsts” by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Reading “Firsts” hurt my heart man. A YA debut novel touting a very flawed heroine but purportedly empowering and mature messages on teen sex and relationships ended up being a narrative with dubious sexual consent (coerced rape), horrible representations of relationships (cheating! rampant cheating!) and contradicting messages (sexual shaming!) ended up being one of the worst reads that I’d read in 2016. Initially, I was excited for this novel. Teen sexual relationships are difficult enough to depict and offer complex discussions to be had in narratives, but this novel did sheer injustice to the matter. I hope the author’s next effort isn’t so misleading and offensive to boot.
02. “Never Never Part 3” by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher
My Review of “Never Never Part 3” on my blog (Warning: SPOILERS ABOUND!)
I bet many of you thought this would be my #1, right? It was close enough, and I don’t blame other people if they have this as their most disappointing read of the year. Like, I keep thinking about what a promising premise this novella series had from the very beginning and wonder “How the heck could anyone screw that up, let alone two authors working on the project?” Then I think about this story and have my answer. Yep, it could be done and this was the end product. I had my issues with the series from the beginning, but admittedly it held my attention. The mystery aspects were oversold, while the romance aspects were overblown, there wasn’t a balance to boot for the promise the narrative made/implied. All of that with the explanation for the mystery being the most deus-ex-machina reason for a romance read, and I’m left saying “Never, Never” will I ever touch this series again. I’m still going to read from the authors here (and admittedly, Hoover ended up being on my favorites list this year for another work) for now, but the book definitely made a horrible impression on me enough to question pursuing their other works.
And the #1 most disappointing read, or read I hated in all of 2016? Not surprising to some of my followers, but this one hurts the most.
01. “The Glittering Court” (The Glittering Court #1) by Richelle Mead
Screw this book with the power of a thousand…somethings. Ye Gods, I don’t have enough words to expound on what a cluster mess this novel turned out to be. Don’t get me wrong, I like Richelle Mead – I liked the Vampire Academy series as a whole, I liked what I’ve read of “Bloodlines”, I liked what I’ve read of the Age of X series (though it had issues), and I even liked parts of “Soundless” despite it being lackluster for execution. This was a book that was born from an idea that wasn’t so strong in the first place (though some may argue with me that Kiera Cass’s “The Selection” had potential – I can’t say for sure as I chose not to pursue that series for numerous reasons, and it is inherently problematic on many levels), but I thought Mead would have the clout to pull this YA dystopia off. Instead it turned out not only to be an incomplete novel with gaping holes for progression (intentional, mind you, since the collective series is from the perspective of three girls in a vantage viewpoint type series), but it also championed very racist colonization stereotypes, insensitivity to minority groups (GLBT and Native populations among collective minority groups) and portrayals. I was stunned. There are ways that you can showcase fictional stories of persecuted minorities in the vein of history in the modern day and age- this is not one of them. But I guess from the frequency and flippancy in which “savages” is used as a term here, I shouldn’t be surprised that was a sign of horrible things to come with this book.
It’s hard to even want to pick up the rest of the series with this book headlining the first of the lot, because the execution is sloppy to say the least. To say one positive thing about the book: I liked Mira and Tasmin, but their roles were limited in this book and it’s hard to find interest in even hearing their stories given the fact that Adelaide/Elizabeth’s story is so thin and curt to begin with. I don’t think she had a complete story to carry an entire novel, let alone one that was solely from her perspective point. Plus the book was boring to slog through. Descriptions of pretty dresses can be interesting if you know how to carry it, but that and a lackluster, predictable romance also headlined this book’s list of problems.
I’m likely not going to continue with this series, but there’s a small chance I might. I haven’t been this upset over a book since the “Save the Pearls” fiasco a number of years ago (or even “Out”), but if I made it through those (among other narratives), I certainly can’t get any worse. (Maybe I shouldn’t even say that because there’s always someone who will surprise me on this. 😦 )
Nonetheless, here’s to hoping my 2017 reads won’t disappoint as much as this bunch.