Hi all, Rose here with another Top Ten Tuesday entry, as sponsored by the prompts given by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s entry is an interesting one: I’m choosing ten books that I struggled to get through. I think this will mostly be in more recent terms rather than reaching too far back. I’ve been mostly lucky this year to have read books that I’ve moderately (or even notably) enjoyed, but…there are always ones where the struggle is very real. (No pun intended.)
Ten books I’ve struggled through, in no particular order:
1. “Blood Rose Rebellion” by Rosalyn Eves: This book came immediately to my mind upon thinking of books to write for this post. And it’s a shame because I looked forward to reading this book, not just because of the cover, but the promising premise as well. Unfortunately, the story was all
manners of sluggish for pacing, had a lot of problematic (and inaccurate) portrayals, and ended up being a dull read.
2. “The Black Witch” by Laurie Forest: Is anyone really
surprised at why I included this particular book? Yes? No?
Maybe so? On a serious note, the struggle through this book was so very real – and suffice to say, I never want to read this book again because of the horrible protagonist and portrayals. Purple prose and overly sluggish pacing also included. 600 pages for what could’ve been a tightly plotted 250 page book with better editing and just better…anything, to be blunt about it. I feel like I’ve exhausted all I wanted to say about this book in the review I wrote, and there have been many wonderful critical reviews that have panned this for all of its respective issues. I can’t say for certain that I won’t read another book by Laurie Forest in the future, but it’s definitely the last book I’ll read in this respective series. I honestly just want to push away any memory of this book’s/series existence. *shudders*
3. “Fireworks” by Katie Cotugno: This is an example of a book I struggled through in respects, but ultimately the experience ended up being worth it for what I got out of it. That’s not to say that there aren’t people who might have a hard time with this narrative, because it definitely has some frustrating moments. I was invested in the stories of Olivia and Dana – taking place during the 90s era pop-wave and reality show music competition boom. The struggle wasn’t just with the pacing of the book as much as it was watching these girls fall in and out of their relationship with each other. But it’s a very real story, one that I didn’t realize how much so until I got to a certain point and it ended going in the opposite direction I thought it would go. Suffice to say, I appreciated its honesty.
4. “How I Lost You” by Janet Gurtler: This was another read I wasn’t expecting to struggle through, and it ended up being not worth the journey for me. I definitely saw this as being (another) YA story where a friendship gradually deteriorates over time – and while there were places in this book where that progression felt like a strong portrayal – I did not like some of the turns and assertions it took to get there. I was really upset and disappointed by the time I finished it, and unfortunately, I don’t see myself coming back to read this narrative. Fortunately though, I like Janet Gurtler’s writing in her other works, so I’m more likely to gravitate towards those rather than this one.
5. “Carve the Mark” by Veronica Roth: I didn’t like the ending to the Divergent series, but I was like “You know what, I’ll give Veronica Roth’s next series a shot – because it might be a little more up my alley with the sci-fi leanings and it has a POC protagonist.” Turns out the struggle was more than I expected for many reasons. I didn’t enjoy “Carve the Mark” and pretty much called off any hope of picking up the rest of this series. *sighs*
6. “The One Memory of Flora Banks” by Emily Barr: I think
the main reason why I struggled with this book was because of the number of times the story kept looping with the “I love Drake” angle. Granted, the MC’s condition was in part for this repetition, but the book’s dictation didn’t really do the best job of balancing out this thematic, so there was a part of it that I struggled to get through, and the last bit went by so fast I was like “Wait…I wanted more of that, not the sluggish start it got off on.” It left me wanting more than what I got out of it.
7. “Come Home” by Lisa Scottoline: I struggled through this book because the protagonist, Jill, was annoying as everything with the amount of straws that she kept grabbing at through the overarching mystery. There are multiple unreliable narrators through this story and while I like that kind of protagonist when they’re well developed and intriguing to follow, it’s frustrating when you can’t even be bothered to care about the leading character after a time because they annoy you that much. I did like a few aspects of this novel, but in the end, I wouldn’t pick it up again.
8. “The Whole Thing Together” by Ann Brashares: I do love Ann Brashares as a narrator, and I’ll always pick up anything she writes, but I truly struggled with this book for multiple reasons. I think the long and short of why this novel was such a struggle to get through (among other issues) was that it was trying to do too much in too little time without really much attention or detail for the characters within it.
9. “Has to Be Love” by Jolene Perry. I don’t think Jolene Perry’s collective work is indicative of the issues with this book (and I plan on reading more of her books to feel out her style and genre), but honestly this read can be summed up in two words: repetitious and patronizing. I didn’t enjoy the experience, to say the least.
And the last book that I struggled to finish in more recent terms? *drum roll*
10. “King’s Cage” by Victoria Aveyard
Collectively speaking, I struggled with the “Red Queen” series because there were parts of it I liked and other parts of it I didn’t like for presentation. It was a lot of different pieces from other series in the YA dystopian realm. That being said, I struggled with “King’s Cage” in particular because it was 500 pages of back and forth filler only to push characters I wanted to learn more about to the backburner and reach an ending that completely left me unsatisfied by book’s end. So I decided that even with one more book to go that I’d leave this series by the wayside. It just wasn’t worth the struggle for me and I had a hard time feeling invested in Mare’s journey when I felt like she wasn’t nearly as strong of a protagonist as she was made out to be. (I would even argue there were supporting characters in this that were much stronger than her, but their stories – again – got shafted in favor of the less interesting character. *sighs*)
That’s all for this week. Happy book journeys, all.