My Most Disappointing Reads 2020

We’ve made it! It’s the end of 2020! Luckily for me, books haven’t been such a big disappointment this year, so I haven’t made it to a full list of ten (for the second year in a row!!) As per usual, this is not necessarily going to be the worst books I read this year, just the most disappointing (amazingly, some books that I didn’t like surpassed my expectations and didn’t make it onto the list). I’ve only written reviews for some of these- which are linked- but a fair number will be the first (and last time) I’ll be talking about them… So enjoy the rants while they last! 😉

Girl Woman Other– this was undoubtedly the worst book of the year- possibly of any year- but it wasn’t as disappointing as some of the other books on this list. Partly because a) I shouldn’t have bothered reading it given my track record with prizewinners lately and b) I should have stopped reading once I realised the writing was so shocking (I did stop once, yet saw so much praise, I had to go back and see if there was any merit to it. There wasn’t). So, you see my expectations weren’t that high to begin with- however since I hated it this much, I couldn’t reasonably leave it off the list altogether. Putting it last is a compromise.

The Hand on the Wall– I was too generous when I reviewed this one, cos I wanted to like it so badly. But really, the solution to the mystery was not satisfying enough and too many subplots took over (*spoiler alert*: I didn’t invest all that time for it to be all about money). In truth, I should’ve seen the writing on the wall after book 2 plummeted into politics-ville.

Bringing Down the Duke– in retrospect, I don’t know why I hated this book quite as much as I did, because it really is supposed to just be a bit of fun. However, for me, something grated about the historical inaccuracies and I ended up not loving it as much as I wanted to.

Foundation– this was quite simply not my cup of tea- I didn’t enjoy the fact it was more philosophy than storytelling and didn’t click with the writing.

Slaughterhouse Five– this is another one that just wasn’t for me. Not just because it was a bit odd, but because I never enjoy stream of consciousness. I wasn’t the right reader for this book.  

Wait for Me– this would have been a fairly “meh” read if not for a couple of issues that really irked me. One, I’m not totally on board with the whole Nazi/German rehabilitated romance. It’s a weird trend that’s not to my taste. Two, the writing killed the atmosphere. There was very little sense of place except for the occasional “aye”. Worse still, the teens didn’t just sound modern, they sounded very immature. From the writing, I’d have guessed this was a MG, but the romance was a bit too much of a central focus for this to be aimed at 12 year olds. Either way, it’s safe to say I’m not the target audience for this book, so please bear that in mind.

Queen of Ruin– this was worse the more I thought about it. My biggest issue with this was the fact that characters need to grow in sequels… otherwise what’s the point? Especially in this case- where they didn’t finish the first story as the best version of themselves. After starting strong in book 1, Nomi had made a big mistake, meaning she needed to toughen up and stop being so naïve. Serena had gotten really tough in the first book, but it could have been interesting for her to learn to soften. It would’ve been great to see both characters meet somewhere in the middle and realise that both parts of their personality were important. Instead, nothing happened to their character arcs. It was all action and not-so-subtle lecturing. Very disappointing indeed, since it had so much potential as a series.

Unorthodox– ugh I hate even talking about this book… which is why this’ll be the first (and probably last) time I ever mention it. I didn’t have a good experience reading this. Not because it was shocking (which it is) or because it’s unfamiliar territory (which it is) but because I couldn’t quite find my feet with the narrative. A lot of things didn’t add up. After doing some research, I found a lot of claims disputed. Add to that the fact she deliberately changed (vital) parts of her story (sometimes to supposedly “protect the anonymity” of people… whose pictures she included). That’s just not something I’ve come to expect from “true stories” and made it hard to take the story at face value. It felt more like he-said, she-said rather than a typical biography and I don’t feel that comfortable getting in the middle of it. Let’s just say it’s an unorthodox way to write a memoir and leave it at that.

War of Art– not to be mistaken for the Art of War 😉 I don’t know why, but something about this just rubbed me the wrong way. I’ve already ranted about this, so I’ll keep it brief. I expected quite a lot from this book- especially after enjoying some inspirational books on similar topics- but it let me down faster than a whoopie cushion.

So- dare I ask- what do you think of these? Have you read any of them? And what were your worst books of 2020? Let me know in the comments!

47 thoughts on “My Most Disappointing Reads 2020

  1. I am in the middle of writing up my Year in Review post and one of the sections is my “Worst Book of the Year” section. I actually had to go hunting for a book to fill it up. Not that I’ve read perfect books all year, but most of the ones I dnf’d or 1starred just didn’t get much of a reaction out of me. Bland badness I guess?

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  2. I haven’t read any of these (probably thankfully!) I did dnf about 6 books this year and they were books that everyone else seemed to love like Gideon The Ninth, The Starless Sea and Call Down the Hawk so I was wondering if I should try again!!!!

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  3. Daaamn damn damnn seeing Girl, Woman, Other on this list was a shocker especially when the Bookstagram community has been raving about it like crazy. I still haven’t gotten the chance to pick it up but now i really want to. I always love to know two opposing reviews of the book before experiencing it for myself so thanksss for that!

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  4. It’s been a few decades, but I remember enjoying the foundation trilogy very much.,maybe it doesn’t stand the test of time😉 I think there’s a Foundation film on offer next year. I’ll be interested to see what they’ve done with it.

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  5. I’m about to start writing my own list. I think I would say the worst book for me was a trade issue of the comic series Fables that did a crossover with a spinoff series. I don’t remember much of it, just that I didn’t like any of the characters in it and it was a bit too meta for my tastes. The series kinda went downhill for me after that, come to think of it…

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  6. I know how you feel about the hand on the wall and I enjoyed the journey far more than the destination. I think the ending could have less to the same place but at least given a more sensible conclusion. I just didn’t buy it being about the money because it didn’t fit with that characters choices and actions throughout the whole seried

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  7. I enjoyed the Truly Devious mystery, but I didn’t like that a lot of the clues were just handed to Stevie. I’m supposed to believe she’s some sort of crime-solving prodigy, but she just gets luckier than everyone else who tried to crack the case. They weren’t blessed to be living in the dorm room where someone just happened to hide a box full of clues basically screaming, “THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED!” She didn’t even have to decipher the clues!

    I also didn’t really appreciate the one-liners about politics. Why does Stevie have to insult the political opposition randomly in the middle of a book ostensibly about a decades-old crime? It’s kind of a trendy thing to do right now in YA, but I read in part because I want to get away from people hurling insults at each other.

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    1. hahahaha! That’s a great point!

      Yeah I didn’t get that either- it was really jarring and felt out of place. I also felt like that subplot grew and grew, so I thought, “ok surely this has something to do with the plot?” But no, it was completely irrelevant. And yeah it is trendy and I never like its random inclusion- but I think this especially got under my skin cos the thing I like most in mysteries is when all the clues and mysteries and subplots tie together… This didn’t do that at all. I would have liked it if there had been mirroring in the modern plot and historical plot (perhaps to show *why* Stevie was the perfect person to solve this crime) instead of wasting my time with irrelevant posturing and having two disparate stories smooshed together.

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      1. Very true! The subplot wasn’t related to the mystery at all.

        And I didn’t even buy into the romance. It didn’t really feel like a healthy relationship and Stevie seemed like she hated the guy half the time. I was never rooting for them to get together.

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