My Most Disappointing Books in 2021

Oof this is always my hardest post to write. It’s miserable not loving every book- yet sometimes you read something that makes your eyes roll back into your head so hard you think demon possession is real and it happened cos of the book you’re holding. The main thing to remember is, if you don’t want to be mentally scarred/don’t like controversial opinions/think you’re the only one in the world entitled to an opinion, you don’t have to read this post (which is my apparently non-confrontational way of offering a disclaimer this year 😉) You have been warned- onto the list!

You and Me on Vacation– I’m mostly just sad this didn’t live up to my expectations- which were really high after Beach Read. In all honesty, I just didn’t see why the couple weren’t together already and felt irked by the borderline-emotional-cheating that had gone on while they failed to figure out they should get it on already.

A Court of Silver Flames– look, I know it’s just a book series, but I’m actively annoyed after this one. I am so frustrated with myself for continuing to waste my time on a series that keeps on disappointing me. I don’t know why I keep doing the same thing and expecting different results! This may be a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”, because I am definitely not the audience for this book series anymore and it didn’t feel like a continuation worth waiting for.

The Quiet at the End of the World– I thought this had so much promise and it let me down!! I just can’t get on board with a story where the “uplifting” message is nihilistically giving up on humanity. I find it kind of foul to have a YA book that is so full of self-loathing and argues that the world would be better off without people in it.

The Duke and I– because of that rape scene.

Iron Widow– annnnd my next two picks are going to make me super unpopular, but I just didn’t like this book at all (massive understatement haha). To summarise what this book is about in a single word, I’d say: RAGE. Which, may not sound that bad, but after 400 pages, it’s pretty one-note and exhaustingly dull. In fairness, the mc could be described as having a static arc, inspiring others around her to change… except that I don’t find anger all that inspiring. And personally, I prefer books with a bit more emotional range than a hormonal teen on steroids. Although, on that note, I didn’t actually get why this was YA at all. Aside from the “technical” age of the characters, this was no coming-of-age story, it was full of dubious messaging and lots of sex/violence/adult themes… I simply don’t understand why this book had to be aimed specifically at teens when for all intents and purposes, it reads like adult fic.

Ace of Spades– Oh boy, you may as well just cancel me now for hating on this social media darling. But I can’t lie: I actively disliked this book. I had high hopes- but I was played for a fool. This is basically Robin Diangelo’s wet dream transformed into a YA thriller. And if you like that kind of thing… then have at it I guess?! But sorry… I have standards? I won’t be jumping on that toxic bandwagon. Even glossing over the gross inspiration, I can’t get behind this as a piece of fiction. Believe it or not, once you pick up on the “all white people are evil” messaging, you can guess *every single* “plot twist”. This book really makes me despair at the world- is it really the best we can do to combat racism?

And that’s all for now! I’ve decided to keep it short, just to the books I *really didn’t like*. Dare I ask- do you agree or disagree with me on any of these? And what were your most disappointing reads? Let me know in the comments!

55 thoughts on “My Most Disappointing Books in 2021

  1. so I’ve been curious to read Ace of Spades because of all the hype and 5 star reviews, and I *love* mystery/thrillers and dark academia– but I’ve been a bit apprehensive to read it because from what I’ve seen it sounded like it, as you said, might be pushing the kind of un-nuanced “white fragility” narrative that in my opinion doesn’t do anything to help the issue of race in the US. I’ll still give the book a fair shot though; I don’t want to write it off until I read it for myself. Yours is the first negative review I’ve seen, actually

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    1. I completely get that- I love dark academia and mystery thrillers too… I just didn’t feel like it met my expectations in that department. There’s just not much depth to the mystery and it’s real obvious. I agree- and sadly that’s what this book was. But yes, definitely read it and see fit yourself! That’s not surprising- I think a lot of people sceptical about the book just won’t read it maybe? I don’t know, but I’ve only seen one other person who read disappointed with the plot “twist” (though for not quite the same reasons).

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      1. Coming back to this thread bc I still haven’t seen that many negative reviews– I just read the book and oh man that was one of the worst books I’ve ever read in my life… even brushing aside the extreme heavy handed white-people-are-all-out-to-get-you message, there were so many gaping plot holes and the storyline was absolutely nonsensical. It read like half thought out satire. I am so confused about the hype lol

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        1. Ahh I’m so relieved I’m not the only one tbh!! I also haven’t seen many negative reviews and it was starting to feel a little lonely over here 😅 I agree!!! It’s so weird cos I didn’t even think it was good as a thriller and just didn’t understand why there was so much hype?!! And yes- though it might have seemed even a bit too much for satire 😉 haha me too!

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          1. True, the part where it revealed the school values acronym and the fact that the school name literally just means “white”, the part where it turned out the news channel was white supremacist TOO, the part where the protestors “brown faces disrupted the sea of white”or whatever, and the super weird horror-movie-esque reveals of each white person’s extreme racism pushed the boundaries of passable even as satire lol

            What’s kind of scary is the number of people saying they thought the book was “realistic” and “could be real”… um, are we living in the same United States? There is not a chance that anything in that book could or would ever happen in real life. Is this really how people think the US is?

            I get the sense that the YA community tends to eat up anything with a leftist bent, even if it’s complete propaganda. The sad thing is the book could have been good social commentary and representation if it didn’t devolve into complete propagandistic insanity

            I’ll probably post a longer and better written review on my blog later but I reviewed it on Goodreads with my initial thoughts: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4602875906?book_show_action=false

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            1. Haha yes! I actually rolled my eyes at some parts- it was too far.

              Yes!!! That was so confusing to me! It’s a very extreme almost spoofy horror movie style story… Not something I’d say screams realism.

              Yeah I agree. And absolutely! I had high hopes. It just needed to not be totally insane haha!

              Awesome! I’ll check it out ☺️

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  2. I have not read any of them, so I can neither agree or disagree, lol. But most recently there was one book that I DNF and didn’t like, but I bought it before I realised, because I relatively enjoyed the rest of the series. Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

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  3. Ooh interesting to see Iron Widow on this list! I’ve only heard amazing things so I was really excited to pick it up haha!

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  4. I thought to get Iron Widow but now I don’t. I wouldn’t like book filled with just one emotion. I still want to get Sarah J Maas book. I haven’t read any so I will get them one by one than buying whole series and will read it as long as it works for me.

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  5. I liked the Emily Henry book a lot, but I know it’s gotten very mixed reactions. (As with a lot of romances, the late in the game break-up really bugged me, but I accept that that’s just a plot device that happens in these types of books.) I ended up reading the whole Bridgerton series last year and enjoyed it for what it was — but yes, THAT scene is awful. In some ways, I could almost excuse it more easily in the TV version, given how clearly the character was kept in the dark by her mother and her husband. But, yes, it’s icky… yet I liked the world and the cast of characters enough to keep going. 🙂

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    1. Oh yes I have seen that- I’m glad lots of people got more out of it than I did tbh- especially cos I don’t think it’s a bad book. I get that- I read a couple of the other ones (I thought one was ok and the other I enjoyed) but yeah, that scene is just awful. Yes and I also think they changed a couple of things. But it’s still so wrong. I know what you mean!!

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  6. I’ve not read Ace of Spades but it’s always disappointing to hear about stories with such obvious messaging. I’m not against themes in fiction (it’s the essence of literature) but it feels like the author thinks I’m a fool if they make their message super obvious.

    And this is not even considering whether I agree with the message or not!

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  7. I enjoy your disappointing reads posts. 🙂 I did try Maas books forever ago but didn’t make it very far (first chapters only). Do you enjoy hate reading them perhaps? I did finally watch Bridgerton but I’m glad to pass on the books and probably the second season.

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