I was originally going to pick 10 disappointing books from 2018 but I was having a hard time coming up with that many. There just weren’t many books I felt negatively about, which is awesome! That being said though, I didn’t want to needlessly throw books under the bus if they don’t deserve it so I narrowed my list down to 5. Oh, and if you’d like to see my top 10 best books of 2018, you can check that post out here.
I don’t really like disclaimers but just to put it out there really quick: these are my opinions. If you liked any of these books, I’m glad! They just didn’t do it for me.
So without further delay, here are my top 5 most disappointing books of 2018 in descending order.
5. Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Much to my own surprise we’re starting with the final book in the Grisha trilogy. I want to start off by saying that this isn’t a bad book by any means. I think it’s actually quite good and I gave it 3 stars. The reason this book has made it to my list is because the first two books are so much better and I felt like the series was gearing up to this insane, intense finale and then the end was just… anticlimactic. Sure stuff happened, and plot lines were resolved but I guess just not in the way I wanted? I was very disappointed that Alina ended up with the love interest that she did, I thought that was a tragic missed opportunity. Other than that I can’t quite put my finger on what this book did wrong for me. I just felt very meh about it.
4. The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
I had high hopes for this since I really enjoyed Chupeco’s debut novel The Girl From the Well but I was ultimately let down. This story follows Tea, a young girl who discovers she has powers of necromancy which makes her a Bone Witch, feared and hated by most people in her world. She goes to train with other magical girls and learn how to control her power. Cut between chapters are small sections of a parallel story taking place years after the current timeline. This side story was so much more interesting than the current one that I found myself drudging through the rest of the book just hanging on for those parts. 80% of this book is endless description about the clothes that characters were wearing and that’s only a slight exaggeration. This is #4 on my list and not lower though because I do think there’s some potential for future books here. I do plan to give the sequel a shot at some point.
3. Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic
This book had such a cool premise! A pair of sisters each possesses a different type of magic that manipulates beauty in one way or another. They must learn more about this magic and themselves in order to find out why their mother was attacked. It sounds great right? Unfortunately there’s not much here. All the characters are one dimensional and the plot drags like a wounded animal. The writing is pretty but that’s pretty much the only thing keeping it together (that and the attractive cover).
This is the first book in a series that I have zero interest in continuing.
2. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
This book was so beautiful on the outside (quite literally, I mean look at that cover) in the sense that the writing was very descriptive and fairy tale-ish, and the premise was amazing. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t anything of substance once you started to pick it apart. The protagonist, Isobel, is an even less fleshed out Feyre and she has this immediate connection to the love interest Rook that I didn’t believe for a second. The “plot” is a glorified jaunt through the woods for 200 pages where nothing happens. I wanted to like this one, but I just couldn’t.
1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This is the one book that I read this past year that actually made me kind of angry. I feel like I need to explain myself here because everyone I know loved this book, or at least enjoyed it enough to not take issue with it.
I would consider myself a “gamer” since I’ve been actively playing video games since I was like five years old. I sold my soul to Blizzard Entertainment when I turned 12 and have been playing World of Warcraft on and off since. I was born in the late nineties though so arcade games and old platformers were never really my thing but I can still appreciate a lot of the “gamer” nods in this game (i.e. leveling up, finding easter eggs, l33t speak etc) I was really expecting to connect with this book.
This is going to get ranty- sorry.
First of all, this book is a snooze fest. Pages and pages and pages about every single detail of the OASIS and what Wade’s avatar was wearing and wielding. Wade is also what we gamer folk would refer to as OP, or overpowered. Please NERF Wade Watts; he’s so amazing at everything he does on the first try and I don’t buy that sh*t for a second. If you’re familiar with the anime community at all, you’ve probably heard of Sword Art Online which has a very similar premise to Ready Player One actually. And if you’ve heard of SAO you probably know that everyone loves to sh*t on the main character Kirito for this exact reason. No one likes a Mary Sue. It’s not interesting if everyone loves your protagonist immediately and said protagonist is a master at everything they do.
Art3mis is the love interest in this book and Cline attempts to make her quirky and interesting by giving her a birth mark on her face that is (according to her) hideous. She’s also described as rubenesque. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry, I had to look it up too. It means: characteristic or reminiscent of the paintings of Rubens, especially with reference to his voluptuous female nudes. Basically, it means Art3mis is supposed to be fat but for some reason the author skirts around that word like the plague.
Art3mis’ big hang up is that she doesn’t want Wade to see her in real life because she’s self conscious about measuring up to her online counterpart who is obviously a more idealized version of her real self. So wouldn’t it be super meaningful if she comes to accept herself throughout the story and at the end when she and Wade meet in person, he loves her for who she is and all that? *SPOILER ALERT* Well don’t worry about any of that because Wade sees her and she’s hot. No worries guys! She’s hot, it’s okay!
What’s wrong with having love interests who aren’t insanely hot stick figures?
What’s wrong with having protagonists who aren’t perfect?
If that stuff doesn’t turn you away then perhaps the monotonous lengths of story oogling over 80’s references will. Maybe it’s because I can’t relate that it annoyed me so much.
The message I got from this book was: If you don’t think 80’s references are the tightest sh*t then get out of my teenage male wish fulfillment fantasy.
Sorry, no thanks.