Not every book can be a five-star read! Below are some books that failed to meet my expectations.
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
I know this is supposed to be some sort of life-changing book with deep philosophy on how to live one’s life to the fullest. But I thought most of the advice was pretty self-evident.
Dark Waters by Katherine Arden
Dark Waters is rather a low point for the Small Spaces quartet. Under 200 pages in length, the book seems written mainly to fill up the “spring” slot in the series and to bridge the gap until the thrilling conclusion (sold to readers through a cliffhanger). The plot, which features a massive water snake, is simply not as compelling as the plots of the first two books, and it lacks heart. The book is entirely forgettable.
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
A librarian recommended this to me, saying something about its being Narnia and Harry Potter combined. The book, in fact, lacks any of the magic, delight, and wonder of those two series. Instead, it makes magic seem boring and a chore.
The Flying Saucer Mystery by Carolyn Keene
Is book 58 in the series the worst Nancy Drew ever? It’s certainly in the running. Nancy heads off to the woods to investigate a UFO, gets high on swamp gas, and spends pages in some sort of weird sci-fi vision where she’s flying through space with Ned. You get the picture.
Cursebreakers Trilogy by Brigid Kemmerer
While Kemmerer shines as a writer of contemporary romance, the need to create a fully-realized fantasy world with its own internal politics and intrigue was clearly proving a struggle. The Cursebreakers trilogy contains an underdeveloped world with confusing characterization in what appears to be an attempt to make the characters more complex. In the end, the trilogy reads like a bit of a mess, with Kemmerer belatedly trying to convince readers that characters who did wicked things are really good, and that characters with a moral compass are just as bad as the people they are fighting.
Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
I actually went on to read most of the series after this book, but, wow, book one is rough. Not much happens narrative-wise. It’s not too interesting for characters to walk up a hill.
Keeper of the Lost Cities Unlocked by Shannon Messenger
I wanted to love this book because I have been an enthusiastic (if not obsessed) fan ever since I read the first Keeper of the Lost Cities books. I have introduced a number of my friends to my series, and I love being able to talk over the latest installments, to argue Keefe vs. Fitz, and to guess what the next book will bring. But even I have to recognize that the series has been getting ridiculously unwieldy, in a way that some more cynical readers might even view as a blatant cash grab. This book is marketed as book 8.5, so readers have to buy one book more before the series finally (I hope) ends with book 9. The marketing implies that there is special bonus material here for fans, but 3/4 of the book is recaps of information fans already know from the other books. Fans have to read the book, though, because it includes a novella that acts as a bridge between books 8 and 9.
The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
The Dead-Tossed Waves was sometimes unintentionally funny and the possibility of the zombie apocalypse ending the sickening love triangle filled me with naïve hope, but otherwise the book has nothing to recommend it. An annoying protagonist; terrible prose; bizarre logic; and repetition of scenes, thoughts, and phrases are the most striking aspects of the work. Why was this series popular?
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
I know everyone loves this book, but I really struggle with smart-mouthed characters, and so I really struggled to like this book.
The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees
Some reviewers praised the prose in this book. I…have to disagree. The prose alone almost made me return the book to the library about five pages in. Here’s an example:
“You want to know where Mom is?’” she says, and her teeth are as lurid and luminous as car headlights at night on a secluded highway ribboning through the woods, glinting off the deflective white letters of a green street sign: DO NOT ENTER, STOP, BRIDGE MAY BE ICY, NEXT EXIT ONE MILE, U-TURNS PROHIBITED. Her lips are white, white, white. And I am the animal slinking along the shoulder of the narrow gravel road, thinking I am safe and out of sight. Safe, out of sight, until I am awash in her rictus light.”
Yes, that’s right. Someone’s teeth are compared to car headlights on a nighttime highway. Why??
What are some books that disappointed you?