10 of My Most Disappointing Reads

10 of My Most Disappointing Reads

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Cursebreakers Trilogy by Brigid Kemmerer

A Curse So Dark and Lonely

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

The Thief

I know everyone loves this book, but I really struggle with smart-mouthed characters, and so I really struggled to like this book.

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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?

25 thoughts on “10 of My Most Disappointing Reads

  1. Deeksha Bhardwaj says:

    Tuesday with Morrie is hyped so much but I don’t know why I’m just unable to pick it up. I feel like it will not be what people are trying to make it!!
    For me, From Lukov with Love and Kingdom of the Cursed were disappointing books that are hyped too much.

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  2. Pamela says:

    I had absolutely no idea The Magicians was actually a book! My husband and I watched the television series on Netflix, and absolutely adored it! If you decide to give it a shot, it actually meets the “Narnia/HP” brief, which are the two stories that came to mind when I watched the show.

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    • Krysta says:

      I’ll have to keep that in mind! Sometimes an adaptation can bring out aspects of a book that makes it more enjoyable (for me, at least)!

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  3. Yati says:

    For me it’s The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It just felt wishy-washy and trying to be deep.

    Oh, no, The Thief. I don’t know what to do with that book, because the later books were very good! I actually loved The King of Attolia. But how am I supposed to convince people to read that one when I keep hesitating to recommend the first book?

    I didn’t like The Magicians either.

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    • Krysta says:

      I’ve been afraid to read The Alchemist because I’ve heard that…

      And, I actually did read the sequel (and maybe the third book??) to The Thief. I remember I liked them a bit more, but the first book does feel a bit like an obstacle to overcome.

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  4. riv @ dearrivarie says:

    I’ve had The Magicians on my TBR for so long I almost forgot about the series until this list! The most recent disappointing read would have to be Edgewood – it had such a great premise but relied heavily on tropes and a lot of telling the reader how the characters felt that I struggled to care for what was happening 😦

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    • Krysta says:

      I hadn’t heard of Edgewood before, so I did a quick internet search and my eyes fell on a review stating the book has “lyrical prose.” Which is usually my signal to run away from a book.

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  5. alisoninbookland says:

    I adored Small Spaces. Unfortunately each new installment keeps getting blah. I’m at the point where I just start recommending it as a standalone to my library patrons and not even mention that it’s a series.

    I agree with The Magicians. I read it many years ago. I was so, so excited because on paper it was literally the perfect book for me. It was terrible for me though. I’ve heard decent things about the show but the book made me ‘angry’ enough that I have zero desire to watch it.

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    • Krysta says:

      Yeah, I recently told someone who loved Small Spaces that there were sequels. They didn’t seem very interested. And I couldn’t think of any good reason to convince them that they should be! Why ruin the first book with two mediocre ones? I’ll probably read book four anyway, though, because I’ve made it this far.

      I haven’t been invested in watching The Magicians because I hated the book so much. I suppose the show could be better, but I do need to be convinced now. Or I could just go watch something else that I have no prior negative emotions towards.

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  6. BookerTalk says:

    I’ve never read anything by Mitch Albom and your comment on Tuesdays with Morrie doesn’t encourage me to start giving him a go.
    Disappointing books would include some that have been best sellers like An American Marriage (Tayari Jones) and The Vanishing Half (Brit Bennett) neither of which were bad, just not as good as all the reviews were suggesting

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    • Krysta says:

      I read The Five People You Meet in Heave by Mitch Albom after I read Tuesdays with Morrie. I suppose it’s a decent book. But it does have that feeling of relying heavily on its premise to sell. The whole idea of, “Look how your life intertwines with other lives!” And…that’s it. That’s the most interesting aspect of the book.

      And, yes, I’m always a bit worried by bestsellers! Will they live up to the hype?! So many don’t.

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  7. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    Ah yes that’s such a good point about magicians making magic seem like a chore!! And I agree about curse so dark and lonely being a bit of a mess. I liked the thief- but my god that series has one of the worst romances ever (I presume you’re not going to read the rest, but I am resisting spoiling it in case you do… although it’s not much of a spoiler because it’s SO BAD!)

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