Most Disappointing Books of 2019

I still have two books to finish for this year, but neither of them is going to become a least favorite of the year, so I thought I would get this post out of the way now! As always, this is not meant to be an objective list; none of these books are objectively “bad” but I just didn’t jive with them for whatever reason. They are…very loosely organized in order from ones I disliked least to ones I disliked most.


#10
The Perfect Assassin
K.A. Doore

perfect assassin

I’m not entirely sure where this book and I went wrong; it’s an objectively good book and has a very high GR rating, but I found it incredibly dull. I also struggled to connect with any of the characters or become invested in the murder mystery. But I’m super intrigued by the world, enough to potentially check out the sequel.


#9
Descendant of the Crane
Joan He

descendant of the crane

I really expected to love this, but I thought it was very lukewarm. It’s telling that I can barely even remember what the plot was or how the book ended. All I can recall is being very put off by the slow pace and not feeling particularly invested in any of the characters.


#8
Gideon the Ninth
Tamsyn Muir

gideon the ninth

Ah, one of the most talked about and contentious books of the year! Some people loved this and some people hated this, and I definitely lean more towards the latter camp. I found this book overly convoluted, lacking in proper worldbuilding, incredibly confusing, and terribly boring. I loved the #aesthetic of it and I really loved the characters and the ending, but I can’t forgive that I wanted to DNF it nearly every other page because it was so damn boring. Still, I am impressed enough by the author’s attempt that I will definitely be picking up the sequel.


#7
Ninefox Gambit
Yoon Ha Lee

ninefox gambit

I really wanted to love this book but struggled with the lack of worldbuilding. It was just too damn confusing; like Gideon the Ninth, it really could have used a glossary. I enjoyed the themes discussed and loved the character dynamics, but aside from that I really had a tough time getting through this; I wanted to DNF multiple times and had to force myself to see it through to the end because it was so full of needless jargon.


#6
The Tenth Girl
Sara Faring

the tenth girl-MECH.indd

This is definitely one of the weirder books I’ve ever read; the entire plot hinges on a bizarre twist that comes in at about 80% of the book, rendering the entire first 80% completely superfluous. It’s…an ambitious risk to take, but it ultimately didn’t pan out, which is unfortunate, because I thought the author did a really superb job creating a Gothic atmosphere.


#5
Poison Study
Maria V. Snyder

poison study

Slow pacing, staccato writing, some truly cringy lines…overall I thought this was kind of mediocre, but I also had really high expectations going in, since this is a pretty popular book. I think there were some good elements and this had the potential to be excellent, but it was just very meh, and struck a weirdly discordant tone as it tried super hard to be YA but really should have been adult.


#4
Heart’s Blood
Juliet Marillier

heart's blood

I think this book is actually a pretty clever Beauty and the Beast retelling, but that’s about all I liked about it. The plot dragged, the characters never felt real, the dialogue is stiff and unrealistic, and the main character is super bland but is for some reason held up by the other characters as the Best Person Ever, which got on my nerves.


#3
Devotion
Madeline Stevens

devotion

There are plenty of better stories about obsession and obsessive characters. This book is far too meandering and features a heroine who does bizarre things seemingly just for the sake of being bizarre and shocking the reader. It was very anticlimactic and the ending just felt completely pointless.


#2
Mister Tender’s Girl
Carter Wilson

mister tender's girl

I’m not sure why I resented this book as much as I did, as I rarely give 1-stars to books I actually finish, but for some reason something about it just really, really didn’t click with me. I really disliked the writing style and thought that this was far, far, far longer than necessary; it was boring and there were a lot of pointless plot threads that could easily have been eliminated. The protagonist felt very flat, as did the book itself.


#1
The Merry Spinster
Mallory Ortberg

merry spinster

Ah, my most hated book of 2019! I’ll just quote from my review, shall I? “Never before in my life have I read something so utterly pointless. These are not short stories. These are not even complete thoughts. They’re just pointless anecdotes that aren’t interesting and don’t mean anything at all. And they’re boring. I don’t get it. These “stories” have no climax, no payoff, no plot. What is the point of any of this? They’re supposed to be fairy tale retellings (the most interesting part of the book for me was the author listing the sources and influences), but what are they doing? Are they supposed to be dark and ~edgy? They’re not. Are they meant to be funny? Thought-provoking? What am I missing here? Is there something that I’m missing, or are these just words printed on paper with no purpose whatsoever?”

4 thoughts on “Most Disappointing Books of 2019

  1. Omg, I read The Merry Spinster as an ARC a while back and think I gave it 3 stars but there is very little I remember fondly of it. It certainly did not live up to expectations.

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    • It was such a torturous experience! I even skimmed a story, and I NEVER skim (it’s either DNF or read the whole thing). I don’t think I’ve ever hated a book more. Like, I’m already super picky when it comes to short stories, and part of the reason for that is that I think a lot of them try extra hard to be cerebral and experimental and not a lot of them succeed, so to have an entire book that was weird and experimental was just too much for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love that we both have Yoon Ha Lee books on our most disappointing reads lists! I think the dynamic between Kel Cheris and Jedao was interesting enough that it pulled me through the insanely dense and convoluted storytelling/worldbuilding in Ninefox Gambit but without that dynamic in The Raven Stratagem I was just confused and bored.

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    • Their dynamic was SO GOOD. And I really loved Jedao as a character; I found him absolutely fascinating, and the reveal as to why exactly he committed the atrocities he committed was just so…batshit crazy that I couldn’t help but be drawn to his character. And I really like the idea of being able to store people and give them to others as advisors. Like, I hate to say it, but I feel like in the hands of another author this would have been sooooooo much better, because the ideas are fabulous, but the execution just does not work.

      Liked by 1 person

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