Most Disappointing Books of 2020
Hi everyone! Today I’m sharing some of the most disappointing books that I read in 2020. I hesitated to call this list the worst books of 2020, because I’m sure there are people out there that love these books and I didn’t necessarily hate any of them, unlike in previous years. I always try to read books that I think I would enjoy, and if it’s something that I’m not really feeling I’ll put it down. With that said, there were certainly some books that I went into expecting to enjoy that ended up disappointing me.
The Open House by Sam Carrington – I really wanted to enjoy this one, but the way the main character acted at the end was so unbelievable. The use of hyphens in almost every single sentence was distracting. I also got confused quite a few times on who was speaking, because sometimes there wouldn’t be any quotation marks between one person and the next, or any indication as to who was speaking. I also didn’t find the maturity of the 8 year old to be believable, he spoke like an adult and it just didn’t click. There was also too much going on and not enough resolution, almost like the author didn’t care to finish some plot lines. I ended up giving this one 2.5 stars, and I think it was probably my most disappointing book of 2020.
The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman – I was expecting to enjoy this one, but it ended up not hitting the mark for me. It definitely had the spooky forest/town vibe that you get from shows like Riverdale and Stranger Things, but the stakes never felt like they were high and the characters as a whole felt pretty safe. Some of the scenes were hard to follow along with what was happening and I found it unrealistic that Violet would be so nonchalant about learning magic is real. I also really didn’t like the way that the descriptions were written – the bisexual boy, that white girl, that black woman. And every time an object was described, it was always red-brown and it became so noticeable that it was taking me out of the story.
The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant – When I read this book, I rated it 4 stars because I was hooked from the start and read this so quickly. However, after some time has passed, I realized that I don’t really remember a lot of the book and what happened, and the things that I remember are things that I don’t really like, and so I’ve lowered my rating. There wasn’t really much character development and you couldn’t really connect with the characters because of the time jumps that happened seemingly at random and with no warning, and you never knew how far in the future the new scenes were. I didn’t notice it when I wrote my original review (in fact, I said the complete opposite) but this book definitely felt like it relied on you knowing Les Misérables to understand the characters and their personalities. I also didn’t like the way that Nina was instantly perfect at everything, and could complete tasks that no one has ever managed to complete in record time with nothing to actually back up her skills other than us being TOLD she’s a great thief instead of showing us that. So yeah, this was really disappointing to me now that I’ve had more time to think about it.
Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson – I had heard good things about this author, so I decided to read his most recent release and…I didn’t like it at all. The premise was interesting – a man writes a list of his top murder mysteries, then someone takes his list and recreates the murders and he then tries to find the killer to show his innocence. Even though I had never read any of the murder mysteries on the list, I found this to be so predicable and nothing was ever really surprising or mysterious. The ending was weak and the story felt like it relied too much on these other famous murder mysteries to really be it’s own story.
The Arrangement by Robyn Harding – I hate when I go into a thriller and it’s anything but thrilling. I saw the ending coming a mile away, and the characters were so unlikeable. Normally, I don’t have an issue with unlikeable characters, but when there’s absolutely nothing to root for, it seems kind of pointless. I never understood Natalie’s motives or her thought process, and the relationships were all so underdeveloped. There were also plotlines about an ex-boyfriend that was supposed to be a red herring, but it was so weak that it was obvious it wasn’t going to go anywhere. The plot twists were weak as well, and the stakes were so low I wasn’t concerned at all for the main character.
The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag – These next few are ones that I ultimately DNF’d after I thought that I would enjoy them. This one I was expecting a fantasy novel about sisters who must fight for survival against their father. What I got was a book that I dreaded reading, with sexual assault, cheating, and suicidal thoughts all within the first 5% of the book. It also seemed like the author decided they needed to use the biggest words that they could to make the writing seem intelligent and flowery, but ended up being difficult to read. And by far the thing that bothered me the most is that it’s more magical realism than actual hard fantasy, which isn’t something that I enjoy at all. My expectations for this one were wildly different than what the book delivered, and so it makes my most disappointing reads list.
The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood – I’m so disappointed that I didn’t like this one, but there were just so many things that I couldn’t get past. There were things happening that were never explained and I had no idea what was going on most of the time. The main character felt so flat, with no personality, ambitions, wants or needs, and we are told that she’s deadly and dangerous, but we never actually SEE it. The first 20% covers 2 years of her life, and not once did I feel like I knew anything about her. And the differences between the races seemed to boil down to their appearances, and I never got a sense of the cultural differences. The characters easily could’ve all been human and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Unfortunately, this ended up being a DNF when I was expecting to love an orc assassin story.
The Peasant’s Dream by Melanie Dickerson – I was excited to read a reverse Cinderella story with a good romance, but when I started reading this one it read far too young for me, almost middle grade level. I also didn’t realize when I was going into it that this author writes Christian Fiction, so it was all very innocent and just really not my thing at all. I was hoping for a nice fantasy romance, but that was not what I got and I couldn’t get farther than 20% into this one.
Ever Cursed by Corey Ann Haydu – My final disappointing DNF! I was so frustrated and confused for the first 20% that I ended up giving up on this one. There was a ton of background information that was hinted at and it was clear that if they explained it everything would make sense, but everything was just vague references with nothing solid, and after this kept happening I was so over trying to figure out what was going on. I also found the witch Regan to be very childish, she wanted to punish the king by cursing his daughters, but why do events that happened 80 years ago matter to this teenage girl who wasn’t around then? I just didn’t see the point of the curses, which means I didn’t see the point of the book.
What were your thoughts on some of these books? If they worked for you, great! They just didn’t work for me.