The Fiction Fox
Most Disappointing books of 2018
Updated: Dec 21, 2022
December is my favorite month to be in the bookish community, for one reason only: the end of the year lists. I love nothing more here than to read through than people’s lists of best, worst, most anticipated, most surprising etc. books of the year. Starting of my own little list-series, continuing daily until the New Year, I present to you my most disappointing books of 2018. 2018 was all round an amazing reading year for me, so this list is the shortest of them all. I no particular order: my top 5 most disappointing reads of 2018.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid I’m usually very okay with giving my opinion, even if this opinion is an unpopular one. For the time I’ve been on Goodreads, this was the first time that I actually hesitated to post a review, because of how much my opinion would be in the minority. It’s still the one on this list I’m most nervous about, so I want to get it out of the way first. This book probably needs little introduction: an aged Hollywood icon from the fifties tells her life story to a young reporter, disclosing everything. From her controversial career to her 7 marriages, and which one of them was the actual love of her life. Nothing about this novel is particularly bad, it just really wasn’t for me. I really encourage you to read my full review, as I think I do a better job of explaining why there, than I can in this quick format here. In short however: it was predictable, none of the characters (apart from Evelyn herself) felt developed to me, it includes some of my “pet-peeve-twists” and most importantly: it’s just really not my genre. This was sold to me to be “literary fiction” or “woman’s fiction/chicklit plus”, but in reality I didn’t get the “plus-part”. I’m not a big fan of chicklit, and generally a book in that genre needs to have a major “plus” to be in my favorites; this one didn’t have that for me.
Truthwitch – Susan Dennard I was really excited for this, and it let me down so hard. I’m a student on a budget, with limited shelfspace, so I only buy books new that I’m really excited for, and expect to really love: this was one of them. I had heard so many rave reviews, the premise sounded so interesting and I was really hoping that this would be a new favorite fantasy-series. Alas, it was none of that. The plot was very standard, the instalove… *ahum* excuse me “romance” was cringy and whilst one of the main characters is interesting enough, the other one was downright insufferable to me. The world and magic system were amazing in concept, but I would have loved for them to be a little more developed. In addition, there is só much action, yet at the same time nothing of plot-significance actually seems to happen. I’ve never actually written a full review for this at the time, but I promise I will at some point. Suffice to say: most disappointing YA-fantasy of the year for me.
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho If this list had been “most annoying books of the year”, The Alchemist would have been the nr.1 entry. Whereas for the other 4 books on this list, I can understand why they are so popular, I just cannot get behind the cult-following that this novel(la) has. Very oversimplified writing combined with, the unsubtle preaching of quasi-wisdom that I on top of all this do not agree with made this very deserving of a place on this list for me. My full review can be found either here or on my Goodreads.
Crossroads of Canopy – Thoraia Dyer Similarly to nr. 3: if this list had been “worst books of 2018”, this would have been a top runner. The main reason I picked this one up, other than the stunning cover-art, was the world it takes place in. Crossroads of Canopy follows the journey of a girl in a civilization set in the treetops of a giant and ancient forest. The world features a very “biology-based” cast-system based on sunlight: the lucky few that are born high up in the treetops get the most light exposure and are the most affluent. Lower down, where the canopy of leaves blocks out the sun more and more, the lower casts scramble for all the light they can get. The world is ruled by gods and goddesses that reincarnate into human bodies every generation, and our story begins when our protagonist is chosen to become a bodyguard for one of them. Unfortunately, this book is about none of that. It’s about sex mainly… Specifically our protagonist thinking about sex in the most uncomfortable and cringy way. As I wrote in my review: I cannot remember ever, as an adult, feeling so uncomfortable reading sex scenes as I did here. Ever… In addition, the writing was forced and the characters insufferable. It was truly frustrating to me to see so much potential, such an interesting worlds and so many great ideas never coming to fruition in this one. If any of you have any recommendations for fantasy reads set in a similar type of world that are any good, I’d love to hear from you.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman ´Have you ever read a book where you were so sure it would be a 5 star, that when you finished it and it wasn’t, you go into complete denial and convince yourself you have somehow read it wrong...? That is me with this book.” That was my reading-update after finishing this book for the first time. Even though I said this list wasn’t in order, I did save my most disappointing read for last. Although The Ocean at The End of the Lane is, in my opinion, the best book on this list, the gap between my expectation and reality was the greatest, leading to the deepest feeling of disappointment. In short, we follow a middle-aged man who returns to his childhood home, for a funeral. Whilst walking through the familiar streets, he begins to remember the darker memories from his childhood. Fact and childhood fantasy seem to blend together, as we go on a journey, almost literally, down memory lane. Based on this synopsis and everything I’d heard, was truly expecting this to be a new favorite and when it wasn’t, my brain actually couldn’t handle that for a while. I didn’t review it. In fact, I read the entire thing over a second time, as I was convinced I was “wrong” somehow. My problems however remained: the story felt disconnected, there was too much “shock-for-the-sake-of-shock” imagery and most importantly our main character wasn’t developed enough for me to connect to him. For a story that (possibly) takes place largely in this characters mind, that’s something I could not forgive. Just like nr. 4 on this list: if you have any recommendations similar to this, I’d love to hear from you.
That concludes my Most Disappointing Books of 2018 list. I hope you enjoyed this list more than I did the books on it... Check back in tomorrow to see my best 2018 releases. Until then: happy reading!