The Fiction Fox
Year in Review: Most Disappointing of 2019
Updated: Dec 21, 2022
After yesterdays topic of most surprising books of the year, there is only one logical subject for todays topic. Because you can’t be positively surprised all the time, without having some disappointments in the mix as well. Today, we’ll be talking about the five novels that let me down the hardest this year. Similar to the past two years, I won’t be creating a separate “worst book of the year”, so this list will contain a combination of the worst, and simply most disappointing things I read this year. They are in no particular order, and I only included books that I finished completely (no DNF’s). I have a lot of thoughts on all of these books, so I’ll include a link to the full reviews of each of them, if you’re interested to read why I disliked them as much as I did. With all that out of the way: let’s get into my top 5 most disappointing reads of the year.
1. Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
It pains me to say, but it’s been a long time since I’ve struggled so much to finish a book as Black Leopard, Red Wolf. This adult high fantasy novel was anticipated by many, including myself, upon its release in February, and early reviews were positive. Nothing had prepared me for the amount of disturbing content that was to come my way. I’m not principally against disturbing content, unlikable protagonists or a complicated plot but this book had too much of all of that, and more. My full review can be found here. If you plan on reading this one: power to you, but be prepared: there are trigger warnings for basically anything you can think of.
2. The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman
The second and last 2019-release on this list brought in a lot of mixed reviews in the YA community. It had an interesting premise and quite some hype around its release and because of that, it actually made it to my most anticipated books of 2019. The reason that it’s on this list unfortunately, is partly because of the disparity between my expectation and the reality, and partly because I genuinely felt this was not a good book. It took me quite a while to write a review, but I finally uploaded one that covers pretty much everything I want to say about this novel, which you can find here.
3. A Winters Promise by Christelle Dabos
A Winters Promise is my most recent read of these four, and for that reason, I’m still working on a full review. It is coming, because as with the other four books on this list: many thoughts… A Winters Promise was a confident five-star prediction for me. So confident in fact that I paid full hardcover price and shipping for it, because apparently this book is hard to come by in The Netherlands. What happened was more expectation-vs.-reality than an actual bad book. It has some great elements, including a highly original world and a creative take on the YA-genre. It also has some very poor sides, like archetypical characters, lack of depth to the world and magic, and an overall mediocre plot. I wanted to love this, but ended up with an okay 2.5-star read. This disparity it what ended it its place on this list.
From here on out we’re entering true unpopular-opinion territory. Let me start of by saying that this also wasn’t a bad book by any means. It just wasn’t as good as I was hoping and expecting based of the first novel, which I gave 4.5/5 stars. Maybe it was second-book-slump, maybe it was the fact that I just wasn’t as interested to see Mia as a gladiator, as I was to see her become an assassin… This book didn’t click with me the way the first did, and unfortunately, it let me to postpone reading Darkdawn, until I’ve recovered from my disappointment a little. Full review can be found here.
5. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
Lastly, we have possibly the most unpopular opinion of them all, as this series is a true community-darling. This was an easy five-star prediction for me and I felt genuinely sad, the more the realisation set in that I was finding a lot of issues in this book that kept me from enjoying it. Again: I have a full review, discussing my thoughts on the matter. This of course goes for any of these books, but I want to mention it especially for this one: I’m truly happy that these books have impacted many readers lives in a positive way, and it’s not my intention to change any of your thoughts or feelings about them. If anything, I wish I had shared them.
Follow me on Goodreads to stay up to date with my daily reading. Stay tuned for more of my 2019 in Review series later this week.