Welcome one and all to this week’s Top 5 Wednesday post! For those of you who don’t know Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingerreadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.
This Wednesday’s topic is Most Disappointing Reads of 2018: these are books you read in 2018, not only ones released in 2018.
Obviously there’s a huge disclaimer that I should state before we even get into this post: these are reads that, for one reason or another, slightly disappointed me. That’s not to say that these books are bad books and that’s not to say that I necessarily disliked them; rather, it’s just that because of a multitude of possible reasons (a big one likely being hype in the bookish community), the books just felt a little short of the expectations I (maybe wrongfully) placed upon them. So it’s not the book’s fault necessarily – it’s not you, book, it’s me, I promise.
5. The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven (my review)
I don’t read a tonne of contemporaries, I’m much more inclined to reach for a fantasy nowadays, so I usually have to love the characters in order to fall in love properly with a book like this one. This was a pick for Jenn’s Crone Bloggers book club and I thought ‘hey, it would be nice to be part of a book club, I should give it a chance’, even though (to be perfectly honest) I was a little unsure given the cover design (it’s just not really my cup of tea). Turns out I should have trusted my instinct and I found The Exact Opposite of Okay kind of…. underwhelming? Everyone seemed to be talking about how kickass and feminist it was and… yeah… I guess there were those elements but I didn’t quite get that to the extent that everyone else seemed to. It felt like everyone else was loving it, meanwhile I was over here (party of one?) thinking it was ok and cool and all but not loving it like everyone else seemed to.
4. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert (my review)
Have you seen the synopsis of this? Have you seen the cover? Have you seen the hype? I should have loved this book a lot more than I did. I should have ate this shit up, greedily, and demanded more. Here’s the thing; it got a pretty good rating from me and I stood by that at the time but, looking back, I don’t actually think that rating would stand given the things I’ve read in the rest of the year. Comparatively? It’s fine, but it’s not MIND BLOWING. There were unexpectedly creepy elements to this book but something about it just felt a little… out of reach (and not necessarily in a good way), as if the characters couldn’t fully grasp onto the story because the author wasn’t fully in control of it. Something about the tone and the pacing of this story felt slightly off and I noticed that more and more as the novel progressed and it became less consistent which, ultimately, led to the execution of this brilliant concept falling a little bit flat for me.
3. The Fandom by Anna Day (my review)
I’ve long said I’m “over” dystopian. Remember that phase the book industry went through a few years back when everyone and their mothers was publishing YA dystopians right after the boom of The Hunger Games? I got sick of it, SO sick of it and so quickly too. So much so that if anyone pitches a great book to me but it contains the phrase “dystopian”, I immediately become a little wary. But it seemed like this was The Book that people were hyping up and I thought maybe this will be original, maybe it won’t just feel like the same rehashing of an idea that is so saturated in the YA fiction market, maybe this will give me the same heart-wrenching feelings that The Hunger Games did when I first read it, maybe (just maybe) this is the book that will make me eat my words when it comes to dystopian. I should have known The Fandom would end up disappointing me but will I learn? A clue: no.
2. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (my review)
I have never proclaimed to be a fan of fae; in fact, I would probably say the opposite. However, when you hear what feels like the entire online bookish community rave about Holly Black and how she is the “queen” of faeries, you think ‘huh well… maybe I’m wrong? Maybe I just haven’t read the right kind of book with fae and Holly Black will definitely change my mind’. When you’ve decided to give something a second chance with a new-to-you author and then said author’s book is hyped to the rafters and then you end up reading it and so NOT getting the fuss, it’s not only super frustrating but also extremely disappointing. I don’t know who I’m more disappointed in, myself or the book.
1. Melmoth by Sarah Perry
I ended 2018 with this book which is principally why it gets the top spot on this particular list. I expected (probably wrongly) SO much from this book because earlier in the year I read and ADORED Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent. Everything about that book was stunning, it was so atmospheric, I found the characters complex and frustrating (in the best way), and I absolutely hooked in reading it. Having heard the spooky synopsis of her next book, Melmoth, I was ready to be entranced again. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The book was still accomplished and, true enough, I was spooked by its premise, but I just wasn’t gripped by it in the same way as I was with the comparatively less creepy The Essex Serpent. Something of the magic spark just wasn’t there and I didn’t feel connected to the characters or setting at all – the things that I loved about Perry’s previous work seemed to be utterly lacking here and I ended the year on kind of a flat note, truth be told. I’m not mad at you, book, I’m just disappointed.
What books were your most disappointing reads of 2018? Do you have a Top 5 Wednesday post for this week? Be sure to link me below if you do!