Hello Fiction Dwellers!
This year I’ve read over 100+ books/stories that have left an impression on me. Some books made me feel good or infuriated me or sometimes (the worst of them all) nothing at all. Even though there were many books that left me on a high there are also books that dropped me to the lowest low. Reading is a subjective experience no matter if you’re a reviewer or someone that reads for fun—each book can land differently for each person. It’s just the matter of how review it and the words you choose to describe the thoughts and feelings you have that reflects the rating you give for the book. They can vary from the occasional brain farts I experience after reading a really good book that I just blank and can only express my thoughts in the artisanal form of keyboard smashing. The opposite of the “Error 404 book so good” is when I muster enough energy to write an essay that is basically a love letter for the book urging everyone on the face of the earth to read it.
As much as I love to celebrate good books there are misses when it comes to reading. These misses comes in two forms that I’ve experienced. Sometimes there are books that leave a hollow feeling of nothingness after reading it, the book was nice but didn’t hit the emotional threshold I hoped for so I end up just rating it (usually a 3 star) and writing “RTC” then forgetting it forever. The last one can be controversial or entertaining to some—it’s when I give a low rating to a book that is generally loved by my friends or the majority, for this I put on my professional reviewer hat on as I present my case on why the book didn’t work me. Lastly is the book that I can’t continue or did not finish that I leave unrated with a small explanation on why I don’t wanna read it. Hence the title the meh, the no-nos, and the DNFs (Did Not Finish). Before you scroll to the list, please take my opinion with a grain of salt and don’t take it to heart as it is based on my preferences.
the meh 🤷
In this category I will list the books that didn’t make me feel anything while reading, books that I’ve read but I don’t remember anything in it, and books that were okay but didn’t hit hard enough for a 4 star read.
Note : Titles with (*) will be released in 2022
1. Gearbreakers (Gearbreakers #1) by Zoe Hana Mikuta
I read Gearbreakers for a blog tour during the middle of the year that I genuinely got interested in because of the cover and the premise. Sapphics working together toppling governments and destroying giant mechas is an awesome concept. The experience of reading it though left me more hollow than screaming with excitement mostly because of the ending that dumb struck me. It just didn’t make sense at all for me.
2. We Lie with Death (The Reborn Empire #2) by Devin Madson
We Lie with Death is one of the earliest ARCs I received and it is also the ARC that made me purchase the physical copy of the first book without thinking much. Though I loved the first book—the sequel didn’t leave a strong impression as I hoped for as I was mostly confused the whole time reading. It’s a multi POV story, one of the POVs didn’t make sense at all to me because I didn’t read the adjacent series before the The Reborn Empire hence why I was confused 80% of the time.
3. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
For this book it is the writing that didn’t jive well with me. Ocean Vuong’s writing is beautiful I admit but something about the repetitive patterns and the endless metaphors that convoluted the whole story for me. I really wanted to like it because a lot of my mutuals love it. Though this will not stop me from reading more of his works in the future.
4. Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach
It’s sad that Not Here to Be Liked didn’t hit the mark for me because I genuinely thought I would love it. Again it’s probably because of my age and the surface level themes presented in the story. I still highly recommend for readers younger than me or if you’re looking to gift someone younger than you a book that touches on relevant themes with a romance sub plot to pick this book up. It’s still a solid debut but it wasn’t for me.
5. A Rogue of One’s Own (League of Extraordinary Women #2) by Evie Dunmore
Honestly, I don’t remember much from this book because I listened to it on Audio at work. I remember liking the first book to this series and this sequel wasn’t as fun as the first book.
6. Daughter of the Moon Goddess (Celestial Kingdoms #1) by Sue Lynn Tan *
Release Date : January 11th 2022 (US), January 20th 2022 (UK)
I explained in my review in detail on why I didn’t quite like Daughter of the Moon Goddess. There are elements of the story that I loved about the story such as the magic system, setting, and the heavy wuxia/xianxia inspiration. The things that hindered me from loving this debut is the plot, pacing, and characters. For me characters make or break a story so it’s too bad that none of them are noteworthy in my eyes. I still highly recommend the book because I can see more people liking it more than I do and the writing is exquisite.
7. Only A Monster (Monsters #1) by Vanessa Len *
Release Date : February 22, 2022
Full Review to come!
I am currently in the process of writing a review for Only A Monster and will post it soon on my blog. The short version is that I didn’t like any of the characters. Again characters make it or break it for me and none of them were compelling enough for me. The concept of the story though is ambitious and I liked that it is set in an urban setting. Don’t let my opinion sway you from reading this book because it might be different for other people.
8. The Sword in the Street by C. M. Caplan
This is a self published stand alone that I reviewed for a book tour that I didn’t end up reviewing and posting a spotlight post instead. I liked the neuro divergent and queer representation in this but something about the main characters relationship bothered me because of how toxic it is. Though the action scenes were immaculate.
the no-nos 🙅♀️
As it is titled this category is for the books I finished reading that I truly cannot stand and have openly disliked as reflected on my reviews. The books here did leave a strong impression on me but it wasn’t the good kind either and some straight up infuriated me to the point I got a migraine from being so mad at it.
1. Jade Fire Gold by June C. L. Tan
Truth be told Jade Fire Gold was originally in the meh section but I included it in here because of how strong the hollow feeling I felt after reading. I did not care about any of the characters and I remember nothing from this book. The concept was fine but it lacked the hard hitting moments and character development I look for in fantasy stories. The plot was too easily resolved even though I liked the other elements.
2. Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
If you know me from Twitter I am very open about my dislike towards Iron Widow. I liked nothing about this book and I don’t know how I finished it. In this YA Sci-Fi debut I’ve never wished for a character’s death more than Wu Zetian’s from Iron Widow. Wishing for her death might be too harsh but seriously she is the most unbearable main characters I’ve ever met. I love a good underdog yet Wu Zetian doesn’t deserve my support for the reasons I have explained in my review. This book also made me dislike the unhinged girlboss trope so much.
3. These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
Iron Widow holds first place and for These Violent Delights holds second place as my most disliked reads this year. I love audiobooks and I appreciate narrators for their talent in bringing life the characters from books, but the audiobook for These Violent Delights is the worst audiobook I’ve listened to. The narrator’s creative decision wasn’t executed well in my opinion and the breathy voices they gave for Roma, Juliette’s two cousins, and the other two boys was SOOOOO breathy and unintelligible that it ruined the whole book for me. Besides that the characters were one dimensional in their characterization made things even more unbearable. It is also another book that made me dislike the unhinged girlboss trope.
4. The Atlas Six (The Atlas #1) by Olivie Blake
To all my mutuals that love this book please look away. This book isn’t for me and though it has a nice concept but it’s one of those books that sells their vibe very well. It is a fever dream of pretty one liners, alluring moments, and desirably attractive ensemble of main characters. Who needs plot when you can drink wine and kiss each other right?
5. The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War #2) by R. F. Kuang
Okay, I might get burned for disliking this book but I will be honest with myself that I don’t like The Dragon Republic. This sequel didn’t live up to it’s amazing predecessor, The Poppy War. I probably will not continue the series because I’ve heard worse things about the third book The Burning God. The Dragon Republic really showed R. F. Kuang’s trajectory and I don’t like where it’s going. Besides that I fell out of love with the main characters in The Dragon Republic and I seriously don’t care about their problems anymore. All the characters I rooted were .. yeah. My verdict is The Poppy War is a standalone and I will live in that delusion forever.
6. XOXO by Axie Oh
I went into this with expectations of fluffy and genuine wholesomeness but what I got is the total opposite. Honestly it’s probably due to my age and the premise that’s way too predictable for my taste. The author mentioned this to be a Jungkook fanfic and it was a fanfic but I’m not sure if it fits a Jungkook fanfic personally. Because Jungkook is no way studious, RM would’ve fit the main guy’s image than Jungkook. Just saying.
7. Variations on an Apple by Yoon Ha Lee
This short story didn’t make sense at all. I seriously don’t know what the f*ck I was reading when I read it.
the DNF(s) 🙍
As a reader it is very rare for me to not finish a book and I’m happy to say that I only did not finish one book this year.
Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers
I read Honey Girl on audiobook and it was an experience. The main character definitely did not jive well with me. Everything that they are going through in the story I truly did not care for. Being from the global south could be a factor because the main character is from a first world country, a privileged individual that is pursuing their PhD, and has resources to ‘spontaneously’ move to a different part of the country just because they can. The conflict and romance was so shallow to me that this book felt like a fever dream of stringed together quotes or poetry that don’t make a lot of sense or have the heft of nuance in it. For everyone that love this book I have nothing against you but Honey Girl is not for me at all so I dropped it.
what did I learn from this?
- My biggest take away from seeing this list of books I dislike is that I can understand my taste in books better so I can be more picky about my reads and ARC requesting in 2022.
- I definitely can’t stand flowery writing that don’t make sense or that don’t have any meaning to it besides sounding pretty.
- Audiobooks can make or break a book. Definitely will try to listen to the sample first before reading to make sure there’s no breathy narrator sounds.
- The realization that might be out growing young adult books because just by looking at the reviews it’s very rare that I give 4-5 stars for young adult books.
- I need to be more courageous at DNF-ing books I don’t enjoy instead of finishing them.
Do you have any meh or no-no books and DNFs you wanna share? Let me know in the comments <3