Merry Christmas again, gang! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas Eve (or just an incredible night, if you don’t celebrate) 🤗 Today I’m bringing you one of my favorite posts to write: the worst books I read in 2018. Unfortunately, there were a few. But since I love writing bad reviews and love hearing your feedback, here we are!
Small disclaimer: This post was written in good fun. I don’t want to bash any authors. I know how much work goes into writing a book, and I respect that. When I say these were the worst books of the year for me, I mean that they were totally not for me. But I’m sure there’s some of you out there who will love one of the books I hated — and that’s great!
Overall, 2018 was a great reading year. But I did wind up reading a few not-so-nice books this year… I don’t mind DNFing books (unless I really want to know what’s going to happen) so I ended up pushing myself extra hard to finish them. I probably shouldn’t have, though… Why do I keep forcing myself to finish books I’m not enjoying???
I decided to display all books in chronological order of me reading them. Let’s jump into the list now, shall we?
(Not Quite) Mastering the Art of French Living by Mark Greenside
I saw this book was about an American who had been living for some years in France and I was sold. I love these kinds of books. But Greenside’s book was a torture to read. I still cannot understand how one person spends a couple of months in France every year for 25 years and does not learn a word of French. The language issue was the least, but it goes to show just how much respect (or how much appreciation) the author really had for the country.
Then, there was also the culture shock. I know culture shock is a big thing and that French and American customs are different. But come on! Some of the things the author chalks up to culture shock can be explained in two words: plain disrespect. I wholeheartedly believe that Mark Greenside thinks the average French person is stupid. After all, he does spend the majority of this book thinking “why are they doing this, it’s totally stupid!!!” I can’t understand why he didn’t think “hey, I’m the foreigner and there is certainly a reason why they’re doing it. I can’t be the only person with a brain in this foreign country!” I am still dumbfounded even nine months after having read this!
Another thing I hated about the book was how, in the copy I read and apparently in everyone else’s copy as well, French words were consistently misspelled. This is not on the author, but on the editor. Couldn’t they have checked the spelling of every French word?
To finish off this already long entry (I have a lot of thoughts, I’m sorry!!!), this book was so painfully boring. It was the same thing over and over again and I was so sick of it a third into the book. It was definitely NOT for me.
Perfect World (#1) by Rie Aruga
I hated how this manga developed. It was so short and tried to pack so many deep and interesting themes that it ended up being way too rushed. Perfect World is a series that follows an able-bodied interior designer and her high school crush, now bound to a wheelchair. The whole story is about how they fall in love, but this is where it really sucked for me. The main character goes from thinking “I could never date anyone in a wheelchair” to “I’m in love with him” in five pages and we never get to see why she had a change of heart. Having had a crush on a guy a decade ago isn’t a good enough reason!
I really want to read more books that feature a romantic relationship between an able and disabled character (please tell me your recommendations!!!). But this book was so poorly executed! No character development, no surprising plot, confusing art work, terribly split dialogues (e.g. balloon 1: I am // balloon 2: your friend — and not to express hesitation or anything of the sorts).
I will, however, say that the author does some interesting things with the portrayal of disabled people. The male character does say what he is comfortable/uncomfortable with, and I think that was a good way of letting readers know what is and isn’t acceptable when meeting a disabled person.
The Right Thing to Do at the Time by Dov Zeller
For a book that describes itself as Jane Austen meet Fiddler on the Roof, The Right Thing to Do at the Time was a bland and excruciating read. There were so many wrong things with this book that I couldn’t push myself to finish it.
Firstly, the characters were terrible. There was no development, they were super boring and didn’t seem to have a spine. We were introduced to so many characters, all with similar names, that it was hard to keep track of who was who. Especially since they had no special qualities or features.
Then, there was the writing style. Oh how I am torn about this… I loved the omniscient narrator. It added a lot of comedic and ironic value to the story, but then everything else about the writing fell flat for me. The paragraphs were incredibly long, the monologues were dense, the dialogue felt so forced and crammed into the novel, and every character’s inner thoughts was thrown in in such a confusing manner. I wanted to rip my eyes out because I could not focus on the damn plot!
My biggest issue with this (which I think most e-book readers who are not familiar with Jewish terms/culture/etc will have) was the abundance of new terms. Sure, the author did include a note for these words, but they were all the way at the back of the book (I read an ebook version, therefore it was not practical to visit the last page over and over again) and there were so many of them!!! I started to feel like I was not reading a novel, but a glossary of Jewish vocabulary. Do readers really need to know what 10 words in a page mean? I mean, yay for educating us on Jewish stuff, but it completely broke the pace of the novel (which was slow to start with…)
Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi
My most disappointing read of the year was Emergency Contact. There were so many wrong things with it, namely poor writing, underdeveloped characters, and forgotten potential.
Let’s get to the writing first. It feels so, so forced. As I was reading, I could picture Choi sitting in her writing space and thinking “How can I make this book sound like a teenager wrote it.” And not in the let’s-make-it-bad sense, but in the let’s-make-this-appealing-to-young-audiences way. And oh boy did she fail… The pop culture references, the way the characters talked and texted… It all felt written by an adult that could be featured on r/fellowkids.
Then, we have the bad characters. Penny was such a pain to read about. She was insolent, ungrateful, bitchy, judgy, and had a holier-than-thou perspective on almost everything. I do appreciate learning her backstory so we can understand her better, but it didn’t come full circle to me. Even Sam’s character was underdeveloped. I feel like I don’t know much about him other than just some random bullet point facts that are supposed to define him.
Lastly, the potential. It hurt me so bad that I hated this book because I wanted to love it. I love this sort of books. But the author didn’t bring the story anywhere!
Watersnakes by Tony Sandoval
I got a review copy for this book and I’m so disappointed I even requested it in the first place. It seemed like such an interesting and fast-paced story of two girls who get thrown into a world of ghosts, magic, octopi kings, and blood-thirsty armies. But oh no, no, no! It was none of that. Instead, it was a disjointed collection of vignettes that made the book feel like a rough draft.
The characters were so badly developed. What were they passionate about? What were their fears? Goals in life? I couldn’t tell. Why did they do the things they do (especially Mila)????! No answer to this question either. Everything was rushed. Mila, for example, goes from “I’m not going to help, I’m a coward” to “I’M GOING TO KILL EVERYONE WHO IS BAD” in two seconds. Excuse me, but how??????
Also, where are the parents? And why are these two young girls roaming so freely and sleeping in caves and acting like they’re thirty? I was so confused and annoyed by how illogical everything in this story was.
Let’s not even get into the awful LGBT representation. It’s clearly marketed as a book where two young girls start to have feelings for each other. But then the author does such a cop-out at the end that completely erases any LGBT representation. It’s also a stupid logic leap no one in the world would take when confronted with that situation. Makes me wonder if the author thinks that homosexuality is a phase and not a real thing.
The pictures and art were pretty, which is the only redeemable quality. But this is a graphic novel, not a painting or a graphic art compilation. So this book was one of my least favorites of the year — maybe even ever.