Worst Reads of 2023

The 9 books that got under my skin for the wrong reasons.

Now 2023 is drawing to a close its time to reflect on some of the books I’ve read this year! Today I’m thinking back to the books that stuck with me for the wrong the reasons. I am very careful about researching book reviews before I buy books so it can be very disappointing when something slips through the net.

These are obviously just my own personal opinions, which you will see for most of these is contrary to the the thousands of rave reviews you’ll find elsewhere! Just because I didn’t enjoy it does not mean its a bad book.

For fun I included the current Goodreads average along with my own star rating!

I finished it but it wasn’t worth it

These are the books I did read to the end of, but I still didn’t enjoy.

Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Goodreads Average: 4.20 (678,236 ratings/85,432 reviews) + Winner for Best Fiction 2022
My Rating: 3/5

This book is everywhere. I feel like I cannot escape it in book shops or online. Everyone else seems to rave about it, which makes me feeling like I read something completely different! It was the biggest disappointment of the year for me, because I thought I’d like it. I love videogames, I especially loved the ‘Dark Quiet Death’ episode of Mythic Quest, and I generally prefer character driven stories.

While it started off extremely promising it eventually descended into a painful tedium. I found it too long, with way too much boring detail on making videogames, characters I grew to loath – potentially because at 35 I’m too old for their bullshit! – and the narrative is told through time jumps that kill any engagement I build up with a character.

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Goodreads Average: 4.03 (282,364 ratings/36,548 reviews) + Nominee for Best Fiction 2014
My Rating: 3/5

I’m 2/2 disappointments with Gabrille Zevin this year. I have concluded that as much as I enjoy her writing style and ability to create great characters, what she does with them in her stories is not for me.

Again it’s vignettes and big time jumps. It’s small town America, it’s like reading a made for TV “Hallmark” movies. It has a precocious child in it. It’s sickly sentimental and tries so hard to pull at heart strings. None of these things appeal to me, but clearly it does to thousands of other readers!

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

Goodreads Average: 3.93 (177,597 ratings/35,541 reviews) + Nominee Best Sci-Fi 2019
My Rating: 2/5

This is a classic case of I should have read a sample. By description along this should have been right up my street: sci-fi, time-travel but of romance etc. But, it was actually close to my worse nightmare in book form! This wasn’t just disappointing, I found the experience of reading this one pissed me off because it was a cool of idea with such potential executed in the most pretentious and frustrating way.

The language is so flowery it was at times near impossible to tell what is supposed to be happening! This overly poetic writing style masks a complete lack of character, plot or substance of any kind. I’m an actions speak louder than words type of girl so the love story told in letters full of mawkish declarations didn’t work for me at all. It was so difficult to understand through the dense fog of language, yet the twist I saw coming from the start.

Only thing going for it was it was short!

The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell

Goodreads Average: 3.51 (44,182 ratings/3,369 reviews)
My Rating: 2/5

Disappointing because I hated the ending. The ending is trash. I am still angry about it.

This book turned out not to be about the poor Third Wife herself but the idiotic husband and his lifetime of avoiding taking accountability for his actions. He got off with very few emotional consequences!

I learned to avoid Lisa Jewell’s more family centred books (like The House We Grew Up In) because I tend to end up hating the family and feeling unsatisfied! I also DNF’s Before I Met You after a few chapters of the audiobook.

Life is too short, DNF!

These are the books I Did Not Finish, because life is to short to spend on books I don’t enjoy.

The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell

Goodreads Average: 3.89 (100,055 ratings/7,888 reviews)
My Rating: DNF unrated

This disappointment I had with this one is the fault of BorrowBox and their piss poor book descriptions that made no mention of this being a Book 2 in a series! I got half way in until I decided to look it up and find out why it felt like half the story wasn’t being told!

However, I wasn’t enjoying what I’d was heard so far and reviews of The Family Upstairs (Book 1) made me think that one wouldn’t be for me anyway (a bit too “flowers in the attic” for my taste) so both these books can be scratched off my Lisa Jewell To Read List.

The Song of Achilles by Madelline Miller

Goodreads Average: 4.34 (1,375,123 ratings/148,720 reviews)
My Rating: DNF 1/5

The hype train really ran me over with this one. I hated this book. Something about the writing style just put me to sleep, nothing was happening and the love story was not believable. I couldn’t get past the first third, and certainly couldn’t find anything to recommend it. As with Tomorrow, And Tomorrow, And Tomorrow I think everyone else read a different book!

I don’t think these Greek myth retellings are for me. This year I also DNF’d Elektra by Jennifer Saint after two chapters, and I finished Circe by Madelline Miller a couple of years ago but found that nothing to write home about.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Goodreads Average: 3.62 (140,903 ratings/14,374 reviews) + Nominee for Best Historical Fiction 2014
My Rating: DNF 1/5

I was disappointed because I loved The Muse and The Confession by the same author. Those are very different books to this one though. This was the first audiobook I’ve DNF’s after getting more than 50% in. Good lord it was punishingly dull! Main character was whiney, a glacial plot and so, so much talk about sugar. After checking reviews I learned it would not be worth powering through!

You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry

Goodreads Average: 3.89 (1,041,348 ratings/99,776 reviews) + Winner Best Romance 2021
My Rating: DNF 1/5

This one was disappointing because I loved Book Lovers so much! But this turned out to be the opposite of everything I enjoyed in that one. Here we have miscommunication, childish characters, “cute banter ” and a “quirky” main character. I had to DNF for my own sanity!

I have learned to carefully check reviews before buying more Emily Henry! I think I might like Beach Read, but I’d hate Happy Place!

Hoofin’ It by R. J. Blain

Goodreads Average: 4.29 (2,581 ratings/237 reviews)
My Rating: DNF 1/5

I think this was one of the first books I picked up through BookBub for 99p! Another case of should have read the sample first! I expected this one to be bad but bad in a silly fun way. I was in fact the most insane, mind numbing, bafflingly repetitive writing I’ve ever come across. I cannot emphasis enough how repetitive this book is.

Also extremely disappointed that the blurb outright lied. The llama is not a side kick, and is in fact not even a llama for most of the book! It also uses sex trafficking as a humorous plot point and a lot of the jokes felt extremely poor taste (and unfunny).

Now you can read my Best Books of 2023!

What were your most disappointing reads of the year? Did any of these ones make your list?

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