Bookish List

The Worst Books We Read in 2020

Hello everyone and welcome to another of our end of year posts! As you probably know, when you read a lot of books, you’re bound to come across some that you don’t really like… and some that you can’t stand. Today we’re talking all about the worst books we read – and couldn’t finish reading! – this year.

Of course these are only our least favourites and our opinions, and a lot of these have reasonably high average ratings on Goodreads, so keep that in mind while you’re reading this post 🙂


1 star:

2 stars:

New Uses For Old Boyfriends by Beth Kendrick
I read this one all the way back in February, so my memory is a little hazy but I do remember a few things. For example, I did not get along with any of the characters and I could not understand some of the main character’s choices at all. I also found the romance lacklustre and predictable.

Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh
I also read this in February, as a buddy read with Vera, and it was so boring 😦 The concept was so intriguing but the execution couldn’t have been much worse in my opinion. I wanted more, and better, twists than there were, especially with all the potential the idea of having a serial killer on the jury.

The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz
I feel so sad to include this book on this list, because it was a book that I was so sure I was going to love. And it’s one where I specifically want to emphasise that it wasn’t necessarily bad, it just wasn’t for me. There was a significant lack of plot and the writing wasn’t what I’d hoped for, so I was left feeling bored and ultimately disappointed.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
I haven’t had a good track record with audiobooks and this one is another victim, I suspect.  I didn’t find the mystery very surprising and though it was atmospheric, the story took too long for me to stay interested the whole time.

The Chain by Adrian McKinty
I’m going to just be blunt about this: this book was nonsensical and the characters made very poorly “thought out” choices.  I did like some aspects of the book (there was one character that I mostly liked) but they were overshadowed by all my problems with it. Unfortunately this was another dud buddy read for Vera and I!

Would Like To Meet by Rachel Winters
I have mostly blocked this book from my mind now, but I know my biggest problem with it was that the author didn’t seem to know when to stop when it came to ridiculously over the top scenes.  There were so many scenes that you would expect from a romcom, but they always went that little bit (or… massive bit) too far for me to enjoy them or find them even slightly plausible.  I also really didn’t like the main character or her friends 😦

Renegades by Marissa Meyer
This book was just so much longer than it needed to be and still only felt like an introduction to the true story.  I did enjoy some of the cliche aspects to the book – some things you just need for a superhero story to feel like a superhero story – but others were much too predictable and because of that, boring.

The Moment of Tenderness by Madeleine L’Engle
This collection of short stories had me wondering why it was published on more than one occasion.  So many of them did nothing for me.  My biggest gripe was that in the blurb I was promised multiple genres, but all of them, except for the very last, were realistic fiction.  And I was waiting all that time for something happy to happen, but almost all the stories were miserable.

The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley
The award for most wasted potential goes to this book 😦  I was even fooled for a long time into thinking I was going to love it – up to around the 100 page mark.  Then everything took a turn for the worst and the characters, though they developed a little, stayed unlikeable to me.  And the ending was really not good!


1 star and dnf:

He Started It by Samantha Downing
I’m pretty sure, were I to choose my least favorite book of 2020, He Started It would win the race. I went into it with pretty high hopes, but I started to lose interest fast, as the narrator was incredibly over-dramatic; for instance, she kept saying how much of an anti-heroine she was, but she never quite lived up to that, especially compared to the rest of the cast. I was bored, frustrated, and even exasperated while reading this mess, so yeah, it wasn’t a good experience.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown
This was a buddy read with Abi, and we both hated it, basically right from the start, which is a pity, because Red Rising is regarded as a pretty good fantasy novel. My issue was that the protagonist was bland and unmemorable, and frankly, I couldn’t care less about his story. On top of that, neither the world nor the plot managed to pull me into the book, so this was a DNF at around 30%.

Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy
This one hurts, you guys! I really-really wanted to love Once & Future, but at the same time, I was scared due to the mixed reviews. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get into this at all – the characters felt badly crafted and the pacing and plot was bad. I didn’t see the point in continuing this and then rating it badly – it is a very-very diverse novel when it comes to lgbtq+ characters – so this was also a DNF.

2 stars:

Contagion by Erin Bowman
I read Contagion back in October when I was consuming thriller and horror novels at an incredibly fast pace. I found so many great books that month and I was hoping that Contagion would be another win, especially given all the love it has received. Alas, we were not meant to be – I was bored nearly all through the book and I couldn’t connect to the characters at all; they felt two-dimensional to me. Those who’ve read it will know that it ends on a big cliffhanger, but just I cannot be bothered to read the sequel.

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
Another one I really, and I mean really should have abandoned! This book was such a mess, you all, and I’m really sad I feel that way. I think the way it was written made it very hard to care about the mystery – every revelation was given to us on a silver plate, without us having a chance to think about them and figure them out on our own. Also, I’m massively uncomfortable by the identity of one of the villains and why they became a villain in the first place.

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
What this list is showing me is that I should be better at DNF-ing books, because I honestly wouldn’t have missed out on anything had I abandoned The Cheerleaders. I had high expectations because I love Thomas’ Little Monster, but sadly, this book was a massive disappointment. I figured out a big twist towards the beginning, but the fact that the book was filled with clichés was the real issue here.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
I’m a big fan of Gillian Flynn, so it pains me that her debut novel was such a disappointment. *cries* Nothing made sense in this book and it was filled with disturbing things that were obviously only included for the shock value. I love dark books, but I hated this one and I honestly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

Not Your #LoveStory by Sonia Hartl
Last year, Sonia Hartl’s debut novel, Have a Little Faith in Me, made it onto my top books of the year and it is still one of my favorite contemporaries, so I’m confused by how bad Not Your #LoveStory was. Don’t get me wrong, I actually hated all of it, but what truly broke me was the ending and the choice the main character made there. I was so disappointed by that that it’s a wonder I didn’t rate this one star.

If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane
Not only did I want to love this, but I also found some of its scenes delightful, so I kept pushing on.. I really shouldn’t have. There is nothing overly wrong with this book, but I couldn’t get into it for the life of me. The characters, the writing, the romance… I couldn’t care less about either of those things.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
This hurts me the most from this list, because I truly expected to love it, but it was incredibly disappointing. That being said, I definitely think that this is a “it’s not you, it’s me” kind of thing, so I’d actually recommend it to those of you who are interested in the premise.

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter
I was so close to buying an expensive as hell edition of The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, but I got scared I wouldn’t like it, so I bought a cheaper version. Thank god for that, because this short story collection was utterly disappointing. Again, this is definitely an unpopular opinion, but with the exception of one or two stories, I really would have been okay with never reading the rest.

The Chain by Adrian McKinty
While I didn’t hate Thirteen as much as Sabrina did, we felt pretty much the same way about The Chain. Look, I can suspend my disbelief, otherwise I’d be a pretty shit mystery-thriller reader, but this was so bloody unrealistic and silly that I found it hilarious. Really did not care for this.

Let’s Chat!

Have you read any of these books and did you dislike them as much as we did? What were your least favourite reads of 2020? Let us know!

12 thoughts on “The Worst Books We Read in 2020

  1. I love reading people’s end of year posts and seeing how the same book can make it to someone’s best books list and someone else’s worst books list 😂. I saw Thirteen in a few favorites posts, but I’ll keep in mind that it was boring for you, Sabrina hahahaha. And I also DNFed Red Rising! I really wanted to like it too because of all of the hype, but the pacing was kinda slow from what I remember 😅.


  2. I don’t really have a mental list of the worst books I read because I basically just DNF a book if I know I’m not enjoying it and I’m likely to give it less than three stars. But I did try reading Once & Future and I just couldn’t get into it either..I’m not even sure why. I still feel like I would’ve or should’ve enjoyed the book but ah well, it wasn’t for me. I had fun reading this post – especially because I didn’t recognise anything in here that I loved haha. Although I did like Sharp Objects but I read it was when I was either fourteen or fifteen so it’s been awhile and I’m not sure how I would feel about it after a reread.


  3. I haven’t read most of these haha!
    I did enjoy Renegades though, although I do agree that it was longer then it needed to be!


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ahh I’m sorry these books didn’t work for you! I just finished Legendborn and going to pick up Once & Future since I’m in the mood for another Arthurian retelling, but I think I’m going to put it off for now :/ I hate Red Rising too haha I don’t think I got past 15% 😬


  5. I’m so sorry you were disappointed by all of these books. I’m still eager to read Not Your Lovestory, but I’m also impatient to read the author’s book Have a little faith in me, soooo I’m looking forward to seeing if I enjoy both equally or, like you, if I like one and not the other so much ahah 🙂
    I was also a little disappointed by Once & Future. Such a great potential for this book, but I felt let down by its execution overall :/
    Lovely post!! 🙂


  6. I haven’t read a single book on this list which might be a good thing… haha !! I’m sorry to see so many disappointments for you both though.
    I have heard mixed things about We Have Always Lived At The Castle so I don’t think I will ever read it probably, haha !! It is a shame that Renegades wasn’t a good read for you as you found it boring, I am always curious about superhero stories and this was on my list but we’ll see.
    I’m sorry to hear about Red Rising as I had heard so many good things about this book but it definitely didn’t work for you.
    I hope you have less disappointing reads throughout 2021 !! 💛


  7. I also DNFed Red Rising… and then was peer pressured to try again, and WOW what a slog! I regretted giving it another try, but at least now I know for sure! I actually LOVED #NotYourLoveStory, it will be on my favorites list, I am sorry you didn’t! I liked, but didn’t *love* Contagion (I did think the second book was better, actually).

    I only had a handful of books I genuinely hated this year, so I probably won’t do a post, but I WILL tell you here. The worst, by far, was I Am Here Now by Barbara Bottner, ugh. After that, I’d say the one that disappointed me the most was Wildfire by Carrie Mac, because I LOVED the first 3/4 of the book so much, I thought it was for sure going to be a favorite, but the ending was the hottest mess I have ever read. I’ll give a “the only rating worse than I Am Here Now” Honorable Mention to Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie because it was so boring I almost cried. (Thank you, for this cathartic outlet, by the way!)


  8. Sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy Renegades, Sabrina! I liked it, but it’s definitely a slower, more character-driven book without any huge action. Are you planning on reading Instant Karma?

    I took Red Rising off my TBR a while back and now I’m beginning to think it was the right decision! I heard some high praise, but also some mixed reviews. As someone who needs to connect to the characters, I think I’d have a huge problem with a bland protagonist 😱


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