Hi, it’s Sabrina here today 🙂 In this post, in which I am very late to the party in more ways than one, I am going to be tier ranking all the 2020 releases I’ve read so far! I was going to do this at the end of last year, but to be honest, I didn’t think I’d read enough new releases at the time to do the post. This year, though, I have read several more 2020 books and I even feel a bit more strongly about them so I’m ready to write this post now! I have a few categories that I’m going to order the books by, so let’s get into it!
(A few last things: 1. I have seen, (and you may have too), tier ranking videos all over Youtube, and that is where I got the idea for this post. 2. I’ve elected to make my own graphics instead of using the regular website. 3. These rankings are all based on my own opinions and feelings, rather than fact!)
THE BOOKS I’LL BE INCLUDING
The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune ♥︎ Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth ♥︎ Piranesi by Susanna Clarke ♥︎ Disfigured: On Fairytales, Disability, and Making Space by Amanda Leduc ♥︎ You Should See Me In a Crown by Leah Johnson ♥︎ You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria ♥︎ The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James ♥︎ The Other People by C.J. Tudor ♥︎ The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen ♥︎ The Guest List by Lucy Foley ♥︎ Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi ♥︎ If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane ♥︎ How To Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole ♥︎ Headliners by Lucy Parker ♥︎ Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir ♥︎ Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger ♥︎ The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo ♥︎ Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender ♥︎ Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson ♥︎ The Moment of Tenderness by Madeleine L’Engle ♥︎ The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley
I’m starting with the most basic category, and that is of course, my star rating. I typically use half stars, and even quarter stars, but for this I have rounded either up or down depending on my gut feeling. My star ratings are typically given based on a mix of how objectively good I thought the book was and how much I personally loved it.
I’m not surprised to see here that I have the most books in the four star tier – this is a trend for me across all the books I read, and this also goes for the other tiers. As you can see, no books were rated as one star and I didn’t leave any books unrated either, the latter of which is a little unusual for me. I typically leave nonfiction unrated, but I loved Disfigured so much that I gave it a full five stars.
This category is based on how irritated I felt at any given time whilst reading these books. You’ll notice that it doesn’t line up with my star ratings very much, because even books I love end up annoying me sometimes. You’ll also notice I’ve left Riot Baby and Disfigured out of this table because “annoying” is too trivial a word to describe the structural racism and ableism these books, respectively, detail.
One thing that almost never fails to annoy me when I come across it in books is when one character is keeping a secret from someone and you, as the reader, know about it. It makes me feel very frustrated. Unfortunately, this happened in a lot of books on this list! It was most prominent, in my view, in The Authenticity Project (which annoyed me for a myriad of other reasons too – and if you keep reading this post, you will discover those reasons lol) and Felix Ever After. I won’t tell you the other books this happened in because it’s not a large part of their stories, but it still bothered me.
Harrow the Ninth makes the top tier of annoying because it was so darn confusing for almost the entire book. I’d say things didn’t start making any kind of sense until about 75% of the way through, and then the epilogue went straight back to confusing the heck out of me. Of course, I mostly loved this, especially when I got the feeling that the pieces of the puzzle were finally coming together. It was just… a little too much. The Moment of Tenderness is also up there because the whole time I was reading it, I was hoping for it to be something else – based on what the blurb had promised me. Many of the stories were just too short and meaningless for me to get anything from them plus the last story had me rolling my eyes so hard.
LOVABILITY OF THE CHARACTERS
The characters can really make or break a book for me, and though this table is based on their lovability, this is not necessarily a requirement for me to enjoy a book – or even the characters themselves. Still, it definitely helps as you can see two of my five star books had characters that made the top tier.
I’ve mentioned this a couple times on the blog I believe, but The House in the Cerulean Sea has some of my favourite characters ever – the best of them being Chauncey. In Piranesi, it is only the main character who affects me in this way. For Elatsoe, the titular character is the most significant character for me, though she makes me like the other characters better through her relationships with them.
I could have switched the places of both Harrow the Ninth and The Guest List, but ultimately decided on the positions you see above. Harrow and Ianthe in particular are pretty annoying, but I still like them a lot, and the same goes for many of the characters in The Guest List, though there are some characters in that book that I like more than I am annoyed by them.
Plain Bad Heroines was also interesting to rank, because though I liked the complexity of the characters, I didn’t particularly like any of them and a couple actively bothered me. Proof that I don’t need to love the characters to give a book five stars.
Finally, I will tell you that I did not like the characters of The Authenticity Project at all. At first, I thought they weren’t so bad and even felt warmly toward some of them, but by the end of the story almost every single character had done something that made me hate them.
HOW MUCH IT SURPRISED ME
One of my earlier posts on Wordy and Whimsical was about predictable mysteries that I still loved, so I know I don’t need a book to surprise me for me to enjoy it. However, it does need to have other redeeming qualities! It’s also worth mentioning here that I haven’t necessarily ranked these books according to their shocking plot twists, but also by the occurrence of other elements of the story that I wasn’t expecting. I’ll explain a bit below.
I’ll start with The Empress of Salt and Fortune, because that took me so much by surprise, with one event in particular, that I didn’t even comprehend what had happened and had to go back a reread a couple pages. I’ve already touched on why The Moment of Tenderness shocked me – it was not what I was led to believe it was.
Piranesi was very surprising in that you could never guess what direction the story is heading in from the beginning. At a certain point, the mystery starts to become clearer to the reader and subsequent events are less surprising, but still satisfactory.
Felix Ever After surprised me in a couple of ways. Unfortunately one of those was the fact that I didn’t love it as much as everyone else seemed to. The other ways were much more fortunate: I wasn’t expecting the refreshingly messy teenage relationships or the nuanced discussions on identity. If I Never Met You also surprised me in a negative way because there was a negative plot point that came out of nowhere.
Unfortunately, the mystery-thriller Eight Perfect Murders was fairly predictable and in the end that was to its detriment in my eyes, unlike The House in the Cerulean Sea which was made better by its predictable elements. I was also unbothered by How To Catch A Queen‘s predictable elements.
To wrap up this tier ranking journey, I’ve picked a more light-hearted topic – how much I love each book’s cover. There’s no follow up paragraph, because I think the table really speaks for itself 🙂
What do you think?
Do you agree with my rankings? Have you read many of these books? What about 2020 releases in general? Is it important for you that there are no annoying elements in a book? Let me know!