Hi everyone! Today we are here with our third end of year post! This time, we are discussing some low points in the year – our least favourite reads of 2021. These are all the books we picked up this year that let us down in some way – or ways, in many cases – and which made our reading years less than perfect. Speaking of, we’re also sharing in this post a little recap of our reading in 2021 including some exciting stats. And without further ado… the post!
Sabrina’s Reading Recap and Least Favorite Reads of 2021
MY READING YEAR has taken me quite by surprise! I’ve read more books (and pages) in 2021 than I have in any other year of my life (despite a massive reading slump over November and early December) and I’ve read some amazing books. My percentage of 5 stars reads is much higher than last year, so that is also a win! Another interesting thing to note is that before this year I had only ever rated two books one star, but this year that amount has increased to five – which is certainly a negative. Still, I believe this year, in terms of my reading, has been more good than bad. Here are a few stats I’d like to share:
- Books read: 122
- Rereads out of those: 4
- Average rating: 3.68
- Average page number: 322.45
- Most popular genre: Fantasy (34.2%)
A quick introduction to my ratings before I tell you the books I didn’t like this year: for me, two star books are those which I didn’t like overall, but I could still appreciate at least one or two aspects of and those aspects gave me small moments of enjoyment. My one star reads may still have aspects that I can appreciate, but they don’t have a positive impact on my reading experience. I’ve decided not to mention my DNFs in this post, because most of them I didn’t read enough of to definitively say whether I would have liked them or not in the end – just that the beginning or however much I did read didn’t entice me into continuing.
Two Star Reads
After hearing all the hype for The Silent Patient, a different book by the same author, and being intrigued by the premise, I thought The Maidens was going to be a slam dunk for me. It was most certainly not. For all the potential this story and this setting had, it managed to be so incredibly dull – plus it had some of the most nonsensical, irrational characters I’ve ever read about and a twist I saw coming from a mile away. It’s safe to say I am no longer interested in reading The Silent Patient.
To be fair, Defy the Dark features many short stories by a variety of authors and I did actually enjoy some of them (hence the two stars rather than one). But unfortunately for the most part, the stories felt overly simplified and rushed just to fit into a word count, rather than effective, meaningful short stories. Many of them had underdeveloped romances shoehorned in – some of those romances were quite outlandish to begin with, and without the necessary development became laughable at best, deeply disturbing at worst.
I felt in my soul that I would love The Dark Tide based on its synopsis, so imagine my disappointment when it fell totally flat for me. Everything felt super surface level – from the romance, to the world-building to the very characters themselves – so I didn’t even have the chance to become invested in the story. Additionally, the story was very slow paced, which was, in my opinion, to its detriment, and it took too long to really get started. There were a lot of interesting ideas here, but none of them were explored satisfactorily.
Unfortunately I don’t even really remember that much about Tarnished Are The Stars, despite having written a whole review for it. I do remember that the three main characters became overly familiar with each other almost immediately after meeting, which was jarring – and their development overall seemed quite rushed. I also remember the final act of the book felt very messy because of a combination of timeline and locations. Finally, I know that I had high hopes and expectations for the story after reading and enjoying the first chapter, but unfortunately things didn’t go in the direction I was hoping for.
I bought The Game of Love and Death because of its cover, and I’ve regretted it pretty much ever since – first because I took my time actually getting around to reading it, and then because I didn’t like it. The story ended up being very boring and basic despite the existence of Love and Death as characters, which I originally thought was a super interesting concept. All the themes it touched on… well, that’s just it, it only touched on them. Maybe this would have been better suited to a reader a bit younger than me.
I could swear I’ve discussed The Wicked + The Divine on the blog before, but I can’t find where, so maybe I didn’t. Either way, I really disliked this short graphic novel about gods that get reincarnated on Earth every now and then and the obsession people have with them. I think it was supposed to be a murder mystery, but I barely got a grasp on the characters (…or literally anything else) so it was hard to care. If I’m remembering correctly, I also found the dialogue pretty distasteful, lol, so it was just all around not for me.
One Star Reads
I honestly wish I could forget reading Darkfever because it was one of the most, somehow simultaneously, boring, annoying and disturbing books I’ve read. Admittedly, there were some things I appreciated about the book (like the interesting world it introduces), but they didn’t even come close to making up for all the rest of it – like the so-called “romance” that wasn’t romantic at all, the irritating protagonist whose mind I had to live in for the duration of this book, and the woefully slow pace, just to name a few minor things. If I hadn’t been reading this for a post that I’d already DNFed books for, I definitely would have DNFed this too.
I didn’t expect to find On the Same Page, a contemporary romance, hard to follow, but somewhat remarkably, it was. So much of it seemed like pure nonsense to me and that wasn’t even my biggest issue with the book. I detested the romance – the relationship progression was so weird and the “romantic” moments were also just plain weird. The timing felt so off to me, and I’m sure it would to a lot of other readers too considering the context, which of course I can’t share because of spoilers. I also didn’t like how the side characters only seemed to exist to make the main character seem like a good person. Sadly, I don’t recommend this book.
I’ve talked a bit about Competence and how it was an enormous disappointment recently, but in case you missed that: I hated this book. It was so incredibly boring and repetitive and illogical and, in my opinion, offensive and disrespectful to several characters. This was easily my least favourite book I read this year, especially because I had high expectations for it and it has soured my feelings towards the previous books I have loved by this author. Thumbs down.
Vera’s Reading Recap and Least Favorite Reads of 2021
MY READING YEAR was pretty good, all considered. I’ve mentioned before on here that I was really scared that working full time would limit the time I’d able to spend on reading, but overall, my reading numbers haven’t dropped. While 2020 was filled with small ups and downs in terms of reading slumps, 2021 felt a lot more even – it’s only this past November (and, unfortunately, all this December so far) when I struggled with reading. Here’s a tiny rundown of my reading this year:
- Books read: 146
- Rereads out of those: 12
- Average rating: 4.05
- Average page number: 349.19
- Most popular genres: Romance, Fantasy, Contemporary, Horror
Three Star Reads
I decided to start my section by listing 3-star-reads that, if I’m being honest, deserved less than three stars from me. However, either because I felt like it was a “me” issue not the book’s issue or because at the time I liked them more than I do now, I rounded their rating up to three stars. Personally, three star books feel like the ‘middle ground’ for me – some three star reads are good, others not so much. The following five novels belong in the latter category…
Out of all the books I read this year, Meet Cute Diary is easily the one I was the most disappointed by. It was one of my most awaited 2021 releases, but unfortunately, it was incredibly difficult to get through it and I ended up skimming through big portions of it. The main issue was that the protagonist was unbearable, to the extent where I couldn’t ship the romance, as I wanted his love interest to aim for someone better.
I believe I read more horror in 2021 than in any other year so far, so it’s no surprise that I ended up getting to hyped titles from the past few years, such as Baby Teeth. While I discovered lots of great titles, in this case, I’d have been better off staying away. It wasn’t terrible, thus the three stars, but it became very repetitive very quickly, so it didn’t make for a thrilling read. I did like the ending, however, so that’s the main reason why I rounded up my rating.
Not only was I massively excited for The Final Girl Support Group, but I was also really looking forward to trying Grady Hendrix’s books as he is a pretty popular horror writer. Unfortunately, this book was a total miss for me – I found the way it mixed serious and dark topics with humor really jarring and off-putting, and I also wasn’t satisfied with the characters. As of right now, I don’t think I’ll try more books by Hendrix.
I had a blast reading the Every trilogy by Ellie Marney, so I was excited to jump into her newest novel, None Shall Sleep. I’m sad to report that, unlike what the premise promises, None Shall Sleep was a bit of a snooze-fest. I found the pacing all over the place and too slow for the most part. Even worse, the characters felt half-hardheartedly crafted and boring, which didn’t help me get invested in the story.
After reading three books by Rachel Lynn Solomon, two of which disappointed me and one of which was enjoyable but not note-worthy, I think I’m ready to give up on her books. The main issue I had with We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This was how unmemorable it felt – while reading it, I kept thinking that I’ll forget all about this book soon… and that is exactly what happened, as even just a few months later, I don’t remember the novel very well.
One and Two Star Reads
I picked up The Secret River for my Australian Literature and Culture seminar, and it’s safe to say that I wouldn’t have finished it had I not had to. While I’ll admit that Kate Grenville has seemingly done a lot of research into the colonization of Australia, I don’t believe she did a good job in writing about and portraying the Indigenous people of Australia. I rarely give out one star ratings, but I couldn’t give this novel anything more, and it remains the only book I one-starred this year.
Remember when I said that The Meet Cute Diary was my biggest let down of 2021? It has to share it’s spot with The Brightest Night, a sequel I was eagerly awaiting. The main issue with this novel is that it was supposed to be the final novel in the series, however, the author or the publisher unexpectedly decided to extend the series, which left The Brightest Night feeling very directionless. It read like a filler book to the extend that I could sum up everything that happens in it in three sentences…
After loving two of T. Kingfisher’s horror novels last year, I was eager to read more books by her, and I decided to start with The Seventh Bride, a YA Fantasy novel. I’m devastated to report that it had none of the wit and charm that the author’s horror novels have. Instead, The Seventh Bride felt really dull – I really regret not DNF-ing it and saving some time for myself.
I love haunted house horror and I was especially excited for The Family Plot, as it sounded like a unique take on this trope. Unfortunately, it was a little bit all over the place. Granted, it had a couple of cool horror scenes, but overall it was a let down, mainly because I couldn’t care less about the characters. On top of that, I also found the final twist to be predictable and unnecessary, so I closed the novel feeling dissatisfied and frustrated that I wasted so much of my time on it.
A trope I love in mystery-thrillers is when the characters are stuck somewhere with a killer in their midst and with no way of leaving for the time being. I love how tense and thrilling this trope can make a story. There are a lot of great examples for this trope, but The Sanatorium is not one of them. This is one of the most forgettable novels I read in 2021, which is frustrating given how excited I was to read it.
I first heard about The Last House on Needless Street in an article which promised that this horror novel would be one of its kind and really special. Given the hype and what the marketing was promising, it’s no wonder I jumped into it expecting to adore it… but that is not what happened. I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I found much of the novel predictable, and I also think the mental health representation in it is questionable at best.
Books I Did Not Finish
Finally, I’m going to quickly list the books I DNF-ed this year. If I managed to collect them all, there were only five such books, which is a pretty good number, imo. Originally, I was planning on talking about them all, but ultimately, I feel like it’d be unfair to the books to discuss them based on the 20 to 30% I’ve actually read of them. On top of that, none of these were horrible or even bad, I just wasn’t connecting with them for one reason or another.
What do you think?
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? What were your least favourite reads of 2021? Let us know!