The Worst Books of this Quarter [Jan, Feb, March and April]

I read a lot of books, which means I end up reading a lot of bad ones. These aren’t all the bad books that I read in the last few months, but they are the absolute worst ones. The bottom of the barrel. Nothing in here is above one star. You have an awful Sarah J Maas book to look forward to, a bad sequel, disappointing books, and a lot of bad writing.

Be prepared.

TW: One of the books on this list is about s*x**l a**au*t and r**e. My criticism isn’t about the representation of these topics, but if this is triggering to you, please don’t read this post. It is number two on the list if you just want to skip that specific review.

*****

1. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

‘Armageddon only happens once, you know. They don’t let you go around again until you get it right.’

People have been predicting the end of the world almost from its very beginning, so it’s only natural to be sceptical when a new date is set for Judgement Day. But what if, for once, the predictions are right, and the apocalypse really is due to arrive next Saturday, just after tea?

You could spend the time left drowning your sorrows, giving away all your possessions in preparation for the rapture, or laughing it off as (hopefully) just another hoax. Or you could just try to do something about it.

It’s a predicament that Aziraphale, a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley, a fast-living demon now finds themselves in. They’ve been living amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and, truth be told, have grown rather fond of the lifestyle and, in all honesty, are not actually looking forward to the coming Apocalypse.

And then there’s the small matter that someone appears to have misplaced the Antichrist…

*****

It would appear that I have a new incredibly unpopular opinion. I didn’t like Good Omens. This was an aggressively ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ thing, and like most ‘it’s not you,’ it was also kind of you. What you need to know: I don’t like ‘funny’ books. I don’t like books that are primarily a part of the comedy genre, which is something I’ve recently come to realise. I don’t mind, and often quite enjoy, comedy that’s woven into books (Six of Crows, Red, White and Royal Blue, the dark, dry humour of The Secret History and My Year of Rest and Relaxation). Unfortunately with ‘comedy’ books, the writing style often disappoints. It disappointed. Besides that, when the main focus is comedy, the characters usually don’t have much depth besides their abject humour, and I find it hard (read: near impossible) to enjoy stories without character depth.

I did like the Four Bikers of the Apocalypse, but in general this wasn’t for me. I didn’t even like the humour! I expected dry, fantastically British humour, I got… well, the word ineffable a dozen times.

*****

2. Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.

Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . . .

This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.

*****

Someone mentioned that this would work as a Disney movie, and I can’t help but agree. 

I didn’t like Cinderella is Dead. I really didn’t like it. The best thing about it, for me, was that I sped through it pretty quickly. 

A feminist, fantasy retelling of Cinderella with a wlw romance and girls smashing the patriarchy? I was intrigued. And then I actually read the book. Flat characters, awful, boring writing, annoying romances, a cartoonish villain, a boring world, and every single theme of the story is shoved down your throat. That’s one of my biggest problems with the book, everything is shoved down your throat. There’s absolutely no nuance. Every guy except like three are bad and evil and sexist and homophobic to a laughable extent. We are told every two pages about how brave and courageous and feminist Sophia is. Okay, got it. Yes, I understand. I… I said I understand. Oh God, you’re going to tell me again, aren’t you. 

Besides that, everything about the world is so generic. I’m going to forget Sophia in a week (I’m already having a hard time remembering her name), and I’ve already forgotten the world. They’re just shelved under unnecessary, generic YA badass™ female protagonist #740 and generic YA fantasy world #392.

*****

3. Parachutes by Kelly Yang

Speak enters the world of Gossip Girl in this modern immigrant story from New York Times bestselling author Kelly Yang about two girls navigating wealth, power, friendship, and trauma.

They’re called parachutes: teenagers dropped off to live in private homes and study in the US while their wealthy parents remain in Asia. Claire Wang never thought she’d be one of them, until her parents pluck her from her privileged life in Shanghai and enroll her at a high school in California. Suddenly she finds herself living in a stranger’s house, with no one to tell her what to do for the first time in her life. She soon embraces her newfound freedom, especially when the hottest and most eligible parachute, Jay, asks her out.

Dani De La Cruz, Claire’s new host sister, couldn’t be less thrilled that her mom rented out a room to Claire. An academic and debate-team star, Dani is determined to earn her way into Yale, even if it means competing with privileged kids who are buying their way to the top. When her debate coach starts working with her privately, Dani’s game plan veers unexpectedly off course.

Desperately trying to avoid each other under the same roof, Dani and Claire find themselves on a collision course, intertwining in deeper and more complicated ways, as they grapple with life-altering experiences. Award-winning author Kelly Yang weaves together an unforgettable modern immigrant story about love, trauma, family, corruption, and the power of speaking out.

*****

TW: SA and R**e

This book was clique bait in every sense of the word. You’ll notice a common theme in my reviews of books that I didn’t like: bad writing. I’m not going to repeat that criticism for every book, but unless I specify otherwise, just assume the writing is flat, clunky, or just generally unengaging. So, back to the clique bait thing. Do you see that cover? Doesn’t it look stunning? I know, it’s lovely. Unfortunately, when you have the book in your hands and you look a little closer, it starts to look a little messy, which is unfortunate for my aesthetic sensibilities, but fortunate for the metaphor that I’m getting to. This book was messily done.

It had a lot of potential. Parachutes is an #ownvoices story, it’s about high school girls dealing with sexual assault and rape, and it has a lot of diversity. Unfortunately, that was the best part. While I love seeing diversity and important issues being discussed in books, I don’t usually think it necessarily means that it’s worth more stars if the rest of the technical aspects are poorly handled. The characters were quite boring, I found the way that the girls became friends slightly unnatural, and the ‘teen-speak’ was incredibly stilted. Just all in all, incredibly disappointing.

*****

4. Layoverland by Gabby Noone

Beatrice Fox deserves to go straight to hell. At least, that’s what she thinks. On her last day on Earth, she ruined the life of the person she loves most–her little sister, Emmy. So when Bea awakens from a fatal car accident to find herself on an airplane headed for a mysterious destination, she’s confused, to say the least. Once on the ground, Bea receives some truly harrowing news: not only is she in purgatory, but she has been chosen to join the Memory Experience team. If she wants another shot at heaven, she’ll have to use her master manipulation skills to help 5,000 souls suss out what’s keeping them from moving on.

There’s just one slight problem. Bea’s first assigned soul is Caleb, the boy who caused her accident, and the last person Bea would ever want to send to the pearly gates. But as much as Bea would love to see Caleb suffer for dooming her to a seemingly endless future of listening to other people’s problems, she can’t help but notice that he’s kind of cute, and sort of sweet, and that maybe, despite her best efforts, she’s totally falling for him. And to make matters worse, he’s definitely falling for her. Now, determined to make the most of her time in purgatory, Bea must decide what is truly worth dying for–romance or revenge.

*****

Ahhh, Wattpad. Those were my glory days. Before hinderances such as expecting fully fleshed out, three dimensional characters, or an original plot, or well developed relationships, or a well written book came in the middle of me and enjoying a story. Back then it was all trashy rich kids, and cardboard cut out characters, and cliches and endlessly quotable, snappy one liners. 

But I’m not here to make fun of wattpad. I’ve done enough of that, and honestly, the platform has some gems, and at one point I was unabashedly obsessed with the books housed behind that orange W. Times have changed, and now I’m here to make fun of a published book. Namely, Layoverland. A book that could easily have been housed behind that orange W. 

I’m not going to lie, the concept is more interesting and complex than a lot of trashy online books. But that’s the point, they’re supposed to be trashy. I assume that this isn’t. What really reminds me of wattpad, though, is the writing style, the main character, and the romance. 

First of all, the writing style was… just incredibly basic. I’ve encountered a lot of simple writing, that’s not a bad thing. But writing that reads like it belongs in a middle grade book, or that it should be narrating the events of a self insert draco malfoy fanfiction is a problem. It was clunky, and inefficient, and just incredibly unfortunate in general. 

I mentioned the main character, right? Well, let’s talk about… *checks notes because she was so forgettable that I forgot her name* Beatrice Fox! Right, remember when I mentioned the self insert draco malfoy fanfiction. Bea is the fmc from that. She’s got the whole cool girl thing, the snappy one liner thing, the lack of personality besides the two things I just mentioned thing. Honestly, I would have been far more interested to read her sister’s story. But Bea, she’s not a bad character. There’s a foundation for a complex, well written character, her potential just wasn’t reached. I wanted to read more about her struggles with morality, I love morally grey characters! Instead, we just got a romance that was used as a plot device for character development. 

What a smooth transition to the romance! Author’s, this is a PSA. Romance isn’t supposed to be a plot device, romance shouldn’t exist just so your book can have romance, romance should be naturally developed, romance isn’t necessary, romance can not exist in your book, and romance especially shouldn’t take center stage if your book is not a damn romance! Personally, I would have enjoyed this a lot more if the whole romance aspect had been taken out (and like, half of the one liners. I know i’m mentioning them too much. But seriously guys, no one talks like that) and that time had been spent developing Bea and seeing her growth. 

All in all, it would appear that I have the same central criticism of Layoverland that I’ve had of countless books. It had potential, but it didn’t achieve it. It was annoying, it was forgettable, and now that this review has been written, it has exited this vicinity (this vicinity being my brain).

*****

5. The Cousins by Karen McManus

Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised… and curious.

Their parents are all clear on one point—not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother’s good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it’s immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious—and dark—their family’s past is.

The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn’t over—and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.

*****

First of all, the characters. Oh my, when I say cardboard cutouts… this is what I mean. Aubrey was absolutely boring, Milly was basically flat as a board, and Jonah was there and sort of interesting some times but then he was shoved into a completely unnecessary relationship with no chemistry and that basically took over his entire narration. Speaking of that relationship, was it only in there to draw in people who want to see a romance? There was absolutely nothing there. They found each other vaguely hot and- oh wait, that’s all they talked about besides being in love with each other. 

Which leads perfectly to my next point (I’m really good at this, aren’t I?) Boy, did we skip over a lot of emotional progress and internal conflict. We heard about it once it was over, which doesn’t do a lot to help you feel invested in mostly flat characters. That lack of depth just made the pacing feel… off. 

And don’t even get me started on the overly simplistic writing. I had to check to make sure I was reading YA and not middle grade. 

Other than that, I didn’t really like anything in this book. I now have one 3 star with One of Us is Lying and one 1 star with The Cousins, both sharing similar problems, though they were greatly exacerbated in this book. Which is actually quite strange, you’d think that McManus would have improved after writing more books… Anyway, me and my desire to feel joy are hopping off the Karen M. McManus train. I didn’t want to be here anyway.

6. Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Three friends, two love stories, one convention: this fun, feminist love letter to geek culture is all about fandom, friendship, and finding the courage to be yourself.

Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, is an empowering novel for anyone who has ever felt that fandom is family.

*****

Queens of Geek was a disappointment, I don’t know how else I can put it. 

I was pretty excited when I glimpsed this in my library. Fandom, conventions AND anxiety, autistic, LGBTQ+, Hispanic and black rep? I imagined it would be Fangirl meets Radio Silence at a convention, except with a ton of diversity. 

Unfortunately, the downside of my expectations were that this book had far to fall, and fall it did. 

Firstly, the dialogue and the writing style was just plain awful. It felt like I was reading middle grade. The characters voices often felt younger than they should be, the writing was simplistic, the dialogue was uncomfortable, stilted and sounded vaguely monologue esque. The author attempted to transcribe teen speak but it was often, which would appear to be a recurring theme in YA, just cringey and annoying. 

Also, Charlie was a YouTuber but that aspect of her career felt so underdeveloped, and just kind of added in to further future plot points. Speaking of Charlie, her relationship was absolutely insta love. They met two days ago and they’re apparently head over heels for each other? Didn’t buy it.

*****

7. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

*****

A Court of Mist and Fury, the second book in the ACOTAR trilogy (well, I suppose it’s not a trilogy anymore because it’s been extended) and the final instrument of my everlasting torture at the hands of Sarah J. Maas and myself, because I’m the one subjecting myself to this. My original plan was to finish TOG and ACOTAR and be done with SJM (so. many. abbreviations.) but, alas, I am weak and I’m giving up. I will not be reading Kingdom of Ash or the third book because even I don’t hate myself that much. Also, there’s no point. There’s that new Crescent City series and there are new books in the ACOTAR series. It never ends!

So, on to the actual review. I hated this book. It was approximately 600 pages of poor pacing, barely any plot, flat characters, and previously established characters completely changing (yes, I’m looking at you, Rhysand. The newly appointed *checks notes*, really, this is what we’re going with? Ok, ok. The newly appointed… eghm, eghm, ‘feminist king’. Sorry, there aren’t supposed to be air quotes? I honestly don’t know if I can do this. The new… feminist king. Yes, Sally? ‘But didn’t he SA Feyre in the first book and only heal her grievous injury which he added to after she agreed to spend one week with him in the night court? WE’RE IGNORING THAT NOW, OKAY SALLY? SJM HAS DECREED THAT HE’S A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT CHARACTER NOW). Okay, okay, I’m back. Sorry about that. Also, I find this mate business just an excuse for insta love. But maybe that’s just me.

I enjoyed nothing in this book.

*****

8. Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

An unexpected quest. Two worlds at stake. Are you ready?

Days after Oasis founder James Halliday’s contest, Wade Watts makes a discovery that changes everything. Hidden within Halliday’s vault, waiting for his heir to find, lies a technological advancement that will once again change the world and make the Oasis a thousand times more wondrous, and addictive, than even Wade dreamed possible. With it comes a new riddle and a new quest. A last Easter egg from Halliday, hinting at a mysterious prize. And an unexpected, impossibly powerful, and dangerous new rival awaits, one who will kill millions to get what he wants. Wade’s life and the future of the Oasis are again at stake, but this time the fate of humanity also hangs in the balance.

*****

You know what, Mr Cline? No. I’m not ready. I wasn’t ready for this be as absolutely awful as this. The publisher and author decided that the number of pop culture references in Ready Player One needed to be doubled, and they spent so much time on those references they decided to not waste time on coming up with, you know, a good title, an interesting arc, a conceivable ending and something resembling an effectively edited book. They focused on the important things. Like the references. Obviously.

Not to mention the intensely boring, long winded description of technology that the reader has no reason to care about. What made Ready Player One such a fun book to read is that there was a balance. Yeah, there was a lot of tech and references but they were interesting and not explained through tedious info dumps. There was also a concise plot, and complex characters (or at least a complex main character), and a satisfying yet believable ending. I know, crazy stuff, right?

An unnecessary sequel, and also just a really, really bad one.

*****

I hope you enjoyed this post a lot more than I enjoyed these books. I really hated them, you guys. Anyway, if you liked these rant reviews, let me know if you want more. I’d love to rant review TOG and ACOTAR or maybe make a list of worst sequels? Let me know. If you want to hear me be a little more *positive*, I’ll be doing a best books of the past quarter list, too. So stick around for that.

I always keep my goodreads up to date with my recent reads and you can find that here: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/95707734-nina-nazari

Thanks for reading!

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