Top 5 Wednesday is hosted by Sam, of the YouTube channel Thoughts on Tomes. The group topics and links are here.
I had a pretty decent reading year overall, but there were definitely some books that didn’t hit the mark for me. I wouldn’t say theses disappointing reads are the worst I read of there, and I’m not going to include DNFs in this list either. In fact, some of these books I did actually like, just not as much as I expected to… which is almost worse. If I straight up hated them, I could just be bitter about it. But instead some of these leave me confused about how I feel and how to proceed; you’ll see what I mean.
1. The Binti Series by Nnedi Okorafor
I listened to all three novellas back to back to back. I was expecting for these books to blow my mind based on all the reviews I’d seen of it. While I enjoyed the world and the plot, I was really let down by the speedy resolution of the conflict. Every book left me thinking ‘Seriously?! How anticlimactic.’ There is a point towards the end of the third novella where even Binti says the same exact thing! Is this just the nature of novellas? The world was built well, and the tension was developed well… but the resolution was just… ugh…
So where do I go from here? Before reading these I really wanted to read Akata Witch, and since reading these I’ve seen good reviews for her other novels and learned that Nnedi Okorafor is authoring graphic novels based on the Dora Milaje warriors from Black Panther which I kind of want to give a try. But will she just let me down again? What to do, what to do?!
2. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
I was one of the few people who actually kind of liked Leah in Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I saw a little bit of myself in the character and was excited to get to read from her POV. THIS BOOK SHOULD NOT EXIST. It ruins the characters from the original book. Leah is the worst. The absolute worst. And yet…. I still enjoyed how Becky Albertalli portrays anxiety in her characters, and just like when I read Upside of Unrequited, there were lines from Leah that really resonated with highschool me.
3. Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire
So I’m still reading this actually. Slowly. But this was quite the disappointment because I bought it to be a Christmas-y read. It. was. not. In all fairness, I don’t actually know much about the original Nutcracker story (Hiddensee is a retelling of this), just that it’s associated with Christmas. I had to put it aside to read more holiday theme books which is what I was in the head space for in December. I went back to it shortly after the new year because I knew if I put it off longer than that I wouldn’t ever finish is.
My experience with every Gregory Maguire book I’ve read (Wicked, Son of a Witch, Mirror Mirror, and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister), has been that I struggle through them… not quite sure of what’s going on… but then once I finish it, I decide it was really good. What does that mean? Do I enjoy his writing or not? Is it weird that I can’t tell?
4. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Have you ever put off reading a book because you know you’re going to love it, so you may as well get some other books out of the way? That’s what I did with Uprooted. Even when I saw negative-ish reviews of it, I brushed them aside because I was sure I would be on the absolutely infatuated side of the spectrum. Imagine my disappointment when I just didn’t love it. I liked it…. I just didn’t love it. It took me FOR-EV-ER to finish, just about the entire month.
Now what? Do I read Spinning Silver? Even people who loved Uprooted were ‘meh’ about Spinning Silver. I already have it on my nook, though, so should I just go for it? I most likely will, but not anytime soon.
5. The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
Unpopular opinion time…. this series was just good. Not great.
Don’t get me wrong. Points in the second book had me screaming “Whaaaaaaaaaat?!?!” in my car while I listened to it on the drive home. I really loved the magic system and the fact that everything you thought you knew…. was WRONG! What a ride.
However…. the characters were the literal worst! So annoying. And the books were just too long, especially the third one. How many times can you say THE SAME THING, Brandon?! I actually came to really dislike Sanderson because I got the feeling he wrote such long books just to be able to say he writes long books. You know, page count bragging rights.
But I liked the world, right? So do I go on and read the Alloy series? Should I give The Stormlight Archives a try? What do I do? I just can’t decide. Because I listened to them all back to back over the summer, I am glad that I took a break from Sanderson and not go right into Alloy of Law, which I thought about doing at one point. If I do decide to read more from him it will be another major time investment, so I’m not in any rush.
Have you had similar experiences with these or any other book? Let me know.
Did you have the opposite experience with any of these books? Let me know that too!