Thursday, December 31, 2020

Most Disappointing Books of 2020

This list marks the first of my end of the year posts (I can't believe we're already at this point of the year!), and I always start off with this one so that we can end on high notes. It has been such a hectic year, and reading has been such an incredible constant in my life--so much so that I am always eternally grateful for every single book I get to read, whether I love it, hate it, or anything in between. Anything that lets me escape or be distracted for a few hours is well worth it, in my opinion. 

So, this is my list of the most disappointing books I read this year. I didn't dislike all of these, (and in fact some of these I still gave four stars!) they are just books that I was disappointed by for one reason or another, whether that was because I had high hopes or it wasn't what I expected. I'm still glad I read all of these and I encourage you to pick up any of them if they have an interesting premise to you--everyone's tastes are different, and I know for a fact that I have picked up books that I've seen on other people's most disappointed lists because the things they disliked were things that I knew I'd love--and I did! :) Now, on to the list!

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles: So this wasn't a bad book, but I had really high hopes for this one and it just felt so lackluster. I definitely think this was a case of me falling into the hype for it and the marketing really ticked off some things I love--Phantom comparisons, etc.--but the plot and the characters just didn't feel fleshed out enough or offer enough to keep my attention. I will, however, give credit to Angeles' beautiful writing and magical descriptions, which absolutely added to the magical atmosphere. Review

 Devolution by Max Brooks: Okay, so this is a book that I actually didn't really like and gave two stars. I'm not even sure what this book was, but what I do know is that I was so bummed to not like it. I almost DNF'd it from about a quarter of the way through to the end and honestly, I should have. The characters and dialogue were the weirdest parts that I struggled with the most. Review

The Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni: This was one of those books that had such an incredible premise and the first half of this book was so interesting and was set up so well! But then there was a big twisty climax midway through that was so far out of left field for me and just so weird that I couldn't get into it. If I had maybe been expecting that twist and plot change, I might've enjoyed it more, but since it was such a stark difference to the beginning of the book and the summary, I just felt too out of place to enjoy it. Review

The Mother Code by Carole Stivers: The Mother Code had such an interesting premise, but the execution was a bit off for me. The premise and general storyline was definitely intriguing, but the characters just had the weirdest actions and didn't really have that much development, which made it hard for me to fully lose myself in this book. Review

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton: This was probably one of the biggest disappointments for me, largely because the premise felt so spot on for me--a historical fiction with a bit of mystery and perhaps the supernatural set on a ship which makes it a closed setting. I love ships, I love closed door mysteries, and I love historical settings, so I was ecstatic to read this one once it finally came in at my library. And then I found myself extremely confused and bored by this book and it was honestly just really disappointing.

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky: I really didn't expect it, but I really ended up not enjoying this half as much as I expected. I love space exploration and first contact stories and I've heard nothing but amazing things about Tchaikovsky, so I was really surprised to find myself not clicking with this story. I really can't put my finger on what it was, but I personally just couldn't find myself connecting with the story, and some of the perspectives just didn't work for me. This was definitely just a "me" thing, though, so if you enjoy space/contact books, you should really still check this one out.

The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood: I gave this book four stars, so I did enjoy it, but I was still fairly disappointed by it overall. I'm not sure what exactly I expected, but it wasn't how this one was executed. The time jumps were confusing to me and the world-building was both interesting and odd at the same time, and unfortunately I also found it a bit confusing. Still, I'm pretty sure I gave this four stars, so it was definitely enjoyable! Review

The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry: I had loved every single one of Henry's books before this one, so I definitely wasn't expecting to feel as 'meh' about it as I did. I'm really not sure what happened with it, but it just didn't work for me. I still like it and did enjoy much of the story, but there was just something off about the pacing, the characters, and the storyline that made it difficult for me to fully enjoy. This was still a three-four stars overall for me, though! Review

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust: I really don't have a lot to say about this one because I really just found it pretty bland overall? It does have an interesting premise, but I just found the plot itself to be a bit derivative and not that engaging for me. I do recall thinking that the writing and setting were lovely, though! Review

Master Class by Christina Dalcher: This is one that was by no means a bad book, but it just felt so similar to Dalcher previous book, Vox, and had such strong message that was hammered home one too many times that it started to feel almost irritating. Still, if the premise is interesting and you haven't read many books like this, I'd tell you to check it out. Review

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley: I absolutely love any murder mystery that occurs in one locked setting, and this one sounded perfect. Unfortunately, this one fell apart for me because of the characters--largely because I really hated almost all of them and had no interest at all in seeing what would happen to them. In these types of books, characters are pretty important, so that really dragged it down for me. 

The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron: Okay, so this book I actually didn't really like much at all. I thought this sounded perfect for me, but the character in the present day sections was so irritating that I could barely stand it (and I don't necessarily mind irritating characters all the time), and the sections that showcased the lives of the neanderthals was not overly gripping. This was just a weird one with an equally weird plot and noting worked for me. 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What were some of your most disappointing books from this year?


  1. I agree with you on The Ghost Tree, The Ancestor and Where Dreams Descend. I really disliked the way The Ancestor played out, and the twist made me laugh out loud, which I'm sure was NOT what the author was going for😁

  2. I actually kind of liked The Hunting Party and am looking forward to her next book!