Friday, January 5, 2024

Most Disappointing Books of 2023


The time has finally come to explore some of my most disappointing reads of 2023! I always kick off my end of year posts with my most disappointing reads list so that we can get that out of the way and end on some high notes with the best books and some reading stats. I'll be honest, I was actually very pleasantly surprised by the small amount of books I had for this list–only six! I was going through my lowest ratings on Goodreads and found I really didn't have all that many super low ones, and even a lot of my three stars didn't seem to fall into the 'most disappointing' category. I think a big part of that is that I've started DNF-ing books a lot more often now when they aren't working and I'm trying to be more aware and honest with myself about what books I might like and what ones I won't, and I guess it's working out okay, haha. 

As always, I'd like to note that most disappointing does not equate to these being the worst books or terrible books, as a lot of these are really great books that I would still recommend to people, they just didn't work for me. Some I just flat out didn't like, and some just had elements that aren't to my personal taste. Some I just had really high hopes for and they fell flat. And of course, if you loved any of the books on this list, then I'm genuinely really happy about that! Everyone has different taste and I actually think it's awesome that we can always take in and perceive stories in different ways. So without any further ado, let's check out some of my more disappointing reads from 2023. 


In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune - Review
This wasn't a bad book, but I felt it was a considerable step down from both The House in the Cerulean Sea and Under the Whispering Door. It felt a bit too contrived at times and I couldn't get past some of the awkward dialogue and forced jokes, which seemed to take too much of a center stage from the rest of the story. The plot was already fairly thin in this one, and it ended up feeling like it was just backdrop for the rest of the characters to have their cliche conversations and explorations. I wish I had liked this one more than I did, but sadly that didn't happen.

Some Desperate Glory by Emily Tesh - Review
It's hard to say exactly what I didn't like about this book, but it just didn't grab me at all. I really tried to stick with it and immerse myself in the world and/or care about the characters, but I just didn't. I feel like I don't have that much to say about this book outside of the fact that I just felt a bit bored reading it and nothing really intrigued me all that much. On a positive note, I would say some of the world-building elements were interesting, but that's where a lot of my enjoyment ended. 


Last to Leave the Room by Caitlin Starling - Review
This definitely was not a bad book and I think it had a lot of great things going for it. I was mainly disappointed because it sounded liek it had so much potential, and the execution was a bit flat and it was missing something that really would've grabbed me. I found the protagonist frustrating to follow or care all that much about, and some of the narrative choices didn't work for me, either. I loved Caitlin Starling's The Luminous Dead so much and I continue to read everything she puts out in hopes of something else that grabs me the way that one did, but so far that hasn't happened (but I'm always hopeful and that's why I keep reading her books!).

The Sun and the Void by Gabriela Romero Lacruz - Review
I wanted to love this so much, but I just didn't. The concept was really cool, but as with a lot of fantasy I've read lately, I'm just struggling with the characters and plotting. The author tried to input so much background and detail into the story that never really fit into place. I'm not sure at this point if it's just me getting really picky about things or if books are all having the same issues lately, but this just started to feel like a bit of a chore at some point and my enjoyment really began to wane. 


Wild Spaces by S.L. Coney
This was a bit of a mess. I felt like the plot was all over the place and this just didn't work. It was definitely weird and I usually do love some weird fantasy horror, but I think this one just didn't quite work out. There was nothing in here that really stood out to me or made it something that I would really pick out from the crowd, unfortunately. There was also something to do with a dog that I have not forgiven and will not forgive. 

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
I'd heard so many people raving about this one and how good and weird it was, so I finally caved and decided to give it a go. After finishing it, I feel like I understand the hype–sassy/quirky protagonist, sharp dialogue and banter, enemies to lovers, etc.–but it didn't work for me. Honestly, it's not nearly as weird or confusing as people made me think it was, and I found it fairly... ordinary? Obviously the world is different, but the general plot felt a bit tired and uninteresting and I just couldn't connect with the story or really care about the characters. 

Most disappointing DNF:
The Jasad Heir by Sara Hashem
If I hadn't DNF'd this one, it would've ended up on this list probably. I feel like this one had a lot of the same problems as The Sun and the Void for why it didn't work for me, I just decided to not push through on this one. 

Have you read any of these books? What were some of your most disappointing books from 2023?


  1. I haven't read any of these, but I totally believe in DNFing. There are probably a few books last year that I should have listened to my gut on and just stopped reading.

  2. I haven't read any of yours, but my most disappointing reads of the year were The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon and Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice, both had been on my TBR list for a long time but they didn't live up to the excitement of finally reading them. @GetLostInLit