Fun Lists

Most Disappointing Books of 2021

“When I was seven, I found a door.”

First line in The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Last week I posted my list of favorite books of 2021 so now we’ve made it to the disappointments, and honestly, this one was much harder to narrow down to ten. It’s just been that kind of year for me. This good thing is though, that I get to let out some of my frustration in a post like this.
Unlike my list of favorites, this one isn’t ordered but split into two parts instead: one with the books I just had hoped were better and one with the books I absolutely despise. I’m briefly going to explain why I didn’t like them but I’m also linking the monthly wrap-up they appear in if you want to know more since some of these are fairly popular.

The I-Had-Higher-Hopes-For-You

Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima

Rating: 2 stars

I was very excited to get into this series after having a good time with The Seven Realms set in the same world, but it ended up feeling very rushed. I wanted more time dedicated to the characters and the building of their relationships but because of the pacing issues, we got some insta-love instead. The book did have some good plot moments but my inability to connect with the characters meant that I didn’t continue with the series.

Reviewed in March

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

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Rating: 2.5 stars

Well, this book was just a mess. Did it want to be its own book or did it want to set up another one? I couldn’t tell. There was so much going on but too little time to develop each plot point properly, and don’t even get me started on the pointlessness of a few of the characters. There were also some developments in the plot and the world that felt very strange, and I’m thinking they were done for shock-effect. Bardugo has made sure I love the characters though, and that is why the book is placed in this section of the post.

Reviewed in June

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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Rating: 3 stars

This book is by no means bad, it’s just not that spectacular either. It employed a trope that I don’t necessarily hate but I rarely love it and that made the book a bit boring for me which wasn’t helped by a very straightforward and to-the-point writing style. The cultural aspects were interesting enough but I felt the story had more potential.

Reviewed in May

Knife Edge by Malorie Blackman

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Rating: 2 stars

I really loved the first book in this series but the sequel here was such a let-down. I wanted to learn more about the developments within society like the first one dealt with but instead, it focused a lot on the individual characters and I was subjected to way too much teen angst. I read this in April and claimed I would continue with the series anyway, but since it hasn’t happened yet, I think I need to revoke that statement.

Reviewed in April

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

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Rating: 2 stars

Why could this book not be as great as its title?
It was too #quirky for me to really appreciate any of it because when we spend so much time on funny but super irrelevant world-building elements instead of characters or plot, it’s very hard for me to get invested. I’m still not sure whether this book is supposed to be a joke, and that’s just not the kind of fantasy I like to read.

Reviewed in February

The I-Would-Burn-You-To-Keep-Warm

The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson

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Rating: 1 star

I already had problems with the second book in this trilogy but somehow I was still surprised by the one’s horrible ending. Everything was just so convenient and it definitely takes the award for the most ridiculous ending I’ve ever read. I was also incredibly sick of reading about a “strong female character” that wasn’t actually strong but had no other character traits so that’s what the author was harping on (a recurring theme in this part of the list).

Reviewed in February

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

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Rating: 1.5 stars

I know I said this list wasn’t in order, but this right here is the worst book I read in 2021. Never has a book made me that frustrated and angry. The writing is overly dramatic, the characters exceptionally whiny and there’s no complexity to anything this book does. Everyone is either all good or all bad, and of course, I had to deal with another “strong” female character that wasn’t actually that. But everyone else seems to love this book and this author so I’m obviously wrong.

Reviewed in August

The Poison Song by Jen Williams

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Rating: 1.5 stars

The final book in a trilogy that took an epic nosedive. The character work is basically non-existent as we’re more often than not just told what the characters feel and how they develop rather having it shown to us. Williams had all the opportunities to show these things through the actions of the characters, but she very often skipped those scenes in favor of more unnecessary world development. The predictability of the plot also made this a very boring read.

Reviewed in November

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

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Rating: 1 star

This was just not very well written and it made me hate everything from the characters to the plot. The “romance” turned abusive because it wasn’t given enough development and because the characters weren’t allowed to say anything that wasn’t a clichΓ©. I generally felt I’d already read this book because there wasn’t much about it that felt original.

Reviewed in May

The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson

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Rating: 2 stars

This book had such an interesting premise as it’s a fantasy book taking place during the Spanish Inquisition, but the setting is just there to lure you in because it’s not about that. Instead, it’s all about the protagonist, Fatima, who is an absolutely horrible person but she’s written as someone you’re meant to love and sympathize with. I just get really angry when books encourage the kind of behavior she exhibits. Other than that there was also a gay character that I thought was handled very poorly and even stereotypically.

Reviewed in September

I probably had three more books that could have been in this post, but I really didn’t want to do more than ten. I know that kind of sounds bad, but I generally don’t mind reading some books here and there that aren’t 5-star experiences. I like to read different things and sometimes I misjudge books but they still teach me something (although right now I can’t think of something The Ten Thousand Doors of January taught me), so rating-wise, I might have had a bad 2021, but I don’t mind as much.

Anyway, if you have thoughts about these books, please share them with me, also if you loved them.

6 thoughts on “Most Disappointing Books of 2021

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed every single word in this post, of course 🀣 There was so much wonderful ranting, and all the books I was hoping to appear here did!

    And I thoroughly agree with you on all the I-had-higher-hopes-for-you-ones that I’ve read, i.e. Flamecaster and Rule of Wolves. As much as I love the Seven Realms series, Flamecaster left me feeling so unconnected to anything that I still haven’t continued on with the Shattered Realms despite meaning to for years, and at this point, I just don’t think it’s ever going to happen… And as far as Rule of Wolves is concerned, I seriously debated leaving the separate “most disappointing” section in this year’s post as well, just for this book (and possibly the awfulness that was The Jasmine Throne, simply because it just barely managed to stay out of the worst ten due to its interesting world-building). But then I decided that since I already thought King of Scars was terrible, Rule of Wolves wasn’t really that big of a surprise 🀣 So laziness won in the end 😁

    Also, even though I did not hate The Last Magician and The Beauty of Darkness with the same flaming passion you did, I absolutely loved reading you rant about them again πŸ˜‚ You’ve definitely left me with no regrets about unhauling them!

    My favorite part of this post, though, was The Ten Thousand Doors of January rant 😊 It sounds so horrifically bad that I can’t fathom why anyone would love it, so I’m almost tempted to read it and see why…

    (And I relate to not wanting every book to be a five-star read. I love ranting every once in a while, and the terrible and mediocre books make me appreciate the gems so much more! Still, I think I’d rather stick with my reading year than have yours 😜)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, I debated continuing on with the Shattered Realms but came to the conclusion that I probably wasn’t missing out on much by not doing so. There are so many other books I’d rather read.
      And now, I did miss Rule of Wolves on your list yesterday but since I knew it was on my own and therefore we would get a chance to talk about it anyway, I didn’t mind as much πŸ˜„ So as much as I would have loved reading more ranting about The Jasmine Throne, I think it’s okay that laziness won.

      And I’m glad you enjoyed my January rant! The praise I’ve heard for it deals with the writing that a lot of people find very beautiful. And I mean, if you can somehow look past how dramatic it is, that’s probably true. I couldn’t so it made me want to pull my hair out. Other than that, I’m just as baffled as to why people like that book. Although if you want to go through the pain of finding out, I wouldn’t mind getting someone to rant about it with 😁 I wouldn’t be surprised if you actually liked it more than I did (although that wouldn’t take much).

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, I’m glad you were less lazy than me at any rate, because reading that “there were also some developments in the plot and the world that felt very strange” had me nodding my head in outraged agreement πŸ˜‚ I am still very confused and bitter about the addition of dragons and modern warfare πŸ™ˆ

        I’m not really sure whether I can put myself through a book a horrible plot for the sake of beautiful writing, though. That reminds me very unfavorably of reading the apparently wonderful Pulitzer Prize-winning Tinkers a few years back πŸ˜… But we’ll see – maybe if my curiously gets too bad, you’ll get someone to rant with after all 🀣

        Liked by 1 person

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