If anything good came out of 2018, it was that I didn’t have nearly as many shitty reading experiences as I did in the few years prior to it. The ones that I did have weren’t bad because they were severely problematic either (except for one title, which I did throw against my wall in sheer frustration and rage, #NoRegrets), they were just terrible written. I feel like that is quite better than being offensive, although not that superb in terms of enjoyment overall. Oh look, I’m babbling a bit. Yay, the milo is kicking in.
I had about seven or eight books on my Worst Books of 2018 list that I keep on my phone, and I went ahead and narrowed that down to five because I like the number five. It also goes with my Top 5 Wednesday post thingies that I like to do. While I know this list is personalised to my reading tastes, I will disclaim that my opinion for two books listed is of the unpopular ones. So… don’t hate.
05.Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra
A young adult #OwnVoices South Asian fantasy novel, I was looking forward to so much! It’s about clans of badass female warriors who are charged with protecting the realm, and the practises and beliefs of these clans stems heavily from a combination of Buddhism and Indian tribal customs. However, the typical murderer of most narratives such as these—strong woman goes dumb-dumb for pretty boy, fantasy elements lay unattended/severely undeveloped, and convenient plot fillers—decided to make an appearance and destroy my hopes and dreams. You can read my ranty, spoiler-free review for it here.
04. Prince of Thorns (Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence
A British dark fantasy novel that was one of my most-anticipated books due to the anti-hero protagonist, and the overall dark and violent atmosphere that I heard it contains, Prince of Thorns left me banging my head against my coffee table (I was sitting in front of the sofa and it was the closest thing to do that with; luckily no milo was spilled in this act of frustration). The tale revolves around a boy who watched his family get slaughtered. It fucked him up and he grew into a broody adolescent hell-bent on destruction and vengeance. Let’s look at its downfalls, shall we? World building non-existent? Check. An amazing power that is barely touched upon and only used as plot fluff? Check. Paper-thin plot twists used as nothing but shock value peons? Check. The godawful and horrendous representation of women plus atrociously written female characters? Double check. The flippant use of rape and dehumanisation of females for the sake of toughing out a child-anti-hero? Triple check. There are a few others, believe it or not. You can read about my full distaste for this novel in detail in this spoiler-free gig, but it’s safe to assume, I will probably never read anything by Mark Lawrence again. I can’t stand women and situations involving them that are written this appallingly.
03. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White
A young adult, historical horror novel that was another super anticipated title of 2018 due to my vehement affection for Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818 original), this one left me so incredibly frustrated, I was about ready to toss into a pile of mud in the rain outside of my window. Nope, not exaggerating at all. The book tells the classic story via Elizabeth’s perspective, who was a ward of the Frankenstein family. I hate this idea that stretching out a story’s progression by consistently interrupting the narrative flow for pointless flashback sequences is an excellent way of crafting suspense and anticipation. You know what? It really is not. It butchered every ounce of mystery and tension and intrigue, very much the same way that Victor mutilates his sanity, thus making me more and more pissed-the-bleeding-hell-off. I hated this book solely because of the horridly placed flashbacks, the sheer quantity of them, and how repetitive they made everything else that took place during the present time (relative to era). Disappointing is a colossal understatement for what I felt when it comes to this book.
02. Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2) by Kerri Maniscalco
Another young adult book, this time in the historical mystery subgenre, that I was so stoked for because I absolutely loved Stalking Jack the Ripper. How you can go from one marvellously written and beautifully fleshed out story to this… half-arsed wreck of a narrative, I have no fricking clue. It follows our two main characters as they find themselves at a private academy of forensics in Bulgaria and are slapped in the face with a deliciously dark mystery. Dude, there is like no plot to this thing, first of all. The progression of events literally involved the characters stumbling and falling and getting smacked on the arse into situations that ultimately led them to the culprit/resolution. There was no following of clues or actual investigating of any sorts. The representation of PTSD turned into a shitty plot device that really had no true purpose, and the finale was painfully predictable. Of course there’s a review that rants quite a bit more but colour me shook-as-fuck by how agonising this book was to get through.
01. Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne Valente
If anyone read my December Wrap-Up, y’all may not be surprised that this book takes my number one slot for the most-disappointing book in existence, I mean, for 2018. It’s a fairy tale retelling of Snow White set in the Wild West, and what a wild ride of racist bullshit it was. To quote my wrap-up: “the book is one of the most offensive pieces of shit I’ve read in a very long time.” Yes, I just quoted myself, and proudly no less. I don’t know what surprised me more: how fucking disrespectful and problematic the book is, or the severely lacking number of reviewers actually talked about how motherfucking problematic this fucking book is. The only ones who spoke up were the Indigenous book reviewers, which I’m so glad that they did. People raved about the way the novel tackles the history of Natives being oppressed and abused, except that it didn’t. It goes into great detail about the abuse, but that shit is never challenged. It felt more like it was being romanticised. Snow White is given this name because her White stepmother thinks it’s funny to re-name the kid after an ideal that will never be her reality, and it’s also a constant reminder of her being “a dirty, savage,” and this shit is never challenged in at all. Fuck. That. Jazz. The worst of book of all-time award goes to… I mean 2018… yeah…
What did you think of the books mentioned? Did you like them? If so, what things did you enjoy about them? I’m open to different perspectives! Besides, my blood-red loathing for the titles mentioned, may shove those good qualities out-of-focus. If you haven’t read any of these books, what were some of your most disappointing reads in 2018? Please, come chat with me in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!