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  • Writer's picturehaleylynnthomas22

The 5 Worst Books I Read in 2021

These books are listed from my least to most disappointing/worst reads of the year. If you enjoyed these books then that is fantastic and I'm happy for you. I always want everyone to love the books they read. I don't like giving books negative reviews, especially as a writer myself. Keep in mind these are just my opinions on books and are not a reflection of my views of the authors as people.

5. These Vengeful Hearts by Katherine Laurin

This YA mystery is about Ember Williams who goes to a school with a society known as the Red Court. The court deals out favors that can ruin the lives of students and Ember blames them for an accident her sister got into. She infiltrates them in order to get revenge. This novel is the first one on the list because I went into it with mediocre expectations. The novel was just underwhelming and stagnant. Ember couldn't have been less subtle if she'd tried and the reveal made little sense in terms of the narrative. The best part of the novel was the romance and given it's a mystery that's not necessarily a positive.

4. Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

This adult thriller is about a couple on the brink of divorce. They spend their tenth anniversary at an old Scottish chapel where they soon discover they aren't alone. This novel is lower on the list because I didn't really know what to expect going in. I like isolation in mysteries/thrillers and I like mixed media (this novel includes letters written from the wife to the husband). Unfortunately, this novel was very predicable and I foresaw most of the twists. The story also felt very over the top and absurd. I found myself laughing more than feeling unsettled which I imagine is not the response the author was hoping for.

3. A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

This fantasy (YA or adult? I've seen it bookmarked as both) is about a girl (El) who attends a dangerous magic school with no teachers but plenty of monsters. I put this novel in the middle because this was an author I was looking forward to reading for the first time. I'd been wanting to read something by her for some time but was waiting for a release that intrigued me. This is a novel that both my sister and I agreed was better in terms of ideas than execution. There were just too many info dumps that made the rich world feel tedious to explore. I don't plan on reading more from Novik because her writing was just too unrefined for my person tastes.

2. Bone Crier's Dawn by Kathryn Purdie

This is a YA fantasy sequel is the conclusion to a duology about women who ferry the souls of the dead. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book and gave it 4.25 stars. This one got a significantly lower rating for many reasons. The novel's first half was really just a rehash of the first novel and the characters here were lacking. Purdie struggles to write relationships that aren't established prior to the events of the novel. One of the protagonists (Ailesse) is simply unbearable this time around and my favorite character from the first novel (Sabine) was so much weaker. The final nail in the coffin was how events in the novel actively destroyed the established world building. I pre-ordered this book and was sooo excited for it so I was super let down.

1. As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson

This YA mystery is the conclusion to a trilogy about a girl (Pip) who solves mysteries around her small town. I'd honestly like to burn this book from my memories. I have never felt so betrayed by a series before. I actually forced by poor dad to take me to the bookstore to buy this book in person. Often I will simply buy books online but when it's a release I'm ultra hyped about I want the experience of walking into the store and buying it in person. I don't know why but it just feels a little extra special to me. This series had a strong start and the sequel (second book) is in my top books of the year. I won't lie, I genuinely enjoyed the first half of this novel. Then the plot changed course and things went drastically south. Pip, a character I had grown to love, (SPOILER) murders a man in cold blood and then spends the second half of the novel covering up her crime. It retroactively ruined the series for me because it now feels like a villain origin story.

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