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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Top 10 in 2010: Disappointments of the Year

2010 was a really hit and miss year for me.  A lot of great unexpected books came out of nowhere, and a lot of the buzzed about, to-die-for books made me want to kill myself (still to die for, just in another way, I guess...)  Here are my top 10 disappointments, based on a completely arbitrary system of calculation, wherein I factored a) how much I anticipated a book b) my level of indifference or pissed-off-edness upon finishing and c) my level of pissed-off-edness now, looking back.
And I'd love to hear about your disappointments and unexpected wins of the year!

10 The Mark, Jenn Nadol  I was looking forward to this for 2 reasons: a great cover and great buzz.  Though not a total letdown by any means, I was a bit unfulfilled at the end.
I said: "It just felt a little soft to me.  I don't know if that will make sense to you, but it's a book about death, essentially, and everything was just a bit too rose-colored for me.  There was a disconnect, and as I was reading, I felt like, okay, that's nice...but forgettable, essentially, and it took me about 1/2 of the book to feel invested and start caring."

9 Meridian, Amber Kizer This had such a strong start that I expected a lot from it; sometimes I got it, but most of the time I didn't.
I said: "...the most irritating part of the book (other than the obviousness that wasn't obvious to anyone) -- the ending.  I've said it before, I'll say it again, I am not a fan of deus ex machina.  At all.  The end of this was a disappointment for me on a few levels.  It was just all too convenient, every last detail.  And so, so quick.  Blink and you missed it.  I want some meat to it.  What happened?  Break it down, drag it out a bit, give me something to chew on and savor."

8 Shadow Hills, Anastasia Hoppcus I was hesitant to read this, as I had sneaking suspicions it would be unimpressive.  I should have listened to myself.
I said: "...there is a trait to Hopcus's writing that held me back from ever fully committing or feeling any edge-of-your-seatness: things just happened way to easily.  The romance was there from page one (literally, as Phe dreams about Zach before meeting him), and I never felt that they really had to work at it.  There wasn't any tension for me because it was just there....The same goes for the sort-of thriller aspects of the story.  There is some good villainousness, and there is no dearth of people to choose from as the Big Baddie, but it's all resovled so easily (*cough* Deus Ex Machina*cough*), and this bothers me."

7 I Heart You, You Haunt Me, Lisa Schroeder Totally unimpressed.  Not much more to say.  Other than, I guess, this:
"Rather than being an asset to the story, Schroeder's verse was distracting and forced.  Though there were a few instances of the verse being what it should have been (a unique way of showcasing what Ava was feeling), most of the time it read like diary entries that were arranged funny.  This is laziness and/or overconfidence, in my opinion.  You can't just chop up lines or arrange them funny and call it verse."

6 Manifest, Artist Arthur I said: "One of the biggest problems was the main character, Krystal.  Krystal is very, very hard to like for a good chunk of the book....Another problem I had (and this was partly the result of my own expectations) was the cliched aspect of the novel, coupled with attempts to make it a more POC slant.  I was looking forward to getting a new perspective, something more like a melding of urban fantasy and paranormal romance.  But it never felt authentic to me....Overall, the way it was handled, I just felt like the author had to try to connect with an audience so she sprinkled some stuff in hoping it worked, or even worse, maybe thinking it rang true, and it didn't.  For me, this was hard to get past, and I found myself rolling my eyes a lot."

5 Matched, Ally Condie The more distance I get from this book, the less impressed I am.  It fades so quickly, and is overall just meh.
I said: "Matched can be an enjoyable, engaging read, but it more often tends to be melodramatic and overwritten at times..... I think there are people that aren't going to be able to enter into and enjoy this story, and will see nothing more than a sometimes too melodramatic and formulaic typical teen dystopia, or a bland rip-off of some of the dystopian greats, like The Giver and A Brave New World. Also, even for those who do enjoy it, it may be the type of story to fade from mind quickly."

4 Concrete Operational, Richard Galbraith I was really intrigued to see how this collaborative arts project would come together, but in the end, the central piece -- the actual story -- didn't do it for me.
I said: "Everything seemed designed to give a certain impression, which is fine, but I shouldn't be able to see the design -- I should just get the impression desired.  I felt too much of the work behind it, and it made it feel overwrought and grandiose, and therefore harder for me to relate to and connect to."

3 Delirium, Lauren Oliver Because of the success, and my personal love, of Oliver's Before I Fall, and because of my love of dystopian novels, I was psyched for this.  Frowny face.
I said: " But there were so many inconsistencies and questions I had that I couldn't ever commit.  I could only go along so far until logic would intrude....as a general rule, people don't willingly submit to mass lobotomies or the eradication of their feelings for the people they love -- or hate -- without some serious something acting as a catalyst.  Petty strife and crimes of passion may make you think of Eternal Sunshining your mind spotless, but in an abstract, angry, wouldn't-it-be-lovely kind of way, and not a bring-on-the-procedure kind of way....But even if I could have set the worldbuilding and believability aside -- no easy task in a concept novel like this -- for it to be saved, the characters and plot would have had to really shine.  But I felt like everything was a little wooden, a little cardboard, a little less than believable and real. "

2 Oblivion Road, Alex McAuly This should have been so much more than it was.
I said: " I sort of don't know what to say about this book.  It's not that the writing was awful, per se, it's just that I was completely indifferent for a majority of the book.  This is a suspense novel, and it should have been riveting.  These kids are stranded in a brutal environment with an apparent truckload of maniacs on the loose, and horrible, absolutely horrible, things are happening to them -- and I didn't care."
1 Hush, Hush, Becca Fitzpatrick, the book so bad it got 2 reviews.  I wasn't satisfied just reviewing it and panning it; I had to write a second review, a rant, to really get all that toxic ick out of my system.  Of course, I had to read it, just like everyone else, for that gorgeous cover.  Alas...
I said: "It was the most confused, schizophrenic piece of writing I've read in some time. Becca Fitzpatrick didn't seem to know quite what she wanted, only that it had to be ominous and scary and dangerous -- and titillating, of course, and mysterious and sexy. So with those buzz words in mind, she threw a bunch of things together and let her narrator, Nora, sort them out. Nora, understandably, had some trouble with this, and the result is a thoroughly frustrating heroine who jumps to insane conclusions based on inane evidence one moment, and the next goes blithely along into obvious danger."

So what were the high- and  low -lights of your year?  What do you have your sights set on for 2011?


  1. Low? I would have to say Fallen. All that hype and I had to read 2/3rds of it before I was even remotely interested. Why did I stick it out? Not sure.

    I was surprising impressed by The Last Song by Sparks. A group read I thought I would have to work at finishing but I loved it!

    Mad Scientist

  2. Great list! "Worst" lists are always more interesting and funnier to read than Best lists! :P

  3. I like this list. Very interesting. I Heart You, You Haunt Me, Lisa Schroeder was indeed bad. I didn't like that one either and Hush Hush, ooh, don't get me started on that one. So not fun. :)

  4. Hm. I enjoyed a few of your "worsts"...but, that's okay. It's always good to hear some negativity to balance out all of the smiley faces out there. My least favorite read of this past year was Lauren Kate's Fallen. Which is sad because I love the cover. I have a copy of Torment and plan to read it. I'm a sucker that way!

  5. Both Fallen and Hush, Hush have been on my TBR pile for quite some time but I hear such horrible things about it that now I want to read them just to rant about them later! I didn't know what to expect from the Mark so it turned out better than I thought. And liked that it wasn't a series either. Not my top but not my worst either. And these others I don't think I'll even bother with. Great list!

  6. So everyone seems to agree on Fallen, eh? Yeah, I just finished it, and I think I'm with you. It will probably get an honorable mention in next years Disappointments, since it will be reviewed in 2011...

  7. Great list. Hush Hush was diabolical to me, I've never thrown a book against a wall but with that one I made an exception. Twice. I couldn't believe that sexual harassment and attempted murder from the so called hero was deemed acceptable because he was sexy and a 'bad boy.' Ugh, I feel dirty just thinking about it.

    In terms of disappointments, I think the biggest for me was Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl. I really like the first book and was so psyched for the sequel and it just fell apart. It was poorly plotted, the characterisation fell apart, the love story got annoying and then in an attempt to create tension the authors threw in a love story. It felt like they were just making it up as they went along. Bleh.

  8. @Ceilidh -- Uh oh... I have Beautiful Creatures scheduled as an upcoming read, and Beautiful Darkness sitting on my to-read mountain...


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