So it is that time of the year again when we make top ten posts and I’d start with the disappointments. Here are the ten most disappointing books I read this year. They are in no particular order. Also, these are the ten most disappointing books, they need not be bad books, just books I expected more from.
- The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
Peter Swanson just does not seem to be the writer for me. I didn’t much care for EIght Perfect Murders and this one was also extremely forgettable. It has a great premise-it is about two strangers who meet at an airport and decide to commit a murder together. But as the story unfolded, it simply did not feel compelling.
2. Getting There by Manjula Padmanabhan
This book was especially disappointing for me because I enjoyed Padmanabhan’s plays and I watched a live interview with her, and she seemed cool. I thought this book about a 20-something Indian woman who decides to travel to the West to find herself would be a fun read. However, it turned out to be disappointing as hell. I couldn’t connect with the main character and her decisions at all. I get that she is bored and tired of her life and the expectations placed upon her, but she seemed to think a trip to the Netherlands (which she couldn’t even afford) would fix everything, which just did not make sense. And the romantic relationship in the book was also kind of cringey and unrelatable, with both of them cheating on their partners and behaving in odd ways.
3. The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon
This seemed like it would be a fun contemporary romance between two radio co-hosts, but unfortunately, I could not connect to the main characters or the story at all, and I found it rather boring.
4. The Maidens by Alex Michaelides
This was one of my most anticipated books for the year. A murder mystery involving dark academia and Greek tragedy, written by the author of one of my favourite thrillers from last year, I thought this would be a new favourite. But the dark academia and Greek tragedy and the titular ‘maidens’ all felt like gimmicks to tell a fairly boring murder mystery story.
5. Good Girls Marry Doctors edited by Piyali Bhattacharya
This is an anthology of writings by South Asian-American women about their experiences where they are made to choose between following their family’s expectations and their own dreams and wishes. However almost all the voices here felt the same, they seemed to all come from a very similar background, and tell the same story. They’re all about South Asian women who are expected to lead a very conventional life, have conventional careers, marry within the community and have kids etc, and they end up rebelling and becoming writers/activists instead. It’s a story I’ve heard many times and the commentary here doesn’t bring anything new.
6. Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak
Elif Shafak is a new favourite writer of mine. I loved Honour and Ten Minutes Twenty-Eight Seconds in this Strange world. But Three Daughters of Eve just did not do it for me. It follows a Turkish girl who is caught between very traditionally Muslim and secular Western ideals. It follows her journey as she grows up in Turkey and later goes to study at Oxford, as she is caught between these two ideals-symbolized by her two friends-Shirin- a very Westernized Iranian and Mona, a devout Muslim Egyptian. I thought it was an interesting concept, but I did not think the main character was written very well, and the themes of the book seemed a little forced in some places.
7. A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende
Isabel Allende is another writer who I think is just not for me. I had read her Of Love and Shadows earlier and I did not love it. Same with this one. I found the concept of this novel really interesting. It follows a couple fleeing the Spanish civil war by ship, to Chile, and their trials and tribulations. However the writing style had a lot of info-dumps which annoyed me, and there were too many cliches and tropes in the book.
8. Sistersong by Lucy Holland
This was a really interesting-seeming work of historical fantasy, which is set in sixth-century Britain and follows three siblings from a royal family facing impending invasion by the Saxons. While the story itself was not bad, it read like YA, which was not what I was looking for when I went into it.
9. Rock, Paper, Scissors by Alice Feeney
This seemed like it would be a really interesting thriller. It follows this married couple who takes this holiday in an abandoned chapel in the mountains, hoping time together would help save the marriage. Only, secrets from the past are unraveled during the trip when they are cut off from the world. Again, I found out I didn’t care for the characters or the drama surrounding them. There was a good twist but that was the only thing this book had, going for it, in my opinon.
10. Tamas by Bhishm Sahni
This book is set in pre-independent India, and it follows various characters in a village as violence erupts between the resident Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims shortly before Partition. I thought this would be a hard-hitting book but it just did not do it for me. Maybe the issue is with the translation as it was originally written in Hindi.