Here’s the follow-up to the post where I listed my top five favorite books of 2015. This post is basically a warning – a warning that if you’re interested in any of these books, I’ve read them and, unfortunately, they’re not as great as everyone thinks they are. (You’re entitled to your own opinion, though.) It’ll be a little more ranty than the last post, so heads up. ; )
I feel like I get let down by books a lot. I usually get books on recommendation, but I also love to browse my library or the Goodreads library and pick out a random book based on the premise. Sometimes I’ll find a gem (like The Little Women Letters or Wonder or The Nanny Diaries), but, more often than not, the books I get because of the synopsis are a total disaster. The authors either don’t flesh out the plot as much as they could have, or they add in unnecessary language or inappropriate guy-girl stuff, or it’s too cliche. The following books are my least favorite books of 2015 (so far… cuz I’ll probably keep on picking books based on their premise, regardless of the outcome of that method).
5. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – I got this one because it had sooooo much hype. It seemed like the entire Goodreads community couldn’t stop raving about this book. So trust. me. when I say that it wasn’t as great as everyone painted it to be. I probably wouldn’t have gotten it if I’d known the true genre, but since the true genre is a secret… I didn’t know. Spoiler-free, it’s a story about how the upper 5% live – and the secrets they keep – from the perspective of 17-year-old Cadence. I read it in two sittings because the story gripped me and I needed to know how it ended. But when the big plot twist/reveal came in the end… I was totally caught off guard. Oh, I thought. It’s one of those books. ……… Meh. It was okay. (Read my Goodreads review here.)
4. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – Again, I got this one because of the hype. Because I listened to the hype – and because I read the premise – I knew it’d be a fluffy book. However, I wanted a fluffy book for vacation, so it all worked out. But… I couldn’t lose myself in the fluff. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten more critical of writing as of late, but I think it’s because I just couldn’t relate to any of the characters. The story follows Anna, who gets the amazing opportunity to travel to Paris – PARIS, FRANCE – and spend her entire senior year of high school at a boarding school there. Pretty great, huh? Well, Anna doesn’t think so. She’s too wrapped up in her (completely mediocre) life back in Atlanta (hey!) to even give Paris – PARIS, FRANCE – a chance. Untillllllllll… she meets a handsome boy named Etienne St. Clair. Thus begins their tumultuous on-again-off-again relationship (which Anna keeps telling herself is purely platonic even though he’s the only thing she ever thinks about. Seriously. The ratio of scenes involving actual school and classes to scenes involving Etienne and Paris and movies and kissing and talking about boys and being with boys and judging boys and judging girls is pretty lacking). But Etienne has a girlfriend, so nothing can really work out between them, right? But they still spend more time together than Etienne spends with his girlfriend. (Cue the Say Movienight Kevin “Howwww daaaare youuuuuu?”) Meanwhile, Anna keeps obsessing over this guy that she knew back in Atlanta, who kissed her the night before she left. She’s pretty sure he’s in love with her – she’s in love with him, so the feelings must be mutual, riiiiight? – but he takes forever to reply to her emails or answer her phone calls. (And then comes the shocking reveal that her best friend has been dating him since she left. Wow. Shocker.) It’s pretty messed up. I only liked a handful of scenes and Etienne’s accent. And that’s saying a lot. (Read my Goodreads review here.)
3. Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy – Once again, the premise intrigued me, but the book itself didn’t. The main character, Alice, gets diagnosed with terminal cancer and has her “friend,” Harvey, help her dole out revenge on everyone she hates (basically everyone at school). Plot twist: She ends up suddenly going into remission and has to deal with the consequences of her actions. Sounds interesting, right? It felt like Julie wanted to mash up Paper Towns with The Fault in Our Stars. But it just doesn’t work. Alice was a spoiled brat who didn’t really know what she wanted until she’d messed everything up past the point of no return (and there’s no redemption because that’s where the story ends), and Harvey was a love-sick puppy who was willing to do anything she wanted him to, regardless of any moral standards that he had. Everything felt random and obscure – especially the beach house scene when Harvey’s new girlfriend came and Alice made out (*cough*) with this random guy she literally found. It felt like the plot – typical on-again, off-again will they or won’t they – kept going around in circles (if you’ve read the book, you’ll get it). Not to mention that there was some Content. (Seriously? Seriously??? *FACE.PALM*) The entire thing just felt so blehhhhhhh. I finished it in about two days because I wanted to see if the characters changed at all. They didn’t. Thus, I was disappointed. (Read my Goodreads review here.)
2. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Series) by Ann Brashares – I started reading this series because I’ve heard of it for a long time and I wondered if it was any good. I think I’m a little older than the audience of the first four (the last one taking place ten years later, when the characters are in their late twenties), but, in my opinion, the content was right at my level. I didn’t let my younger sister read the books because some of the Content was a little mature for her (including descriptions of kisses and other guy-girl scenes and obsessing over boys), but I let her watch the movies with me (which are a lot better than the books). I loved the characters, but I didn’t agree with some of the things they did, and I think that’s why it was such a let-down for me. I actually enjoyed this series a lot (and bought the movies because they were so good), but it was more of a guilty pleasure because I didn’t condone their actions and there was some language that I didn’t like. The reason this series is number two on my list, though, is completely and entirely because of the last book, Sisterhood Everlasting. I don’t think the book was supposed to be a part of the series because it’s geared towards a different audience, but it’s a sequel to the series and, since I loved the series so much, I read it. BIIIIGGGG MISTAKE. Listen, Ann Brashares. YOU DO NOT MESS WITH MY TIBBY. NOPE. NOT ALLOWED. I still haven’t told my sister what happens in the last book… because, apparently, a film adaption is being made. (Of course I’ll go see it, but I’ll cry buckets and buckets.) I almost consider the last book to be nonexistent, or poorly-written fanfiction, but I can’t completely allow myself to think that because, duh, it’s written by the same author, and is, therefore, canon. (*shakes fist*) (Read my Goodreads review of the last book here.)
1. The Last Song by Nicolas Sparks – Yes, I read a Nicolas Sparks book. (I’ve read two, actually, and I liked this one better than The Best of Me… which isn’t saying much.) One of my good friends really likes Nicolas Sparks books, so my excuse is that I’ve read them for her. And I think it’s safe to say that I’m done. The Last Song felt so… cliche. I was so mad the entire time I was reading it that I couldn’t even write a good review when I was done. (My goal in writing is to make my reader feel emotions… but not anger.) The story follows teenaged Ronnie and her younger brother who visit their dad over the summer. And that’s basically it. There was nothing glaringly wrong with the plot or characters… it just felt like Mr. Sparks didn’t attempt to make the characters any deeper than the cliche, stock characters that they are. I don’t think I’ve ever been this annoyed about a book. (HA!) Ronnie, the main character, was stuck-up and annoying and didn’t change at ALL, and her dad felt like the male version of Elsie Dinsmore. (Really? You’re going to reply to your bratty daughter’s whiny accusation that you’re playing the piano to annoy her by building a wall around it? Really.) The love interest, Will, was the only character I really liked, but he was so wrapped up in hiding something (that isn’t even that big of a deal) that he can’t get over himself enough to be anything more than a stereotypical teenager. He seemed a little too perfect, too. The dialogue seemed a little stilted, too – it felt like what Mr. Sparks thinks the typical “rebellious teenager” and “overprotective and perfect father” and “runaway girl” and “teenage anti-hero” talks like. Half the time, I was rolling my eyes. The other half of the time, I was trying to resist the urge to get a pen and start marking up the book as if I’m beta-reading it for Mr. Sparks. (Thankfully, it was a library book, so that’s straight where it went when I was done with it.) I seriously have never read a book that annoyed me so much. It all felt so much worse than mediocre. You know what? It felt like a poorly-written self-published novel by a prepubescent tween. Sorry to be so negative of a New York Times Bestselling author, but… it’s the truth. The most annoying thing about it all is that there’s a movie and it’s stars Liam Hemsworth (who I kind of already hate because he’s Gale) and Greg Kinnear (“You don’t love me? But we’re so perfect for one another!!!”) and I’ll probably watch it because I’m such a movie junkie. 😄 (Read my Goodreads review here.)
I’ve never been this negative about books before. Maybe it’s because I actually have high standards of good writing because I’m a writer. Anyway, it’s safe to say that these books were not worth the paper they were written on (except the Sisterhood series – minus the last book). Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to read Harold and the Purple Crayon – because that’s a million times better than these.
Aaaaaand in case you’re wondering how books like these get on the New York Times Bestseller list (which several of these claim), well… here you go.
(Edit: Why is it that most of these books are romance books? It’s not because I don’t like romance – I do – I just don’t like stupid romance. I wonder whyyyyyy…)