You can’t have a best of (or in my case this year 2 best of lists) and not have the opposite. I’m in the fortunate position of mostly reading great stuff this year, that said there are a number of books I read that were less than stellar, some made me genuinely grumpy and in one case one features on both my best and worst list because I both love and hate it in equal measure. Without further ado and in no particular order apart from No 1 here’s my 10 worst reads of 2019.
1) The Burning by Laura Bates – A ya novel by the person who wrote Girl up and who should produce a decent read. This is however an awful book , that apparently reflects her experiences talking to people, but as someone who works in education I know that a lot of the issues mentioned here would not be ignored in any school. Here’s my original review for the novel, I get that this book is on its high horse trying to make a point for young kids but it comes across as overly moralising and the author has done zero research on how safeguarding and issues with bullying are dealt with in schools, I’m a teacher and how she describes issues as being dealt with made me ridiculously angry, you might have different responses to things in different schools but something as serious as the issues being mentioned in this book are only going to be dealt with in certain ways. Most kids reading this would realise that this book is sermonising and not really written by anyone with an understanding of how they feel. This felt like an overly telegraphed young peoples issues novel written by someone with absolutely no idea of how young people feel.
2) The Dark Forest by Cixun Li – The Three body problem the first in this trilogy of novels is an excellent read and I was really looking forward to the second. However this book was just a mediocre over long scifi novel that didn’t advance the original story in anyway and put me off reading the last in the series which is a shame as the first held so much promise.
3) Diana Prince wonder woman – This is the entry that is both on my top graphic novel reads of 2019 and my worst reads of 2019. The I ching Era of wonder woman, the era where Diana has no powers other than the martial arts she learns from her mentor I Ching, is widely considered to be one of the worst Era’s of wonder womans stories and it really is. Full of casual racism, they put on racist makeup to enter china and a complete lack of the feminism she is so widely known for. This is offensive at times and gloriously silly at others. I hate and love it in equal measure.
4) Vox by Christina Dalcher – Another where the premise is excellent women are only allowed to speak 100 words a day, and are banned from work etc, in a dystopian present. However it is flawed, doesnt have interesting characters. And the women instead of saving themselves need men to help save them. I was excited to read this novel and found myself really disappointed by it, the points felt laboured and the plot was clunky, there are much better novels out there if you enjoy dystopian fiction.
5) Happy Sugar Life by Tomiyaki Kagisora – This is one of those books that deserves to be on a worst of list, slightly offensive in places in terms of how young some of the characters are when events happen. I would not read more of this. I don’t want to go into more detail as it’s one I really don’t think anyone else should read
6) A court of thorns and roses by Sarah J maas – I read a DC adaptation by this lady that was really good, so I decided to try some of her YA fiction, and regretted it. This again is overly formulaic and light on character development. Although the plot goes at a welcome pace you don’t get invested enough in the characters to really care what happens, another series I don’t have any plans to read anymore of
7) Howls Moving Castle by Dianne Wynne Jones – This has been made into a well loved studio Ghibli film and I think the film improved mightily on the source material. This is an easy read, but again I found it hollow and unenjoyable because the characters were so 2 dimensional and uninteresting that however fantastical the rest of the story you had no interest in what happened.
8) Captain Marvel Alpha Flight – Captain Marvel is a fantastic character especially when represented as a female, think the current marvel movie version or the recent comics version where she is a young Muslim girl. However the alpha flight stories are just a bit to silly to make for good reading. This is the least enjoyable captain marvel comic i’ve read which is why its ended up here.
9) The Eve of Man – Tom and Giovanna Fletcher, This is another one of those Dystopian novels which really feels forced and therefore unbelievable. Good dystopia comes from being real enough to be scary and unfortunately Eve of Man doesn’t commit enough to reach that level. It does have a good source idea about the last girl on earth who is the future of the human race and therefore has to choose a suitable match to start making babies. However the authors to my mind don’t put enough into the plot to really make this the novel it could be, an easy silly read but not a good book.
10 ) Ryuko by Eldo Yoshimizu – `This again had a lot of promise as a hard boiled Japanese crime graphic novel. But it really didn’t live up to that promise although the characters were interesting and well developed the plot was to twisty and made no real sense so it was a very hard read. Maybe some of this is down to translation but it felt like a poorly written novel.
Honourable or in this case Dishonourable mentions
11) The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell – I went to a gothic fiction evening last year which had the author of this novel and the author of the seven deaths of evelyn hardcastle. I wasn’t impressed by either authors responses on the night but thought i’d give this novel a try, It was disappointing in its execution. Another with poor characters and a predictable plot. There is some phenomenal modern gothic writing available unfortunately this was not one of them.