Day 11 of this respective book challenge and it's asking me for a book/books I hated.
You might think I'd rub my hands together and start cackling in some wicked way, but it really gives me no pleasure to say that the following books were among the worst I've ever read.
(First gif I've ever managed to make successfully, whoo-hoo! But this sums up my reaction rather well)
On a serious note - in being a self-professed bibliophile, I've read many books I've liked and many books I've hated (and some in the middle). Not everyone's going to like a work. There may be people who completely disagree with me on these books. That's fine. I respect that. But I want to use this as a platform to state my respective convictions on these works.
Here are my top ten books I've hated in my (rather recently noted) reading perusals. I'm putting them in order under the cut. I'm giving detailed expansions for each of my choices because I want to explain why these books really got under my skin. Warning to those below the cut that there are some (not too major) spoilers.
Number 10: "Swoon" by Nina Malkin
I think this was the first book in the scheme of YA that I completely disliked, and that's an understatement. The premise of it is quite misleading (cover not withstanding) - you think it's the story of a girl who falls in love with a bad ghost. I guess the name "Sin" would tip off anyone casually browsing through the work, but considering this book has ghost bodily invasions of the sexual persuasion, Sin being an abrasive jerk most of the time, the leading female character getting orgasms left and right, a girl who screams she's been raped getting laughed at by a group of people and shamed, AND
the leading characters engaging in sexual spanking in front of a seven year old?
What on ever loving earth was the author thinking? How is this a book for YA readers? It was just...my mind was blown. There were no reasons for anything in this book to make sense, other than pure shock factor. It's not that the story started off too badly, but it went downhill fairly quickly.
Matter in point, this was actually the only 1-star book that I gave in year's worth reading back in either 2010 or 2011. That tells you something because back then, I really didn't pick up many books I considered 1-star. Very few, if any, ever came close to the level of offense that "Swoon" did around the time I read it.
But believe it or not, this is not the worst book I've read. Nope, only goes downhill from here.
Number 9: "Poison Shy" by Stacey Madden
"Poison Shy" is most definitely an adult novel that aims to be gross, and deeply rooted in dark humor. That's something I'd expected going in, but not to the level it reached when I was finished with it. Heavily misogynistic and just plain...offensive for the sake of being offensive. The story revolves around a hapless 29 year old exterminator who gets involved with an obsessive woman, who later turns out missing and he gets pinned for a crime he supposedly didn't commit. Or did he?
I'm just going to quote a part of my review for explaining what creeped me out about this book:
Am I really the only person who thought this book was a piece of fantastical, non-funny, sick crap? Really? I can take very dark humor, I can even take some frank situations, I've read my share of pulp noir, but this book just didn't do any of what it set out to do well. There's no story here or cohesiveness, and the book is just flat out offensive for the sake of being offensive in a glorified way - misogynistic, slut-shaming, gay bashing, ableist slamming, and an utter offense in portraying women, sex (including a man who broke into an apartment to enact a "rape" in order to scare a female character but noted he actually "wasn't going to rape her, just scare her"), among other things. And it throws all that in with no story, no true mystery, no true stakes, and no resolution. There was no humor or true psychological depth to this, just a haphazard, passive male lead going from one plot event to another and not even having an ounce of realism to it. It really didn't have an ending, and the characters didn't have an ounce of likability. I couldn't even believe that after Melanie enacts a sexual encounter while the MC was half-sleeping involving her period blood, and he learns he contracted an STI from her, that he goes on to still sleep with her, despite him being freaked out.
Sense...this book had none. Offense, this book had plenty. But it's not the worst book I've read. Nope. I'm still playing the part of Alice falling down the rabbit hole. (Oh man.)
Number 8: "Walking Disaster" by Jamie McGuire
Believe it or not, Jamie McGuire's follow-up to "Beautiful Disaster" might be one of the tamer titles on this list. Emphasis on "might."
"Walking Disaster" glorifies one of the most abrasive male characters I've read in a romantic (if you can call it that) story in a long time, if ever. Pretty much set the standard as to having the love interest in a New Adult book to be a bonafide jerk and be championed for it. His misogyny's rampant and unapologetic, his treatment of Abby is beyond any rational human being (and the scene where he chases after her from Vegas still gives me the creeps. Abby may be just as aggravating and flawed, but that doesn't give Travis claim to do what he does to her. Not in the least.). He claims he loves her and there are moments where he shows some forms of remorse, but that meaning is subverted when ultimately it's revealed that he thinks of Abby as a possession. His motivations are never clear, often contradictory. As someone big on character motivation and redemption in the face of problematic measures - it drove me bonkers. But that's not the sole reason I put it at #8 on this list.
It's a little higher than the others on this list mainly because of two things:
1. Retelling done wrong. Retellings are difficult to do, and difficult to do well - I'm totally acknowledging this, and I think "Walking Disaster" could've actually been a better book - it could've vetted out more of Travis's background and given him more weight in why he said and acted in the things he did in "Beautiful Disaster", but that never happened with the narrative. The trainwreck was there, but much of it was deja-vu. If anything, the story reaffirmed things that already happened, but didn't expand upon them - the latter is what some of the best retellings actually do well.
They don't copy pasta whole entire conversations from the previous book and call it original when simply changing the script to the hero's perspective from the heroine's (and there was one passage that a reviewer called out and said Travis was speaking about himself in the third person). It's very tedious to read - especially if you're reading the works back-to-back and so much of the narrative relies on the previous book so that you can't read it by its lonesome. I mentioned the same with Colleen Hoover for "This Girl" and "Losing Hope" - it's lazy writing. It's a waste of time and money.
2. The epilogue. If this were some kind of ironic stage drama where the fate of the parents' transgressions were imposed on their children or some brilliant foreshadowing of the past projected on the present - maybe this ending would've worked. Maybe, I don't know. But I laughed for all the wrong reasons. It was the worst epilogue showing the fate of characters years down the line that I've read. No contest.
I think the epilogue here is the major reason I can't touch another book by McGuire, because it would be hard for me to take any of her work seriously after that considering how fantastical, wish-fulfillment, and Mary Sue/Gary Stu it was. I noted the measure of authorial intrusion/projection in my review of this and it was very heavily noted.
Number 7: "Irreplaceable" by Raven Gregory
I usually don't mind some of the spin off comics from Zenescope's line, but this story really shocked me when I read it. It's not that the "what if" scenario was completely offensive, in that a hapless hero ends up becoming the target of affection of many women that he comes across because of a curse, and the pleasure turns to fear in a matter of extremes. That in itself has much potential to be an interesting measure to read and watch unfold as the hero tries to get himself out of it. (Arguably, I think there might be a manga I've read that did the same thing.) But this graphic novel took it in a direction that I think offended sensibility in consideration of male and female perspectives alike. It was a narrative that glorified the scenario to a sickening level. One may think that may've been the intention, but(show spoiler)
It becomes too much.
Number 6: "A Million Dirty Secrets" by C.L. Parker
Besides being tackled with pop culture name drops every which way but loose, this former Twilight fanfic just had me wondering "What was the point?" "Double Agent Coochie" and a clumsy heroine talking to her crotch at the same frequency of E.L. James's use of "oh mys" and "inner goddess" in "Fifty Shades" made me cringe. The hero was rude, cocky, and abrasive, the heroine was a terrible liar and not...funny. Not in the least.
This is one of those books that I still can't get my head around no matter how much I think about it. But it was one of the worst narratives I've read. I didn't see any redeeming points to it.
Number 5: "Deeper" by Blue Ashcroft
This is a New Adult title that really surprised me, because I thought it would be more of a decent story than proposed. (And it has a beautiful cover!) I guess I should've known something would be wrong when the hero's name is Knight and his profession is a lifeguard.
Obvious naming is obvious.
But apart from that - boys ripping off a woman's clothing while in the water and taking advantage of a woman sexually while she's drunk, a heroine passively hoping that the misogynistic hero will come and save her at some point (all the while noting he's misogynistic), and a pedophile touching little girls in the pool with very few people doing anything to stop it are just among a few of the offenses this book carries. And it's among the worst I've read in New Adult.
Number 4: "Touching Melody" by RaShelle Workman
Seriously the worst novel in New Adult I've ever read. I almost quit the genre because of this book, and I'm not saying that to be overdramatic, it was that bad, and poorly written to boot.
One of the cardinal offenses you can make in writing is forgoing the things you promise in a premise, and completely trivializing any serious set of issues you bring to the narrative. The premise in this was SO good. I'm not kidding - it had a ton of possibilities in terms of being something that someone could do well. A student who attends a music school with a boy who's father might've been responsible for the murder of her parents. And it was reportedly based on a true story.
I don't deny that it was probably based on actual events, but I'm pretty sure that the actual events that inspired this novel were probably more compelling, heart-wrenching and realistic than the glorified offensive mess that was in this book.
This has underdeveloped and OTT misconstrued (or even dismissive) portrayals about rape, murder, kidnapping, drug use and abuse, sex (in apparently a form that completely misconstrues the definition of "kink") among other things. It's like the plot took almost every possible offensive formula in New Adult, stirred it in a blender, and poured it out just to see what people would think and many emotions it could milk.
I wrote a long review about this book in the past and even now, thinking about it makes me cringe.
Number 3: Starseed by Liz Gruder
My judgment of this book has very little to do with the cover, if one's eye might come upon this and go O____O.
Part of me thought I was going into a YA novel that did a fun parody of aspects in the sci-fi genre. I probably would've been able to take that and laugh about it, but considering the tin-foil hat conspiracies and brainwashing that goes on with the "special snowflake" heroine - it didn't rise above its derivative cliches.
However, that's probably the least of this novel's offenses. The narrative itself is written in disjointed scenes and trains of thought, glorifies violence (and there's a trivialization of rape in here that made me want to throw my computer against the wall when I read it) among other offenses. This is probably the worst YA sci-fi novel, debatedly worse YA novel I've come across.
TIE: Number 1: "Out" by Laura Preble and "Revealing Eden" by Victoria Foyt
I put these two books in about even standing because they have the distinction of being reverse discrimination novels gone horribly wrong. It makes me wonder if either of the authors read "Noughts and Crosses" by Malorie Blackman (which I thought handled the subject and portrayals very well, though with some caveats.)
Some consider "Out" being the GLBT version of "Revealing Eden" - many people may not realize exactly why "Out" is offensive in the exact same way as the latter book. Both novels completely misconstrue, even glorify, the sufferings and stereotypes of the minority groups they portray. And they do it in such extreme environments that it transcends reality. They do it with such casual assumptions on love and understanding one's differences - no lick of research into the histories of such groups.
I can't really say more than what I've already said in my reviews on both books, but I remember finishing "Revealing Eden" and being in something of a numb state the first read through I did of it, but the second read through (which I used to elucidate points in my review) - it hit me. It hit me hard.
Similarly, I couldn't believe the level of ignorance in the assumptions and portrayals made in "Out" - I mean how can you reduce love to the measure of people having body parts and their biology "fitting". There were many other offense to be had in this book, but I'm not retracing them because that's something I've already done in another space and time.
So there you have it, books I...hated, long story short. Probably the longest entry I've had in consideration with these theme days, but I figure it's food for thought.
Until next entry