In addition to all the good books we get to read over the course of a year, we inevitably come across some that we wouldn’t possibly go back to. It isn’t always because they’re bad books, with poor writing and plot, but sometimes they just don’t resonate with us. This can make it hard to judge them fairly, but ultimately, they end up on our scrap pile while others get to stay.
And here, I give you the worst 5 books I discovered in 2011. Regretfully, a good number of them are YA novels, and I can’t tell if that’s more of a sign that teens will read utter crap no matter what, or that some writers and publishers can’t tell utter crap when it stares them in the face.
Brandon Mull’s Beyonders: a World Without Heroes (review here). In video games, nobody enjoys fetch quests, especially when they seem to be ceaseless. And this is exactly what this book felt like. One unending series of fetch quests. Go here, get this thing, go to the next place, get the next thing, and so on and so forth. Combined with the main characters being unimaginative and playing Mr. Exposition every could of chapters in order to recap what had happened so far. The idea that Mull toyed with was creative enough, but poorly executed. For instance, the main characters have to go find an old man in a cave who will give them the next item they need for their quest. Twice. Two different wise old men in two different caves. How many times has it been recommended that authors not use this terribly cliched plot device, and Mull uses it twice in the same book. It was a tedious and dull books and I could not, for the life of me, understand why people actually enjoyed this.
Anna Carey’s Eve (review here). The world has changed and society has completely restructured. In a way that wastes resources and makes absolutely no logical sense, putting girls through years of education training when they will graduate and become broodmares. The female protagonist trusted for no reason except that the plot required her to, a romantic setup that was transparent as glass without much actual chemistry behind it, and a complete lack of medical understanding on the author’s part (you don’t start coughing up blood and then just sleep it off and feel better the next morning, I’m sorry) all added up to a boring and mockable read that is best avoided. At best, this book could be called a lackluster attempt to cash in on the dystopian craze.
Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban’s Two Moon Princess (review here). Convenient plot devices were at odds with the book’s established history and level of technology, and the author seemed to think that the expiration dates on modern medicine don’t serve any particular purpose. The main character is constantly shown that she doesn’t know as much as she thinks she does and yet always thinks she knows better. And the storytelling isn’t even good enough to counterbalance all that. It wasn’t a particularly good book, and it’s best to be skipped over. There isn’t much about it that’s redeeming.
Tara Hudson’s Hereafter (review here). This book fails purely for its level of hypocrisy. The lead female falls in love with the lead male at first sight, not knowing a thing about him, wants to be in his life and is constantly around him, to the point of being obsessive. This is treated as perfectly fine and good, whereas the antagonist feels the same sort of obsessive love for the female lead but in him its presented as creepy and wrong. I can’t endorse that kind of hypocrisy. Even if it weren’t for that, the book suffers for being little different from a dozen other paranormal romance books on the bookshelves today. The only way it stands out is in that hypocrisy, and that’s never a good thing.
K J Parker’s The Hammer (review here). This book doesn’t suffer for its writing style (which is wonderfully smooth and descriptive) or for its characters (who are rich and well-developed), but for the way that the main character goes about essentially overhauling an entire society in order to get revenge for something that isn’t even revealed until near the end of the book. Precious few hints are given, plenty of questions are asked, but his motivations are essentially nonexistant until the big reveal, which left me feeling lost for the bulk of the novel. This is one of those books that I can’t honestly say was bad and that instead simply wasn’t to my taste, but since it was such a disappointment for me, I felt it had earned a spot on this list. It wasn’t a good introduction to Parker’s writing, though I do hear that his works are something of an acquired taste.