When we reach the end of the year, I comb through my Goodreads list to see the books that I gave the lowest rankings to. Then I think about the books I have forgotten about, or that didn’t make a lasting impression on me. This year there were only 5 that met such criteria, and each for very different reasons. I have linked to my original reviews of each book for your perusal. Always remember that different books affect people in different ways, so some of these books are fantastic and you might enjoy them, but I did not. The exception is The Impossible Fortress – everyone should avoid that shit like the plague.
The Impossible Fortress – Jason Rekulak
(Follow up post about how mad this author/NYT made me)
It’s possible that this is the worst book of all time, but I’ve read James Joyce so I know that’s not true. Basically Jason Rekulak jerked off on his own imagined awesomeness and what landed on the paper in front of him became this book. He thinks he’s created an autobiographical inspiration to ‘the young people’ when really what he’s created is a jumbled up journal entry that confesses to multiple crimes and fails to keep focus on any particular plot line while attempting to shotgun enough nostalgia to kill an adult elephant. What made me even angrier about this book was how hard The New York Times promoted it, which led me to the conclusion that either TNYT is delusional OR Rekulak backed a dump truck full of money up to the book review editor’s house and demanded his book be featured. It’s a shame he didn’t have the balls to publish his book out of his own publishing house, where he seems to ask others to write content he just puts his name on and markets. King of Quirk indeed. Go fuck yourself.
Landline – Rainbow Rowell
What even was this book? A magical phone that lets her talk to her husband while they were dating? I don’t really remember and it’s not even worth it to go look it up. I linked to my review here, but basically I was disappointed to get this pseudo-feminist fart-noise from what many consider one of the most important LGBT voices in YA literature right now. I’m convinced that the throw away “I’m in love with the pizza girl” lesbian character was just shoved in there as a way for RR to say “look, I know this is shit, but don’t forget I write great LGBT stuff!” which is also debatable because I tried Carry On and Fangirl and man, that shit is…not for me? As a woman, who this book was written for, I was offended and disappointed, especially by the ending.
The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
I KNOW I KNOW unpopular opinion coming your way. I read this book. I read it front to back. I did not cry, I did not “lose it,” I did not feel the way the multitudes of white people on my Facebook and Twitter feeds felt and performed for the world. What I did feel when I read this book was a kind of overwhelming sense that Thomas was trying to fit every aspect of every possible iteration of black life in America onto her main character to make sure that her readers understood that being black wasn’t just one thing, but many things. This would have been a fine point to make if it didn’t read like a “my first reader” of black life. “Hello daddy, can you list for me 5 things about black life in America in a way that seems conversational and in context but actually comes off like a crappy middle school assembly meant to teach kids about bullying?” It really took me out of the story and made the plot less compelling.
This was not a well written book. The themes were important to hear in our current racial environment, but if you are an adult delving into YA to get this message, this book is not fun to read because of the writing, and even the information feels like it assumes you are completely ignorant. Hard pass.
Sour Heart – Jenny Zhang
A big part of 2017 here at Angry Angel Books was Memoir Monday. Sour Heart is Jenny Zhang’s attempt at her own memoir, and it fit right in with all the stories about the WHO HAD IT WORST OLYMPICS, which seem to dominate the memoir market. I got a little ways in and had to stop when she began describing how the roaches would crawl over them at night. In 2017 this may speak to people, and I am sure the book was a great representation of the immigrant experience in America, but in the year that is quite literally a giant dumpster fire for so many, it was difficult to jump on the “WOW you survived SO MUCH this memoir makes me feel like I could do ANYTHING!” train. This year that kind of a book made me feel like “yeah, you and everyone else, grab a number” so it missed the mark for me.
Illuminae – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
This book came to me highly recommended, and after reading Kristoff’s Nevernight, I was excited to read more of what he had to offer. When I picked the book up at the library it was VERY LARGE and so right from the get go I was putting off starting it. Then I looked inside and found that instead of narrative, the book was like a compilation of journal entries, letters, computer coding, administrator reports, etc. I thought, “This will be a cute read! And faster than I thought!” I was sorely mistaken. Without some kind of thread I was tossed about on the sea of data and information that is thrown at you in this book. The style was so far out of the ordinary that my brain couldn’t wrap itself around it enough to effectively keep track of the story. I got about 30% in, no small feat for such a large tome, and then cried “Uncle!” Not for me, so among my worst that I read this year, but it has been enjoyable for many others, so don’t let this put you off of trying it too.