I have written a post about the good highlights of my 2014 reading year so far. However, as with any reading year, there are bound to be some stinkers. Okay, maybe ‘stinker’ is too harsh a word, but let’s just say, these titles just fell flat. Some I had high expectations for, which is why the let down was even greater.
In no particular order:
Jeffrey Brown’s Kids Are Weird: And Other Observations from Parenthood. Now, I quite enjoyed Darth Vader and Son and Vader’s Little Princess, so I thought this non-fiction collection of comics about parenting would be fun. I…did not find it funny. To be honest, I do not understand the point of this book at all. (Hey, maybe that was the point? For it to be as non-nonsensical, head-scratching, or jarring as some of the nattering in the comics?). Guy Delisle’s A User’s Guide to Neglectful Parenting is, in my opinion, a much stronger and pithier graphic novel option on a similar topic.
This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. Though I read through this YA graphic novel in one sitting, I did not have the greatest experience. I kept reading and flipping, waiting and hoping for something. Stronger dialogue between the main characters, some character development, a spark, something. I mentioned on my brief Goodreads review that the illustrations are pretty wonderful and expressive, but I felt that the written component really let the entire novel fall quite flat. I didn’t feel any emotional connection to the main protagonist or to her summer journey, I’m afraid.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1) by Jenny Han. It pains me a bit to write this, as I have enjoyed Han’s other YA and children’s offerings! But, man alive, I got very bored, very quickly with the childish Lara Jean, and (what I thought was) a weak premise in this contemporary YA title. Perhaps I am growing less patient with teen novels, or increasingly on edge if I smell any tried-and-tired teenager plot conventions, but…SIGH. In the interest of full disclosure: I did not finish the novel. I gave up about 150 pages in.
The One & Only by Emily Giffin. This was another did not finish; I dropped it about a quarter of the way in. Maybe one day I will pick it up again, but…I don’t know. I have liked Giffin’s previous contemporary offerings, particularly Baby Proof and Where We Belong. But this one? EH. I don’t think the football focus is what turned me off, but rather the fact of a tepid main character and meandering plotting (and a potentially strange ‘big reveal’).
Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians. I had heard and read very good things about this debut novel, and was looking forward to dive into a funny and dishy read. Which, it kind of was, but my overall feeling about it was: MEH. It was just okay for me. I think Kwan, when he lets loose, has a great ear for comic dialogue and situations. However, some weaker story lines and underdeveloped characters made for plodding reading.
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers. Oof. This is another one that pains me to write about, as I am a fan of Summers’ other novels. Perhaps this one was too negative and mean for me to take, but I just could not finish this novel about high school politics and bullying. The crude and despicable behaviors and actions by the novel’s characters just kept on building (to the point of Hollywood movie-style insanity), and I didn’t see any redeemable qualities to any of it (…then again, maybe there weren’t supposed to be?). After about one hundred pages in, I lost hope and thumbed my way to the end, hoping for some kind of answer.