Roasted Reads | 6 Thoroughly Disappointing Books

It’s autumn. Leaves are falling, the nights are getting longer, and there’s a chill in the air. It’s the perfect weather for a roaring bonfire. And you know what we do with bonfires?

We roast things.

Look, we’ve all been there. A close, trusted friend (or – gasp – a family member) recommends a book to us. They claim it’s the best use of ink since the first Bibles rolled off of Gutenberg’s printing press. And you trust them, so you decide to give it a try.

And you don’t like it.

Maybe you don’t hate it – maybe you’re just apathetic about it. And then when your friend/family member asks you what you thought, you’re caught in an awkward position. Do you risk your relationship by telling them the truth, or do you lie to spare their feelings?

I’ve read more than my fair share of what I would call “overrated” books. Not all of them are bad books – in fact, in many cases, I think they’re pretty decent works of literature. But the more I think about them, the less I like them. And mostly, I just think they need to be taken down a peg or two.

So gather around the campfire, readers. I’m about to roast some books.

The Selection series by Kiera Cass

1 Selection

File this one under “I liked it when I read it like seven years ago but the more I think about it the less good it seems.” The Selection is like The Bachelor meets the story of Esther (sorry, my ex-homeschooler keeps coming out) in which thirty-five girls must vie for the prince’s eventual hand in marriage. It’s not a terrible book per se, just has a lot of wasted potential. So much political intrigue is hinted it, but it’s only used when it’s convenient for locking the love interests in a secluded bomb shelter or something. You know. For plot.

The covers are pretty though.

3-SteelheartSteelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Confession: I don’t actually have very strong feelings about Steelheart. I liked it well enough – I wrote a whole blog post about it a few years ago – but I never became a huge fan of the series. I think my expectations were just too high in this case. There weren’t any major flaws or cliches that made Steelheart terrible, I was just underwhelmed. I guess I had hoped for something more… epic (pun intended), and what I got was a fun, superhero-y adventure that I quickly forgot about later.

5 StormbreakerAlex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz

This is from my espionage phase (who am I kidding, it’s not a phase). Think James Bond for teenage boys, but probably worse. There were parts of these books that intrigued me: the gadgets, the evil schemes, the strategies. Sometimes I even liked the characters. But unfortunately, Alex Rider fell into the trap of focusing on one (1) character and ignoring the development of all others for the sake of giving him a mediocre personality. The only interesting people in this whole series are Yassen and Jack. Change my mind.

4-RPOReady Player One by Ernest Cline

It pains me to put this book on this list, but the truth must be spoken. I wanted to love Ready Player One so much. You all know I’m a gamer, so a novel focused on a virtual reality video game seemed right up my alley. This looked like the Holy Grail for small nerdy me. And I was let down. Granted, I wasn’t in the target audience. Ready Player One is definitely intended for men who grew up in the 1980s, not for a teenage girl. But I’ve read plenty of other books where I wasn’t the target, and I enjoyed them just fine. The problem was more that Ready Player One alienated me as a female reader by turning every female character into a one-dimensional stereotype. Read Warcross by Marie Lu instead.

6 MRMaximum Ride series by James Patterson

Why is this series around, and why won’t it die? It’s been resurrected what, like three times? Can you revive something that wasn’t even alive in the first place? Is James Patterson even a real human or just an computer program that read a bunch of crummy YA novels and then composed one of its own? I don’t even know what made me read these books in the first place. Maybe some part of my teenage brain knew that James Patterson was a big-name author and that a “good” reader ought to read his books. I wish I had never cursed myself with this series. If I could erase any book from my memory, it would be Maximum Ride.

2 - FourI Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

This makes two terrible book-to-movie adaptations starring Alex Pettyfer, who is completely irrelevant but it’s still weird. Anyway, like many of the other books on this list, I Am Number Four looked promising. Aliens? People like aliens! The Area 51 raid was a meme for a reason. But the story’s delivery didn’t just kill my hopes for the series, it dragged my hopes into an dark alleyway, beat them with an aluminum Hello Kitty baseball bat and then left them there to die. This book takes too long to get to its point, is full of cliches, and in general just takes far too much mental effort to read.

So readers, what books are you roasting at the bonfire? Any hot takes? (See what I did there?) Or do you have a counterargument against any of my choices? Let’s chat (or debate) in the comments!

Until next time!

12 thoughts on “Roasted Reads | 6 Thoroughly Disappointing Books

  1. “Is James Patterson even a real human” is my new favorite conspiracy.
    Birdbox. I read the book first and I’m sorry to say the movie was better than the book. I won’t take it back.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really think James Patterson is like that “I forced a bot to watch 1,000 hours of Olive Garden commercials and then write one of its own” meme but with books.
      Don’t be sorry for your opinions! I haven’t watched or read Birdbox, but based on how much people liked the movie, I can see why you’d have high expectations for the book as well.
      Thanks for reading!


  2. It was — and probably still is — common practice for writers of a long-running series to actually be multiple people writing under the same name. For example, the “Nancy Drew” series was not literally written by a person named Carolyn Keene, if she even existed at all. It was a number of writers using the same pseudonym. Perhaps that’s the case with Patterson.

    Many books have disappointed me for one reason or another, but it almost always has something to do with editing. Several that I REALLY WANTED TO LIKE were simply unreadable, or, at best, phenomenally tedious. Some I have shelved or discarded after only a few chapters, or a few pages. Others I have persevered because of my masochistic interest in the subject. Of course, these are mostly in the non-fiction realm which has obvious differences from fiction, but it seems like authors of all genres have this inherent opposition to seeking editorial help or, at least, external (and honest) reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Poorly-edited books are both a frustration and a comfort for me – at least I know that there will always be a demand for someone with a “useless” English degree. I think the problem with writers is that we have so much we want to say and so few people to hold us accountable to being concise. Whatever the reason, it’s a shame when bad writing ruins an otherwise promising book.


  3. I suspect that JP, though a real person, and early on, a favorite of mine, (the Alex Cross series though not great literature was pretty good escapist fiction) is now using others to churn out stuff, although the jacket cover givesl credit to that person (in pretty small lettering). That might not be true with Maximum Ride.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wouldn’t be surprised to learn there was an army of (underpaid) interns typing up the latest entry in the James Patterson canon. Well, maybe that’s a little harsh, but you see what I mean.

      Thanks for reading!


    • I’m with you there. Nothing like reading a book that makes you feel stupid for not being able to name every cult classic film released in the 1980s. What a waste of potential.


  4. I was disappointed by Ready Player One too! I really liked the concept and the world-building was impressive, but all the characters (especially the females) fell really flat for me. I think the setup was cool, but the plot/characters were just uninteresting to me, so I didn’t enjoy it very much.
    I get disappointed by books A LOT. The Maze Runner series, for example. And The Blood of Olympus. And Ranger’s Apprentice. And Divergent. I could rant against these books all day long.

    Liked by 1 person

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