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5 Most Disappointing Books of 2021

The most disappointing books of the year #sigh. This is always a difficult decision. I do not enjoy not liking a book. I want all books to be wonderful, but let’s face it, some are just not.

Now, mind you, I really am thorough about choosing books. I rely on authors I know (Stephen King, Anita Shriver, Diana Gabaldon) and I read reviews cautiously. I stick with genres I like and still, sometimes I get stuck reading something with a lot of hype and good reviews and I just finish the book with disappointment.

So, here are the top 5 books I just did not like this year.

Reviews of the most disappointing books of 2021- Includes Malibu Rising and One by One.

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One by One by Ruth Ware

One by One is the story of a social media company that has a vacation/meeting for their employees. They are in a ski resort in the Alps and staying in a chalet that can only be reached by tram. The meeting part of the vacation is to discuss a potential buyout of the company and the shareholders stand to make millions. The trouble is a tricky 2% of shares are owned by Liz and her vote will determine if the buyout proceeds.

Then someone is missing and presumed dead. An avalanche happens, the power goes out. And somewhere in the middle of all this, there is a wild scene where some of them decide to try to ski down the mountain. In the dark. After an avalanche. On trails they are not familiar with. With cliff sides that drop thousands of feet into nothingness.

Seriously. Skiing is hard enough in the daytime. Night skiing without lights when someone is chasing you… no.

I finished this book because I wanted to see who was possibly killing people off but I can only give it 2 stars. Very disappointing book!

Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger

Selena, a working mom, is commuting home on the train. Earlier in the day she watched a video from her nanny-cam and saw her husband and the nanny- again. She sits next to a stranger on the train.

They strike up a conversation. And, suddenly Selena finds herself confiding in “Martha”. She tells her all about her cheating husband. Martha confides a secret to Selena and the ride on the train ends.

Then the nanny disappears.

And Martha keeps sending text messages to Selena.

Thus begins a convoluted mess of a book. Who is Martha really? How does Anne factor into the story? And Pearl? Where is the nanny? You get it – I am sure. Everyone has a secret and the names change and people you least suspect suddenly take on a new role and then there is that twisty-plot turn at the end that makes you gasp. Or not.

Really, if I am being honest, I hated this book. I disliked all the characters- especially the whiny children and the husband. Yech. I put the plot twists together easily and knew exactly who was who even when they changed their names. It was not plausible and I skimmed a good bit of it. I do not have time to read stupid books. One star (even though I did finish it).

Good as Dead by Susan Walter

Oh my. So, this book started off well. Holly Kendrick and her husband are a couple with a teenager, living paycheck to paycheck. Then he is tragically killed in a hit-and-run accident.

At the scene of the accident, a stranger approaches claiming to know Holly and her husband. After speaking to the ambulance attendant and being told to follow in his car, the attendant hands this stranger Holly’s purse and tells him to bring it to the hospital. This was my first clue. I should have stopped reading right there.

Days later, Holly awakens from the accident and discovers this stranger’s name is Evan and he is now her benefactor. She and her daughter, Savannah, will be moving into a million-dollar home, completely furnished, and have cash at their disposal. I will let you read to find out why this is happening.

So, I have a few problems.

  • Does every chapter have to end with a doom-and-gloom statement? Like every chapter! (“And suddenly I knew no matter what we did, it would never be enough.”) Every single chapter ends with a statement like this and it got old really fast.
  • The back and forth in time writing style was okay for a while, but the chapters also alternated points of view. Somewhat confusing.
  • The original deal with Evan for obtaining the house and moving was made by a 16-year old. Uh, no.
  • And the whole drama about securing the dash cam video that Holly and Savannah NEVER WATCHED. Seriously, isn’t that what you would do first thing.
  • And, the contrived scenes that resolved the whole drama. Gah. I was not happy at the end. It was a mess. On a good note- I did finish it.

I can’t, with good conscience, recommend this book. I did not like any of the characters, except maybe Savannah, but she was also way too gullible. Then again, she, at least, was 16. I give this one 2 stars.

The Disappearing Act by Catherine Steadman

I read a previous book by this author and I remember it being a thriller full of twists. I also vaguely remember it having some unbelievable parts, but I tried this one anyway.

I listened to this book and that is, sadly, the only thing I really liked about it. It is read by the author and I love her voice.

The book is about Mia, a British actress, who travels to California for a series of auditions. At one of these auditions, she meets Emily. Through a series of mishaps, it turns out that Emily needs to allow Mia to skip ahead of her for the audition. Emily needs to quickly take care of something before auditioning. Mia is reluctant and offers to run an errand for Emily instead.

And then, Emily disappears. But, Mia has Emily’s car keys and wallet. Now, I don’t know what you would do, but Mia decides to pursue investigating why Emily has disappeared.

Questions I had (and this is never good to have questions- you expect the author to take care of these things):

  • Mia believed everything anyone told her. Like, moments after Emily disappears, Mia is flirting with a man on the street and becoming quite attracted to him.
  • At what point does anyone start planning ways to investigate a crime when no obvious crime has occurred. Why not just take the wallet and keys to the police and forget about it?
  • A lot of the book focused on the giant ‘Hollywood’ sign and I really just wished the author would stop talking about it.
  • Except there is a bizarre scene at some point involving the sign. But it is TOTALLY not believable.
  • And I will not tell you anything about it, but the Ending. Was. Stupid.

Keep in mind, that this is my opinion and you might completely love this thriller of a book! 2 stars- it was a quick read.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

If I must pick the worst of the year this would be it. The most disppointing book of 2021.

This book has thousands of reviews and they are mostly good. It was a much-hyped book for the year and a lot of reviews declare it to be amazing.

Me, not so much.

It is August of 1983. The Rivas are having their annual party. The four Rivas are Nina, a talented surfer and model, Jay, a championship surfer, Hudson, a photographer, and their younger sister, Kit.

Throughout the day and evening of the party, you learn more about each sibling. The book alternates between the day of the party and the history of the family. The children are the offspring of the famous singer, Mick Riva. It is all quite a story with secrets that come roaring into the party and change everything.

Why is this my least favorite? You will likely love this book. It is getting great reviews and it’s on several bestseller lists. To be honest, it had some good moments. I liked the alternating style of the chapters and I loved Kit.

But, again, honestly, I think this author’s writing style is lacking in the richness of detail and language that keeps me mesmerized with a book. She writes in a list style. One event leads to another and then this happens and next…the writing makes me think of a newspaper or magazine article of something that has happened, not the story of what happened. The book also has a lot of filler in it- very short chapters that add nothing to the story. There were also characters that suddenly showed up out of the blue and they were not necessary to the book.

The party itself, which is the focus of the book, became more than absurd. Events that happened are not believable and just got more outlandish. It felt contrived. And, if all of this was not enough to make me cringe the last few pages were…just bad.

I give the book 2 stars. The most disappointing book of the year.

So, if you are wondering about how I rate books take a look at my scale:

My rating system: 5 stars- perfection, the book was written well, held my attention, and I did not want it to end. 4 stars- the book was really good, but I had questions or concerns about parts of it. This might include the way it ended. 3 stars- the book was okay, but I just didn’t like it much. 2 stars- I skimmed most of it. 1 star- I could not finish it.

Reviews of the most disappointing books of 2021- Includes Malibu Rising and One by One.