Samir’s Worst Books of 2012

There’s a sad side to being a book lover – namely that not all books are a great read and there’ll always be a few that don’t encourage me in any way to finish reading them. As the years pass by, I come across fewer unreadable books or to be more precise, I avoid books I think are badly written or are just plot based page turners or are simply hyped (The Da Vinci Code and Fifty Shades of Grey come to mind), which I know I wouldn’t enjoy reading.

The Ones that Didn’t Cut It

In 2012, I started but didn’t complete a total of four books. What these four titles share in common is that they are all genre based and monotonous.

Lurulu1. Lurulu by Jack Vance

I approached this book with eagerness. I’d heard many positive remarks about Vance’s descriptive prowess and originality in thinking up concepts and creative names for all the worlds he creates. A master of the science fiction genre and a writer with his own style. Yes, these are all true but 50 pages into this short novel, I realized that’s all it is – great descriptions, great ideas, cool exposition, a thin plot running through… Monotonous. What about character? I had zero attachment to the characters and that never bodes well with me.

It would be unfair though to no longer read Vance after this single experience, especially since his more famous books are highly praised. Therefore, I’ll reserve judgment until I read one of those books first. As for Lurulu, I dumped it.

2. Lilith’s Brood by Octavia E. Butler

Lilith's BroodI also approached this science fiction omnibus with good hopes. I’d read much praise about Butler and even enjoyed a short story of her’s. The book had an excellent beginning that gripped me and the protagonist was likable and unsure of herself, which gave her depth that Butler quickly built upon. I couldn’t put it down for the first 100 pages or so.

So what went wrong? I felt I was stuck in a surreal time loop with the constant interactions between the characters and the unfolding events with their alien masters. It just repeated itself over and over and over to the point where I no longer had the patience to see it through. Sadly, despite my curiosity, I dumped it.

The Baker's Boy3. The Baker’s Boy by J. V. Jones

A page turner fantasy novel – yes the first in a trilogy – that had a likable if gullible protagonist, a bad ass wizard and an interesting plot. But wait, it’s been done so often that I know exactly how each event will unfold… and I’m right. This book is way too predictable, even for a fantasy. The writing also has clichés and is superficial. I dumped it.

TheDisciplinarian4. The Disciplinarian by Emma Allan

Oh boy, could I have picked a worse book in erotic fiction? I’m not familiar much with novels in this genre but the story is unbelievably ridiculous that it’s impossible to suspend my disbelief to even read the cheesy sex scenes or artificial dialogue. It’s that bad… I dumped it after 25 pages. My only consolation, I bought it from a super sale basket at the spur of the moment.

There you have it. While I seldom enjoy genre fiction, I still keep an eye out for the occasional book that sweeps me away like Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind. I’m curious what I’ll discover this year that won’t cut it. As for you dear reader, please do help me and let me know of any titles that I should avoid!

Samir

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9 thoughts on “Samir’s Worst Books of 2012

  1. Oooh, don’t give up on Octavia Butler though? I didn’t enjoy Lilith’s Brood as I’m not into space/aliens type science fiction at all but if dystopian/utopian speculative fiction is more your thing try Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents, they’re both fantastic explorations of themes such as race, class and gender. Kindred was another of Butler’s that I enjoyed,it’s also grounded on earth but uses time travel to explore themes of race and class, it’s great.

    1. Hmm… so I guess I just picked the wrong collection, typical. Well ok, I’ll give it another try in the future. I’m glad you mentioned this as I had already formed the conclusion to avoid her work. Thanks for stopping by and commenting 🙂

  2. It’s always disappointing to start a recommended book only to find it isn’t working. This happened with the highly touted Loud and Close which also became a movie. When grandma begin telling her grandson about her sex life I couldn’t get past that at all, having already pushed past the overdone precociousness of the protagonist. I really wanted to like a book where a boy is solving the puzzle his beloved father left him.

  3. When I first read the title of this post, I thought, oh dear, I pray my book isn’t on your list! Haha. Good to know about these titles, though, and I appreciated your “best of 2012” list as well!

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