Happy Saturday, everyone!
It’s time for one of my favorite posts of the year! Let’s talk about the worst, most terrible, incredibly disappointing, and mind-numbingly stupid/racist/boring books 2022 had to offer!
😈 **insert evil cackling** 😈
Seriously, though, if I had to put up with reading these awful books, shouldn’t I at least get some fun out of them? Although 2022 was a pretty decent reading year overall, I did also encounter my fair share of books I hated or was extremely let down by, and me having whined about them in my wrap-ups doesn’t do them enough justice. If I had to read these, then you at least have to put up with a rant!
So here you go: From worst to slightly less terrible, these were my top ten least favorite reads of 2022!
🙄 My Least Favorite Books of 2022 🙄
#1 Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
(finished in December after six months of utter agony)
Let me introduce you to my new least favorite book. OF ALL TIME. Any future works I encounter are going to have to be seriously bad to top this endlessly long, racist, bellicose, and horribly written manifesto of Nazi ideology, so I think it’s fairly safe to say that Mein Kampf has cemented itself in that spot for all eternity.
Look, I know what you’re thinking: Naemi, this book was written by Hitler. Did you honestly expect it to be good?
Well, no… BUT I DIDN’T THINK IT WOULD BE THIS TERRIBLE, EITHER!!
While I was prepared for the antisemitism and fanatic glorification of the Arian race, I thought I would maybe learn something from reading this. Like, Mein Kampf was marketed as Hitler’s autobiography back in the day. I thought there might be details about his life that could give me insights into what shaped his crazy world view and how he got people to follow him, or at least parallels that would help me understand present day egomaniacal politicians a bit better. And, considering this was a Third Reich bestseller, I thought it would be written in a coherent and at least semi-engaging way.
I was wrong on both counts. Hitler apparently thought spreading conspiracy theories about the Jewish desire for world domination was way more important than including any personal details, and half the time he did mention something about his life, there was a footnote explaining how he had greatly embellished certain details. And the writing style was absolutely ATROCIOUS. For somebody concerned with preserving German culture, he sure did a horrible job respecting German grammar and organizing his ideas into coherent paragraphs.
Mein Kampf is confusing, convoluted, repetitive, and incredibly boring. And, even worse, there are over 800 pages of it.
#2 The Blizzard by Vladimir Sorokin
(read in April)
I had originally considered reading this book in Russian – in hindsight, I am very glad I opted for the German translation because the contents of The Blizzard already had me doubting whether I understood my native language 😅 WTF doesn’t even cover it.
As the title suggests, the novel is about a snowstorm. What the title doesn’t mention is that the plot of The Blizzard is not so much about the storm, but about a Russian doctor traveling through it on miniature horses, licking pyramid-shaped drugs, having sex with everyone and everything along his path, encountering snowy phalli in the woods, and failing to deliver a vaccine to a village that desperately needs it.
I mean, sure. Maybe this is an allegory for the incompetence of Russia’s academic elite. But still! That doesn’t mean I want to read pages upon pages about Doctor Garin pleasuring some dwarven miller’s wife or having sexy psychedelic dreams. I hated every single moment of reading this and have decided that Sorokin’s “distinctive style, which combines an edgy avant-garde sensibility with a fondness for the absurd and even grotesque” is most definitely not for me.
#3 Der Nebelkönig by Susanne Gerdom
(read in January)
Alas, alas, nobody has thus far seen any necessity of translating this masterpiece of a YA fantasy novel into other languages, so you’re going to have to make do with the German title, Der Nebelkönig, which means “The Fog King”.
Let me tell you a little bit about Der Nebelkönig:
Der Nebelkönig is about a kitchen maid called
Mary Sue Sallie. Sallie lives in a castle and cannot remember why. Thus, Sallie spends hundreds of pages wandering around the castle, doing absolutely nothing. In Chapter One (and pretty much every single chapter following it), the other characters all but spell out what happened at the castle and what Sallie’s role in this disaster was. Oh-so-brilliant Sallie, however, does not get it. Which means we readers have to endure about 300 pages of nothingness until Sallie, in a ginormous **pLoT-TwiSt** suddenly has a grand revelation. What then follows is one of the stupidest endings I have ever read – although I’m fairly certain the author meant for it to come across as romantic. So maybe I’m just not getting it? 🤔
#4 The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
(read in December)
We’re making progress! Moving from one-star into 1.5-star territory, I present to you a typical case of the-musical-is-way-better-than-the-book – at least if my mediocre French skills are trustworthy enough to guarantee that I actually understood what was happening in this 😅 But, like, I can’t have gotten things that wrong, right? I did use a dictionary when I was totally stumped!
Anyway, while I appreciated the creepy gothic atmosphere Gaston Leroux managed to give his opera house, I am afraid to say that the characters he created are utter morons. Our heroine, Christine Daaé, is the most indecisive person I have ever come across, and when she does finally make a decision, you seriously start to wonder whether this girl has a brain. EXCUSE ME, BUT YOU WANT TO VOLUNTARILY RETURN TO A GHOST WHO YOU THINK MIGHT KILL YOU, BECAUSE YOU’RE SCARED OF HURTING HIS FEELINGS?? I have no words… And Christine’s love interest, a creepy stalker named Raoul, is just as bad. His brain is so filled with Christine that he needs a deus-ex-machina character, “the Persian”, to show up and explain things to him whenever the plot feels the need to move forwards. Finally, there’s Erik – the phantom – who is so pathetic in his attempts to woo Christine that I couldn’t even find it in myself to feel sorry for him.
Overall, this is one of the stupidest classics I have ever read, so please, French followers of mine: Give me recommendations! I need something good to heal the scarring this reading experience has inflicted upon my brain cells!
#5 Midnight in Everwood by M.A. Kuzniar
(read in February)
Midnight in Everwood is, without a doubt, one of the worst retellings I have read in my life. I was promised a lyrical fairytale based on The Nutcracker. What I got instead was
- pages upon pages of characters staring into each other’s butterscotch eyes and realizing they loved each other without any kind of build-up whatsoever,
- an I’m-not-like-other-girls protagonist so desperate to prove how unlike other girls she was that she made incredibly stupid decisions no girl in her right mind (or anyone else, for that matter) ever would, and
- writing so littered with ballet references that I was seriously starting to wonder whether the author expected a letter of praise from me, congratulating her on how much research she had done for this book.
Overall, I was not a fan. And the fact that people are comparing this to Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy is absolutely infuriating! 😤
#6 Solitaire by Alice Oseman
(read in July)
As much as I adore Tori Spring, Solitaire was just… not it. I did very much appreciate Tori’s sarcasm and how protective she was of her friends and family, but, like, this book was so boring?? Seriously, right until the very dramatic and over-the-top ending, nothing happened! All we got to see was Tori going to parties and making a ton of pop culture references!
Then, the ending. I’m sorry, Alice Oseman – I love some of your books to pieces, but what were you thinking with this one? That was your big reveal for the reasoning behind Solitaire? And the romance-makes-life-worth-living trope? Really?? Plus, I never felt like we got any real character development. Instead, people’s emotions just flip-flopped around for additional drama, and I was not a fan.
So yeah – if you want to get into Alice Oseman’s books, maybe don’t start with this one? 😅
#7 The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley
(read in July)
Let me preface this by saying that I absolutely love the rest of Natasha Pulley’s The Watchmaker of Filigree Street series. So don’t you dare let me having disliked The Bedlam Stacks put you off reading the other two books! This installment doesn’t really add anything to the overarching plot anyway and follows different characters, so it’s not like you’re going to miss out if you skip it…
Anyway, my main complaint about The Bedlam Stacks is that I found it mind-numbingly boring. The entire plot rests upon a twist that I guessed within the first fifty pages, and the characters, who are on a journey into the Peruvian mountains to illegally harvest trees needed to cure malaria, spend almost the entire book staring at salt formations or weird pollen glowing in the air. When members of the expedition die, everyone else shrugs it off as though nothing has happened almost immediately, and there are also several characters – especially female ones – who are painstakingly introduced only to never get any page time again. Which obviously made for wonderful character development.
So yeah – The Bedlam Stacks completely missed its mark with me 😅 It was lyrical and atmospheric, I’ll give it that, but otherwise, I just didn’t see what the point of it was.
#8 The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake
Honestly? The more I think about The Atlas Six, the more I hate it. There are probably plenty of books I read in 2022 that I enjoyed less while I was reading them, but my anger at how this book managed to constantly hint at things but never deliver on its promises is so great that The Atlas Six most definitely deserves this spot on this list! 😡
I spent hundreds of pages exploring characters that were never developed in any way whatsoever, being told – but not shown – that they were part of a secret society that gave them enormous advantages, watching everyone have sex with one another, and reading lots and lots of fancy sounding words that gave The Atlas Six a pretentious flair but were ultimately completely meaningless. The only truly noteworthy plot point happens right at the very end of the book and is probably meant to be this huge, shocking twist. Well, Olivie Blake, in order for something to be a plot twist, you have to actually build up to it! You can’t just withhold all information from your readers and then expect mind-blown enthusiasm when they are hit over the head with it!
Anyway, I am at an absolute loss as to why this is so popular. Did all of you read a different book than I did?
#9 Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
(read in March)
I had heard rumors that Brandon Sanderson’s debut novel wasn’t the greatest – but boy, Elantris really is a mess! 😂 The writing was positively eye-roll-inducing – I never want to read another “sule”, “kolo”, or stubbed toe joke again in my life, thank you very much! -, the characters were annoyingly perfect but somehow still astonishingly stupid, and the number of plot conveniences was truly astounding. What a way to ruin a premise that was actually quite interesting! And then I didn’t even gain any great Cosmere insights!
The only thing that somewhat redeemed Elantris for me and probably saved it from getting a higher spot on this list is the fact that I buddy read it with Line @ First Line Reader. Having someone to complain to made this book go from “bad” to “so terrible that it’s kind of funny again”, so thank you for braving this ordeal with me, Line!
(Also, please tell me that our shared suffering over this and The Atlas Six at least partially makes up for me putting The Bedlam Stacks higher up on the list than both of our awful buddy reads? 🥺💙)
#10 The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid
(read in November)
Although miles better than any of the other books on this list, The Wolf and the Woodsman unfortunately still wasn’t all that great. Which made it all the more disappointing because it so easily could have been!
The setting was perfect – think creepy woods, a gruesome magic system, and lots of inspiration from Hungarian folklore. However, The Wolf and the Woodsman failed to use that atmosphere for anything other than, well, atmosphere. The magic system was name-dropped, but never explained. The Hungarian inspiration was thrown into the story by confronting the protagonists with random mythological encounters that never connected to form a greater, overarching plot.
And the character development was equally terrible! I’m still not sure why the prince we were supposed to be rooting for was a better ruler than the villain because, let’s face it, he was never home, had no ideas on how to improve his country other than asking for magical help, and seemed way more interested in banging a girl he had only just met than doing anything to help his subjects.
Speaking of banging – that hate-to-love romance this book so proudly advertises? It’s a joke. The characters hate each other for all of ten pages before they start having the first not-safe-for-work thoughts about one another. Which is also the extent of depth their relationship ever amounts to.
All in all, I was not a fan.
So there you have it – those were my ten least favorite books of 2022!
However, since there are still a few other books I did not particularly enjoy or was incredibly disappointed by, I don’t think it’d be fair to deprive you of honorable mentions 😁 So here are a few more books I wouldn’t necessarily recommend checking out:
Also, if you still haven’t had enough of my rants, you can find the worst books I read in previous years here:
Anyway, I’m very sorry if I offended your favorites 😜 You’re welcome to try to convince me of their greatness, even if we don’t see eye to eye!
Or, if you agree with me on how awful these books were, I would love to hear all about your terrible reading experiences, too. After all, shared suffering makes pain so much more bearable!
So, either way, feel free to tell me your thoughts!