Most Disappointing Books of 2021

Once I’d reviewed my year of reading and discovered the books that most surprised me in 2021, I knew I had to talk about the books that most disappointed me next. With the marketing hype machines that are publishing houses and authors’ Twitter accounts, you never can tell which books will become soured by disappointment upon finally experiencing them, no matter how excited or hopeful you were for them.

It wasn’t that these books merely fell short of the mark; they were depressingly bad in ways that made me feel like the hype I had for them was silly and wasteful. Many of these books also debuted in 2021, and that in and of itself is a depressing thought. Are books getting worse? Or are my expectations as a reader becoming unwieldy and unrealistic? In an era where stories are becoming bigger and bigger franchises with over-the-top visuals, rehashed plots, and plot-disarming twists, can we be surprised by anything anymore? Have we seen it all?

I don’t think so. While an original story can be groundbreaking, any story that is well-told will travel farther regardless if we have seen its like before or not.

How, then, did the following books fail to live up to my expectations? Time to find out.

Most Disappointing Books of 2021

Persephone Station by Stina Leicht

Look at that cover! Isn’t it cool? Well, that’s all the cool factor you get with Persephone Station. I was promised a high-stakes adventure and space opera in the vein of The Mandalorian and Cowboy Bebop with an all-queer cast. What I got instead was an incredibly dull 500-page slog with equally dull characters. Each character had a profession and sexuality assigned to them, and that was the extent of who they were. In addition, everyone’s relationships had already been formed before the novel, and nobody had friction with anybody. There was Some Evil Corporation the group had to overcome, but I never once was encouraged to care about it. I started off my 2021 with this book, so you can imagine how unenthused I was after the fact; that’s where Unsounded came in to save my life.

I mean, gosh, when are people going to learn? Never compare yourself to Cowboy Bebop; you’ll never be Cowboy Bebop.

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Book Review: Lakesedge

Title: Lakesedge
Lyndall Clipstone
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
ebook – ARC
Page Count: 
Henry Holt and Co.
Synopsis: GoodReads | StoryGraph
Notable Notables: 
Original fantasy world, a death god is here
Recommended Readers: 
Young adult readers who like emotional stories
CAWPILE Rating: 4.57
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher, for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

My Review

Violeta Graceling travels with her younger brother, Arien, to Lakesedge estate, expecting to be at the mercy of the Monster of Lakesedge. The lord of the estate, Rowan Sylvanan, is said to have drowned his parents and brother in the lake. However, once she arrives, neither lord nor lake are what they seem. She discovers that Rowan has a connection to the Lord Under, a sinister death god that makes bargains for a terrible price. She vows to save Rowan, the estate, and herself, all while discovering why she is also being drawn to the Lord Under.

I was so, so hopeful for Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone, a novel that promised to be about monsters and magic, told in a lush gothic style—but was it truly a gothic work in the end?

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