As 2023 has come to a close, I have begun reflecting on my most proudest accomplishment of the year- the 50 books I read. I gave myself a Goodreads goal of 50 books and throughout reading those 16,334 pages, I have laughed, cried, gasped, rolled my eyes, and screamed. If you yourself are a reader, you’ll be able to understand how emotionally affected one can become after reading a really good book. You’ll also be able to understand the levels of disappointment when a book you’ve spent so much time reading is just absolutely terrible.
Reading as many books as I have this year, I’ve come across a few books that were pretty horrible to me (despite what every other review may have said on Goodreads). And so, as part of my year in review for books, here are the top 5 worst books I read in 2023.
5. Things We Never Got Over (Knockemout #1), Lucy Score
This novel, released in 2022, explores Naomi’s journey in a rundown town called Knockemout, where she finds herself after running away from her wedding. There, however, she runs into more trouble when she is forced to take custody her estraged twin sister Tina’s daughter she’s never even met, Waylay. They are left destitude with no home, job, friends, and having to deal with the legal trouble Tina has gotten herself into. That’s not all, though.
The most troublesome thing to come out of her situation is meeting Knox Morgan- the gruff man who doesn’t want a relationship, drama, or complications, especially within his town. They’ll end up falling in love, of course, and Naomi will inevitably change Knox’s ways. The “I hate everyone but you” trope seems way too unrealistic for a 40-something year old man; these characters were predictable and cringy, especially Knox, and Knockemout just felt too cliche. 500 pages, arguably, seems like way too much for a story I knew the ending of, even from the beginning.
4. Boy Parts, Eliza Clark
Boy Parts, unfortunately, failed to live up to my expectations. I was so excited to read this debut novel- it’s not too old of a book (being published in 2020) and I hadn’t found out about it from BookTok, Goodreads, or Instagram. I found it on my own and was excited to share it, especially if it was as good as I thought it was going to be.
The main character, Irina, is offered an exhibition for her photography at a popular London gallery. This, however, triggers a downward spiral for her as she becomes obsessive with her art– that being, taking photos of random men. This book is dark, mysterious, and weird, in both good ways and bad. Sometimes Irina’s character was scary and at the end, some very psychotic things about her were revealed.
The book was very well done and definitely unique, however, it wasn’t really my cup of tea and has not rated too high on Goodreads, either. It’s pretty far-fetched for somewhat of a realistic storyline and I think that’s where its downfall mainly lies.
3. Things We Hide From the Light (Knockemout #2), Lucy Score
Things We Hide From the Light is the continuation of Knockemout’s story, released earlier this year. Continuing with the troubles Tina has left the main characters in, this novel follows Knox’s brother Nash, the chief of police. As well as Lina, a stranger in the town who’s come in to secretly solve Tina’s case. Nash was shot while dealing with Tina’s case in the previous book and has now become plagued with anxiety and depression. Lina will be able to breathe him back to life as they fall in love, however, she will keep secret the reason she is actually in Knockemout.
Okay, number 1. Why are the names in this book so similar? Lina and Tina? Waylay and Waylon (Knox’s dog, who has more of a storyline than Waylay)?
And number 2, while this book was more bearable than the first, I just can’t wrap it around my mind that Lucy Score felt the need to write another book and make this a series. She is stretching these books out as much as she possibly can, totaling over 1,000 pages so far, with another story in the trilogy. How many more can she possibly do? There is only a population of, like, 300 in Knockemout!
2. Twisted Love, Ana Huang
The amount of praise I have seen from this novel is insane. Similarly to Knockemout, Twisted Love is also a part of a series where each book follows a different character from the main friend group. Personally, that is not my favorite thing.
This novel, however, is about Ava, the bubbly, happy sunshine girl, whose brother sends his best and most trusted friend, Alex, to protect her. From what? I’m not sure. Alex is dark, mysterious, and noncommittal– i.e., the complete opposite of Ava. This story somehow goes from a secret romance between them as they sneak around, to Alex actually planning to commit manslaughter and kill the man who murdered his family. And somehow, one of Ava’s best friends, the princess of fantasy country Eldorra, exists within this same universe.
This book actually had a crazy plot twist, apart from what I mentioned above, which was very shocking. But overall, I felt that the book was all over the place. The characters were basic and mundane, and so even though the storyline could have been pretty cool, the execution didn’t allow for it.
1. Meet Me At the Lake, Carley Fortune
Oh my. While this was not even that bad of a book, it ranks as the worst one I read in 2023 because of the disappointment I felt. I was so let down by this book. Carly Fortune, who before Meet Me At the Lake, wrote Every Summer After. It was an incredible and beautiful tale about childhood friends to lovers, following the characters from their early teenage years to their adult lives. Meet Me At the Lake absolutely did not live up to it, though.
Fern and Will only have one day to spend with each other, but plan to meet up the next year. But, what happens when Will doesn’t show up? What happens when Fern strays from her family business in order to find herself? What will happen when the two of them suddenly reconnect after 10 years apart; will the original spark still be there?
Of course, the spark was still there and they found it eventually. However, that was not the problem with the story. Throughout the whole book, Fern was described as this reckless teenager full of secrets and, one night, she let those out in full force. That’s how it was depicted, anyway. I was so excited to find out what happened- did she find out her dad wasn’t actually her dad (that’s another part of the story I won’t get into), did she set her family business on fire? Nope. She got drunk. Like, that’s literally it.
These are just my opinions. The R-Hi does not endorse any of these books and reading is at the viewer’s discretion. You may have loved these books, or hated them, too- if you have any other opinions, feel free to reach out! Happy new year!