What I Didn’t Like in 2014: Books that Failed to Appeal

Favorite lists are highly subjective, I know. I end up liking most of what I read in a given year, probably because by now I’m very familiar with my own tastes and I read a lot of book reviews. Yet it still happens that I sit down with a book I fully expect to like, and when I put it down I think something along the lines of WTF.

So, these are those for 2014:

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I have to admit I’m also probably one of a very few who didn’t like her first highly-praised novel, The Secret History. But enough time had passed and the reviews for this one were so glowing that I decided to give it a try. I liked about the first third of the novel, then simply stopped caring about the main character.

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue. I loved Slammerkin so I was happy to hear Donoghue was returning to historical fiction after her popular and gripping Room. For me, this was also a failure of characters. The plot and setting were irresistible but the characters left me flat.

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. I think my heart skipped a few beats when I found out Mitchell had a new novel coming out. His Cloud Atlas is one of my all-time favorites, and I also liked Black Swan Green and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. Although I found the character of Holly Sykes fascinating, the story spun out of control, and not in a good way.

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber. Comparisons to Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow should have tipped me off because I was hugely disappointed in that novel. I understand Faber was going for the whole moody thing here, but for me there was either too much or it or too little.

Tomorrow I’ll continue with my Best of 2014 list.

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