Mini-reviews: the worst reads of 2015

Of 118 books I read this year, only four merited a one-star review. And to be honest, I probably should have seen them coming.

But every book is a learning experience, and every book deserves to be celebrated, so here they are in all their glory: my worst reads of 2015.

The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train / Paula Hawkins

I was surprised to hate this novel, since it’s been a staple on bestseller lists since it came out. Then again, maybe that should have been a warning sign. After all, you know what else rocked bestseller lists for far too long? Fifty Shades of Grey. Hawkins presents an interesting scenario – a woman on a train thinks she might have seen the key to a murder – and muddles it with a thoroughly unlikeable narrator. She whines. She lies. She snivels. She tries to manipulate those around her, and fails, and then cries about it. I couldn’t find a single sympathetic fibre in my being to resonate with this protagonist. The synopsis for this book really is ripping, but it falls unfortunately flat in practice. Too bad.

Atonement

Atonement / Ian McEwan

This was the first McEwan I’ve read, and it might be the last. On the other hand, I generally dislike war narratives and historical fiction and books that span decades, so Atonement was stacked against me from the get-go. On the other hand, according to this poll from the Reader’s Room, I find myself in a fairly cosy company – one in five people hated Atonement as much as I did. For those of you unfamiliar with this novel, the short version: inaccurate rape accusations ruin lives and families, and so does war. There’s a didactic central moral about seeking and creating forgiveness, which is about as entertaining as it sounds.

Hunting Ground

Hunting Ground / Patricia Briggs

I’ve long had a soft spot for Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series. What’s not to like about a female mechanic with a history degree who can turn into a coyote? Hunting Ground is set in the same world and follows a parallel set of characters, but seems to hit all the terrible tropes of the supernatural romance genre – while simultaneously dropping all the aspects that made Mercy such a badass heroine to root for. Ultimately, Hunting Ground  turned into a soup of weirdly earnest emotions, seasoned with dialogue that had me literally rolling my eyes. Good grief.

Two MonthsTwo Months in the Camp of Big Bear / Theresa Delaney and Theresa Gowanlock

This one hardly counts because it was forced on me as something I had to read for school. The rest of the course was quite good, but this novel – thankfully the shortest work of the course – was definitely the low point. Two settler women are kidnapped by the local indigenous people and taken on a trek through the wilderness, forced to to give up their belongings and bake bannock. It sounds sensational and almost interesting, but instead these two women become close friends, cobble together a sort of partnership with a sympathetic family, and bake bannock until they’re rescued. In short: a tragic and yet somehow boring kidnapping culminates in a sort of Stockholm syndrome through sheer lack of energy. And then it ends. Ugh. I love CanLit, but I draw the line at eighteenth-century novels.

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2 thoughts on “Mini-reviews: the worst reads of 2015

  1. Nice to know I’m not the only one who can’t stand Attonement! McEwan’s writing style is interesting but the books themselves are often about as entertaining as watching grass die.

    Like

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