book reviews, spoiler warning!

Popular Books that Let Me Down–The Disappointing, The Heartbreaking, and The “Huuuh?”

I’m a firm believer that reading is subjective, and what you like is what you like, while what you dislike is what you dislike. Just because my best friend likes something, it doesn’t automatically mean I must like it. That also doesn’t say anything bad about either of our preferences, because not one is better than the other. But the expectations are there. And we must admit that with expectations, come disappointments. Hence, our own different piles of disappointing books that other people have hyped for us – or maybe we hyped up to ourselves.

Surely, there’s no one book that everyone will agree on. As there’s not one thing that everyone will agree on. It’s just the way of life.

But it is always an interesting experience to read something so hyped up by a lot of our friends, in this case the book community and promising first books of a series, and going through it NOT getting what the hype is all about. 😅


Here’s my own pile of books that have let me down, one way or another. Some are first books that I just did not get, some are sequels that did NOT live up to the excitement of its predecessor, while some are whole series that aren’t necessarily bad, but it wasn’t as great as everyone made it out to be.

There it is: The Spoiler Warning

Also, just to flag it here clearly that this may contain minor spoilers! I’ll try my best to not say anything that reveals the plot in a big way, but I’m going to need to mention some things as to why I feel a certain way about these titles.

Children of Virtue and Vengeance (COBAB #2) by Tomi Adeyemi

This series was one of my, and a lot of other YA Fantasy fans’, most anticipated reads of 2020, because the first book was just so rich, compelling, and it featured a great sisterly friendship in its center. It follows Zélie, her brother, and the escaped princess, who are in a mission to bring magic back in this incredibly dark and ruthless world. After the events of the first book, readers (myself included) were really looking forward to see how the world would expand even more, and where our band of characters will go next to rediscover magic, and bring it fully back into the land of Orïsha.

Frankly, the sequel just did not do it for me. Yes, the world expanded, and the conflict got about 10x more complicated, BUT where did all the relationship and friendship we built in book 1 go???? Like, why does no one communicate here?


I think that was the most frustrating part. One thing to note about me is that I really DISLIKE conflicts that could easily be resolved by just talking to someone. In this case, talking to your friend! You know, that friend who you literally went on a mission with to save the world? Yeah, a lot of the conflict in this sequel came from two people–no, two friends–disregarding one another with their decision-making, until everything blows up in their faces.

I don’t think I’ll be reading Book 3 unless I hear amazing things about it. 

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

To be fair, this is the one book on this list that I want to reread to fully determine if I like it or not. In this world, eight beautiful young women are chosen as “Paper Girls”–consorts to the King–but our lead character is the surprise ninth. And she just entered her worst nightmare.

I remember reading this 2-3 years ago, and admittedly completely missing the TRIGGER WARNING in the first few pages, and just going in clueless of what to expect. I think a major part of my disappointment of this book is the fact that there are violent scenes of sexual assault here, and I was not prepared. I’m pretty sure that after that scene, I just couldn’t take in the story anymore. Which is a shame, because the premise of this is actually really good, and it ended on an interesting note hinting on a rebellion against the monarchy.

The caste system is also intriguing, and sets up such unique dynamics between the Moon caste (most powerful group made up of “demons”–represented by animals), Paper (the oppressed human people), and Steel (mixed creatures of human and demon blood). Although my first experience wasn’t the best with this one, I want to give it another try with a clearer mind that’s now fully aware of its triggering content.

Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima

Welp, I already know that a lot of people will disagree with this–and I completely understand! You might also be wondering what this series is doing on this list, as it’s part of my Essential YA Fantasy Book Guide for those who sign up to join the Mail Club. And let me explain!

I think this series is definitely one that YA Fantasy fans must read, because it’s truly up there as one of the foundations of this genre. It has incredible world-building, amazing character development, and a plot that’s… well, that’s where I was let down, to be honest.


If you follow my Bookstagram, you probably know the journey I went through to review this whole series. A lot of ups and downs, let me tell you. And not because the story isn’t exciting or interesting at all, far from that actually.

It’s just that as someone who enjoys taking apart stories and studying storytelling, I have some issues with the overall pacing of the series. We have 4 books, and some honestly just feels like a prequel for the next in terms of plot. The characters all go through a specific thing per book, so it doesn’t feel as lacking. For that, they were incredibly well-fleshed out. There were just a lot of moments, especially in the first books, where I wondered what the plot even is, outside the characters’ own development.

And as a series that was so highly spoken of in the book community, I just didn’t expect that to be a problem. But, if you go in without the need to dissect every little detail, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy this one still!

Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi

Another beloved series that I just didn’t get.. Perhaps because I read this years after its prime, which from what I know was around the same time as other popular dystopian titles like The Hunger Games, Divergent, etc. first started coming out. A lot of people told me that it gets better after the first book, but I just couldn’t push myself to buy and read the next one to get to that good part. 🙃

The story follows Juliet in this dystopian world. She literally can’t touch anyone, as the last time she accidentally did, she got locked up in jail for murder. Now, the same organization that locked her up, wants to use her as a weapon.

It’s usually the type of story that I would have looooved to devour at 13. But I read this at 21, and it just didn’t have the same effect. By then, the latter parts of the series were already out–which was getting so much love and hype–and I wanted to see what the fuss was all about. Suffice to say, I’m definitely not the target market for it anymore. 😅

Let me know what you think!

  • What popular books have let you down?
  • Or, even if they weren’t popular, what are some disappointing books for you?
  • Have you read any of the titles on the list? Do you agree?

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