I think we all try not to spread negativity on our blogs, but a negative review is at times just irresistible. I am now recovering from a rather bad reading spell, having read a number of disappointing books recently, and have decided on this tag to both vent my feelings and maybe ward off others. This is a re-worked by me tag which I first spotted at The Bookish Mutant and the original creator is The Reader’s Game. If you decide to do this tag as well, I would love to read your answers.
A Disappointing Debut
The Moviegoer  by Walker Percy. I know how popular and admired this book is, but I only found it exasperating and disappointing. I love films, books with existential themes and New Orleans-set novels, so I assumed this would be a perfect book for me. I was wrong, and I still do not understand how this book could have won the National Book Award in 1962 over such books as Salinger’s Franny and Zooey, Heller’s Catch-22 and Yates’s Revolutionary Road (one of my favourite books). Having said all that, I do have Percy’s Lancelot  on my TBR and it looks like I may like it more.
An Author with a Novel You Love, and a Novel You Dislike
Kazuo Ishiguro. I love his book The Remains of the Day  and dislike his most recent sci-fi novel Klara and the Sun . In fact, since I read the book my dislike for it only deepened. The film rights for this book have already been acquired, and for those who cannot wait that long, there is another similar film to check out – Kogonada’s After Yang , a tale about one family’s coping strategies after their artificial intelligence “helper” has broken down. Amazingly, as I write this, I am also becoming aware that Kogonada was actually influenced to make this film by one of the quotes from Percy’s The Moviegoer! (talking about coincidences).
A Disappointing Non-Fiction
I can even name three: Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist  by Christoph Koch, which I found annoying, with little insight offered on consciousness, but with many obvious statements, as well as filled to the brim with random and confusing personal ramblings on various non-science topics (including faith) which only expose this eminent neuroscientist as both naïve and quite ignorant; My Penguin Year: Life Among the Emperors  by Lindsay McCrae, which provides scant information on the actual penguins, but much moaning about the author’s virtually non-existent and unsympathetic “hardships”; and France: A History: From Gaul to de Gaulle  by John Julius Norwich, which is a very strange “concise” history of France with much bias and selective presentation inside.
Great Idea, Poor Execution
Mr Cadmus  by Peter Ackroyd. I enjoyed the beginning of this story and Ackroyd’s idea of a satire, but the second half just did not deliver. This is a tale of two spinsters living in a quiet English village whose lives “overturn” by the arrival of one mysterious foreigner.
Novel Where the Characters Change in a Bad Way
I loved Osamu Dazai’s bleak No Longer Human , but surprised myself by not liking much his novel The Setting Sun . I though this book about the “crumbling Japanese aristocracy just after the World War II” had a strong beginning, but fell apart mid-way through. Besides, I was not impressed by the characterisations, nor their developments throughout the story.
Are there any books that you have found disappointing recently or maybe not living up to your expectations?