Reading isn’t for many, though it does spark the interest of others that seek quiet comfort, especially when the months get colder. Though reading can be fun, it can also be a tolling task where you feel committed to a book that you just don’t want to read; a long-winded, horrible piece of literature that should have never met with the printing press. That’s what I’m going to tell you about today: the absolute most disgusting books that I have ever laid my eyes on, books that took me the span of multiple weeks to get through, yet read them anyway out of pure pity. This article is meant to heed naive readers of the horrors, or the extreme boredom, of these books that I had unfortunately subjected myself to. So let’s begin this warning, or more appropriately a book rant.
My first pick, A Double Life, by Flynn Berry
A short description:
Starting off strong with one of the worst pieces of writing I have ever read. So let’s travel back to the beginning of why I had even picked this book up. It was a solemn midday at Books-A-Million, where I had unfortunately decided to travel to the bargain section in an attempt to find a good book for a good buck, silly of me to ever think this. After searching the aisle I decided to pick up a book with an intriguing title and an interesting description to match, though this book was anything but interesting. No wonder it was only seven dollars; I should’ve known better. Anyway, here goes the summary; in this read, you follow from the perspective of a middle-aged woman named Claire. Claire is haunted by the murder of her nanny, and the later death of her mother, both inflicted by her father. Her father, with the help of a few friends, commits this crime and then disappears shortly after, his whereabouts never being found. Claire became obsessed with finding her father and having him arrested, having a police unit keep a watchful eye for any possible spottings. Eventually, Claire finds the daughter of one of her father’s accomplices and befriends her to gain information on her father’s whereabouts. She ends up blackmailing said “friend” and finds that her father has been living in a small town. She goes there and begins to look for him, and eventually finds him while visiting a store. From there she investigates his house and attempts to dig up evidence to have him prosecuted where he almost kills her in the process. She ends up killing him out of self defense and places his body to make it look like he had drowned.
There were so many parts of this book I absolutely despised, so many that it consumes basically the entirety of the book, so really the only thing left to like is that it’s a hardcover. Starting off with the writing style, Berry basically writes the entirety of this book like a flashback with no interesting description whatsoever. It was like reading a research paper or an oven manual, though I bet this book wouldn’t even be half as interesting. The lack of figurative language matched perfectly with the character, Claire. This main character had to be the most mundane cardboard cutout “traumatized,” character whose perspective has ever been forced to experience.. She lacked anything interesting. Her inner thoughts read out as the back of a Betty-Crocker brownie mix box, like the instruction of events. The lack of interest in this character carries into the rest of them. The thoughts all simply exist, no personality, they’re just there to carry- no, not even to carry the plot. They are simply just there and contribute nothing.
In regards to the actual plot, this differs! Just kidding! It’s still terrible! The majority of this book just leads up to the climax with mounds and mounds of filler that consisted of flashbacks, with most not contributing to the plot in any sort of way. Flashbacks to Claire’s mother’s and nanny’s deaths, yes that was important, but flashbacks to when she was making cookies with her nanny, her mom and dad making bread, what does this have to do with anything? When Claire finally finds her father and his residents she decides to break in and find any evidence to convict him. Doesn’t this sound interesting? If she didn’t spend the majority of this talking about a dowel maybe it would’ve been. Finally, Claire decides to report her father to the police, but before she does, she decides to locate him. What is the point of this I will never know?**Spoiler alert in case you decide to read this dumpster fire** When she decides to swim and wait for him (don’t ask) she sees a figure on the beach. It ends up being her father who had come there to drown her, he then proceeds to attempt this in broad daylight and was easily killed with one smack from a rock. This is the climax Berry spent almost 200+ pages leading up to, and it only lasts for a paragraph at best. A miserable lead-up was only met with an even more mundane ending, killing any last bit of hope for this novel to contain any sort of interest.
My second pick, The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert
A short (spoilery!) Description:
During this read, you follow from the point of view of Alice, a teenage girl that has spent much of her life on the road with her mother with a constant feeling that the continuous moves are Alice’s fault. When her grandmother dies, the creator of an enchanting fantasy world [the Hazelwood] with a cultish fanbase, Alice finds out just how bad her luck can get. Her mother is kidnapped without a trace with a message stating, “Stay out of the Hazelwood.” With the help of her newfound friend Finch, she must find her mom and discover the secrets of Hazelwood. Alice soon finds that the stories of the Hazelwood are real, and exist in the “halfway woods,” During this journey to get to the halfway wood, Alice loses her friend Finch who later reappears as older and madly in love with a character he met during his stay, causing him to go back to the halfway wood rather than returning to reality. Alice ends up reuniting with her mother and settling back into normal life.
Okay, before I start in on why I hated this book, I must give a full-fledged disclosure that I in fact did not hate this book, well, not entirely. I rather only hated part of it or the part that, in my opinion, is the most important: the ending. I must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed the majority of this book. I thought this was well written and the author had done an excellent job developing the characters to make them liked by the readers, and in turn, grow attachments to them. Overall, the plot delicately unfolded in a way that kept me wanting to turn the page despite a large portion of the novel being built up to the climax. However, after the climax is where the writing and the overall content begin to decline. The fantasy aspects that had made the story charming became more and more outlandish as I got deeper into the “turning point” of the story; this is where the writing began to feel cheap and somewhat corny, feeling almost like Albert was adding random pieces of the plot just to add them and to somehow build up this mystical word only leaving the story with many plot holes and an unfinished feel.
One important aspect that ended up really bothering me during this read was the sudden change in a love interest. Throughout the story, Albert had been alluding to a relationship between Alice and Finch until the climax where Finch allegedly dies (he should’ve stayed dead). From there on, all of the relationships formed between them were just cut off, and Finch was given another love interest out of the blue, some random bar wench from the halfway wood. It was upsetting just due to the author making it so that the reader rooted for them as a couple, just to end up scrapping the whole relationship that she spent almost the entire book developing.
Overall, the ending completely spoiled every other aspect of this novel, leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth when I finished this read. The entirety of all the aspects of this book I liked was basically wiped from my memory, leaving me with the memory of this horrible ending that becomes more and more outlandish as it went on. It was almost as if you went on a roller coaster. Yeah, it’s fun at first, but then you begin to feel sick, horrible, and like you want to die. This is exactly how this book feels: fun and cheery but ending with a horrible sickening bang.
My third pick, The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
A short description:
After a divorce, Rachel Watson takes the same commuter train every day to her work in New York. She passes the same houses as well. When the train makes a stop, she’s able to see into a specific house, so she sees this couple eating breakfast every day. She peers into their life so much, she feels as though she knows them. When the woman who lives in that house goes missing, she feels like it’s her responsibility to solve the case. At the same time, Rachel’s struggling to get over an alcohol problem. After butting in with her conspiracies during the case, the husband of the missing woman doesn’t appreciate it. It results in a dangerous ending.
This book started out as a mess and ended up a mess. You never knew what was happening, in a bad way, not in an exciting engaging way. I honestly hated this book from the start to finish. It was popular for a while, and I was pretty much getting back into reading, so I thought it might be a good choice. There wasn’t much character build-up, or at least not enough, and there was a lot left up to you to figure out and guess. It was also confusing the whole book, it’s like while she was writing another part, she forgot to go back and tie up the other part. I can’t stand not finishing a book, but I read multiple books in between reading this book. Anytime I picked it up, I just wanted to cry. It could have just been a misunderstanding, but the book is not worth the hype that it receives. The main character, Rachel, was always drunk, so sometimes she thought she saw something but it was really confusing because the book gave you no insight if she actually saw it or was imagining it. I get the point of her being a drunk, but sometimes it just got too annoying, to be honest. The ending was also horrific. Probably the worst ending I’ve ever read. It’s supposed to be a mystery, but it just got to the point where it was aggravating and undesirable. It’s also a movie, but I can’t bring myself to watch it. If it’s as bad as the book, I’m disappointed in humans.
My fourth book, Into The Water, also by Paula Hawkins
A short description:
This book starts off where we’re told multiple women have been known to commit suicide in “the drowning pool.” The most recent ones are significant to these cases. First, a 15-year-old girl; for a while, no one knows why this seemingly happy, smart 15-year-old had committed suicide. Then, the mother of the girl’s best friend had been writing a book on the drowning pool and digging up things people didn’t want to talk about. At first, everyone believed Nel had something to do with it. But after talking to multiple people and the girl’s best friend, Lena, they realize there’s a lot more to the story that was happening in the background.
First off, I had read The Girl On The Train first and obviously hated it. But I was thinking maybe it was just the book and not the author, so I found this at a thrift store and picked it up because I wanted to give her writing another try. Never again. Maybe mystery/thrillers aren’t her thing. I didn’t hate this book as much as I hated The Girl On the Train, but I didn’t like it at all. I kept thinking maybe it would get better, but it just didn’t. It had eleven points of view. Eleven. And the only one I actually enjoyed reading was Lena’s view. I definitely didn’t feel it was necessary to have that many, it honestly just became really confusing and annoying. Another thing was the actual plots in the book. I picture the “drowning pool” as more of a beach, my brain just can’t comprehend how it could be a pool. The way she described it in the book was as if you were sitting on a beach and walking out into the water. One of the main points of the book was how the 15-year-old had a relationship with her teacher, so that was also just unsettling, uncomfortable, and weird. I wanted to read a mystery, not an illegal relationship. I just feel like the title of the book and the main plots inside the book just don’t work and it kinda throws it off. The title sounds way more interesting than it actually is. Another plot that was weird was the overall relationships between the people in the town. Everyone has this eerie dynamic, but it’s not in an interesting way, just like we didn’t really get to know the characters well before the book got to the climax, and then you’re just left with information that doesn’t seem fitting. There were also some scenes in this book that was just abrupt or didn’t make sense. I may just not understand her type of writing, but I just don’t like it. It always feels like something is missing. Reading this book went super slow, and I couldn’t start a new book. I see what she’s trying to do with her books, but to be honest I feel like she doesn’t execute them well. The ending was just something else. It hurt my brain the whole time reading it. It felt like multiple things didn’t stack up. The ending wasn’t terrible, but it was still bad. It could’ve been so much better. At one point, in the end, two characters were confronted about the murders, and the conversation was so hard to follow. One of them was taking the blame, but it sounded like he was taking the blame for her, and she had actually done it, which wasn’t the case. The police in this book also seemed very unrealistic. I questioned pretty much every move they made. When I finished this book, I was jumping with joy and hula-hooping.
April Chahmirian, Staff Writer
Sophomore April Chahmirian is a staff writer for the 2022-2023 Colonel Newsmagazine. She likes reading and counting down the days until Halloween.
Josie Withbroe, Staff Writer
Sophomore Josie Withbroe is a staff writer for the 2022-2023 Colonel Newsmagazine. She enjoys sewing, knitting and other grandma activities.