The CLUNKERS of 2012

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The CLUNKERS of 2012

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Edited: Dec 24, 2012, 11:13am

For the 7th year in a row, here's the place to post your "clunkers" of the year: the books you just couldn't get through, the ones you threw across the room, or the books you finished but really disliked. Go ahead, tell us how you really feel! :-)

Post one or several and tell us why it gets your vote as a clunker.

Worst of 2006

Worst of 2007

Worst of 2008

Worst of 2009

Worst of 2010

Worst of 2011

Remember, one reader's clunker is another reader's treasure!

Dec 24, 2012, 11:50am

Shadow of Night, ADiscovery of Witches and the entire 50 Shades of Gray Series are my clunkers of the year

Edited: Dec 24, 2012, 1:50pm

I'm not sure these are actually clunkers. They just didn't work for me. One was overwhelmingly rated higher by others, but either I saw things they didn't or they ignored things I couldn't. Another, I believe, was an experiment by the author. I appreciated that she was spreading her wings, but it didn't work for me. So, the two which I thought should have, but didn't, work for me:

Code Name Verity
Wickett's Remedy

Dec 24, 2012, 3:47pm

I haven't read anything from start to finish this year that I really disliked; but the two that didn't do it for me were The Cellist of Sarajevo which I found too aware of itself by half (and not particularly well written), and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which seems even less plausible now than it did at the time.

Dec 24, 2012, 3:52pm

I should add that I began The Suspicions of Mr Whicher but only made it as far as the prologue. Are we to count books that we couldn't finish?

Dec 24, 2012, 8:16pm

I hear you about books just not working for me. And the one I did not like has been recommended by literally hundreds of book club members and forum participants. I could not really stand Gone Girl. It just did not grab me like it did others.

I normally like M. C. Beaton's series (not the Agatha Raisin), but the latest (I think it was "Death of a Nag") seemed to be more poorly written than others. It was not a huge disappointment as this is really a fun series in general. But it just did not seem as amusing as others in the series.

I am very disappointed in Janet Evanovich. (Again I am being unpopular!!!) After about the #14 I found them to be really boring. They were really the same story. Stephanie had her car (or one she borrowed from Ranger) blow up and she could not decide between Ranger or her first love. Maybe she should just face that she would like have a relationship with both. (Well, while the character of Ranger might not object I am pretty sure her other on-and-off boyfriend would!!!) The only character that continues to be hilarious to me is Grandma Mazar. And by extension her mother and father and their reactions to Grandma's actions. I always laugh at her antics. But other than that..... I do recognize that there are many that still love her work. But I think she is just writing them now because she makes lots of money with each new book.

Dec 24, 2012, 9:00pm

Yes, count books you couldn't finish.

I would say Big Miracle by Tom Rose is a clunker for me. I didn't finish it because the author tried to make his opinions sound like facts.

Dec 24, 2012, 10:22pm

Clunkers of 2012
The Fight by Norman Mailer
Pretentious, obnoxious writing style, did not finish

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Nothing interesting or redeeming, did not finish

That Was Then, This is Now by SE Hinton
A disappointment, as if she was trying too hard

Beautiful Joe by Marshall Saunders
One of the most odiously preachy books I have ever read

Dec 24, 2012, 11:05pm

My clunkers - everything Agatha Raisin and (sorry to buck the status quo) Lord Peter Whimsy.

Dec 24, 2012, 11:17pm

:( Sorry about Wimsey...

Dec 25, 2012, 12:03am

The only book I started this year which I found unreadable was 11/22/63 by Stephen King.

Dec 25, 2012, 1:27am

Sorry, Fuzzi. I guess I'm spoiled by Miss Marple and Masterpeice Theater. Peter seems pretentious and idiotic at the same time. But those weren't the only ones I "Pearl-Ruled" this year. One was The Coffin Trail: A Lake District Mystery, and another was Progressive Dinner Deadly: A Myrtle Clover Mystery.

Dec 25, 2012, 10:45am

>8 fuzzi: fuzzi, I love The Fight and have read it time and again. One man's meat is another man's poison, as they say.

Dec 25, 2012, 10:55am

I had a couple ... tried, oh how I tried, to be "game" and read this series with my niece, but Pearl Ruled Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins about half-way. Could NOT hang. Suffered through Hunger Games and finished, but just barely. Horrible writing, just blech. I know, I do not fall in line with the rest of the planet. Absolutely do not get the hysteria.

What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt was the other one I could not finish. Stopped at page 83. Just terrible. She can write/structurally, but the rest was painful, characters, plot, dialog ... ugh.

The only clunker I finished, because it was an Early Review book, was The Warmest December by Bernice McFadden.

Dec 25, 2012, 10:59am

>5 cappybear:

I made it through The Suspicions of Mr Whicher in 2009 and actively disliked it. I say I made it through, but I skimmed through much of it, hoping it would get better. It didn't.

Dec 25, 2012, 1:04pm

(13)cappybear, it was his style of writing that aggravated me, not the subject.

Do you need a copy? I'm purging this library, that is!

Edited: Dec 25, 2012, 3:14pm

The Professionals by Owen Laukkanen
When I got halfway through I started rooting for the mobsters.

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
Word play for the sake of word play.

Dec 25, 2012, 4:17pm

16> Bless you, fuzzi, what a kind thought; but The Fight was one of just two books that I hung on to when I got rid of my boxing tomes a few years ago (Sting Like a Bee being the other). Thank you anyway.

I must admit I've never read anything else by Mailer.

Dec 25, 2012, 8:05pm

These books I ditched after between 60-100 pages in, all within the past couple of months:

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce: Very boring. Slow.
The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley: Time travel romance novel. I love the theme of time travel, but this one was so slow going. After 100 pgs, I think the main character had met the love interest of another era once!
The Orphanmaster by Jean Zimmerman: Interesting premise for a historical novel. I couldn't get into it. Maybe I was in the wrong mood.
The Birth House by Ami McKay: This one I picked up because I had just read & loved another of McKay's books, the recently published The Virgin Cure. But I just couldn't get into this one.

Edited: Dec 26, 2012, 8:00am

Not including DNFs. These suckers I actually got all the way through, but wish I hadn't.

The Perfect Crime - it's not
The Professionals - laugh-out-loud ludicrous and inane
The Yard - tangled, choked, and hopelessly unauthentic mess
The Fear Index - I rooted for the bad guy

and sadly Talking to Strange Men which would have worked so much better as a short story. Too long and boring and ultimately unimportant to be a successful novel.

Dec 26, 2012, 11:53am

The Perfect Crime - it's not


Dec 26, 2012, 8:45pm

Fortunately, only a few true clunkers this year. Comfort Foods and A Reliable Wife were both DNFs. The Happiness Project had a few memorable points, but overall was trite. Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck was stretched too far: should have been a New Yorker-length feature article, not a short book.

Dec 27, 2012, 1:01pm

I started 57 books this year (on the 57th and it will take me into the new year). Of those, I classify 10 of them as unsatisfactory; but these were the real clunkers:
The Tomb (repairman jack #1) number 2 will never reach my hands
The Reckoning by Jeff Long
End of Days by Robert Gleason
and Lone Creek by Neil McMahon

Dec 27, 2012, 1:46pm

Egads, how can I forget Swamplandia! ... I too tried that dog and could not make it much past page 100.

Dec 28, 2012, 5:56pm

CarolynSchroeder, that book made me want to punch a baby! Only 2 of us in my book club finished it. No one liked it!

Dec 28, 2012, 6:07pm

>19 framboise:

I also found The Orphanmaster impossible to get through. I thought the premise sounded great, but something about it just made me want to fall asleep every time I tried to read it. It also bugged me how all the "good" characters happened to be personally opposed to slavery. Really? In the 1660s? No way.

I was supremely disappointed by The Testament of Jessie Lamb. Another novel with a compelling premise, yet TERRIBLY executed. I found the narrator insufferable, but not in a standard "insufferable teenager" way -- I didn't buy her internal dialogue at all. It was as though the author purposely wanted to distance us from her. I also saw all the twists coming, which is always disappointing...

Dec 28, 2012, 6:15pm

Surprisingly little number of books that almost made me not finish them (I think I had failed to finish only one book in my entire life...).

Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead - which is almost my last book for the year and a real mess at that
Why Translation Matters by Edith Grossman - for way too many reasons.

Both have reviews (and both have 2** because they are at least written in proper English and have a redeeming moment or 3). Both have reviews.

PS: And I don't count the very popular and totally unreadable series with a certain color in the name - I read the first, did not expect much and still hated it - but that was expected based on the excerpts I had read before. Even Twilight is written better and I still find Meyer's writing to be awful in her series...

Edited: Dec 28, 2012, 10:51pm

I just finished A Deconstructed Heart by Shaheen Ashraf-Ahmed and gave it 2 stars. It starts out as a(nother) mid-life crisis tale, then it seems to become a romance, then a nice culturally-influenced drama, then "WHAT?" The ending seemed very out of sync with the development of the story. Ashraf-Ahmed is a talented writer, characters are well-developed, story-line is solid, descriptives are well done. But the ending turned me off the book.

Jan 1, 2013, 2:16pm

I also didn't care for No Rest for the Witches by MaryJanice Davidson et al. It may be more of a genre issue for me than anything but all the stories in this book were ridiculous in a bad way.

Jan 1, 2013, 9:04pm

Swamplandia for sure. As a confirmed reptile-phobe, I wasn't going to read it but the critical raves sucked me in. Alas, my initial instinct was the right one. It wasn't the alligators that put me off but after the first 50 pages I had had enough of the swamp and there were 350 pages to go. Ultimately a love letter to the Everglades. Not for me.

Jan 3, 2013, 9:38pm

I had a really good reading year, but loathed The sense of an ending by Julian Barnes - it's only redeeming feature was that it was mercifully short. The writer of Flaubert's Parrot can do better!!

Edited: Jan 4, 2013, 12:09am

I tend to stop reading a book when I feel like we aren't really going to get along, but I did finish The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry which I found to be a huge disappointment. It seemed like it should have been charming but it just fell flat for me.

My other clunker was a book that many, many people loved and I keep seeing on end of year favorites lists - Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. I got to about the halfway point on the audio version and decided enough was enough. I was mostly appalled by her lack of preparation and it was all downhill from there...

Edited: Jan 3, 2013, 11:59pm

< 5. It's funny, given our names, that I quite liked The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher.

My vote is Wild Thing by Josh Bazell

Jan 4, 2013, 10:13am

>32 PrueGallagher:

Agreed! I was shocked that, given all the acclaim and his past successes, The Sense of an Ending was so dreadful.

Jan 6, 2013, 5:18am

5, 34> You just made me laugh out loud.

Jan 6, 2013, 2:45pm

On the Road to Villisca: The Hunt for the Midwest Axemen, Hank Brewster - The newspaper excerpts Brewster frequently includes are far preferable to his actual writing.
The Graduate, Charles Webb - The main character is a selfish dick with no redeeming qualities. I'd prefer a book from Mrs. Robinson's point of view.
One Good Turn, Kate Atkinson - Zzzz
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, Lauren Willig - Stupid and predictable. If it weren't an audiobook I'd paid for, would not have finished it.
Bag of Bones, Stephen King - Not put together very well and went on too long. I also love that Stephen King assumes all young women are attracted to creepy and mentally unsound middle-aged men (hint: we're not)
The Angel's Game, Carlos Ruiz Zafon - Better than the other books on this list, but doesn't live up to The Shadow of the Wind