2018 is about to draw to a close, hence, it is now time to look back to the year that was, at least in terms of reading. After having had a slow year in 2017, I picked up the momentum in 2018. In total, I was able to read 63 books in twelve months. This is in stark comparison to the measly 43 books I had in 2017. Nonetheless, I had a great time in 2017 but even better one in 2018 as I have had many great reads.

This book wrap up is a part of a mini-series which will feature the following:

  1. My 2018 Top 10 Most Notable Books
  2. My 2018 Eight Not-So Favorite Reads
  3. My 2018 18 Most Memorable Book Quotes (Part I)
  4. My 2018 18 Most Memorable Book Quotes (Part II)
  5. My 2019 10 Books I Look Forward To

2018 was highlighted with numerous great reads. Unfortunately, there were also some that did not create much of an impression me, some even frustrating me. Here are my eight not-so-favorite books for the previous year.

8. Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie

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Considering my prior experience with her other works, it pains me to include a work of my favorite mystery writer in this list. However, Hallowe’en Party contains everything that I disliked in a mystery book: predictable, formulaic and lacks no mystery at all. Perhaps because she wrote the novel latter in her career. Nevertheless, Agatha Christie remains my favorite mystery author.

For my full review of Agatha Christie’s Hallowe’en Party, please click here.

7. Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami


For most, it is a cardinal sin to include any Murakami work in any list of underwhelming books. For much of the hype that wrapped the book, Murakami’s latest offering just didn’t cut it for me. It did have all the signature Murakami elements, but I found everything too familiar. It was a “good” book as far as reading is concerned but for a Murakami work, it falls below his standards.

For my full review of Haruki Murakami’s Killing Commendatore, please click here.

6. South of Broad by Pat Conroy


Reading The Prince of Tides has transformed me into a devout Pat Conroy reader. South of Broad is the first Conroy I read in years and perhaps this rustiness contributed to my unfavorable view of the story. It reeked of the signature southern flair for which Conroy is known for but the story took too many curves which made me feel really confused. The obnoxious language also knocked me off my feet. It just wasn’t the Conroy I knew of or the Conroy I am used to.

For my full review of Pat Conroy’s South of Broad, please click here

5. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones


I actually included Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage in My Most Anticipated Books of 2018 although I barely had an iota on what it was about. I was very happy when I was immediately able to obtain a copy of the book. When I got down to it, I wasn’t totally impressed. The novel was too clinical, too standard for a book that is surrounded by so much blurb. It was just unfortunate that the story didn’t build around the interesting story line. 

For my full review of Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage, please click here.

4. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen


Water for Elephants is one of the books that made me believe that not all books adapted into movies are not always great. Actually, the premise and some of the elements of the narrative are quite interesting. It was just too bad that these elements weren’t elevated to something that is great. Or probably the book is just written for the movies because of the glitters that border on the artifice.

For my full review of Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, please click here.

3. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller


Yeah, yeah. I know, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 is a classic, a war fiction classic filled with humor to amaze all types of readers. Unfortunately, I found the humor dry, the plot confusing which is kind of unfortunate because it is one of the books that I looked forward to, a lot. I kept trying to look for what makes the book interesting and funny but in spite of my best efforts, I cannot seem to find it. Really sad.

But this book deserves a second serving. This will be part of my to-be-reread list for now. It might change my mind, hopefully.

For my full review of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, please click here.

2. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher


By now, I have quite established myself as someone who is averse to young adult fiction. Whereas I am allergic to the genre’s predictability, it doesn’t necessarily stop me from picking some of these young adult works. The exception worked with Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why. Adapted into a Netflix series, the premise has raised the eyebrows of most, including me, especially when I learned that it was about suicide (and depression). Overall, the novel was lacking in its exploration. Does it romanticize suicide? Certainly not. But, personally, I felt that its approach to the subject is too lacking.

For my full review of Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why, please click here.

1. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway


Archaic language, grotesque storytelling, unrelatable characters. There were just too many things not going right for this war fiction “classic”. I have read numerous positive reviews of the book, which got me into it; besides, Hemingway is still Hemingway. Unfortunately, on the most part, I felt that the novel wasn’t at par with other Hemingway works I have read. Take note that I have read two of his works, Farewell to Arms and The Old Man and the Sea. On both counts, I was fairly impressed. The opposite was the case for For Whom the Bell Tolls, hence, its place in this list.

For my full review of Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, please click here.

So there, readers, that concludes my Top 8 underwhelming reads for 2018. I guess, as a reader, I have such high expectation on books I read because I personally hand pick them. However, I cannot always expect every book to be at par with my expectations. Over the years, I have learned to take in the good with the bad.

How about you, what books did you find underwhelming? Share it in the comment box.