A "Best of" list means we also need a worst of list. And here it is – my worst nerd book picks of 2010. These books generally fall into one of two categories. They are either poorly written or simply not to my taste. But I try to avoid listing books that I personally don’t like, because there’s lots of great stuff out there that just isn’t for me, and just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s bad. Like mixing fruit with cottage cheese, the word “panties”, bees, and the neti-pot. Feel free to disagree, but know that I stick to my hatred like snot on a toddler.
1. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin. This one hurts because I wanted to like it so bad. It was a must read pick from io9 and got a lot of excellent buzz. I should have loved it. I even got a free signed copy at NYCC. It had everything: a murder mystery, gods among men, fatal sibling rivalry, a corrupt empire, even a little magic. But. If I could name only one thing in literature that I hated beyond all else, it is the Mary Sue character. Jemisin even admits to basing this character on herself and it is obvious in the style of writing that Jemisin is writing from her own perspective as opposed to the character’s. Our main character had almost no personality. She was so forgettable, I can’t even remember her name. This book had no character development – people just did things. Very little time was spent on the intrigue that supposedly fueled this world. Instead, we get Mary Sue moping about her love for a destructive god for 400 pages. This book had so much potential – all of it squandered on another run of the mill paranormal/fantasy romance. Oh yeah – with inconsistent dialogue patterns that yanked me clean out of the narrative every time I came across one. Jemisin has room to grow as a writer and I hope she does. But take a pass on the beginning of this trilogy.
2. The Tattooed Girl Who Kicked Fire into a Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson. Are these even nerd books? They straddle a line. Lisbeth might have walked out of a William Gibson novel, which might explain her confusion and social retardation within a different context. Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was pretty good. I liked it. I even saw the movie – the Swedish one with subtitles. Then, I read Girl Who Sets Shit on Fire and wondered if maybe someone had put the wrong dust jacket on a different book. I checked – nope. Lisbeth, who was described as autistic in the previous book (and that did not stop our male protagonist from fucking her up one side and down the other) is now fairly socially adequate. She even had her neck tattoo removed in order to better fit in with the rest of society, when previously she would have just as soon kicked you in your teeth as looked at you depending on her mood. I know characters need to grow and change, but the fundamentals should stay the same or have very important and purposeful reasons for changing. Also, we have Blomkvist, our leading man, who is a Marty Stu. Oh, he is the only man who ever knew how to treat a woman and he is so sensitive so the ladies and even some men are all up ons. All of them. Dude gets some, every other page. These books were supposed to be the first of a 10 part series. But Larsson was murdered before he could write seven more. I would say ‘thank you’ but that’s cold, even for me.
3. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. This one is late 2009 but I tried to read it this year. I couldn’t finish it, and here’s why. Priest used the word ‘patina’ five times in less than 60 pages in regard to different objects. By the fourth time, it was jarring me right out of the narrative. I said to myself, “If I see ‘patina’ one more time, I’m done with this book.” I turned the page, and there it was. I shit you not. Perhaps I’m overly sensitive about word choice, but holyshitthesaurus!
4. The incredible rash of sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal/monster books based on classics. Stopit. Just cut it out. It was funny the first time with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It was even amusing the second and third times. But now it’s obnoxious and painful and unnecessary and I think Kate Beaton sums it up nicely with this comic:
Click to embiggen.
5. Shit, I need a fifth book. You know, I read a lot of really good books this year. I’m full of piss and vinegar about the ones that were bad, mostly because I let them waste my time. But the good ones were really effing good. I did a lot of re-reading this year too, which kind of implies the books were good if I was willing to pick them up a second or third time. So, instead of a fifth rant about a craphole book, here is a kitten. Which I would much rather look at than re-read any of the above mentioned books.
Editor's Note: I did do a review of a YA series this year. It wasn't released this year, but it was read this year and it was pretty awful. Christopher Pike's Alosha series. Terrible stuff. -BK