But I'm blabbing (as usual?) a bit too much, so here are six works that either were disappointing or just plain awful (links to original reviews):
6. David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks (longlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize)
I expected much more from the writer of Cloud Atlas than a disjointed narrative that was much less than the sum of its parts. It's not horrid, but it certainly was his weakest, most flawed narrative in quite some time.
5. Katherine Addison, The Goblin Emperor
I mostly enjoyed Sarah Monette's Mélusine series, but this new fantasy just did not work for me. The narrative just felt too bland, lacking in some je ne sais qua quality that would have raised it above being just another average fantasy narrative.
4. Brandon Sanderson, Words of Radiance
No, I'll resist making the obvious pun. However, lately Sanderson's prose and narrative constructing skills have declined from slightly above pedestrian to something that is barely able to keep me reading anything he's written. So yeah, it's mildly disappointed, combined with being decidedly bloated. Not a good combination.
3. Kameron Hurley, The Mirror Empire
While I have never thought all that highly of Hurley's prose (a good stylist she is not nor has ever claimed to be), I did have some hopes that the narrative at least would be coherent or at least attention-absorbing. It was neither. The inchoate mess of the first quarter, while alleviated somewhat later on, just made this novel too structurally flawed for it to be anything other than a huge disappointment.
2. Edan Lepucki, California
If #FirstWorldProblems wrote a post-apocalyptic novel, it likely would resemble California in many of its thematic concerns. Such a shallow, vapid, vaguely white ethnocentric novel that barely can maintain any semblance of structure or plausibility under the weight of the bullshit presented over the course of the narrative. If it weren't for the truly "special" prose and narrative of #1, this would have been by far the worst 2014 novel I've read/reviewed this year.
1. Terry Goodkind, Severed Souls
I had to put one of my Serbian reading squirrels into reading rehab due to this dreck. I didn't expect Goodkind, crappy as he is, to be able to put out something that would make Robert Stanek's self-published works read like Flaubert, but with Severed Souls, he managed to outdo himself and create one of the worst fictions ever published by a large publishing firm in the 21st century. Quite an impressive accomplishment, actually.