Most Surprising and Most Disappointing Books of the Year | 2020

‘Tis the time of the year when all the lists are written so, today I’m here with a list of books that surprised me – in a good way and… in a not so good way.

I have read significantly more things in 2020 (thank you lockdown) than last year, and I have enjoyed most of what I have read. In order to keep my Best Books I read in 2020 list on the short side, I made some decisions and several books didn’t make the cut. However, I still want to highlight those books because I really enjoyed reading them and, even if they are not my favorites of the year, I still want to recommend them.

On a different note, I also wanted to mention some books that disappointed me this year. Not because they were the worst thing I have ever read (they’re not) or because I hate the authors (I don’t, actually two books on the list are from favorite authors) but because I expected to love those books and for different reasons, they didn’t work for me. In a way, they were also the most surprising books of the year, just not in a good way…

To keep this post short and sweet, I have decided to describe each book in 5 words, if you want to know more about a specific book, I have linked the reviews I have posted about all the books mentioned in this post.

The good surprises

The Light Years by R.W.W. GreeneREVIEW

Quiet and introspective. Fascinating Characters.

Beneath the Rising by Premee Mohamed – REVIEW

Quirky geniuses saving the world.

Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh – BOOK DISCUSSION

Teenagers in Space. Terrifying. Brilliant.

The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell – REVIEW

Epic. Zambia. All the Genres.

Burning Roses by S.L. Huang – Review

Emotional sapphic fairy tale retelling.

The Wall by Gautam Bhatia – Review

Contemplative. Poetic. Revolution. Friendship. Horizon.

The not-so-good surprises

The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson – REVIEW

Too long, too messy. Bit Boring.

Gideon the Night by Tamsyn Muir – REVIEW

Can Gideon please shut-up?

Cage of Souls by Adrian Tchaikovsky – REVIEW

Interesting ideas but stale story.

The Rush’s Edge by Ginger SmithREVIEW

Felt like a first draft.


I also just realized that almost every single book in the Good Surprises category is a debut novel while only one is present in the Not-so Good. I guess 2020 was the year of solid debuts!

If you have read any of these books, I would be curious to know what you thought about them! πŸ˜€

23 thoughts on “Most Surprising and Most Disappointing Books of the Year | 2020

  1. I have one out of the six you did enjoy, THE WALL, on my TBR pile, a gift from the author. But have seen a wide difference of opinion on it. Will be trying to read it this January. Of the 4 you didn’t like, though I’ve heard of them all, they’re just not my cup of tea anyway so will not be reading them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so on the fence with Gideon the Ninth. So many people find it difficult to read and I’ve heard multiple times that the character is insufferable (which is what I’m concerned about. If I don’t like the MC, the entire novel falls apart for me.) But then there’s the other half of reviewers who treat it like a revelation. :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that’s very true. I think Gideon is a “love it or hate it” book and I wanted to see on which side I would end up. I didn’t hate it and I will read the sequel but it wasn’t a revelation because the writing and the main character didn’t work for me. However, I’m willing to read Harrow the Ninth because it follows another main character and I have heard that the writing is very different from Gideon.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh well it’s good to know that Harrow the Ninth is a bit different. I’ll wait for your review to see how it stacks up to the controversial Gideon, lol.

        Liked by 1 person

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