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10 of the Lowest Rated Books I’ve Read and What I Thought

Hi! I’m back and today I’m talking you through ten books that have the lowest average rating on my Goodreads and whether or not I agree with the rating. As I’ve only been recording what I read on Goodreads consistently for two years, this doesn’t account for every book I’ve ever read, but it at least covers a little more than half.

1. The Betrothed by Kiera Cass

Average Rating: 2.95

My Rating: ★★

When King Jameson declares his love for Lady Hollis Brite, Hollis is shocked—and thrilled. After all, she’s grown up at Keresken Castle, vying for the king’s attention alongside other daughters of the nobility. Capturing his heart is a dream come true.

But Hollis soon realizes that falling in love with a king and being crowned queen may not be the happily ever after she thought it would be. And when she meets a commoner with the mysterious power to see right into her heart, she finds that the future she really wants is one that she never thought to imagine.

Whilst I’m not claiming The Selection is the pinnacle of all YA books, it shows Kiera Cass in her purest form — it’s a formulaic dystopia with classic tropes and a simplistic, yet charming, writing style. Despite four years passing since her last published work, The Betrothed is failed by the same things that popularised The Selection as readers are forced to witness zero improvement as an author alongside a poor attempt at rewriting an alternative ending to The Selection with new names. Part of the issue lies in what YA readers loved in 2012 has changed a lot — not many of us will accept poor character development and half-baked plots anymore. As a result, The Betrothed is underwhelming to the point of frustration because it’s nothing new from the author and is the mark of a disappointing comeback.

Do I recommend? No.

2. Hearts, Strings and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins

Average Rating: 3.38

My Rating: ★★

Mansfield, Massachusetts is the last place seventeen-year-old Edie Price wants to spend her final summer before college. It’s the home of wealthy suburbanites and prima donnas like Edie’s cousins, who are determined to distract her from her mother’s death with cute boys and Cinderella-style makeovers. Edie has her own plans, and they don’t include a prince charming.

But as Edie dives into schoolwork and applying for college scholarships, she finds herself drawn to two Mansfield boys who start vying for her attention. First there’s Sebastian, Edie’s childhood friend and first love. He’s sweet and smart and . . . already has a girlfriend. Then there’s Henry, the local bad boy and all-around player. He’s totally off limits, even if his kisses are chemically addictive.

Both boys are trouble. Edie can’t help but get caught between them. Someone’s heart is going to break. Now she just has to make sure it isn’t hers.

There’s a considerable difference in average rating between Hearts, Strings and Other Breakable Things and The Betrothed, but I’m still shocked that it ranked so low. I thought this was such a charming contemporary with plenty of my guilty pleasure tropes — a love triangle! fake dating! rich kids! — so I don’t know if this book simply requires a specific taste. Sure, it’s nothing that hasn’t been done before, but I found Firkins’ writing style to be really sweet and she updated a lot of the classic tropes so they didn’t feel overly cliché. I also got huge Gilmore Girls vibes from this book, which is always a plus.

Do I recommend? Yes.

3. Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

Average Rating: 3.46

My Rating: ★★

Will the princess save the beast?

For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending…right?

His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can’t shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…

As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending.

I remember being really excited for Of Curses and Kisses — a contemporary Beauty and the Beast felt like a needed breath of fresh air after all the numerous fantasy retellings we’ve had over the years. However, I had to force myself to finish it because the chapters were painfully long and dull. The book almost felt mechanical because it so desperately lacked the emotional punch I like in what I read. In itself, the plot had potential, but Menon’s writing style meant I often felt detached from the characters and didn’t care about the romance or the actual plot. It wasn’t bad, but it left me with an overwhelming sense of “meh-ness.”

Do I recommend? I wouldn’t deter anyone from reading it, but I wouldn’t suggest it either.

4. Two Princes of Summer by Nissa Leder

Average Rating: 3.50

My Rating:

After her mother’s suicide, Scarlett’s grief consumes her. When a beautiful, otherworldly stranger offers her a release from her pain, it’s too tempting an opportunity to resist. She’s lured into Faerie and sucked into a royal battle as two fae brothers prepare for the Battle of Heirs where the winner earns the right to the throne.

Human emotion fuels fae power and Scarlett’s is the most potent Cade has ever tasted. He’s certain she is the key to defeating his brother Raith. But Raith has surprises of his own, and Scarlett fits perfectly into his devious plan.

Scarlett must decide how far she’s willing to go to avoid her guilt and heartache. As she is pulled further into the realm of magic and power, she discovers a dangerous secret that could change her fate forever.

Will Scarlett find a way to cope with her sorrow and untangle herself from the two princes?

Or will they devour her completely?

I clearly remember purchasing this because the cover is so beautiful. Unfortunately, that’s all I have to say about this. According to Goodreads, I read this last year — probably because I belatedly jumped onto the fae hype and needed something to fill the ACOTAR and TFOA void — but I can’t recall anything from the book. It must have been unmemorable because I only remember wanting to add ‘Raith‘ to my dumb fantasy names list. I genuinely wish I could offer more insight into this book, but I try to avoid one stars, so that isn’t a promising rating from me.

Do I recommend? No.

5. The Ivy by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur

Average Rating: 3.54

My Rating: ★★

Congratulations! You have been admitted to the most prestigious university in the world. Now what are you going to do?

Callie Andrews may not have money or connections or the right clothes, and she may have way too many complications in her love life, what with

Gregory
the guy she loves to hate …

Evan
the guy she’d love to forget …

Clint
the guy she’d love to love …

and Matt
the guy she really should love …

all vying for her attention.

But she has three fantastic roommates (best friends or her worst nightmare?) and a wholesome California-girl reputation (oops) and brains and beauty and big, big dreams.

Will it be enough to help her survive freshman year at Harvard?

Honestly, I understand why this book is rated so low. It’s kind of shallow, full of drinking and drugs and parties, and the main character annoyed me the start. However, it’s one of those ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ books that had me super invested in the end. It’s not deep or groundbreaking, but books don’t have to be! It felt a lot like a teen drama show and I loved how ridiculously over the top it was. If you can fully acknowledge you’re reading a lighthearted book that revels in the teenage stereotypes we all love, it’s a solid read.

Do I recommend? Yes.

6. You Say It First by Katie Cotugno (3.55)

Average Rating: 3.55

My Rating: ★★

Much like Of Curses and Kisses, this was a ‘meh‘ book for me and I don’t have much to say about it. The main characters were both pretty bland and it felt too deliberate of an effort to be ‘politically woke’ that it ended up being dry and inauthentic. There was not much of a plot and the characters weren’t developed enough to hold their own for 300+ pages. The romance felt forced due to the lack of chemistry and all the problems or arguments between the pair quickly got repetitive.

Do I recommend? Not likely, but it could depend on the person.

7. The Fallen by Liz Braswell

Average Rating: 3.55

My Rating:

Chloe King is a normal girl. She goes to class (most of the time), fights with her mom, and crushes on a boy…or two. But around her sixteenth birthday, Chloe finds that perhaps she isn’t so normal after all. There’s the heightened night vision, the super fast reflexes – oh, and the claws. 

As she discovers who she is – and where she comes from – it is clear she is not alone. And someone is trying to get her. 

Chloe has nine lives. But will nine be enough?

The Fallen is the first in The Nine Lives of Chloe King series — the TV version being a show I really enjoyed during lockdown. On the whole, it was disappointing because it ended up being nothing like the show in the worst way. Chloe was a conceited brat that was unbearable to read because she was that full of herself and there was recurring slut-shaming to the point I almost DNF-ed. The book was written in 2004 and aged badly to an extent that it’s very cringe nowadays. Some books are timeless, I found this was not one.

Do I recommend? No.

8. These Vengeful Hearts by Katherine Laurin

Average Rating: 3.58

My Rating: ★★

Anyone can ask the Red Court for a favor…but every request comes at a cost. And once the deed is done, you’re forever in their debt.

Whenever something scandalous happens at Heller High, the Red Court is the name on everyone’s lips. Its members–the most elite female students in the school–deal out social ruin and favors in equal measure, their true identities a secret known only to their ruthless leader: the Queen of Hearts.

Sixteen-year-old Ember Williams has seen firsthand the damage the Red Court can do. Two years ago, they caused the accident that left her older sister paralyzed. Now, Ember is determined to hold them accountable…by taking the Red Court down from the inside.

But crossing enemy lines will mean crossing moral boundaries, too–ones Ember may never be able to come back from. She always knew taking on the Red Court would come at a price, but will the cost of revenge be more than she’s willing to sacrifice?

I liked this because it was reminiscent of the days I used to watch Pretty Little Liars, but it was extremely predictable and a lot of the characters felt two dimensional. It wasn’t bad, but it brought nothing new to the table in terms of blackmail and high school secret societies. I’d still recommend it, but I read and preferred Clique Bait earlier in the year — a book with a very similar plot.

Do I recommend? Yes.

9. Clique Bait by Ann Valett

Average Rating: 3.58

My Rating: ★★

Chloe Whittaker is out for revenge.

Last year her best friend Monica’s life was unceremoniously ruined by the most popular students at their high school, so this year Chloe plans to take each and every one of them down. She’s traded in her jeans and T-shirts for the latest designer clothes, erased anything on social media that would tie her to Monica (and blow her cover), and carefully figured out how she will befriend the members of the clique, find out their deepest and darkest secrets, and reveal them to the world.

Chloe has the perfect plan . . . but there’s one thing she didn’t prepare for. And that’s falling for someone she’s determined to destroy. The closer she gets to uncovering the secrets the in-crowd is determined to cover up, the more she realizes that she is going to have to choose between betraying her oldest friend or the boy who’s captured her heart.

Years ago, I loved reading this on Wattpad, so finding out it was going to be published had me excited. It’s a strong debut from such a young author and it was an easy read that I finished in one night. Something about it does feel distinctly Wattpad and it felt rushed in parts when I wanted more character development, but it’s a solid read for fans of Mean Girls or Pretty Little Liars.

10. The Upside of Falling by Alex Light

Average Rating: 3.58

My Rating: ★★

It’s been years since seventeen-year-old Becca Hart believed in true love. But when her former best friend teases her for not having a boyfriend, Becca impulsively pretends she’s been secretly seeing someone.

Brett Wells has it all. Being captain of the football team and one of the most popular guys in school, he should have no problem finding someone to date, but he’s always been more focused on his future than who to bring to prom. When he overhears Becca’s lie, Brett decides to step in and be her mystery guy. It’s the perfect solution: he gets people off his back for not dating and she can keep up the ruse.

Acting like the perfect couple isn’t easy though, especially when you barely know the other person. But with Becca still picking up the pieces from when her world was blown apart years ago and Brett just barely holding his together now, they begin to realize they have more in common than they ever could have imagined. When the line between real and pretend begins to blur, they are forced to answer the question: is this fake romance the realest thing in either of their lives?

First of all, can we talk about how gorgeous that cover is? Second of all, this was a book that I desperately wanted to like because it sounded like everything I could want, but the execution was lacklustre. It was like every time the book was close to getting some kind of depth, the author changed direction and the surface ended up only being scratched. The reason Brett chose to fake date someone didn’t make much sense either and it didn’t feel like the author thought out much of the main relationship. Like with Clique Bait, it felt very Wattpad and I think the author needed more guidance to level up the quality of the book before it was published. There’s simply a huge difference in what’s expected when you pay for a book — that’s not to say some hidden gems can be found on free reading platforms though!

Have you read any of these books? Do you think there average rating is reliable? Let me know in the replies along with whether or not you’d want me to do this with the highest rated books I’ve read.

read it and weep,

8 replies on “10 of the Lowest Rated Books I’ve Read and What I Thought”

I loved reading this post!! It’s always really interesting to see how my thoughts on a book compare to the average consensus on Goodreads. I actually enjoyed Of Curses and Kisses a lot, which might be because I had been reading O. Henry and Edith Wharton right before it 😅 — but I definitely understand why people wouldn’t like it. Great post Meg!! 💜

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I always love how someone’s one star read could be another’s five star. I definitely find Goodreads ratings interesting knowing that some people will go out of their way to rate books they’ve never read by certain authors, or rate something five stars before it’s even out. I do think they’re fairly accurate, but I suppose it also depends on how popular a book is. 100 ratings might not paint as accurate a depiction as 100,000. Glad you liked it though!

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This was such a fun and interesting post to read!! Your insight was great and it was nice to see how much your experience varied with each book ☺️ Also, I was looking forward to reading The Betrothed, but now I’m second guessing it 😬 I liked The Selection but that doesn’t mean that I want to read more of the same mistakes and narrative… So I’ll have to think about that.

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So glad you liked it! And The Betrothed definitely echoes a lot of the mistakes in The Selection and it’s essentially what would’ve happened if Aspen was chosen over Maxon. If you were looking forward to it, I’d never try to put you off, but it really wasn’t for me.

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I haven’t read any of the books except for Of Curses and Kisses which really underwhelmed me because I love Sandhya Menon’s other books so much… And I like the original Selection Trilogy back when it came out but good lord, save me from the rest. I can’t stand it, I don’t want it. Only reading the synopsis of a Kiera Cass book makes me want to scream by now and I guess my taste in reading has evolved immensely 😀

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I’ve never read any of Menon’s other books so maybe I will check them out! I also agree about The Selection series. It’s good when you’re only starting out in YA around 11/12, but it doesn’t hold up as an older reader.

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