These are the worst books I read in 2023.

Ah, it’s wrap-up season, isn’t it? This year, I tried to go after things I would enjoy, as I do not have the patience to sit to anything I won’t enjoy. Thankfully, I enjoyed most of the media I consumed this year, but there will always be some bad apples in the bunch. I have read quite a few books in 2023 and enjoyed most of them, but I found myself irritated after finishing some of the stories. Here are the books I disliked the most in 2023.

Before I go any further, I am in no way, shape, or form telling you to dislike these books. We are human; we all have different tastes. You are allowed to form your own opinion; I am sharing mine with you, that’s all. Also, I know I am still growing as a writer, so who am I to judge? I took notes from all these books on what I can do to improve my future writing.  We are constantly growing, always learning.

Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt by Tagro.

Those familiar with my work know I enjoy Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt for numerous elements (music, fashion, and art style). Still, I would never recommend the franchise to anyone because of how racist and disturbing it can be. That being said, the only good thing about the manga for this series is that most of the art was fantastic. Nothing was interesting about it, but it also felt as if the writer did not know what to do with these characters because the storylines were so dull. Panty (my favorite character in the series) was not funny. Stocking felt like a completely different person in the manga than in the anime; I do not understand why this book tried to write her off as sweet and innocent when she was not. Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt is already lowbrow to begin with, as it was made when the creators were intoxicated. If you are a fan of the series, you are not missing out on anything if you skip over this book.


Teen Titans: Robin, written by Kami Garcia and illustrated by Gabriel Picolo.

I should have known I was going to have beef with this comic because when I was a teenager, I picked up a book by the writer and never finished it because I did not like it. That book was Beautiful Creatures, written by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia (Garcia is the writer for Teen Titans: Robin). That book got a movie adaptation and bombed at the box office. I brought this up because this series is not necessarily a cult classic. Unsurprisingly, the movie flopped because the book could have been better. Reading her Teen Titans comics reminded me why I never finished Beautiful Creatures.

This comic series thrives off the fact that it’s aware that most people who are reading are familiar with the character.

To start, I did not like this book series much from the beginning when it focused on Raven because I found the story to be cliche, as it felt like every other high school story we are used to seeing.  When it comes to comics, I try not to judge the series from the first volume because that is the setup for the series. This has been one of those series that nobody is talking about other than how much they like how it looks because that’s it! The books are beautiful to look at, but the writing is not hitting. It’s a modern-day retelling of the original DC comics, but it’s done in a dull and corny way. You know how everything will go, and at moments, it felt like Wattpad fanfiction mixed in with a Disney movie? In the third volume, Beast Boy and Raven have only known each other for, who knows, three freaking days, and they were massively in love with each other. That is unrealistic for this series’ storytelling because we have seen how everything sits for a while. The Robin edition of this series made me conclude that I was done with this comic. Why? That's because nothing happened until the last 25 pages of the book. Teen Titans has been special to me since I was little, and I won’t continue with this series because I have been disappointed with all the volumes so far; the Robin-focused story was my last straw. You all have fun reading that Starfire book that is next to come; I don’t know if I want to take the risk of being let down again with this series.

I know the drawings in them will be beautiful, though.

I talk more about this series in full on my channel; it's over an hour long. 



Neighborhood Story by Ai Yazawa.

I was going to pick out which volume of Neighborhood Story frustrated me the most, but I have concluded that I do not like the overall story after I read the whole series. The best thing about this series is that it is beautifully drawn. After reading the entire thing, I liked most of the drawings and a few of the storylines.

I made an entire video on my channel about my frustrations with this series and the author.  I spent about an hour explaining the entirety of the story and its issues regarding race, sexuality, and misogyny.

Aside from this manga’s issues with homophobia and anti-blackness, this story continued to have the same things happening over and over and over again, along with forgetting how old its characters were and sideling anyone single. Why does Neighborhood Story treat its characters like they are in their 20s when they are in high school? Why does Ai Yazawa continue to treat every character who isn’t involved in a romantic relationship as a second thought? Everyone except for Pi-chan (the most likable character) eventually became insufferable. I appreciate stories about flawed people, but the same things happened in different ways. I was ready to finish it when I realized how sloppy the structure was for the last three books in the series.


Luster by Raven Leilani.

Everything I dislike about Sam Levinson’s work is present in this story.

This was not a ranking list, but I’m saving the book I disliked most for last—Luster by Raven Leilani. I’m not even trying to be funny when I say that I think this book was truly awful, and I do not understand the appeal of it. Race is a primary focus of the story, which is not a problem, but it was not handled with care. For what reason was it necessary to include a scene of an adopted black girl getting tackled by the police? Why was the n-word said for no reason as a way to get an easy laugh from the reader? No one in this book was likable, and the main character was one of the frustrating protagonists I had to sit with for a while. It’s difficult for me to like characters who lack self-awareness and refuse to accept that many of the problems in their life are caused by themselves. The main character broke into someone’s house and went into their fridge; that moment was when I realized she was just rude and this book would be a drag to get through. The central continued to do the most cringeworthy things, such as breaking into the adopted daughter’s bedroom to read her fanfiction and wearing her bikini bottoms as underwear because she was not up for doing laundry.

I try not to be hard on other people’s writing because I love writing, but mainly because Raven Leilani is an experienced and established writer; she has literally worked with Vogue. Luster is a New York Times best seller. My opinion really does not matter much here, if we are being honest, because of that.

I felt so disgusted while reading this book. That may have been the point of it all, but it being extremely gross significantly contributed to the awful story. The author was constantly throwing things into the story, more so for shock value, as a way to be edgy. Every so often, the main character and other characters do something embarrassing that makes them more unlikable as the tale continues. She’s talking bad about another woman’s appearance; she’s watching porn on the computer at work; she’s stealing perfumes from the mall and encouraging a kid to do the same; she watched the married couple whose house she’s staying with have sex without their permission. Why is there a woman eating peanut butter with her fingers? Why did this same woman make the most unappetizing cake for her wedding anniversary? Why did the main character go to New York Comic-Con with the family of the man she is sleeping with? What are we supposed to get from this? Are you sure this isn’t farce?

I wanted to like this book because fandom was a part of the story, which I have been involved with my whole life. I just couldn’t with this book. I was upset after reading Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt for being awful, but I was straight-up angry after reading Luster. Why? Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt was trash, but it didn’t take itself seriously (still not an excuse for the awful writing); Luster was meant to be taken seriously.

Well, you know how all the Merry Melodies shorts end; that’s all, folks! I kind of hate how negative this blog post was, but the primary purpose of this blog is my thoughts and feelings on media and such. Always remember to take what I say with a grain of salt and that you can form your own opinions.

Thank you for reading; trust me, in my next posts, I will discuss things I enjoyed from 2023.


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