2022 Reading Review: Books That I Wanted to Love


Melissa Luna, Writer/Editor/Outreach Coordinator

These books were good, but I wish they were great! For even more enthusiastic reading recommendations, see my favorite books of 2022.

American Kingpin by Nick Bilton

American Kingpin regales the story of Ross Ulbricht, the programmer who built the Silk Road website on the dark web. The biography reads like a film dramatization: based on a true story. Creative liberties abound as Bilton describes events from the intimate internal perspectives of Ulbricht and the detectives hunting him down. Despite some redundancies and simplistic explanations of technology, the biography is fascinating. I suggest taking this story with a grain of salt, as with any dramatic true crime narrative.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Moreno-Garcia’s wildly popular Mexican Gothic proved to be a fun and creative page-turner. Heavily inspired by Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s iconic short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” it combines feminist themes with critiques of colonialism. Unfortunately, the story is undermined by confusing setting descriptions and an underwhelming conclusion. Still, reading it along with “The Yellow Wallpaper” was a pleasure.

Mistborn: Wax and Wayne by Brandon Sanderson

While this series follows the events that occur in the original Mistborn trilogy, it diverges significantly. Overall, this series feels more lighthearted. It’s an action-packed fantasy set in a world that feels like the wild west. Sanderson expands the magic system, but neglects to explore it with the same depth that kindled my curiosity in the original trilogy.

Overall, this series feels more lighthearted, and that’s where it shines. Wayne is crude, rude, and hilarious. Shadows of Self and The Bands of Mourning, the second and third books, also feature a familiar face who simply steals the scene at every appearance. Humor and character development are what kept me invested until the end.

Shadows of Self is by far my favorite of the four books. It is darker and heavier, with an emotionally compelling story and an interesting plot full of unexpected twists.

The Lost Metal finally addresses a disappointing gap in the Mistborn saga: the inclusion of BIPOC characters. 

Unfortunately, I found Sanderson’s continued induction of the novels into the rest of the Cosmere universe a distracting hindrance to the last of Wax and Wayne’s adventures. Nonetheless, Sanderson is a master at crafting endings, and this was no exception. I will continue to treasure the original Mistborn trilogy, but I think my time spent in the Cosmere ends here. 

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

Reading Holly Black’s third installment of The Folk of the Air series was perhaps most memorable because I was bedridden with COVID-19. This might explain why I failed to realize that I had skipped its preceding two books. Though I have enjoyed Black’s young adult fairy fantasies in the past, it seems this one was not for me. I don’t think reading it out of order was to blame, as I have made this mistake before without it tarnishing my experience. I seem to have simply outgrown this type of story. This novel may have been more suited to my taste 10 years ago, when I was riveted by teenage romances featuring questionable tall, dark, and handsome love interests. Regardless, it was a fun and much needed distraction during an otherwise miserable week and its illustrations by Kathleen Jennings are enchanting.