DNF = did not finish
Today’s post was actually supposed to be a review of an ARC I had . . . except that I couldn’t finish the book. Then I thought, why not do a post on DNF’ing books? So I’ll talk about my criteria for deciding to DNF a book with a few examples.
Please know that these are my own opinions, which even vary against my arbitrary standards. Thank you to the publishers for approving me for the ARCs I talk about in this post.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
BORED / NOT IN THE MOOD
Sometimes I’ll DNF a book if I’m bored throughout the entire 25% of it. I know that a lot of books that turn out to be good or even amazing are a little boring in the first quarter, but sometimes I really do not have the energy to push through to see if it’ll turn out to be good. I mean, if I’m constantly checking where I am in the book and seeing that I’ve barely made any progress? I’ll usually put the book down.
Other times, I’m bored just because I simply am not in the mood for it. It’s possible that I could be in the mood in the future, but usually at this point, I can tell that I won’t be in the mood for a long time. In this category are usually long science-fiction or fantasy novels because those require a lot more of my attention.
An example of a book that I DNF recently for these reasons is Wench by Maxine Kaplan. This was an ARC that I read back in August when I decided to read all of the ARCs I had back-to-back. I read only about 18% (I usually read to at least 25% before DNF’ing), but I was fairly bored. Since I was trying to read as many books as possible, I decided to put it down because it would’ve hurt my progress.
I realize that this is unfair to the book, but again I always stipulate that these are my own personal opinions. Maybe I will return to it in the future although I’m not too sure about it. It was an “ordinary heroine on a quest” book that was more medieval fantasy, and I tend not to be super into medieval fantasy now. I appreciate the concept of the book, but now, a few months later, I think I was right in DNF’ing it because I don’t think I’ll find much enjoyment in it.
There are other books that fit under this category; however, I tend to DNF ARCs (or at least mark them as DNF) much more than if I were reading a book after its official release. This is because there’s more of a time limit to reading ARCs. You usually want to read and review them before it comes out, so I feel more pressured to decide whether or not I will end up reading it or not. Books that have already come out, I may or may not give it another chance if I’m not in the mood.
NOT TO MY TASTES
The other side of DNF’ing is that the book was simply not to my tastes, meaning that I really did not enjoy what I’ve read so far and can’t foresee myself enjoying any part of it in the future. Most of what I DNF falls under this category although again, it’s an arbitrary decision. Sometimes I still continue with a book even though I hate it (more on that later).
I feel like this category is fairly self-explanatory. Yes, I know that maybe a book will be better once I push through the first quarter/third, but again! Sometimes you simply do not have the energy to keep going. Also, sometimes the reward of continuing a book that you already don’t like does not outweigh the risk of you still not liking it. I will say that I have read a few books that I contemplated DNF’ing and ended up actually liking after continuing; the most recent of these was Slingshot by Mercedes Helnwein.
A few examples of ARCs that I’ve DNF’ed under this category recently:
- The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna: The writing in this book was really not for me, nor was the worldbuilding. However, I think my dislike of the writing made me more predisposed to not liking anything else in the book. I did appreciate the author’s intentions for analyzing who thrives and who doesn’t thrive under the patriarchy, but I couldn’t get into the book itself.
- A Sweet Mess by Jayci Lee: The writing in this one got me here too; I will say though, that I tend to be pickier with my adult romances, but also? I feel like a lot of romances are written in this kind of style (maybe the present tense?) that tends to annoy me. Also, okay, I will expand on this later, but I really just cannot stand books that overly describe food. Sadly this book did just that and I threw in the towel at 25%.
- The Mask of Mirrors by M.A. Carrick: I could not stand the pacing of this book. You can read more about why I DNF’ed this in my linked review, but it really all boiled down to the pacing. Since it was so slow, I was reading it much too slowly. Like I mentioned above, I honestly didn’t think that the “reward” of a supposed good ending would outweigh the time I would spend sloughing through the book, so I DNF’ed it at 30% (and a full week in).
There are so many more books that fall under this category, but I really didn’t mean for this post to be a pile-on post for books that I disliked. Again, you can see all of the books I’ve marked DNF and left a review for here if you so like.
THE PERILS OF NOT DNF’ING
Sometimes I’ll consider DNF’ing a book but ultimately decide to push through to see what happens or if I’ll enjoy it more later, and then I promptly regret it. I had a lot of 2-star reviews last year because of this. I know this is relative, so know that I typically rate books that I at least finish 3 stars. For me to rate under that . . . let’s just say that I’d have a lot to say about that book, and rarely anything good.
A few examples of this situation occurring and that I have full reviews written for:
- The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab: I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, but I should have not even requested this book. I’ve slowly lost my love of Schwab’s books in the past few years, but the sheer audacity of the “blissful” ignorance and repetitiveness of her writing (and protagonist archetypes!) in this book have firmly convinced me not to pick up another one of her books in the future, no matter how interesting I find the premise. Clearly, you can see how upset this book makes me, and I really wish that I had saved myself from the grief and anger that I had while reading and reviewing this.
- Cast in Firelight by Dana Swift: Despite not liking the writing much, I continued reading because it was “readable,” in a loose sense of the word, and also because I wanted to see what happened. I’ll spare you the rant (but you can read it in my linked review), but yeah, I was left even more annoyed than anything.
- Amelia Unabridged by Ashley Schumacher: My review of this book will be up in a couple of weeks, but the gist of it is that this was the worst purple prose I’ve ever read. You know how there’s some purple prose that’s just pretentious and annoying but you can still read it? Yeah, that wasn’t really the case here because I am not exaggerating when I say that more than half of every single page could have been cut and you would still have the same story. I kept reading because I wanted to see if I would enjoy any aspect of it (and I really didn’t), but at least this was a short book.
PREMISES I DO NOT ENJOY
After DNF’ing multiple books with similar premises, I’ve realized what premises I really do not enjoy in any form: books centered on alchemy or cooking/baking.
Books that I’ve DNF’ed recently centered on:
- An Affair of Poisons by Addie Thorley
- A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe
- A Sweet Mess by Jayci Lee
I think the intersection of these books are the constant descriptions inherent with the premise, if that makes sense. Like, in books with alchemy plots, we have to read about every step of whatever alchemic tests and processes; in cooking and baking books, we often have to read about the actual process and then sit through long descriptions of the food. I think since I’m not a huge foodie, reading overly descriptive complements of food that have a million adjectives just annoys me more than anything, and when that’s pretty much the whole book, it’ll just make me dislike the book with every new adjective.
I suppose I just don’t like reading about long processes where I am forced to care about something that I really don’t have an interest in. Again, this is my own opinion; I realize that I’m in the minority about cooking/baking books lmao.
IN THE END
This post was a longwinded way of me saying: don’t take me DNF’ing a book TOO seriously because you may end up liking it. Even though I just outlined reasons why I decide to DNF books, it’s still an arbitrary decision that I sometimes just make in a split second. People’s tastes are their own!
In the end, I honestly just do not have the time or the patience to sit through books that I know I won’t enjoy. So really, I’m here to say, DNF that book that you don’t like! There’s nothing wrong with that! Why make yourself suffer for very little reward? You can go and read a book that you do enjoy instead.
Do you often DNF books? What kind of premises do you not like?