The “Did Not Finish”.
It’s the bane of many reviewers’ lives. Are we obliged to finish books we receive for review? Is it simply good etiquette to do so? Are those who decide to cast a review book aside woefully lacking in moral fortitude?
The DNF is an issue I’ve pondered since becoming a reviewer and I have only just started to become comfortable with the idea that I don’t have to finish EVERY SINGLE BOOK that crosses my path just because I’ve received it for review. According to my Goodreads tally, I’ve already knocked over 82 books this year so far, so leaving a few by the wayside probably isn’t that great a sin.
Then I came across this mind-blowingly sensible article from Anya (On Starships and Dragonwings), challenging us to consider making the DNF our default option for reading. It would certainly save time. Theoretically, it would ensure that we were only reading the books that we were really invested in.
So I got on board. And now I have a slew of DNFed books to share with you.
*I should note that I don’t plan to make a habit of DNFing copious amounts of books. I just seem to have hit a bit of a pile of books that were DNFable for me in the last month*
Here they are then folks: the books I have recently DNFed. Perhaps amongst this collection you will find your bookish heart’s desire. I truly hope so. Click on the covers to be taken to the book’s Goodreads page.
The Genius Factor: How to Capture an Invisible Cat (Paul Tobin)
Categories: Middle Grade, science, fantasy, friendship, tea, secret societies
DNF’ed at: 29%
I was actually really enjoying this one to start with. There is a particularly touching friendship between Delphine and Nate that develops early on. There’s plenty of banter that I’m sure middle graders will love. I DNFed just as the secret society bit was coming into the story, so obviously there’s some mystery and danger involved. Essentially, as an adult reader, I just lost interest. Definitely worth having a look if middle grade humour/fantasy is your bag though. (And tell me how it ends)
The Smell of Other People’s Houses (Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock)
Categories: YA, historical fiction (1970s), indigenous issues, Alaska, coming of age
DNFed at: 29%
Overall, this felt just a bit too depressing for me. That enticing cover drew me in and I was interested in the Alaskan setting and characters of indigenous heritage but I just wasn’t compelled to keep reading. Unusually for me, the alternative points of view in the narrative left me finding it more difficult to keep the characters straight. This one would appeal to those who enjoy fiction featuring recent history, with a pervading atmosphere of realism and struggle.
Riverkeep (Martin Stewart)
Categories: YA, fantasy, death and dying
DNFed at: 11%
It felt like I read a lot more than just 11% of this book. That astonishingly lovely cover drew me in, along with the blurb, with promises of a boy whose job it is to drag corpses from a river, but I just couldn’t get my head around the world-building. The main character wasn’t particularly charismatic either, and I felt like his confusion and despair became my own. Early on I got the sense that reading this was going to be like wading through molasses, so I made the decision to put it down. This one would probably appeal to those who like high fantasy and epic tales that require total immersion in a new world.
Jonathan Dark or The Evidence of Ghosts (A. K. Benedict)
Categories: Adult fiction, mystery, paranormal, police procedural
DNFed at: 19%
I think that in another time and place I could have really enjoyed this one. It features two intersecting storylines – one involving a police investigation of a blind woman (who is not really blind, by the way) being harassed by a stalker, and the other involving a bloke who can see ghosts. There seemed to be a whole ghostly world going on in this second storyline which I may have become more interested in, but the police procedural part just seemed too dense and slow. Having said that, I may pick this up again later on if I feel like a bit of a challenge. I’d recommend this for fans of Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant series and those who enjoy a bit of a paranormal/murder mystery mashup.
There Will Be Stars (Bill Coffey)
Categories: Adult fiction, paranormal (?), family relationships, redemption
DNFed at: 7%
What a journey of confusion I set off on during the 7% I read of this book. I honestly had no idea what was going on for most of that 7%; a feeling made considerably worse by the irritating dialect in which the dialogue was written. By the time I decided to put this down I couldn’t bear to see another “ain’t nothin'” or “y’all” or pithy cheesy cliched saying. The book features a sort of groundhog day reliving of a tragic event in the life of the protagonist, but I decided I didn’t even want to experience it the first time around and so placed this one to the side. I’d say this would appeal to those who like a quirky narrative style and don’t mind working to unravel the plot threads early on.
So there you have it. A DNF-a-thon indeed. I do hope you have more success with these tomes than I did. You might even persuade me to have another crack at one!
Until next time,