Books I DNF’d in 2019

end of year: dnf'd books

This is a companion post to the Most Disappointing Books of 2019 post, and I suppose I could merge them together, but I think that I have very different feelings about books I DNF vs. books I managed to finish, so I like to keep these separate. I don’t DNF often, because I hate feeling like I’ve wasted my time, but I will DNF if I know that a book won’t work for me (which I can usually tell within the first fifty or so pages). I DNF’d a grand total of seven books this year.

Let’s go in chronological order!

The Gilded Wolves
Roshni Chokshi

the gildede wolves

DNF @ 30%. This was very sad and difficult, because I was highly anticipating this book and wanted so badly to love it. I even found it on a subway bench a week before it was due to be published, as part of a subway reads program! I kept forcing myself to read it but I just wound up in a reading slump. I thought this book tried way too hard and still managed to be super juvenile. And everything was so weirdly convoluted.

Promise of Blood
Brian McClellan

promise of blood

DNF @ 9%. Reading fantasy books by white men is always a risk, and this is one of those cases where the risk did not pan out. The first woman introduced, in the third chapter, is literally a mute with no POV chapters of her own. The next woman is threatened with rape almost immediately. The third woman is a male lead’s fiance who recently cheated on him…because someone was paid to seduce her to get revenge against one of the male leads. Descriptions of the women are all very male gazey. Aside from that, the writing is stiff and formulaic; the story is boring when it really shouldn’t be; there’s a lot of clunky exposition; and all three of the male leads read like the same person.

A Crown for Cold Silver
Alex Marshall

a crown for cold silver

DNF @9%. I bought this book because it came highly recommended as an alternative for folks wanting something better than the Game of Thrones debacle. On paper, it should have worked, but I found that I could only connect to one of the many perspectives, and I could already tell the book was going to be slow-paced in a predictable way, and I just didn’t feel like struggling through that for a book I was pretty certain would only be three stars at best.

The Candle and the Flame
Nafiza Azad

the candle and the flame

DNF @ 7%. Another highly anticipated read, but I thought there was way too much awkward exposition and a lot of telling. I just couldn’t get invested in the characters or the writing style the way I would want to for a book this long.

Fire Logic
Laurie J. Marks

fire logic

DNF @ 11%. I’ve been wanting to read this book for years; it’s quite old but comes highly recommended. There’s something about the writing that is distant and alienating, the way events are glossed over and summarized rather than properly shown. I couldn’t seem to care about any of the characters. The dialogue was horribly formal and stilted. It certainly wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever read, but I wasn’t super enthusiastic about it. When I purchased it, there was an astounding dearth in fantasy featuring queer women, and this book came highly recommended as one such book that was traditionally published by a mainstream press (Tor, in this case). Luckily, now there are plenty of alternatives, so I don’t have to force myself to read books I’m lukewarm about just for the f/f romances.

Again, But Better
Christine Riccio

again but better

DNF @ 10%. This book is so very cringey. I don’t say that lightly. I have a very high tolerance for what many might consider cringey, but this is just too much even for me. The main character is so painfully awkward and immature but it’s not really written in a relatable or sympathetic way. Her internal monologue was painful to read. And the plot veers into an Aggressive Heterosexual Romance so fast it made my head spin. And there’s also…little to no plot, it seems? Like, nothing seems to cohesively come together; it seems to just be a string of events one right after the other. I really thought this was going to be about a character’s personal growth and self-discovery abroad, but no. Still looking for that great study abroad book.

The Turn of the Screw
Henry James

turn of the screw

DNF @ 23%. In my very short review of this I wrote: “There is absolutely no reason to torture myself with this prose when SparkNotes exists.” Because reading the prose in this was absolute torture. It was just. So bad. So overwrought. So needlessly convoluted. I hated it so much. And keep in mind this book is 121 pages and I couldn’t even get through half. That’s how terrible this was.

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