The DNFs

There was a time in my life when I felt compelled to finish every book I started. Even if I didn’t really care about, it felt wrong to never find out what happened. But now, I have a to-read list a mile long, and I just don’t time to read book that aren’t great.

Which is why even a 2 star rating is “it was okay” for me. 1 stars are extremely rare–they’re books I kept thinking I would like all the way up until the end but that ultimately left me EXTREMELY unsatisfied.

The ones I really don’t like I don’t finish. I don’t feel like I can truly review a book I didn’t read all the way through. Still, in case it is helpful to anyone, I will share one post with a tiny bit about these “DNFs.”

Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron. Usually if I start reading a book and don’t like it, I give up pretty quickly. This one I read more than half of, hoping it would eventually transition from cliche to intriguing and new. It hadn’t by the point I gave up. I read some reviews at that point that indicated it probably wasn’t going to. Skip this one unless you want something that feels safe and comforting.

The Runaway King, by Jennifer A. Nielsen. I was willing to give the sequel a chance, since I did really like the main character, and I couldn’t put the first book down. Surely she wouldn’t pull the same stunt twice. But this one had more of what I didn’t like in the first book and less of what I loved, so I abandoned it. Especially because I was dying to read Winter.

Hunted by Megan Spooner. This was beautifully written, and I liked the main character from the beginning. The setting felt very present, and while I’m kind of tired of fairy tale retellings (I read a TON of these a while back), this felt fresh. But by the time the MC ended up in the Beast’s castle . . . I started having reservations. Those reservations became bigger when I saw that she was becoming drawn to him even as I became more convinced he was NOT a good person. Nervous, I checked out reviews, and they confirmed my worst fears. I decided I’d spare myself the discomfort of watching these two “fall in love.”

Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. A few years ago, I decided to become well read in the middle-grade and young-adult age categories. If I wanted to publish mg and ya books, I needed to know what was out there, both to help me improve my craft and make sure my books were current and to help me find comp titles. Recently, I was feeling as if I had a huge Percy Jackson shaped hole in my knowledge of adolescent lit, since most kids have at least some exposure to it. I got about 25% of the way through, I think. The voice was snappy, so I could see what kids liked about it. But I had some issues (issues kids won’t likely have, admittedly), including Percy’s relative non-reaction to a huge, life-changing event and the repetitive avoidance of giving him any answers by every adult in his life. Plus, I felt like the premise was kinda Euro-centric, and it made me uncomfortable. I decided to move on.

Review: The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

2.5 stars

The False Prince cover (link to Goodreads)

Okay, to be fair, I think a lot of kids would LOVE this one. It was exciting and twisty all the way through. The main character was a lot of fun. I couldn’t put the book down as I was reading it, even though I had quibbles with it here and there. But it pulled the same garbage at the end as the Queen’s Thief series does, and I just can’t stand that. If you don’t mind a twist involving the viewpoint character knowing something he doesn’t divulge at any point in the story, you’ll probably like this one too.

Review: One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus

4 stars

One of Us Is Lying cover (link to Goodreads)

A YA mystery involving a murder-by-peanuts and a roomful of kids with deep, dark secrets that start getting out. There’s romance and bonding and drama, and it’s just right for YA. I did sort of guess the ending, but I hadn’t quite gotten all the details. I have a knack for guessing mysteries early on, so in my book, that’s a win.

Review: Gemina by Amie Kaufmann and Jay Kristoff

4 stars

Gemina cover (link to Goodreads)

This is the sequel to Illuminae, which I reviewed in my very first post in this topic. This book took longer to get into than the first, but once I was in, I think I actually liked it better. Essentially, the last surviving ship of the fleet is rushing toward something like DS9, a space station near the entrance to a wormhole. This book takes place on the station itself and centers around the daughter of the station commander and a teenaged boy who is her drug supplier (he was born into a gang family but is generally a good guy). I didn’t like them until after everything went terribly wrong, but once they showed their true colors, I warmed up to them. I’m definitely rooting for the good guys and will finish the series as soon as my hold comes in. I also want to get my hands on a physical copy.

Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

5 stars

The Hate U Give cover (link to Goodreads)

SO GOOD. I think this book has enough hype by now that most people have heard of it. I was sort of expecting it to be heavy-handed or not interesting as a story because sometimes issue books are just ISSUE books without enough attention to plot or characters. This was not the case at all. I loved Starr. I loved the nuance in every aspect of this book. There were so many important things dealt with. 

My only caution for parents is language. There were hundreds of f***s, even more s****s, and then sprinklings of other stuff. I honestly would still give it to my teens, but I kind of hope some of the language is edited out for the movie that comes out this year, if only so more young people are allowed to watch it.

I’m in a bit of a post-good-book funk atm because of it.

Do note that the movie was not as good. If you saw it and thought it lacked nuance, still give the book a try. If you loved the movie, definitely give the book a try.