Book Reviews

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.

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