Why Do You DNF?

Posted October 11, 2015 by Sophia
1 Comment

Here’s a little tidbit about myself: I feel really guilty about not finishing a book.

I mean, really guilty. I feel like I did something criminal when I decide I can’t handle a book and toss it to the side or go on a rampage when authors probably makes a living with their writing. It’s worse when it’s a copy for review – I mean, the author or publisher graciously let me read the book for review and I just give it a really big, grumpy cat style NO.

Of course, there is always going to be that one person who says that one book isn’t their type of book – every bestselling author has received at least one negative review per each book they’ve read. It’s perfectly normal to dislike a book so long as you don’t attack the author. Attack the book, not the author. You can be as brutally honest and call the book a poopy mess, but don’t go calling the author a poop head.

And why would you use the word “poop” in a review anyways? (I did it for the purposes of immature giggles. Don’t mind me.)

However, I still feel guilty and feel really bad – the books I request through Netgalley/Edelweiss (I’m usually quite picky there, but right now I’m a little knee deep and have avoided the sites altogether until I finish most of my current ARCs), borrow from the library or a friend, buy from Amazon (I’m that weirdo who only goes for 99 cents unless you’re THAT awesome), or take up for review (lately I have choice words, which is why I might not reply sometimes) obviously captured my attention. It’s why I’m interested in the book in the first place – unless you’re required reading, but I did like To Kill a Mockingbird. (I’ve read over 20 banned books!)

Unfortunately, some books still deserve a grumpy cat style NO regardless of the fact I found it appealing enough to be read in the first place, and it’s usually one or more of the reasons I’m going to start listing. Most of the time, it’s a combo. Because if you really only have one problem, I might actually finish your book.

Really Boring Writing

I sometimes call this snooze-worthy writing, and it usually applies to the amateurs – the authors who are just starting out, have some potential but are still trying to find their footing in the writing world.

I suppose you’re now wondering what, precisely, is really boring writing?

Here’s my answer: I have no clue. Every reader’s taste is different – some tolerate boring better than others, some stop right at the very first boring part and move on to another book. I can really only give you this: when you read so many books, informal and formal becomes instinctual.


Then again… I am minorly entertaining in essays unless it’s supposed to be straightforward. My mother thinks my being in newspaper totally helps me write essays. I think it’s just blogging, which caused me to be more open on paper. After all, I’ve been blogging longer than I’ve been writing for the school newspaper.

Too Formal Writing

Forget those caps (aside from the “THIS ISN’T AN ESSAY). Where there is very boring writing, there is also formal writing that is far too formal and belongs into that big, fat, whopping thing provided by schools called “textbook writing.” But if you can teach me how to Calculus, I’ll be forever in your debt.

One of my early review requests that I accepted wrote in this way. That author had UNNECESSARY information (weight) that didn’t pertain to the plot in any way, shape, or form, and the character sounded far too formal for his age and time period (it was time travel). It was excruciating, and I just couldn’t handle it after a certain point.

Needless to say, there are indeed authors who pull this off quite well. In Mary Frame’s New Adult novel, Imperfect Chemistry, we have a main character named Lucy London who sounds more formal for her age and sounds like a textbook in some parts of the book. BUT it worked because it fits with Lucy’s history. Also, Mary Frame throws in cute and adorable with it all and it comes out nicely.

Have I mentioned she’s self-published? This is why I constantly sing praises about her. (Unfortunately, I can’t put her in my school library because it’s New Adult and contains mature material. You have been warned. I’m still responsible for Sara Raasch, Victoria Aveyard, and Jennifer Anne Davis being in the school library, though.)


Some authors are masters at stalling – they’re good at keeping things really slow, but they keep it interesting enough to actually retain your attention until you get to the end of the book. Most, however, are not – the effort is there, but it ends up being blatantly obvious. I procrastinate a lot little. And of all the BT bloggers here, Lupe probably takes the trophy for procrastination.

Here’s something about me you might want to know about: Contrary to what I say, I have a tiny math gene within my DNA and I can actually math. My mom is the one with the biggest math gene and claims Calculus is very easy – much as I tried to persuade her to teach me Calculus so I could be ahead of the class when school starts, she rejected me. I’ll go ahead and admit that Calculus is currently a little easy. Maybe my brain is wired for Calculus and Chemistry but not Algebra and Trig (but wait until Trig comes into play. I’m royally screwed.).

When books have little progress, I start calculating – it can be at any point in the book (because I’m that bored and math seems fun?). If you’re looking for six mermaids and found one by half the book, I’m going to start taking guesses at how long it will actually take to find the other five (35-40%). If you’re in a competition for survival and the setup and training take up nearly three-quarters of the book, I’m going to start calculating how long the actual competition is going to last (10-15%).

Yes, I know there are restrictions and limitations to your “bestselling” idea – I’m sure you and every author are a little scared in some way or form that a reviewer will point out your idea is a basic formula of another book if you decide to put more action than you actually did. But do you really have to take years?

Have I mentioned I tend to be quite…. accurate?

Lots and Lots of Action

Think about the quote, “All work and no play.” Replace “work” with “action and “play” with information.” All action and no information. There are books with lots of stalling, and it’s perfectly acceptable if it makes sense. I haven’t come across a book with lots of action and no information that’s been successfully done. I’ve certainly come across a book with lots of action and information dumps, and it went along really well because it just balanced each other out.

Damsels in Distress

I hate damsels in distress with a fiery passion. They spend too much time getting stuck in a tight snitch and just wait for someone to come to their rescue.

I do have leniency in the first book of a series, but when there are enough rescues that I can count it on more than one hand or it carries over to the sequel, then you’re in big trouble. Big, big, trouble. The big bad wolf will huff and puff and blow your book away. Although… since a lot of people don’t think Katy is a damsel in distress, maybe it’s just the fact Daemon just literally appears EVERYWHERE?

I’m not a big bad wolf, I’ll reassure you, but I might as well be one.

Jackass Characters

This is perhaps one of the rare times you’ll ever see me utter something vulgar, but I hate assholes, bitches, and jerks. I hate Cassie from The Fifth Wave because while she’s realistic (I’ll agree with the book club members that now hate me on this point), she is downright rude. Does she kiss her mother with that mouth of hers? Plus, she’s never going to get a decent boyfriend if she texts while the person is talking (she complains about said talking person and she’s the one who’s being rude by texting in the first place). HAVE I MENTIONED IT’S MY PET PEEVE? That’s not my only reason why I chose not to finish the book. There are other factors, but the character is the number one way. And she’s RUDE. While I might be rude sometimes, it’s because the person provoked me. Customer service is obviously not the job for me. I can’t fake a smile or cheese it out for the life of me. Maybe I’m better off in a library.

I also hate immaturity. It’s why I, as a senior, want to march up to some of this year’s (I liked the past ones) freshmen and tell them, “Welcome to High School. Grow up and leave your petty drama in the middle school instead of carrying it over. No one really cares about girlfriend A cheating on boyfriend B for boyfriend C. Have I mentioned that studies show men like natural beauty more than makeup?”

Hair flip ensues. The whole cheating thing isn’t necessarily true, but it’s still petty little drama I don’t want to hear about. I’m pretty sure that natural beauty fact is true. But if I say that, the person might snobbishly ask if I have a boyfriend. I don’t, and I don’t intend on dipping my toe in the dating pond. Thank you! (But I’ll have you know my photos are natural. :p)

I don’t like being hit on, either. I’ll roast you on the spot and add it to my list of horror stories. (One of them had a cheesy pickup line, another used innuendos…).


I once heard that there are no unique ideas anymore (one of my weird memory things) – we just take one idea and give it a new spin, again and again and again. I like new spins – the retellings, the myth and folklore, etc. I have a particular fondness for the dark twists. I don’t have a fondness for those that have a lot of similarities to another book and it is blatantly obvious.

In a weird way, I feel like it’s plagiarizing. It’s more than the basic formula – I’m completely cool with the basic formula. I’m not exactly cool with those that are copied spine deep.

So… let’s chat. Do you feel guilty when you don’t finish a book? What makes you not finish a book?

Sophia is a socially awkward Communications major who has a GIF for nearly everything and is frequently in a Hogwarts House Crisis. More of her bookish reviews can be found at The Arts STL.

Categories: Books

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