This is a periodic discussion feature here at Snuggly Oranges about the many problems one can run into as a book nerd.
#18. The DNF, or When Do You Give Up?
I have a lot of rambly thoughts about DNFing, so I felt like putting that out there today. It’s definitely one of my book nerd problems. I’m not going to advocate a right way to determine whether you can DNF something – I mean, really, it’s person dependent and everyone’s perfectly entitled to their own methods. These are just my thoughts.
This post may be a little like this. … I’m sorry.
My DNF Thought ProcessMy mind goes through a kind of series of questions if I’m tempted to DNF a book. Until now, this has resulted in me barely ever DNFing a book. So I need to lighten up on my restrictions. But this is basically what I go through.
1. How many pages have you read?
I am a believer that you have to give a book a fair shot before you leave it in the dust. I mean, I can think of more than enough fantasy novels that have really slow starts because of the set up of the world at the beginning. It can be quite infodumpy and boring, but usually it’s worth it to push through. I don’t really have a set target for myself on how many pages to minimally read… but I think that 20% or so would be fair? Right? Or not?
2. Is this book a review book?
With review copies, regardless of whether they are physical or egalleys, whether I was auto-approved or invited or requested it, whether it was solicited or unsolicited, I feel more guilty when I’m tempted to not finish. I think I’m far from alone in that. Obviously, in some way, shape, form or statistic somewhere, I agreed with someone that I would read this book and talk about it. So I feel obligated to finish it. But if I’m really not feeling it, I’ll rate it negatively, which publishers also wouldn’t particularly enjoy. Now that I’m getting more access to review copies, I need to find some way to let it go. At the least, copies that I’m auto-approved for or invited to should be less of an obligation. Requesting and getting approved is a bigger deal.
TL;DR: if it’s a review copy, I’ll give it a bit more time to impress me than normal.
3. Is it likely that there will be a twist – that the plot will get better?
Sometimes I do get the feeling that the end will truly be better. I might, at this point, consult with some friends that have read it. It’s harder, obviously, if it’s a review book that not many people have read yet. Most of the time you can kind of feel this – or you should be able to feel this – early on though. There might be a feeling that it’s building to something, that the plot twists could shock you, that you have to know WHY. But other times, there might not even be a clear plot or a clear driver behind the story. Should I go on? Hmm.
Help me, friend!
4. Is it bad enough that you want to set the record straight?
I have to admit, a lot of the tendency to DNF for me comes when I’m feeling lukewarm about a book – if I’m bored or not connecting. If it’s really bad, then I’ll often feel like I should set the record straight, and let followers and fellow readers make an informed opinion before picking up a book. This is pretty much the only thing that got me to finish September Girls and the unspeakable book last year. But basically, it needs to be a special kind of bad for me to do that. A kind of bad that gets the rant juices flowing. The kind where I’m just like…
5. How much time have you spent on it already?
I’m pretty picky in that I really want to keep up my reading schedule. I need to finish at least two books per week. It’s happened recently (*cough*The5thWave*cough*) that I really wanted to drop a book, but I’d already spent 4 days reading it. I needed to finish it because otherwise I wouldn’t get my 2 books per week in! This sounds kind of shallow, but I like my reading challenge, and I don’t count my DNF books. I mean, I guess I could if I read enough of them (>50%? >75%? I DON’T KNOW). But yeah. The same goes with posting a review. I don’t know if it’s fair to post a DNF review on the blog. I post reasoning behind DNFing on GR, but the blog? Meh. It also can invite drama because people can be like, “Well you didn’t even finish, what the hell do you know?” So I need the book finished to be able to post a review – to have content for my blog.
TL;DR: if I’ve already spent a long time on it, I’m more likely to push through and finish. (Obviously this directly conflicts with #1 – have I given it a fair shot? ARGH LIFE IS SO HARD.)
My 4 Rare DNFsTo this day, I can count the number of books I’ve DNFed on one hand. *dances* Well I’m not counting required reading books in school, because I’m sure there were plenty of those. BUT ANYWAY. Basically, when I DNF, I don’t do so lightly. Here are my 4 DNFs, and why I couldn’t bear to finish them.
1. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer – Read 50% / Quit somewhere in 2009.
To be honest, I’m surprised I even lasted that long, but I made it through almost half this last book in the series before I could finally give it up. I was reading the whole series just trying to understand the hype. I thought Twilight was relatively entertaining, if corny and sappy and melodramatic. The series went downhill from there though. But I wasn’t much of a reader, and I’d bought the box set, so I continued. Breaking Dawn was just too horrible. What I remember most that pissed me off was the sudden addition of Jacob’s point of view. I could not stand his voice. Eventually I just was occupied with other things and forgot about the book. But I didn’t care. At all.
2. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner – Read 60% / Quit in May 2012.
I really quite enjoyed The Maze Runner, but the sequel was just… what? It totally did not go the way that I expected and I was just not into it. The charm was lost. The story just became more… horror-esque, that at least at that point in time was really a turn off for me. The characters were also all over the place. The worldbuilding left much to be desired. The “romance” was melodramatic. But I could potentially give this a shot some other time. I haven’t completely written it off. But I just don’t get the hype about this series. The first book, sure, I guess. But this? Meh.
3. A Million Suns by Beth Revis – Read 45% / Quit in August 2012.
I pretty much disliked the first book (though I gave it 3 stars… I was less critical at the time) but everyone raved about this series, so I felt like I should push on. My problem was that I had no connection to the characters, they were as stiff as cardboard, and their romance was infuriatingly bad. When I reached halfway in the sequel and still saw no personality from either of them, I let myself out. One and a half books was a fair enough try. I wasn’t even impressed by the plot, and after quitting, I read some spoilers on where it was going, and yeah, no. Not my thing. Weaksauce sci-fi.
4. White Space by Ilsa J. Bick – Read 15% / Quit in February 2014.
I actually went a year and a half without DNFing anything – my whole career as a blogger, pretty much. But then this happened last week. I couldn’t do it. It’s what triggered this post, actually, because obviously I feel guilty for DNFing a review book. But knowing how confusing the world was, how immense the book was, the fact that there were 4 different POVs and I had no clue who was who because it rushed right into confusing plot, and the writing either gave me a headache or couldn’t hold my attention for more than 5 seconds… it was going nowhere. Another thing I couldn’t stand was that there were brutal scenes with a bunch of gore that were written in the most cold and detached way – and that I seriously cannot handle in books.
Let’s Talk!Now obviously I’m not the first to broach this topic, but I want to hear from you guys!
1. Do you write reviews for books you DNF? Only on Goodreads or also on your blog?
2. When is it okay to DNF a review copy? How do you let the publisher know?
3. Do you set yourself a minimum number of pages to get through before DNFing?
4. Or am I just crazy and do you think about NONE of these things and just DNF when you feel like it?
5. Any other thoughts!