My Recent DNFs

DNF is an abbreviation for “Did Not Finish.” I know my books have been DNFd by readers; lately, I’ve had a fair number of DNFs in my own reading.

No, I am not going to name titles or authors! And I’m going to do my best to obscure details so you can’t tell which books these were.

1. Too shallow.

I like fluff. But this book was so fluffy that I couldn’t take the pov character or her problem seriously. In fact, I felt so manipulated by the author that I was inclined to mock the pov character. I think this book was intended to be slightly humorous, but I…didn’t get that, even after reading the whole first section. Next!

2. Bad research.

I’m sure this author did do some research. But the research was shallow, I think. The author’s portrayal of a particular field clashed so badly with what I personally know of that particular field that I lost all respect for the story. (True, my experience is not universal. But it feels like it is. I felt a disconnect from reality here, and it threw me out of the story.*) I had decided to go on reading anyway–after all, I read pulp fiction and space opera that’s unrealistic–when I encountered an unintentionally hilarious line about a tragedy and knew I could not go on. Next!

*See also Everybody Knows Something You Don’t, a recent post at Bookview Cafe by Madeleine Robins.

3. Too little conflict.

When reading erotica, it’s a big turnoff for me when the lead characters are overwhelmingly, insatiably, gleamingly hot to each other from the first instant they meet. I’m glad for them. I’m going to go do something else while they get it on. Next!

4. Confusing worldbuilding.

After about ten pages, so many different alien species with funny names had been dumped on the page, with no context, and no apparent relevance to the pov character, that I felt a bit like Captain Kirk after all the tribbles fell on his head. Also, the pov character was entitled and arrogant in a way I did not admire. Next!

5. Bizarre tone.

I don’t know what was up with this book, but the opening pov character’s voice just…I have no idea. Was it meant to be cute? Funny? Whatever, the tone felt wildly different from the events happening, and even more so from the events that followed. The pov character changed, but too late. I had developed strong dislike. Next.

6. Why do I care, again?

The pov character had barely been introduced before a giant battle happened. The character was distraught, afterwards, but I didn’t care because the status quo hadn’t been established before everything was upended; I couldn’t feel anything about what the character had lost. Also, the way female characters were described struck me as weirdly prurient. Next.

7. Enh.

This book wasn’t bad. I was mildly interested. There was potential romance on the horizon, and hijinks. But my desire to see those things happen kept getting delayed with small conflicts that bored me. Another reader might have liked it. I didn’t. Next.

8. I was not the audience for this book.

Actually, that’s what I usually say when people ask me why I didn’t like a book. And it’s true. There are many books for which I am just not the right audience. In this case, I was really, really not the audience. Even when I was twelve.

If you feel the need to vent about a recent DNF, sans author and title, feel free to do so below!

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen [she, her] currently writes cozy space opera for Kalikoi. The novella series A Place of Refuge begins with Finding Refuge: Telepathic warrior Talia Avi, genius engineer Miki Boudreaux, and augmented soldier Faigin Balfour fought the fascist Federated Colonies for ten years, following the charismatic dissenter Jon Churchill. Then Jon disappeared, Talia was thought dead, and Miki and Faigin struggled to take Jon’s place and stay alive. When the FC is unexpectedly upended, Talia is reunited with her friends and they are given sanctuary on the enigmatic planet Refuge. The trio of former guerillas strive to recover from lifetimes of trauma, build new lives on a planet with endless horizons, and forge tender new connections with each other.
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2 Responses to My Recent DNFs

  1. Kate Pearce says:

    Now I’m all worried-was I too fluffy?

  2. I haven’t opened your new one yet. I’m saving it for a bit so I may savor it properly.

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