I used to be the kind of reader that never abandons a book. Something about my obsessive no-quitting personality compels me to follow through with every project I start, no matter how difficult or boring. But as I get older and my to-read pile grows ever taller, I’m beginning to realize that with so much to read and so little time, there is no point struggling through a book from which I get little value. So I created a DNF (Did Not Finish) shelf on Goodreads and thought I would share its contents with you so to save you some trouble from cracking open a book even a determined book-finisher had to abandon.
There are some books I set aside to read more interesting competitors but have every intention of returning to (whether I ever actually will is another story). Such works are not included in this list. Below are books that I deliberately decided were not worth my time to finish.
The Witch Hunter (Witch Hunter Saga #1) by Nicole R. Taylor — (Not to be confused with the book of the same name by Virginia Boecker.) Some people say you should give a book 100 pages before you quit on it. To me, if I made it that far, I’m probably going to follow through, just so that all that effort wasn’t wasted. I can usually tell early on if I will like a book or not. When reading Witch Hunter, I made it just to page 23 and realized I wasn’t attached to any of the characters or the plot. The writing was immature with lots of corny dialogue. This was compounded by the fact that it was almost entirely dialogue-driven with little to no description at parts. I put up with a lot when it comes to teen vampire romance series because I know they usually follow a formula I enjoy, no matter how unoriginal. But this one just couldn’t get me hooked.
Reborn (Shadow Falls: After Dark) by C.C. Hunter — Here’s another vampire one that didn’t make the cut. I was listening to it on audiobook and actually made it an hour or so in. I was in the last month or two of my Goodreads 2015 challenge, racing to get as close as possible to my reach goal of 100 books, so you know a book had to be pretty bad to throw it away in those circumstances. The writing style was extremely immature, the characters were super annoying, and the plot wasn’t quite compelling enough to keep me hooked. Della is angsty to the point of being absolutely unreasonable, which was frustrating and unpleasant to read about. Worst of all, despite having a female protagonist with two best friends, I don’t think this book even passes the Bechdel Test.
Nefertiti’s Heart (Artifact Hunters #1) by A.W. Exley — As much as I love steampunk conventions and my steampunky friends, I’m starting to realize that a steampunk literary work has to be something really special in order for it not to get on my nerves. It’s just too easy for steampunk novels to sound like they are trying too hard. (See Kayla’s post about steampunk clichés for more on that subject.) In this one, the 19th-century protagonist runs around in what we would wear to a modern day convention (pants, leather holster, front-lacing blue-green decorative corset with floofy undershirt), as if corsets weren’t undergarments back in the day. Where would she even find a brightly colored decorative corset back then? There is a way to write alternate history to create a fantasy setting, but just completely ignoring all historical accuracy and not explaining away any anachronisms is not it. The writing was not compelling enough to ignore the fact that the novel read more like a newbie steampunk’s wardrobe fantasy with some butt-kicking thrown in than a well-thought out story. I abandoned it after only page 33.
Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delaney — This book has been lauded as a modern classic, groundbreaking in the genres of science fiction and magical realism, but I only made it to the first page or two before giving it up as not my cup of tea. The writing style was so trippy and obtuse I knew I couldn’t make it through a whole book like that. I did read the forward by William Gibson, and as I am currently struggling through his Neuromancer I can see why high praise from him did not sell me on Dhalgren. He described it as a novel “not there to be finally understood,” which reminded me of the postmodern works I hated in high school. I read novels to relax, so when an author makes the reader work hard to understand the meaning of each individual sentence, I can’t understand why anyone would want to read it.
Hatchet (Brian’s Saga #1) by Gary Paulson — This is one of the first books I remember ever consciously abandoning, back in middle school. I then later had to read the whole thing for class. It is a Newbury Honor Award winner, but I found it to be one of the most boring things I’ve ever read (perhaps a close second to The Old Man and the Sea). It is a survival story of a teenage boy stranded in the wilderness after he lives through a plane crash that kills all others aboard. I remember being turned off by the graphic description of the pilot soiling himself while dying in the opening scene. The novel progresses to have no character interaction (because he’s alone), just lots of angst and eating poisonous berries (or was that Hunger Games?). Since this all happened back in middle school, I don’t remember much about the book besides how much I hated it and how resentful I was at being forced to read it after struggling with myself over whether it was okay to abandon it or not.
What books have you abandoned? Are there any on my list you think deserve a second chance? What makes you abandon a book? Let me know in the comments!