Discussion Posts

Let’s Talk: The Dreaded DNF

Reasons I DNF

At the beginning of April, I did something I have only done six other times in my entire life: I put down a book I was part way through, with no intention of picking it back up again. That’s right, for the seventh time in my entire life, I DNF’d. (For anybody new to the book community, this stands for “Did/Do Not Finish.”)

Now, I’ve seen some readers who DNF books all the time, and I’ve seen others who will power through a book they hate at all costs, and have never DNF’d a single book. As someone who lives right in that middle range, I wanted to take a look at the things that make me permanently put down a book. I’ll probably do another post later looking at why I power through a book I dislike, but for now, these are the top three reasons I DNF.

Brace yourselves!

DNF

The book isn’t “as advertised.”

The first time I DNF’d a book, it was because it didn’t match what I had come to expect based on its synopsis. I was in seventh grade (before Goodreads was a thing), so I don’t remember the title, but the summary described a fast-paced fantasy full

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Me, wondering wtf was going on

of political intrigue. I expected a sort of YA Game of Thrones. Instead, what I read in the first few chapters was much closer to a romance (and a poorly written one at that) with some magic that happened on the opposite side of the world from where the characters were located. After those first few chapters, I quit the book. It was the first time I DNF’d, so I felt super guilty, but I knew the rest of the book would not be what I had signed on for.

Characters are sacrificed for plot, or vice versa

Nothing bothers me more than when a character does something wildly out-of-character for the sake of progressing the plot. Or the other way around, when something wildly unrealistic happens for the sake of developing the characters or giving them new skills.  I love plot twists, and when characters achieve things by doing the unexpected, but I should still be able to look at their actions and say, “Yes, I believe this person/this world would do that.” But if a character or plot does something that is totally not in line with how they’ve been presented thus far, to me it A) is a sign of bad/lazy writing, B) makes me care less about the character or world, and C) makes me feel like the author has betrayed my trust. The best

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Me, when Pasha started freaking out

example I can think of: all my reader friends have raved about The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye. And while I did actually finish the book, I don’t plan on reading the sequel for this reason. {Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t read it} I loved Pasha so much right up until that ending. He faces a bit of hardship, and instead of being the mostly level-headed, kind-hearted person I’d come to see him as, he throws a temper trantrum that results in the death of his best friend. And then afterward, basically says, “Oops, my bad. But I had reasons!” To me, it seemed like Skye realized she needed to bring the book to a close, and had no means of doing it except to warp Pasha’s character. So, while I didn’t necessarily DNF the book, I probably won’t finish the series.

And last but not least….

Forced Diversity

I want to be crystal clear: I am so excited to see more diverse characters popping up in more novels, whether they are diverse in their ethnicity, sexuality, gender identity, or any other means. I hope to read many more novels with diverse casts. My issue comes up when this diversity is poorly written, gives in to stereotypes, or seems poorly represented in any way. I once read a book where there was a princess whose parents fell in love, and their marriage united two warring kingdoms. The princess came of age, and was asked to pick a suitor from one of the two kingdoms; unfortunately, she was very aware of the political tensions that could come up were she to show any favoritism between the two countries. So, rather than explore the potential relationships with the suitors, or even step into a strong role as a sort of

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Me, wondering why anyone would think that was okay.

mediator between the two, this princess decides, “Gee whiz, all my problems would be solved if I were a lesbian. I think I’ll start being attracted to girls now.” It tore me right out of the book; not only did it present sexual orientation as a choice, rather than a part of who someone is, but with the way it was written, I could almost hear the author saying, “There. Diversity. Give me my pat on the back now.” Seriously, even little eighth-grade-Ryann could tell you that’s a big no-no. At that point, there were only a few chapters left in the book, but I still couldn’t bring myself to finish it.

There are definitely a few other things that make me DNF, but these are the big three that make it almost impossible for me to finish a book.


Thanks for reading! Do you agree or disagree with me on any of these? What are some reasons you DNF? Has there ever been a book that everybody loved that you just couldn’t bring yourself to finish? Let me know in the comments below!

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10 thoughts on “Let’s Talk: The Dreaded DNF

  1. I think all of your reasons are valid. I’ve been fortunate enough not to have those issues too many times, but it’s still hard for me to DNF any book, unless I absolutely despise it. Still, I understand your point and very much agree with it! I wish I could bring myself to DNF books more often XD
    Great post, Ryann 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sophie!

      It’s usually hard for me to DNF, too. Even if I don’t really like a book much, I’ll still power through it because I feel like, even if it’s not a personal favorite, someone worked really hard to put this book together, so I should see it through.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I DNF only when the plot does not capture my interest or the main protagonist behaves stupidly. In recent times I haven’t finished the woman in cabin 10 by ruth ware. She was just too stupid in the first few pages, but apparently the book improves later. So maybe later, I go back to this book. But I feel like is too short to read books which doesn’t capture my interest…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can sometimes get past a bad plot if everything else is REALLY good, but a bad main character is usually a big red flag for me, too.

      Liked by 1 person

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