I DNF’d a total of 23 books this year. That’s right: 23 BOOKS! This coming from a girl who always felt like she had to finish everything she picked up, regardless of whether it was remotely enjoyable or not. But I’ve turned over a new leaf- as you can see! 2022 was the year I fully embraced the DNF- because life is too short to read every. single. book (especially when you don’t even like them).
Now, given the sheer quantity of DNFs, I’m not going to go into detail about every single one. A lot of them were simply too dull or too graphic or not what I was looking for. Empire of Pain was obviously too painful (I may try to pick it up again when I’m feeling braver). I kissed Shara Wheeler reminded me why I didn’t like the author’s writing style. And Shuggie Bain was just too gloomy. Still- there were some that stuck in my mind (for all the wrong reasons) and I just *have to* talk about them… Let’s get into some of those lowlights, shall we?
One to Watch– watch out- this one’s a little depressing. Which was a real downer, considering I was hoping for something light and frothy. I found it disappointing that the protagonist’s whole personality hinged on being plus sized. It kind of defeats the message of looking beyond appearances if you do nothing but focus on appearances. I just wasn’t getting what I wanted out of this book.
The Magician– I was so disconnected from this. There really wasn’t enough going on to keep my interest and there’s only so many times I can hear it repeated that the main character was not doing what his family wanted. I think there is a generational gap going on here, because some people really like (non) stories like this and I don’t get it.
Parable of the Sower– I held onto this book a lot longer than I should have, because I know what a brilliant author Octavia Butler is. But unfortunately, I don’t want to read a book about the end of the world right now (cos it feels like we’re living it! Perhaps (hopefully) something to pick up one day when the world is less grim.
Robber Bride– this is the one I had the highest anticipation for, because, while I didn’t love Handmaid’s Tale, I can see Atwood is talented and I really liked Alias Grace. Plus, I’d been meaning to read another Atwood for ages. But MY GOD the pacing. I don’t know what it is about the most acclaimed Atwood books not being my thing… but they are really not my thing.
Firekeeper’s Daughter– the writing style simply wasn’t for me. I was put off by the amount of telling- so much of the characterisation was written in a very basic way, in the vein of: “she’s my best friend, I’ve known her for years, here’s our entire history blah blah blah”. I also didn’t like imagined conversations to give us her parent’s backstory. Books like this have made me wonder if I’m even into YA anymore (which would be fair enough if I’m not 😜)
The Kingdoms– this was so unusual… perhaps a little too unusual for me. I loved the world building and the integration of Franco-British culture. Still, at times it was too strange for me and it lost me when it jumped back in time. I struggled to find my footing and then lost my way entirely. I read so much of this- nonetheless I couldn’t continue anymore. Time travel books are very hit or miss for me- speaking of which…
Time Traveller’s Wife– I wish I could go back in time and un-read this book. It wasn’t simply that I didn’t jive with this book, I actively hated it. Everything about the concept creeped me out. I just really don’t like it. Everything about the concept really creeps me out. I don’t like the paedophilic/grooming implications of her meeting her future husband as a child when he’s 40. It’s not cute, it’s creepy. There is the implication that this is all fine and dandy, since she makes the first move in the present, but that just comes across as victim blaming. She doesn’t have true agency- she was groomed from childhood to seek him out. I don’t even like when the main character meets himself as a child and gives instructions to have it be “our little secret”. Again, this is the sort of thing that groomers and child abusers do. I don’t understand why this book is popular, because I don’t find any of this quirky or romantic. It not only makes my head spin, it grosses me out. It would’ve been my least favourite book of the year if I’d finished it.
Babel– this was also a great big NOPE for me! Which was a real shame, as I was very much looking forward to this book. What I signed up for was a dark academia adventure set in 1800s Oxford… what I got instead was a plotless rant about history with a very basic linguistics lesson on the side. Not that it felt very grounded in history- modern phrases like “China is the future” and words like “diversify” aren’t exactly contemporary to the 19th century (which is rather amusing for a book about the history of language). Even for dark academia, there was too much focus on the academics to the detriment of everything else. Plus, for a book supposed to bring the focus onto the unseen in society, the characters read as flat caricatures. They read like stereotypes to me. And I knew the book wasn’t going to get any better when I was told, instead of shown that “he would have killed for any of his cohort”- without any evidence or action to back that up!! I was just supposed to believe they were best friends out of a couple of conversations!! Which brings me onto the awful amount of telling. Every single emotion was telegraphed through lines like “He was a child starved for affection”. Every. Single. One. I’m genuinely confused by all the people saying this book was beautifully written- because I couldn’t see it. I don’t care how popular this book is, I was completely fed up reading it and never wanted to pick it up.
Annnd that’s all for now! I’m sure one of those are bound to get me sent into bookworm exile! Sooo dare I ask- what did you think of these books? Have you read them? Did you manage to finish them? Let me know in the comments!