DNF 2013 (part 1): We Try to Read Them So You Don’t Have To

June 10, 2013 DNF 10


See all the DNF posts

We do our best to only accept books for review that we think we will enjoy, but it is impossible to safeguard 100% against bad reads.  These are the books we Did Not Finish (DNF). We do not give up on books lightly.  In fact we hate not finishing a book, even a bad book, but there are times when for one reason or another, we just can’t bring ourselves to reach the end.  We’ll be posting them when we collect a few DNF reads once or twice a year depending. Part two will probably we out in December.  Click the (+) below to read our reasons for each book.

The Water Witch (Fairwick Chronicles, #2)

by Juliet Dark

The Water Witch (Fairwick Chronicles, #2)

Seduced by a powerful incubus demon, Callie has succeeded in banishing him to the Borderlands but Liam still haunts her dreams, tempting her with the knowledge of how to bring him back.

But loving an incubus usually ends in death for a human. For her own sake, Callie must learn to control her desires and ensure Liam remains trapped for all eternity in his watery prison.

Only there is a more dangerous creature than Liam in the Borderlands. The Water Witch is looking for a way back. 

Within a chapter of starting THE WATER WITCH, I was regretting jumping into this series at book two. Not because I was lost, oh no, it was just that the details Dark included to introduce her world and these characters sounded like a lot of fun. A Norse handyman?  A seductive and dangerous lover?  A main character who longs to spend her summers in exotic European locations but instead finds herself fixing up her beautiful old house and helping undies spawn?  Unfortunately, these interesting elements soon multiplied into a deluge of supernatural species, politics, and practices.  My head spinning, I finally gave up on THE WATER WITCH.  Fairwick reminded me of the Jane True series, but without Jane’s saucy humor I didn’t have much interest in reading on.  -Julia

by Julianna Baggott

Fuse (Pure, #2)

When the world ended, those who dwelled within the Dome were safe. Inside their glass world the Pures live on unscarred, while those outside—the Wretches—struggle to survive amidst the smoke and ash.

Believing his mother was living among the Wretches, Partridge escaped from the Dome to find her. Determined to regain control over his son, Willux, the leader of the Pures, unleashes a violent new attack on the Wretches. It’s up to Pressia Belze, a young woman with her own mysterious past, to decode a set of cryptic clues from the past to set the Wretches free.

An epic quest that sweeps readers into a world of beautiful brutality, Fuse continues the story of two people fighting to save their futures—and change the fate of the world. 

This was a book that needed a massive glossary or a recap of the previous book PURE to understand who was who and what was happening. I didn’t connect with anyone and part of that was the constantly shifting narratives which is okay for a book with a simpler world and less complex characters. There was just too much information given out and absolutely no introduction to most of the characters (Okay one person thankfully gets some backstory). Also, its not a good thing when I look down to see how far I have to go and I give an exasperated sigh. I felt lost and overwhelmed pretty much the whole time I sat down to read this. The worldbuilding or what I understood of it seems fascinating but I couldn’t fully grasp what was happening. -Kristina

Indigo Awakening (The Hunted, #1)

by Jordan Dane

Indigo Awakening (The Hunted, #1)

Voices told Lucas Darby to run. Voices no one else can hear. He’s warned his sister not to look for him, but Rayne refuses to let her troubled brother vanish on the streets of LA. In her desperate search, she meets Gabriel Stewart, a runaway with mysterious powers and far too many secrets. Rayne can’t explain her crazy need to trust the strange yet compelling boy—to touch him—to protect him even though he scares her.

A fanatical church secretly hunts psychic kids—gifted “Indigo” teens feared to be the next evolution of mankind—for reasons only “the Believers” know. Now Rayne’s only hope is Gabe, who is haunted by an awakening power—a force darker than either of them imagine—that could doom them all. 

Sigh. I really hate giving up on books, especially when I don’t thoroughly hate them.  And I didn’t thoroughly hate INDIGO AWAKENING, I just really disliked most it.  For starters, tons of POV shifts right at the beginning always throw me.  And then you have a super cliche villainous cult church (a very thinly veiled reference to the Church of Scientology) whose main goal seemed to be hunting down and killing kids.  Maybe it would have helped if the kids were super likeable, but they weren’t. Especially not with one of the fastest examples of insta-love ever. I grew less interested with every page and couldn’t bring myself to finish it. – Abigail

Pulse (Pulse, #1)

by Patrick Carman

Pulse (Pulse, #1)

From New York Times bestselling author Patrick Carman, a teen fantasy-adventure of epic proportions. In 2051, some teens have a “pulse,” the power to move objects with their minds. Compulsively readable, with thrilling action scenes and a tender love story.

The year is 2051, and the world is still recognizable. With the help of her mysterious classmate Dylan Gilmore, Faith Daniels discovers that she can move objects with her mind. This telekinetic ability is called a “pulse,” and Dylan has the talent, too.

In riveting action scenes, Faith demonstrates her ability to use her pulse against a group of telekinesis masters so powerful they will flatten their enemies by uprooting street lights, moving boulders, and changing the course of a hurtling hammer so that it becomes a deadly weapon. But even with great talent, the mind—and the heart—can be difficult to control. If Faith wants to join forces with Dylan and save the world, she’ll have to harness the power of both.

Patrick Carman’s Pulse trilogy is a stunning, action-filled triumph about the power of the mind—and the power of love. 

This is the kind of DNF that makes me mad.  HarperTeen, in general, publishes great books.  They have a reputation for delivering solid stories and captivating characters.  What’s more, they have a huge publishing machine to throw behind their titles and get tons of publicity, awesome covers, and often movie quality book trailers.  PULSE should have been a perfect example. The cover is killer, the trailer looks awesome, and the premise sounded even better.  So where exactly is the book to match?

Beuller? Beuller?

I was shocked from the first page. And no, not in a good way. The writing is…wow its bad. It was like reading something intended for third graders….  I kid you not, the whole thing was written like, “Faith was scared so she…this made Faith happy so she…Faith was sad…”  I couldn’t make it far enough to even get to anything interesting plotwise.  By chapter five I was so ready to be done with this. -Abigail

The Mirrored Shard (Iron Codex, #3)

by Caitlin Kittredge

The Mirrored Shard (Iron Codex, #3)

Aoife Grayson must face death to win back Dean—the love who was ripped from the Iron Lands of the living when he was shot in the arctic north. But getting to the Deadlands is something that Aoife can’t do on her own. And if she can find a way there, Tremaine would surely never allow it. He has sworn to keep her in the Thorn Lands, the fairie home of her mother, Nerissa. But Aoife is determined to find her way out. And she has no trouble if that means she has to kill Tremain and his queen to do it. 

All hail, Aoife, Queen of the Bad Plan and Hasty Journey! In this series’ mech-mysterious language of magic and machine, Aoife would be a dark perpetual motion machine, barreling onward with a seemingly terrible success rate. Miss, miss, miss, until by book’s end, hit?  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the patience to wait that long.

THE MIRRORED SHARD starts in a tricky place for a series. Many of Aoife’s secrets are out (if not entirely understood), and she starts the story at the bottom of an emotional well. Or at least, I initially assumed it was the bottom, but found she had to continue sliding for a few more chapters before making any upward progress. My previous affection for this series hinged more on the world than the characters, which made the dramatic, character driven parts of the book pretty rough. Though stealing a zombie zeppelin was a momentary high point, when this moment was followed by another series of arbitrary misfortunes and inexplicable saves, I gave up.  – Julia

Shadowlands (Shadowlands, #1)

by  Kate Brian

Shadowlands (Shadowlands, #1)


Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection program. Entering the program alongside her, is her father and sister Darcy. The trio starts a new life and a new beginning leaving their friends and family behind without a goodbye.

Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. Just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again? 

Though Urban Fantasy is my first love, I’ve been known to stray to other genres on occasion.  Young Adult, Mystery, Romance, any book with a character driven story has the potential to seduce me away.  When strains of those other genres filter back into Urban Fantasy, color me happy.  Supernatural romance, otherworldly mysteries… you name it, I love it.

It was just such a mashup I was hoping for when I picked up SHADOWLANDS.  A touch of a thriller, mingled with secrets that bring a hint magic into the world.  Unfortunately, it was my love of Mysteries and Thrillers that dashed my initial hopes.  The book starts in the woods, just as Rory is attacked, just as her safe world comes crashing down around her.  The intensity of that moment was great, but that was the last time I could immerse myself in the story.  SHADOWLANDS doesn’t make for a believable police procedural.  Which is truly unfortunate, given how much of the early chapters should have involved police procedure.  “Should have”.  Instead, there was the world’s most expository FBI agent, who embodied all of the unbelievable plot machinations awkwardly trying to maneuver Rory and her family, alone, in an SUV with a GPS aimed at their new life.

I usually try to make 80 pages before allowing myself to give up on a review book, and SHADOWLANDS was definitely on probation as I fought my way through those first few chapters.  While the attack allowed me to quickly get invested in Rory, the aftermath of that visceral event was not kind to her family.  The hints of a love triangle, thrown in so briefly, seemed awkward and out of place after a life or death attack.  It was apparent that the author was trying to establish Rory’s sister as vain and shallow and emotionally unavailable, but her approach felt clunky and transparent.

Ultimately, the only thing keeping me reading SHADOWLANDS past the 80 page mark was my hunch about “the safe house” and the tiny island where Rory’s family is hidden by the FBI.  In this instance, SHADOWLANDS’s own clunky action hid a critical transition, and it was clear where I needed to stop reading a thriller and settle in for magic.  And soon, it was also clear that “confirming a hunch” was not going to be enough to keep me interested in this story.

As a DNF review, this one is a little misleading.  I did skip to the last chapter to see if I was right, and those last few pages confirmed what I’d guessed way back in the beginning.  As a thriller, this book did not work for me.  As a mystery, it was pretty predictable.  And as urban fantasy, the magic was as forgettable as all the rest. – Julia

Silent Cravings

by  Jess Haines, E. Blix

Silent Cravings

The Goliath werewolves, a California pack hoping to expand into new territories, made an extreme error in judgment when choosing Christoph to be their representative for negotiations in New York. After two fights in the open with another supernatural, Christoph orders a lower-ranking teenaged Were to take the downfall for his mistakes by serving in his place under vampire Alec Royce’s watchful eye.

When Christoph and another packmate try to save the girl from Royce’s clutches—never mind the inevitable war they’d start in the process—the two are outcast from their pack. The vampire once again demands servitude as recompense, and they soon find themselves magically “neutered” by enchanted leather fetish collars so they can’t hurt themselves or anyone else in the vampire’s entourage. Hey, the collars were all Royce had handy at the time.

Just when Christoph thought it couldn’t get any worse, a mute vampire named Mouse decides to claim him, taking him for her own. She has her own set of problems, what with being mentally damaged by her sire, Max Carlyle, who delighted in enforcing her monstrous nature. She hungers for Christoph, but can’t stand to see someone victimized or—even worse—afraid of her.

Christoph is taught the greater lesson of what it really means to follow the Goliath Code of Honor and Mouse narrowly avoids a nervous breakdown in the process of accepting her own predatory nature. The two must learn how to live together (and deal with his new accessory)—without driving Royce and the rest of his household crazy in the process. 

There are three things I was really excited about with this book: Jess Haines, the H&W Investigations world, and super sexy vampire Alec Royce.  That’s normally a near perfect combination for me, so how did I end up struggling to get through even a quarter of SILENT CRAVINGS?

First off, it’s really overwritten.  Like three or more adjectives per verb sometimes.  The opening fight scene was bloated with unnecessary description and no where near enough action.  Worse it was pretty ridiculous to see ancient and normally super cool Royce fighting with a werewolf over the last tub of cookies and cream ice cream.  It just felt beneath him.

I don’t want to lay all the blame for this book on the feet of co-author E. Blix, but none of this felt like the Jess Haines I love, despite the borrowed characters.  It kind of felt like not great fan fiction.  And it suffered from one of my biggest pet peeves with co-authored books: repetition.  How many times did different characters have to reiterate the exact same thing?  And all the abrupt character POV shifts made me dizzy.

Don’t let this book put you off Jess’s excellent main H & W series.  This ain’t it.  Not even close. – Abigail

The Ward

by Jordana Frankel

The Ward (The Ward, #1)

Sixteen-year-old Ren is a daredevil mobile racer who will risk everything to survive in the Ward, what remains of a water-logged Manhattan. To save her sister, who is suffering from a deadly illness thought to be caused by years of pollution, Ren accepts a secret mission from the government: to search for a freshwater source in the Ward, with the hope of it leading to a cure.

However, she never expects that her search will lead to dangerous encounters with a passionate young scientist; a web of deceit and lies; and an earth-shattering mystery that’s lurking deep beneath the water’s rippling surface.

Jordana Frankel’s ambitious debut novel and the first in a two-book series, The Ward is arresting, cinematic, and thrilling—perfect for fans of Scott Westerfeld or Ann Aguirre. 

Remember when George Lucas announced the first Star Wars prequels?  Remember how excited we all were until we saw them?  The first one was like a twelve hour pod race with annoying young Anakin?  If you remember all that then you’ve basically read the first third of THE WARD which is how far I got before I realized I’d been scowling since the first chapter.

Ren was rather obnoxious from page one.  Brash and over confident, plucky to the point of extreme annoyance.  She races cars and talks smack (for noble reasons of course), but the race stuff went on forever! I barely got past it at the 1/3 mark.  If you like nascar or you loved Star Wars Episode One, then maybe you’ll like this.  Me not so much.

On top of that the dystopian/apocalyptic nature of the world made no sense.  Basically they are running out of fresh water.   Salt water, on the other hand is everywhere.  They have helicopters and suped up cars and gadgets, but apparently no one knows how to desalinate water despite the fact that guys on those survivor shows can make desalinators out old cans and tree sap.

Blah.  Boring, annoying, and illogical.  -Abigail

September Girls

by Bennett Madison

September Girls

When Sam’s dad whisks him and his brother off to a remote beach town for the summer, he’s all for it– at first. Sam soon realizes, though, that this place is anything but ordinary. Time seems to slow down around here, and everywhere he looks, there are beautiful blond girls. Girls who seem inexplicably drawn to him.

Then Sam meets DeeDee, one of the Girls, and she’s different from the others. Just as he starts to fall for her, she pulls away, leaving him more confused than ever. He knows that if he’s going to get her back, he’ll have to uncover the secret of this beach and the girls who live here. 

I make it a rule not to read reviews of a book I’m going to review.  I don’t want to develop any preconceived notions–good or bad.  In the case of SEPTEMBER GIRLS, however, I found it impossible to block out the scathing reviews that started blasting around the internet.  Words like ‘misogyny’ and new ‘0 star’ ratings were getting tossed around.  I’m talking violent hatred from reviewers who are usually pretty level headed.

I saw a few of these reviews and even the quotes they used, but still, I thought it couldn’t be as bad as they were claiming…and then I started reading it.

SEPTEMBER GIRLS is written well, and by that I mean that the author has a strong voice and a main character who feels very real.  The problem, is that he and all the male characters in the book are heinous.  Like scary misogynistically heinous.   The women in this book are only ever described in sexual terms…like the very first thing described about any female who walks onto the page are her breasts and then the erection that said breasts create.  The girls are ‘hos, bitches, skanks, and sluts’ with devious ‘pussy-webs’ that trap men.  I made it as far as the part where we learn why Sam’s mom took off because she ‘gasp’ made friends via Facebook and wanted to engage her sons and husband in conversations and basically, they didn’t want to deal with her.  So they are the victims.

I mean, this book was so demeaning and insulting to women on every possible level.  I could go on with just the ⅓ that I read, but apparently it got much, much worse. -Abigail

Spirit (Elemental, #3)

by Brigid Kemmerer

Spirit (Elemental, #3)


With power comes enemies. Lots of them.

Hunter Garrity just wants to be left alone. He’s learned the hard way that his unusual abilities come at a price. And he can’t seem to afford any allies.

He’s up to his neck in hostiles. His grandfather, spoiling for a fight. The Merrick brothers, who think he ratted them out. Calla, the scheming psycho who wants to use him as bait.

Then there’s Kate Sullivan, the new girl at school. She’s not hostile. She’s bold. Funny. Hot. But she’s got an agenda, too.

With supposedly secret powers rippling to the surface everywhere around him, Hunter knows something ugly is about to go down. But finding out what means he’ll have to find someone he can trust… 

I really went back and forth on this one, whether or not to finish it and write a negative review or DNF it. Obviously I went with DNF because the reason I didn’t like it are due to personal preference not necessarily a deficiency in the book itself.

I was a big fan of the first two books in the Elemental series and all the Merrick brothers, but it turns out, I’m not a fan of their frenemy, Hunter, who is the co-protagonist along with Kate, the ultimate reason I DNF this book. Wow did I hate Kate–like grind my teeth when she was on a page hate.  She’s one of those girls who feeds off manipulating guys with her sexuality.  Gag.  I couldn’t care less about her sob story when she started messing with Hunter (who wasn’t nearly as compelling as any of the Merrick brothers and didn’t make me sympathize with his problems like I should have).  By the time she made him feel her up on the Ferris Wheel, I physically could not read another page.

In the 30% that I read, the plot moved very slowly and amounted to a lot of heart-to-heart conversations with Hunter and everyone.  I know they were supposed to pull on my heartstrings, but they just felt very afterschool special to me.  The next Elemental book, SECRET,  is going to focus on Nick’s m/m romance that began in the novella BREATHLESS. I don’t enjoy m/m, so I think I’m going to permanently part ways with this series. -Abigail

The End Games

by T. Michael Martin

The End Games


Seventeen-year-old Michael and his five-year-old brother, Patrick, have been battling monsters in The Game for weeks.

In the rural mountains of West Virginia, armed with only their rifle and their love for each other, the brothers follow Instructions from the mysterious Game Master. They spend their days searching for survivors, their nights fighting endless hordes of “Bellows”—creatures that roam the dark, roaring for flesh. And at this Game, Michael and Patrick are very good.

But The Game is changing.

The Bellows are evolving.

The Game Master is leading Michael and Patrick to other survivors—survivors who don’t play by the rules.

And the brothers will never be the same.

T. Michael Martin’s debut novel is a transcendent thriller filled with electrifying action, searing emotional insight, and unexpected romance. 

It’s hard to put a finger on just why I couldn’t make it through THE END GAMES. It has things in it that I normally enjoy (zombies! apocalypse!), but I just couldn’t make it through. Maybe after binge watching every single episode of THE WALKING DEAD a few weeks before reading this had me burnt out on zombies in general. I’m also not usually a big YA reader and having read several other YA adult books for the site prior to this one I just may have hit my limit. Between that and characters that I couldn’t form any real attachment to I was only able to get through a quarter of the book before giving up and putting it aside.

I do intend to return to it sometime down the road to see if my opinions on the book have changed as I see by the majority of other reviews for it that I’m in the minority for disliking the book as much as I did. -Chris

What about you?  And DNF titles from 2013?  Are we nuts for not finishing one of these titles?  Did you give up on any of these too? Sound off in the comments.

10 Responses to “DNF 2013 (part 1): We Try to Read Them So You Don’t Have To”

  1. Tez Miller

    FUSE – I really enjoyed this. Not as much as PURE, but still pretty good.

    I DNFed INDIGO AWAKENING, too. Read the first three chapters. Just didn’t interest me enough to continue on.

    Re THE IRON CODEX – Really enjoyed the start of the first book, until it became more fantasy than steampunk. Skimmed (read only the dialogue) the rest of the book.

    THE WARD – On my wishlist, but I’m not gagging for it. I reckon it’ll be 3 stars at best.

    • Abigail

      Indigo was a big let down for me. I was pumped to read it and it was pretty poor from the start. Oh well. I’ll be curious to see your thoughts on The Warm if you try it…

  2. Bibliotropic

    There are a few here that are on my TBR list, and your reasons for not finishing them make me disappointed. Not disappointed that you didn’t finish them, but disappointed that I was looking forward to reading them and in light in the very good criticism you gave, I’m not looking forward to reading them quite so much now.

    You DNF more books than I do, that’s for sure! I did a DNF week on my blog not too long ago, and I had to really dig deep for the books that I featured there. I have this stupid stubborn pride that makes it extremely hard to put a book down once I’ve started it, even if the book is utter crap and I’m bored to tears, because it feels internally wrong if I start something that I don’t finish.

    • Abigail

      We really do hate DNFing books, but there are five of us now, so there are more DNF books between us, unfortunately. When I first started, I forced myself through every single book I read, but I’ve learned that life’s too short to read bad books 🙂

  3. Angela

    RE: The Ward: …but apparently no one knows how to desalinate water despite the fact that guys on those survivor shows can make desalinators out old cans and tree sap.

    LOL! That made me laugh – then made me sad. I was kind of looking forward to this book. *sigh*

    I never used to DNF anything, but I’ve been starting to more and more. I hate to do it, but sometimes it’s better to stop and just say what wasn’t working for me; rather than forcing myself through something and then tearing it apart with my hate (because I forced myself to read something I wasn’t enjoying).

    • Abigail

      I gorge on all those survivor shows (I miss Man, Woman, Wild so much), so it drove me nuts that this advanced civilization was just sitting around moaning about all the salt water they couldn’t drink. Sadly though, that was only one of many problems with that book.

  4. Starr K @ The Literati Press

    I am in a similar predicament. I am reading a book for review, I also have the sequel for review. I am also participating in a blog tour for the third one. I don’t really like the book, and I would much rather pass now and maybe try again later. But I’m trying to decide whether to just finish it and give a negative review (unless something majorly amazing happens it won’t get more than 2 stars) or put it in the DNF pile. I started this pile when I realized my review stack was growing as I tried to trudge through bad books. To sum up my question- since I started rambling- is it fair to not finish review books?

    • Chris

      If reviewing books was my day job I’d feel obligated to finish a book I couldn’t stand. Since this is a hobby I personally have no problem tossing aside I book I can’t stand. Life’s too short ya know?

  5. Jaded Consumer

    I usually either get hooked or bail pretty early in a book. What I think people really need warning against are series that begin with a few good books – long enough to make you care – then descend into awful disappointing “plots” and unreadable “action” though continuing to churn out book after book. I’m not sure what identifying these will do to one’s relationships in the publishing world, but I wrote about one as a foil to the outstanding and consistent Dresden Files books produced by Jim Butcher.
    Who will warn us about series that get lost in the weeds while big plot questions remain unanswered? Ohh, the agony!
    (Makes me love Butcher all the more…)

  6. Mina

    Thank you! I have such a huge tbr-pile and so little time and I hate it to waste that precious time for bad, boring or predictable books. My personal DNF is pretty small, thank the Gods – and one reason for that is your blog. So I just erased a few more books from my tbr-list and freed some reading-time for the really good stories.