As you can tell from the title, it has not been a great week of reading for me. Part of the reason that I haven’t posted a review in a while (has it really been a week already?) is that I’ve been really underwhelmed with the books I’ve been reading recently. (Who knows, maybe it’s just a hangover from Cemetery Boys, one of my favorite books I’ve read… ever!)
I know posting about DNF’ing books can be a little controversial in the book community, but I wanted to share a quick post about what I’ve been reading and why I’ve DNF’ed on these in lieu of individual reviews. In my opinion, DNF’ing is a good thing! You shouldn’t force yourself to finish a book that you’re just not into. Life is too short to not enjoy what you read.
That being said, here’s the three books I decided to not continue with, and the reasons why!
#1. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Synopsis via Goodreads:
They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .
Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.
Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.
A Love Story for this generation and perfect for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?
Why I DNF’ed:
This one was a hard decision for me! I likely would have finished this book if I hadn’t accidentally spoiled myself on the ending. I loved the main character- Louisa was charming and funny and I really enjoyed her perspective. I also liked the writing style, so I may check out other Moyes books in the future.
However, that ending. Hoo boy. I won’t spoil anything here, and I briefly discussed this in my last WWW Wednesday post, but it really struck a nerve with me. Just reading about the ending made me actively dislike this book, and that’s saying something. I can see why disability advocates have had issues with the book (and its subsequent movie). Again, no spoilers here, but I seem to be in the minority on this opinion, judging by the Goodreads ratings.
I might check out other Moyes books in the future, but learning the ending of this book just left a bad taste in my mouth and put me off from wanting to continue reading. Normally I don’t mind spoilers and will continue reading regardless of whether I know the ending or not, but this specific ending really just pushed me over the edge and led to me DNF’ing.
#2. The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden
Synopsis via Goodreads:
Seven girls tied by time.
Five powers that bind.
One curse to lock the horror away.
One attic to keep the monsters at bay.
After the storm of the century rips apart New Orleans, sixteen-year-old Adele Le Moyne wants nothing more than her now silent city to return to normal. But with home resembling a war zone, a parish-wide curfew, and mysterious new faces lurking in the abandoned French Quarter, normal needs a new definition.
As the city murder rate soars, Adele finds herself tangled in a web of magic that weaves back to her own ancestors. Caught in a hurricane of myths and monsters, who can she trust when everyone has a secret and keeping them can mean life or death? Unless… you’re immortal.
Why I DNF’ed:
I know! An urban fantasy with romance set in New Orleans! (I might as well be describing the book I’m currently writing, but I digress.) The blurb for this book is so far up my alley that it was the first book I got when I decided to try Audible.
However. I just couldn’t connect to the main character, Adele. Her reactions to some events were inexplicable to me at best. I love first-person narration, but only when I really enjoy the main character’s perspective, and I just didn’t enjoy Adele’s. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s YA and she’s a teenager? Or maybe it just wasn’t for me. Regardless, I was willing to push past this, if not for the pacing.
I read in several reviews that the first half of the book is incredibly slow. It definitely lived up to this assessment. Considering that the audiobook was 17 hours long, I was definitely not willing to sit through 8.5 hours of slow pacing just to get to the 8.5 hours where things pick up. I got through about 4 hours, or about 24%, before I gave up, so I made it a decent chunk of the way through the book. I really, really wanted to love this book but it just wasn’t for me.
Also, it felt like Adele was being set up for a romance with a character who, I’m pretty sure, was an adult? Can we just talk about that real quick? Not to mention, that girl is sixteen and mentions a fling with her mother’s assistant, who was twenty-three, if I’m not wrong. That grossed me out enough to want to put the (audio)book down right then and there.
Anyway, I might try and pick up a physical copy eventually (probably from the library, I don’t plan on buying one) and trying to read it again in the future.
#3. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
Synopsis via Goodreads:
Pearl and May are sisters, living carefree lives in Shanghai, the Paris of Asia. But when Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, they set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the Chinese countryside, in and out of the clutch of brutal soldiers, and across the Pacific to the shores of America.
In 1937, Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, a city of great wealth and glamour, the home of millionaires and beggars, gangsters and gamblers, patriots and revolutionaries, artists and warlords. Thanks to the financial security and material comforts provided by their father’s prosperous rickshaw business, twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives. Though both sisters wave off authority and tradition, they couldn’t be more different: Pearl is a Dragon sign, strong and stubborn, while May is a true Sheep, adorable and placid. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree . . . until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth and that in order to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from California to find Chinese brides.
As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the Chinese countryside, in and out of the clutch of brutal soldiers, and across the Pacific to the shores of America. In Los Angeles they begin a fresh chapter, trying to find love with the strangers they have married, brushing against the seduction of Hollywood, and striving to embrace American life even as they fight against discrimination, brave Communist witch hunts, and find themselves hemmed in by Chinatown’s old ways and rules.
Why I DNF’ed:
Okay, this is another book that I really wanted to love. I remember reading Snow Flower and the Secret Fan in high school and really loving it, so I thought Shanghai Girls would strike the same chord for me.
Unfortunately, it did not. The pacing felt incredibly rushed. I made it about 50 pages before I quit (about 16% of the book). I really liked the main characters and enjoyed the sisterly relationship, but it felt like things just happened without much time to digest the events. It sort of felt like a list of things happening. This book probably could have comfortably been much longer with more description and time for reactions from the main character.
I read some reviews before I decided to DNF, and it sounds like there’s (TW!) a pretty graphic rape scene at one point, and that just solidified my decision to put it down.
What do y’all think? Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading!