I DNFed more than 80 books in 2021.
Some I decided to pick up later, some were just not for me.
Then some of them I DNFed because I hated every single thing about them.
These are those books.
Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon
Hey, I thought this book was supposed to be fun.
Why then did it open with both abduction and ON-THE-PAGE RAPE?
I DNFed this because I hadn’t emotionally budgeted for a rape scene and the one I encountered hurt my feelings.
I hear the rest of this series is excellent. Too bad I now have trust issues.
The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V. E. Schwab
ADDIE LARUE ISN’T LIKE THE OTHER GIRLS. SHE WEARS A LEATHER JACKET AND LOVES TO TRAVEL.
SHE LOVES ART AND BOOKS.
SHE MADE A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL THAT TURNED BAD, A CONSEQUENCE NONE OF US COULD HAVE FORESEEN.
I cared not one whit about Addie’s exploits. To my great dismay, I have been unable to forget her.
Of the two of us, I am the one cursed.
For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten
RED ISN’T LIKE THE OTHER GIRLS EITHER.
SHE’S AN ATHEIST WHO HAS SEX ON PURPOSE.
SHE’S ALSO FEISTY FOR NO REASON BECAUSE IT’S EDGY TO BE THAT WAY.
This book was the most 2000s-era bullshit in the guise of progressive Girl Power.
I hated it so much.
The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer
Fun fact: I’m not Jewish. My knowledge of Judaism and Jewish identity is limited.
I am, thanks to some wonderful Jewish educators, pretty well-versed in Jewish stereotypes and the damage they can cause.
When The Matzah Ball opened with an overbearing Jewish mother and a protagonist who preferred the glitz and glamour of Christmas to STINKY OLD HANNUKAH, I was less than impressed.
Then the protagonist’s Twofer Token Minority best friend appeared and I realized this was just a Hallmark movie with a different Abrahamic religion attached.
THEN I found out that the book was a Second Chance Romance about the boy who broke her heart…when she was twelve.
WHEN SHE WAS TWELVE.
AT SUMMER CAMP.
OH MY GOD GET OVER IT.
Said heartbreak wasn’t played for laughs, like, “Oh haha remember when we were twelve and broke up at camp?”
The book PLAYED IT SERIOUSLY. THIS WAS A REAL HEARTBREAK THAT BOTH PROTAGONISTS HELD ONTO FOR SIXTEEN YEARS. ABSOLUTELY NOT.
THEN…I met the love interest’s FAT BEST FRIEND WHO’S aLwAyS eAtInG.
ARE WE REALLY OUT HERE MAKING FAT JOKES IN 2021?
Finding out that this was a clean romance was the final straw.
A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair
This book deeply misunderstood the concept of “slow burn.”
Any time the narrative started heating up, Persephone would think, “WAIT A MINUTE! Hades has a girlfriend and also I hate him!”
Then their relationship would jump back to square one.
90% of the way through the book, this was still happening.
It felt so unnecessary.
How hard is it to say, “Hey, Minthe isn’t my girlfriend and also I’m into you?”
I had an hour left in the audiobook when I jumped ship.
The Brutal Truth by Lee Winter
(CW: sexual harassment)
I was so stoked when I got to the Brutal Truth portion of the book: both characters agreed to be completely honest with each other for a full day.
I thought this would lead to sexy hijinks.
Instead, it led to the reporter character accusing Miranda Priestly’s husband of sexual harassment.
Oh. I…didn’t realize this is where we were headed.
The [white] reporter character then KICKED OFF THE ME TOO MOVEMENT?? BY WRITING AN ARTICLE TITLED “FEAR AND CLOTHING IN NEW YORK??”
WHAT IS THIS???
WHAT HAPPENED TO SEXY HIJINKS??
By the 90% mark, the leads had kissed ONCE and one of them still identified as straight.
Also, multiple characters said, “But how can she like girls when she has a husband?” because I guess bisexuality doesn’t exist in this universe.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
(CW: sexual assault, victim blaming)
A question for the Naomi Novik stans: why?
What part of this book was I supposed to find romantic?
Was it the insufferable romantic lead deigning to find a PEASANT attractive?
Was it the way he treated her after she was sexually assaulted IN HIS OWN HOME? We love victim blaming!
Was it the fact that all of his cruelty was blamed on “social awkwardness?”
I wanted to throw this book across the room. UNFORTUNATELY, I had downloaded it onto my phone.
This easily could have been a sapphic romance and/or a book about Katya and Agnieszka’s friendship. What a waste.
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
There’s a specific type of literary/historical fiction I call “book club fodder.”
Said books read more like an 8th grade Social Studies papers than actual stories and typically treat characters more like plot devices than people. (See The Immortalists.)
When I presented this opinion to my book club, everyone came back with, “Well, it’s IMPORTANT to be OPEN-MINDED about OTHER CULTURES.”
The culture is FINE. I’m SAYING I think the CRAFT is bad.
Not even infanticide could make this book engaging. (Also, the protagonist is the only person in the book who objects to this practice because she’s NOT LIKE THE OTHER GI-)
I told my group that if the goal of our book club was to learn about other cultures, I would much rather read a nonfiction book than a fictionalized Wikipedia article.
It didn’t go over well.
Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper
This book, The Ex Hex, and A Lesson in Vengeance completely turned me off witchy romances.
I’ve been burned too many times.
Payback’s a Witch, however, betrayed me the most.
Perhaps without meaning to, the book set up a stark contrast between the Good Girls who stayed at home (i.e., Emmy’s friends) and the Bad Girl who abandoned everyone for Chicago (i.e., Emmy, the protagonist.)
This ended with Emmy choosing to LEAVE A LIFE SHE LOVED in Chicago for mediocre cocktails and a lukewarm romance in Thistle Grove.
I could have gotten on board with this ending if I felt the protagonist had decided this ON HER OWN.
Instead, the book had EVERY OTHER CHARACTER browbeat Emmy for deciding to leave Thistle Grove in the first place.
Because, of course, NOTHING BEATS LIVING AT HOME. It’s better than living in a big city for reasons we refuse to enumerate!
…LET A BITCH LIVE IN CHICAGO.
ESPECIALLY since there are MORE queer people and MORE spaces for Emmy to be herself IN CHICAGO than there are IN HER SMALL TOURIST TOWN. Was I supposed to read this and side with the small towners???
One hot girl that you had a crush on in high school is supposed to outweigh familial expectations, strict social hierarchy, lack of belonging, and crappy coffee?
Oh, BY THE WAY, getting ONE FAIR-TRADE COFFEE SHOP in your small, shitty town does NOT make it BASICALLY THE SAME as a large city. Get OVER yourself.
NOT UNLIKE THE EX HEX, this book advertised edgy, subversive, revenge-based Witchcraft with a capital W and then served up ANOTHER Hallmark movie.
Get OUT of here with that.
Those were my most notable DNFs from last year!
I’m going to post my reading stats at some point…maybe.
So far, reading is going well.
Happy reading to you all.