Books

Top Ten DNFs of 2021

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

Ice Planet Barbarians: Science Fiction Romance by Ruby Dixon

(CW: rape)

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

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

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

The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer

(CW: fatphobia)

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

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

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.

No thanks.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

(CW: infanticide)

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

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.

13 thoughts on “Top Ten DNFs of 2021”

  1. Bring on the rants! 😂
    I didn’t like Uprooted when I read it and I’ve never read another book from the author because I’m too afraid that it’ll be the same so that book has put me off her writing.
    I’ve never read Addie Larue but I’m not really interested in it, like just ehh. I hear so many people RAVING about it, but she doesn’t sound that special, as you clearly pointed out 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. *slaps table* THANK YOU. I STARTED with her Scholomance books and I’m just amazed at how much I can hate two series by the same author in wildly different ways??
      Leaving out my bitter hatred for a second, Addie Larue strikes me as AT BEST a very good three-star book. AT BEST. But I feel that way about all the author’s books.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh no! Here’s another reason that I probably will never read anything by this author. That sucks that you hated two series by her. 😩

        I feel like I’m hit or miss with Schwab’s work. Some I like some I just don’t so I have no I feel you on this being a solid 3 star read.

        Like

  2. 80 books..! I really should DNF more often, I keep pushing myself through books I’m not enjoying and then rating them low.. I keep telling myself there is no point in reading a book I’m not liking haah!
    For example I should have DNF’ed For the Wolf as well, didn’t like anything about it..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw For the Wolf in one of your posts and felt relieved that you didn’t like it much either!
      I feel like DNFing can be a challenge! Especially when you’re like, “But I could just finish it, it’s not a big deal.” I hope you find books that you enjoy and are able to DNF ones that you don’t!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is amazing. Much appreciated as a list of books to avoid.

    I feel a little smug that I haven’t read any of them.

    Also: “When I presented this opinion to my book club, everyone came back with, “Well, it’s IMPORTANT to be OPEN-MINDED about OTHER CULTURES.”” <—– I really wish more white people would get better at understanding the difference between critiquing a craft and racism and that you can read a book about a difference culture/ethnicity/racial group than you and it can be a badly written book and the cultural/ethnic/racial difference isn't why it was bad. Same goes for cishets and queer books. Like, geez, 'The Rainbow Boys' is a TERRIBLY WRITTEN BOOK. IT'S REALLY BAD PROSE. We can ALL agree on that AND not be homophobic about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you and also YOU’RE WELCOME. (What if one of these books falls in the 10%?)

      Wow, Kait, you’re not like the other girls! 😉

      OKAY FOR REAL THOUGH. Like, regardless of who WROTE the book, it’s still a work of fiction and is trying to accomplish different narrative goals. The reader is allowed to determine if the book succeeded in that!! Even “good” books will fail in some areas!! And we get to talk about that!!!

      Like

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