I used to finish every book I started, whether I was enjoying it or not. But life is short. I’ve realised that I don’t have time for books I’m not full involved in any longer so if I don’t like something or don’t connect with it as much as I want to, I’ll put it aside. It still makes me feel guilty though, especially if I received them for review so I still want to talk about them, explain why I didn’t like them. Here are the most recent books I DNF-ed.
Get Started in Writing Young Adult Fiction, Juliet Mushens
Not finishing Juliet Mushens’ debut actually had nothing to do with anything I disliked or didn’t agree with, it was just that everything I read in the beginning was stuff I already knew. This guide starts at the very basics, for people who don’t even really know anything about YA or the publishing industry. It builds up from scratch and teaches how to generate ideas, to write, the edit and to get a book published. All of the tips, exercises and author quotes were brilliant and useful but I felt that most of what Mushens said I had already learnt when studying Creative Writing at university. This is perfect for people who are starting at the bottom and I will definitely recommend it to those people, it just felt an unnecessary read to me.
Now this is a book that I could have finished. I would have pushed through it and it probably would have gone quite quickly, but the only reason would be to finish it, not out of enjoyment. In Virgin, Ellie was adorably hapless and I really connected with her, but fast forward year and she’s graduated from university and is on an unpaid magazine internship – and her mum is paying for her to live in East London in a house share. She’s become selfish, entitled and whiny. I just wanted her to get over herself. She was in an incredibly privileged position and all she could do was whine about it – it made me irritated, and then dislike her. I didn’t care about her or her plight to get laid.
I mostly hated how much her self-worth relied on her being valued and desired by men; it was all she thought and cared about. That’s a dangerous, wrong message to send out to the teen girls that would flock to a book like this. I also found the approach to slut shaming and the use of the word slut uncomfortable, even as Ellie and her friends attempted to ‘reclaim’ it – it still felt like judgement was being passed to me.
Mosquitoland, David Arnold
From the very beginning of this book I knew it wasn’t going to work for me. With every sentence there’s this sense of the Arnold trying so, so hard to be quirky, overtly intelligent and, well, John Green-like. H didn’t pull it off for me. It was too much. It’s such a shame as I was really looking forward to this and I think the premise and Mim as a character had so much potential, there was just so much forced on it stylistically and thematically that it just didn’t work. And yet, saying that, I think this will be lapped up by fans of John Green and younger readers who are maybe newer to YA than I am.