Gitch Yer Guns, Momma's Got a New DNF

For some perspective on why I’m a little hot on this one at the moment, see here and here.

What is it about the DNF discussion or review that fires people up so much? The obvious answer would likely be that the person initiating the discussion didn’t read the entire book.

I’m trying to find an appropriately wowzer of an answer, but all that comes to mind is – so what? Is or isn’t every part of a book up for discussion? Failing to read part of one doesn’t mean that the dreck you read in the first place, causing you to give up, never happened. Dude, you read whatever it was that made you think, “Enough.” I think that automatically, in some cases, precedes and prompts a possible discussion.

Isn’t it entirely possible that a book will not connect with every reader that comes across it, that said reader will perhaps have a blog where they talk about books, or a site that they post reviews, and that reader will want to talk about why the book did not work for them?

Oh yes, with seconds. Pile that plate high, because there are just too may books to like every single one that enters our path. I’ve talked about DNFs here, and here, too. Thankfully there was no angry mob and flaming torches, but then again there’s always a bucket of water handy, too. That bucket happens to be professionalism, and it’s a trait that is admirable on both sides.

On another plate, opinions are a dime a dozen as well. But they form discussions sometimes and I happen to be a reader/reviewer that likes to talk about why a book doesn’t work for me sometimes, and that includes a DNF book. It’s a cathartic experience. It invites opposing views in so that perhaps some kind of understanding can be reached whereby a realization occurs about that DNF. Sure, it’s not always going to coax the reader into giving the book another chance, but it’s not solely about that. Again, it’s about releasing some of the frustration that comes along sometimes when we read an unpalatable book. Readers often want to connect with other readers and discover if they’re alone in their impressions or not.

The great thing? Somewhere, out there in the huge pot of a world, someone else will like that same book. Confetti people. Throw it. One or two or three or even four opinions about not liking a book isn’t going to cause an avalanche.

Where it does start to niggle under a huge, resting and until then, very calm mountain of snow, is when the DNF arena turns into a projectile spit storm of outrage. Hello, who isn’t going to notice that? It’s one thing to want to defend work that has been an author’s life for months, even years, but to air it out in a dirty fashion? Why? Why all that energy for one person’s opinion? Why damage those years of work? Lately I’ve seen eye-popping reactions to reviews that, while they may be of the negative slant, are very well stated, calmly and with good reasons to support their personal views. When I see an over-the-top reaction to a review, I usually strike that author off the list. I don’t want the clearly potential drama that might sling my way should I read the same book one day. No drama llamas.

The DNF seems to be a whole other ball park, though. Why is that? If someone doesn’t finish a book, yet has a strong enough reaction to what they did read, and they dare voice their opinions, should they have just clamped their pie hole closed? I don’t believe so. I’ve only ever stamped a book as DNF for good reasons. Sure, they’re my personal good reasons, but it doesn’t mean the book won’t appeal to others. A DNF doesn’t auto imply anything on the reader’s behalf. I take it for what they said it was in their review and well, that’s that.

I support the DNF discussion and review format. As long as your stating reasons that you felt were justifiable, have at it, readers. Put the guns away, DNF hatahs. It’s not an invitation to the reviewing format of the O.K. Corral.

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  1. Agreed. I read DNF reviews. As long as they are speaking to what they read and intelligently articulate why they couldn’t finish the book as opposed to just bashing it, I often consider it.


  2. I read DNF post all the time. Doesn’t mean it will keep me from trying the book. There are many books I love that others don’t like, and many I’ve been told are the best book ever that I didn’t enjoy. That’s why it’s so great that there are so many books out there for us to pick from. I’ve never actually blogged about a book I DNF, but that has been my choice. I support everyone’s right to their reviews of any book.

  3. You’re so smart. LOL

    I think that the argument used about DNF reviews is that “you didn’t actually read the whole book, so how can you give it a review?”. I disagree w/ that.

    When I do a DNF review, I’m talking out what didn’t work out for me and why. A DNF for one may be a A+ for another.

  4. Very nice and totally agree.

    I do have to say though, I really don’t do DNFs. I will finish a novel even if I’m not enjoying it, but that is mainly so I can justify a negative review (in my mind). What happens if the book sucks in the first 50 pages, but picks up after that (I did have one that did that, but it was after 100 pages). Although, while that still generally means it’s going to be a negative review, I can add parts I like or where I thought it really needed work.

  5. Jackie, totally understandable. I never used to entertain the idea of not finishing a book. Unfortunately time doesn’t allow me that luxury anymore and I sometimes just have to throw the towel in on a book. We all find what works for us.

    Liza, same thing, really. I also used to find myself horrified at the thought of even openly saying I didn’t finish a book. It took a while to get comfy doing it. I think I broke my switch now because I haven’t gone back lol. But shoot, if it’s not something you want to discuss or review, the DNF, it’s no biggie, no more than someone that does.

    Casee, exactly. A DNF review isn’t a review of the entire book. It’s a reflection on what WAS read only. I think that’s valid.

    Thanks for stopping by, everyone. :)

  6. I’ve only done a couple of reviews for DNF’s but I really do give them the old college try…usually only 100 pages left. I don’t feel that I need to close my pie hole and be quiet about what I didn’t like about it. If I was that bored then I should let my friends know why.

    I love this post. Brilliantly stated.

  7. I barely post about the books I consider DNFs unless something I did read in the book caught my attention. But when do I try to explain why it is a DNF for me.

    What is better, not having a read talk about an author’s book or not mention the book at all?

  8. Tracy, if you’ve only got a hundred pages to go, that is definitely a good try. More than me in some cases. I’m of the mind that if I’m 100 pages just into the book, and it’s not singing for me, my patience starts twitching. And heck yes, we’re reviewers, so why wouldn’t we discuss a DNF if we want to?

    Babs, good point. I think a discussion that is “allowed” to just be by an author is far more positive than an irate author jumping in and caterwauling. I’ve actually given many books another go after discussing why it was DNF for me. Plus, you never know, DNF reasons for one reader might spark that buying interest for another. It did for me with Tim Pratt’s Blood Engines and that time the Smugglers DNF reviewed it. They had excellent support for the DNF, but it intrigued me enough to buy the book. And that was in spite of the author posting about it and eventually causing fans of his to go on the Smugglers site to say nasty things.

  9. Amen, sister. I hear you. I do think that sometimes a DNF is about a state of mind and not so much the book’s fault, but sometimes it is just because the book is really, truly crappy. And that, my friend, definitely prompts discussion fodder.

    I also used to not do DNFs, but I’m finding now…life’s too short. If I’m hating every second I’m reading a book, what’s the point? My $0.02

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