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.