Sunday, April 20, 2014

The DNF Dilemma + a Review

To DNF or Not to DNF . . . that is the question.

I have very mixed feelings about DNFing a book, especially when it comes to review copies. I don't have that much trouble not finishing a personal tbr book because I'm not going to submit my review of it anywhere. 

However, when it comes to my review pile, it doesn't feel right to DNF a book that I was given in exchange for a review. If I didn't read the entire book, how can I write a fair review? At the same time, though, I don't want to waste my time on a book I don't enjoy reading.

See my dilemma here? I believe I've recently found my solution, though . . . 

It seems more fair to a book to DNF it while I can still write a helpful review than to force myself to finish it and write a poor review. The more I force myself to read something, the less good I'll notice in a book. Also, less of anything stands out to me if I push through a book I don't like, which leads to a shorter, less detailed review (I write reviews based on what stands out to me). I don't fell like those are very helpful to those of you who read my reviews.

To summarize:

The most fair thing to me is to give a book a fair review. Based on the fact that I tend to write pretty vague reviews for the books I force myself to read, it seems to me that DNFing a book can be more fair than actually finishing it. 

Because I realized all of this while reading Don't Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley, I decided to include add it to this post. 


Series: standalone
Genre: YA contemporary
Pages: 304
Publication date: April 22nd, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Goodreads Description: 
All her life, Imogene has been known as the girl on THAT blog.

Imogene's mother has been writing an incredibly embarrassing, and incredibly popular, blog about her since before she was born. Hundreds of thousands of perfect strangers knew when Imogene had her first period. Imogene's crush saw her "before and after" orthodontia photos. But Imogene is fifteen now, and her mother is still blogging about her, in gruesome detail, against her will.

When a mandatory school project compels Imogene to start her own blog, Imogene is reluctant to expose even more of her life online...until she realizes that the project is the opportunity she's been waiting for to tell the truth about her life under the virtual microscope and to define herself for the first time.

Don't Call Me Baby is a sharply observed and irrepressibly charming story about mothers and daughters, best friends and first crushes, and the surface-level identities we show the world online and the truth you can see only in real life. 
Source: I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review. 

Don't Call Me Baby was not the book for me. I could tell from early on that I wouldn't end up liking the book very much. First of all, the feel of the book wasn't good. When I start reading a book I end up really liking, I can tell early on that it's a decent read by how it feels. I know that's pretty vague, but what I'm trying to say is that Don't Call Me Baby didn't feel like a well done book. 

First of all, the writing. It didn't flow--it felt a bit awkward and forced to me, and it bothered me. I really don't like reading things lacking a natural flow. They tend to remind me of cheesy and badly acted movies. 

I also didn't care much for what was going on in the story. The concept was the only thing that I really liked. Blogging is something that I haven't seen much in books, so I thought it would be cool to see it incorporated into a story. After I started reading, though, I didn't find myself interested. Instead, I found the story a little off-putting and annoying--mildly ridiculous as well. The forced feel of the book did nothing to make what was going on in the book interesting or convincing. Shortly after Imogene and her friend posted their first blog updates, I knew for sure that the book wasn't going to go well for me. I didn't care for the approach they were taking.

I ended up not finishing this book. It just didn't feel like it would get better for me. Because I tend to dislike books more if I force myself to read them, and because I tend to write short, forced, and vague reviews of those books, I decided it was safer to DNF this book at 28 percent. I realized that a more detailed DNF review would most likely be more helpful than a forced, vague one.
My questions for you:

What are your thoughts on DNFing a book?
Do you find it easier to DNF a book you aren't expected to review?


  1. I don't like DNFing a book, mostly because I feel so unaccomplished by doing that, so I'll usually at least skim it (or read the ending). As for books for review, I haven't run into that dilemma yet, but I imagine I'd feel just as bad as you. But it's hard to read a book that you absolutely hate/don't care about.

    I think you make a good point about forcing yourself to read it and then writing an even more negative review though. At least with a DNF review, you can explain why it was working for you and leave the rest up to the reader to decide if he/she wants to try it out. That's probably the direction I'll take if the situation arises. :)

    1. Yes, it's so hard to read a book you don't care about. It tends to put me in a small reading slump until I move on from that book. It's not a good feeling. :(

      I'm glad you think so!

  2. I LOVE your new design Caitlin, it looks gorgeous! I do DNF reviews but I don't actually DNF much. I agree a detailed review about what you didn't enjoy is more helpful than "I didn't enjoy it so I didn't finish it". You did really well with the review above!

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    1. Thank you so much Jeann! I love the new design too. :)

      A detailed review is the most helpful thing, even if it's a detailed DNF review.

  3. OMG YOUR NEW DESIGN!!! It fits perfectly with your title, who did your design? I added your button to my blog.

    I don't DNF books often but I see your dilemma. We're getting review books for free simply in exchange for a piece of writing from us and I guess we should feel grateful but no one should be forced to read a book they don't like. DNFing a book is much easier when it's not a review book because I feel less obligated but I think it really depends how much I hate a book.,

    1. Thank you!! I love how I have a treasure chest to go with my title now. :) Stephanie at New Chapter Designs ( did it. She's a really good designer, isn't she? Thank you for adding my button!

      Being forced to read a book you don't like just makes you like the book less. We can still write fair reviews for one as long as we give detailed reasons as to we didn't like about the book, though.


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