Bookish List · Uncategorized

16 DNFs I Wish I’d Loved

Hello everybody, it’s Sabrina!  As a reader, I am a big supporter of DNFing books that you’re not enjoying or getting anything from – I wrote a whole post about it here, which you can check out if you want to see my thoughts in more depth.  In today’s post, I want to talk about some specific books that I did not finish and why – particularly, books that I thought, from the synopsis, that I would love.  

I have to warn you now that this list is a bit on the negative side, so please skip it if you’re not in the mood. Of course these are just my opinions and feelings, and not facts.
Also, DNF = “did not finish” 🙂


Toxic by Lydia Kang

Why I should have loved it:  Sentient settings are one of my favourite things in a book, and I loved the way this was incorporated in this story.  The plot description is so intriguing – I loved the sound of two people being brought together by circumstance and the time pressure of trying to fix a dying spaceship.

Why I DNFed it:  Unfortunately the two main characters initially seemed very one dimensional and they were irritating to me.  This irritation exponentially increased when they were brought together for an insta-love romance.  Sadly, I could not get past the romance aspect and had to put this down.

Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner

Why I should have loved it:  This book has some really cool elements that I could have loved like the discovery of an encoded alien message and the uncovering of an ancient alien society. It also promises criminal characters which can add a fun dynamic to a story.

Why I DNFed it: To be honest, there was no one thing that put me off this book. It was more of a combination of things that weren’t that bad, but weren’t interesting enough to keep me reading – the writing style was okay, the characters were okay, the setting was okay. I really struggled to pay attention to the story for the section that I did read because of this, and ended up putting it down.

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

Why I should have loved it: I am a huge fan of superheroes and I loved that this story offered a range of diverse characters. All my friends on Goodreads seemed to adore this story – particularly the complex characters and their cute relationships.

Why I DNFed it: Sadly for me, I couldn’t get past the simplistic writing style of this book. I was constantly thrown out of the story because of it, so I decided to move on.

Seven Devils by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May

Why I should have loved it: Queer, feminist adult sci-fi with a large cast of characters? Sign me up! I was so excited for this story and the potential for so many different character dynamics.

Why I DNFed it: There are so many chapters in this book and a lot of them are quite short and they change perspective and timelines too. This meant I never had the chance to really get into any of the characters’ heads and the action scenes couldn’t run smoothly. There was also a large, repetitive focus on one relationship and it got old to me real fast.


Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

Why I should have loved it: Fantasy is probably my favourite book genre and this one has beautiful writing which I also love. I was also intrigued by the promise of Russian folklore.

Why I DNFed it: In the end the writing was so complex that it became hard for me to follow and a chore to get through. And to be honest, the story made me feel sad!

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Why I should have loved it: I didn’t know this when I picked this book up, but I do actually enjoy this author’s writing style when it’s historical fiction – and being that this book is a fantasy, my favourite genre, I would have expected to enjoy it even more.

Why I DNFed it: I found the pacing of this to be much too slow and the writing style was overly repetitive. On top of that, I was so confused while reading this and when I read everyone else’s theories on Goodreads after DNFing, I totally understood why I was confused.

Havenfall by Sara Holland

Why I should have loved it: I am so interested by the concept of an inn hidden in the mountains that serves as a haven for people from different realms, because that’s where the portals are. I loved the idea that each realm was home to a different sort of magic. I was also looking forward to reading a YA sapphic romance in a fantasy setting.

Why I DNFed it: Honestly, the writing style of this book did not hold my attention and I felt pretty quickly that I could see where the story was going to go – a quick flip through confirmed my suspicions.

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Why I should have loved it: I am always up for a pirate adventure, especially if it involves treasure hunting and time travel – I thought this book would be so much fun!

Why I DNFed it: For a book about pirates, the main character sure spent a lot of time on land. Plus, for the whole first third I found the main character’s reflections to be so repetitive. She was worrying about something over and over, but not doing anything about it. Which, to be fair, is probably realistic, lol, but it wasn’t entertaining or meaningful in this context. She was also really mean to her best friend which I found unpleasant.

Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

Why I should have loved it: A book about a circus set in a fantasy world sounded so fun and whimsical to me. I liked that there appeared to be a strong mystery element as well and with the addition of illusion magic, I thought there could be some great plot twists.

Why I DNFed it: The beginning was really slow and I got bored quickly. The writing style didn’t draw me in. I also felt like the plot required that I care about certain character relationships, but there wasn’t enough development of those relationships before that point.


Of Curse and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

Why I should have loved it: I am always interested in reading Beauty and the Beast retellings – I love the enemies-to-lovers trope, the curse element and the time pressure. If there’s an interesting setting – like the boarding school in this book – that’s also a bonus.

Why I DNFed it: The characters annoyed me and the writing style wasn’t my favourite. I also guessed the plot twists from the beginning – admittedly, not a hard thing to do when it’s a retelling – so I couldn’t find a reason to keep reading when I had so many other books to get to.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Why I should have loved it: The Raven Cycle is one of my favourite series ever, and I loved The Scorpio Races too! This author’s writing style really works for me and her characters have been a hit in the past as well.

Why I DNFed it: This book and I just did not get along. The pace was slow, which I was expecting, but the writing style in this one was not what I was expecting. I think it was the first person perspective that was the problem for me.

Reawakened by Colleen Houck

Why I should have loved it: I absolutely adored The Tiger Saga by the same author when I first read it in the wonderful year of 2013, plus I have always enjoyed stories about Egyptian mythology.

Why I DNFed it: This was an especially difficult decision for me, as I had actually purchased this book in anticipation of loving it, so I was extra disappointed when I didn’t. The main characters were awfully annoying – especially the girl, I’m afraid – and I found the writing to be juvenile.

The Smoke Hunter by Jacquelyn Benson

Why I should have loved it: This is a historical adventure book with a treasure hunt and an aspiring archaeologist looking for information about an ancient civilisation. All things that I love! Or, so I thought.

Why I DNFed it: This one also lost me with the characters and the writing style. I was not feeling the romance and the plot took too long to get to the action, in my opinion. If I’m remembering correctly, I really enjoyed the opening scene, but it didn’t tie into the story at all before I decided to DNF.

The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton

Why I should have loved it: I thought this author’s writing was fantastic when I read another book of hers – The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender – plus I love stories about witches. I also think I should have loved it simply because it is relatively short and the cover is beautiful 🤷‍♀️

Why I DNFed it: I started and stopped reading this one in February 2018, and my private notes simply say “I just can’t. Every page is a struggle to try and pay attention.” and that reflects my memory of this book very well. I was so bored!


Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Why I should have loved it: As someone who struggles with social anxiety, I was so excited to come across a book with this representation. I was also looking forward to the comedy aspects as I had enjoyed the Confessions of a Shopaholic movie which was adapted from another book by this author.

Why I DNFed it: Personally, I did not find what I was looking for with the social anxiety representation in the part of the book that I did read. I have seen some other reviewers say that they loved it though, so keep that in mind. I also found that everything (eg. the mother character) was really exaggerated for comedic effect – maybe I should have seen that coming, but it didn’t work for me.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Why I should have loved it: Being a book about girls at a fan convention by an Australian author, I thought this book would be right up my alley. Plus, a whole lot of my Goodreads friends (not to mention Vera!) seem to love this one!

Why I DNFed it: Once again, I came across a writing style that wasn’t for me. I didn’t think the dialogue was realistic and I found the plot a bit frustrating.

What do you think?

Have you read any of these books? What are some books you’ve DNFed? Let me know!

9 thoughts on “16 DNFs I Wish I’d Loved

  1. I almost DNF’ed Queens of Geek but pushed through it. That being said, I don’t think I really retained any of the information. I don’t think it had anything really special about it that set it aside from any other book.


  2. It was so interesting to see why you DNF’d these books and why you think you would have liked them! 😊 I don’t DNF much, though I try to get better at it! I read Havenfall and I was tempted to DNF it as well since the story didn’t capture my attention much and it was super predictable 😔 Not a bad book, but also nothing that stayed with me.


  3. I really like the Shiver series but I totally understand why it didn’t work out for you. The first book is very slow and the sequels pick up the pace a bit but it focuses more on the characters. And I wish I’d DNFd Finding Audrey. I somehow managed to make it through and I don’t know how.


  4. Aah, I’ve not read any of these books, so I really have no opinions here. BUT I find DNFing hard, because I’m usually good at choosing what books to read. However, lately I’ve started some books I’ve not been loving as much and I don’t know what to do about it heh. Anyway, great post, loved you explaining the reasons you DNFed!


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