It’s unfortunate, but every now and then a book or series comes along that you’re either just not in the mood to read, or you really can’t bring yourself to finish. I hate it when that happens, and my list of DNF’d [Did Not Finished] is mercifully short, but there’s always a few. So here are mine. As ever, please don’t take offence at any of my opinions about these books. I know some of them are beloved in the YA community, and it’s always a bit of a shame when you hear someone hasn’t enjoyed a book you adore, but they’re my own opinions so please be kind!
The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart
I really tried with this one, especially because I was pretty curious about how the book would end. The premise sounded intriguing, and I had heard a lot about this book at YALC and from reviews, claiming it was YA meets Stephen King. As a huuuuge SK fan, I signed up to receive an e-book ARC of The Sacrifice Box in return for an honest review. Alas, I just couldn’t get into it. Those reviewers had been right on the nose when they said SK, but it was a pale imitation at best. I saw so many echoes of IT and The Body [AKA Stand By Me] that I started to get irritated just looking at the book. Eventually, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to get through it unless I dragged myself, kicking and screaming, through the rest of the novel, and decided I had gotten to the stage where I felt okay abandoning it. Sorry, not sorry.
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Flash back to about a year ago, when one of my best friends is sat on my sofa in my flat. We’ve got a ridiculous amount of takeout food around us, and we’re in the mood for a trashy movie. She recommends Vampire Academy. I click play, and what follows is a movie of such awfulness that I can’t help but feel that weird combination of delight at the levels of trash, and shame that at any moment, one of my housemates might burst in and see what we were watching. It was one hundred percent awful. So, naturally, I went out and bought the book. I did finish it, but I have no plans to get the next one in the series. The romance is really forced, the friendships are just meh, and it feels like all the teen drama in the universe is packed into this neat little paperback. Also, the vampires. I know this came from the Twilight vampire hype era, and that’s cool, but it just seems soooo dated? There’s so many cheesy attempts to link biting to sex and I couldn’t help but cringe over and over again. And then there was that ending. I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t yet stumbled across the books, but my, my, my. This book is great to pick up when you want something ridiculous to read, but I just can’t justify spending money on the rest of them.
The Selection series by Keira Cass
Man, I feel a bit guilty posting these ones on this list. I actually loved the first three books in the series, and I read through them in about twelve hours, frantically throwing my money at Amazon to ensure next day delivery. They were funny and entertaining and light, a lot like watching something like Gossip Girl or Pretty Little Liars. It is fluff, but it is good fluff. When I reached book three though, I wondered how the series could continue. And then I reached the end of The One and realized that the next few books in the series were going to be a sequel, with the main characters from the first three books moving into the background a bit so someone else could become the protagonist. I knew then that, as much as I liked these books, I didn’t want to finish the series. It had sort of ended with book three for me, and rather than continue and be frustrated that it wasn’t the same, I decided to let it go and think of The One as the final book in the series.
Hush, Hush by Rebecca Fitzpatrick
This is another one where I finished the first book, but didn’t continue the series. Again, this was in the post-Twilight haze, where paranormal romances were all the rage and every YA book had a bad-boy ghost/vampire/werewolf/angel/demon/insert-creature-here. This one also managed to fit the bill of the romantic interest with the stupid name, Patch. Yeah, I know that authors like Cassandra Clare and Sarah J Maas have equally weird names in their novels, but this kid is meant to be in high school and it just seems like the author has only just refrained from making him wear an ironic t-shirt that said: Secretly a YA Boyfriend. And eurgh, let’s not get started on the weird plot stuff, and the whole Nora thinks she’s being stalked thing. Plus Patch isn’t just a hot bad-boy type, he actually wants to kill the protagonist. And how does she react? Well, in that naive, idiotic, oh he’ll never hurt me way, of course. Why oh why did we ever live in a time when people thought guys watching girls sleep, or following them everywhere, was kinda cute? Reality check, it isn’t.
House of Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast
Another throwback to the Twilight phenomenon. My thirteen year-old self managed to get through quite a large portion of this series, but then I realized I just couldn’t do it to myself any more. Zoe is the most chosen one, special snowflake protagonist I’ve ever seen. She adopts a lot of the typical Mary-Sue tropes we all love to hate, including how she’s the kind of girl that thinks she’s kinda-sorta cute, and then literally every guy who ever sees her happens to fall in love with her. There are love triangles, and then there’s whatever this thing is, including, and I kid you not, the teacher that seduces the main character, and the weird demon thing that thinks she’s a reincarnation of the weird mud-girl statue spell thing that was created to trap him in the first place. Yeah, I don’t get it either. Also, Zoe can use all the elements [her friends can mostly use one each] and she’s tight with her goddess too. Some of the earlier stuff was pretty fun and lighthearted, but there are SO MANY BOOKS IN THIS SERIES and it isn’t worth it.
Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
Even as I’m writing this, I’m not entirely sure what this book is. I got it as a gift from my parents a few years back, and I suppose one of the reasons it was on my list of pre-approved books for them, was the pretty pretty cover. I’m also not sure where it started to go wrong. The main character, Aza Ray Boyle can’t breathe on Earth, and Jason [the inevitable best-friend who will become her soul-mate] decides to help take her to this weird ship in the sky she’s seen so she might be able to breathe up there. FYI: Jason is also a fifteen-year-old kid who has patented several inventions and reads medical books in his spare time and just so happens to be the best hacker in the world. When she reaches the ship, Aza realizes it’s full of bird-things, and they think there’s a war brimming between themselves and people on Earth. Oh, and I should point out how much jargon is in this book. I couldn’t keep up with any of it and I never really figured out what was going on.
Magonia was all kinds of confusing, characters I couldn’t sympathise with, plots that sounded so bizarre they made me laugh, and jargon that baffled me. The cover was pretty, but it wasn’t enough to make me finish it.
Ink by Alice Broadway
When I got this in a book box, I was very excited. It has such a stunning cover, and I thought the premise sounded right up my street, but when I got into it it just wasn’t my thing. It says on the synopsis that the main character, Leora, lives in a world where every deed, good and bad is tattoo’d onto a person’s skin, and I guess I thought it meant they would just appear on the skin so nobody could hide what they’d done, but instead it meant that people got tattoos created of their actions, which wasn’t quite so interesting to me. I thought the plot was okay, and some of the description was nice, but overall I thought it was a bit of a mediocre book and I have chosen to DNF the series.
Beauty by Robin McKinley
Nope, just nope. Following the awesomeness that was A Court of Thorns and Roses and during my OUAT obsession, I went through a stage of reading retellings of Beauty and the Beast. I’d heard good things about this one, but I ended up throwing it down in the DNF pile with an angry huff. The characters are paper thin and made me want to tear out my hair with frustration. There is just SO MUCH TELLING at the start of the novel which was totally unnecessary, and even with the author insisting the readers should care about the protagonist’s misfortune, I found myself wishing the Beast might actually just eat Beauty. Also, the pacing draaaaaaagggggged on. So so much. In fact two thirds of the book could probably be axed. I know other people really loved this retelling, and that’s cool, it did seem to be sticking close to the original, which was nice, but I put it down two thirds in and couldn’t continue.
Half-Bad by Sally Green
The first year I went to YALC, I bought so many books from authors attending the event, just in case it turned out I really liked the novels. This one, about witches, seemed like it would be perfect for me, so much so that I bought the whole trilogy. My mistake. I didn’t end up finishing the first book. It was basically just watered down Harry Potter, except from Snape’s POV. And not in a good way either [JK Rowling, if you’re reading this, I’m definitely okay with some Marauders Era fiction]. It was so so dull. The main character described every single detail of his life in a way that made me constantly yawn, like he informed everyone of every item in the bathroom he was in at one point, and it never seemed to pick up. Also, and I can’t stress this enough: THERE WAS NO MAGIC. I REPEAT, THERE WAS NO MAGIC IN THIS BOOK ABOUT WITCHES. Gave up part way through, doubt I’ll return to it.
This Mortal Coil series by Emily Suvada
One of the books I’d heard about for what seemed like months before its release. I got a copy from Netgalley, and I managed to finish it, but I don’t think I’ll be picking up book two. The main character has a strong voice, and she’s pretty funny at times too, but she’s just the latest ‘chosen one’ type that I’ve stumbled across lately and I can’t do it anymore. Cole didn’t register on my interest list at all; he was dull and underdeveloped and fell right into that male-protectiveness YA male crap. And the ending, as interesting as it was, was so full of plot twists that I had to stop and take a moment to breathe. Considering the pace of the book, I felt it was a bit unnecessary and it was as though I couldn’t trust any of my feelings for the book and the plot because I started to fear there would be another plot twist in the final pages.
So what did you think, fellow readers? Are there books/series in this list that you also gave up on? Or did you find a book you really love in this list? Are there other books you couldn’t make it through? Feel free to leave a comment [but please be considerate] and I will be more than happy to see what you all think – K x