While reading this post from Kristen @ Metaphors & Moonlight,  I realized that there was one major reason I do not DNF books: I cannot be trusted. Sure, the reasons Kristen listed apply to me, because as you know, I am a notorious non-DNFer. But the more I thought about it while commenting on her post, the more I realized that I am simply awful at making the decision to not finish a book.

No really, I am the actual worst. I almost DNFed a few of my all time favorite books, so I am clearly a terrible judge of bookishness. Add to it, I didn’t DNF books that I really, really should have, and you’ve got a perfect storm of inadequacy.

“Oh, it can’t be that bad, you are clearly being dramatic”, you are likely thinking. And of course I am being dramatic, but also, it is that bad. For I have examples, oh yes. Ready to see why I should never be allowed to make these decisions? Great!


The Book: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The Story: Am I insane?! Clearly. A (non-bookish) friend forced me to read it, and I still ended up almost quitting. I didn’t like the dialect and thought the story was weird. And I guess it was, but still, it was amazing!

The Outcome: Literally one of my all-time favorite series, and Patrick Ness is an absolute auto-buy author for me.


The Book: Blood Red Road by Moira Young

The Story: The dialect, like in TKoNLG, threw me off, and I couldn’t get past it. So I almost quit. Bad Shannon.

The Outcome: Falling in love with Saba, does that count? Loved the series, though the third book did leave a bit to be desired, but shhh.


The Book: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

The Story: I tried to DNF this not once, but twice. I just wasn’t really feeling the beginning, I guess?

The Outcome: Again, an all time favorite series. Some of my favorite characters in all of books, too.


The Book: Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott | My Review

The Story: I thought it was kind of implausible and strange, so I almost did not continue.

The Outcome: I adored it, and its sequel, and for the love of all things bookish, will someone sign this woman for a third book so I can read the conclusion? Victoria also became a new favorite author for me!



The Book: Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton | My Review

The Story: I kept assuming it would make some kind of sense, any kind of sense.

The Outcome: It did not. At all.

The Book: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley | My Review

The Story: I liked the first half a lot, but then bird people came into the picture. But I kept reading even though I really, really hated the bird people because I am a shitty DNFer.

The Outcome: I still hate bird people.


The Book: The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian | My Review

The Story: Val told me to DNF this book when I was super bored. She said it would not get better. I did not listen to Val.

The Outcome: Val was right. (See also: Review of The Marked Girl)

The Book: Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnston  | My Review 

The Story: Like, everyone I knew told me that this was a hot mess, but I insisted that it sounded cool.

The Outcome: By the end, there were people sailing through seas of iced garbage and eating their jackets for sustenance. ‘Nuff said.

If I trusted myself, can you even imagine some of the horrors that would have befallen me? Not loving some of my favorite authors? The humanity!

BUT! I think that this little post has showed me a pretty significant trend: I am getting better! See, the books my gut said to DNF but I kept reading were more recent. The ones I tried to DNF were pre-blogging, for the most part. So maybe my little inside voice is getting better at deciphering these things?

That said… I still don’t trust me 😉  Do you trust yourself when you DNF a book, or do you second guess? Are you a regular at the DNFing, or are you too scared like me?

Posted September 9, 2016 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Discussion, Discussion Challenge / 72 Comments


72 responses to “DNFing: Why I Cannot be Trusted

  1. I don’t trust me to DNF either!! I always have this vague hope that it might turn out okay?!?! LIKE USUALLY IT DOESN’T BUT OMG I NEED. TO. KNOW. ? And also me too about The Knife of Never Letting Go!! I spent the first 100-pages crying because wut even was going onnnnn. Then I think I rated it 5-stars. And it stabbed me in the hard (accurate title, I supppose??? With the knife and all??) SO YEAH I LOVE THAT BOOK BUT NOT GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION. And another fun story: I sent back Blood Red Road to the library not once, but twice with only reading 1 chapter. WHAT IS MY LIFE. I DON’T EVEN KNOW. Now I love that book so much. (But like let’s not talk about the 3rd one.)

    Moral of the story: bookworms aren’t to be trusted at all ever.

    • Bwhahahah exactly! It’s like… it is 99.99999% of the time NOT going to turn out well, but that infinitesimal percent makes you never want to give up because… what IF? And yeah, TKONLG… good thing that the first few people who read it went along with it, or we may never know the wonder that IS Chaos Walking- because I wanted to give up for sure.

      Also, I love that we both tried to not read the same books that we ended up loving ? Though we’ll write a fanfic ending for the 3rd Blood Red Road book, of course.

  2. I very rarely DNF because I am afraid I will wind up enjoying so yeah I get you. I recently DNFed a book because I could not get into it so I ran to Goodreads to see what others thought and it had a pretty crappy rating and friends didn’ like it. I then promptly put the book down. But before that I hadn’t DNFed in a while. I did DNF the second book in the Chaos Walking trilogy though – SORRY!!!!

  3. Oh, this happened to me recently, so I’m apparently even less trustworthy than you and have not learned my lesson. If it weren’t for the fact that everyone and their brother ADORED Jellicoe Road I would have called it quits on multiple occasions. I listened to the Audiobook on SYNC and I was seriously wondering about all of my friends’ sanity for loving the book because it made zero sense to me and I just wasn’t feeling it. I actually stopped at one point and read some five star reviews to keep myself going because otherwise there was no way I could keep going. And then it was brilliant. SO brilliant. So, yeah, this is why I don’t DNF. I can’t. Trust. Me.

    • Oh my goodness! That IS recent, since I like, JUST read your review of this! And that is exactly it- I will be ready to DNF and like- even though these examples are of my FAVORITES that I almost DNFed, there are still some solid books that I recently wanted to DNF. Which is not good. And is also why I end up reading shitty books all the way to the bitter end 😉

  4. I’m a regular DNFer. There I said it. No stones please!! I usually give a book until 30% or a few chapters in to make my decision. This usually happens because I don’t like the overall actions of the main character or where the story is going. I’ve also tried reading 5 star reviews of books I’ve DNF and most times I come to the conclusion that I’m in the 5% of unpopular opinions when it comes to that certain book. The main reason I have no guilt when DNFing books is because I want to enjoy my time reading. Why would I push myself to read a book that clearly makes me rethink my whole existence and I dread having to continue reading it?

  5. It’s definitely a hard decision for me. Sometimes I have to sit there and be like, do I really not like this book? Or is it not the right time for me to read this book? Sometimes I’m just not in the mood for say, a new dystopian series when I just finished and awesome contemporary one. I got through genre phases sometimes. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love the book another time. These days I only DNF books if the writing is choppy and/or the characters are flat. If there’s nothing exactly wrong and I find seems enjoyable I’ll push it aside for a bit.

    • So true! If I KNOW it isn’t going to work (which has happened, a time or two) I will DNF. Otherwise, I DO set some books aside for later- though to be completely honest, with a few of them I am probably just kidding myself into thinking I will finish one day 😉

  6. I trust myself to DNF a book. I hardly ever do… but when I do it’s for really good reason. Like the synopsis not matching the book plot, or a book that has no conflict for the main character.

  7. I used to not DNF because I felt like the book could get better. Unfortunately, all of the books I would read that I wanted to DNF wouldn’t get better. They would stay the same or be worse. Lately, I’ve DNF’d a couple of books. I mean, I have so many books that could be so much better and enjoyable so I won’t waste my time in books that will put me in a slump or be in a pissy mood because they were horrible. I don’t DNF much, though. Since May of this year, I’ve only DNF’d around 3 books.

  8. ” I still hate bird people.” LOL

    I’ve only read under the never sky trilogy. i still have to read the others. I’m positive I’ll love them. I rarely DNF a book. I do have a rule that I DNF a book when i’m halfway trough and i’m not liking it. That percentage is 25 when it’s a larger book let’s say close to a 1000 pages or more

    • Aw I hope you do love them! And WOW you are committed, I am impressed! I think part of my problem is that I DO try to give books a really good shot, like you- so by the time I am that far in… I figure I might as well just finish 😉 Though, I would probably run screaming from a 1000 page book, to be honest!

  9. DNF-ing books is hard. Too often my putting a book down is because I’m not in the mood for it so then I go back to it later and end up loving it. I think it’s that I just really have weird reading moods. You’re not alone at not trusting yourself with DNFing. I have a habit of waiting too long to DNF some books and then others I abandon too soon. It’s just one of those things isn’t it?

  10. Leah


    I feel obligated to finish any book I start, but there have been times when I reach the end of a book and I wish I had stopped, like you mentioned. I think it comes from my wanting to give the book a chance at redemption. When it doesn’t, I go through a little reading slump and have a hard time digging myself out.

    • I totally agree with you, I am always rooting for the book too! But alas, it doesn’t always work out. Like you said, it puts me in a bad frame of mind though, and I feel discouraged. Hopefully neither of us will read one of those books anytime soon 😀

  11. I barely ever DNF purely because, like you, I read The Knife of Never Letting Go and although I hated the first 80 pages, I persevered and it became one of my all-time favorite books! I’m slowly getting better at DNFing though! 😀

  12. I have to admit I DNF and don’t usually look back, BUT… you have a good point here. what if I stuck with it and loved it? I hadn’t actually thought of that before, or at least not much. Kinda scary to think maybe a favorite could be sitting abandoned lol. And to be honest yeah there are some books I’ve persevered through and they got a lot better- so I guess DNF’ing is risky. Luckily I don’t DNF too many… and I do hear you on getting better at picking out reads. Since I started blogging I seem to have less duds too over time… I guess I’ve honed in better on what I actually like?

    Love your examples! Seas of iced garbage?? Eek… 🙂

    • I WISH I could DNF more easily, and I think you have the right mindset, honestly. But, I do have that worry, and it is pretty loud hahha. I feel like at this point, it isn’t likely that you’d DNF a favorite- maybe a not horrible one, but probably not a favorite either.

      And YES- actual sea of iced garbage. It was the absolute weirdest, most nonsensical book I ever read, and I won’t lie, I was tempted to hate-read the next one, but it seemed too mean ?

  13. Peach @ Rebelle Reads

    I haven’t DNFed in awhile surprisingly. Lol thankfully. Ahhhh, you don’t like bird people?? I’m a bird person. Well, hopefully, we carry the same definition in that. I’m not a crazy bird lady now, but I def see where you’re coming from in regards to that. hahah I thought when you placed Magonia on your list, it’d actually been that cute contemporary YA, Magnolia, and I was like, Nooooo! I haven’t read any of the others, but if they were unfortunate enough to recieve the fatal DNF, they must be something. 😉

    • Bwhahha I don’t like when like, there are bird-human hybrids. Like, people who LIKE birds are fine. People who are also birds are not great. SO if you are half bird… we may not talk as much 😉 And noooo I have heard great things about Magnolia actually- though, the cover for Magonia makes me smile, the book did NOT.

  14. I used to push through hoping the book would get better, it rarely did, but since I started reviewing and amassing a frighteningly enormous TBR I do DNF when I can’t get into the writing style or the storyline.
    But I think I need to go back to The Knife of Never Letting Go… I have tried it not once, not twice but THREE times! And it has had such glowing reviews by bloggers I really trust… It’s the dog. The talking dog. That’s what I can’t get past…Please tell me the dog runs away or aliens abduct it (I don’t want to wish it dead) but really… does it get better?

    • Seriously, I feel you, it;s an awful feeling to be reading a book you aren’t liking and looking longingly at your TBR! Oh my goodness, THREE times?! Oh, if Manchee is your problem…. well, Manchee won’t be, I promise. You will fall in love with him! I HATE talking animals- HATE- but Manchee is so different! Like, I will be SHOCKED if you don’t end up loving him SO MUCH.

  15. Ami

    I am a notorious DNF-ers. And once I DNF I don’t look back. Nope. Very rarely a DNF book gets a second or third chance for me. I feel like I have too many books on my hand and I prefer to read them rather than go through all those pains with a DNF books just to see if I can make it the end ^^

  16. Great post Shannon! I’m also a notorious non-DNFer and I think it’s for the same reasons you’ve mentioned. I’m always scared that I’m going to miss something great if I don’t finish a book. I’ve only ever DNFed two books that I just couldn’t seem to get into because of the writing style. I might come back to them at a later date though because I feel bad.

    • YEP I really wish I could be better at it- I have DNFed 3, one because the writing was NOT good, one because I was so bored I was about to cry, and one because I was so full of rage I wanted to throw it ? I also do what you do and put them aside- even though if we’re being completely honest, I am probably never coming back to it, but I can’t admit it to myself 😉

  17. I rarely, RARELY ever DNF a book. I’m like you – I always worry I am going to be DNFing a book I will end up loving and that indecision drives me a little crazy! So yeah, I think I can count all the books I DNFed on one or two hands, and even then I’ve probably read a god three quarters of it before doing so…

  18. It does sound like your bookish intuition is getting a lot better, which is good! I’m not really a big DNF-er. It happens sometimes but that’s usually if I can’t get into the book in the very beginning or it’s not what I thought it would be. I suppose I COULD have ended up loving it, but I don’t worry about it because I don’t DNF that often.

  19. DNFing a book feels somehow like betraying people. I have very rarely DNFed, even when I should have, so I definitely relate on that half of it. Plus, if I don’t DNF it and it does turn out to be horrid, I feel justified in ripping it to shreds in a review. 🙂

  20. I DNF and I stick by decision to do that. I can’t love every single book and sometimes people will disagree with my decision, but I usually know within the first 20% of so. I do sometimes skip to the end just so see if there is a twist I need to explore, (that has only happened one time that I liked the last chapter so much I had to go back and read then entire book) usually that doesn’t help tho. I have Under the Never Sky and I just need more time. I am hoping to get that read in December when I spend some time reading the books I own that are not promised reviews. I might make a it a ‘thing’ so other people can join me in spending some time reading those purchases, idk yet.
    Anywhooo, I think you are getting better and should just trust your gut. It makes me sad to think of you trudging through a book you are not enjoying. Don’t we (especially you) spend enough time doing things that we don’t enjoy! (doctor appointments, grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, gah this is a depressing list) It doesn’t matter if someone else thinks it is great, it only matters what you think.

    • I realy wish I could DNF, Karen. I once had Holly spoil the end for me- it turns out I was missing nothing- and felt much better about it. But that was one of the THREE books I have ever DNFed in my whole life so… yeah hahha.

      I would LOVE to read purchased books, count me in! Those poor bastards linger on my shelves forever 🙁 And you are SO right- it makes NO sense to finish something we aren’t enjoying, reading is supposed to be a FUN thing! 😀

  21. OMG, to have almost DNF’d favorite books. The horror! The thought of missing out on all that goodness kind of makes my heart race. I have the Under the Never Sky trilogy sitting on my shelf and it’s been there for ages. I’ve never lost interest in reading it, I really still want to, but it just hasn’t happened… yet. Seeing it listed as one of your favorites totally renews my interest.

  22. LOL! This post really made me laugh! I think it is because I have felt so similarly! I think it all depends on mood! I have recently DNFed quite a few books because I just wasn’t feeling anything! Oh and that book Seeker? I concur!

    • Seeker was one of the actual worst books I have ever encountered ? Is that mean? Whatever, it’s honest. And I am glad that you are able to DNF when you aren’t feeling anything- that is probably the time I most wish I could make myself do it, actually, because the reviews are even hard to write if you finish in those cases!

  23. DNFing is such a struggle, but I’m super happy you stuck it out with The Knife of Never Letting Go because it’s fantastic. But I know the style turned a lot of people off. I’m surprised that you aren’t more willing to DNF you read so much. Or maybe you read so much because you don’t DNF?

    In general, I’m a terrible DNFer. I used to force myself through then I forced myself through The Selection and despised it, and now i’m notorious. I’ll DNF a book within the first five pages like I’m a literary agent fueled by high expectations. I mean to get back to them, but then I just find better books to read. I don’t even usually DNF because I don’t like the book, but rather because I don’t like it enough. Blogging has made me super picky.

    • BWHAH I think I read so much because I don’t DNF 😉 You nailed it! And yes, the style of TKoNLG is hard to get used to but as you know, SO worth it!

      That is SUCH a good way to put it- that it is that you don’t like it ENOUGH. I really think those are the books I wish I DNFed the most, because I don’t even have anything to say about them when it’s over, you know? “I was bored, and then I was still bored by the end” isn’t exactly a great review 😉

  24. Herp

    Hey here I am mentioned again! You know what would solve your DNF problems? Picking up some graphic novels, heck even some children’s books, and adding them to your GR challenge. Or novellas! Then you’ll never run into this problem because you’ll always be on track!!

  25. Oh man, why oh why did I not DNF Seeker? That one was just bad. Oh and I just read The Swan Riders and I really wish that I would have DNFd that one. It was so boring. Argh. I posted my review of that one today. Spoiler alert: it’s not good. I absolutely loved The Knife of Never Letting Go. I wouldn’t say that I felt like DNF’ing it, but I did think that it started a bit on the slow side. But once I got into it, I loved it. I need to finish that series! Great post.

  26. I have become a very committed and decisive DNF’er, which is funny since I’m truly not like with anything else in life! HA! But seriously, if I am miserable when reading a book and/or really struggling to reach each word and/or do not want to read something, I just figure — why keep going? There are way too many books on my TBR and/or that I may enjoy more to spend time not liking what I read. That being said, I’m sure I have DNF’d books I shouldn’t have and I know I’ve read books that I should have DNF’d. I think you should trust yourself more but I totally get it — I had this happen once with The Deal. When I read the first few chapters, I honestly thought “this is ridiculous, one more chapter then I am out of here” but I kept on and it’s one of my favorite NA of all time now! But, trust your instincts. Go back and read the GR description; perhaps read your friends’ reviews; think about the author, the genre — you will make the right decision! ♥

    • I LOVE your way of being. I wish I could do that too- because let’s face it, you are right! We have too many amazing books on our shelves to worry about shitty ones! And I think your tips are SO perfect. Because you’re right- the few that I have ended up liking that I almost DNFed (recently, I mean) are genres that I love and it made sense that I ended up liking them. The others are ones that aren’t, OR that my friends all hated- so I should have just listened! Thanks, love ♥

  27. I am a DNF’er, but it doesn’t really happen very often that I do stop reading. I think I’m getting better at choosing the books to read and so I usually end up enjoying myself.
    When I do DNF, though, I completely forget about that book, so if I don’t state on Goodreads why and where I stopped reading, I won’t have any idea about why later on.
    I may have passed by a book I could have enjoyed, but I have SO many books, and so putting down one I don’t really enjoy is important to me.

  28. To be honest, I’m pretty regular with DNFing 🙁 Most of the time, I can tell whether or not the writing will work for me within the first 20% or so. I usually stop around there if I have no desire to continue reading. BUT I’ve been trying to get better, and there are a few books I’m glad I didn’t give up on 😀 As for your picks, I LOVED Under the Never Sky and The Knife of Never Letting Go! But I agree, Seeker and a few of the others just didn’t pan out the way I thought they would.

    • That is awesome, seriously! I wish I was better at it, I do. I think 20% is THE perfect stopping point- because you read enough that you have a feel for it, but not so much that you wasted a ton of time. That is kind of my goal if I ever do eventually get better at DNFing- 20% 😉 The three books I have DNFed I did so at 13%, 34% and 54% (which is like… really?) and I think 20 is better than all of those- I wasted too much time on the second two! But the first one I KNEW was a hot mess, so I guess that was okay hahaha

      Seeker is so sad. I think I kept wanting to love it so I kept reading? I am glad you loved UtNS and TKoNLG too 😀

  29. I am a serial DNFer and I have no regrets!

    I wrote a post about this months ago because some of my favorites used to be DNFs until I picked it up again (usually after a year or so) and got hooked! ?

    So yeah. I THINK I DNF too quickly but then again, I also don’t have time to finish a book when I’m not loving it, righ?

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