Saturday, March 28, 2009

The dreaded DNF

Or - for those who aren't sure what that stands for - the Did Not Finish

There seem to be two kinds of readers - those who finish every book they start no matter how much they aren't enjoying it and those who give up on a book when they just aren't into it.
Me - I'm in the second camp. I have so many books to read and ten times that amount to reread that when I run into a book that isn't working, I'll leave it. And believe me, I don't like doing that. I pay money for books and I don't return any unless I've somehow managed to loose sight of the fact that I already have a copy and rather then return a book even then I will 'exchange' it for another one. But since chances are I was going to get the 'exchange' book anyway......

Sadly Fools Rush In is my latest DNF. I Feel a lot better at the fact that I've read and really enjoyed two other books by this author - if I had tried this one first I never would have read anything else and would have missed some enjoyable books.

But this one, once again suffers because of the heroine. The outline sounds interesting:

Rewarding job as a local doctor on Cape Cod? Check. Cute cottage of her very own? Check. Adorable puppy suitable for walks past attractive locals? Check! All she needs is for golden boy and former crush Joe Carpenter to notice her, and Millie will be set.

But perfection isn''t as easy as it looks--especially when Sam Nickerson, a local policeman, is so distracting. Sure, he needs a friend after being dumped by Millie''s fortune-hunting sister, but does she really need to enjoy his company that much? He is definitely not part of her master plan. But maybe it''s time for Millie to start a new list…

And I really enjoyed Just One of the Guys and To Good to be True in part because of the heroines. But Millie is just a horse of a different colour for this reader.

First off she is obsessed with some guy from her school days. Never mind the fact that she doesn't really know him - just that he's gorgeous and does nice things for people. But she's never had a real conversation with him.

But Millie is now in her 30's and she is a doctor!! And she is stalking this guy. Honestly! At one point - before I gave up on this book, she is hiding in the woods near his house so she can see what time he leaves in the morning so she can set up an ambush at a later time. I can understand doing this kind of thing when one is in their teens - and no I'm not going to tell the story about how one time when a girlfriend of mine and I staked out a place where we knew two guys were going to be and then she disabled her car so they would come and help us 'fix' it. And I'm not going to add that it was in the middle of winter and we waited and waited and waited and they didn't come out and my girlfriend had a curfew and had to get her parents car back home and we were freezing anyway so we had to leave and the 'plan' totally bombed. I'm not going to tell that story because I was a silly young teenage girl and long grew out of that kind of thing.

But apparently Millie never did grow up in many respects. Then again I lost it with her when she went through a 'makeover' - new hairdo, new clothes, the make-up thing for the sole purpose of getting this guy she still had never had a real conversation with to notice her. What worked so charmingly well in Linda Howard's Open Season which charmed the socks off me, bombed completely in this book because of the motivation of the heroine.

But still I plodded on in this one until........ a handsome man asked Millie out for dinner and she deliberately chose a restaurant where she thought the handsome young man of her dreams would be. I'm not sure - but I might have screamed in frustration at the heroine at this point, but that was it! Enough of Millie.

I found the character of Millie to be excruciatingly shallow and self-absorbed. She seemed to care nothing for 'knowing' someone but only cared about the looks. She based her whole life on some guy because he was hawt. Now maybe if I continued to read the book, I would find out she found out what a shallow person she really was. But since this book is written in the first person, I just couldn't stay in her mind one more moment.

How about you? Do you finish books you aren't enjoying? And why? Do you give up on a book that just isn't working for you? If you do, will you try another book by the same author if this is your first by them?

This isn't about the writing. Obviously Kristan Higgins is a good writer since I and others have loved some of her books. But this is one I won't be finishing.


She Reads said...

I felt the exact same way about this book- I *LOVE* K.H.'s other books, but this one drove me nuts. I felt like the heroine was acting like me and my friends circa age 14 or something! I did finish it though, and sadly I had icky 'this didn't work for me' aftertaste.

Personally I do both DNF and 'skim it and crank on through' with books that turn out to not work for me. It just depends on my mood, the book, and if I keep hope that it'll turn. Mostly I set it aside, read something else, then try to re-visit.

Jenre said...

I quite happily DNF books which I borrowed from the library and have done on a number of occasions. If I have bought the book...well, I do tend to plough through regardless. I can't bear to think I may have wasted my money, :(

Anonymous said...

The only DNF book I've had this year was from this very same author but a different book. I didn't think it was a bad book, I just couldn't get into it so I am not tossing it out, but it went to the bottom of my TBR pile and I will try again at a later date.
If I can't read it then I will toss it. Time is short and there are TOO many great books out there waiting to be read for me to waste my time forcing myself to read something I really don't care for.

MB (Leah) said...

I'm kind of anal so I really try hard to finish a book just for completion. However, lately I just don't have the patience to stick it out with a book that's not working for me. Mainly because I'm anal, I can't pick up another book unless I finish one, so I sitting on many books because of a boring book.

What really pains me is when it's a book by an author I love and or everyone else has just raved about how great the book is. In that case I will read a few pages here and there so I don't forget what's going on and read other books. It's the only way I might finish it.

But I'm moving more and more into being OK with DNF.

By the way, the heroine would drive me bat crazy in this book. And I'm really starting to hate the "he was my high school crush but never noticed me so I have to do whatever to get him to like me now" trope. Ugh.

Lea said...

I'm a second camp reader, like you Kristie, I don't have the time to invest in a book that isn't working for me. There are just too many good books on the shelves.

Just like everyone else authors do have off books so maybe this is one of those.

Thanks for the review and honest opinion Kristie.

Best Regards

nath said...

Oh, too bad you didn't enjoy this one, Kristie! I quite enjoyed it and in my opinion it's better than Catch of the Day. Thing is, the second half gets much better :D

Are you planning to read Catch of the Day?

Mame Burkett said...

Hey Kristie,
There must be something in the air this week about not liking a particular book since Orannia on Walkabout posted about not liking a book everyone else likes. I just tried reading Brad Meltzer's "Book of Fates" and OMG it was so boring for a supposed suspense novel. I would have quit it earlier than I did but one of the chapters took place at the performing arts center I work at in West Palm Beach. At near 50 I don't have the patience to spend time do ANYTHING I am not enjoying. I am happy to say I love reading and talking about books even the ones I don't like
Have a great weekend!

Amy C said...

I will not finish books if they aren't holding my interest. I have so many books that it's kinda easy to put one aside for another. I don't do it often. I try to finish, like MB(Leah) said, for completion. But sometimes, I can't help but set it down and move on.

Wendy said...

I used to be one of those poor saps who HAD to finish every book she started. It was during my hard core reviewing days (when I was with The Romance Reader) that I was finally able to break the habit. Why? Because I would read every word of every book I was assigned to review for TRR.

Even the crappy books.

The books that had me thinking "Gee, a homemade lobotomy can't be all that hard."

So when I did have the chance to read for my own personal enjoyment and the book wasn't working for me? I was more than able to chuck it in the UBS bag and move on.

Also, like you - my TBR can currently be seen from space. With the naked eye.

Marg said...

It takes a LOT for me to give up on a book. In fact, I think I have only DNF'd two or three books in the last three years. There are some that I have put down intending to pick up again later, but haven't yet, but I don't think they are conscious DNF books.

When I do DNF a book I can't tell you how guilty I feel, and I often second guess myself, because you never can tell, it might have gotten much better just a few pages after I gave up!

azteclady said...

I used to finish every single book, no matter how little I was enjoying it (or even if I actively disliked it) back in the days before the humongous and every spreading TBR mountain range.

Now I have given myself permission to put a book aside. Sometimes, if it was simply that it didn't hold my interest, I may put it back in the TBR and in time I'll reach for it again. Since I am a mood reader, that has worked for quite a few books.

However, if I'm truly hating the book? or if the second try yields the same results as the first? I'm not reading it, period.

There are not enough hours in the day as it is, really.

Christine said...

I very rarely don't finish a book even if it's not that great. I keep reading in hopes of something amazing coming on the next page... especially if it is a book that I've heard a lot of great feedback on .. or one that has won awards or NYT best selling status.

I have an easier time putting down books I've borrowed from the library or borrowed from friends. Partly because I feel someone else might be waiting to read it and will enjoy it more than me, so that alleviates some of the guilt of classifying it as a DNF. And partly because, well, I guess there's no financial investment in borrowed books, so I don't have to worry about 'getting my money's worth.'

That's too bad about this Higgins book. Better luck with the next read, Kristie. :)

orannia said...

Like azteclady, I used too 'read every book'...then a very wise friend pointed out to me when I was ranting about a book that there were too many good books in the world and too little time to read a bad book. So, now I am a lot more selective/ruthless :)

And I just LOVED Open Season. I'm like Daisy...except I don't have what Daisy has to work with :)

Tumperkin said...

I too abandon books if they're not working for me. I also have semi-DNFs - that I abandon partway for weeks on end then pick up again - some of those turn into finishers and some don't.

I think what's interesting about DNFs though, is that sometimes I have no problem finishing books that are actually bad. And I've had DNFs of very good writers. The thing that makes a book a DNF for me is about attention, not technical quality.

azteclady said...

Tumperkin, you just hit the nail squarely in the head--I have been trying to work that out.


Now it seems so incredibly obvious... Thank you!

Kati said...

I find there's a difference for me: DNF and a book that's not keeping my attention at the moment. I'm not sure how, but I always seem to know the difference.

After all, Lord of Scoundrels was a DNF for me the first two times I read it. And now it's in my Top 20 favorite books. But it took a while before I could figure out what all the fuss was about.

Kristie (J) said...

Kati: I know what exactly what you mean!! It's hard to explain but I can tell the difference between a book I may try again and one I KNOW I never will.

AL: I agree with Tumperkin - she nailed it.

Tumperkin: I agree with you - you nailed it *g*. A lot of times when I have a DNF I hesitate to say it was a DNF because there was nothing necessarily wrong with the writing or the story or something else. It just didn't work for ME. Not everyone is as tough on heroines for example as I can be. And I also can finish books I know are bad - but still the story is interesting enough to continue and none of the characters have ticked me off *g*

Orianna: I'm afraid I've never been one to finish a book I wasn't enjoying. But I have to happily say that once I discovered online sites and blogs, I read a lot less that I don't like - or - a lot more then I do. And wasn't Open Season cute? I'm in awe of how she can write such different kinds of stories.

Christine: *sigh* I'm afraid I don't have the patience to keep going if a book hasn't gotten my attention. There are always so many others shouting at me "My turn!! My turn!!"

AL: I'm a mood reader too and even bigger then my pile of DNF's is my pile of 'maybe someday I'll try again'

Marg: *chuckle* You an ever so much better reader then me! I think I have 2 or 3 a month - at least of 'it's not you, it's me' books. My actual 'nope, never gonna read this one' pile is actually quite small - though sadly, Fools Rush In is one of those ones.

Wendy: *laughing* I've heard that about your pile. And that's one reason why I after some thought and half-hearted effort I decided not to review for anything other then this blog. If I HAD to finish stinkers it would take all the fun out of reading. I read for pleasure and if it's not giving me pleasure in one way or another, I don't really feel the need to continue

Amy: If I'm reading one I know I'm not going to finish - I still read the end. Odd I know, but you're right - time is too precious to waste.

Mame: And scarily - that's another factor. I have such huge TBR pile and try as I might not too - I'm going to continue buying - and at my age now there will come a day when I just won't finish them. And looking back, I'll feel bad at trying to finish a book I'm not enjoying and probably missing a book I would have.

Nath: I figure it does get better, but I'm so turned off on her silly teenager ways, I can't be bothered finding out. And yep - I have Catch of the Day and I'm sure I'll give that one a try. 'Cause it's not the author - it's the heroine.

Lea: As odd as this may sound - I'm very relieved that I can say I do very much enjoy this author's work - just not this particular book. I will try her again and even this one I'm sure many readers have enjoyed. The writing is good.

Leah: *grinning* I'd be willing to guess that the bigger your TBR pile gets, the more comfortable you will continue to become with DNF's.

Ms.Moonlight: As AL said - sometimes a book just doesn't work at one time, but trying it again some other time and you get a whole different vibe. I know that happened to me with the In Death books. So I have to be pretty darn sure before I make a book a solid DNF. So maybe if you DO try the one you couldn't finish at another point it might just work :)

Jenre: *g* I think I'd be even less likely to finish books if I got them from the library. But that isn't a good place for me to get books from for 2 reasons - 1. if I love the book I hate to have to return it and 2. I never seem to get them back on time and pay at least half the price of the book in late fees.

She Reads: Hey there!! I'm glad I'm not the only one who had such an adverse reaction to the heroine. Maybe is she hadn't been quite so old - though speaking from well past that point 30 isn't old - but at 30 I don't want my heroines acting like young silly teenage girls. I can say this because I myself was a silly teenage girl at one point in my life. And thankfully I have loved her other books that I've read.

My Blog 2.0 (Dottie) said...

Hi Kristie!

It's hard to put down a book, isn't it, but it's even harder to keep looking at one that boring your socks off or with characters you just can't related to. So, yes, I have DNF books, only a few. Like Lea said, anyone can have a bad book.

Dottie :)

Anonymous said...

I usually only DNF if the book is really badly written. If it's just dull, I put it aside for awhile in case it's my mood. For example, one book I put aside half finished ages ago was Prince of Midnight by Laura Kinsale -- no way am I not going to give that one a second chance!

And then there's always the skimming option, which I use pretty often. For a book that's not great, yet held my interest enough that I want to see it all come out okay. Sometimes I'll get so involved in the skim, it's basically finishing the book. :-) -- willafu

Amy C said...

Kristie, when you say you at least read the end, like how much of the end? The last chapter? The last few pages? I think I may do that too :). I've never really thought to do that before.

Brandy said...

Delurking (Hi! *G*) to say I have had DNF's before, usually I can tell within the first two chapters. If that. If it is a DNF, I take it back if I bought it. My money and my time are too valuable. I have had a book or two that I've put put down and gone back to later, and I seem to somehow know the difference between that kind of book and a DNF. But, I have no problem Not Finishing a book. *G*

Kristie (J) said...

Amy - *chuckle* Ack!! I feel naughty like I'm teaching someone bad habits!! But usually the last 3 or 4 pages is enough.

Willaful: *g* I think it's a good thing you held onto Prince of Midnight. I tried to read it many years ago and it didn't work and I traded it in. Now they've rereleased it again and I'm curious to see if it works better the second time around - but having owned it in the past, it's going to kill me to buy it again!! And I'm the same with For My Lady's Heart. I've tried to read that one on many occasion and can't get into it - but can't give it away either :)

Dottie: *laughing* It isn't so much hard to put down as it is to ignore it's cry to 'keep reading'. When I do admit a book is going to be a DNF - it doesn't stop it from calling and then I feel bad for ignoring it's urgent little pleas.

Heather Massey said...

I don't like to be in the position of not finishing a book, because of all the anticipation I have about getting into a story. I love that moment when a story is about to begin! I try to avoid a DNF by being careful about what books I choose to read in the first place.

I can forgive a lot in a book except when a story is boring. If I don't finish a book, it's usually because there isn't enough conflict.

Kristie (J) said...

Brandy: Hi back at you and welcome out of Delurking World! *g* I can usually tell pretty early if a book is going to be a DNF or a "it's not you, it's me" book. And oddly enough if it's a DNF book, I will read it further then the second kind because I figure at some time in the future, I'll give it another try when I'm in a different mood. I went further in Fools Rush In for example. I was going to quit when she was hunched down in the woods scouting him out but I persevered, giving it more time to get better but instead for me it went the other way.

Kristie (J) said...

Heather: And hi to you too! I try and avoid DNF books too - really *g* who doesn't? But I also like to try new authors. And sometimes a book can get real good buzz and still it just doesn't work for me. Thank heavens I have a lot fewer these days. And I think the number one reason for me for a DNF is I just don't like the heroine.

My Blog 2.0 (Dottie) said...

Hi Kristie!

Left you a blog award--come visit and pick it up! Love your blog!

Dottie :)