DNF

I know some people force themselves to read the full book, even if they are disliking it. I used to do that, but stopped years ago — my time is too valuable, I’ve got too many hundreds of books waiting to be read, I can’t waste my reading on something I’m not enjoying. (Being an end-reader, I will usually go read the last chapter to find out how it wraps up before I put the book down.)

In the last two weeks, I’ve had two Did Not Finish books. I realized in both cases it was because I really disliked the main characters. I found them stupid or spineless (a real hate of mine) or implausible and unrealistic. If I can’t connect with the characters, can’t empathize or sympathize or like them, I get annoyed and lose interest in the story and put it down. That’s what I felt about these two recent stories, one a cozy mystery and the other a vampire romantic suspense.

So at the monthly meeting of the critique group to which I belong, I asked the others what made them stop reading a book. We all agreed that there would be some books that were not bad, just weren’t to our individual taste. But if it’s a book in a genre we generally like, what could cause you to decide not to read any farther?

Tom said “Boring”. Could be the plot, the style, the pacing. The story misses keeping your interest at all.

“Too much tension” was Luann’s surprising contribution. When the tension keeps ratcheting up and ratcheting up, and something has to happen (the murder or the big conflict or whatever) — and then still doesn’t. It makes her too frightened or tense, and she can’t keep reading.

“Too slow to start”, hmm, I think this was Diana’s peeve. If it takes 50 to 75 pages to get to any action, forget it.

“Too slow overall”. Too many words (and reader’s time) spent on irrelevancies, unnecessary history, excessive description, general author meandering.

So what makes a book a DNF for you?

[Of course, then there’s the wallbanger. If a story trips a personal hot button — you can’t stand the characters’ politics, or can’t bear to read about torture, or hate a story where kids or pets are mistreated or the story’s full of factual errors or anachronisms — whatever it may be, we’ve each got our own elements that make us INTENSELY dislike the book, get angry at the author. That’s a topic for another day.]

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