2020 DNF Round Up; Part Two

I’m rather pleased that this post only has two DNFs in it. Maybe I shouldn’t be? There are a few books I probably should I have DNF’d in the last few months, but for good or bad, I tend to persevere.


VULTURES, by Luke Tarzain

I received an eARC as part of a blog tour I’m no longer part of, in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Series: Yes - first book
CW: death
Book cover for VULTURES: title in black next to oval of blue

One of the major ideas in this book was a man living with a demon-thing (I suspect the what would have been revealed if I’d read on) inside him, and it causes him to black out – committing awful acts as he does. The dynamic with this voice in his head and the mystery of the black outs is what kept me reading.

I also really appreciated how unrepentantly broken all the characters were. They weren’t heroes who were blaming themselves for bad accidents, but characters who knew they’d made awful choices and done horrible things. They were dark grey, and it made their potential arcs more exciting.

However, these two aspects weren’t enough to keep me reading. There was just way, way too much happening in this book without enough explanation. The world building is, frankly, pretty non-existent. All these new fantasy words and no backing up what they are. Did it take me 30% to work out that the Phantax-thingies were potentially actually a people not a religion? I have no idea how long ago they fell, because it seemed like they were referred to as long-extinct and also currently around? It didn’t help that different POVs had different opinions on the world.

There were also a LOT of POVs. I lost track pretty quickly, but beyond the main two there were several other characters that said things but I’m not sure why. At least there were semi-obvious links between most of them, even if the characters weren’t adding to the story. One was… there to be a crass diversion? Another to add *stakes* with vague warnings?

The issue was that there wasn’t enough grounding in any POV to really connect or work out what was happening. Events seemed to fall into characters’ laps. Go into self-imposed exile because everyone hates you? Well then, you’ll stumble right into the arms of an aunt and then into the underworld to find out crucial information, and then you’ll easily return to the place everyone “hates” you.

It simply all felt too slap-dash and unset up a story for me to bother keep reading.


REBEL SISTERS, by Tochi Onyebuchi

I received an eARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: Sci-Fi
Age Range: YA
Series: yes - second book
CW: plague, child soldiers
Book cover for REBEL SISTERS: girl stares out of page above title against orange background

I read an ARC of the first book (WAR GIRLS) in this series last year and was kinda meh about it, but the premise was interesting enough that I decided to try the second book. However, the alternating story just wasn’t grabbing me to continue.

There are some very important, timely themes in this book as it deals with the fallout of war and refugee crises, as well as privilege.

However, I just couldn’t get into the plot. The main issue was that the second of the two alternating POVs was in first person while Ify’s POV was in third. The constant first-third switch was so jarring, even though I knew what was coming. Plus the two POVs were not linked – I have a suspicion of how they might become linked by the end, but I wasn’t going to read to the end to see whether and how they did connect.

Then there was the prose style of the second POV – it was in present continuous tense, lots of gerunds. I am doing X, I am making. He is [verb]ing. I think it was a deliberate choice to separate the synths from the human characters, but it feels really passive and removed from the action. It was like have a massive sheet of glass between me and the character because there was this -ing verb strucutre that meant I couldn’t get into their head, just observing – which is very rare in a first person set up.

This -ing issue also combined with the fact that I think this character was able to absorb memories? I’m not sure exactly what was happening, but I think some of the things they saw were other people’s memories? As you can see, I couldn’t work it out, and it meant that I couldn’t tell if the action was real or other’s memories.


What books have you DNF’d this year?

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