Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel

DNF at 23%/114 pages

As with so many of the books I DNF, this was okay, but not good enough for me to finish. Patel’s writing flows well and has an elegance to it, but the character work here let this novel down for me. My biggest issue was that this novel felt like it was going through the motions of the myth rather than telling us a story where the character’s decisions organically moved the plot along. A lot of the plot beats felt like they occurred because the myth necessitated it, and not because it made sense within the context of their characters and their relationships (I don’t know the original myth this is based on, though, so take this with a grain of salt). I understand that this is a retelling and so must, in some way, follow the course of the original story, but I would’ve liked to see it told in a way that made it feel a bit more authentic to the characters.

The Mask of Mirrors of M. A. Carrick

DNF at 32%/200 pages

The thought of reading 400 more pages of this book made me want to jump off a cliff. I was just so deeply, deeply bored reading this. Sure the pacing is slow and the worldbuilding is convoluted, but by far my biggest issue here is the lack of any kind of meaningful character development or dynamics. These characters exist just to act and react to things; they have feelings but only insofar as those feelings serve to move the plot forward. And as characters, they are just AGGRESSIVELY BLAND. In the 200+ pages of this that I read, i did not experience a single emotion; I wasn’t surprised or moved or angry or sympathetic or intrigued–just nothing. I could not care less about what happened to these characters, least of all Ren, who had about as much personality as a paper towel. I just couldn’t do it anymore, so I decided to cut my losses and call it quits.✌

Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

DNF at 25%/70 pages

I really did not get along with this book. The prologue was brilliant: moving, evocative, intriguing. It pulled me right in to the story, and almost made me cry–it was that good. But then once we got on to the actual book it all just…fell apart. The biggest issue for me here is the writing: it does not read smoothly at all; it had a very fragmented stop-and-start quality to it that made me aware of every single second that I spent reading this book. (After I DNFd this I started reading a book whose writing I actually got along with and the difference was like night and day.) Add onto this a narrative that felt very dry and lifeless and I just couldn’t take it anymore.

The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington

DNF at 15%/100 pages

Not to be dramatic but this book is everything I hate about fantasy: so painfully bland, with not a single iota of personality to be found anywhere. Nothing about this book held my attention in any way. I read 100 whole pages of it but couldn’t tell you a single thing about these characters if I tried.

The Betrayed by Reine Arcache Melvin

I was really excited to read this–I’ve read so few novels set in the Philippines–but unfortunately it didn’t work for me as a novel. I actually quite liked the beginning of the book, but after that I felt like the plot and narrative structure were a bit fragmented, which made it hard to follow these characters and track their relationships and development. The narrative as a whole had a tendency to flit from one character to the next, one moment to the next, with few interstitial scenes to really do the work of connecting together those moments and making the narrative as a whole more cohesive.

I also DNFd The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah, Little Foxes Took Up Matches by Katya Kazbek, and What Isn’t Remembered by Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry, which I have full reviews up for here, here, and here, respectively.

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13 thoughts on “RECENT DNFs (JANUARY-APRIL)

  1. oh no 😂 i was actually looking forward to trying out the shadow of what was lost. i love how direct u r haha. i am actually pretty intrigued by kaikeyi. my mother owns a copy maybe i will still give it a go.

    lmao mask of mirrors is a definite skip for me now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lol im sorry!! if its consolation im a very particular type of reader so maybe what didnt work for me will work for you! ive seen so many people love Kaikeyi so i would say definitely give it a shot – its jsut that it wasnt the kind of book that i personally loved. (and ya…mask of mirrors was rough haha)


    1. me too!! i think sometimes the general feeling is that its bad to critique a book without reading it in its entirety but i personally find DNF reviews to be so helpful!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I completely disagree with that. I wouldn’t fully review a book on the basis of a few pages, but I think anything from about 30% in is fair game 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. yeah usually i dont include the books I DNF just a few pages in, because theres not really that much i can say about them aside from the fact that i just didnt want to read them lol. but yeah i usually try to give a book at least 10 or 15% to at least get a feel for the writing before i know its not for me.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Kaikeyi looked intriguing so I’m disappointed to hear it was lacking. I know what you mean though about a myth being told without it feeling like a new story is being created.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s fair. One of the great things about reading a lot, I think, is learning what books are for you and which are not and being willing to drop the ones that just aren’t a good match.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. lol right?? i know a book is about to be a DNF when i keep checking the page number every 5 seconds and with this one the thought of having to read like 200+ more pages of it was enough to make me DNF immediately haha

      Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you!! i do give every book i read a shot, but sometimes i just have to trust my gut and abandon a book when i know its not going to work out for me 🤷‍♀️


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