Okay, friends. I’ve got something serious I’d like to talk about so bear with me while I write up a post with no gifs, no pictures, and just straight up discussion. I’m leaving it bare-bones so we can straight-up talk, no fluffy stuff (although I am quite fond of the fluffy stuff)!
Before we start, let’s have one ** Special Disclaimer! ** in which I say that these are simply my opinions and my feelings as a book blogger. I in no way aim to say my personal beliefs are the “right way” or that someone else’s opinions are the “wrong way” and I truly hope no one feels attacked or offended should their opinions differ from the ones in this post! This is just meant to be a post to open up discussion and feel out the opinions of others because I really do like hearing all sides of the story! This has been a sensitive issue that has been on my plate so I just want to say that I love you and your opinions! One of the reasons our blogs are all great is because we do them all differently! Okay, end disclaimer.
Ever since I started my blog, it has always been my policy to review every book that I read. I trust that my blog is a safe place to share my opinions, whether they be positive or negative, and that my followers and/or readers respect those opinions because let’s face it… We all have those books that we just end up disliking or choosing not to finish for one reason or the other. Often times the books that I end up feeling so-so about or even not finishing for some reason tend to be some of those titles that people absolutely LOVE. Maybe it’s the hype? Maybe I got my hopes up? Or maybe my tastes just run a little different than the vast majority out there on quite a fews books. Regardless, I promised myself that I would post ALL of the reviews for the books I read.
Then came a gray area. What about the books I chose not to finish? Do I count those as “read enough”? I’ve chosen to write a few reviews for books I’ve marked as DNF. It seems like writing a DNF review can actually be kind of a hot topic, which I hadn’t really thought about until it was brought to my attention this past month and I wondered how other people feel about the big dreaded DNF REVIEW.
To Review or Not To Review…?
The first question that comes to mind is, “Is it fair to write a review for a book I didn’t finish?” Personally, my answer to that is yes to a certain degree. If I only read 25 pages and decided this just wasn’t the book for me, then no, I don’t think that’s fair to write a review on those 25 pages. I wouldn’t have made it far enough into any story or plot or characters to really be a fair judge of what I read and it would be really hard to form and strong opinions or points for that book.
If I’m writing a review for a book I didn’t finish, I would really have to feel like I gave this book a fair chance, but after 75 or 100 pages or so, it still wasn’t working out. I know there are some books that take a long time to set up the plot, explain the characters, and really get into the meat of the story, but after at least 75-100 pages, I feel like I should be invested in even just the set-up. Hopefully (depending on the length of the book), we’ve already gotten into some mystery or romance or some sort of meat & potatoes of the plot. I’ve had time to figure out if I’m enjoying the writing style. I’ve gotten to know the main characters (or maybe I haven’t and that’s why I’m struggling). If I’m still not liking after that long, I think I can feel confident that my opinion will continue to stay consistent throughout the rest of the book. If I’ve made it this far into a book, found that I’m still not enjoying it, and decide not to finish, I think I can make a fair assessment of what I’ve read and give an honest opinion about it.
I really and truly feel that as a book reviewer, I should be able to post reviews for both postitive and negative reviews. Everyone does, right? As book bloggers, I think most if not all of us have taken sort of a personal oath to write honest reviews even if they may not be so positive. Many of my DNF reviews may have turned out to be one or two stars if I had chosen to finish, but there are just SO many books out there that I want to read, I really don’t want to struggle through 200+ more pages of book if I’m truly not enjoying it. This is the reason why I don’t often have many 1-2 star reviews on my blog — I’m not finishing those books and I’m marking them as DNF. Is it unfair to “cut my losses” so to speak and mark a book as DNF instead of finishing it (which by that point I would be rushing so I could finish) and marking it when an extremely low rating? For me personally, I just don’t like pushing myself to finish and then bringing the rating down unless I really felt THAT strongly about how poorly the book was written.
Remember… It’s Only One Person’s Opinion!
I can usually tell with most of my DNFs that this book wasn’t meant for me. That doesn’t always mean that a book is “bad”. I’ve marked quite a few books as DNF that so many people have LOVED, but not everyone will love all of the same books. It’s the beauty of being a voracious reader. There will always be more books out there and I can take the time to love the ones that are more to my tastes. When I mark a book as DNF, I’m also not giving it a star rating. I have a separate shelf on Goodreads for my DNF books because I couldn’t put them under read, currently reading, or want to read. Since I haven’t finished the book, I don’t really want to give it a negative star rating. In a lot of ways, I feel like I could since a low star rating means that I didn’t like it, but with so many of these books being “not-for-Brittany” books, it didn’t seem fair to rate them as one star just because I wasn’t the proper audience to be reading them.
“So, wait,” You say. “You can write a review for a book but not give it a rating on Goodreads? How does that seem fair?” I’m also not giving it a rating on my review, but I still think it’s important to share my thoughts on the book. I took the time to try it out, I’ve made it far enough to form some really solid opinions on why I chose to stop, and I still feel its my duty as a reviewer to share why this book just wasn’t for me. It’s going back to feeling like I should be able to share my negative reviews. Many reviewers choose to finish their one and two star books. I choose not to. I think I should still be able to share my opinions on those books and share with readers why it just didn’t fit my tastes.
A VERY important thing about my DNF reviews is that I never say to people “Don’t pick up this book!” I may say that I personally wouldn’t recommend it, of course. How can I make a blanket recommendation for a book that I chose not to finish because I wasn’t enjoying it? HOWEVER. Remember how I said that a lot of these DNF books were ones that other people LOVED? Who’s not to say that this book is exactly someone’s cup of tea? In fact, with a lot of my DNF reviews, I often times end telling people that they should try this book. Don’t let my review turn you off from the book completely, especially if it’s one you were looking forward to! It’s only fair to take my review into your consideration, but it’s also only fair to give this book a fair chance since you were looking forward to it so much.
How different is it between me writing a DNF review and me finishing the book and giving it one or two stars? I feel like people wouldn’t feel as much controversy with a two star rating, but honestly for me… any review I read with under a three star rating means, “Don’t bother.” Of course, it’s still up to me whether I want to take that review into my consideration of the book or not. Truthfully, I feel no differently about seeing a DNF review than I would about a one or two star rating. I just take DNF reviews to mean that the reviewer cut their losses before they made it that far to say “Yep. One star it is.”
36 thoughts on “DNF Reviews”
I know that this is back from 2013 however I saw the link on twitter the other day and wanted to share my thoughts. I think if you give the book a decent amount of time that it is perfectly fine to give it a review. I also think if you quit say after 20 pages then maybe you don’t have enough information to give a decent review. I think it depends on the person. I also look at reviews as not always negative but maybe give some constructive criticism.
There has also been a lot of time that I have written a very good review for a book that just wasn’t for me. I took the time to read it and most of the time it is well written but it just didn’t interest me as much as I had hoped. I think it is the readers responsibility to decide what they think is best and how they would like to handle the situation. There are some books that I review as DNF and others that I just leave as DNF.
To me, this is a non-issue. I review almost all of the books I read, even if I don’t finish them. And yes, I’ve reviewed books that I’ve only read a couple of chapters of. If I stop reading a book after 25 pages, it has to be really, really bad, or downright offensive.
The thing is, I don’t mislead people, as I’m sure almost nonel of us do. If I’ve read 25 pages and found it offensive, my review starts with “This book was so terrible I had to stop after 25 pages”. If a reader thinks that is not representative of the book, they can skip my review. If they’re still interested in what my feelings were or why I was so offended by it, they can read it. And I get to write down my impressions of the novel, which is my main reason for writing them in the first place.
Anyone who says I have to suffer through a horrible book or else I can’t tell a friend “I don’t recommend it” is an idiot.
I’m kinda meh about posting DNF reviews. I personally don’t, unless the book I DNF’d is a solicited review book (I don’t have many of those though), but I don’t think it’s wrong/unfair to review what you did get through, especially if you got through a good chunk of the book before giving up.
I try to stick it out with all the books I read, so I typically get around half-way in before I DNF. My TBR pile is monstrous though, so recently I’ve been DNF-ing a lot more often, with a lot less read. If I’m not enjoying a book, I’ve got hundreds more I could be reading instead, so I do. 🙂
I think you should get around ⅓ of the way into a book before DNF-ing, that way you really get a feel for the book, and what’s not working for you. Though, I know there are some books where you just can’t do it. My co-blogger has read a couple where she barely got 25 pages in, before discarding because she just couldn’t read anymore, they were that bad.
DNF = Did Not Finish, right?
I’ve come across this term in these past few days and wondered what it meant. After reading your blog post, I have a better understanding of it.
I actually did not a review on a DNF book once. It was a young adult book, very teenagery (I know, not a word but it’s the best way I can describe it). I actually struggled on whether or not the write the review. I got maybe about 40% or so in the book. It was a very long book. I was forcing myself to read it. It wasn’t a bad book at all, I was jut not the intended audience. I did review it based on what I read but I made sure to say I DNF because I wasn’t the intended audience. I honestly felt bad because I did agree to review the book, had I not been so overzealous in my reviewing, I wouldn’t have taken the request. Now, I know that there are book, like the ones you’ve come across that are HOT, that I will will agree to review but may not finish. I think, for me, reviewing a DNF book will depend on why I DNF.
Thank you so much for this post. I enjoyed it.
I totally understand! I’ve read several books where I could tell I just wasn’t the intended audience. That didn’t make them bad books, but they just weren’t for me. Especially in those cases, I find it hard to decide whether to write a review or not because I don’t necessarily want to turn other people off from it, but I do still want to share my thoughts. Other times, I’ll start and know within a chapter that this is not the book for me and in that case, that’s obviously not enough to warrant a full discussion!
Yep yep yep. I’ve started accepting less and less review requests because on one hand, I just flat out need to catch up, and on the other, I was accepting too many for the sake of reviewing or not wanting to turn an author down and then I was not enjoying the books that I was reading. It’s hard!
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this! Lovely discussing with you 🙂
I think it’s FAIR as long as you are fair. Be honest. Be respectful. Offer links to people that did review it. But it isn’t fair to readers, if every book you read you love. Then they may start to question ratings or integrity.
OOHHHHH, Amy, that is the perfect idea! I will definitely include links to people who did review it in my next DNF review! I don’t usually do that for my reviews, but I think that’s a GREAT thing to add for DNFs so people can find other reviews with possibly more positive opinions. Thanks for the input! 🙂
I agree about DNF reviews. I actually haven’t had to DNF a book yet that I planned to read/review for the blog (fingers crossed that I don’t jinx myself by saying that). I can totally understand people not wanting to finish a book they’re not enjoying, and in no way do I think there’s any wrong place to DNF a book, whether it’s only 20 pages in or 200. Like you, however, I’ve come across some DNF and negatively starred reviews that don’t sit well with me. If you’ve only read 20 pages of a book, then that’s not really fair to review it, in my opinion. You really didn’t give the book a chance and any review written from that perspective is going to be incredibly flimsy and shallow, in my opinion. I like a lot of the things you wrote about DNF reviews here. When the day comes for me to DNF a book, I think I’m going to act very similarly to how you do.
I rarely DNF a book, but that might be because sometimes I’m super picky about books I choose to read. I have however DNFed a book recently. I didn’t write a review for it just because I didn’t feel the need and wasn’t sure how much I really had to say, I just couldn’t get into the book. I don’t think it is wrong to write a DNF review. I actually think it may be better the way you do it…without a star rating. Your reasoning made sense to me.
I honestly have not DNF a book in a long, long time. For the most part, I tend to leave books and come back to them when I feel like reading them (since that often prompts a change in how I react to the book). I do think it’s fair to share your DNF thoughts, explaining what didn’t appeal to you about the book, etc. It’s a great way for other readers to take note, and decide if they’re still interested or not in reading a book! I do like that you don’t rate them though, because that makes it even more fair and personalized to me.
I’m pretty much completely on board with everything you’re saying. If I can’t make it through more than 20 pages or so I don’t post a review, but if I read about 100 pages I usually do review it, with the clear caveat that I didn’t finish it, because I think there is something valuable there. But I also don’t give a star rating because I don’t personally find that to be fair.
Sounds like you do it right. I generally don’t review DNF books because once I close those covers and decide I am done, I move on. I must feel guilty that I don’t finish the whole thing, or imagine I will pick it up again “someday” when I am ready. But I guess others might benefit from the discussion, or have fun telling me off because it is their favorite book or something. 🙂 Honestly, I have read your DNF reviews and you keep it perfectly appropriate and nice and still push the book by giving it some marketing time, whether it is positive or negative. My friend used to say “I don’t care what people say about me as long as they are talking and thinking about me!”
I am part of the, ‘It’s your blog do whatever you want’ camp, so if someone wants to post DNF reviews, go ahead. It’s interesting to see why people gave up on books, especially if it’s something I enjoyed. The only reason I don’t write DNF reviews is because I generally don’t have anything to say about the book. I know I won’t be able to write a fair review and all I’ll do is hate on the book simply because I didn’t like it. I think DNF books can provide great feedback to authors and readers about the book when done well. I am not someone who would be able to do that, so I don’t mention the books I DNF.
It’s one of those things where I think personal preference is key. What my problem is with the whole issue is the fact that people think they can make you change your opinion or say you’re wrong. If a book doesn’t grab you it doesn’t grab you, a blogger needs to make their own policy, I personally will try and finish the book because for instance a LOT of new adult books make me want to throw my kindle across the room by 10% but sway me in the end but for another if they feel they can put the book down and walk away well fair play to them! While I don’t post DNF (yet) I am always interested to read what made a blogger do so but it more than likely will only sway me to put off picking up a book as opposed to not picking it up altogether. What bugs me is the hand wringing, wailing commenters squealing “won’t someone think of the authors!” as if EVERYBODY who reads a DNF review is going to say “no thanks, never reading that!” Please, give people some credit!! I’ve read your DNF reviews and you’ve always clearly and succinctly stated your reasons in a respectful and informative manners so to hell with the begrudgers!
I think you have found that right delicate balance between to review or not to review. i firmly believe that unless you finish the book you do not have enough information to write an accurate review. one of my favorite books, the host, is so slow in the beginning i nearly gave up on it. however if you have read a large enough portion of a book there is no reason you can’t share your thoughts on why you didn’t finish because that is something people may want to know before reading a book however i agree with you that you should not be giving books you don’t finish a rating as they might be just about to become the best thing you have ever read.
I see absolutely nothing wrong writing a review for a book you did not finish as long as it is clearly noted in the review that you didn’t finish the book. I mean, a large reason for why I started a book blog was because I wanted to express my feelings about books, and that includes books I didn’t like, even ones I couldn’t finish.
Again, I just feel that the important thing is to make it really clear to everyone that you didn’t finish the book, so readers of your post know the whole story.
I definitely agree with you. I don’t think that posting DNF reviews are bad – if you’ve read enough to develop a reasonable and solid opinion, then you should totally be allowed to review DNFs. I feel if you were only two chapters in before you stopped, then perhaps you are not necessarily in the position to critique the book since, well, a lot can happen throughout the rest of the book. But then of course, that’s only my personal opinion. I find myself DNFing quite a lot actually with books I start reading and lose interest in. But after reading at least 100 pages of a book, I typically convince myself to continue on. I like the idea of not wasting any more time with a book you don’t like but to me, I think that after spending so much time on it already, I might as well just finish. That depends too, on the book. I’m pretty sure I’ve DNFed books in which I’ve read more than 100 pages.
And just moving on to your post, I really appreciated the way in which you wrote this. Very thoughtful and respectful! 🙂
I am tempted to mark titles DNF but am glad I still have the strength to finish everything I read. I believe that it would be unfair to review books we didn’t finish. My take on this is that if we don’t like what we are reading, its better to just stop and move on to a new one.
I have the same thing where I don’t have 1 or 2 star reviews because I just stop reading. I only started this year to write DNF reviews…and I’ve only written one so far. I know it’s crazy to think this way, but I always feel guilty when I don’t finish a book. Like somehow I’m at fault. I can tell pretty quickly whether or not I like a book, which makes me feel even guiltier because I’m sure to most people, the place where I would put down a book is so close to the beginning that it seems I’m not giving it a real chance. To mark more books as DNF was one of my bookish goals for the year because with all the books I want to read, I just don’t want to spend time on ones I don’t like anymore. Sometimes a book just doesn’t do it for you. I like reading DNF reviews because I like knowing what made someone put a book down. What bothers one person might not be a sticking point for someone else.
Brittany I’m so glad that you posted this. I think it’s important to talk about because people seem to always catch heat for it when I agree with you and the other commenters here: as a blogger/reviewer, it’s both our responsibility to be honest and our prerogative to review at our discretion. I, for one, think that there can be real value in a DNF review, especially when it is thoughtfully and respectfully done. There’s no rules anywhere saying that a DNF can’t be reviewed, or that it shouldn’t be reviewed. If you have thoughts that you want to express, then this is a place were you can do it.
As a regular reader of your blog and your reviews, I can say that I’ve never read a review–positive, negative, or DNF–on your blog that wasn’t honest, fair, and thorough, which are, to me, the most important aspects of a review. Whether you finished the book or not is not as important to me as the way the book is discussed, and you always treat the books you review respectfully.
So, props to you for this post, and keep up the great work!
I struggled with this one, too, after my first DNF. I finally decided that my blog is a place where I give my opinions about the books I read. I give them, even if they’re not great, and maybe someone else might want to know why I didn’t like a particular book enough to finish it. They may agree with my reasons, and I’ve saved them from wasting their time and/or money. But maybe they like all the things I didn’t, so at least they’ll have that knowledge. I had read half of that book before I finally gave it up. Looking back, I probably shouldn’t have given it that much time, but I felt obligated. I’ll most likely stick with the 50% rule in the future, unless it’s glaringly obvious I won’t like it, in which case I won’t review it at all.
Glad you addressed this! I don’t review books I don’t finish, mainly because if I didn’t finish it, I didn’t like it and I don’t want to force myself to write about something I didn’t like enough to not even finish. However, I’m kind of inspired by this post to maybe start writing about them. Anywho.. not about me.
I say if you want to write about DNF books, go for it. Maybe it’s a book someone hasn’t heard of and your reasons for not liking it will be their reasons for liking it. You just never know. But I think, like you said, you have to be careful in your DNF reviews so you don’t bash the book and say “don’t read this.” That’s not fair to your blog followers, the author, and the book.
Maybe instead of writing a formal review, you create a DNF feature/format for your books that you didn’t finish. That way it’s not really a review but instead just you sharing your reasons for not finishing a book. It could be a great outlet for discussion (polite, mind you!) for others who either finished or didn’t finish the book.
Your blog is what you want it to be. I think it’s great that you share both the good and the bad parts of reading. As long as you work with honest and integrity, keeping it classy like you always do, you’re in good shape. We clearly will love you no matter what! 🙂
I think it depends on why you stopped reading. If you stopped because the topic didn’t interest you, then I would mark it DNF but not review/rate it. If you stopped because of a problem with the writing, then I would say that I didn’t finish but still review and rate it based on the reasons I didn’t finish it. I appreciate bad reviews and DNFs because I tend to questions bloggers who seem to love every book they read – maybe they are just really lucky – but I definitely have books I don’t like and I think my readers would appreciate me saying so.
I think we all understand that our tastes are different and we like different things but if a book is confusing, poorly organized, has little character development or inconsistencies… these type of things… I would WANT a blogger to tell me so that I don’t waste my time too.
As far as length of reading, I usually try to stick it out for about 30% of the book.
I just started to DNF books recently and I have to admit, I definitely think it’s a wise choice to cut your losses instead of forcing yourself to keep going or rushing to the end. Which I used to do in the past with books I didn’t connect with because I felt this obligation to finish no matter what. I haven’t done any DNF reviews on my blog mostly because I’m usually only about 20 or so pages in before I decide to stop haha. But you’re giving these books more than a fair chance and still encouraging people to check them out for themselves. I think that’s extremely fair and honest. When I write reviews for books I ultimately didn’t like (but at least felt compelled to finish), I always say that even though it wasn’t for me, maybe you’ll feel differently. At the end of the day, it’s your blog and you should do whatever you feel is best 🙂
I think it’s fair to ‘review’ books you didn’t finish as long as you make it clear it’s a DNF review and you say where you stopped. That way the reader knows what you’re ‘reviewing’. If something isn’t working for you, there’s no reason to force yourself to read it. I just try to be clear about why it didn’t work for me and move on.
As far as how long to read before giving up, my general rule is 100 pages or 1/3 of the book if I’m just not feeling it. If I’m outright offended by the book, I’ll stop sooner than that.
Great topic, Brittany!
I agree with “cutting your losses” and letting go of a book you don’t connect with after giving it a fair shot. I try to get at least 1/3 through before making that decision. I have given DNF books low star ratings as well no rating, depending on why I put it down. If it was a lack of connection, then no stars. If it was badly written, then I’ll rate it. And any time I don’t like a book, for whatever reason, I feel bad, I think we all do, because an author had the guts to put their baby out into the world and ask us if we liked it. But, we’ve also, as you’ve pointed out, committed to honesty, and I try to do that, as kindly as possible. And, IMO, sometimes the kindest thing to do is not review at all.
Yup – like most people said – it’s your blog, so you do things how you want. I call my “reviews” discussions just to make sure people know I’m talking about my feelings on a book, and not traditional “reviewing” – so if I DNF after 10 pages and I want to talk about it – I’m gonna. That said, I finish 99% of the books I read – even if they are horrendous – not because I talk about books, but that’s just in me for some reason. Bigger books especially, sometimes I might not get into it until page 100/ 600 for example – which is different from hating 100pages/ 200 pages.
I agree with Akilah said, it’s your blog and you do want you want. And like you said you can tell people why you didn’t finish the book and it may just not be for you. Everyone’s opinion is going to be different and it’s also upto the readers of the review to be respectful about your opinion and not insulting you for it. You’re not obligated to read something you’re not feeling and that’s how it is. Plus there are other books you want to read, books that you know/think you’ll love so why not give them a chance instead of harbouring through a book you’re not interested in anymore. So I think you’re entitled to write DNF reviews :).
My attitude on these matters is always the same: it’s your blog; do what you want.
As for not finishing books, I have no qualms about setting a book down and moving on if I’m not feeling it. I have too much to do and there are too many books that I will enjoy to suffer through another. I’m not obligated to any book or author to finish a book. If it’s not for me, it’s not for me.
I mean, I DNF-ed Twilight and then it was some huge sensation sweeping the world, but I still have no desire to go back and finish it because pbbffttth. (And that’s how I felt BEFORE the hype. In fact, I was surprised at its popularity since I made it to the halfway point and quit. Ha!)
As someone who has been reading your blog for awhile, I have to say that I like how you review your reads in a respectful manner. I agree, not all books are for everyone, and what a boring world we’d live in if everyone had the exact same tastes. I appreciate the fact that you don’t tell people “Don’t read that book,” but rather, let them know how you felt about it and why. I have friends whom I highly respect when it comes to their reading taste, but at the same time, we don’t always agree. That’s cool. I think it’s your right to post DNF reviews – as long as you state that you didn’t finish it and why. It’s your blog, your reviews, you should be able to do what you want – particularly if it’s in a respectful manner.
I have a totally different philosophy on my blog, but like you said, each blogger brings different styles and perspectives. As a writer myself with many friends in the business, I feel more comfortable blogging about only the books I love. Thus the title of my blog “DEBtastic Reads” – it’s all the books *I* personally love. There are books I don’t finish or that I didn’t like (my 1 and 2 star reads for my personal reading list) – and I just don’t include them on my reading list on my sidebar. Is it fair that I don’t share that books I didn’t like? I don’t know. I just know that I prefer my focus to be on books I Love because there are so many of them to love.
I think it’s important for book reviewers to be fair and honest. I don’t call myself a book reviews – I’m a Writer and a Reader.
Keep doing the great job you do! 🙂
Hmmm… I don’t call myself a book reviews OR a book reviewER. Note to self: don’t comment on blogs before morning coffee….!
I think it’s definitely fair to post a review of a book that you didn’t finish. Heck, I did a review of Clockwork Angel, and I barely got through half of that book.
Reviews are made to talk about why we liked or disliked a book, yes? So why can’t someone post a review talking about WHY they didn’t finish a book? It’s basically the same thing. I obviously acknowledge the fact that the book could have gotten better, but I chose not to see it through because of *instert reasons.*