I firmly believe in the power of the DNF (Did Not Finish). One of the things that happened to me in college and grad school was that I became very proud of my ability to gut it out through books I didn’t like. I’m lucky in that I liked a lot of what I read for school (otherwise I wouldn’t have gone in for 2 degrees in Lit!), but there was stuff I hated, but I was proud to have read it anyway.
But in reality? This is kind of a crappy way to to read and it ruins reading for fun. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes there are books I don’t like very much that I finish anyway, but if I really hate something, or I’m just not making headway, I’m a firm believe that taking the DNF and reading something you like better is a nicer way to live.
However, there are some books I DNFd, but come back to later. Maybe I’d started them at the wrong moment, or I wanted to read something else more, but I DNFd at one point and then picked them up again. Weirdly, a lot of the books I’ve read this year have been former DNFs and I’m happy I picked them back up.
Here are a couple I gave up on, but am happy I eventually finished:
The Orphan Queen, by Jodi Meadows
I know exactly why I DNFd The Orphan Queen the first time around: I started it directly after Sarah J Maas’ Queen of Shadows. The Throne of Glass series is one of my favorites and I should know better than to start another high fantasy series right after finishing a ToG book, but I had it out from the library and gave it a go. I picked it back up a few months ago, loved it and zoomed through it and The Mirror King in a weekend.
The Winner’s Kiss, by Marie Rutkoski
Another victim of another book. I’d started TWK, but got A Gathering of Shadows in the meantime and just couldn’t contain my excitement. The pacing of TWK is a little slower than the first two books in the series, so I put it aside for a while. Ultimately, I am really happy I picked it up again, because the end to Kestrel’s story is so worth it.
The DNF is not the only time I feel like I need to give books a second chance. I read a lot of fantasy and there are lots of times when I don’t get excited about the first book in a series, only to have the second or third book blow me away.
Throne of Glass, by Sarah J Maas
I really, really, really did not like Throne of Glass when I first read it. I disliked Celaena a lot and was frustrated with the book overall. But I’d already bought Crown of Midnight, so I went ahead and read it…. And loved it. Now when I re-read, I have a hard time pinning down exactly what I didn’t like to start with, so I’m glad I gave CoM a chance. To think I might be missing out on the whole series right now!
Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard
To be fair, I did like Red Queen, but I read it very quickly and back to back with a few other books and it kind of got lost in the shuffle. So when Glass Sword came out, I was only so-so on reading it. But GS blew me away in terms of character development and the high stakes of the plot. I can’t wait for the next book.
The Remnant Chronicles, by Mary Pearson
The Kiss of Deception was good, but I didn’t like the way the love triangle was set up. I wanted to know Lia better and I felt like the way the book was structured kind of kept me from knowing her. But I knew Nicola and Alyssa love The Heart of Betrayal, so I gave it a shot and now the series is hands down one of my favorites. I’m insanely excited to read The Beauty of Darkness.
So while I totally support a full stop DNF for books you simply don’t like, authors you don’t care for, plot lines that make you want to puke, and any other hard “Eh” you get from a book, I think that second chances can yield some really pleasant reading experiences.
What books or series have you DNFd in the past that you’ve picked up again and loved?
Allison Carr Waechter is reading Lori M Lee’s Gates of Thread and Stone right now, which fell off her radar and blipped its way back on. She’s glad to be giving it another chance.