Brief Reviews From The DNF Pile

Some readers feel compelled to finish everything they read - and I applaud them for that - but life is too short to waste on books you're not enjoying. I give everything a fair shot, both in terms of time and pages, waiting to see if one might fit a changing mood, but eventually you just have to say farewell and move onto the next book on the shelf.

After Alice by Gregory Maguire
Um, yeah . . . this was so very much not what I was expecting, I actually re-downloaded the ARC twice to ensure I had the right book. From what I did read of it, it's an entirely unnecessary sequel to the classic, one that ditches the trademark surrealism of Wonderland and opts instead for a depressing sort of social commentary. I get that he was trying to be creative with his narrative, evoking memories of Carroll (and that entire era of fiction), but it just came across as pompous and dense.

The Renegade by Amy Dunne
This could have been fantastic, and there were a few scattered moments of brilliance that kept me reading through the first half, but I my interest quickly waned. Ultimately, the post-apocalyptic setting seemed far too thin, too weak, and too full of creature comforts; there were far too many character cliches, some of them heaped on top of one another; and the pessimistic sort of masochism grated on my nerves.

Bat out of Hell: An Eco-Thriller by Alan Gold
In all fairness, this was labeled an "Eco-Thriller," so the only person to blame for missed expectations is myself, but it felt like the original horror premise was just a bait-and-switch. It had a great opening, but I started losing interest with the crazy environmentalists, and completely tuned out with preachy/repetitive crazy environmentalism.

Crooked by Austin Grossman
Interesting concept, with some amusing moments, but it had a very ‘American’ feel to it. I’m a little fuzzy on the real history behind it, so I assume a lot of the cleverness was lost on me, and I just don’t care about the politics of it, so those aspects just bored me to tears. On a side note, when will people learn that we don’t want to revisit the childhood of our villains? It didn’t work for Darth Vader, and it doesn’t work for Nixon either. Ultimately, though, my biggest issue was that the supernatural elements – which I was counting on to get me through the politics – were largely hinted at and left off the page, instead of being thrust in our face.

Captain in Calico by George MacDonald Fraser
I have yet to read any of his Harry Flashman books, so it's not really fair for me to comment on Fraser as an author, but this just reinforced my belief that 'lost' manuscripts are generally best left lost. A good bit of swashbuckling fun, but populated by unlikable cardboard characters and equally stilted dialogue.

Clockwork Lives by Kevin J. Anderson 
As much as I wanted to like this one, some stories should just be left in the songs. Much like the first book, I found it too simple and too bland to really engage me, with no real sense of drama or tension. After more than a few aborted attempts, I was hoping this would be the series where Anderson and I could really connect, but his style just doesn't work for me.


  1. I wouldn't be too hard on yourself for the missed expectations of Bat Out of Hell - I think it was pretty deceptive of the book description to make it sound like an apocalyptic thriller or horror novel.

    And I'm scratching Crooked off my list now, thanks to your comments. Not really looking for another book that shoves politics in my face when what I want is more supernatural elements.

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

  2. That seems to be the running opinion on Bat Out Hell. The only words I've read about it have been yours, Mogsy's and Tammy's, but they also seem to be the only reviews out there on it.

    I, too, was looking forward to a story about a disease running wild on the planet - seems like we got political/environment statement instead :/

  3. Thanks for a list of books to avoid. So little time, so many books.


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