Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Great DNF Debate

I have a really hard time giving up on books. I feel like I owe it to myself to finish after investing a certain amount of time. And the author put her/his time and effort into it, shouldn't I finish it so that I can form an opinion based upon the entire work? Plus, what if I give up and it turns out that I missed something really good? Like, if I had only continued reading for ten more pages, the whole thing would have turned around. I have issues. But if all those concerns aren't enough, I also spent money on the book, dammit!!

I am currently reading a book that I was looking forward to, and had really hoped to enjoy, for a number of reasons. But it's slow going, I admit. I'm putting it down or falling asleep a lot. I knew I was in trouble when I picked up the book this evening and sighed deeply when I saw how much I had left.

There are several glaring problems with this book, which are growing increasingly distracting. The first is a problem I believe is associated with the phenomenon of the "wallpaper historical." I am completely confused about when this book takes place. It must be some time during the nineteenth century. One of the main characters is a Bow Street Runner (early Victorian?). Men wear tricorn hats, stockings and breeches (Regency? Georgian?) The behavior is very anachronistic. Everyone is awfully informal, calling each other by the first name. The heroine is charming and witty, but her winking, eyebrow waggling, and constant facetious/funny/provocative comments seem like they might cause consternation in others. In the last chapter I read, a group of characters trooped off to a tavern, where scantily clad men and women dance like extras in "Dirty Dancing." There is a talent contest, where a titled lady gets up and sings in front of the entire tavern. The heroine then dresses up like a man, and gets up on stage and sings a very suggestive song, aimed at the hero (who she has kissed once). Maybe I'm just clueless, but I'm confused and getting irritated.

Plus, there are editing/sloppiness issues. Everyone is scowling all the time. Characters' eyelids draw together (one more than one occasion), which gave me a disturbing mental image until I realized that what the author meant was that their eyebrows had drawn togther. The heroine is described as "uncommonly tall". How tall is she, you might ask? At one point she is described as being two feet taller than a man, at another point she is one foot taller than another male character. Even if we place these men at a petite 5'3", that's one freakin' tall woman.

I'm the kind of reader who can forgive all kinds of errors and absurdity, for the sake of an intriguing and entertaining love story. Alas, that doesn't seem to be the case either. I know I'm rambling here, but I had to get this off my chest. When is it time to give up on a book? I keep hoping it's going to get better, but instead I'm getting caught up in and distracted by the issues. Should I cut my losses? My head says yes, but my heart says, "Keep going, give it chance." It seems like a lot of work, though.


Kristie (J) said...

I have many many DNF's. I kind of have them in two categories - if it's a DNF because I wasn't in the mood for that particular genre, I'll keep it knowing the chances are it's me and not the author. Then I have the DNF's for the books I get part way through and am just not enjoying at all because of the writing. Those are the ones I trade in. I have way to many in the TBR pile to read and a whole pile I'd love to reread to waste time finishing one I'm not enjoying. By the sounds of the one you're reading, it would go in the second pile for me :)

Devon said...

I'm giving up on it. I'm telling myself that maybe I'll go back to it when I'm in the mood. But it probably won't happen. I'm unable to dismiss this one out of hand, b/c the premise was so promising. The execution? Disappointing to say the least.

Anonymous said...

I used to spend a lot more time reading books that weren't working for me....but something just clicked for me (or maybe it snapped?) and I've recently been able to abandon books that aren't working for me.

I think part of my "transformation" was the recognition of my TBR pile, which is a relatively recent development. Why waste time reading a book that is awful or not appealing to me on some level when I have 200+ books waiting to be read?

Margee said...

I have to go with jmc on this one. Why waste your time on a book that's not giving you your money/time's worth when there are so many good books just waiting to be discovered. Unless you've been warned that it's a book that takes time to get going (Cold Mountain being a prime example). If I'm going in on a blind read, and there is no whiff of a payoff, then I cut and run.

PS, I posted a recap of our trip to the Isles game. And of your affair with Brendan Witt.

Devon said...

Thanks for the advice ya'll. I gave up for now, and I feel lighter, know what I mean? I've started Demon Angel, and it's promising so far.

reviewer said...

If it pains you that much then just give up and try again some other time.
I have only DNF one book. It was Orchid by Jayne Castle. I have tried a few times to read it all the way through, but I just can't do it.