Thursday, 3 July 2014

DNF Round-Up (1)

I DNF a lot of books. I don't like to waste my time on books that I'm not enjoying, but I also don't feel right with writing full reviews of books that I didn't finish. So! I decided to start writing monthly round-ups of all of the books that I partially read that month and decided not to continue with. Because I like sharing my opinions. I have a lot of them. 

 Breaking Free
Breaking Free by Winter Page
Series: Standalone
Published by Harmony Ink Press on April 10 2014
Genres: LGBT, Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 180
DNF'd at 19%
Raimi Carter is finally a girl, just like she always knew she was meant to be. At a new school where nobody knows she’s had gender reassignment surgery, she hopes to finally live the normal life she’s longed for, happy in her own skin.  
Life is great until she discovers a dangerous bully is blackmailing head cheerleader, Clare Strickland, threatening to reveal her secret: she’s gay. As Raimi fights to free Clare from his clutches, the two girls move beyond friendship. But secrets from their pasts and their own fears of coming out tear them apart—maybe forever. Baring their souls to each other could cost them everything. For two girls trapped and desperately in love, only strength, courage, and trust in each other will help them break free and claim their future. 
I really wanted to like this book. It sounds like something that I would like. I've been wanting to read more about trans men and women, especially since I've been watching a lot of documentaries and interviews with women like Laverne Cox and Janet Mok and Carmen Carrera. When I spotted this on Netgalley, I thought that it would be an excellent introductory book. 

Though the premise wasn't particularly new or exciting, I was expecting this to be much better than it was. The writing just didn't work for me at all. It was very sparse, but not in the good way. It needed a lot of finesse and just felt very amateurish to me. It didn't make me feel anything, nor did I feel any attachment whatsoever to Raimi. There just wasn't anything there for me to enjoy. At nearly 20% through the novel, the only things I know about the main character are that she is a girly girl who likes makeup but can't dress herself, and that she was homeschooled. Unfortunately, there were a lot of things that I didn't like about this book and nothing to redeem them. I began losing my patience with the writing after about three pages, which is never a good sign. This book really needed to go back into the oven for a little while, because what I read is not something that I would consider ready for publication.

Child of a Hidden Sea
Child of a Hidden Sea by A.M. Dellamonica
Series: Standalone
Published by Tor Books on June 24 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Adult Fiction
Pages: 336
DNF'd at 42%
One minute, twenty-four-year-old Sophie Hansa is in a San Francisco alley trying to save the life of the aunt she has never known. The next, she finds herself flung into the warm and salty waters of an unfamiliar world. Glowing moths fall to the waves around her, and the sleek bodies of unseen fish glide against her submerged ankles. 
The world is Stormwrack, a series of island nations with a variety of cultures and economies—and a language different from any Sophie has heard. 
Sophie doesn't know it yet, but she has just stepped into the middle of a political firestorm, and a conspiracy that could destroy a world she has just discovered… her world, where everyone seems to know who she is, and where she is forbidden to stay. 
But Sophie is stubborn, and smart, and refuses to be cast adrift by people who don't know her and yet wish her gone. With the help of a sister she has never known, and a ship captain who would rather she had never arrived, she must navigate the shoals of the highly charged politics of Stormwrack, and win the right to decide for herself whether she stays in this wondrous world . . . or is doomed to exile.
There is nothing glaringly wrong with Child of a Hidden Sea. It started out very strong, and was exactly what I expected it to be, what the synopsis claimed it to be. However, it quickly petered out. I found myself looking for a connection to the characters that simply wasn't there, and I had no desire to pick up the book and continue reading. I didn't feel a pressing need to find out what was happening, what was going to happen, and that is something that I require of a book that markets itself as an adventure story. This was more of a nature trek than an adventure.

Sophie wasn't an awful narrator. She just wasn't particularly wonderful either. I'm left with little impression of any of the characters - I have no strong feelings about anyone, which is not a good thing. I would rather hate them all than feel nothing whatsoever.

This book was also exceptionally slow. I read nearly half of the book and it felt as though nothing had really happened. It really slowed down when Sophie was returned to Earth, and never really picked up again. I think this is partially a problem with the writing, because things did happen. The issue was that the stakes never felt very high, or perhaps it was just because I didn't find myself caring about what happened to the characters. 

I don't know exactly what to place the blame on, but I can say that this book simply did not work for me. I was promised a swashbuckling tale of pirates and adventure and mystery and that is not what I read. 

Life by Committee
Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu
Series: Standalone
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on May 13 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 304
DNF'd at 27%
Some secrets are too good to keep.  
Tabitha might be the only girl in the history of the world who actually gets less popular when she gets hot. But her so-called friends say she’s changed, and they’ve dropped her flat.  
Now Tab has no one to tell about the best and worst thing that has ever happened to her: Joe, who spills his most intimate secrets to her in their nightly online chats. Joe, whose touch is so electric, it makes Tab wonder if she could survive an actual kiss. Joe, who has Tabitha brimming with the restless energy of falling in love. Joe, who is someone else’s boyfriend. 
Just when Tab is afraid she’ll burst from keeping the secret of Joe inside, she finds Life by Committee. The rules of LBC are simple: tell a secret, receive an assignment. Complete the assignment to keep your secret safe. 
Tab likes it that the assignments push her to her limits, empowering her to live boldly and go further than she’d ever go on her own. 
But in the name of truth and bravery, how far is too far to go?

I've heard really good things about this book throughout the blogosphere and on Goodreads, but it did not work for me at all. I pretty much just hated everybody. Tabitha was uppity and self-involved, which are things I can forgive. But I can't forgive the whole actively-going-after-someone-else's-boyfriend thing. That's not cool. Not to mention the fact that she attempts to justify her actions by painting Sasha as a monster.

The worst (and best?) thing about this book is the characters. They are all, without exception, awful people. I get that teenagers are brutal (though that was not my experience at all), but this is too much. There is nothing to redeem any of these characters, and I just couldn't see how it could get better without getting much, much worse first. I just couldn't bring myself to read about these characters who I so disliked. The only characters I was mildly interested in were Elise and Tab's parents. They seemed kind of cool.

There was also the fact that I found the whole thing kind of trite and boring. Girls' friends dump her because she gets hot and wears v-necked shirts? What?  That makes no sense to me whatsoever, and I wasn't too interested in continuing. I honestly don't feel like I'm missing out.

Have you read any of these books? Do you think I should go back and give them another shot? Are you a big DNF'er like me or do you like to stick around to the bitter end?

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