Friday, March 1, 2019

DNF&Y [14]

DNF&Y is used to explain why I gave up on certain books, and what about them just didn't work for me. What I disliked about a book might be something you love, so it helps to share your thoughts even when they're negative! If you would like additional information, please click on the DNF&Y tab at the top. If you want to join, you can link up at the bottom!

To quote the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland: "Hello, I'm late, I'm late, I'm late." My life has been insane, and I think I'm going crazy. Two-year-old twins are no joke, but throw in a five-year-old and you'll forget what it's like to function like a normal human being. I have been a night owl for as long as I can remember, but lately I want to crash the second I get the little monsters to sleep.

The Dysasters (The Dysasters, #1)
by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Foster Stewart knows she's different. Her life has never been "normal." Talking to plants and controlling cloud formations aren't things most seventeen year olds are into. Tate "Nighthawk" Taylor is perfect. Star quarterback and all around dreamy boy next door he never thought about his "extra" abilities. What quarterback wouldn't want night vision? That's not weird, right? It's cool!

But on the night of their first meeting a deadly tornado brings them together and awakens their true abilities - the power to control the element air. Unbeknown to Tate and Foster, they are the first in a group of teens that were genetically manipulated before birth to bond with the elements. Which truly sucks for Foster, as she has to face the fact that Dr. Rick Stewart, her beloved scientist father, betrayed her and now wants to use her and the others for his own nefarious world domination plot.

Foster and Tate must stop Dr. Stewart and his minions before he destroys their lives and the world.

DNF after 20 or so pages

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

The story doesn't flow well. The conversations were all over the place, and didn't read like two people talking. I felt like the characters were trying to hard to sound normal, which only made everything more awkward.

The graphics were often inaccurate and showed you what happened before you had a chance to read about it. Occasionally, the drawings were placed in the book before they occurred in the story, so it was like having mini-spoilers within the book. An example of an inaccuracy: Foster was described as wearing an oversized sweatshirt that she had to roll up at the bottom, and she secured her loose hair into a topknot on her head. There was no mention of a hat, yet the images depict her wearing one, and her clothes were form-fitting, so definitely not a baggy sweatshirt. I don't mind drawings and pictures, but I want them to be accurate representations of the characters and the story.

Foster was super critical of her stepmother. She constantly commented on how old her stepmother was, and claimed she couldn't understand her "old" cultural references. I thought they had a very odd relationship, and disliked how disrespectful Foster seemed. She claimed to love the woman, but her words didn't convey that feeling.

The slang and "teenager talk" was painful to read. I have nothing against swearing, but it was overused and felt inauthentic. I didn't read very much of this book, but I was growing increasingly annoyed with the language being used. Did Foster and Tate know any other words, or was that just their preferred vocabulary? Either way, it was obnoxious.

"Yo, Nighthawk, who was that ginge you was talkin' to? She ain't from here, that's for sure." 

"Get back to the ginge with the big boobs."

Even the sections where swearing isn't an issue, the general language used gave me a headache. In the end, I just couldn't keep reading The Dysasters. I think the concept is interesting, and I enjoy stories about people with elemental powers, but everything about this book was excessive.


A Very Large Expanse of Sea
by Tahereh Mafi
Narrated by Priya Ayyar
Synopsis (via Goodreads): It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.


But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

DNF at 56%

I really wanted to like this book, but it just wasn't meant to be. A Very Large Expanse of Sea was interesting and enjoyable overall, but I disliked how Shirin treated Ocean. He was genuinely interested in Shirin and wanted to learn more about her. I thought his actions were sincere and his interest obvious. However, Shirin second-guessed everything he said and did, which kept him from getting too close. She actively pushed him away from the beginning, but would occasionally let him into her life before slamming the door in his face again.

I can see why she would be hesitant at first, but she treated Ocean poorly, and for entirely too long. I couldn't continue reading about the sad look in Ocean's eyes, or how Shirin thought she was doing him a favor. She was trying to make his decisions for him, and wouldn't accept his friendship or his affection. I'm not sure if that changes later in the story, but she was careless and cruel with his feelings for over half the book. I didn't want to risk reading about him getting hurt again while she tried to figure out what she wanted.

Shirin is a very angry and cautious character, and her past is clouding her present. She refuses to see what's right in front of her, and instead focuses on what she thinks will happen based on experience. I wanted to see more character growth as the story progressed, but instead I felt like Shirin was stuck on an endless loop. 

If you can look past Shirin's inability to trust Ocean and her attempts to thwart his friendship, then I would recommend this book. I think Mafi does an excellent job of showing how someone's culture and appearance can speak louder than the words they have to say, or the choices they choose to make. People are going to believe what they want to believe.


Stolen (Stolen, #1) by Marlena Frank
Synopsis (via Goodreads): It’s difficult taking care of a delusional father by yourself. Sixteen-year-old Shaleigh Mallet would rather explore and photograph dilapidated buildings than cater to her father’s dark episodes. But when she’s kidnapped by a creature who carries her atop a flying bicycle into another world, she realizes this wasn’t the escape she wanted.

In a kingdom known as the Garden, where minotaurs pull carriages and parties are held in hot air balloons, Madam Cloom and her faerie servant, Teagan, rule over the land with incredible but terrifying magic. Shaleigh must prove that she is the reincarnation of a long-dead ruler, not because she believes it, but because it’s her only chance to survive. With the help of a trespassing faerie, a stoatling, and a living statue, Shaleigh hopes to outwit everyone. She aims to break the bonds of servitude and finally make her way home. What she doesn’t realize, however, is that she’s playing right into the hands of a far worse enemy...

DNF at 12%

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Short version: I couldn't connect with the characters or the story.

The blurb promised minotaurs, faeries, and reincarnation, but I didn't get that far. I stopped reading before the kidnapping occurred, because I didn't want to force myself to read something I wasn't enjoying. The dialogue didn't feel natural, and I had a hard time believing that's how people would interact with each other.

And then there's all the stuff with her dad... Someone, likely and adult, should have stepped in and intervened on Shaleigh's behalf. The man believed his wife was alive and coming home, and even pretended like she'd never left when interacting with his peers. He refused to go to therapy or take medication, and would often sit in the dark and cry for hours or even days. His condition was known, yet no one did or said anything to help him or his daughter. Shaleigh knew how bad things would get, but she didn't push the issue either.

Even though I only read a small portion of this book, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I think something magical and unexplainable happened to one or both of her parents, and now she's dealing with the aftermath. However, no one knows magic is a possibility, so someone should have done more to help Shaleigh and her father.

*Share your DNF&Y post! Please leave the direct link to your DNF&Y post and not just your blog's URL. Thank you for participating and happy reading!

19 comments:

  1. Quote: "Yo, Nighthawk, who was that ginge you was talkin' to? She ain't from here, that's for sure."
    "Get back to the ginge with the big boobs."
    Yo, I hear you, because that ain't real teen talkin', that's for sure 🤣.

    Quote: "She constantly commented on how old her stepmother was, and claimed she couldn't understand her "old" cultural references."
    OK, so...it seems like the author tried so hard to make this one appeal to teens...but even this part doesn't ring true. Of course there would be a cultural gap, but this sounds overdramatic. Are "real teens" this way? Are adults of today so dated that they only live in their old little world?

    I hear you about the swearing. When a sentences mainly consists of swear words, it doesn't even come across as edgy...it only feels like poor writing. (BTW...why is the title written with an Y? Another instance of trying to be cool?).

    Quote: "I wanted to see more character growth as the story progressed, but instead I felt like Shirin was stuck on an endless loop."
    Now that's a bummer. It's one of the things I hate more in a book. I hope it will speak to young people in the same predicament anyway - maybe they will be able to look past that, as you say, and take away what they need from it.

    Quote: "The dialogue didn't feel natural, and I had a hard time believing that's how people would interact with each other."
    Yikes, you've had a hard time with dialogue lately.

    Speaking of hard times...I hear you (again) about the lack of sleep! I can't function without enough sleep time. I read somewhere that the first six years of parenting are when you hardly get any sleep. Which means you and Jacob have four more of those...argh.

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    1. I have had a lot of issues with dialogue lately! I felt like The Dysasters and Stolen were trying too hard to sound like "cool" teenagers, but it just didn't work for me. I struggled to get through conversations, which made it difficult for me to enjoy the story. My parents make references to things that happened while they were growing up, like popular music and events, and I know what they're talking about. It's not like it's new information, I just didn't live it personally. I think we can easily understand older generations, if we thought about it for more than two seconds. My grandfather refers to soda as "pop" and a pancake is a "flapjack". It's really not hard to follow.

      I think A Very Large Expanse of Sea will speak to a lot of people, especially those with similar situations, but Shirin was needlessly cruel to Ocean over a long period of time. I disliked their interactions, and her inability to see how her actions were negatively impacting him. He stood up for her, made his feelings known, and she essentially played with them over and over again. It was hard to read about. He didn't deserve that. She spends the whole book talking about how she's perceived and treated by people, but she wasn't any better.

      When I finally get the monsters to sleep, I still have dogs to feed and dishes to do. There's always something... audiobooks are the only reason I'm getting any reading done these days! :)

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  2. I'm not surprised with the issues with The Dysasters. PC & Kristen Cast books tend to have that about them... The House of Night series was similar. :(

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    1. I actually enjoyed the first few books in the House of Night series (from what I can remember). I read them a few years ago, but stopped when I felt like they were trying to publish more books instead of creating more story. I think it should have ended long before it did, but that's just me! :)

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  3. You lasted longer with Expanse than I did. I don't do well with angsty characters, who never let up on the angst. I understood, why the character felt the way she did, but just not my thing.

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    1. I tried listening to the audiobook twice, but it didn't work either time. Sometimes it's a mood thing, so I like to give books the benefit of the doubt. It didn't work either time, because Shirin was still horrible to Ocean. He complains about how she's treated, but she repeatedly hurts Ocean for reasons I had trouble following. She thought he would leave her once people made him feel bad about the relationship? She wasn't willing to try, and she kept trying to make decisions for him. She was also mean about it and ignored him over and over again. I don't know why he persisted.

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  4. I don't mind cursing in books, I curse a lot myself in real life! But when it's overused, I feel like the author is trying too hard to be edgy - I've definitely DNFed a book because of it.

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    1. Same! I curse a lot more now than I did as a teenager, haha. I'm fine with cursing/swearing in books, and it even makes the characters feel more authentic (since most people use at least one swear word when they're upset or surprised), but it can definitely feel forced and overused. I think it discredits the character and their ability to be realistic.

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  5. I feel like the quotes you gave for The Dysasters sound more like British teens than American ones! I don't know, maybe it works for US teens too, but from what you said, not really! *shrugs*

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    1. Ha! I wouldn't know. I'm not British or a teen, but it definitely didn't work for me. I think I scoffed and rolled my eyes simultaneously. It was really annoying to read about, so I decided to stop reading it altogether. I've read some similar reviews, and apparently the teenagers start referring to the "bad guys" as the Fucktastic Four. That seems excessive, and like they're trying too hard to be funny. It didn't work for me.

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    2. Me: *remembers being a kid*
      Me: In no way would I have referred to villains as The F**ktastic Four *shifty glances* ...I don't still find that mildly hilarious *even more shifty glances* !

      (Although, I always self-censor swearing, because I grew up in a typical Welsh family where no-one is allowed to swear except my mother! Lol.)

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  6. I haven't had any DNF's lately but it does happen once in a while. We aren't gonna like everything we pick up.

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    1. Truth. I'm not worried when I don't like a book, because there's always the next one! We all like different things. I use this feature to explain why something didn't work for me. What annoying me might be something you like! :)

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  7. Oh I have dnf books cause of the over usage of cursed words. I do not mind bad language in my books but when it is too much it does ruin the flow for me. You are super mom raising twins and a five year old.

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    1. It does ruin the flow! I don't know about a super mom, haha. I just take it one day at a time! <3

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  8. Super bummed to see A Very Large Expanse of Sea on here! I've been super wanting to read it because I love Mafi's Shatter Me series. I actually can't believe I haven't read it yet! Dang, though, that's disappointing how you described Shirin's character issues. Ugh...hopefully I can get past that when I read it!

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    1. I enjoyed the first book in the Shatter Me series, but I haven't had an opportunity to read the rest! It's on my list, haha. Hopefully you're able to look past the things I mentioned and enjoy the book. There are a lot of great things about it, but I just couldn't take her treatment of Ocean any longer. It went on for too long, in my opinion.

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  9. Based on what you say I would have DNFed these boos too! Stilt dialogues and uneven pacing are a sign of a DNF for sure. yay! I'm here I linked! This is THE LINKUP I needed LOL since I'm a professional DNFer I'll be a regular :) Thank you for hosting it Lindsi!

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    1. Yay! I'm so happy you're joining and that you linked up! I feel like a lot of people DNF books and then forget about them. I want to know why people DNF books, because what they didn't like might be something I love! I think it's good to share our negative opinions in a positive way. <3 See you next month! :)

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“Stuff and nonsense. Nonsense and stuff and much of a muchness and nonsense all over again. We are all mad here, don't you know?”
― Marissa Meyer, Heartless