Thursday, December 31, 2020

DNF&Y [34]

 
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!

Tarnsman of Gor (Gor, #1) by John Norman

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Tarl Cabot has always believed himself to be a citizen of Earth. He has no inkling that his destiny is far greater than the small planet he has inhabited for the first twenty-odd years of his life. One frosty winter night in the New England woods, he finds himself transported to the planet of Gor, also known as Counter-Earth, where everything is dramatically different from anything he has ever experienced. It emerges that Tarl is to be trained as a Tarnsman, one of the most honored positions in the rigid, caste-bound Gorean society. He is disciplined by the best teachers and warriors that Gor has to offer…but to what end?

This is the first book of John Norman's popular and controversial Gorean Saga, a series of novels the author began in 1967 with Tarnsman of Gor and are now considered cult classics.


DNF at 56%

I was interested in reading this one since it's considered a cult classic, but the story was unbelievably boring. Like, it was could-not-keep-my-eyes-open dull. The writing style, the story, the characters - all of it was snooze-worthy. I was somewhat interested in the world building, but based on how the "less intelligent" people were treated - not to mention the women in this book - it's clear the author has unrealistic expectations and offensive opinions. 

Now, before you come at me with spears and pitchforks; yes, I know this is fiction. HOWEVER, I do think authors write a little bit of themselves - or at least their experiences - into their stories, and I also believe how a main character reacts to classism, racism, sexism (and all of the other isms), says a lot about the writer's personal views. The "hero" in this story quickly accepted aspects of Gor that he initially questioned (mentally and only on the surface), and I think he should have tried to help others instead of simply joining the ranks of the "elite". (★★☆☆☆)


To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini
Narrated by Jennifer Hale

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Kira Navárez dreamed of life on new worlds. Now she's awakened a nightmare. During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she's delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.

As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn't at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.

While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity's greatest and final hope...


DNF at 25% 

I received an ARC from NetGalley 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. 

First of all, I listened to 8 hours and 20 minutes of this book - it's a BEAST. I believe it's like 32 hours and 29 minutes total, which is simply too much for this story. I think Paolini wanted to be descriptive and really explain the world he's created (an amazingly complex universe), but I also think certain aspects of the book could have been condensed. I also wasn't 100% sold on certain parts of the story, and wish character development had been more of a priority (especially at the start), rather than extensive descriptions of planets and alien life. 

Unfortunately, that's not what ruined this book for me. Oh, it's much worse than that... the main character, Kira, vomited into her alien spacesuit - where it had nowhere to go - so she basically ate and then choked on her puke. The author follows that by going into GREAT detail about how her barf then goes up her nose when she inhales (basically suffocating AND drowning on her own upchuck), and I just could not anymore with this book. That was too much, Paolini. Too. Much. 🤢

I also thought the author based a lot of the "alien" on Venom and the other Klyntar from Marvel. There were SO MANY similarities. How the alien attaches to her skin, how the alien can feel the pieces of itself that are no longer connected, how it functions to protect its host, how it communicates - the backstories were too alike to be coincidental. I wish Paolini's alien had been unique and something unrecognizable. I'm actually really curious if anyone else has made this connection, so let me know if you had similar thoughts while reading this one. Additionally, Kira called the alien "Soft Blade," but I always heard "Soft GLADE," which lessened the appeal for me. Neither name worked, to be honest.

Audiobook review: The narrator was PHENOMENAL. There are a ton of characters in this book, and she had a different voice for everyone. It was easy to keep the characters separate in my head, and I'm looking forward to listening to more books read by her in the future. (★★☆☆☆)


Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer
Narrated by Rebecca Soler

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Chronic overachiever Prudence Daniels is always quick to cast judgment on the lazy, rude, and arrogant residents of her coastal town. Her dreams of karmic justice are fulfilled when, during a night out with her friends, she slips on a spilled drink and hits her head, only to wake up with the sudden ability to cast instant karma on those around her. Pru giddily makes use of the power, punishing everyone from public vandals to karaoke hecklers, but there is one person on whom her powers consistently backfire — Quint Erickson, her slacker of a lab partner and all-around mortal enemy.

Over the course of a summer, Pru begins to uncover truths about Quint, her peers, and even herself that reveal how thin the line is between virtue and vanity, generosity and greed... love and hate.

In this young adult contemporary romance, a girl is suddenly gifted with the ability to cast instant karma on those around her—both good and bad.


DNF at 46%

I really wanted to like this one - especially since it's narrated by Rebecca Soler - but Prudence was the worst. I have a hard time enjoying books with unlikable main characters, which is why I think I struggled so much with Instant Karma. Pru is unbelievably selfish and self-absorbed, and she really only cares about herself and her twin (Jude). She's super judgmental, thinks she can do no wrong, and even when she's doing something nice there's an ulterior motive.

I stopped reading this one when she refused to play with her younger sister, and actually considered "using her powers" against her family because they were annoying her. We've all been driven insane by family members, but Pru knew her powers could've had serious consequences. I can't believe she entertained the idea even for a second. I understand that she's a focused and determined person, but I read nearly half of this book without seeing much character growth.

The Lunar Chronicles is one of my all-time favorite series, so I hate that this one didn't work for me. I honestly think Prudence was just too angsty, too self-righteous, and too UGH. She wasn't someone I wanted to root for, and I never felt compelled to continue reading her story. I wish she'd had some major epiphanies early on, or at least had something happen to make her question how she treated others. (★★☆☆☆)


They Threw Us Away (The Teddies Saga, #1) by Daniel Kraus, Rovina Cai (Illustrator)

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Welcome to The Teddies Saga, a gripping new middle grade trilogy from New York Times-bestselling author Daniel Kraus.

When Buddy wakes up in the middle of a garbage dump, filled with a certain awareness: he’s a teddy bear; he spent time at a Store waiting for his future to begin; and he is meant for the loving arms of a child. Now he knows one more thing: Something has gone terribly wrong.

Soon he finds other discarded teddies―Horace, Sugar, Sunny, and Reginald. Though they aren’t sure how their luck soured, they all agree that they need to get back to the Store if they’re ever to fulfill their destinies. So, they embark on a perilous trek across the dump and into the outer world. With ravenous rats, screeching gulls, and a menacing world in front of them, the teddies will need to overcome insurmountable challenges to find their way home.

Equal parts Toy Story and Lord of the Flies, They Threw Us Away is the unforgettable start of a captivating series.


DNF at 49%

I received an ARC from NetGalley 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. 

I was really intrigued by the concept for They Threw Us Away, and thought it would be an interesting book to read with my son, but I was WRONG. This book is morbid. It's not just creepy and disturbing, but seriously screwed up. I honestly don't think anyone should read this to their child, or let their child read it on their own. Maybe once they're older... MAYBE. If an author wants to address mental health in a book, I support that 100%. Unfortunately, it felt like the author was going for shock value instead of representing a character's mental illness in a way that children would understand. 

If you've read this book, you know I'm talking about Sugar. Her box was damaged somehow which resulted in her head being dented on one side. The damage wasn't just physical, but also mental. She very clearly struggled during conversations, and the other bears had to prevent her from getting hurt, and occasionally stop her from hurting herself (which she does in a VERY disturbing way). My husband and I try to be honest with our kids about everything (even when we have to simplify it for their ages), but there was no good way for me to explain to my son why she *highlight to view spoiler* ripped her fucking eyes out. Sugar's self-harm may have been the worst part of this book, but there were a lot of other scenarios that required lengthy explanations on my part. It simply wasn't worth the effort, so we moved on to something else. 

The story also wasn't believable. The bears could smell and see, but they couldn't feel when they were being devoured by ants? Why were they sentient? What were the rules? Where were the explanations? There were too many questions and not enough answers. You would really have to suspend your disbelief to get through most of this book, and just ignore all of the inconsistencies and contradictions. I wish the author had developed the story more, so the bears being alive made sense. Side note: the concept of "forever sleep" was disturbing, and I have no idea why the bears wanted it to happen. (★★☆☆☆)


Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Budding photographer Josie Saint-Martin has spent half her life with her single mother, moving from city to city. When they return to her historical New England hometown years later to run the family bookstore, Josie knows it’s not forever. Her dreams are on the opposite coast, and she has a plan to get there.

What she doesn’t plan for is a run-in with the town bad boy, Lucky Karras. Outsider, rebel…and her former childhood best friend. Lucky makes it clear he wants nothing to do with the newly returned Josie. But everything changes after a disastrous pool party, and a poorly executed act of revenge lands Josie in some big-time trouble—with Lucky unexpectedly taking the blame.

Determined to understand why Lucky was so quick to cover for her, Josie discovers that both of them have changed, and that the good boy she once knew now has a dark sense of humor and a smile that makes her heart race. And maybe, just maybe, he’s not quite the brooding bad boy everyone thinks he is…


DNF at 57%

I received an ARC from NetGalley 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.


I tried so hard and got so far
But in the end it doesn't even matter

Linkin Park sums up my experience with this book perfectly. Jenn Bennett is normally my jam, but I just could not get into Chasing Lucky. I disliked Josie from the start, which made it hard for me to really enjoy this book. I have to like the main character or a book just won't work for me. Her general attitude was sour and uncaring, but her cowardice was the worst. I don't know why Lucky did what he did for Josie, but regardless of his reasons, she shouldn't have let him take the fall for something stupid she did. I'm sure it worked itself out later on, but the longer she stayed quiet, the more I started to resent her. It made me not want to pick up the book, because I couldn't stand to see Lucky care about Josie when she only cared about herself. 

I've kept this book on my bedside table for months, and I've probably picked it up a handful of times without making much progress. I think I was trying to force myself to like a book because I like the author, but liking someone isn't a reason to make myself continue reading a story I'm not enjoying. (★★☆☆☆)

A lot of these books are ones I told myself I'd "get back to" eventually, but I don't want to start the New Year with book baggage. 

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6 comments:

  1. I did like Chasing Lucky, but I also DNFed Instant Karma. Too angsty for me.

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  2. I haven't really liked anything from Marissa Meyer since The Lunar Chronicles! Sorry to hear about Chasing Lucky!

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  3. Ohh thanks for the heads up. I'm a fan of Jenn Bennett so I would keep my expectations low. I wasn't a fan of her fantasy novel from 2020, but sure love her contemporary.

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  4. Ugh! Sea of Stars sounded so promising (I think you know I like me some sci-fi...and more 😉). I hear you about TMI when it comes to the vomiting part. I'm all for honest storytelling, but shock value...NOPE. Also, one doesn't read to end up feeling repulsed by a book. Like, it's one thing to read horror if you can stand it, but bodily fluids are another matter...

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  5. Whew, sorry none of these worked. I'm not interested in Instant Karma but it is a bummer, since I do love the Lunar Chronicles books. And They Threw Us Away sounds really crazy - and not at all for kids.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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  6. I haven't DNFed anything this year (yet!) but the year is young!

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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