Why I DNFed These Books

April 29, 2017 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | Books, DNF, Reviews

I don’t normally review books that I don’t finish, but I normally DNF for good reason. In that case, I thought it would be important to share my thoughts.

As I experienced today, there can be nothing more horrifying than picking up a highly anticipated book and finding that it contains offensive material that actually ruins your day. There’s a cry for revising sensitive material in books that can actually trigger people, and with good reason. When writing for young adults and teenagers, it’s especially important to treat certain topics with care.

Why I DNFed These BooksThe Silent Invasion by James Bradley
Published by Pan Macmillan Australia on March 28th 2017
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
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It's a decade from now and the human race is dying. Plants, animals and humans have been infected by spores from space and become part of a vast alien intelligence.
When 16-year-old Callie discovers her little sister Gracie has been infected, she flees with Gracie to the Zone to avoid termination by the ruthless officers of Quarantine. What Callie finds in the Zone will alter her irrevocably, and send her on a journey to the stars and beyond.

The Silent Invasion by James Bradley

Reason: animal cruelty 

If triggered is an emotion after reading something offensive, then The Silent Invasion is a book that I was triggered by. You all know I love my dogs, so the gratutious animal cruelty in this one was enough to make me sick. A dog gets beaten, tortured and killed by gleeful attackers, spread out over 2 pages of detail. Not to mention this came out from completely nowhere, and they’re clearly going to move on afterwards.

I can’t stand books with animal cruelty, especially when there was absolutely no reason for it and I don’t care to read about it in that level of detail.

Some other reasons why:

  • the book feels like a copy of any other survival invasion book, like The 5th Wave or The Sky So Heavy. 
  • only focuses on travelling from one place to another with no excitement
  • characters felt like cardboard cutouts walking from one place to another
  • no explanation for the alien invasion at all

So it was really no loss.

Why I DNFed These BooksThe Things We Promise by J.C. Burke
Published by Allen & Unwin on January 1st 1970
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
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There are two things you need to know about me. The first is that I remember life by what I was wearing. The second is that I think too much.
It's the early 1990s and all Gemma can think about is looking perfect for her first school formal. Gemma's brother Billy - New York's up and coming hair and make-up artist - has made her the ultimate promise: he's returning home especially to 'create magic' on her and two friends for their end-of-year formal. Gemma's best friend, Andrea, is convinced it'll be their moment to shine; Gemma hopes it's the night Ralph will finally notice her.
But when Billy arrives home from New York, Gemma's life becomes complicated. Her family's been keeping secrets; friendships are forged and broken; and suddenly the length of her formal dress is the least of her worries.
Set in a time of uncertainty and fear, The Things We Promise is a beautifully told novel that sings with emotion, humour and heartbreak.

The Things We Promise by J.C. Burke

Reason: homophobia, mental health slurs, slut-shaming, girl on girl hate, parental disrespect

This book is one hell of a hot mess. It’s set in the 90s, but much of the language was incredibly offensive. Sure, that may have been how people talked in the 90s but in today’s climate, what is the point of bringing this up again?

  • Not only are characters completely homophobic and horrible, they like to use terms like “poofter, bum bandit, poof” and chained insults, like “limp-wristed, pillow-biting, doughnut punching bum bandit
  • The main character here is a spoilt girl who is completely entitled, showing complete disrespect towards her mother, who she constantly calls “crazy, madwoman and schizo”, all derogatory terms to people suffering from mental health. Another chained insult was “red-faced, roaring, homicidal, spit-flying, crazy madwoman“.
  • Slut-shaming – Her best friend Andrea is apparently a slut, because she’s had sex with three guys and likes to brag about her conquests. Gemma in contrast, is presented as a saint because she’s only had sex once and doesn’t want to talk about it.
  • Girl on girl hate – other girls in high school are ‘prissy girls’, in particular one who ‘isn’t a natural beauty, so she doesn’t have to worry’.

And all this just in 75 pages!

Why I DNFed These BooksValentine by Jodi McAlister
Published by Penguin Teen Australia on January 30th 2017
Source: Publisher
Genres: Paranormal Romance
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Valentine is the first in a smart, witty and page-turning YA series with a paranormal twist for fans of Holly Black and Sarah J. Maas.
Four teenagers – all born on the same Valentine’s Day – begin to disappear. As the bodies mount up, Pearl Linford has to work out what in the supernatural hell is going on, before it happens to her.
Finn Blacklin is the boy with whom Pearl shares a birthday, the boy she has known all her life and disliked every second of it, the boy her subconscious has a totally annoying crush on. Finn is also the Valentine: a Seelie fairy changeling swapped for a human boy at birth. The Unseelie have come to kill the Valentine – except they don’t know who it is. And now both the Seelie and the Unseelie think Pearl is the Valentine, and if they find out she isn’t, she’ll disappear too.
Pearl must use all her wits to protect herself. Finn must come to terms with his newfound heritage. And then there’s the explosive chemistry between them that neither of them know quite what to do about . . .

Valentine by Jodi McAlister

Reason: unrealistic text speak, boy crazy main character, eye-rolling romance

This is more of a case of “it’s not you, it’s me” and I’m definitely the minority when it comes to Valentine. While many people on Goodreads have enjoyed Valentine, I feel like I’ve outgrown these types of books.

  • The text speak felt really dated, seeing as we don’t talk lyk dis n e more. There was a lot of this in the novel.
  • The plot twist is in the BLURB about the fae love interest. I didn’t realise most of the book would be building up what we already knew.
  • The main charcter is insipid, shallow and super annoying. She’s meant to be a school captain, yet all she thinks about is gossiping with her friends and obsessing about her two boy crushes.
  • Another one of those paranormals with a great premise that turns into a romance.
  • Writing felt really juvenile and shallow.


I received these review copies from Allen & Unwin Australia, Pan Macmillan Australia and Penguin Random House.

Do you DNF books? What are the reasons why?

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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25 responses to “Why I DNFed These Books

  1. I actually haven't heard of these, but thank you for pointing out the problematic elements that made you DNF them.

    I rarely put books down (I think I've only DNFed about five books in the past 10 years that I've been an avid reader?), but I'm starting to warm up to the idea since (like you said) some are just so offensive or problematic. And I'm getting sick of making myself suffer through a book that I don't enjoy, haha.


  2. I am so glad that I didn't add the first two to my TBR. I despise animal cruelty in the books I read so I would have been incredibly effected by what you read. I am so sorry that you stumbled upon it unawares, but thank you for sharing <3

    The language in the second book is appalling. Like. I honestly can't even fathom WHY it is in a book, to be honest. Staying far, far away.

    I hate it when the blurb spoils a book. Why take away a plot twist and suspense? It just doesn't make sense to me. To be honest, I was off and on regarding whether to read this book but maybe I will give it a pass after all. Unrealistic text speak gets to me, haha.

    So sorry you've had bad luck with books lately, Jeann! I hope you find some amazing ones soon <3

  3. Joy // Joyousreads

    I've only DNF'd one book so far this year and it was just because I was bored to tears. :/

  4. I honestly wish I had DNF'd The Silent Invasion, I've never read such a terrible book. And you've saved me from picking up the other two (I don't DNF so from now on I'll rely on reviews to tell me that I shouldn't bother picking up a book, lol).

    • Oh man, I was thinking it was going okay and wondering if it was going to get any better, until I read the animal cruelty scene. Never again omg.

    • Yeah, I wasn't going to either but when I was really upset at the first one, I thought it might be worthwhile writing a review! Thanks for visiting, Brittany!

  5. OMG Cait DNFing is a life saving mechanism for me, I can move onto books that I would rather read and not get into a reading slump. Yeah, I heard that about the Edge of Everything and got rid of that book pronto. That sounds so horrible 🙁 I definitely think animal abuse is a trigger for me too. I was so upset afterwards.

  6. Kelly

    The animal cruelty would have gotten me too – especially if it wasn't necessary.

    I don't officially DNF books, but I'll put them down and just…never pick them up again haha

  7. kris

    YES I TOTALLY DNF BOOKS AND I AM PROUD 😛 I DNF when I simply cannot get into the story, because I risk a reading slump if I force myself to keep reading. I don't want to be in a slump, that's the worst thing lol. Kind of similar to how you felt with Valentine, I just cannot. Especially if the writing is a bit too juvenile for me, I'm done.

    On the other hand, I'll DNF if something is causing me stress while reading it. I don't need to have a LEGITIMATE panic attack from something I'm trying to enjoy (I actually have been diagnosed with PTSD). Although my mental health is SO much better than it used to be at this point, I still have my moments, of course.

    Also, I was totally thinking The Silent Invasion sounded just a little too similar to The 5th Wave while reading that synopsis. Girl who has little sister blah blah blah. I can't suffer through animal abuse either. It's too much.

    I was actually laughing out loud with how much of a complete mess The Things We Promise is. It makes you wonder what the publishers are thinking sometimes 😉

    • It seems to be that not everyone DNFs which is surprising! Yeah, I've pushed myself through books I just wasn't enjoying before and it really didn't get me anywhere, and if anything it made me more annoyed at the book itself lol. Oh my gosh, I'm so glad that you have learnt to manage your PTSD based on what you read! Yeah, it definitely sounded like the 5th Wave, and even though I wasn't a fan of that, at least it was original.

      • kris

        Yes if I continue to read something I hate I just get increasingly frustrated with the book! Life is short, so if I TRULY cannot stand what I'm reading, I'll stop. 😀
        It's important for people to know their triggers and it is also important for trigger warnings to be present, BUT I can only blame myself for the panic attack if all of those aforementioned things are in placed and I just keep going. At that point it's my fault, but I'm good about it now 😉

  8. DAMN, Jeann, these are hot messes. Well, the last one is maybe just more for a younger audience or something, but those first two, holy crap. I HAD been curious about The Silent Invasion when I saw it in your haul but WOW, nope, nope nope. Thank you for saving me! And just reading your review of The Things We Promise is making me stabby. What EVEN!? I mean, yes, I sometimes watch TV from the 90s and cringe at how easily certain words and phrases were thrown out, but like you said, we're past that and it isn't necessary- unless the point was correcting someone and like, progress, which this clearly was not.

    As for DNFing, I am TERRIBLE at it. I want to lots of the time but I never do because… I can't. It's like some kind of compulsion, I have no idea. But I think even I would DNF these books! I don;t blame you a bit!

    • Yeah, I was so upset about The Silent Invasion and someone on Twitter had to be like "why are you upset?" I'm like UMM BECAUSE I HAVE A DOG MYSELF. ANYWAY yeah, I contemplated not reviewing these on the blog but I'm like fuck, it needs to be known! And then people can choose themselves whether they want to read it or not. But yeah, I didn't really get the point of The Things We Promise. I'm definitely not the audience for it. I don't DNF often, but sometimes I need to to keep the reading motivation going!

  9. Sprinkled Pages

    I also received The Silent Invasion for review and now I don't know what to do. I'll probably have to read it but I know I won't be enjoying it. Or on the other hand I can talk about why I refuse to read it in a post! 🙁 Ugh I wish I knew about this earlier! Thanks for the warning through Jeann!

    • Yeah, I think a few people have that one on their TBRs but I'm getting rid of them ASAP. Probably just donate them I think. That's a good idea though with the post!

  10. thebookprophet

    I've only ever DNF'd three books ever. Two of them I plan on going back and finishing some day. The one I can absolutely not stand and will never try to read again is Allegiant by Veronica Roth.

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