Discussion: ‘DNF’ reviews and why you won’t find them here

April 21, 2014


While it is purely a personal choice, I don’t post ‘Did Not Finish’ (DNF) reviews on this blog. In fact, I don’t even classify a DNF book as being ‘read’ by myself nor do I mark it as such on my Goodreads shelves. Quite simply, if I ‘did not finish’ a book, I did not ‘read’ it.

I wanted to explain my thoughts on this, as I see a lot of DNF reviews on other blogs.

In my mind, if I did not read the entire book, I cannot properly or honestly review it. I find it unfair to the author. If I decide that I don’t want to finish a book, I’ll simply put it aside and pick another. I’ll throw my two cents in if I see a discussion about the book, but that’s probably as far as I’ll go.

There are a lot of factors that come into it and I understand all of them being a fellow reader and blogger. Most often a ‘DNF’ book will make itself known a few chapters in. Sometimes the writing-style is not to your tastes or perhaps it is too similar to a book you’ve already read. Quite often I find that I go into a book and find that it’s actually targeted for a younger audience – sometimes I can deal with it, but sometimes I can’t.

I do not think it is then fair to go and write a review about a book where you only read a handful of chapters. What if the book had improved immensely? Sure, it may not have made up for the dud start but wouldn’t it make for a more interesting review if you had stuck it out?

In essence, a review is a culmination of your thoughts about a finished piece of work. Would you review an excerpt of a book?

On the flipside, some readers decide not to finish a book when they’re almost near the end. I struggle a bit more to understand this – you’re almost at the finish line, surely you can stick out a few more chapters for the sake of an honest review? Still, to each their own.

What bugs me the most about ‘DNF’ reviews, however, is that they can become ‘lazy reviews’. I feel that bloggers – particularly newer ones – write these reviews in order to quickly add more posts to their blog. Quantity isn’t necessarily quality, remember.

With that being said, some ‘DNF’ reviews are actually quite insightful and interesting. I actually enjoy having a peek at what made the book so unfinishable.

As I mentioned, it is purely a personal choice whether or not you decide to include them in your own blog. I firmly believe, however, that if you are going to go ahead and post a ‘DNF’ review, you must state it as such – don’t claim to have read the entire thing.

DNFSome books I DNF

‘Leviathan’ by Scott Westerfeld (targeted to a younger audience)
‘Ingo’ by Helen Dunmore (targeted to a younger audience)
‘Wicked Lovely’ by Melissa Marr
‘The Juliet Club’ by Suzanne Harper

How do you feel about DNF reviews?
Do you post them on your blog?


  • Reply Nemo @ the Moonlight Library May 5, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    I’m REALLY picky with what I read. I absolutely HATE giving 1 stars, and I even feel sad about 2 stars, but I don’t rate DNFs. I’ll put a note on Goodreads/Booklikes about why I gave it up (usually due to poor writing), but I don’t post that note on my blog until I have 5 to put in the same post. I don’t waste my time writing a full review because I didn’t waste my time reading the whole thing.

    I WILL add it to my ‘number of books read’ because I did attempt to read it, even if I gave up on page 2. I can dedicate weeks of my time to attempting to read nothing but a crappy book I end up DNFing, and I want a record of that. I don’t DNF a book if I’ve read more than half, even if I’m struggling to finish it. Normally I know within the first 20% if I want to DNF – it’s normally about writing technique, which tends not to change later on in the book so they don’t ‘get better’. I’ve finished quite a few books I wanted to DNF that never ‘got better’ and in fact got progressively worse!
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  • Reply Kate @ Fictional Thoughts April 29, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    I think I’ve only ever DNFed two books. And those books are more put on hold whilst I try and find the stamina and determination to finish them. I don’t like not finishing what I start.

    I agree that they can be lazy review but I also think they have their merit. As long as a reviewer can validate why they didn’t finish it and why it wasn’t for them – then I can make up my own mind if I want to read it. And that’s why I read reviews – to see if I want to read something and if my thoughts are similar or vastly different.
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  • Reply Feature & Follow Friday #17 | Nice Girls Read Books April 27, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    […] Discussion: DNF Reviews and why you won’t find them here Reading Habits: Cleaning up my act, ‘series’ edition (External Link) Brett @ Demons Read Too and the dwindling Aussie YA market […]

  • Reply Jeann @ Happy Indulgence April 26, 2014 at 7:47 am

    It’s not often that I DNF a book but if it’s so bad that I am really getting angry or annoyed at the book, then it’s got to stop. I think an early DNF review is still important as long as the reviewer goes into what didn’t work for them and why. For example, I had to DNF Poison Princess because I felt like the love interest was a pig and really offensive to women and I couldn’t subject myself to it anymore. I don’t mind DNF reviews, as long as they are honest. Great discussion Brittany!
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    • Reply Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books April 26, 2014 at 4:56 pm

      Thanks for your great response, Jean! I totally get what you’re saying, too! As long as the reviewer makes it clear that it’s a DNF opinion and also shares their thoughts on what they read and why they stopped reading, DNF reviews can be interesting insights.
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  • Reply Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity April 23, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    I’m lucky because I’ve only ever DNFd one book, and it was long before blogging. I even had a DNF shelf, but that one book was the sole contributor for a year so I deleted the shelf completely, and removed the book from my account.
    I like reading DNF reviews, because I like to know why the blogger gave up on that particular book, but I would never post one myself. I definitely agree with you when you say that it’s kind of unfair. I mean, what if it DID get better? How can you have a fully formed opinion if you’ve only read 50 pages? I use ‘you’ in that weird worldly sense, by the way.
    I am lucky though because since that book I haven’t needed to DNF a book (even thought there was one that I wanted to DNF but felt like I couldn’t because I’d specifically requested it).
    In regards to Goodreads, you can make another ‘core shelf’. For example, I’ve made a ‘to-read-own’ shelf, so if there are heaps of DNF books that you want to make known as a DNF, just make the new core shelf and voila! Problem = gone. :D
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    • Reply Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books April 24, 2014 at 7:42 pm

      Oh wow, thanks for that tip about Goodreads, Chiara! I am going to make a follow-up post on this one and I’ll be sure to include the ability to make a core Goodreads DNF shelf!

  • Reply Kelly April 23, 2014 at 12:23 am

    I rarely review a book that I wasn’t able to finish, only one or two that were so horrid, I couldn’t read past the half way mark but felt I needed to write a rant, rather than review.

    For DNF titles, can you mark them something other than to read, read and currently reading? I just assumed I needed to mark them as read, so I would accidentally pick up the same crap again.
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    • Reply Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books April 23, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      Kelly, I think on GR you have to select one of the three and just make your own DNF shelf… sadly you’d just have to mark it as ‘read’ if you wanted to do that!

  • Reply Astrid @ the art of dreaming April 22, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Great topic Brittany!

    I’m relatively new to the reviewing side of blogging and have yet to post a DNF review and don’t plan to. I agree with 88dreamers that it’s not really a review if you haven’t finished the book and the posts should have a different classification.

    I think it’s worth posting which books you DNF and why as it helps others decide what to read next. If I’m struggling with a book, I’ll often check Goodreads and see if there are others who DNF, this helps me decide whether to persist and hope the book improves.
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    • Reply Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books April 23, 2014 at 5:37 pm

      Thanks for your thoughts, Astrid! I find that most bloggers tend to be agreeing with the no on ‘DNF’ reviews.

      That’s also a good idea – perhaps a giant DNF post on your blog somewhere where you list them rather than singular reviews.

  • Reply Nikki April 22, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    I’ve never seen a “DNF Review” where the reviewer didn’t make clear that they hadn’t read the entire book… I think DNF “reviews” are called “reviews” because we lack a better term for them — in my opinion, they’re not actually reviews, and they can’t BE reviews, because “reviews” are based on a full picture of the book. I think it might just be a matter of difficult word-choice, and sticking with a term we’re familiar with (“review”) to apply to our thoughts about DNF’d books as well.

    Personally, I like reading DNF “reviews”. DNF’ing a book is usually the result of strong feelings, and I think those feelings are important and helpful to convey.

    I also like writing my own “DNF reviews” — though not in an actual review-format, but as a Q&A about why I decided to DNF the book. I get into a lot of things that I’d also include in a full review, but I think I tend to focus on why the book didn’t work *for me*, as opposed to an analysis of whether the book is actually good or bad. It’s all opinions anyway, so it’s a fine line, but there’s definitely a distinction.
    Nikki recently posted…DNF Q&A: PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG by Anne BlankmanMy Profile

    • Reply Nikki April 22, 2014 at 1:18 pm

      Oh also! I forgot to mention — I do completely agree with you about not marking DNF books as “read”. That’s definitely cheating! ;) I like that Goodreads lets you create additional exclusive shelves; I have one for did-not-finish, and that’s what I mark all my DNF’s, so they don’t get counted as “read”. :)
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    • Reply Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books April 22, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      Hi Nikki,
      I saw your Q+A after posting this yesterday and I thought ‘what a good idea!!’. I agree with you on the fact that there’s a lack of a better word for a ‘review’ when it comes to DNF reads. Perhaps if more bloggers did your type of DNF post, we’d come to a better understanding of the DNF post in general :)
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  • Reply Stormi April 22, 2014 at 3:17 am

    I hate DNFing a book, but I also feel that I have so many books to review and if I keep drudging on through a book that I can’t stand and it will get a one star anyway then I don’t finish it. The publisher know that not all books are made for everyone and I would rather explain to the publisher that I just didn’t care for it and couldn’t finish it than to bore myself to tears. I don’t put the review on amazon but I do put it on my blog. I don’t do them for quick reviews and I don’t do that many..I think in the whole 7+ years I have been reviewing that I have DNFed maybe six books. I recently DNFed a book and I gave it to 67% and I still didn’t fill invested in the characters nor care what happened to them..didn’t care how the book finished and so I knew there was just no since in wasting more time. I think each person is different and that it’s a personal preference to DNF.
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  • Reply Millicent Nankivell April 21, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    I agree so much! It’s just not fair to the author (or frankly, the readers!) to give a DNF review. You can’t offer an opinion of a whole story based on just a small fraction of it, and I think it’s robbing both the author and any potential readers and I think that is just not cool!

    I’ve read Wicked Lovely, and like others said: I couldn’t get into it at first, but on my second try I really got into it once I pushed passed the beginning. I’ve also read the second book, but I didn’t enjoy that anywhere near as much and so I haven’t yet read the rest of them (yet, at least).

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  • Reply 88dreamers April 21, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    I have a DNF shelf on goodreads, it only has one book on it because at the time I felt I would never pick up that book again. I didn’t review said book ( i left a comment stating i couldn’t get into it or something on goodreads) I didn’t blog at the time. This year has been a good year for books so far. I did enjoy Wicked Lovely, and moved on to book two and then by book three I had read only a few pages and given up, but it’s still waiting for me.
    I think if you’re going to review it, it should be on the whole. But then again, maybe we shouldn’t be calling it a review for a DNF, maybe it needs it’s own term. Some blogs point out right from the beginning that they didn’t actually finish the book beforehand, but still..
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  • Reply Brit April 21, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    I’ve never been the sort of person who can’t finish a book – even if I hate it! I’ve maybe DNF two or three books in my whole life. But I agree, I don’t think it’s fair to the author to post DNF reviews.

  • Reply Olivia (Bookcomet) April 21, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    I hate DNF’ing a book soooooo much. I feel so guilty, especially if it’s a review book. In fact I’m pretty sure my DNF shelf on Goodreads only has one or two books on it.

    When I do, I justify it to myself by pointing out that life is too short to waste my time and there are plenty of books out there that I could be reading and loving.

    As for Wicked Lovely, I was so bored at the beginning. It takes a lot for me to consider DNF’ing a book so…yeah. But after the first 100 pages it really picked up and I ended up loving it. Then I proceeded to buy the next four books.
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    • Reply Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books April 21, 2014 at 5:57 pm

      I feel guilty, too! I mean, even the ‘1 star’ rating books I try to finish because at least then I feel my opinion on the book is justified.

      I know what you mean – I think, ‘well I am wasting my time on a book I could be loving…’ but I just have this sense that I have to finish a book once I start.

      So glad you liked ‘Wicked Lovely’. I will be giving it another try in the future!
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  • Reply Natalie April 21, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    I remember the first time I tried to read Wicked Lovely, I just couldn’t get into it. I picked it up 6 months later and couldn’t put it down. I agree with you on pretty much everything, I don’t believe it would be a fair review if I hadn’t read the whole thing.

  • Reply Alysia April 21, 2014 at 11:18 am

    I agree. I don’t think it’s fair to do reviews for DNF’s when you don’t have all that the book has provided unless maybe there’s a very serious/problematic thing about the book you want to talk about. I understand marking DNF’s on goodreads more than doing full blog posts about them.
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