Two Minute DNF Reviews

Tuesday, November 29, 2016
So here we are, another month, another mix of old and new titles that did not work for me as a reader, for one reason or another. I am trying to clear my shelves -- both physical and electronic -- of old ARCs before 2017 is here.

Hysteria by Megan Miranda

Mallory killed her boyfriend, Brian. She can't remember the details of that night but everyone knows it was self-defense, so she isn't charged. But Mallory still feels Brian's presence in her life. Is it all in her head? Or is it something more? In desperate need of a fresh start, Mallory is sent to Monroe, a fancy prep school where no one knows her . . . or anything about her past.But the feeling follows her, as do her secrets. Then, one of her new classmates turns up dead. As suspicion falls on Mallory, she must find a way to remember the details of both deadly nights so she can prove her innocence-to herself and others.

In another riveting tale of life and death, Megan Miranda's masterful storytelling brings readers along for a ride to the edge of sanity and back again.

Hysteria is best summed up succinctly: a lot of premise backed up by very little actual substance. Miranda has written several effective, creepy YA thrillers before, which is why it's a shame that this one is so dull and so generic.  Nothing really happens until about 250 pages, and with an unreliable narrator so predictable, there was less reason to care or keep reading.

Read: 260/365 pages

Emilie and the Hollow World by Martha Wells (Emilie #1)

While running away from home for reasons that are eminently defensible, Emilie’s plans to stow away on the steamship Merry Bell and reach her cousin in the big city go awry, landing her on the wrong ship and at the beginning of a fantastic adventure.

Taken under the protection of Lady Marlende, Emilie learns that the crew hopes to use the aether currents and an experimental engine, and with the assistance of Lord Engal, journey to the interior of the planet in search of Marlende’s missing father.

With the ship damaged on arrival, they attempt to traverse the strange lands on their quest. But when evidence points to sabotage and they encounter the treacherous Lord Ivers, along with the strange race of the sea-lands, Emilie has to make some challenging decisions and take daring action if they are ever to reach the surface world again.

This story and its main character both just skewed too young for me. I am a picky reader when it comes to MG books in particular and this did nothing to inspire my engagement or my emotions. It's not a bad book - the premise is intriguing - but it's just not one for me. Especially because this is launching a series I wouldn't want to commit myself to reading.

Read: 105/287 pages

Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith

A high-concept, fantastical espionage novel set in a world where dreams are the ultimate form of political intelligence.

Livia is a dreamstrider. She can inhabit a subject's body while they are sleeping and, for a short time, move around in their skin. She uses her talent to work as a spy for the Barstadt Empire. But her partner, Brandt, has lately become distant, and when Marez comes to join their team from a neighborhing kingdom, he offers Livia the option of a life she had never dared to imagine. Livia knows of no other dreamstriders who have survived the pull of Nightmare. So only she understands the stakes when a plot against the Empire emerges that threatens to consume both the dreaming world and the waking one with misery and rage.

A richly conceived world full of political intrigue and fantastical dream sequences, at its heart Dreamstrider is about a girl who is struggling to live up to the potential before her.

I have a common issue with nearly all of Smith's books -- I love the premise behind them but the find the execution of each to ....not completely work. Most of the time I can at least read to the finish and like the story (though none have exceeded 3.5/5 stars). Early on, however, this was gathering less positive reactions than her previous books. I just didn't have the energy to force myself to read a book I won't remember or just doesn't work for me.

Read: 85/394 pages

A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody

 When I made the wish, I just wanted a do-over. Another chance to make things right. I never, in a million years, thought it might actually come true... 

Sixteen-year-old Ellison Sparks is having a serious case of the Mondays. She gets a ticket for running a red light, she manages to take the world’s worst school picture, she bombs softball try-outs and her class election speech (note to self: never trust a cheerleader when she swears there are no nuts in her bake-sale banana bread), and to top it all off, Tristan, her gorgeous rocker boyfriend suddenly dumps her. For no good reason!

As far as Mondays go, it doesn’t get much worse than this. And Ellie is positive that if she could just do it all over again, she would get it right. So when she wakes up the next morning to find she’s reliving the exact same day, she knows what she has to do: stop her boyfriend from breaking up with her. But it seems no matter how many do-overs she gets or how hard Ellie tries to repair her relationship, Tristan always seems bent set on ending it. Will Ellie ever figure out how to fix this broken day? Or will she be stuck in this nightmare of a Monday forever?

From the author of 52 Reasons to Hate My Father and The Unremembered trilogy comes a hilarious and heartwarming story about second (and third and fourth and fifth) chances. Because sometimes it takes a whole week of Mondays to figure out what you really want.

This is another author whose previous books did not work for me and who I now know to avoid in the future. I was not a fan of Unremembered and a lot of my issues with that book crop up again here. A Week of Mondays is waay too long, way too drawn out, and way too easily predicted.

Read: 150/464 pages

Roseblood by A.G. Howard

In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

"Modern-day spin" apparently means "barebones retelling an full of tired YA cliches and stereotypes." My patience wore thin through the first few chapters. This is just such a tired retread of so many YA books before it; A.G. Howard has creative ideas but her books themselves are either problematic or boring. There's no spark, no individuality and I did not caaaaare.

 Read: 85/432


  1. Ooh, I wanted so badly to DNF RoseBlood, but for some reason, I couldn't look away and ended up finishing it. It did not get any better, in case you were wondering. Jessica Brody's books haven't really worked for me, either!

    1. Ha, that happens to me sometimes. I am getting better at DNFing, though, especially as my reading time grows less available.
      And ha, brain twins! :)


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