Thursday, November 1, 2018

DNF Mini Reviews-- Books I Disliked Very Much

I don't DNF a lot, but when I do I usually like to share a little bit about why.  Here are 2 recent DNFs and a mini-review of each one:

1.  All of This is True by Lygia Day PeƱaflor

Goodreads Synopsis:

Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.

Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.

Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined. . . .

How Far I Got: 3/4ths

Why I DNF'd: EVERYTHING.  I had heard major mixed things about this book and something about that intrigued me.  I should have listened to my friends that told me to pass on it, but I'm a rebel and I just HAD to see if I would like it.  I didn't.

First off-- the characters are TERRIBLE.  Not one likable one in the bunch.  I almost liked Penny, but she couldn't get it together enough for me to actually do it.  The other girls are just vapid and rude and just YUCK.  The author character was inappropriate and so fucking pretentious with her "let's be inside/out with each other"-- how about let's not.

Then there's the twist.  As soon as the first thing came out about Jonah, I knew what was going to happen.  It was so Captain Obvious.  I mean, I'm not even good at figuring twists out and I saw it coming SO HARD.  I only read as far as I did because I was hoping among hope that I was wrong.  I won't spoil anything for you, but I will say that once it all comes out I just felt icky all over for almost/kinda rooting for someone who I don't think deserved it??  And then I get to feel bad because something terrible happens to someone who did something terrible???  How is this a good book??

I also have to mention the fact that since the author character used these kids to write her next book, it basically feels like you have to read the same plot points twice.  You get the perspective of the character being interviewed, and then you get the fictionalized version which is EXACTLY the same. The only difference is the names are slightly changed so that you get allllll mixed up on who's who.

Lastly, I gotta talk about the writing.  Most of the book is written in screenplay format-- which, okay I'm fine with that.  Then there are these excerpts interspersed throughout and they were SO BAD.  It was supposed to be passages from Fatima Ro's AMAZING books.  These books cause people to basically want to be in a cult for her-- and they are blah.  The writing in them is just ughhhh.  I think this author should stick to scripts only.

So, do yourself and giant favor and skip this-- unless you want to rage read or love to hate it.

2.  That's Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger

Goodreads Synopsis:

It's been three years since the Virgil County High School Massacre. Three years since my best friend, Sarah, was killed in a bathroom stall during the mass shooting. Everyone knows Sarah's story--that she died proclaiming her faith. 

But it's not true. 

I know because I was with her when she died. I didn't say anything then, and people got hurt because of it. Now Sarah's parents are publishing a book about her, so this might be my last chance to set the record straight . . . but I'm not the only survivor with a story to tell about what did--and didn't--happen that day. 

Except Sarah's martyrdom is important to a lot of people, people who don't take kindly to what I'm trying to do. And the more I learn, the less certain I am about what's right. I don't know what will be worse: the guilt of staying silent or the consequences of speaking up . . .

How Far I Got: I basically read the whole thing

Why I DNF'd: Okay, I feel like I really did read this whole book, but there was some MAJOR skimming going on, so I don't feel like I want to write a traditional review on it.

I've been avoiding talking about this book because I was so disappointed with it.  I super wanted to like it for so many reasons and I couldn't :(

First-- I didn't read the synopsis that closely because otherwise I would've realized this is a Cassie Bernall retelling (she's the girl from Columbine who was rumored to have answered "Yes" when the killers asked if she believed in God-- there are conflicting reports on whether this actually happened or not).  It's not that I think that's a terrible jumping off point for a book, but I was expecting something more original.

At the end of the day, the real reason I didn't gel with this book is that it felt like it was so afraid to offend or so afraid to tread on a sensitive topic, that it really didn't say anything at all.  I need books like this to take a look at the hard questions-- and this one sort of just wanted to focus on media coverage.  To me, that is probably the least important thing to come out of something horrific like this.

Lastly-- the writing didn't allow me to connect with the characters.  They were okay, but I didn't FEEL them.  The main character, Lee, did nothing at all for me.  It's not that I didn't like her, it's that she felt very surface level and not real.

Bottom Line: It's an okay-ish book, but it lacks the punch to cover this topic.

Have you read either of these books??  Thoughts??  Share with me!!


  1. YES about the first one. It was so frustrating to read! I'm also terrrrrible about figuring out twists and I knew this one from the very beginning, so I kept hoping for something else later on.

  2. Oh bummer, I was really hoping that both of these would be better, but especially That's Not What Happened. If you're going to talk about a controversial topic, then you kind of have to go for it a bit.


  3. I'm liking the first book okay so far myself. I'm making guesses as I go and I'm curious to see if they'll be accurate. I'm sorry you didn't like it, but that's okay. Only so much time in a day. ☺

    1. I liked it at first at first too-- I should have said that in my review. I usually like books like this and I usually like unlikable characters... But these ones wore. I hope you continue to gel with this book!

  4. I haven't read either of these but I have been pretty nervous about the new Kody Keplinger. I've both loved and hated some of her previous books so I decided to wait and see on this one and I don't think I'll even try it now. If I want to read about a tough subject, I don't want the author to hold anything back.

  5. Ughh, so sad about That's Not What Happened! I have never actually read any of the author's books but this one sounded more like my kind of thing, so it's a shame it wasn't better. Especially considering the subject matter.

    All of This is True was sooooooo bad. Like-- I feel like maybe I read a different book than the people who loved it because HOW? The characters, like you said, were all just garbage, and then I knew everything that was going to happen, not like I cared anyway, I think maybe I just finished in hopes that they'd all be, idk, grabbed and eaten by aliens or something. Sorry these didn't work for yoU!

    1. Your review is the one I should have listened too!! I read it before I decided to read this book-- so I'm sort of kicking myself now bc you are usually on the same wavelength as me when it comes to books. GARBAGE characters-- hahahaha, so true!!

      I've only read THE DUFF by Kody Keplinger-- and I didn't love it. But that one almost went too far with the "going for it" stuff, while this one didn't go for it at all?? So weird.

  6. I also did notttttt like All of This Is True (I should have DNFed it, tbh). It was so predictable and also felt like the book took itself way too seriously???

  7. I have avoided All of This is True, because of all the negative reviews, and you just added more fuel to that fire for me. I had read The DUFF, and it was ok, but I wasn't a huge fan of Keplinger's storytelling, so I have not read anything else by her. Sorry the books didn't work for you.

    1. I did not like The DUFF either. I am probably going to avoid her books from here on out because I don't think they are **me** books. You did good to avoid AOTIT. It was just not good but because of the script format it was addicting?? Meaning I read WAY more than I would have if it was regular format :(