I don’t read books that aren’t working for me. Most of the time, if I start a book that’s not going to work, I can tell within a few chapters, if not a few pages or even paragraphs. I cull hundreds of books every year. This isn’t about those books. This post will be about the books I abandoned after reading a significant portion – almost always over 50%. It’s rare for me to get that far into a book if I’m not going to finish it, and my reasons for quitting are often personal quirks. These are books that I think deserve mini-reviews, for the sole reason that they may appeal to other people even if something about them didn’t work for me.
There were four books that I abandoned in 2021. (I’m currently reading my last book of 2021, which is a definite guaranteed-to-finish, which is why I can post this so early!) Links go out to Goodreads, where you can read a book description if you’d like.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig: I heard mixed reviews about this book, so I decided to give it a try. The writing worked well for me and I was enjoying the story, until I started to get an inkling that this may turn into a feel-good story that trivialized real mental health issues. Because I never finished it, I don’t 100% know that my suspicions were correct. However, reading some spoilery reviews online seemed to confirm my suspicions, so I abandoned the book before getting to a point where I would potentially go on a major rant about it. (Highlight for my suspicion, which is definitely a book spoiler, so proceed at your own risk: I guessed that in the end, the narrator would learn that she was already living the best life she could live, and so she had no reason to end her life, and people should just assume that the choices they made in the past were always the right one and there’s no reason to feel like we’ve failed or to make the decision to end our life. End spoiler.)
Skye Falling by Mia McKenzie: I got this book through Book of the Month. The preview seemed interesting and I liked the premise of the story. However, the abrasive voice of the main character, which on the preview seemed related to being hungover, just continued and got worse until I was constantly irritated by her behavior. I’m sure she probably made some sort of journey of self-discovery as that’s where the book seemed to be going when I gave it up, but at that point, I just didn’t care. I just didn’t like her, and I felt sorry for all the wonderful people around her. Oh well.
Dark One by Brandon Sanderson, Jackson Lanzing, and Collin Kelly: Might be surprising that I actually abandoned a book written by my favorite author! Dark One is a graphic novel, and I’m suuuuuuper picky about graphic novels. If this one had been written by anyone other than Sanderson, I never would have picked it up at all. But because it was Sanderson – and because I thought this was an important piece of Cosmere lore – I checked it out. The drawing style wasn’t my favorite, and I had a hard time following the story. Tbh, I barely even remember it now, and what I do remember was not going a direction I liked. Now, because I know Sanderson, I know this wouldn’t be as clearcut as it looked when I let the story go. I know there would be some twists that would not make it go the direction I thought it was going. That’s just what Sanderson does. But I also found out this had nothing to do with the Cosmere, and I didn’t like the adaptation or art, so I decided to sit this series out. (Note: If I remember correctly, Sanderson wrote the concept, or an unfinished story/novel, and the other authors adapted that into a GN script, rather than Sanderson writing the script itself. But I could be wrong about that.)
The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker: This is another Book of the Month selection. I’ve had several over the last two years that I didn’t enjoy past the preview, so I actually took the extra step of downloading a longer preview before I chose this book. The opening chapter is fantastic and really set a great tone and atmosphere. I chose the book. Unfortunately, after the first chapter, it seemed to read like any other YA adventure/fantasy book, and I got bored really quickly. By the time the narrator arrives in Japan, it felt like the plot – of which there was little – revolved around finding ways to recount various bits of Japanese mythology. And while I found the mythology interesting, the plot had gone almost nowhere by page 180. I don’t need plot to sustain me in a book, as long as something else – atmosphere, setting, character development, etc – is interesting. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for me here. This was the sort of book that I could have kept reading, and probably would have found it a “just okay” book by the end. Not offensive, but not memorable. And I vowed a few years back not to bother with those books anymore. Any time I’ve broken that promise and continued on with them, I’ve regretted it. So I gave this one up.
Maybe one of you will find the above books intriguing, and give them the love they deserve, but which I couldn’t give them!
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