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Books I DNF (did not finish)

I recently was reading We’ll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss and was looking forward to reviewing it, except that I decided not to finish it. That being said, here is the premise and a few other books I haven’t finished, and why. (DNF-ing is a relatively rare phenomenon for me– I used to struggle through most books, just in case they got better).

We’ll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss


Luke and Toby have always had each other’s backs. But then one choice—or maybe it is a series of choices—sets them down an irrevocable path. We’ll Fly Away weaves together Luke and Toby’s senior year of high school with letters Luke writes to Toby later—from death row.

Best friends since childhood, Luke and Toby have dreamed of one thing: getting out of their dead-end town. Soon they finally will, riding the tails of Luke’s wrestling scholarship, never looking back. If they don’t drift apart first. If Toby’s abusive dad, or Luke’s unreliable mom, or anything else their complicated lives throw at them doesn’t get in the way.

Tense and emotional, this hard-hitting novel explores family abuse, sex, love, and friendship, and how far people will go to protect those they love. For fans of Jason Reynolds, Marieke Nijkamp, and NPR’s Serial podcast.

I liked this book. It tackles important issues (like the death penalty, parental abuse, cycles of violence and poverty, etc) and has strong characters. I listened to it on audible (I was listening to audiobooks for a while to be able to read while driving and doing chores). I’m surprised I wasn’t gripped by it– the premise seemed great, the writing was well done, and yet I kept putting it down and not picking it back up (and finally decided not to pick it up again). Maybe if I had read it as a paperback/hardcover I would have finished it. Who knows.

Reboot by Amy Tintera


Wren Connolly died five years ago, only to Reboot after 178 minutes. Now she is one of the deadliest Reboots around . . . unlike her newest trainee, Callum 22, who is practically still human. As Wren tries to teach Callum how to be a soldier, his hopeful smile works its way past her defenses. Unfortunately, Callum’s big heart also makes him a liability, and Wren is ordered to eliminate him. To save Callum, Wren will have to risk it all.

Wren’s captivating voice and unlikely romance with Callum will keep readers glued to the page in Amy Tintera’s high-stakes alternate reality, and diving straight into its action-packed sequel, Rebel.

Again, I loved the premise, but this time I had trouble with the writing and couldn’t get past the first few chapters (which is rare for me, often I’ll give the book a good chance to prove itself to me, for better or worse). The dialogue felt unnatural, the main character (who is supposed to be emotion-less) seems to be making fairly emotion-based decisions (taking pity on someone, being afraid, etc) and as such, the motivations feel unfounded. Furthermore, the amount of telling vs showing was frustrating.

Both of Me by Jonathan Friesen


It was supposed to be just another flight, another escape into a foreign place where she could forget her past, forget her attachments. Until Clara found herself seated next to an alluring boy named Elias Phinn—a boy who seems to know secrets she has barely been able to admit to herself for years.

When her carry-on bag is accidentally switched with Elias’s identical pack, Clara uses the luggage tag to track down her things. At that address she discovers there is not one Elias Phinn, but two: the odd, paranoid, artistic, and often angry Elias she met on the plane, who lives in an imaginary world of his own making called Salem; and the kind, sweet, and soon irresistible Elias who greets her at the door, and who has no recollection of ever meeting Clara at all. As she learns of Elias’s dissociative identity disorder, and finds herself quickly entangled in both of Elias’s lives, Clara makes a decision that could change all of them forever. She is going to find out what the Salem Elias knows about her past, and how, even if it means playing along with his otherworldly quest. And she is going to find a way to keep the gentle Elias she’s beginning to love from ever disappearing again.

I met Jonathan at a writing conference and loved interacting with him, so I bought the book… and couldn’t get very far through it. I don’t remember much about this book except it being confusing, frustrating, and not nearly as good as I had hoped.

The Golden Compass Trilogy by Phillip Pullman


Lyra is rushing to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armored bears rule. North, where the Gobblers take the children they steal – including her friend Roger. North, where her fearsome uncle Asriel is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world.

Can one small girl make a difference in such great and terrible endeavors? This is Lyra: a savage, a schemer, a liar, and as fierce and true a champion as Roger or Asriel could want.

But what Lyra doesn’t know is that to help one of them will be to betray the other….

This is often considered one of the best YA books, but I remember trudging through it years ago like I was walking through the tundra being described, determined to get to the end where I would be warm, safe, and done. Eventually, I decided to just stop and it was such a relief. Looking back, the ideas in the book are great, and the relationships between the characters was well done. Perhaps it was too high of a lexile for me when I started it, perhaps its just overrated.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

This book holds the coveted spot of Only Book Assigned In School That I Did Not Finish. Most books I would read, if not skim, but reading this book was less fun than getting a tooth pulled without anesthesia. I know it is popular for being as such, so to anyone who is assigned to read it, I am sorry. Go into it with Very Low Expectations, and best of luck.

and of course, Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Do I need to explain this one? Probably not.

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