DNF Round-Up is a feature in which I talk about my latest books I marked as did-not-finish and reflect upon why they didn’t work for me.
1. Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham
source: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my final opinion of the work.
Where I stopped: 36%
A voice-driven mystery perfect for fans of Veronica Mars.
Meet Scarlett, a smart, sarcastic, kick-butt, Muslim American heroine, ready to take on crime in her hometown of Las Almas. When a new case finds the private eye caught up in a centuries-old battle of evil genies and ancient curses, Scarlett discovers that her own family secrets may have more to do with the situation than she thinks — and that cracking the case could lead to solving her father’s murder.
Jennifer Latham delivers a compelling story and a character to remember in this one-of-a-kind debut novel.
Why I DNF-ed:
Man, this one makes me so sad. I was so excited for this book because diversity + mystery? It sounded wonderful! And for some readers, it probably will be, but I wasn’t one of them. I had two main issues that kept me from really getting into this one. First, what I read of this book read really young for YA, but the protagonist is an older teen(actually, I’m not sure if we’ve ever told her age, but that was definitely the impression I got). This could be great for readers who want to read on the younger side of YA, but it just didn’t jive for me.
My second issue was with the voice. Whenever I begin to consider putting a book aside, most of the time I do a cursory glance over the current reviews on Goodreads and see if anything sways me one way or the other. So many reviewers brought up how vibrant the voice was and how they loved it, but I could never really get into it. I also felt like nothing had really happened when I stopped more than a quarter of the way through. This book does has a strong voice, though, and the characterization seemed great from what I could tell. Just not my thing, sadly.
2. Vanished: When Lightning Strikes & Code Name Cassandra
source: Bought. I think. Several years ago.
Where I stopped: page 45
A gift…or a curse?
Jessica Mastriani has never liked attention. All she wants is to make it to high school graduation like any ordinary girl. But when Jess is struck by lightning, she becomes anything but ordinary: suddenly she has the ability to locate missing children.
Now Jess is getting noticed in all the wrong ways and by all the wrong people. The media is obsessed with her and her story. The FBI is tapping her phone. And what’s going on with sexy senior Rob? Soon Jess learns the hard way that not everyone who is lost wants to be found….
With no one to trust, it’s up to Jess to decide what to do with her new power—before it’s decided for her.
Why I DNF-ed:
This is a bind-up of two of Meg Cabot’s books previously published under a pen name. I was a bit skeptical, but I decided to give these books a try. As far as I can tell, the earliest publication date of the first book, When Lightning Strikes, was published in 2001, and I don’t think the book has aged well. What I read has a very ’90s feel(which yes, I realize 2001 is not the ’90s, but it’s pretty close). The main character’s best friend uses “gay” as an insult twice within three pages(the main character does sorta reflect on this internally, but more about how in that particular incident it doesn’t really work rather than the insult in general). I know it’s a product of it’s time & all that, but eh. Then a page latter the main character gets into “I’m not like other girls” mode(and not because she’s been struck by lightning, which I would accept, but because of all those “girly” things that are seen as lesser). It also kinda read like a Buffy episode, which. . . I mean, that can be a pretty high bar.
3. The Symptoms of My Insanity by Mindy Raf
source: Bought at library sale
Where I stopped: early. Page 25, I think.
When you’re a hypochondriac, there are a million different things that could be wrong with you, but for Izzy, focusing on what could be wrong might be keeping her from dealing with what’s really wrong.
I almost raised my hand, but what would I say? “Mr. Bayer, may I please be excused? I’m not totally positive, but I think I might have cancer.” No way. Then everyone at school would know, and they would treat me differently, and I would be known as “Izzy, that poor girl who diagnosed herself with breast cancer during biology.”
But Izzy’s sense of humor can only get her so far when suddenly her best friend appears to have undergone a personality transplant, her mother’s health takes a turn for the worse, and her beautiful maybe-boyfriend is going all hot and cold. Izzy thinks she’s preparing for the worst-case scenario, but when the worst-case scenario actually hits, it’s a different story altogether—and there’s no tidy list of symptoms to help her through the insanity.
Why I DNF-ed:
Here is a fact about me: it’s tough to make me laugh. I have high standards for my humor. One time at a parent-teacher conference, a teacher told my dad that “I know my joke is good when I make Stormy laugh”. Everyone in my immediate family uses me as a standard for when a joke or comment is really, really funny. So you can see how this book, which is suppose to be funny and portrayal the awkwardness of adolescence, had a tough hill to climb. It started off promisingly enough with a bra fitting. I mean, that’s awkward, right? Especially when you’re in high school and developing so quickly and rapidly. Like, I’ve been there. It is SO. AWKWARD. Then I read the second chapter and I could tell that promising beginning aside, this book and I were not going to jive. The voice felt like it was trying to hard, and I knew there was no way I was going to make it through without rolling my eyes multiple times.