Handling DNFs: When to Review & When to Forget


I’ve been personally struggling with this since before I started blogging, and I figured I should share what my eventual decision was for this topic.

I also saw this post on The Bookavid, and that was what actually prompted me to start writing this post.

So: When is it okay to review a DNF, and when should you just forget about it?

Although I’m sure everyone who’s on my blog knows this, a DNF, short for “Did Not Finish”, is a book that you didn’t finish for a multitude of reasons. The reasons could span from disinterest to absolute disgust. I know that I once DNF’d a book because it was too similar to another book I’ve read. I’ve also DNF’d a book because the language was too flowery (and it ended up being racist), another because it was just plain boring. So, really, you can DNF for any reason you want.

If you clicked on those links, you might’ve noticed that some of them lead to reviews on this blog, while others lead to Goodreads and a short, dismissive review as to why I DNF’d it. How do I decide which to review, and which to forget?

When to Review:

  • If you have a strong feeling about an event or problematic feature within the book, such as racism, sexism, plagiarism, or queerphobia.
  • If you feel as if you have something constructive to add.
  • If you feel as if you can fill an entire review without talking about nothing.
  • If you read more than 50%.

I usually feel obligated to write a review if I read more than 50%, but if I didn’t, then I probably won’t write a review unless it also checks off the first bullet point–if I have a strong feeling about a problematic feature.

See my review of FluencyI only read about 45%, but I was extremely uncomfortable with the sexism in the book.

When to Forget:

  • If you are uncomfortable with the messages the book sends and it emotionally exhausts you.
  • If a review of it would be pointless.
  • If you have nothing constructive to add.
  • If you read less than 40%.

I almost didn’t write the above linked review (Fluency) because I literally couldn’t stand to look at the cover of the book. It took me a month to write the review, because I had to take the time to rid myself of the disgust I felt towards the sexism.

I didn’t write reviews for The Bone Witch, Wizard’s First Ruleor Nevernight because I hadn’t read that much of them, and I really didn’t have much more to add that others already hadn’t said.

How to Handle Review Copies:

This one is more tricky.

In my experience, if I DNF a review copy, it’s because I lost interest or didn’t like where it was going. (Nevernight, The Bone Witch) However, I didn’t write a review for these novels because I hadn’t read that much.

But, I also only read about 75% of The Devourersand I did end up writing and posting a still fairly positive review on it. The catch is that I mentioned what bothered me, even if I didn’t mention not finishing it. Technically, in my book, 75% counts as finishing, because the story had already ended and it was only the conclusion that was left.

So, Review Copies?

  • Same rules as above.
  • However, raise 50% (to review) to about 75%-80%.
  • And raise 40% (to forget) to 50%.

Review copies are there for you to help promote the books. If you didn’t like it, or if it didn’t connect with you, send a message to the person/publisher, and explain that it didn’t work for you. If it’s from NetGalley, you send it in the feedback area, and you still get credit for the feedback. 

How do you handle DNFs? When do you still review, and when do you forget? And how do you handle review copies that were provided for you?

9 thoughts on “Handling DNFs: When to Review & When to Forget

  1. Thanks for writing this up! I’m in a predicament at the moment where I want to DNF the book but feel bad because it’s a review copy (although the publication date was yesterday).
    I did a bad thing once though: I only read about 15% of Wintersong before I DNFd it and sent feedback to Netgalley. I felt bad because I should have read more but at the same time, I was getting angry over that book : so much unnecessary girl hate. I can’t stand books like that.
    With DNFs though, I don’t usually review them – not on Goodreads or on my blog either, because I don’t want my opinion to affect others (unless it’s a really bad book). But I do send feedback for review copies.
    Again, great post!! 😀

    • See, I normally feel bad about DNFing review copies, so I always try hard before actually dropping. If something WAS wrong with a review copy though, I normally say something small on goodreads, for the benefit of my followers. I mentioned THE BONE WITCH above too, and I only read about 15% of that as well. Normally with those, I want to come back later, but don’t want the absent feedback on Netgalley to affect my chance of getting ARCs I am interested in. Thanks!