Thursday, October 16, 2014

When do you DNF?

Generally speaking, I like to finish the book I've started. I feel like it's polite to the book. It went through all the trouble it takes to get publish, the least one can do is read it. That doesn't really make sense but go with it. However, sometimes, on that super rare occasion, I find that I just can't.
While waiting for my lovely autographed copy of The Blood of Olympus to arrive, I borrowed a book from work. Now, I was actually really excited to read this book. I hadn't heard of it before but the cover was beautiful and the premise was extremely intriguing. Oh how wrong I was...
I don't want to say the name of the book or the author because I really don't want to turn this post into a book bashing. As a whole, I don't really approve of that especially when I couldn't get myself to finish it. I only made it to chapter four of this book before I couldn't put myself through it any more. The story was vaguely interesting though very, very slow on the take off. However, it was the main character that really got to me. I might get a little rant-y here so I'm sorry in advance.
Being a girl myself (obviously), I like to read about strong, independent female characters. Characters who don't depend on men to save them and who don't rely wholeheartedly on their love interest to validate their existence. There's a reason why Hermione, Tamora Peirce's Alanna and Daine, and later Annabeth remain at the top of my list for favorite female characters. They can hold their own and they don't take crap from anyone.
But in this book, I just couldn't. Quick backstory: Late 1800s, her wealthy family and mayor father were losing power in a gang infested, dilapidating New York City. Her mother was violently and mysteriously murdered a year ago by "creatures" of assumedly magical and otherworldly descent and her eccentric godfather seems to have information as to why. Now, she was a trained and extremely skilled fighter. However, what got me is all her resolve fell apart the moment one pedophilic man set his eyes on her. He had been watching her grow up and sexualizing her every movement for years and she blamed herself for all of it. She fully believed that she was spineless and there was nothing she could do to dissuade his unwanted, horribly disgusting affections. She fully believed that it was her fault for being too pretty, for having curves, for generally being a girl. She felt that the problem was her and that she must have done something to attract his attention. This is so so so extremely wrong! It is never the victim's fault! I understand that things like this happen in real life, that somehow, psychologically the bad guy works his way into the victim's mind to make her think it's her fault. But it's not! It's just not. I have to emphasize though, that this character was highly skilled in covert actions and physical combat and she had several concealed weapons all over her body at all times. Apparently, none of that training or weaponry helped to strengthen her mind, boost her bravery, or improve her self-esteem. It was just so irritating to read about a girl who could essentially fight for herself but chose not to. This happened more than once and I only made it to chapter four.
I just don't understand why authors - all, but particularly female authors - feel the need to write such horribly weak female characters. It's just not ok and what message is that supposed to be sending to the audience that it's intended for? That it's ok to let people walk all over you and control you simply because they hold a bit of power over you? How about, no. I get that to learn to stand up for yourself when you're being victimized is easier said then done but I cheated a little before I officially DNF'ed this book. I read other people's reviews and a couple of spoilers (though not really spoilers because they were heavily foreshadowed) just hoping that she would grow a back bone and stand up for herself. Apparently though she never did and it actually gets worse as she develops a love interest and becomes infatuated with him while, on the side, the victim blaming just continues unhindered.
I believe I can officially add horribly weak female characters who outright refuse any hope of being independent to my list of bookish pet peeves. They are just so frustrating to read. I mean, if they start out weak but grow up throughout the book that's one thing. But to just not is just so...
I have a couple of other reasons for not finishing this book. I won't go into them because they would give away plot points but they all revolved around sexualizing women. It hurt to read so I just couldn't anymore.
Now you've heard one of mine, what are your reasons to DNF a book?


  1. Anything that will make me fall asleep is not a book I look forward to finishing! Usually I give any particular book 3 chances. If by then they haven't made their point, it's a DNF read :D Awesome post!

    Alex @ The Book's Buzz

    1. Haha same here! Books that makes me want to fall asleep are usually rather hard to read. Because I will fall asleep reading them then get rudely awoke to a book falling on my face. I like the three chances idea though too =)


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