Discussion: Is It OK To DNF an ARC?

Odd little fact about me- I very very rarely DNF books. There’s something that feels so wrong about doing it that I just…can’t. I’ve spent hours slogging through some thoroughly unenjoyable texts: Titus GroanThe Devil’s PrayerThe Foxhole Court, The Book of Mirrors…the list is huge. Yet I don’t feel like I’ve wasted my time reading any of those books. I think I’ve just proven to myself that I definitely didn’t like them (and said so in my fun little negative reviews). Usually, if I’m reading a boring book I’ll put it on the backburner and read something else for a bit, then return to it half an hour at a time for the next few days/weeks/months. However, even I have my limits and unfortunately I think I’ve reached them with Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott.

You see, Swan Song isn’t an objectively bad book. It’s coherent, the plot moves along nicely, there grammar and spelling is fine, there’s no major storyline inconsistencies or majorly annoying characters. It has some good points; it’s glamorous, it features a number of well written characters, it feels authentic. The problem is…I simply don’t care what happens.

Honestly, I’ve never felt so emotionally distanced from a book. I have absolutely no idea why – it’s not like the characters aren’t multi-faceted or deserving of pity or the writing is terrible. It’s just that…I don’t care. You see, Swan Song is the story of Truman Capote (yes, that one) and the publication of excerpts from his unfinished novel”Answered Prayers”. Capote’s writing features all of his glamorous Hollywood/High Society friends and his bitchy stories about them and Swan Song is the imagined reaction to the release of such scandalous gossip. My problem is this: I don’t care about (fairly tame) gossip about 1950’s starlets. I don’t care about whose husband had an affair with whom. I don’t care who felt betrayed and who spat out their dry martini all over their Chanel evening gown. It just wasn’t for me.

But can I DNF it?

The problem is, I got a copy of Swan Song as an ARC and I feel weirdly obliged to give an honest review of the title – something I can’t objectively do if I’ve only read half of it. Yes, I know there’s a box on NetGalley where you can say that you’re not going to provide a review but there’s still part of me that feels that’s it’s wrong to give up. But then I look at the progress bar on my Kindle and it says something like 3 hours 15 minutes left to read and my heart just sinks (also, I’m not entirely sure that’s accurate – I can usually read an entire book in that time – perhaps it’s because I keep drifting off and having to re-read bits). 

There’s a part of me that’s worried that the book might suddenly get better and I’m missing out. There’s also a tiny little nagging voice that tells me that DNFing a book makes me a loser. Then there’s another part of me that thinks life’s too short to read something in not enjoying.

Things my brain is saying right now:

But what if I go to a dinner party and everyone is raving about the book and I have to admit that I gave up on it? (I can’t even begin to tell you how wildly improbable that scenario is).

What off my brain never lets me forget that I stopped reading it and it annoys me for the rest of my life? (More likely)

What if the book becomes a forgotten classic, only to be re-discovered years later and I have to admit that I was there at the start but I couldn’t see how amazing it was? 


Can anyone please help me to feel better about my dilemma? Are you a regular DNFer? Is it wrong? Am I over-thinking it? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments!


17 thoughts on “Discussion: Is It OK To DNF an ARC?

  1. I hate this situation, like you I don’t tend to DNF. I think it’s fine to DNF an ARC if you would DNF as a normal purchased book, it shouldn’t be treated any different. After all, DNFing a book is a review in itself.

    The problem I have when it comes to an ARC is ticking the DNF not providing feedback button doesn’t count towards your feedback ratio, even though your feedback is you didn’t enjoy it enough to finish it. I don’t really like that

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hate it too! You’re right though, not finishing a book is feedback in itself. I didn’t even think about the feedback ratio aspect! Maybe I’ll give brief feedback just saying that it wasn’t for me and I couldn’t finish it.


      1. It shouldn’t bother me but it really does, because I feel like they’re screwing reviewers and bloggers over, especially as they don’t allow you to cancel a request if they don’t approve it when you want to read it. I feel like they’ve got all the power, which is fine if they use it fairly.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m going through the same thing, but my brain won’t let me quit. I’m just taking a break. I promised a review, so I’ll give it. I think the real reason I don’t want to finish the book is because I don’t want to give the review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel guilty because I obviously agreed to review it and now I’m not. But then I’d also feel guilty for finishing it and writing a negative review because it’s not a bad book, it’s just not something I’m interested in. Aargh!


  3. πŸ˜€

    DNF’ing is definitely a mental thing. If a book is a piece of crap for the first 10%, then I’d dnf it and write a review about that 10% (and probably rip into the author for being so bad). I would 100% support you in ANY dnf endeavor, as my recent post is all about this πŸ™‚

    I hope that dnf’ing gets easier for you in the future…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yeah I think simply not caring is one of the best reasons to DNF tbh. I get what you mean about the difficulty of not DNFing an ARC, but at the same time, (and I struggle to do this) it really isn’t worth reading something you’re not enjoying!

    Liked by 1 person

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