My 2020 DNF List

Everything I chose not to finish this year and why

Let’s get right into it, shall we?

1. Ready Player Two

by Ernest Cline

The only reason Ready Player One got away with the whin-ey white male gamer MC was because there was enough of an original story to make up for it. Ready Player Two has a lot of the prior, to be fair. But the tiny bit of the later that it does possess feels like a knock off of book one. Based on the reviews I’ve read, I felt pretty safe DNFing this. Bummer, though. I was really hoping for more.

[Image Description: the cover of the book Ready Player One, which has a background mostly black with some pixelated stars between the large, blocky blue letters that spell the title. There is a blue diamond in the center of the “o” in the word “two” and the pixelated outline of a man heading toward it.]

2. Where the Crawdads Sing

by Delia Owens

Oof. Where to start. I struggled to get into this story from the get-go. And the flow if it is slooooooow. But from the introduction of our first non-white character, whose AAVE was written in a way that is…. just so problematic, I had to tap out. Ok, Owens, so you’re telling me that our MC was raised in the middle of a SWAMP, spent the majority of her childhood completely alone and has less than a week of formal education under her belt, BUT YET she speaks English clearly and the entirety of her dialogue is spelled out for us correctly. HOWEVER, the Black school bus driver, who has exponentially more experience speaking with other people than she does, merely by the fact that he HAS OBVIOUSLY NOT lived his whole life in an isolated backwoods swamp and was likely given at least SOME education, can’t be afforded correct grammar in his dialogue? OR even correctly spelled out words, for that matter? Yikes! I didn’t realize I was reading Gone With the Wind! Why do white people think writing like this is appropriate? What are you trying to imply about this person? Actually, don’t answer that. The writing speaks for itself… Truthfully, I shouldn’t have been surprised. Fun fact about Owens: she and her husband left Africa after having been implicated in a murder. Go give THAT a quick google search before picking up this book. DNF. No thank you.

[Image Description: the cover of the book, Where the Crawdads Sing. The cover is a photo of a girl in a canoe, paddling away from us at the bottom center of the cover. She is moving toward the silhouette of a gap between mangrove trees. The sunset has made the whole sky, and top 60% of the book, bright orange.]

3. The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

by Stuart Turton

So much potential with this one. Like, SO SO much. But I can’t even with the fatphobia. The offenses of this book aren’t even microaggressions. This book is straight up, aggressively anti-fat. Idk who needs to read this right now, but if you consider someone’s weight to be a legitimate negative character trait then you have the creative capacity of a crouton. No story needs a character whose ONE distinguishable trait is their weight. AND whose sole contribution to the plot is, seemingly, to provide a source of disgust for everyone else BECAUSE of their weight. If you’re not going to put in the time to come up with a better character then I’m not going to put in the time to read your close-minded trash. End of story.

[Image Description: A black background with gold art- deco embellisments along the edges and at the corners. There are red diamond shaped accents at each corner that contain, from top to bottom, lefto to right; a chess piece, a revolver, a vial of poison and a compass.]

4. We Hunt the Flame

by Hafsah Faizal

Unlike every book mentioned before this one, there really is actually nothing wrong with this story OR the writing OR anything else. I just… wasn’t feeling it at the time? And after struggling through about 60% of the story I decided to put it down and *maybe* come back at a later date? We’ll see, I guess. I wouldn’t warn anyone against reading it. I just didn’t find it to be the fast-paced, adventure tale I was seeking. That’s nothing against the book. But, for the sake of being fair, I had to include it on this list because I DNF’d it.

[Image Description: A young woman with a quiver of arrows on her back looks at us over her shoulder. Her hooded cape flaps in the wind. In the distance we see a tall castle looking high above the clouds. A sliver of the moon hangs in the air above it.]

5. One Part Woman

by Perumal Murugan

I really wanted to love this. But it just could not hold my attention and I can’t determine why! The concept is interesting and poignant. I might have done better with an audiobook version? Who knows. Sad to say I DNF.

[Image Description: A sideways graphic in pink outlining the face of an Indian woman. She is wearing a flower in her hair, earrings and a bindi. The pattern of her shirt opens at the neck, where the authors name is written. The background is orange.]

5. The Woman in White

by Wilkie Collins

Real talk, this book was chosen by my book club pre-Covid. We were supposed to meet and discuss it, but the state of the world had other plans. I enjoyed it at some moments, but snoozed through others. And when I realized that our book club meeting was never going to happen, I stopped reading. It sat on my bedside table for about 3 months before I finally accepted that I was not going to be finishing this book in 2020. Perhaps someday. I didn’t not like it, but then 2020 happened. *shrugs* So there’s that.

[Image Description: The painted image of a white woman with black hair who is wearing a white dress and looking straight ahead at us]

Did any books really let you down this year? Honestly, for as much as I read, I’m pretty impressed that I didn’t DNF more than these five. Overall, it was an excellent year for books!

Happy New Year, friends!

Best,

Sarah

Published by Sarah

My name is Sarah and I can't imagine my life without books. Actually, I can and it's terrible. I'm also into climbing, video games and bothering the nearest cat.

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