The DNF Files

DNF FilesThis past month my DNF pile was nearly half as tall as what I finished and a few of those even barely made it out of an F rating. It left me feeling like I had a decision to make – normally I would just consider it a horrible reading month, take a handful of Tylenol and move on but with a few books we read, both Cait and I felt like we needed to at least give abbreviated reviews.

And so The DNF Files was born. It’s only going to be a monthly feature – and if we’re lucky it won’t even be that. We’ll only be including books that really hit our own personal STOP buttons or to highlight a book that has something that we want to talk about. The reviews will be a little different than usual – we won’t be going too in-depth with our own synopsis unless it differs from the publisher’s and we’ll probably include more spoilers than usual. Anything that gives away an ending or a pivotal point will be hidden though so you can decide if you want to see it.

This month we have three books for the File. One is from Cait and two are mine:

Ward Against DeathWard Against Death (Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer #1)
By Melanie Card
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Publication Date: August 2, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal

Twenty-year-old Ward de’Ath expected this to be a simple job—bring a nobleman’s daughter back from the dead for fifteen minutes, let her family say good-bye, and launch his fledgling career as a necromancer. Goddess knows he can’t be a surgeon—the Quayestri already branded him a criminal for trying—so bringing people back from the dead it is.

But when Ward wakes the beautiful Celia Carlyle, he gets more than he bargained for. Insistent that she’s been murdered, Celia begs Ward to keep her alive and help her find justice. By the time she drags him out her bedroom window and into the sewers, Ward can’t bring himself to break his damned physician’s Oath and desert her.

However, nothing is as it seems—including Celia. One second, she’s treating Ward like sewage, the next she’s kissing him. And for a nobleman’s daughter, she sure has a lot of enemies. If he could just convince his heart to give up on the infuriating beauty, he might get out of this alive…

Goodreads Summary

This book sounded really promising from the blurb, and I settled down with excitment hoping I would be able to enjoy myself. I didn’t, unfortunately. My main issue is that the copy that I received for review was not formatted properly. Specifically, there were no quotation marks to let me know the difference between a when a character was speaking out loud or just thinking to themselves. It was incredibly distracting, and I really had to focus on what was going on. Perhaps I could have looked past that, but I couldn’t get into the characters, I didn’t understand what was going on and the story just plain ol’ wasn’t interesting to me. If I’m going to work at reading a book, then I at least want it to be interesting.

I’m sorry to say, this was a DNF. Between the struggle with format and the boring story line, this book just wasn’t for me.

Cait

DamnedDamned (Crusade #2)
By Nancy Holder, Debbie Viguié
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: August 30, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal

Antonio would do anything for his beloved fighting partner Jenn. He protects her, even suppresses his vampire cravings to be with her. Together, they defend humanity against the Cursed Ones. But tensions threaten to fracture their hunting team and his loyalty—his love—is called into question.

With an even more sinister power on the rise, Jenn must overcome her personal vendettas.

Antonio and Jenn need each other to survive, but evil lurks at every turn. With humanity’s fate hanging in the balance, they must face down the darkness…or die trying.

Goodreads Summary

Damned is the second in a series and I think it would be perfectly fine to read on its own even though a huge amount of world-building is necessary to understand what’s happening. It’s all repeated here, so you’ll be fine. The highlights that you need to know are that vicious vampires have pretty much taken over a sort of post-apocalyptic world and while for a number of years there were groups of fighters trying to regain control, those numbers have dwindled to just a pocket here and there. It’s feared that the last group is the small one in Spain now led by Jenn and aided by “good” vampire Antonio.

To start with a positive, the authors’ writing style is very good and the scenes of the vampire attacks are chilling. There is a ton of action in the book and it’s well written. What ended up making this a DNF for me were issues with plotting and the relationships between the characters.

All of the characters in the team had some sort of unspoken crush or attachment to another member. There were a lot of heated glances, wild yearnings, worried searching during fights but apart from Jenn and Antonio, at least as far as I got in the book, no one ever acknowledged their feelings. Jenn and Antonio frustrated me for an entirely different set of reasons. It was the Thorn Birds, Emo Teen Vampire Style. She loved him but was uneasy with what he was and didn’t think he’d commit to her. He loved her but had promised himself to God and the Church, didn’t know if he could put that aside for her and knew his being a vampire upset her. Good grief. They’d lock eyes and it would set off a two page internal monologue from one of them about how tortured they were.

The team has its butt handed to it on a regular basis, which brings me to the plotting issue. It felt like the plot was on a loop that replayed over and over. The location changed and good and bad guys added, but the basics remained the same: the team (whichever parts of it) would be sent someplace where one or more of them would disparage Jenn as the team leader and/or Antonio for being a vampire. There would be some sort attack that took them by surprise and one, perhaps two team members would be so seriously injured that they would need healing from the witch in the group. These attacks would always be by something really bad – something that should have killed the team members, but in a case of the You Get Down, You Get Back Up Again trope, that would be unsportsmanlike.

I kept reading and reading thinking I was going to get to some really big exciting plot and character developments soon and was a little surprised when I looked down and saw I was only close to page 300 (this is a 544 page book). There was no way I was reading for another 244 pages. Sorry, this was a DNF for me.

FuryFury (The Fury Trilogy #1)
By Elizabeth Miles
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: August 30, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal/Horror

Sometimes sorry isn’t enough….

It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But not all is as it seems…

Between cozy traditions and parties with her friends, Emily loves the holidays. And this year’s even better–the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But Em knows if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend.

On the other side of town, Chase is having problems of his own. The stress of his home life is starting to take its toll, and his social life is unraveling. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel…something the perfect guy he pretends to be would never do. And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.

In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—are here to choose who will pay.Em and Chase have been chosen.

Goodreads Summary

Okay, this wasn’t technically a DNF for me, although when I got done I wished like crazy that I’d stopped when my stomach told me to a few chapters before the end. My comments here will probably have more spoilers in regular text than usual and there will definitely be some behind hidden text – so be warned before you keep reading.

Fury isn’t a badly written book nor is it one that I would warn any older teen against if you picked it up from the right place in a bookstore – emphasis on right place in the bookstore. This isn’t just a YA paranormal or fantasy or whatever. Imagine John Saul crossed with Hideo Nakata and it’s close to this.

Miles makes Emily and Chase into really likable characters. Chase is insecure, despite his looks and position on the football team. He’s dirt-poor and knows his “friends” are one excuse away from shoving him out of the in-crowd and he’s afraid if he can’t be part of it and the parties, he might miss out on his big chance at being seen by a recruiter. Emily is dazzled by her best friend’s boyfriend Dylan and thinks he’s been flirting back. She’s always been her friend’s Second, liked because she was liked. Dylan seems to feel something for Em too.

By the time the Furies show up and one targets Chase, you know something bad is going to happen. The one thing he’s desperate for is a date to a certain dance. He freaked out at the last party when he heard a girl had committed suicide and now everyone’s looking at him strangely so he thinks he’s got some recovery to do. So when the impossibly gorgeous Ty drops in his lap and mesmerizes him, it’s his dream come true. But he really is mesmerized. And she does some awful things to him. As the notes in his pocket say, “Sometimes you get what you deserve.”

Em’s story happens at the same time Chase’s does although they aren’t connected. Hers is pretty standard. Girl falls for scum, scum promises her she’s the only one, she finds out scum lied. In some bizarre universe, “sometimes you get what you deserve,” in equal measures applies to a girl who was naïve enough to kiss a dirtbag a few times as it does to Chase. This, I don’t get. Just one more reason I should have stopped reading because it was so ridiculously wrong.

I’m going to do what I wish someone had done for me before I read this and reveal what Chase and Em “deserved” according to the Furies. Keep in mind, Em kissed a boy that her girlfriend was dating. Chase did something sad and stupid but obviously, his punishment was ridiculous.  I’m slapping it behind some white text in case you want to be as cranky about it as I was.

Chase remembered what he’d done to his former friend that he thinks may have led to her depression and her eventual suicide and he was forced to commit suicide by the Furies. Em realized at the end that she was in love with her male best friend (who also loved her). Her punishment was to lose true love – the Furies were going to kill him. She got them to spare his life but the deal was that he would stop caring about her and she would be tied to the Furies forever. What that meant wasn’t explained.

I don’t know if this belongs in the DNF Files or as just an D or F. It was depressing as hell to read. I had the same feeling in the pit of my stomach when I got done as I did every time I read an early John Saul and one of the murderous kids had killed everyone or after The Ring and all sorts of innocent people had been horribly killed for no reason. I was wondering where there was some sort of balance in this story. Was I supposed to believe Chase and Em were the same? In the next book, will there be a mass murderer and someone who stole someone’s juice box in the first grade? Yuck.


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