DNFs of 2022

I don‘t DNF a lot of books. I used to be one of those people that did not DNF books at all. I HAD to read them to the end, even if it took me months. Eventually I came to my senses and started to occasionally DNF a book, if I did not enjoy it after 50-100 pages (depending on allover length) or it took me more than a few days to get that far. I still never DNFd more than perhaps one book per month or less. And these days I tend to rather skim heavily rather than DNF, because I often want to know how it ends. I just read about the rather tempting idea of “…will DNF a book if it takes me more than 2 days to read 50 pages.” That would mean that I would have DNFd my current eye read days ago. I finally made it halfway and there are some fascinating ideas in the book, but it is still not a gripping read.

So, what books did I DNF last year, because not even heavy skimming could take me to the end? Well, there were some comics.

I bounced off hard of Sin City by Frank Miller. Some classics probably only work for men. I disliked the art. The story was too offensive to finish it. I can only take a certain amount of sexism, before it really puts me off.

Copra by Michel Fiffe was a big disappointment. I have read some superhero comics, mostly Marvel, but it‘s not my favourite genre. Here I had ti deal with Unlikeable superheroes to boot. I am not a big fan of characters that are just mean for no obvious reason and don‘t seem to have any redeeming features. If I don‘t like the characters or they don‘t interest me in another way, why bother?

They’re Not Like Us, Vol. 1: Black Holes for the Young was another disappointment. Essentially another superhero comic, with teenager developing psychic powers. Didn‘t like the artwork. The story didn‘t do anything for me, could not be bothered to continue for long or pick it up again after putting it down. It took too long to get interesting.

I started to re-read the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice with some reading buddies last year. I liked my re-read of Interview with the Vampire. However, by the time I got to book #4, The Tale of the Body Thief, I was throughly fed-up with it. There were some scenes I remembered fondly, namely the part in the Gobi desert—which I had attributed to another part of the series. But overall, it felt dated and lacked tension. Knowing the plot wasn‘t helping, obviously. Too much detail, repetitive bla-bla and over exposition of almost everything. I skimmed quite a bit to get to the body swapping part, but was willing to plod on. Then the rape happened—I had no recollection of that scene from previous reads. Or maybe I didn‘t understand and didn’t consider it rape before—it had been several decades since I read this last. That scene pretty much killed the book for me. The callousness really bothered me. Maybe this was done intentionally by Rice, but I couldn’t get past it. Don‘t get me wrong, I get that this is fiction and authors explore all kind of things—I just re-watched four seasons of Dexter, who is a sociopathic serial killer and I love the series and Dexter. But I couldn’t deal with Lestat raping that waitress. Killing her and drinking her blood, no problem…. I get how nuts that it.

How to Date Your Dragon by Molly Harper… *sigh*. UF leaning towards PNR. A decade ago I barely read anything but UF. I was oversaturated. So I stopped, with very rare exceptions. PNR was always a gamble. The heroines tend to be TSTL. I can‘t tolerate that. Why do female authors write these stupid cliches of their own gender? Anyway, back to this particular book. The love interest is a dragonshifter and the town’s sherif. The couple has zero chemistry, there is no decent world building. Nothing of consequence happened in the first 40% and I was to disinterested too listen to more of the audiobook.

Polaris Rising by Jesse Mihalik was another book in the same direction. I had that trilogy on my TBR shelf for a while and quite a few of my buddies love Mihalik. Yep. So not my cup of tea. Brain Candy in space with a romance sub-plot. Insta-love, too many blond people, thin world building, a Mary Sue, two people great at hiding that keep getting captured and then proceed to repeatedly free each other. Sounds all pretty daft, right? It was.

Gallant by Victoria Schwab was more unexpected. A haunted house, relatives with a mysterious past and a hostile cousin, a vaguely creepy and gothic atmosphere. No romance elements. I didn‘t find the story as such terribly suspenseful, although it is definitely well written. It was too straight forward for me and too predictable. I liked the story, but started to drift off around the middle—there was just not enough tension or interest for me to keep going.

There was another comic, two Clarkesworld magazines and a Great Courses Lecture series that I broke off. Oh yes, and an autobiography by a German TV presenter who loves camping. I mostly got that one for my mum. It was ok, just not my kind of thing.

How about you, what was your most disappointing DNF of 2022?

Culling that TBR pile…


This year I ventured into re-reading Anne Rice‘s Vampire Chronicles and mabye venturing further along into unread titles. So I read Interview with the Vampire in February and gave it 4 stars. The Vampire Lestat in April was another 4 stars, The Queen of the Damned in June still managed to garner 3.5 stars from me. Then came The Body Thief in September and I bounced off it hard…

I took a long, hard look at the next two books in the series, already sitting on my bookshelf. Took a breather, looked again. Read the blurbs… Meh.

They would be the first two books in the series that I haven‘t read yet. Anyway, the blurbs do not grab me and reviews of Memnoch The Devil by my reading buddies were not good. So, I am calling it. Done! Off into my give-away basket…

Memnoch the Devil (The Vampire Chronicles, #5)
by Anne Rice

In the fifth Vampire Chronicle, Lestat is searching for Dora, the beautiful and charismatic mortal daughter of a drug lord. Dora has moved Lestat like no other mortal ever has, and he cannot get her out of his visions. At the same time, he is increasingly aware that the Devil knows who he is and wants something from him. While torn between his vampire world and his passion for Dora, Lestat is sucked in by Memnoch, who claims to be the Devil himself. Memnoch presents Lestat with unimagined opportunities: to witness creation, to visit purgatory, to be treated like a prophet. Lestat faces a choice between the Devil or God. Whom does he believe in? Who does he serve? What are the elements of religious belief? Lestat finds himself caught in a whirlpool of the ultimate choice.

The Vampire Armand (The Vampire Chronicles, #6)
by Anne Rice

In this installment of The Vampire Chronicles, Anne Rice summons up dazzling worlds to bring us the story of Armand — eternally young, with the face of a Botticelli angel. We travel with Armand across the centuries to the Kiev Rus of his boyhood — a ruined city under Mongol dominion — and to ancient Constantinople, where Tartar raiders sell him into slavery. And in a magnificent palazzo in the Venice of the Renaissance we see him emotionally and intellectually in thrall to the great vampire Marius, who masquerades among humankind as a mysterious, reclusive painter and who will bestow upon Armand the gift of vampiric blood.
As the novel races to its climax, moving through scenes of luxury and elegance, of ambush, fire, and devil worship, to nineteenth-century Paris and today’s New Orleans, we see its eternally vulnerable and romantic hero forced to choose between his twilight immortality and the salvation of his immortal soul.

Vampire, Boss Level

The Vampire Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles, #2) by Anne Rice

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Another re-read and old favourite from my teen/tween days. I read the first three books of the series about 30 years ago and loved them. Alas, this is another book were I remembered almost nothing of the plot but the broadest strokes. A monster of a book with very dense print on 599 pages, packing many parts with distinct plotlines and various stories of other vampires besides Lestat, provided backstory and a pretty comprehensive explanations of the world he lives in.

The pacing was too slow for me, but the story pulled me along. We touch down in ancient Egypt, ancient Rome, visit the Celts and meet druids, finally get a good, long look at pre-revolutionary France and Paris, travel around Europe and eventually make our way into the new world. Interview with the Vampire (my review) Armand and Louis make an appearance and we meet new characters that will have a major impact in the next book of the series.

Existential questions are discussed at length. Faith, god, good and evil, relationships, love, rituals… I have to confess that I skimmed past a few of those paragraphs. Online somewhere I read a description of Rice‘s writing style as both verbose and overly philosophical. I tend to agree. Sometimes the writing was a bit convoluted as well. There were some longer passages that I reread several times and I was still unsure afterwards what she wanted to tell me. Her livelong on-and-off affair with organized religion and the catholic church will have been a major influence here.

There was a much stronger gay vibe than I remember. It was pretty clear for me this time around that Lestat and Nicholas were in a relationship, although it is never explicitly spelled out.

Parts I did not like: the fixation on the superiority of blue-eyed blond people. Lack of meaningful female characters besides Gabrielle. General disdain of women as weak or, if strong, as unpredictable (deranged and dangerous?)—why do female writers perpetuate that image? Lack of diversity.

Re-reading old favourites is always a daunting undertaking. What if you hate that once beloved book? Luckily I liked my re-read of Interview with the Vampire. I discovered so many things I had missed as a late teen/early tween. Vampire Lestat is a much broader and complicated story with an even slower pace. It turns Louis into a very unreliable narrator, as this is quite a different Lestat to the first book. Or is Lestat pulling our leg? And Armand is a lot less likable, which makes it hard for me to relate to Lestat‘s love for him. Anyhow, I liked the book despite the above mentioned parts. 

I plan to read the next three books of the series:
The Queen of the Damned: The Third Book in The Vampire Chronicles — reread
The Tale of the Body Thief — unsure if I have read this
Memnoch the Devil — new to me

I will see how I feel about the rest of the series, the plot summaries sound increasingly bizarre.